How to make a PC ‘queer’ party

Today in “What Does the Word Queer Mean, Anyway?” is this article by homosexual male transwoman Rose Dommu, entitled “A Party Has to Be More Than Gay to Qualify as “Queer.”

As you can see from the title, the article is about how to make your queer parties more queer. I am always fascinated by the ways in which today’s SJW liberals use the word queer, and this article provides lots of notable examples. Here are some quotes that reveal what “queer” means to this writer.

“The meaning of queer has evolved over time, resulting in a generational divide in how people perceive its meaning. Starting in the early 1900s, “queer” was used as a synonym—and slur—for “gay.” In the 70s, the word was reclaimed by LGBTQ activists and intellectuals in their fight for gay rights—hence, the still-popular chant, “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.”

So the author is aware that “queer” first existed as an insult used against homosexuals—I’m relieved to know that, because some “queer” writers don’t seem to be aware of that. However, he uses some more modern meanings too.

“In a 2016 New York Times Magazine article called “When Everyone Can Be ‘Queer,’ Is Anyone?”, writer Jenna Wortham detangled the nebulous definitions and political connotations surrounding the term, explaining how it came to be reclaimed by the LGBTQ community from a pejorative to its current status as a self-applied term of empowerment. Queerness, she wrote, derives its radical power from its inclusivity. “But that inclusivity,” she continued, “offers a false promise of equality that does not translate to the lived reality of most queer people.”

Ha! I’ve asked myself the same question. Now that queer has become so vague a term that anybody can call themselves that, the word has become meaningless. It’s the equivalent of “trendy” or “edgy,” basically. The queer cult likes to erase the meanings of words, something they consider to be revolutionary, but which I consider to be unhelpful, because we actually need meaningful words in order to communicate.

Anyway, here is the first modern meaning of “queer” demonstrated in this article: “a self-applied term of empowerment.” Yes, “queer” is a label that people apply to themselves to gain something—usually cool points that can be cashed in among liberal friends. Sometimes calling yourself “queer” can even get you material benefits, like giving you an edge when running for a political position or career position in a liberal establishment.

“Empowerment” is a term that comes from the media-led third wave “feminist” backlash against actual feminism. Empowerment™ is a feel-good lifestyle product you can buy from the companies that market it. The thing itself could be anything that capitalism sells—makeup, clothing, plastic surgeries, sexy photos, etc, but the advertising campaign surrounding the thing gives it an aura of Empowerment™. (This consumer product should not be confused with actual power, which is something one cannot earn by purchasing products.) Calling yourself “queer,” in liberal circles, can get you the same vaguely defined Empowerment™ feeling.

“Queerness derives its radical power from its inclusivity.” This is a word salad. Power is the ability to exercise control or influence. You don’t get power from “inclusivity.” I’m not sure what “radical power” would even mean. This is one of those phrases that people just write because the words look pretty when sitting next to each other like that. It doesn’t actually mean anything.

“Part of what’s driving the term’s adoption by the LGBTQ community is a pushback against the rigid ideas and definitions of sexuality that were prominent in the gay rights movement for so long. Essentially, “queer” has transcended sexual orientations like “gay” or “straight,” and become a self-identifier for those who choose to live in opposition to social norms of sex and gender.”

This is interesting because he actually comes out and admits that “queer” has nothing to do with being lesbian or gay anymore. It’s something anyone can claim if they think they’re being subversive in some way. The heterosexuals with green hair who think they’re “queer” don’t seem to consider that it might be homophobic to call themselves by a word that was historically used to insult gays and lesbians in order to seem cool.

“You don’t choose to be gay, but I believe that you do choose to be queer. That choice—to reject heteronormative, patriarchal standards—is the root of queerness. Not all gay people are queer, and the inverse is just as true.”

So being “queer” means making a choice to support a certain brand of politics. One can “reject heteronormativity” while being a heterosexual in a heterosexual relationship. Sadly, there is no detail offered here about how that could be possible. If it’s by switching gender roles among the man and the woman, so that she earns the money and he takes care of the kids, then what I have to say about that is that we used to call that feminist back in the day when feminism wasn’t passé. If it’s by “identifying” as not being heterosexual despite actually being heterosexual, then that’s a load of horse shit.

“Queerness is the intersection of the political and personal, a way to quantify how the personal becomes political. It informs who we vote for, who we socialize with, the music we listen to, and the art and media we consume.”

