“Choice” is a smokescreen.

We have been taught that an individual is free to make choices about her life, when in fact our choices have always been limited and defined by gender, our race, our class. Free choice and individualism are the basis of many arguments which support oppression. For example, we have been told that women choose marriage and motherhood because they want that life, that they are happiest and most fulfilled as wives and mothers. That view ignores the socialization of women from birth to make this particular “choice.” This myth, exposed by the many women who could not live it (and so were often incarcerated in mental institutions) was finally denounced by feminists. Women have wanted more than “story book” marriages and have been capable of more than menial and low-paid jobs. The concept of “free choice” is often a smoke screen for socially determined behavior. Proponents [..] do not question why an individual would choose [it] nor do they ask from where such fantasies arise. What looks like free choice is often forced upon people by education, the media and other cultural institutions…

Along with fantasy violence, the media gives us fantasy sex. The “sexual revolution” and “personal growth movement” encouraged the idea of sexual gratification without emotional commitment or even involvement between partners — sex for pure physical pleasure. In this fantasy sex there is instant gratification — deep intimacy and high ecstasy are supposedly achieved with little effort. Gratification becomes an end in itself and any means to it are valid. Reduced to orgasm, sex becomes a commodity, one more thing to “get.” However, such encounters, characterised by lack of feeling, growth or intimacy, are not often satisfying on any emotional level. At the same time, real-life relationships pall in comparison to fantasy and frequently suffer as people set themselves impossible goals.

Is Sadomasochism Feminist? A Critique of the Samois Position

5 thoughts on ““Choice” is a smokescreen.

  1. Carl June 19, 2015 at 21:33

    Religion doesn’t seem to be a choice for similar reasons.

    • Francois Tremblay June 20, 2015 at 00:03

      I can’t think of anything that’s less of a choice than religion.

    • L June 20, 2015 at 00:51

      Choice is really one of the most damning ideas as it relates to changing systems, but it’s become so deeply ingrained in American culture, its almost taken as fact.

      I’m particularly interested in economic inequality and the popular idea seems to be that that people choose to be poor, they choose to have low-paying jobs and they deserve whatever suffering they get because of their poverty. I feel like when someone in poverty (or not in poverty) tries to challenge or critique, we are accused of wanting to be victims.

      • Francois Tremblay June 20, 2015 at 02:17

        How dare you deny poor people’s agency. :)

  2. oopster74 June 20, 2015 at 10:42

    I had this debate with a friend a few years ago. We’re both trans, and she said she had no choice but to transition, I said that we both had the choice to. What I didn’t explain well enough at the time (and this would apply to other things too), just because you’re choices aren’t the best options, doesn’t mean you don’t have choice. We make choices everyday whether to get out of bed or not, whether to get dressed or not and what to wear, what to eat for breakfast if you choose to eat. I know I’m taking it to a certain degree, but I hope I’ve explained myself properly.

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