The Fairest Maidenhead of All

OK, my friends, let’s dive right in.  Shall we?  Well, I don’t mean that literally, of course. Nevertheless, I begin this post by notifying all of you that we are entering generally forbidden territory given our well-manicured modern world.  So let my rant begin.

Our own Javacat alerted us this week to a new product marketing campaign that is just now sweeping through India where being dark-skinned is still an obstacle to socio-economic advancement, and apparently a roadblock to happy sexual relations as well. With a long history of color-based caste distinctions on the subcontinent, it comes as no shock that India’s dramatic economic turn towards the West is also targeting fairness of the flesh as a necessary condition for a satisfying sex life. Marketers for the latest product placement, Clean and Dry Intimate Wash, are trying to sell Indian women on the benefits of having a fair-skinned labia and vagina.  And I thought a manicured mons pubis, like a well-trimmed lawn, was the cat’s meow. But, of course, bleach is the perfect answer for a dark pussy, at least in a world run by chemical manufacturers and hucksters. Of course, some of us feel sex more viscerally, you know, in the intestines.  That, of course, is where the real dirty stuff comes from… so color makes no difference to the visceral among us. In fact, the darker the better. Well, what the hell, any man here up for bleaching his bone? By the way, Midas Care Pharmaceuticals, the Indian-based firm that manufactures this ‘must-have’ quim whitener also offers a full line of tried and trusted insecticides if any of you ladies feel like giving them a whirl.

Do you think maybe these home-team Southeast-Asian entrepreneurs are going just a bit too far here? Well, perhaps not. It seems to be part of an overarching civilized trajectory and a key component of the cowboy-capitalism rapidly infecting the globe, to manipulate the conquered or economically colonized population as thoroughly as possible. Just remember what Monsanto has done continuously to ‘enhance’ our food supply and their profit margins. As well, it is in the nature of modern society to clean up every centimeter of nature, to tame and sanitize every bit of whatever appears wild or dangerous.  And we all know that what is dark is naturally dangerous. Moreover, we were advised in the Book of Genesis that it was Eve, the woman, who was wild and wily like the serpent, and in need of taming. On the other hand, perhaps the executives at Midas Care, or even Indian women for that matter, never heard of The Vagina Monologues, theatrical monologues delivered by women in homage to that sacred passageway – unapologetically celebrating everything about their dark, damp, and secretive sexuality. But let’s be fair, shall we? (Pun intended.) Such a purported advance in intimate feminine hygiene is itself a white-washing; it is the bread and butter of our domesticating patriarchal mindset to sweep away all signs of nature – make everything clean, white, and bright. Remember, that is why people of color are not to be trusted here in the homeland.  [I remind you again of the Trayvon Martin affair.] In any event, now you ladies can have fresh, white pussies to match your fresh breath and white teeth.

It continues to amaze me how modern consciousness clearly embodies this most perverse attempt to subdue or reengineer mother nature – a mindset, in the colonizers’ terms, of ‘continuous improvement’ and spotless perfection. Indeed, we have perfected the techniques and technologies to domesticate every centimeter of our world, natural and social. All feral, wild, or indigenous elements, including the female anatomy must be conquered, dissected, and then carefully cleaned, airbrushed away or eliminated.

But why is it we have so little regard for what is primal, dark, mysterious and generative? Why do we unrelentingly attempt to light up every corner of the globe, demystify the naturally chiaroscuro quality of life, making everything one-dimensionally bright? What is it about the curriculum of the West that is so captivating? Perhaps we create those nice, fair and fresh, artificial surfaces to insulate us from the wild and uncultivated stuff going on down there in the dirty underbelly of life – of nature, of our own fleshiness. We domesticate the wild and the darkness (mystery) along with our own wildness, leaving behind only “tokens of nature” (and a whitewashed vulva) in its stead.

In fact, we are so good at cleaning things up and clearing things out that we have inspired further eradication of those primal, dark, indigenous populations around the world – most recently in Guatemala.1 We, the civilized ones, are also cleaning out those dirty workforces across Europe while ignoring the growing indignation.2  And, according to consumer advocate, Elizabeth Warren, our elites are also clearing-out purses on Main Street and pensions on Wall Street without so much as batting an eyelash.3 Meanwhile, the Republican candidate for the post of United States hegemon is busy courting Christian evangelicals.4 But this only serves to highlight the fundamental(ist) source of our problem with the body and the darkness of the mysterious feminine.

Monotheism has always had an extremely negative take on the physical world, including, if not especially, the human body. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Even the Hindus and Buddhists see this world as an illusion, while the other major world religions – the Abrahamic faiths – either deplore or deprecate the physical world. Just recall St. Paul’s constant pleadings about the limitations of the flesh; in his words, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Sins of the flesh are among the most heinous and most in need of the Christian confessional. Such otherworldly faiths strive for communion with a transcendent non-corporeal divinity. The focus is always up to the sky-god father above, never down to the earth mother below. Moreover, these sentiments are tied to the Hebraic and ancient Near Eastern notion of a liner historical trajectory, and its focus on the salvific future, rather than being grounded in cyclical regeneration tied to the earth and the cycles of nature – the wild, the feminine.  Finally, for the believer, cleanliness is close to godliness; and we have been well warned that sex is dirty, and evidently a darkened vagina is too mysterious, so it must be cleaned up or at least bleached sparkling white like a brand new tennis dress.