Indeed. He’s just proving all my points for me. Queerness is a consumer lifestyle choice involving choosing to consume certain things. Consuming the right things brings us Empowerment™. Listen, kids: late-stage capitalism has sold you the idea that choosing consumer choices and buying shit will bring you Empowerment™ on purpose so that they could sell you products. This isn’t a liberation movement, it’s a successful marketing scheme.

(I just want to thank Twisty Faster here because I’m totally just repeating everything she taught me back in the day when she was blogging.)

“But when you apply the idea of queerness to nightlife, things can get dicey. You can’t simply call a party “queer”; there’s actual work you have to do make a space welcoming, inclusive, and safe for queer people. Calling something “queer”—or using any number of queer buzzwords or aesthetic identifiers in your party promo—comes with a certain level of responsibility to live up to what the term encompasses. And there is no place where that tension is more visible than in nightlife.”

“Queer” is about aesthetic identifiers—a group of artistic signals conveying the brand of politics you have. It’s an artistic style, a decoration scheme. It’s rainbow-coloured crap made in China bought from the dollar store, destined for the landfill after the party is over. Liberation through consumption!

“How can a party claim to be “queer” if the lineup isn’t diverse, the cover is too high, there isn’t accessibility for those who are differently abled, or it takes place in a club where the staff and security might antagonize people of color or gender non-conforming individuals? LGBTQ nightlife is still primarily dominated by white cisgender gay men, so how can a party be queer when it’s exclusive of the whole rainbow?”

Okay…I agree that community events should be accessible. But it almost sounds like “queer” is being used to mean “good party planning.”

“And when it comes to nightlife, the major difference between a party being “gay” or “queer” comes down to choices as well.”

There it is again: “queer” = “good party planning.”

This is his ultimate conclusion:

“The bottom line is that queer women, trans people, people of color, people with disabilities, people who are neurodivergent, and people without access to capital or privilege—we’re at these parties. We’re paying the cover—OK, I’m not, I’m always on the list—we’re buying drinks, and we’re in the party photos. We’re not tokens or aberrations; we’re part of the community. That means we should be represented on the lineup, too—otherwise, nightlife will never be “queer.”

So, the customers who are the consumers of a “queer” product deserve to be catered to by the sellers of that product. True—that’s one of the laws of the marketplace—market to your customer.

The thing about the “queer” community is it’s not a liberation movement. If it was a liberation movement, then it would be doing the tiring, unglamorous, and thankless work of finding housing, medical care and a stable income for those people who have disabilities, who are from racial minorities, who are without access to capital, etc. But instead they’re just demanding that these communities be marketed to and represented in marketing campaigns.

Sheila Jeffreys explained in Unpacking Queer Politics that the revolutionary gestures made by practitioners of “queer” politics amount to acts of “transgression.” Transgression means going against traditional social customs in terms of sexual behavior or dress. Therefore homosexual behavior is “queer,” but so are antisocial and dysfunctional behaviors such as public sex and sexual abuse. Both healthy homosexual relations and abusive heterosexual relations can be considered equivalent in terms of their ability to transgress and therefore both “queer,” which is a politics that equates homosexuals with sex offenders, without any consideration for the inherent homophobia in this position. Wearing the clothing and appearance of the opposite sex is a transgression, but practitioners require traditional social customs to be intact in order for their transgressions to be shocking. If we were to actually eliminate sex role stereotypes, then their transgressions wouldn’t be transgressions anymore, so they actually have no interest in challenging traditional gender roles, because that would ruin their fun. Jeffreys calls “queer” politics a form of “night club activism.” As we see in this article, “queer” politics can be practiced simply by planning a good party.

Now that I’ve thoroughly demolished queer politics, let’s take a look at what we learn about this author from this article.

“I get a lot of flack for being vocally opposed to this kind of femme and trans erasure in nightlife. But as a trans woman, I often feel like if I don’t speak up, who else will? Sometimes, when I vocalize some kind of criticism about a supposedly “queer” party being too male-centered, I even face a backlash from members of the LGBTQ community. Often, someone will say, “Well, two years ago, you were a gay man, so who are you to talk?”

“Yet, for decades, a majority of trans women like myself have actualized their identities through gay communities, often within the space of LGBTQ nightclubs. For many of us who first identify as gay men and then go on to transition, our gay and queer social circles function as family, social group, and dating pool all at once. Once we transition, those bonds are the same, but the way we experience them is irrevocably altered. We still want to go dance with our sisters, but we don’t always feel welcome in the same way.”

