Tuesday, July 11, 2006

An Immodest Proposal: Supply-side Feminomics

So I've been thinking...

If you haven't seen Dean Friedman's "I Miss Monica," it's worth a look. A funny piece, but what really caught me was the line,

"I miss the days before the stolen election, when the president didn't have to start a war to get an erection."
I was pondering this relation between male aggression and sexuality when I read Aspazia's discussion of breast ironing in Cameroon. Aspazia, as usual, is incredibly insightful when she points out that the practice, while cruel and painful, comes from a place of care. The mothers are trying to protect their daughters. And so it is with much of the oppression women face, it is put in place to protect women, especially from the sexual advances and the possible accompanying violence, from men. Why were women in Afghanistan wearing burkahs? Because if men saw their faces, who knows what might happen. Horny males are weapons of mass destruction.

In this country, the sexual revolution did not fix the problem. To read leading lights like Dworkin, sex is still used by men as a tool of oppression. Indeed, even when it is not intended, the line goes, because of the patriarchal structure, all heterosexual interactions are tainted with the power imbalance and perpetuate injustice.

So I was thinking, if there is an imbalance of social power favoring men who tend towards violence when they are simultaneously repressed and aroused, and sex is already tainted anyway until the patriarchy is dismantled, why not use it as a weapon against patriarchy? This could be done by managing supply.

This, of course, is nothing new. Consider Aristophanes' play Lysistrata in which the women of Athens and Hellas cut off all of the men of the cities until they stopped the war. Of course, the war ends, and quickly.

But as we see with Iran and North Korea, embargoes and sanctions rarely work. Maybe the trick is to go the other way. What started me thinking this way was a quotation from Noam Chomsky,
"So long as the economic system meets the demands of the middle class for more jobs, higher income, more consumer goods, and more recreation, and so long as the demands take these forms, the perennial questions about power and control need never be asked. Or, better, those whose demands are being met can be congratulated on having 'power,' for what is power but the ability to have one's demands met."
The idea is that the middle class will support policies that are against their interests as long as their immediate wants are met. Why restrict this to the economic side of social reform? Half of those people Chomsky is talking about are men, so we know that it would work -- if they have reason to think that they will continue to have their wants satisfied, they will be more than happy to support policies that take power away from themselves. If you want to take power away from the testosterone enhanced buffoons who turn into the the Incredible Schmuck when they are repressed and aroused, don't let them get repressed. I call the theory, supply-side feminomics (I would expand upon its relation to the trickle down theory, but that's slightly gross).

To see that this supply-side feminomics might work, consider our closest cousins in the larger biological world, the pygmy, or bonobo, chimpanzees. From Frans de Waal's 1995 article in Scientific American,
"The species is best characterized as female-centered and egalitarian and as one that substitutes sex for aggression. Whereas in most other species sexual behavior is a fairly distinct category, in the bonobo it is part and parcel of social relations -- and not just between males and females. Bonobos engage in sex in virtually every partner combination (although such contact among close family members may be suppressed). And sexual interactions occur more often among bonobos than among other primates. Despite the frequency of sex, the bonobo's rate of reproduction in the wild is about the same as that of the chimpanzee. A female gives birth to a single infant at intervals of between five and six years. So bonobos share at least one very important characteristic with our own species, namely, a partial separation between sex and reproduction."
What we see in bonobo society is exactly the sexual version of what Chomsky was talking about.

Now, I know from reading General J.C. Christian, certainly an expert on such matters, that no woman enjoys sex.
"It's not in their nature,"
according to the General. So, where does this leave the theory? It means that contemporary feminists have two choices: one is to take one for the team. Not pleasant, but an investment in the future. The better idea comes from one of the real world benefits that we are seeing from the last generation of feminists. Now that women have expanded life options, they are going to college in bigger numbers and kicking their male counterparts' asses at it. So women need to use this educational edge to push technological advancement.

Think back to Woody Allen's classic film, Sleeper, in which all the men are impotent and all the women are frigid, BUT social order is kept because the wants of the the people -- including their sexual wants -- are being met. People, we need the "orgasmatron," stat. In fact, I would argue that we need a Manhattan Project style approach to it. If the atomic bomb was necessary to end World War II, this is needed to stop all future wars. Ladies, get to work...no less than the future of the planet is in your hands.

UPDATE: Check out MT's latest for a biological explanation of why it just might work.