Thursday, November 7, 2019

In Pursuit of the Hirsuit...

Slavoj Zizek, "For-show female empowerment & gender fluidity are simply the latest instruments of corporate capitalism"
Should women unashamedly wear mustaches? Should men abandon their masculinity because it’s ‘toxic’? This is all just a smoke screen capitalist overlords use to hide real issues and stay in power, philosopher Slavoj Zizek believes.

In one of the latest anti-objectification messages, women’s razor brand Billie ran an ad timed to Movember (the annual ‘mustache month’ event), proclaiming that “women have mustaches too” and should not be ashamed to grow them out. It looks like a step in the right direction of gender (identity) equality – but is in fact a drive fueled by the big corporations that do not want people to challenge the existing status quo in more substantial ways, world-renowned philosopher Zizek believes.
Here are his further thoughts on the issue:

Step towards de-sexualization?

I think this is a part of a larger phenomenon, which follows this logic: if women try to be beautiful or to obey the models of beauty in a traditional sense they objectify themselves for men. So women should re-appropriate their bodies in the sense of admitting them in their everyday ugliness – hair, fat, whatever – to de-mystify their bodies, to show that a woman’s body, especially sex organs, is not what they are for the gaze of men but has its own positive function that should be appropriated by women because women cannot be reduced to being objects for men.

One the one hand, I agree with the women’s feeling of oppression but I see a problem with this logic. Let’s face it: sexuality as such involves a certain degree of self-objectification. For example, when I engaged in sexual activity, when I embrace a naked person that I love, I abstract (and that is the imminent logic of sexuality) from all the nasty things that are part of the human body – bad odors, remains of dirt etc. I minimally idealize, in a way, the other’s body. Without this, we approach de-sexualization.

In spite of all the talk about free sexuality liberated from binary heterosexual restraints, what we are basically dealing with here is an attack on sexuality as such.

Push for imaginary sexual freedom will only lead to worse oppression

We all know that human sexuality is not just something biologically predetermined – as the traumatic experiences of transgender people prove. In your psychological identity, you can be a woman trapped in a masculine body, and you are ready to suffer quite a lot to change your body so that it fits your inner psychological identity. All this happens. There is no direct biological determination here.

Yet, to make a big jump from here to a claim that sexual difference is just one among the oppressive constructs of those in power and that we should playfully engage in multiple sexual identities, that it is just a game, and that everything is open and that if we just get rid of the binary heterosexual oppression we will enjoy full free sexuality, is a great mistake. It obliterates the basic lesson of Freudian psychoanalysis, which is that sexuality in itself is something pretty dark.

It is not a happy domain. It is a domain of deep traumas, masochist reversals and so on. That is why it is not enough to claim that if we get rid of this big masculine-feminine gender duality and, to paraphrase Mao Zedong, who said that thousands of flowers should blossom in us, to say that thousands of identities should blossom and all will be happy and live a satisfied sexual life. No, human sexuality, again, is inherently traumatic. It is a big mess, there is no simple formula here.

As experience with political correctness demonstrates, if you try to liberate sexuality in this simplistic sense and get rid of this heterosexual normativity and let all the different forms proliferate, you end up in an even worse oppression.
Everyone should be free to objectify themselves

What many people do not accept is that the problem is not objectification as such – it is not the whole game of sexual seduction, flirting of men and women - it’s that, in some sense, you precisely objectify yourself as you want to present yourself as seductive. The problem is not that there should be no objectification – the problem is that each sexual agent should have the right to control his/her/their objectification.

Let’s not forget that with all the feminist protests against objectifying women what bothers fundamentalists, for example, in Muslim countries is precisely when a woman plays with her own objectification... For example, imitating fellatio, playing with a banana in their mouth. What bothers men is that a woman, in this situation, is not objectified by men, but objectifies herself playfully enacting her objectification for her own pleasure.

Instrument of capitalism

As it is usual with such events, we should not underestimate the degree to which this is a relatively marginal phenomenon. Be sure, most women will not want to grow a mustache and if they want to – let them do what they want. I often detect in these transgender new identities something that I do not like. It is that as once heterosexual standards were imposed oppressing other identities, now, if you read all these texts, in some of them you find the idea that if you are still within the traditional heterosexual sexuality you are somehow retarded. To be truly free, you have to play with your identity and blur all the lines.

I do not agree with this. This idea of freely rearranging, changing your body and playing with identities is something that perfectly fits today’s consumerist capitalism with its infinite dynamics. There is a chance that big companies are already playing these games. Probably some of our readers remember a Gillette ad from about a half a year ago, where a father helps his ex-daughter, who is now a boy, to shave herself for the first time with Gillette. There is absolutely nothing subversive in this ‘play with different identities, experiment with yourself’ attitude. It is simply a perfect form of sexuality for the late consumerist capitalism.