“Recently, I went to a gay male-centered sex party at a queer after-hours spot to celebrate a friend’s birthday, and within an hour, my friends had abandoned me to play in the darkroom—a space where I felt not only unnecessary, but unwelcome. Going from being a fag to a fag hag is a fucking trip, man.”

I’m just going to rephrase some of this in my straight-to-the-point language. This is a gay man who has had the same group of gay male friends who party together over a period of several years, and recently he has decided to disregard the facts of human anatomy and call himself a ‘woman.’ His gay male friends still all know he is a gay male, but now they’re supposed to call him by female pronouns. Understandably, not all of them are buying this.

He says he actualized his transwoman identity through the queer community, and that other gay men do this too. He completely misses the fact that it’s a tragedy that the queer community encourages homosexuals to view themselves as something else.

This is a man who is complaining that parties that he is able to attend are too male-focused. Even though these parties are literally for men like him, he does not feel adequately included since they don’t specifically cater to his silly and nonsensical identity.

Can I just mention here that if you are spending lots of your energy worrying about how well people are including you at a party, then you probably are not experiencing much real difficulty in life.

He attended a gay male sex party, which goes to show that he still knows he is a gay male and doesn’t take his identity as a ‘woman’ very seriously. Even though he is a gay male who knows he is a gay male, he found gay sex play in a back room ‘unnecessary’ and felt that he was ‘unwelcome’ there, because of his ‘identity.’

I agree with him on one thing. He is definitely ‘tripping.’

I am sad to see the way ‘queer’ politics separates lesbians from lesbian communities and separates gay men from gay male communities. I am angry to see how ‘queer’ politics erases the facts of human anatomy and therefore our ability to organize for liberation for groups such as women and sexual minorities such as lesbians and gays.

It’s time for lesbians and gays everywhere to resist queer politics. Leave that for the heterosexuals with green hair who think they’re cool. What we need is lesbian and gay community, and radical, liberation politics to fight back against women’s oppression and economic class oppression.

Alienation

As you know, I am slowly learning Marxist theory. One aspect of Marxist theory that caught my attention this spring is the concept of alienation. I’m going to try to explain it in my own words, using a situation that happened to me recently as an example.

I have to put a disclaimer here—I am only a beginner at Marxist theory and you should definitely not consider me an expert! Marxist theory is a huge topic to learn and I’ve only taken a few steps so far. I expect I will continue learning it throughout the course of my life.

From the Marxists.org glossary:

“Alienation is the process whereby people become foreign to the world they are living in.”

The Wikipedia page for Marx’s theory of alienation lists four types of alienation:

  • Alienation of the worker from their product
  • Alienation of the worker from the act of production
  • Alienation of the worker from their Gattungswesen (species-essence)
  • Alienation of the worker from other workers

So workers become “foreign to the world they are living in” by being alienated from the means of production, from the products they make, from their species-essence, and from each other.

In the Marxists.org glossary, these paragraphs explain how a person could produce without becoming alienated.

“If the workers related to their product as an expression of their own essence and recognized themselves in their product and were recognized by others in their work, then this was not the basis for alienation; on the contrary, this was the only genuinely human relation.

“Let us suppose that we had carried out production as human beings. Each of us would have in two ways affirmed himself and the other person. 1) In my production I would have objectified my individuality, its specific character, and therefore enjoyed not only an individual manifestation of my life during the activity, but also when looking at the object I would have the individual pleasure of knowing my personality to be objective, visible to the senses and hence a power beyond all doubt. 2) In your enjoyment or use of my product I would have the direct enjoyment both of being conscious of having satisfied a human need by my work, that is, of having objectified man’s essential nature, and of having thus created an object corresponding to the need of another man’s essential nature. … Our products would be so many mirrors in which we saw reflected our essential nature.”

“Alienation can be overcome by restoring the truly human relationship to the labour process, by people working in order to meet people’s needs, working as an expression of their own human nature, not just to earn a living.”

When we can produce things that we need because we need them, for ourselves and for our communities, in a self-directed way and using our own talents, we are connected to what we produce and can experience satisfaction and pleasure from our work.

Under capitalism, workers cannot choose what to produce, instead we must produce what capitalists tell us to. What capitalists decide to produce doesn’t depend on what is needed by humans, other animals, and the environment, it depends on what is profitable for them to produce.

(In case anyone is going to argue— yes, some of the things that capitalism produces are things we actually need. However, in many cases we don’t need something and they use marketing to convince us that we do.)