This then brings us to the new cover article in Time Magazine, again a piece meant to shock and disturb our modern sensibilities.  This four-year old boy is standing there sucking at his young mother’s bared breast.  So, you can’t handle it?  Well, I also have my reservations as well.  But why are you so disgusted?  Is it because you did not get enough physical contact from your own mother, or not enough tit from your wife or lover?  Are we so disturbed by the signs and images of attachment or close physical contact that we shudder, secretly jealous, at the implications? Are we afraid of our own bodies? The cover photo of Time is marketing propaganda intended to sell copy by being disturbing and shocking.  Yet, I doubt the editors even considered the real genesis of such shock.  The problem of the human body and sexuality has become a bogeyman for us today in the West, in the modern civilized world. Yet, “research suggests that our early hunter-gatherer ancestors raised happier, more compassionate kids — thanks to natural birth, extended breastfeeding, and co-sleeping.”5 These practices are as old as our genus – perhaps two million years old. So, what’s our beef?

We hear from some self-appointed analysts that this sort of attachment parenting somehow undermines the status of women in our society.  Really?  Is that what women say who engage in such parenting practices?  Perhaps these analysts mean that it undermines a woman’s potential servitude to the capitalist labor force and the politics of exploitation.  I would venture to say that the vagina whitewash certainly undermines women’s status, self-image and the mystery of their natural sexuality; however, attachment parenting does no such thing. Yet, in our topsy-turvy culture, we reverse these priorities and the expectations we have of women. Some liberal feminists even try to convince the rest of the female population that these new priorities are correct – commitment to anonymous corporate bosses rather than to the family or the tribe.  The culture does not want women to be tribal, emotional, raw, or physical.  And, most of all, we want their dark places lit up like a Broadway billboard; bright and shiny so we can see where we are going and what we are getting into.  In short, we want control. It all needs to be cleaned-up, well-manicured and sanitized like our white porcelain toilet bowls and our well-groomed golf courses, so we can better handle the shit and the sand-traps.  And, God forbid, we certainly don’t want to see any woman’s natural attachment to her child; this as well seems dirty and unnatural to our nice white civilized sensibilities.  So no more breast-feeding in public, thank you… not at any age!

(Remember… I warned you all above about today’s rant.  peace, sandy)

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99 Responses to The Fairest Maidenhead of All

  1. john patrick says:

    First! Oh-I forgot this isn’t Kunstler’s blog. Please give us time to digest this rant. It does look exciting.

  2. craig moodie says:

    I seem to recall sometime ago reading an article, that suggested that the womens lib movement was bankrolled by big business in order to attract women into the workplace.Something to do with the fact that 50% of the population not being eligible for taxation.

  3. javacat says:

    Fabulous, Sandy, just fabulous.

  4. ‘Time’ magazine? What is this you speak of?

  5. Rade says:

    My only quibble with your otherwise excellent (and disturbing, I had no idea that it would ever enter anyone’s wildest dreams to bleach white a woman’s vagina, or that any sane woman would think that an acceptable thing to do) rant would be that I was never taught that the “sins of the flesh” were in most need of correction. Pride, avarice, hatred were always seen to be of greater import, and in fact, the root of the so-called carnal sins.
    My wife and I could be considered “attachment parents”, though we certainly don’t do so out of any ideological impulse, we have just done what seems right and natural with our two sons. Both of them breastfed much longer than “normal” (our youngest still breastfeeds and he just turned two), and we never weaned them, they simply stopped when they began eating normal food. Both of them also slept with us from an early age. As such the “provocative” Time cover didn’t raise any eyebrows with us, though my wife was understandably furious (though not surprised) that they would choose to exploit a perfectly natural act of motherhood in such a way.

    • kulturcritic says:

      But, come on Rade, that would put a crimp in my rant… in any event the flesh always seems to be at the root of the evil we do (according to them), no? In any event, I think Thomas Aquinas might find some room to disagree with you on that note. And I applaud your parenting patience and flexibility. I “envy” it (uh, oh! there’s as sin!!) LOL best, sandy

      • Rade says:

        Well please forgive me, as an occasional ranter myself (and I know what love my wife and friend bear me by their humoring of my wilder flights), the last thing I’d want to do would be to quash a good rant.
        The modern association of whiteness with purity of course immediately brings to mind the chapter in Moby Dick “On The Whiteness of the Whale”, where Melville lists the many associations of whiteness with death, terror, and corruption. Of course the reference in the New Testament to “whitened sepulchers” also comes to mind. Having spent a winter in the far north, I can readily attest to the fact that it becomes very easy at 40 below to associate the color white with death, and the colors of flame and the dim earth tones of a snug dwelling with life.
        While this might be traveling a little far afield for the purposes of this essay, but I wonder if it is worth exploring that perhaps much of the animus towards “father-gods” might have it’s roots in the modern industrial degradation of fathers themselves into the tools and footsoldiers of industrial exploitation? When the old meaning of husbandry is lost to the father as “breadwinner” that relationship becomes increasingly difficult to be view in authentic terms. If industrial culture manages to make motherhood as degraded a relationship as fatherhood (see E.M. Forester’s “The Machine Stops” for an example), then I wonder if “mother-gods” might suffer the same fate.

        • kulturcritic says:

          Rade – there is not really any animus towards the father god in socially accepted circles of the modern (First) world; just among us primitivists, anarchists, agnostics and atheists. I think the root of our animus derives from the extensive destruction of populations and environments committed in one of his names. Just sayin!

    • javacat says:

      The good thing about covers of TIME magazine, is that the images will fade by the next issue. What is tiring about their approach (and those of so many others) is the use of deliberate distortion to manipulate reaction and create faux controversy. I look at this cover and think, “No mother would ever nurse her child in this way.” They’ve stripped every bit closeness from what is an intimate and nurturing act. Throw in the coy nipple peeking out from under the fitness top, and voila! Start the conversations of “Didja see…?”

