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Posts tagged ‘prostitution’

“I Paid for You.” Capitalism’s Inherent Property Ethic

Even amongst the less capitalist circles, there’s not a whole lot of talk about the totalizing objectification created by a system run by exchange. Pretty much everyone understands the basics of classism: that you’re perceived as being inherently worth more and a better person if you’re richer, and given more opportunities based on that, whereas the reverse is true if you’re poorer. In other words, socioeconomic class is perceived as a reflection on one’s personality in capitalism in a similar way to beauty in medieval Italy. The richer or more beautiful you are/were, the better a person you are/were.

Yeah, that’s basic. And pretty obvious. But classism is inextricable from capitalism in another way—and ageism, racism, and sexism insofar as these groups are capitalistically disadvantaged, too—because, to put it gently, our entire system is based on the value of currency given to anything in general… and it invades everything.

There’s a particular transactional model of oppression that states thus: the more money that others have to give you in order to support your survival, the less you are worth and the more you are owned by them.

You see this everywhere. Look at the anti-welfare crap going around; look at the anti-socialized medicine crap going on in the U.S., the fire being rained down on unions in Wisconsin and Indiana, the sabotaging of jobless benefits. Resentment is bred because the people who feel they are “paying” for these things without benefiting feel as though they’re getting ripped off—because they’re having to buy something without getting to benefit from it.

When you look at it from an item perspective, it makes sense: if a store charged you for items you didn’t buy (and therefore didn’t get to use), you’d be pretty pissed too. It makes sense, except for the fact where we are talking about peoples’ lives instead of an actual object.

… But thanks to capitalism, the monetary value assigned to someone’s life and/or quality of life is the signal that they are property—an item or a product that you are having to pay for without being able to use.

You know those old “jokes” about how wives are merely bad prostitutes—they take men’s money and then don’t even put out in return? This is why. They are being “paid for” as products, but the men, their “purchasers,” don’t get to use them at all. This follows other forms of oppression, too—ageism, for example. Literally, by paying for their children, parents feel an entitlement to force/abuse them into doing something just so because they are effectively buying them.

A person becomes a product when a monetary value is assigned to them for whatever reason—their survival, their quality of life, maybe just a momentary indulgence. It even applies to employers: Aslan, at a previous job, would be stocking about $20,000 of product every night—usually mostly on zeir own, too—but zeir manager wouldn’t even let zem get fucking overtime. That’s another problem with the product-purchaser capitalist worldview: it brings into play the “natural” desire of a purchaser to get the most for their money.

This is endemic, too, unless and until we cut the line tying someone’s survival and basic quality of life to a monetary value. Food, shelter and water must be upheld as basic human rights, inalienable, such that they cannot be sold unless they are luxury products—as with exotic fruits like passionfruits (in some places), animal products, several kinds of sweeteners, sodas, prepackaged “junk” foods, etc. Outside of luxuries, whole foods are your right. So is shelter. Until capitalism falls or compromises, you will be objectified just by surviving.

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Transactional Models of Sexuality are Anti-Sex

The transactional model of sexuality is horrendous, and we know this already. But even outside of the paradigm of straight-up rape, it creates the implicit assumption that whenever women are having sex, it’s because they got paid for it somehow, and that whenever a man does anything nice for a woman, he’s entitled to sexual activity sooner or later—justifying rape, since the fact that she accepted the gift (or that he offered it at all) is taken as prospective consent.

Yes, that little bastard of an ideology is also the culprit behind any variation of, “all women are money-sucking whores.”

And it’s also the driving force—and one of the primary justifications behind—defenses of pornography and prostitution. That payment should ever be accepted as a sign of consent is absolutely anti-feminist. This is not the radical feminist stance, it is the feminist stance: that true consent cannot exist in circumstances that require one to “consent.”

When anyone is forced to submit to sexual activity in order to fulfill their basic needs (for example, trading sexual favors for food), we consider that sexual assault at minimum. It’s not like it’s hard to see why consent is problematic in that situation.

Even aside from the sex pox redefinition of “rape” to exclude having to submit to sexual activity because you will starve or freeze, though, the transactional model of sex is harmful to women’s sexual liberation in the view of sexual pleasure at all. Rape can and has been conflated with sex, often. However, as I mentioned earlier, the transactional model of sex also includes the tenet that all women demand money or gifts—payment—for sex, because women have no fundamental interest in sex itself. Men need sex; women do not. Women have no intrinsic interest in sexual pleasure or orgasm.

Because if women did have an intrinsic interest in sexual pleasure and orgasm, it would be unacceptable to approach sex without the assumption that you both were going to try to make sexual pleasure mutual… and it would be downright insulting to offer payment—whether it’s money, jewelry, clothing, relationship stability, whatever—whether sexual pleasure was going to be involved or not. Because it wouldn’t be necessary: if women are human, like men—if women belong to a species with an innate capacity for round-the-clock, non-estrus sexual pleasure—if women are human, like men, then women have an equal interest in mutual, reciprocally pleasurable sex.