I really liked Wikipedia’s list of four ways that people are alienated. Here I have described them in my own words.

1 Workers are alienated from their products because we don’t choose what products we produce and we don’t own them. We don’t even choose how they are produced—the way we make them is determined by those who own the means of production. We are simply selling our labor and obeying orders, so we are not necessarily using our own creativity and inventiveness in creating things. The things we create don’t reflect ourselves, they reflect the owners.

2 Workers perform labor under a system of coercion. The only way we can survive is by selling our labor, and the way we labor is externally controlled. The labor we do has no intrinsic worth to us because it’s only being done for the wages we receive.

3 The bit about Gattungswesen (species-essence) is a bit beyond my comprehension, but I’ll give it a shot. Humans are self-aware and conceive of ourselves as subjects and the things we produce as objects, while a non-human animal also engages in self-sustaining activities but without our level of awareness of itself as a subject. Since the objects we produce are reflections of ourselves, when we cannot produce objects of our own accord we are deprived of the ability to represent ourselves, and are thus deprived of our species-essence. (And if you want a better explanation, ask someone who knows Marxist theory better than I do!)

4 Workers are alienated from each other because we are trained to see ourselves as free agents in competition with each other instead of as teammates with common interests in a class struggle. (And I have to add my own comment here: when fake leftists insist that we have tons of free choice and agency, without actually doing anything in the real world to give us more power, what they’re doing is erasing the reality of class struggle and preventing us from eliminating oppression. They’re doing exactly the opposite of being a leftist—they are anti-left and pro-oppression.)

So let’s use an example to illustrate a point. Recently a friend of mine altered some clothes for me, and this experience gave me a concrete example of connection and disconnection to the act of production.

Workers who sew clothing for a living are alienated from the clothing they produce because they do not produce what they need to wear or even what their communities need to wear, they produce whatever their boss tells them to and the clothing they make is owned by their boss. It will get sold in other countries to people they will never meet and they will never earn the profit from it. They will only get small wages for their labor. The clothing they produce is not a reflection of who they are and is meaningless to them.

Workers do not control how clothing is produced. They cannot create their own hours or use their own creativity in their labor. They cannot control what fabric to use, where the fabric comes from, what patterns to use, or what pieces to sew and when. The act of production therefore is meaningless and cannot bring any joy as an activity.

Consumers who buy clothing are ignorant of the conditions under which it was produced. We don’t know where the materials came from, how they were made, who sewed the clothing, what it was like for them sewing it, or how it was transported to us. All we see is a product in a store. We never see the landfill the garments go into after we’re done using them. The clothing is therefore hardly meaningful to us at all.

Contrast this with what happened the other day when my friend altered some clothes for me.

The producer (her) used her own intelligence and skill to make something. She got to produce something that reflected her unique talents and skills and be recognized for her ability. She got to feel proud of what she is capable of making. She got to experience the satisfaction of creating something that was directly needed by someone she knows and who expressed appreciation for what she made.

The consumer (me) got to see the work and skill that went into an article of clothing that I wear, making the product meaningful to me. I experienced being cared for by someone who wanted to spend her time making something for me. I now have items of clothing that remind me of a positive experience with a friend, and therefore make me happy whenever I wear them in a way that store-bought clothes cannot.

This allowed me a little glimpse of what Marxist theory teaches: Alienation can be overcome by restoring the truly human relationship to the labour process, by people working in order to meet people’s needs, working as an expression of their own human nature, not just to earn a living.

I noticed that after this experience I felt both friendship and community. Even though we were doing work, it was not an experience of oppression, but an experience of positive human interaction and expression.

Socialists aren’t trying to eliminate the need for people to do work, (which would be impossible—obviously humans need to produce things in order to survive), we’re trying to eliminate the enslavement of workers so that we can do meaningful and self-directed work, enjoy our work, and express our humanity. Work outside a system of capitalism could be something positive, meaningful, and life-affirming.

I believe the Marxist theory of alienation is a good way to conceptualize why so many people are miserable and engaging in addictions, hopeless searching for meaning, magical thinking, and dysfunctional behavior. When you are alienated from the things you do every day and feeling bored and unfulfilled and unable to be the author of your own life, (and also unable to explain the source of your misery), you look for quick pick-me-ups and treats (like sugar, drugs, etc) and you engage in defense mechanisms and behave in ways that bring a sense of power or control over your life, however superficial that sense of power may be. You’re also susceptible to falling into belief systems and cults that offer false solutions to your problems. Capitalism itself offers us false solutions to problems constantly: marketing campaigns teach us that the key to happiness is purchasing the correct products. However, purchasing products in not actually a way to achieve happiness. I think the solution to many people’s mental illnesses (not ALL mental illnesses) is genuine human connection and human experience, such as meaningful, self-directed work and play, doing things that have intrinsic value rather than just external rewards, caring for others, and doing positive things for the community.