      Like your children, Rade, ours were breastfed far longer (23 months and 28 months) than the 6 months recommended by the AAP, based on the needs and temperament of the child rather than a guide book by experts or some imposed preconception. Ditto on the family bed: One child spent most of 1 year with us; the other preferred his own space. In this country, however, people are often swayed by media presentations such as this magazine cover, or the hazards of family beds that sway opinions, alter morals and render judgment. For example, a friend who is half Indian, tells me that in India, it’s very common with children to share their mother’s bed until they are ten years old. This notion didn’t translate well to her home here. I’m not sure the source, but the assumed path is that it is much healthier to move children to their own beds and separate them from contact as early as possible, even when biology of mammals tends in the other direction.

      Like so many other aspects of natural maternal interactions, breastfeeding has been manipulated by the wants of the controlling culture. I’m betting that in the 1950s, as we were moving toward making women domesticate goddesses in the home (to get them out of the work force after WWII), with shiny appliances to manage the cleanliness of their defined domain, breast-feeding was going out of fashion as being old-fashioned, messy. Sterilize those baby bottles, give your kids fresh wholesome cow’s milk, and free yourself of the tyranny of the boob!

      Over the last 20 years in the US, as breast-feeding made it back into the mainstream, states have had to pass laws to make it legal to breast-feed in public, and to require that businesses make an honest attempt to provide a place where a woman could breast-feed in public. My focus is the US, where I live. Other countries–Canada and various European countries–are much more supportive of women’s roles as mothers through at least partly paid maternity leave, and much higher quality daycare than is value here.

      I know this wasn’t the main point of the this week’s post, but…

      • kulturcritic says:

        You are so right about the media manipulation, the propaganda that goes on here, JC; and no less, under the rubric of “news”. In Russia here as well, mom’s get two years paid leave (at a reduced %, but still!). Mine breastfed with my wife longer as well. He is now over three and still sleeps in our bed (I usually need to retreat to the LVroom couch — LOL)! sandy

        • javacat says:

          Again, even Russia offers better support than the US with its 12 weeks, unpaid. Jeesh!

          And as you sometimes sleep on the couch, you know it’s short term, and simply what is right now, and is good. 🙂

          Two quick points: the media propaganda, such as the TIME cover, creates splits within a culture and within an individual (“I thought I was OK, Am I really an attachment parent??”). And as the US elections heat up over the summer, watch the jockeying for the ‘women vote.’ Who will manipulate enough to get them in, then leave us standing at the altar, taken again.

  6. Mike Sosebee says:

    Hi Sandy – Great post. I think it gets to our collective “Heart Of Darkness” who like Marlow (Conrad’s Character) the world has defeated us all in some fundamental way, and we are weary, skeptical, and cynical. Daily we are outraged by the evil of the world at large but remain personally unmotivated to do anything substantive about it.

  7. Brutus says:

    I pay so little attention to the mainstream media (and its idiocy) that these cultural moments all pass by me without my taking notice until some blogger raises them to my awareness. (Gee, thanks!) If your objection were more feminist in nature, then female genital mutilation practiced in many places on the globe might be a better fight to pick. However, this is the real germ of your rant:

    it is the bread and butter of our domesticating patriarchal mindset to sweep away all signs of nature — make everything clean, white, and bright.

    I’ve railed against this aesthetic, too. Soon-to-be-offered tech developments by Corning, Microsoft, Google, and others to put everything under glass or interface directly with the nervous system are clearly a step in the direction of sanitizing the dirty, stinking, heaving physical world to more closely resemble a wholly virtual one that lies within the control of software engineers. This, of course, is the fever dream of the transhumanists, who really want to be machines, not flesh. But antecendants trace back some way. Specifically, Sartre identified the nausea he experienced at the profundity of nature as an existential and ontological dilemma. So to escape the natural world, to live in our heads, we busy ourselves refurbishing, of all things, the, um, drapery to better fit our bizarre notion of cleanliness-is-next-to-godliness. We will never learn to be better humans when we find our own humanity so disgusting.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Brutus – well stated. Mutilation is a completely different topic of discussion, perhaps for another aeon. LOL 😉 But, yes, you got the core of my message… best, sandy

  8. Multhus says:

    Good one Sandy. I am now convinced this planet is one big insane asylum and there are two types of crazies. There are just us plain insane folks and then there is the criminally insane. It has been said and I really can’t remember who said it or if it is just one of those myths floating around the one has be go insane to become sane. It is the criminally insane that have taken over and I am certain there is no way they will climb out of the cave they have put themselves into.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Yes, my friend Multhus…there are those of us insane by accident, and those intentionally insane who control the world. And I wish it were only a cave!! LOL thanks for reading, my best, sandy

  9. craig moodie says:

    We’ve commodified almost everything, why not commodify pussy?

    • kulturcritic says:

      craig – why didn’t I say it as simply. Absolutely correct. !!! sandy

    • javacat says:

      It’s been commodified for years, in different ways, from selling cars to selling kinky, in different shades of blatant. This example adds tones of caste and imperialism and raises the bar on bizarre.

      • kulturcritic says:

        But you must admit, JC. This is direct commodification, not just using the flesh to market something else.