Sex is pleasurable. And you can’t really argue that nature doesn’t actively encourage hedonism, even if it is tempered by empathy. Ergo, women have an interest in sex in their own right: because done right, it feels good. There is no reason for men to try to bribe women into sex—and in fact, a bribe implies that consent is not genuine.

And if men are willingly participating in and perpetuating a society that forces women to have sexual activity regardless of whether or not it’s pleasurable for them, but for survival—then men are actively encouraging sexual assault, not because women are not willing to have sex, but for only two reasons: a) men are not willing to consider women’s interest in sexual activity as just as valid as their own, OR b) men get off on sexually assaulting women, and that’s why they perpetuate a society where women must have sex for their safety and survival. Sexual assault comes in a continuum because consent does—however, unlike the sex poxes, I am absolutely unwilling to accept effectively forced consent as anything other than sexual assault.

Because sexual assault strips you of your personhood. It is perpetrated on you whether or not you like it, and often because you don’t like it. And all too often, you have to submit to it because to resist endangers your survival. This is a feminist statement: the decision to have sex should never have to be any part of a calculation on your survival and basic quality of life.

This is not sexy. Being paid for sex is not sexy. But then, anyone who’s been near a porn set knows that it is basically one of the unsexiest places in the world—hospices notwithstanding.

“Sex work is like any other job,” is part and parcel of the transactional model of sex because if you boil it down into its most succinct meaning, it is: “Sex is a job.” Or, alternately, “I have no problem with my lovers feeling as though sex is a job as long as I get laid.” It is something you do in order to get payment from it—without passion, without happiness, because it is a “choice” that is inherently forced, inherently constrained. Pleasure has nothing to do with it. You simply cannot say no.

And believing that is acceptable—that is anti-sex and anti-feminist.

I believe sex is a profoundly good and awesome thing, and that choice should mean something more than just a buzzword that allows you to do whatever the fuck you want, however exploitative, coercive, or depersonalizing it is. Your orgasms are not the only ones that matter. Welcome to women’s sexual liberation.

News: Italian PM Berlusconi Shameless, What Else is New?

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi refuses to step down from his position because hey, he only actively sought out women to use as property, because what are women there for if not to titillate men? Something so decorative couldn’t be intended for anything other than decoration, amirite guize?

He’s also accused of buying underage girls, which is probably very much true, but the woman in question says it’s not true. She’s Moroccan to boot—which probably means more if you’re aware of the massive racism alive and well in Italy. But what makes it worse is her own story, as told here. [TW for rape, abuse.] You know, just in case you were inclined to believe that there is such a thing as a happy beginning for pros.

It is not a mistake that in Italy, where the Catholic Church is headquartered, which is still all-male and still notoriously conservative and anti-woman, it isn’t illegal for a man to pay for “sex.” It’s not a coincidence that Italy is still one of the most conservative Western European countries, and that it’s still a hotbed for fascism. It’s not a mistake that even though more women have college degrees than men, less than half of all women are employed, and they aren’t abstaining because of choice. It’s not a mistake that in Italy, the largely male parliament voted against an investigation of his home for evidence for a prosecution. It’s not a mistake that in Italy, fetuses are more precious than women. It’s not a mistake that women in Italy are divided into two groups: housewives and veline (“showgirls”), and it’s not a mistake that both of those groups are property—for the benefit of, enjoyment of, and entertainment of men. It’s not a mistake that being treated as if he did something wrong by using women as property is taken as an attack on Italy itself by the megalomaniacal Berlusconi, but it’s not attacking women to make them into fucking playthings.

It’s not a coincidence that the extremely-Catholic Italy gave the world Mussolini and is still fascist and corrupt, but the similarly extremely-Catholic Spain was anarchist against those Italian fascists, and that they were one of the first nations in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. These things are connected. Sexism, heteronormativity, anarchism fighting against fascism, capitalism, individualism, prostitution, male entitlement. These things are written spray-painted on the wall of history. You ignore these things at your own peril.

From an article I linked earlier:

Decades after a feminist movement helped bring significant changes, including legal abortion and divorce, some argue that Italian women are worse off today than in the past. “It’s as if we’ve gone backwards since the ’70s,” said Antonella Giacobbe, 55, as she attended a recent meeting in Rome of Filomena, a women’s advocacy group.

And:

Women’s rights have gone backwards under the Taliban militia’s rule in Afghanistan in the past 12 months, with tougher restrictions on their employment and no perceptible change to the defacto ban on education.

And every feminist woman I have ever met, saying the same thing. “I feel like we’re moving backwards.”

This is not a mistake. It’s not a coincidence.

It’s so fucking overwhelming.

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