Yet another ‘New Left’, just as neoliberal as the last one

Today I read yet another article by a faux-leftist neoliberal waxing poetic about how a “New Left” is being born because of the Trump presidency and the Women’s March and it will be a bigger, better Left that actually does something and there will be movement! and resistance! and unity! and blah, blah, blah. I’m not going to link to it because you don’t even need to read it. You’ve read it plenty of times already. Every time the Left loses there is another article like this that says we are going to learn from our past mistakes and we are going to do better and next time we will win. And it includes all the liberal/leftist buzzwords du jour. This one was no different.

The Left doesn’t actually get “reborn” every time a right-wing politician wins or every time someone creates a hashtag or writes a thinkpiece. The people who value equality, social justice and the environment value these things all the time, regardless of who is in power or what is happening. The same people will just continue with what they were doing. There is no magical rising of the phoenix from the ashes, it’s just business as usual. (Or maybe I should say ‘anti-business’ as usual.)

No one who has been in power since I’ve been alive has been on the Left. The true Left was systematically destroyed decades ago, and what has existed since then has mostly been a feeble attempt to make capitalism slightly friendlier, without actually overthrowing it. Some people would argue that this actually serves capitalism, because as long as it’s the “slightly friendlier” version or as long as people believe it is, we all remain complacent and don’t take any radical action against it. (And by the way, only people in rich countries are in a position to think that capitalism can be at all friendlier. We aren’t the ones working in sweatshops that collapse while we’re in them or have suicide nets surrounding them.)

Leftists who write thinkpieces like to act as though we need something new to invigorate leftism. Some new movement or idea or new hashtag or slogan. But we don’t need anything new, what we need is something quite old. We need class consciousness, material analysis, and direct action. What passes for the Left these days is neoliberalism, but that is not what the Left is.

Faux-left thinkpieces lately have been calling for more “intersectionality” and this would be a good thing if they actually meant intersectionality. This word used to refer to an analysis of women’s oppression that took into account how race and class intersected to affect how different groups of women are oppressed. This was a necessary analysis since white women’s and upper class women’s experiences don’t represent everyone else’s but this group has historically gotten the most attention within feminism. However, the concept of intersectionality has been twisted to the point of being unrecognizable. The way it is being used today is effectively a call to include the interests of pimps and of men with a sexual fetish for cross-dressing to be centered within feminism. This is obviously anti-feminist, but because the pimp lobby and the autogynephile rights lobby have cloaked themselves in apparently-feminist outfits and no one can be bothered to do any actual research or thinking, they just play right along.

After the women’s march last weekend, neoliberal faux-leftists started claiming that the references to female body parts at the women’s march meant that we are not “intersectional” enough. What this means is that women are not supposed to talk about our oppression as women anymore, because this upsets men who wish they were women, and their views have to be included in feminism in order to make it “intersectional.” Telling women we cannot talk about our oppression as women is not intersectionality, it’s anti-feminism.

President Shitface has already “signed an executive order banning international NGOs from providing abortion services or offering information about abortions if they receive US funding.” This type of anti-abortion policy affects those of us who are biologically female, regardless of how we identify. Female biology matters, and those who have it are considered second-class citizens in a patriarchy. Transgender politics may seem “intersectional” by liberals, but they obscure the reality of sex-based oppression on which the feminist movement is based.

The way to rebuild the broken left is not to dig ourselves farther into the hole of neoliberal bullshit, it’s to get back to our roots. The left is the political position that brings us class consciousness. Women are a class of people oppressed because of our sex, and that is fundamental to understanding feminism. The working class are a class of people oppressed by capitalism, and this is fundamental in understanding the labor movement. We shouldn’t include the interests of men in feminism any more than we should include the interests of the rich in the labor movement.