A lesson that we should take from all of this, not just from commercials, which are then sold to us with a progressive twist, but also the fact that – remember two or three years ago transgender movement exploded in the US with this big campaign for toilets that should be open to all sexual identities, not just masculine/feminine – how the entire big corporate US – all the big names like Tim Cook or Zuckerberg – all passionately followed this path and supported it. Unfortunately, this type of struggle for free sexual identities is something that can easily be used as a part of capitalist machinery to oppress more dangerous popular demands, even and especially the authentic feminist protests.

Elites seek to divert female emancipation drive away from changing political status quo

On the one hand, (and I wholeheartedly celebrate and support this) there is some kind of awakening of women. There are forms of feminine subordination, which are part of our tradition from even before class societies, from tribal societies – like woman is passive, subordinated to men. As it is always the case, the establishment tries to redirect this awakening in such a direction that it will not really change power relations. We will get a quota for women, women will be presented in the media more respectfully. But the same power relations will persist in our society. That is what all these fighters against patriarchy do not often get.

In the developed West, the ruling ideology is no longer a patriarchy. It is a kind of false openness which also functions as a way to avoid radical mobilization and radical solutions. When we are focused on whether a woman can wear a beard or a man can put on lipstick, no one wants to talk about the continuing terrifying oppression of women, of the exploding rape culture in Mexico and South Africa. Let’s focus on the struggles in which the real freedom of people will be decided.


Jen said...

Unfortunately, this type of struggle for free sexual identities is something that can easily be used as a part of capitalist machinery to oppress more dangerous popular demands, even and especially the authentic feminist protests.

. When we are focused on whether a woman can wear a beard or a man can put on lipstick, no one wants to talk about the continuing terrifying oppression of women, of the exploding rape culture in Mexico and South Africa. Let’s focus on the struggles in which the real freedom of people will be decided.


YES! I have felt this way for quite some time. It all comes across as a popular game, a mindless contest to out-do each other. Meanwhile, human trafficking and rape culture continue to be a REAL problem.

I appreciate that Zizek says he has no problem with women grooming themselves as they desire, but I have to wonder, why would ANYONE care? WHO CARES if a woman has hairy legs and pits? Seriously. Some more "sophisticated" folks will say it's a sign of refinement, but I see it as the opposite. If we get hung up on someone's personal grooming more than the content of their mind, we are the ones who are less developed.

Franco Aragosta said...

Hateful, disgusting depressi[ng, disorienting SHIT –– ALL of it.

I'm so glad I've entered the Final Stage of my earthly existence. I'll be eighty in fourteen months, and doubt I could last much longer than that.

Frankly, at the rate thugs are degenerating I'll b GLAD to go when the trummpet sounds.


Jen said...

Well that escalated quickly.

Joe Conservative said...

Yes, it's the petty-sexism of "woke" privilege that seems to get all the attention.

And yes, Franco, our time does seem to be on the wane.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

Well, with my mother passing away last year and my father passing away a few months ago, I'm finally the "oldest living generation" in my family. As I sit in the bald and bearded phase of my life, I look back to when I had hair halfway down my back, just a long haired country boy really. Never really thought I was trying to look like a woman then. No more than artistic renditions of Jesus do. Vit I've never heard of a woman that wanted to grow a mustache either. Is this really a thing? And if so, is it because they want to look like a man, or because laser hair removal is expensive? I dunno. This is one of those subjects I've never thought about and probably won't ever again lol.

Joe Conservative said...

Your not cognizant of men's cosmetics products? "Manscaping" products? Missouri must be one culturally isolated Eden where what many refer to as a "toxic masculinity" runs rampant.

Shout out to the "You show me yours and I'll show you mine" State!

Franco Aragosta said...

There's nothing new under the sun. The once-famous, now-nearly-forgotten literary figure Gertrude Stein, considered an authentic genius by famed psychologist, and Harvard Professor William James (brother of athor Henry James) was a lesbian whose lifelong partner Alice B. Toklas proudly wore a naturally occuring mustache which neither disturbed nor inspired any of the Great Figures in the world of Arts and Letters of pre-World-War-Two Paris who knew her.

The domestic partnership of Gertrude and Alice was a tremendous success. Both complemented each other splendidly. Their circle of intimate friends included Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemngway among many other lumunaries of the period.

I've owned a copy of The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook since the mid-1950's. It has helped me entertain friends royally for six decades.

Alice was a fabulous cook. Gertrude from what I've been able to gather couldn't have managed to make a decent cup of tea, if her ife had depended on it.

Gertrude Stein happened to have been born to a walthy Jewish family in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Part of Stein's once-cnsiderable fame rested on her response to the question, "What made you leave Allegheny, Pennsylvania snd come to live in Paris?

There's no there there," was Stein's reply.