        • javacat says:

          I guess it is. I’m disturbed by the attack on naturalness, and again, women being driven to alter their natural being to meet some shifting external & narrow ideal of beauty that denies and diminishes rather than expands and connects. I’m also greatly disturbed by the imperialism implicit in such marketing…the grander scheme of white makes might makes right. Domination and control on the individual level is amplified in scale and degree on the global level of resource use, land abuse, and destruction. The language is even the same…virgin forest, virgin land, virgin woman: all are seen as conquests to be taken.

  10. John Bollig says:

    The mainstream media is controlled by the multinationals and their minions so any serious discussion of the issues should start with why is this being peddled now and why are the real isssues not being talked about ?

    The real issue is the impending collapse of the market economy and its consequences for the future. For all of the pronouncements from the EU. One essential fact remains : The world economic system is bankrupt. The euro is toast, the dollar will soon follow to its end also. There is not much that can be done at this point so lets enjoy the time we have left….

  11. javacat says:

    Bright, clean and shiny also screams “sterile”, a condition that is impossible–and actually undesirable–to maintain in real life, and one that requires constant vigilance to manage yet can never be achieved. Such a pursuit is pure distraction. If we’re all busy scrubbing, sanitizing, and bleaching, we don’t notice or don’t have any energy left to notice all the other stuff going on around us. The denial of the flesh, as preached by the branches of monotheism, creates an internal divide between what we (now must) secretly desire and what our public face shows. This culture hypersexualizes the body, then denies the naturalness of physicality and sensuality, driving perceptions to the perverse. So, the inner ‘darkness’ of desire must be tamped down and that is manifested by all the external efforts at control, and the schism is never reconciled.

    This notion of cleanliness takes different forms that separates people into classes…the bourgeois who ate the more refine white flour from the peasant who ate whole grain; the bawdy and lewd peasants in Shakespeare’s plays and the more refined speeches of royalty, the plantation owner’s daughters whose parasols guarded their protected their whiteness from the lower class women who tanned while working the fields; the smooth and beautiful porcelains of China versus the more humble wabisabi pottery of Japanese monks. In some way, these all exemplify how refinement is like sandpaper, taking away the rough edges that make things unique and maybe a little bit uncomfortable. The refinement–whether sanitizing thoughts, bleaching bums, air-brushing faces–represents an unnatural state of homogenization, a movement to uniformity selected to meet the imposed standard of a minority.

    Our western thought tends to compartmentalize rather than integrate. Our strongly binary mode of thinking ends up pushing things to extremes, whether in sports, diets, virtual reality, science, violence and sex. The notions of control and perfection seem to drive this train. In an inverted sense, control, rooted in fear, becomes the illusion of power and perfection.

    • relentless says:

      Evolution is primary for life to continue, to succeed. Evolution, whatever ‘it’ is, requires primal, anarchic infinite interactions. To domesticate is to attempt to thwart, control,sanitize, enslave, whiten, co-opt, genetically commodify it. Evolution must dismiss domestication, otherwise ‘it’ will not be able to survive if all life is domesticated (not that ‘it’ could or will ‘allow’ this). Stasis (stagnation) is unacceptable for life. Evolution IS NOT BLEACHING ONE’S LABIA OR PENIS, merely a ploy to supersede it. Strange species we.

  12. javacat says:

    Evolution, as used in natural science, is the process of change either through natural selection or through mutation. Change in nature can be small or large. It can occur quickly or rapidly. The change occurs through those many interactions with the environment, the surrounding milieu of beings and energies. It is certainly primal. I’m not sure anarchic applies to natural interactions. To domesticate is to impose a change, to deliberately drive a change for an external purpose. We are the domesticators and the domesticated. Life is change and change is movement. Even within homestasis, there is change.Even in decay, there is change.

    In current times, the manufactured word–especially the screen worlds–have become more and more the human environment. As you know from You Are Not A Gadget, the limits of computer programs alter human behavior: we adapt to the program, not the other way around. How and to what degree the alteration of our mental wiring changes because of these not-so-real interactions is something we don’t yet know.

    None of those superficial changes–from botox to the various -plasties to bleaching–will last. What is certainly strange is how we are caught up in them. And the question that many here ask is how best to extract oneself from them.

    • relentless says:

      J: “I’m not sure anarchic applies to natural interactions.” Obviously, anarchic is a human term, one i am prone to, as with all words, distrust. My ? then would be, using words, if not anarchic, then what would describe the process of evolution? Socialism, capitalism, any ‘ism’? And whose ‘science’? Why not religion then, or Fox News Xperts. Feyerabend was ‘against’ any methodology, i suppose i’m ‘against words’ though i need employ them if i choose to be minimally understood, though far too often you, i, Sandy, et al, will never be completely understood by another mind, perhaps not even our own while under the influence of words. OK, so, if you use natural selection, then who or what is doing the selecting? What is occurring and how is it occurring? If i were to define anarchic processes as without rule, according to the Greek, anarchic appears to fit my head best, but then, it’s my head doing the fitting. Words! Another fine conundrum WE ALL impose upon our noggins, the oddball species we have become.

      • kulturcritic says:

        Relentless… give it a rest. You confuse yourself with all this mumbo jumbo, and the rest of us as well. You are quite capable communicating in language; I have witnessed it here. Language, speech, is not our problem. And besides, even if it were, there is nothing you can do about it… just use it and enjoy it. You have a great heart and a very clear mind, don’t keep trying to obscure it. sandy

        • relentless says:

          Gotcha! i will give it a rest. Your take Sandy: How would you define the process of evolution? i’m not being coy or sarcastic. To me this is an important question as to where we now are, or aren’t? And i’d love to hear from the fellow posters also. Best, r

          • kulturcritic says:

            Evolution to me is not a concern. It is a theory, a hypothesis, that seems to be validated by both evidence and presuppositions. I have no problem with accepting its premises or conclusions, generally. But, I would not venture to answer the question you pose to me. I am not a scientist. But I would agree with you that the language we use without thinking more clearly defines our reality than we wish to admit.