Neoliberal politics where everyone is an individual agent choosing choices is a pro-capitalist ideology—this is the ideology that prevents class consciousness from developing and promotes consumer spending. This is not the Left, it is a backlash against the Left. The new identity politics where anyone can “identify” as anything they want is not a material analysis of oppression, it’s a way of obscuring the material analysis of oppression. It’s useful for people to name where they are socially located in a system of oppression: by their sex, race, class, sexual orientation, or disability status, because these social locations have material consequences that we can measure. But when people start “identifying as” something other than what they actually are that is a misuse of identity politics and a misunderstanding of how oppression works.

More neoliberal bullshit will keep moving us backwards. The faux left has nothing to offer oppressed people, it only has something to offer people who enjoy taking on “identities” and who like bashing feminists. The way to fix the left is to go old-school. We have the exact same task in front of us that we’ve always had. We have to teach class consciousness and material analysis of oppression, we have to educate about the effects of climate change and end stage capitalism, we have to take power away from the powerful and end capitalism and imperialism. We have to create a human society with positive values that is sustainable and doesn’t rely on fossil fuels. This has been the task of the Left for decades already. (Ideally, of course, it should be the task of all humans, since we’re all going down when our ship sinks, even the rich.)

It’s an overwhelmingly huge task to end capitalism, and maybe that’s why we are sitting around doing stupid stuff like having “pronoun circles,” because that makes us feel like we’re doing something, even though we’re too overwhelmed to do what we are actually supposed to be doing. Any impossibly large task has to be broken down into smaller tasks in order to be achievable. It also requires large numbers of people on board. People who care about social justice and the environment should organize task forces to solve achievable goals, and should do what they are capable of within a larger culture of resistance.

The faux-leftists calling for more “intersectionality” in the neoliberal sense as a way to improve the Left are embarrassingly off the mark. Neoliberalism is what’s holding us back from doing what we need to do. It’s what we need to get rid of in order to move forward.

French police “exhausted,” ask unions to hold off

The strike continues in France. I first wrote about it here.

From the Telegraph:

“France’s main police union on Tuesday pleaded with workers to put off a national day of demonstrations on Thursday against a controversial labour law saying they are too “exhausted” to cope with protests on top of dealing with the Euro and terror threats.

The plea came as workers unions opposed to the labour law categorically rejected government demands that any demonstration on Thursday in Paris must be “static” after previous marches through the French capital ended in violent standoffs with police and vandalism.

Stuck in the middle of the standoff between the government and the hardline CGT union and its allies, France’s main police union Alliance said officers were in desperate need of respite.

“We’re asking for this demonstration to be postponed, along with any other static protests as our colleagues are on all fronts and are exhausted, worn out, and tired,” said Frédéric Lagache, Alliance deputy secretary general.

“They find these demonstrations all the harder to bear as they are repetitive and very violent,” he said. According to several police unions, some 200 officers were injured in demonstrations on June 14. Police chiefs put the number at 28.”

This is how you do left-wing activism, folks. You strengthen unions, you strengthen class consciousness and solidarity among the working class, you protest violently when the ruling class tries to take away your rights, you shut down major institutions, you disrupt capitalism, you protest for so long that the police can’t control you anymore. And then you win. We should be paying lots more attention to this situation. This is a model of what activism we should be doing elsewhere. The U.S.A is completely controlled by industries that create private wealth for a tiny number of individuals who extract resources from the planet and its people and cause widespread poverty, illness, and environmental destruction. We absolutely need to be fighting back. We’ll know we’re doing it right when the ruling class is scared of us.

Those who are promoting individual solutions to problems based on consumerism and “choosing choices” are not on the left, they are promoting neoliberalism and capitalism, some of the most destructive forces on the planet, which is hurting the very people they’re trying to help.

We’ll be liberated from oppression when we are no longer controlled by an elite group of capitalists who plunder everything they can find, and when we can create our own culture based on a fair and just economy that protects the living planet and treats humans and non-human animals with respect and dignity. The revolution will only happen after we stop navel-gazing and act on adult maturity and responsibility to carefully plan strategies that will work, and execute our plans with full commitment.

The marketing of gender roles

Photographer JeongMee Yoon did an excellent photo project where she photographed children with their toys and accessories to show how striking the pink and blue contrast is between girls’ and boys’ things. It’s called The Pink and Blue project and you can see it here.

blue and pink

Yoon writes an excellent analysis of what is happening in these photos on her site:

“My current work, The Pink and Blue Projects are the topic of my thesis. This project explores the trends in cultural preferences and the differences in the tastes of children (and their parents) from diverse cultures, ethnic groups as well as gender socialization and identity. The work also raises other issues, such as the relationship between gender and consumerism, urbanization, the globalization of consumerism and the new capitalism.

