Tag Archives: capitalism

cw: heterosexism, cissexism, fundamentalism

Contrary to popular misperceptions of fundamentalists, then, [James] Dobson does not see sex as a necessary evil.  For Dobson, sexuality is our most primary energy.  Whereas in Dare to Discipline, he castigates the “scientific experts” whose theories of child rearing led the nation to lose confidence in its heritage of biblical wisdom… Dobson idealizes and fights to preserve the modern family created by those scientific experts he loves to hate. But the point of his nostalgia was never historical accuracy. The point was discipline.

In large measure… this discipline is about maintaining middle-class status.  Historian George Mosse has argued that the emergence of nationalism in the nineteenth century was intimately connected with white middle-class norms regarding respectable sexuality. Dobson cites Joseph Daniel Unwin… who frames the issues as quasi-mathematical law: a civilizations level of cultural attainment is inversely proportional to the openness of its sexual regulations regarding extramarital and premarital sex.

Drawing on Unwin, Dobson identifies sexuality as our deepest truth. It is the heart of personality: “Self-awareness begins with an understanding of our sexual identity… Everything we do is influenced by our gender assignment.” […] Whereas Freud presented the discipline that civilization exacts as a source of discontent, Dobson presents this discipline as true contentment. For the mechanism by which society effects sexual discipline (according to Dobson) is private property: having a mate, a family, and a home of one’s own.

Ann Burlein, Lift High the Cross, p.155-156


more Lehr quotes

[cw: heterosexism, misogyny, racism, classism]

“We can consider further the importance of sexual exclusivity within marriage and the impact of inclusion into the marriage contract by exploring the regulation of marriage through the requirement of consummation, which guarantees that the family is a sexual family.  Richard Collier (1995) provides a detailed analysis of the construction of appropriate sexuality and masculine identity in British law through legal cases contesting the consummation of particular marriages. In these cases, the courts decide what counts as meaningful enough sexual interaction within a marriage so that the marriage should continue… the courts can void those contracts where they — generally in conversation with ‘experts’ such as medical professionals — determine that appropriate sexuality has not taken place.”

–Valerie Lehr, Queer Family Values, p. 28-29

“…In fact, the social privileging of heterosexual monogamy was part of an early twentieth-century attempt to control and civilize European immigrants, and to control and encourage white middle-class women to reproduce.  It was a social norm heavily connected to the middle-class desire to encourage the development of private family life, a life away from the public space of the street.  By forming such isolated family units, men would be influenced by the pro-social desires and needs of their wives; workers would be more hesitant to strike, both because they would be less connected to one another and because they would feel greater responsibility to their wives and children; ideal consumer units would be created; and parents would be able to support their increasingly costly children…  Within this patriarchal construction, women were accorded rights by the state and benefits from the state not as individual, but as mothers and as caretakers of others.”

–p.57

“…Equally important, [creating and maintaining relationships and that embodied romantic and sexual desire] provided a rationale for addressing what had become a serious social concern — an increased number of educated, middle-class women who were choosing not to marry and not to give birth.

In the period immediately prior to the consolidation of the companionate marriage as ‘normal,’ women chose in extraordinary large numbers to forgo marriage and childbearing… The circumstances that gave rise to an ideology that defined single women and men increasingly as ‘sick’ and dangerous are instructive for us today because they reveal the complex ways by which gender, sexuality, race, class norms, and privilege were woven together through the creation of norms of family.”

–p.60-61

“While white middle-class women were giving birth to fewer children in the late 1800s, large numbers of immigrants continued to enter the country and rates of reproduction were higher among immigrants, blacks, and the native working class than for the white middle class.  Spreading the middle-class value of sexual restraint to the working class was one answer to growing fears of ‘race suicide.’ This would only be effective, however, if combined with increasing pressure on white middle-class women to marry and give birth to more children.  President Theodore Roosevelt expressed these desires: ‘By 1906 [Roosevelt] blatantly equated the falling birth rate among native born whites with the impending threat of ‘race suicide.’  In his State of the Union message that year Roosevelt admonished the well-born white women who engaged in “willful sterility” — the one sin for which the penalty is national death, race suicide’ (Davis 1981, 209).”

–p.61

“The development of hegemonic family centered around companionate heterosexual relationships and had a particularly devastating effect on women who often did not have the economic resources to choose not to marry.  The attack used against women who were choosing to not marry was that they were too androgynous — that is, not accepting of their proper place as women.”