        • Brutus says:

          I agree that words used as expressive and cognitive tools are pretty much inescapably human, much like metaphors, so whatcha gonna do? But then, one of your primary points about the Curriculum of the West is that it is based on a syllogism best embodied in the subtleties of language. And our prior discussions identify the language-based project of categorization as a further act of distancing ourselves from meaningful, in-the-flesh engagement with the world. So your exhortation to give it a rest when someone puzzles over the problem of understanding through the distorting characteristics of language seems to me at bit inconsistent. The problem may be inherently unsolvable.

          • kulturcritic says:

            I felt he was being unnecessarily flip. I also thought he was being lazy in his use of language. I asked him to be clearer. And, as for your comment, I have no idea what you mean when you say “embedded in the subtleties of language.” As well, I have no problems with language pre se, but with written language, particularly as we find it as a means of objectification.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Certainly the way we eat, drive, sit, read, type… it will slowly deteriorate the species. But, we will kill ourselves before that happens.

  13. craig moodie says:

    I think the world has become oversocialised as a result of increased exposure to modern technology, the primary culprit ‘the hologram’ which uses the visual sense to condition the mind. This oversocialisation has become so prevalent that it has overpowered our intrinsic nature i.e our dna.
    Who remembers nurture vs nature debate of 50 years ago between the psychiatry and psychology profession. This debate seems to have disappeared without ever having been resolved.
    Your thoughts?

  14. craig moodie says:

    I forgot to add to my last post that I have a theory and remember it is ‘just a theory’, that the more socialised one becomes, the more anthropocentric one becomes and conversely the less socialised one is, the chances are one is more nonanthropocentric.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Craig – I would tend to agree with your supposition, the more we are enculturated to the curriculum of the West, the greater our treatment of the world as an amusement park for our our enjoyment. The human self has become the center piece of the world in modern civilization, so that anthropocentrism is the reality we live every day. We are now captives to the story and escape is mostly an intellectual or imaginative exercise for most all of us. The more this culture focuses on historical trajectory, the greater the import of autobiography becomes. One must undo historical thinking to overcome the now embedded urge to thrust the human self to center stage. A tricky deal… sandy

    • Brutus says:

      I like the thrust of this idea, but I don’t think the principal mechanism is modern technology. The same effect can be seen all across the evolutionary spectrum: the gradual refinement of previously blunt or coarse characteristics. Whether one chalks it up to blind organization or self-organization or something else still, it’s easy to observe that simple forms, machines, and ideas have increased in their complexity and refinement over time, which with human institutions and culture has led us to abandon the reality principle in favor of virtual reality or the hologram (variously defined by various people).

      More specifically, the idea of oversocialization is intriguing and strikes me as a good observation, though it’s probably been made repeatedly and better many times over in the 20th century. José Ortega y Gasset’s The Revolt of the Masses springs immediately to mind.

      • kulturcritic says:

        Love those back-handed compliments, don’t you, Brutus. On another note, I think we can say with fair certainty that modern technology has been an enabler of more rapid enculturation/ socialization. We can speak of the evolution of culture (theoretically); but I am not sure that genetically there has been any coding variance in quite some time. But, I am no expert.

        • Malthus says:

          I see it as no one is an expert probably because evolution as a concept, has a meaning of mutation by the process of elimination countless of times and in many directions. Some work by accident and some work by choice. The observation I have on the subject is that our species is not very good at our choices. And our choices are mostly chosen by the easiest path. Something like water flowing down hill following the least resistance.

          • kulturcritic says:

            Of course, that gets us into the whole question of free will… if you are a determinist, religious or otherwise.

            • javacat says:

              In our discussions about evolution, I think it helps to distinguish between the scientific theory of evolution, which affects the species through genetic change, and the evolution through personal change, which acts at the level of the individual. As far as I’ve read, cellular mutation occurs, pop!, on its own through mechanisms within cells, uninfluenced by choice of the individual being. The personal evolution, in which there is, I think, an implicit assumption of improvement, is based on individual choices and reactions to those choices. I’m feeling confused about which people are referring to as we move through this discussion.

              • kulturcritic says:

                That’s a good question, JC. I too am not sure what folks are referring to sometimes as well. I would think that genetically humans are still basically as we were over 200,000 years ago.

                • Malthus says:

                  I am under the impression we are discussing social evolution and although we humans are basically as we were 200,000 years ago our social changes must have some effect on our genes and most probably in the brain and bodily structures. Just now is there a great interest in neuroscience and as no one has a real concept of just how the brain performs probably because it can change quite rapidly in individuals according to the individuals requirements in the environmental forces at play. Including and most importantly in present time societies requirements of the individual. This coming from a culture that was created by humans for humans to be predictable and useful for the currant concept to work. As you can see I am struggling to understand the forces at play of this so alled evolution of human societies. Please add anything for enlightenment.

  15. derekthered says:

    “Life is Change
    How it differs from the rocks
    I’ve seen their ways too often for my liking
    New worlds to gain
    My life is to survive
    and be alive
    for you.”

