Monday, January 20, 2014

On the Social Need for Feminism

Just about everyone is inclined to check out someone they’re attracted to.
But in the case of straight men, we are taught to take it a bit further.
From the time that I was young, I was taught in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that everything belongs to me, in large part because I’m a man (though there’s definitely some racial and class socialization thrown the mix).
The disembodied 'I' identifies himself with a noncorporeal reality (the soul, consciousness, transcendence), and from this point on his body becomes Other.
My gaze is more than a simple look and appreciation. ...
It communicates that all bodies are available to me, that as a man, I control all space, and thus, any body that enters that space is mine to leer at and comment upon
From this belief that the body is Other, it is not a far leap to the conclusion that others are their bodies, while the masculine 'I' is a noncorporeal phenomenon. The body rendered as Other-the body repressed or denied and, then, projected-reemerges for this 'I' as the view of Others as essentially body.
Behind my stare exists an advertising industry that objectifies women’s bodies for incredible profit.
Behind my stare is a political system that seeks to regulate women’s bodies outside of their control.
Behind my stare is a pornography and media machine that communicates in nearly every single message that women are endlessly inadequate, weak objects and that men are dominant, in control, and powerful.
Hence, women become the Other; they come to embody corporeality itself. This redundancy becomes their essence, and existence as a woman becomes what Hegel termed "a motionless tautology.
Jamie Utt -
Judith Butler -

Does the above passage accurately describe masculinity in our society? I have found that it does. I've noticed in myself a tendency to behave in the disassociated way the above passage describes. When eating, I race through random abstract thoughts rather than enjoying the food and taking pleasure in the nourishment to my body. When showering, I get lost in reflections of yesterday's conversation, rather than focusing on the task of cleaning myself. When driving, I allow myself to be lost in music, rather than being aware of the physical space that I zoom by.  In short, I disassociate from my body except as a medium for providing the hypnotic pleasure that fuels my mental flights.

But is biology destiny? Or can we at times overcome biological nature and shape culture in new ways? Western culture indoctrinates us to accept that is perfectly natural and inevitable that males will be addicted to the transcendent, leading to a whole culture of male entitlement. We need more outspoken male feminists to balance things out.

The inescapable presence of advertising in our society conditions us to constantly seek superficial rewards. We see advertisements displaying close-ups of salty, sugary, fatty foods, magazines overemphasizing the physical side of sex, and go to schools that promise economic prosperity in exchange for a few years of compliance.

Men in Western societies are especially conditioned to feel they are owed sex as a reward.

There is nothing inherently bad about rewards. Rewards are what makes the economy go.

The problem is entitlement--the feeling that one deserves a reward.

As psychotherapist Wolfgang Giegerich writes,
“The idea behind the feeling of deserving a consolation, reward, or praise is that they think by having done [an ordinary menial job] they have humbled themselves far beneath their actual princely position and need a compensation for their act. In this way they will hold on to and celebrate the majesty of the prince. By feeling that they have humbled themselves, they show precisely that they have not really humbled themselves, but are still living high up in the sphere of the principal and therefore think that they did something that actually was far beneath their dignity only as a favor and out of great kindness. They have not come down.” [Neurosis: The Logic of a Metaphysical Illness. p. 413]
Feelings of entitlement arise when the reward is the only motivation for a behavior.

Life should be more than a constant race for superficial rewards. It should also be about something deeper and grander.

Historically, we could say that our society is in rebellion against the Puritan idea that physical pleasure was sin. However, the idea that the body is a reward center designed solely to provide rewards to consciousness is equally wrong-headed.

The cure is in the feminist idea of ending the culture of male entitlements.

Rewards, when they are given, should be on both the physical and emotional levels. We need to educate people that sex is not a disassociated “physical need” that the current most prevalent sexual education medium teaches it is.

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