The Pink and Blue Projects were initiated by my five-year-old daughter, who loves the color pink so much that she wanted to wear only pink clothes and play with only pink toys and objects. I discovered that my daughter’s case was not unusual. In the United States, South Korea and elsewhere, most young girls love pink clothing, accessories and toys. This phenomenon is widespread among children of various ethnic groups regardless of their cultural backgrounds. Perhaps it is the influence of pervasive commercial advertisements aimed at little girls and their parents, such as the universally popular Barbie and Hello Kitty merchandise that has developed into a modern trend. Girls train subconsciously and unconsciously to wear the color pink in order to look feminine.”

She goes on from there and also analyzes the change in colours during the 20th century. Before World War II, the colours were pink for boys and blue for girls. It’s obvious these colours are an arbitrary social construction and not an innate preference when you consider that the colours used to be exactly the opposite. She also talks about how the manufacturers of children’s toys teach girls to develop an interest in makeup, beauty and domestic chores and teach boys to develop an interest in science, robots and industry.

Her analysis is spot-on. She identifies that gender roles are being taught by marketing and consumer products, which are coming from globalized capitalism, and that they are successfully teaching young people their “gender,” right from the early years. She identifies that many children will grow out of wanting everything pink or blue as they get older, although a few of them keep this preference.

This all seems very obvious to me. As I write this blog post I’m thinking that I’m really not saying anything new and I’m probably beating a dead horse. But there are people out there who think that a little girl’s love for pink is an innate preference that has nothing to do with socialization, and that a little girl’s love for blue and science/sports toys makes her innately a boy. These people have obviously had their brains completely swallowed up by marketing. Any adult should have the media literacy skills to realize when they’re being marketed to, and to resist the messages coming from capitalism to buy more stuff. Responsible adults should know that buying stuff is not the key to happiness and that marketers will sell you a pack of lies to get you to buy their stuff. It seems to me this is really basic knowledge that everyone needs to exist in the world. The fact that people cannot see through a marketing campaign and cannot name it as capitalist propaganda designed to sell stuff means that neo-liberalism and capitalism are indeed winning. (Of course, we already knew that.) I try to analyze culture a lot on this blog, because that’s one of the things we have to do as lefties is analyze the culture that capitalism is creating. Step one in fighting back is analyzing the situation. Unfortunately, we never seem to get beyond step one, because so many people are invested in the notion of consumer choice as a path to liberation.

Children’s play doesn’t actually have to involve consumer products. I can’t believe that even needs explaining, but it does. There are tons of games and activities that don’t require any stuff at all, like tag, hide-and-go-seek, climbing a tree, or looking for insects in the yard. There are many games to be played with ordinary household objects, like building forts, or playing “school” or “house.” Kids have excellent imaginations and can turn anything into anything. A cardboard box can be a space ship that you can use to travel through space, and a couch can be a pirate ship under siege. Tables and chairs can be buildings and a living room can be an entire city. The fewer consumer products kids are playing with, the better. Consumer products kill the imagination because they tell you exactly how you should play.

I still have some photos of when I was ten and we had the best day ever flooding the backyard garden. It was a warm day in early spring and there was nothing planted yet, and we were allowed to put water in the dirt pile to make mud. We built little islands out of mud and brought out plastic toy boats and we drove the boats through the muddy water around the islands. Two girls and two boys did this and we had a great time and got all muddy. It would have been incomprehensible to me to call this a “boys’ activity.” It’s just an activity.

These kids with their rigid gender roles and “innate” love of certain consumer products would really benefit from being allowed to go outside and play.

French workers on strike

This is how I know we don’t have a left in North America. Check out what they’re doing in France! (And please do click on the link and watch the video.)

From BBC.com:

“Strike action over labour law reforms gripped France on Thursday, with oil refineries, nuclear power stations and transport hubs disrupted.

Riot police battled protesters in Paris and other cities, making 77 arrests, while 15 officers were injured and cars and shops were vandalised.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls insists the reforms will not be withdrawn but has suggested they could be “modified”.

Tear gas filled the air as police in Paris struggled to contain a march which set off from Place de la Bastille.

Of the arrests, 36 were made in the capital while other cities like Lyon and Bordeaux saw similar confrontations.

Officials say 153,000 people took part across France though union leaders put the number at nearly twice that.”