    Crown of Creation – Jefferson Airplane

    so what is wrong with these people? didn’t never read no books?
    first off, the anthropology is all wrong, there are 3 sub-divisions of the human race, from the dentition,
    1- whites, blacks, arabs, the indians you are talking about, one big polyglot of cousins
    2- asians, chinese, japanese, eskimos, native americans, same deal, you get the idea
    3- and then the people everybody forgets about, the islanders, the polynesians, who depending on who you follow migrated to south america, making the incas, mayans, aztecs, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera,

    whatever, maybe some professorial type would want to quibble about isolates and “aborigines”, dreamtime and such, very fascinating i’m sure…………….. which is all beside the point considering the african genesis school of thought, the history of extinction events our planet has, that sort of thing.

    as for the bleach treatment? doesn’t sound beneficial in the least, can’t say as i see any obvious health benefit, exposing such delicate membranes to some sort of chemical treatment? more to the point, this thing about darkness, skin color, sex, the whole big ball of wax, and what is wrong with these people? it is really insulting to the species, the whole racist thing, really inefficient, a case of not being grateful for what we’ve got; a denial of what this planet has been able to come up with thus far.

    “the words of the prophet are written on the subway walls” who’da thunk? maybe the temptations had it right with “ball of confusion”, whatever it was. the species does seem to have worked itself up into quite a frenzy, the industrial age being hundreds of years old really, the tendencies of which to funnel power and privilege to the owners of capital never having been addressed, but yet the population still has the leisure time to fight about whatever subject you care to bring up, a modern marvel, what’ll they think of next?. scary.

    like i say, these people are nuts, i can think of more than one lady of, do we daresay “color” that i have been “quite taken by”, not that i didn’t wind up with something more swedish, but am now unfortunately quite single.

    for all you ladies out there, the ones whose taste runs to arthritic old men with no money. what a bunch of hogwash.

    • kulturcritic says:

      RED!! I love the comment. The seriousness behind your humor (or is it visa versa) is breathtaking… sandy

      • derekthered says:

        could be the npd, the ptsd, beets, peaches, who knows? just cause it’s free don’t mean it’s no good! mine! mine!
        i know the western tendency for gratification is ingrained in my psyche, just like a lot of people, probably this mediatization plays a supporting role to this main subject. none of this can be looked at by itself, this story out of india shows how universal the bright shiny object? objectification? has become. like i said, scary stuff, especially multiplied 8,000,000,000, or, more, more, more……………….
        it’s horrible when you worry about what a vast commercial enterprise our planet has become, and what kind of trash has the military/industrial/propaganda/complex has stuffed into the heads of the listeners/watchers/viewers minds, that a person could become pretty cynical about the future.
        always the external threat, “predator”, “the thing”, “it came from outer space”, inner space is more like it. quite seriously, if there is indeed some govt. agency, expert, philosopher, whatever, that has figured out how to turn this huge industrial machine around, educate the populace, figure out a glidepath to the future? then now would be a good time for such a plan to get around; because when you really think about it, huge numbers of people are dependent on the smooth functioning of planet girdling infrastructures, it’s huge and complicated, you get the point.
        this seems off subject from your original point, but it’s not, not really, these old prejudices have got to be overcome, the focus needs to be on the future, the focus has to be on what’s going on in people’s heads, what they are thinking. politically, which maybe everybody is giving up on these days, it means achieving polity, and that ain’t going to happen if stuff like this bleaching of the private parts is all the rage.
        but yeah, the racial prejudice is out there, if economics could be figured out? if people felt more secure? then these prejudices might seem less important to people, hard to know when dancing on a high tension wire. with all the gadgets, people probably feel more isolated than ever, on edge, whether planned or just the inevitable byproduct of the culture? our old friend, “the mutual destruction of the contending classes”?

        who knows? xna anyone? ye olde x-factor? my sister tried it and she says it does wonders for your skin, remember, just cause it’s free don’t mean it’s no good.

  16. javacat says:

    (Restarting a thread so it’s easier to read.)

    “There you go with those metaphors of the curriculum. As I say both sexes are complicit in the logic and the language of master-slave relations.”

    Here’s where I thought you were going with your comment: That the language of the Curriculum works because all parties accept its premises. That the metaphors of the patriarchy I used– jockeying, being taken–only succeed because the terms are accepted without question by men and women. If one side decides to challenge the ‘norm’–for example, women not buying into the pre-election pandering–then the language of the Curriculum begins to unravel.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Only the presumed values of the culture begin to be exposed by challenging the norms; but the Curriculum remains intact as long as we keep thinking and communicating in the logic and language of the Curriculum. Undoing commitment at the logistical level is tough, but paramount in overcoming our subservience to the institutions and hierarchies that control us and what we value.

  17. Disaffected says:

    A rant? Hardly. This was little more than calling a spade a spade. Excellent commentary on and further proof of the utter insanity of a global capitalist mono-culture (I think we need a new term, as culture is not really descriptive of whatever it is that we have now, although I just refer to it as The Beast) now in the prolonged death throws of total systemic meltdown, but hardly a rant.