–p.61-62

…Does this remind you of anything?


on “Victorian morality”

Given how often I’ve seen the idea that disgust toward sex is haughty and oppressive unless paired with a disclaimer, I’m interested in how that erroneous cultural link formed to begin with.  I can only assume it must have something to do with the upper-class elites of the Victorian age, your classic “prudes,” and this post details the best explanation I’ve come to for what we now know as “Victorian morality,” based on what I can put together from what I can scrounge up on the subject.  If you’re more informed and have corrections or additions to make, please let me know in the comments.

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AA: a point of clarification

In response to a message that I was asked not to publish, I’d like to clarify some things about this mess of a post.  My poor phrasing raised some concerns about what I was implying… so allow me to offer this reassurance:

  • I do not believe that criticizing the sex industry amounts to classism.
  • I do believe that large chunks of the sex industry are predatory and exploitative.
  • I believe that part of what allows the sex industry to be so exploitative is the stigma against the women (+ various others) directly involved in it, since that kind of prior work experience can damage their standing with potential employers in other industries.
  • I’m not interested in touting full decriminalization as a simple answer to these issues, since I regard these problems as being irrevocably tied to a capitalist economic structure, something that legal decriminalization will not alter.

And while I’m on the subject… I’ll state that my views on all this are in large part shaped by my relationship with the copilot, who’s been working as a stripper since my sophomore year of college.  I’m not going to try and speak for her views on the issue, but through her I’ve had second-hand exposure to the ways that stigma and legal interference have made her life harder, and the treatment she has to deal with at work that makes me wish she could leave and never look back, and how much she needs that fast money in order to keep up with all her debt (+ obligatory reminder that you can donate to her paypal at jute.angel@gmail.com to help!).

So, no, I don’t think of it as “just a job.”  And I don’t want anyone else to think of it that way, either.


the things that come up in Islamic Civ class

Yesterday I was taking notes in class, listening to a lecture on the subject of Middle Eastern nations’ attempts to “modernize” (model themselves after Western Europe) around the turn of the century and mid 1900s, when suddenly,

“Capitalism depends on the nuclear family.”

Nearly exact quote of what the professor said.

Hmmmmmmmmm.


to give you an example of what I’m talking about

So due to the extenuating circumstances of I-take-choir-class-for-the-fine-arts-credit-and-choir-class-requires-occasional-group-perfomances-at-the-school-chapel, I attended chapel service today and stayed to listen to the “message,” aka their mini sermon.

The gist of it was about “clutter” and materialism and resisting it to make time for the important things in life (like God) and how “there’s this pressure to be busy, to be productive, to produce something” and the entire time I’m sitting there thinking,

Yeah.  And where does that pressure come from?  Hm?

What pushes us that direction in the first place?

Never addressed.

That’s the sort of thing I mean, you know, where it goes there but doesn’t really go there.


Corruption in the Holy Places

[ cw for suicide and medical abuse ]

No one really knows how much of the medical literature is ghostwritten, but a hint emerged in a 2003 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry (BJP).  A lawsuit brought against Pfizer in 1999 had turned up documents produced by a medical communications company called Current Medical Directions, which was responsible for a publication strategy for Pfizer’s antidepressant Zoloft.  These documents listed all the Zoloft studies that Current Medical Directions was preparing for publication in 1999. The authors of the BJP article, David Healy and Dinah Cattel, decided to track down the articles on Zoloft that Current Medical Directions had been working on in 1999 and see what had happened to them.  They picked three years (1998, 1999, and 2000) and searched the medical literature for articles published on Zoloft during that time.  They found that the agency-prepared articles outnumbered the articles written in the traditional way, were published in more prestigious journals, and had citation rates over five times that of traditionally authored articles.  The ghosted articles also painted a much happier profile of Zoloft than did the traditionally authored articles.  For example, the articles prepared by Current Medical Directions on pediatric psychopharmacology failed to mention five of the six children taking Zoloft who took action toward committing suicide.

Metzl, Jonathan M., and Anna Kirkland, eds. Against health: How health became the new morality. NYU Press, 2010. (p. 99-100)

In layman’s terms: companies are commissioning ghostwritten articles about their drugs and getting them published in medical journals.  Or in other words, they’re advertising in places where there’s not supposed to be advertising, specifically in order to deceive people about the content’s origins.

While I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater, I worry that people are too quick to forget about things like this when they associate cultural prestige with credibility.


Capitalism, (Re)Production, and Bread and Circuses

The other day, I came across this part of this essay by Marlene Dixon, and you can guess what it prompted some thoughts about.

If we conceptualize human reproduction as “production” in the capitalistic sense (that is, production of future labor), and if we conceptualize bodies that are capable of conceiving as the “means of production”, and if we conceptualize bodily autonomy, consequently, as a threat to oligarchical control over the means of production, then some of the classic objections to asexuality — while still irrational — begin to make a little more sense.

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