This is a large group of workers who know they are a class of people with a common interest and who work together to protect their interests. They aren’t afraid of disrupting production and they aren’t afraid of police violence. This is what the left is. This type of action requires an entire culture based on class consciousness, solidarity, and strong unions.

The so-called “left” in North America is currently working to prevent anyone from developing a class consciousness, preferring to have us all think of ourselves as individuals who can choose our own choices, and they are against showing solidarity to anyone (particularly women) and prefer engaging in horizontal hostility. Hardly anyone is willing to think about where this “I choose my choice” paradigm comes from (it comes from neo-liberalism, individualism, consumerism, CAPITALISM), and the effect this paradigm has on the working class (it makes us weaker as a group because it prevents us from fighting for our interests).

The politics of navel-gazing and affirming “identities” and changing our own bodies instead of changing the world is not left politics, it’s a manifestation of our defeat. The promotion of the idea that oppressed peoples such as prostituted women “choose” their oppression because of their “agency” is a manifestation of our defeat, too. We’ve collectively swallowed the neo-liberal agenda that’s been fed to us in a deliberate attempt to allow the already powerful to accumulate even more private wealth.

We should be getting together as a group to fight with all we’ve got against those who plunder the environment, the working class, and women. We know who the enemy is. The enemy is not feminists who understand biology, or shop clerks who call men “sir,” the enemy is those who have the material power to extract resources from the planet and its people to create private wealth and destroy the living environment in the process.

What the left has turned into in North America is an embarrassing disgrace. So-called “progressives” are no-platforming anyone who displays class consciousness, an action which basically amounts to punching yourself hard in the face, and the right is laughing at us. The entire labour movement and the feminist movement need to be rebuilt from scratch.

Take a look at France. They’ve got it right.

We’re all gonna die

So I read some more of Deep Green Resistance. I’m still getting through this book really slowly, even though I like to read, because it’s so bloody depressing that I can barely make myself pick it up.

The first half of the book is theoretical and the second half is practical. It’s the theoretical part that is depressing, and I finished it last night, so I think it will be smooth sailing for the rest of the book now. The next section will be on strategies and organization, so I’m looking forward to that.

The last part of the theory section is about other environmentalists and why their plans aren’t going to work. The main reasons are because they believe renewable energy sources are more efficient than they are or because they aren’t working to end capitalism. There is a whole detailed explanation of why wind and solar energy cannot power civilization, and how if you are not stopping capitalism then you aren’t going to succeed in stopping the destruction of the earth, nor are you creating a world worth living in.

We are going to reach the end of fossil fuels soon, and we cannot replace them with any other fuel without continuing to destroy the planet. Not only will we not be able to keep civilization going, but we will run out of food, too. When topsoil is dead the only way to make plants grow is with fertilizer made from fossil fuels. Our food system is dependent on fossil fuels, so when we reach peak oil we will also reach peak food. The human population is way over carrying capacity and we are headed toward widespread starvation.

DGR recommends reducing the human population by lowering the birth rate, which can be accomplished by raising the status of women. When women can control our own fertility, we have fewer children. It’s men who cause overpopulation by controlling women’s bodies and forcing us to give birth to more soldiers for their wars. Human males are the most dangerous and destructive force on the planet. They are absolutely not qualified to be in charge and they need to be stopped.

If we are going to survive, we have to stop capitalism and patriarchy. Unfortunately, all the progressive movements have been taken over by neo-liberalism, causing us to degenerate into apolitical navel-gazers who no-platform anybody who actually understands what is going on and what needs to be done about it. The ability of human beings to be stupid, incompetent and useless is just astounding. I honestly don’t have any hope that we are going to save the planet because people are too goddamm stupid to get their act together. I find myself feeling a constant underlying despair that I can’t do anything about. Being a member of the proletariat, and having no assets, I have to work for capitalism in order to earn enough money to meet my basic needs. Every day I go to work knowing that what I’m doing is pointless because the whole system is going down anyway,  but I have to pretend like everything is normal so no one thinks I’m a crazy person. In fact, I am completely crazy and should be wearing a tin foil hat.

It feels like being in the zombie apocalypse, honestly. I’m surrounded by drooling idiots stumbling around consuming everything in their path with no awareness whatsoever of what’s going on around them. When I meet people who are still alive and not turned into zombies, I’m overjoyed!

I’m not going to turn into a zombie. I’m going to keep my eyes and ears open and pay attention to what is going on and do whatever I can to help the resistance movement. I will not go down without a fight.