  18. susan eason says:

    As a woman, my only objection to anything that’s been said is the assertion that many “liberal feminists” try to persuade other women to choose corporate masters over tribal/familial loyalties. The ONLY thing “liberal feminists” have tried to do is to insure women have a choice. Before “liberal feminism” women did not have a choice, and having always been convinced that choice was illusory and fragile, I am being proved right. Women, especially American women, are systematically having any real choice they might have possessed dismantled. In my observation, many women who do choose traditional roles are defensive, feeling they have to justify their choice. SO it seems to me that if there actually ARE “liberal feminists” (patronizing and condescending. what’s wrong with being either liberal or feminist?) who disparage traditional roles, they are off set by those women who are insecure in their decision. Thank —-whomever—for liberal feminists.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Susan, thanks for replying. I appreciate your point of view, really. However, I said “some” liberal feminists are trying to push other women into roles within an economic system that turns everyone into a slave of the system and its money. I object to that intentionality; in fact, I don’t quite understand why women would want to crawl into the same hole that men already occupy. I don’t understand why an enlightened man would want to remain there as well. I have no doubt that you have become convinced that “the choice” to go into the system is a real choice… it is not. It is a false flag, provided to make you want to join the ranks of the enslaved. Certainly, I believe women should have as much of a role in society as men do, there certainly is room enough for both to contribute, and i think that generally they do in their own ways. But, I have a problem with a philosophical position that objects to the patriarchal-hierarchic politico-economic system that we have inherited, and then proposes that women should flock to its ranks. best, sandy

  19. susan eason says:

    But Sandy. you aren’t talking about men going into the system; you are talking about women.. Women should have the SAME opportunity to not be “enlightened” as men. Now. as to the “false choice,” I agree—-so long as it applies universally. In that event there is no reason to sneer at “some liberal feminists.” And it doesn’t matter if you understand. I have heard that EXACT same logic applied to other things a woman would be “better off” not doing—you know, for her own good. Just as with a man, a woman gets to decide what she would be better off doing. Hopefully, at some point we will all evolve and kick out THE MAN. but in the meantime, I REALLY don’t like men deciding what would be best for women. So long as men are “flocking to its ranks,” women should be be given the option to flock to its ranks too. I think we agree—basically. But wait. “Generally they do in their own ways?” Hmmmmm. Maybe not. Who gets to decide what “their own ways,” men’s and women’s, are?

    • kulturcritic says:

      Susan – I am not getting dragged into some foolish non-debate with you. If you don’t like my take on things, that is your right, as a person! But, just as men should not decide for women, one woman should not decide for another. Although, again, we are stuck in an argument bout choice. We have no choices, Susan. We are all equally fucked! sandy

    • kulturcritic says:

      You may also have the right to flock to a gas chamber, if you like. Is that a choice, Susan? Additionally, men do not “flock” to its ranks, they are pushed and pulled, usually kicking and screaming while they are still young!

    • Brutus says:

      Susan Eason sez:

      Women should have the SAME opportunity to not be “enlightened” as men. Now. as to the “false choice,” I agree—-so long as it applies universally.

      I puzzle over this. We undoubtedly slice and dice policy and data across all sorts of demographic, racial, gender, national, religious, and ageist categories. But the idea that we can somehow apply the right policies and behaviors universally across those categories — especially choice and opportunity, which are badly apportiioned — strikes me as unrealistic. I’m not saying that I support the patriarchy or disapprove of religious freedom or civil rights or what have you, but in human culture, differences are easily distinguished and there is no expectation that a universal evenness or equality can ever be achieved (or perhaps even approached) among unlike factions.

      In light of the discussions at this blog, the even more puzzling thing is the apparent argument that we should all be free (individual choice trumping everything else) to embrace the tools of our own destruction. Never mind that in making those choices individually and in aggregate we destroy the natural world. Maybe we should all have been brought under more serious constraints before we embarked on this path to our ultimate doom. Why continue to argue for the option to destroy ourselves, now that the destination looms before us?

  20. susan eason says:

    Okay, Sandy. don’t allow yourself to be dragged into a foolish non-debate, as you characterize my argument. Enlightenment, and egalitarianism after all, does have its outer limits. Brutus, you are not that far off the mark from the appeal that I am trying to make. I am saying that if ANYBODY is allowed to hasten our doom, we ALL should be allowed to hasten our doom. Men should NOT carve out the path that, in their estimation, is best for women when they are doing and have done and reaped the rewards from which they would proscribe women.We cannot LEGITIMATELY criticize Brazil for destroying its rainforest when we have been allowed to destroy our own natural resources, and reap the perceived benefits. We cannot LEGITIMATELY be indignant if Iran’s goal is to have nuclear weapons when Israel does and when WE are the only ones who have ever used one. I WISH we would have been wise enough as a species to constrain ourselves EQUALLY before we got to this point. No. Just no.—-Maybe i stumbled into the wrong blog. Please excuse me if i contend that the gas chamber example is disingenuous and a distinct non sequitur. Just me.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Yes, perhaps you found the wrong blog

      • Brutus says:

        I wish you weren’t so quick to chase people off your blog. Susan argues her point without calling names or dragging in straw men. Considering how few bloggers/writers will tell the truth, sending someone elsewhere to work out his or her despair is rather heartless.

        I’ve felt unwelcome here in the past when my comments depart from your expectations. I’ve got thick skin and some confidence, but I’ll eventually take my ball and play in some other sandbox if the unwelcoming sensibility is severe enough.

    • Brutus says:

      This next comment is sure to inflame any feminists reading here, but I’ll offer it anyway.

      Fair or unfair, the socialized expectation that men are by nature dogs and women are by nature nurturers (since, among other things, they’ve got the birthing equipment) creates an irrational response when on occasion a woman appears who is just as destructive as any man. With men, a certain number of marauders, serial killers, and genocidal maniacs is to be expected, given our history. With women, however, the few mythological or actual examples are unfairly injurious (Medea, Lizzie Borden, and Aileen Wuornos come to mind). I understand your argument that women oughta be allowed to be just as bad as any man (get your baaaddd on, all you women out there!), but that’s just not how we respond to the fact of it. For example, promiscuous men are heros, whereas promiscuous women are sluts.

