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Re: <nettime> Sex Work and Consent at {AT} transmediale
Flick Harrison on Thu, 16 Feb 2012 22:39:13 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> Sex Work and Consent at {AT} transmediale


Margaret,

I googled a bit about the Ehrenreich book and I will check it out in more detail.  But from my brief scan:

I think the impulse of the postwar male to escape the capitalist nuclear family, with its burden of breadwinning, physical domination of the loved ones, and strict conformity, is a smart instinct.  Western women had a foothold in autonomy with their war labour, and the roots that feminism laid in the previous 100 years were able to flower.  So if men started feeling trapped in an outdated fascist structure, which women were also starting to abandon, and so decided to live out their mid-life crises by abandoning familial responsibility for an impossible fantasy, that's a mixed result.  (John's post about marriage as prostitution, especially back then, rings true to me).

Not every shake of the tree loosens up ripe fruit, but in this case I'd argue it might have.

(Of course, the mid-life male's economic status allowed him to purchase some of this fantasy from women with less options - on the street corner, strip club or magazine rack - but not every male would consider this worth doing)

I don't have any illusion that Playboy was all good for everyone, but I think the conservative side of the sexual revolution was really disruptive, and a lot of progress continues to be made as a result.  

Playboy has consistently sided with free speech and sexual freedom of all kinds.  Their solid core is founded on capitalist patriarchy, but it just means that liberal aspects of their propaganda have been injected right into the heart of conservatism.  Both the wildly-libertarian right and the socially-liberal / fiscally-conservative centre-right can (with their lowered gender/class consciousness) enjoy the sexual exploitation of women, in plain defiance of the Moral Majority, who in matters like this sound dangerously close to radical feminism, at least to those barely listening to drive-time radio.
 
The rise of pseudo-feminist outposts like Suicide Girls serve to further confuse the issue.  Does a user-generated network that pays women to undress to their personal comfort level mean an increase in sexual freedom and feminine autonomy, or less?  I think it's less, because women's roles are once again reduced to the object, and the real power lies with the middlemen, as always.  But it's also reflected in the rise of Burlesque as a locus of pseudo-empowerment, with loud salutes to the women of the frontier (seen as liberated by the wild lawlessness of the Klondike or or the Wild West).
 
It's all in stark contrast to the opposite pseudo-feminism of Sarah Palin or Barbara Bachman, who might be seen as better female role models because of their real political power, but whose stern finger-wagging holds little appeal to girls who just want to have fun.

I've never understood the Marxist view of sexual exploitation, because the means of production of value in sexual exploitation belongs to the exploited themselves.  That's a confusing aspect of the whole philosophy that I suppose i should study closer.  Most of what I've read on the subject has been philosophical pretzels that I couldn't untangle (i.e. biopolitics).





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