These admitted eccentrics were not "rebels," not interested on spearheading "Revolutinary Movements," they were simply unusually intelligent, highly cretive INDIVIDUALS not afraid to be themselves and celebrate their individuality with friends who were naturally attracted to them for various and sundry reasons.

I've always been glad I made their acquaintance before Culture Marxists decded to FETISHIZE FREAKISHNESS and demand that it be universally accpted as "NORMAL." That, of course has takn the charm out of nearlyEVERYTHING, and drawn us into pointless, fruitless, eternally DREARY conflict.

Franco Aragosta said...

Long live, and God BLESS the INEQUALITY that comes from an honest veneration and celebration of INDIVIUALITY.

And may God DAMN those who would impose rigid, unquestioning CONFORMITY to ANY ethos, set of cultural norms, or system of belief.

God gave us free Will, bcause he obviously wanted us to find OUR OWN PATH to FULFILLMENT and JOY, which is what "SALVATION" really means.

Joe Conservative said...


Joe Conservative said...

Sorry, Franco, but there is "new sh*t" under the sun... modern medicine being but one.

Joe Conservative said...

SO yes, F*ck the capitalist system that encourages this.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

Don't forget Missouri voters rejected legalization of gay marriage by 71% when we were asked. ;)

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

What capitalism? You can't even sell machine guns in vending machines here.

Jen said...

My condolences on the loss
of your parents.

Thersites said...

There are many capitalist systems, none of which offer truly free markets.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

Thanks Jen. They died exactly 1 year and a day apart. And way too soon. 😢

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

FJ, I'd say there aren't many capitalist systems. I don't really think capitalism can truly exist anywhere there is a government in place messing with the market. Do we really have any real capitalist system if a market isnt free?

Doesn't the existence of black and grey markets pretty much prove government controls on capitalism on up to command economies under socialism are futile?

So, if some fruit wants to look like Justin Trudeau or Donald Trump Jr. and dip into the ladies mascara aisle at WalMart, is it a problem worthy of setting up Gender Cops at the self checkout?

I guess what I'm saying is people are gonna find a way to wear a bone through their nose if that's what they want to do. Why damn "capitalism" for that?

-FJ said...

I damn "cultural" capitalism! Companies that want to "do good" should be required to register as 'B'-enefit corporations and pay HIGHER taxes than strictly "for profits" so that the government can audit the company to ensure that they actually provide the benefit they tell their customers that they are charging more to provide... ie - "Fair" coffee prices, "Organic" vegetables, or "dolphin-free" tuna (make the cultural-label pay for its' associated government regulation).

As for corporations, they should pay HIGHER tax rates than limited/ single proprietorships for their government-backed investor "liability" protection. Workers/proles should never pay income taxes. And the government should have to collect taxes annually on all patent filings for a maximum period per patent/copyright of seven years.

-FJ said...

So, you can see I'm NOT a "free-marketer". There are no free markets. I'm for a system where the farther you get away from actually performing the work, the higher the government tax levied.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

But then you're for giving the most money to people not performing any work... the government. :P

-FJ said...

It's Constitutionally called "regulating inter-state commerce" and it's the 2nd most important government function after "defense" (its' "peacetime" function). And it does need to be "big", except as sur-taxed to regulate the 'b'-enefits corporation wish to claim.

-FJ said...

erratum- 'doesn't' for does above.

-FJ said...

btw - corporations are 'socialisms'.

-FJ said...

...just as government is a socialism.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

At least you see where you are headed with that. ;) if only there were a government that could be trusted with this power. Like how does a Congressman who has never had a job in the private sector ever become a multi-millionaire in government?

Thersites said...

It does point to a problem.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

So, is capitalism the problem, or is giving the power to regulate interstate commerce to people who can be bribed the problem?

Why not kill two birds with one stone. Amend the Constitution to ban regulations on interstate commerce and make losing elections a capital crime punishable by death. Let us *really* vote for change.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

"After a long election battle that was decided by 1 vote, the incumbent Senator Salacious Blowhard of Kakifornia will be removed from office by firing squad at noon tomorrow."

-FJ said...

Capitalsim has flaws. Socialism (Government) has flaws. Both are necessary. Finding the right balance... priceless.

-FJ said...

btw - Capitalism is a form of Socialism/ Social Relations (Dominance/ Communality/ Reciprocity) , too. The Constitution talks about War Powers (Dominance social relations) and Interstate Commerce (Peacetime social relations). It wouldn't be a "social contract" if it didn't address all forms.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

The Constitution enshrines a form of slavery too... just try to be a lawyer that refuses an order to be a "court appointed attorney" for the poor, or a citizen that doesn't want to go to war to save the American way of life from the dangers of farming rice with an ox in Southeastern Asia.

There are many forms of socialism as well, other than the Marxist flavor, but none worse than Marx's save perhaps the socialism of George Fitzhugh lol.

Let's try something no one lets sit for very long. Abolish government and kill anyone that tries to bring it back.