      You’re right to point out the irony or injustice of our insistence that other peoples and countries not indulge in the same sorts of destruction that define (or formerly defined) us. But it’s never been a level playing field, and clearly certain geographies have more abundant or critical natural resources than others.

      In short, differences of all sorts to exist in the world, and insistence that rights oughta be fairly and evenly applied just goes against our nature. That’s been one of our struggles for millennia.

      • javacat says:

        Nah, this feminist wasn’t inflamed. 😉 The word feminism, like vegetarianism, is freighted with assumptions and stereotypes; sometimes hurled as an incendiary to discredit opponents. “Feminists” = unshaven lesbians twirling their burning bras…

        Okay, maybe not, but the term is still regularly used as a derogatory, with those claiming the title often on the defensive. According to Wikipedia, “Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women.” Title IX undoubtedly came out of the feminist movement of the 60s. Even then it had its controversies, such as underrepresenting poor and minority women.

        I suppose that one could argue or wonder why women would want equal access to a system that is corrupt and bankrupt. Fair question. My answer is that is where the power is: financial, educational, political. I think at times we had hopes that the world would get better once women were in more positions of power. I think things flopped because we kept playing by the same rules.

        Brutus, you raise salient points. I’ve had men tell me, in warning, that men are pigs, and also that women give away their power too easily. The culture at large reinforces and reiterates the stereotypes you describe–though I’m not sure why you say the female examples are especially injurious. I find Lizzie Borden almost trivialized by the sing-song rhyme that describes her crime. The area of women’s sexuality is a great example…of the desire to control and contain, and gets hopelessly entangled with religion and the sacred and purity and fall. These are the realities we live with, and one must assume that judgments will fall.

        I agree with Susan that feminism is about women taking the right to choose for themselves, whether going to work or being a stay-at-home mom. (Sarah Palin once credited feminism with allowing her to achieve what she’s achieved.). In its more expansive form, the right to choose extends to men to step out of the rigid roles cast upon them by societal norms and expectations. Some still assume that equality = sameness: to be equal, men and women must be identical. I think that’s wrong. I think that we look to the differences, to the other, far too often, which separates men and women as beings.

        In your last ‘graph, are you suggesting that because it’s never been a level playing field, that we don’t try to move that way? Or more that it’s a futile effort and our energies are better spent elsewhere?

        • Brutus says:

          All good points you’re making here. I especially fall prey to the equality = sameness meme when others articulate their points without subtlety. No doubt my hanging last paragraph sounds defeatist. Still, I don’t want to prescribe anything as it’s all too complex and multifaceted to offer pat solutions. You pick up the underlying paradox about wanting to join a corrupt system only to be corrupted by it. I’ll repeat: within the system is certainly where the action is, and few of us are equipped to go our own way apart from the system, which tolerates escape hardly any more than dissent. I dunno what the proper next step is, frankly.

          • javacat says:

            Brutus, I take your words to heart. A few writing here are off the grid, and growing their own food, for sure. Most of us, myself included, are still snug within the system. A dilemma that relentless, who posts here, once raised was does one step out of the system to change it, or stay within it to affect change? Do we need to completely extract ourselves from the system to see it clearly? Or does even that extraction–the need to set ourselves apart–mean we’re still within its power?

            I sometimes lose heart not knowing what the next step is. My reaction is to try to affect some small good whenever I can.

            • kulturcritic says:

              Overall, there is no changing the system. You (we) are to small to affect it now. You can do something to reduce your dependence, but you cannot stop it… even if it is millions of us. It will come to an end of its own inertia. We are already too infected, and it is too large, to do anything meaningful on a global or even a national scale. Local efforts are the only means of survival, I think. But, the beast will keep pushing until the gas runs out. Just saying.

            • Brutus says:

              I agree totally with Sandy’s response to you, which is what makes me sound defeatist so much of the time. In truth and honesty, we’re screwed and ruined people with nowhere to turn. Those choices have mostly been removed.

              However, there exists a moral dimension to how we behave in response to the knowledge we’ve gained, and my own lack of response (no extrication yet) has me wracked by guilt at my powerlessness and lack of resolve. Guy McPherson is a hero of mine precisely because he made the recognition early and responded as his moral system required, by giving up his tenured professorship and moving to a doomstead. But his reports indicate that it’s no romantic illusion to be off-grid. It’s hard and lonely and others brand him a kook or hermit. I both long for and fear that choice, and my life within civilization has too many loose ends and obligations to simply abandon. It makes me feel like a coward. But like you, I try to affect some small good and lighten my footprint.

  21. susan eason says:

    You Tarzan. Me Jane. Got it. How silly of me to assume i could offer a different perspective. A liberal feminist one, admittedly.;)
    .

  22. Pixelwhiplash says:

    Having been employed in both India and Korea, this missive certainly strikes a chord, this missive of “whitening”. Nothing more than cultural imperialism. Advertising in Asia and Southeast Asia is rife with this sort of trickery about “white” being an upper level of anything. The elitism is palpable though cloaked in gauzy images, seductive in their mastery. How very sad that we squander the human experience and view it only through an extremely narrow prism of attainment.

  23. Malthus says:

    Just have to throw this in. “And God the puppet master lined everyone, men and women, on the edge of the cliff and then said unto them you now have free will. You can either jump off the cliff to your doom, or you can stand at the edge of the cliff waiting for your doom. Your choice”

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    • Disaffected says:

      I’ve often dreamed of “juicing” email spammers myself. The health benefits are questionable, but the mental/psychological benefits are undeniable.

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