Saturday, May 14, 2011

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This is a reply to a comment that can be found here. My response is too long to fit into one comment, and this method seems to be more efficient, anyway (see my reasoning here). Perhaps it will bring the conversation to people who've missed the original post's comments up until now -- which is especially good if you consider that this is sort of a different topic from the one in the original post.

Before I begin with the comment, though, let me take a moment to make a definite statement:

Promiscuity and cultural investment in sex as a thing of supreme value are two different things.

On with the reply:

"If you meant to talk about people who use symbols in the place of empirical observation where it benefits them socially, why not, you know, say 'people who use symbols in the place of empirical observation where it benefits them socially'?"

Because that's not as likely to leave an impression, I suppose. It's the same as if I were to say that I dislike it when people believe in things solely because the things make them happy, and then proceed to poke fun at people who specifically think that fiery demons like to snack on the souls of homosexuals.

I'm sure that you also laugh at the latter mentality, yes? Is it okay for us to laugh at the absurdity of demons devouring gay people? If it is, then why isn't it okay for us to laugh at the absurdity of women obsessing over something as meaningless as a non-essential biological function? Note that, as I previously clarified, I was not targeting feminists as a whole -- just anyone, feminist and faux-feminist alike, who makes it her goal to promote hedonism as a means to achieving some kind of state of enlightenment. The Buddhists are wrong about meditation in this exact same way, and reality sucks. That's how I see it, at least.

"Moreover, being able to express oneself sexually with the freedom accorded to men and not face social ostracism or blame in case you get raped seems like a rather tangible, and not merely symbolic, benefit."

Great, but there's a big difference between having casual sex with people on one hand and promoting a retarded culture of porn, over-the-top music videos, and other kinds of carefree escapism as some kind of progressive initiative on the other. If you don't think that at least some of the "Look at me, because my appearance is important to my self-esteem, as should be the case for everyone, since shapes and colors of people matter" types are all about "girl power" and being "independent," think again. Say that they're not "legitimate" feminists if you want, but I'm not really interested in who's part of which groups -- just who's probably right about our situation on Earth and who isn't.

The point was simply that most people on this planet have terrible values. I can and have used plenty of other examples in the past, from Christian fundamentalists to CEOs who think that their yachts will save them from their fates; this particular example was not originally thought of as being somehow different from the others when it was selected.

"I haven’t actually seen any feminists advocate that we should have a custom and expectation of female promiscuity; maybe you have."

I haven't. What I have born witness to, though, is one unusually opulent generation raising another under the premise that not only is "being yourself" somehow meaningful, it's something that should allow you to get whatever your greedy, privileged self desires. Examples include women using sexual power to afford themselves self-esteem and emotional comfort, young men expecting places of employment to just accept them (and getting indigant when this doesn't happen), and the majority of the population never witnessing a live death of another person unless inside a hospital. These are all very bad things if we want to make people responsible and appropriately empathetic; all three prevent us from caring about anything other than our own over-blown neuroses while lost in a sea of materialism, solipsism, and attention-seeking.

"What I have seen feminists advocate is that women who wish to be promiscuous be allowed to do so without it being assumed that it’s okay to rape them, or that they are morally deficient somehow (whereas men are judged by much more lenient standards)."

1. Rape is fairly common, but nowhere near as common as car accidents, cancer, and a plethora of other horrors. It's a big deal, sure, but having more sex or dressing a different way is not going to make things better; in fact, it's going to make things worse. Education is the answer, here -- like with just about every other bad meme currently nestled inside of someone's brain; only after the populace is properly educated should we start dressing differently (and even then, we shouldn't pretend that doing so makes us interesting or that life is all happy times now).

As an extreme (and, potentially, ultimate) example of how education should work when it comes to sex, in one of my ideal future societies that I've envisioned, men and women would have sex with one another via simulated avatars customized according to each person's preferences. A man could become a woman and vice versa virtually if he or she wanted, and all humans on the planet would be raised by credentialied caretakers in a controlled "lab" environment to not only think but fully understand why preferring the attention of one person over another simply because he or she has different body parts is superficial. Males would have sex with their best male friends within such simulations -- even though they'd be entirely straight -- to strengthen bonds. Finally, there would be no or very few fetishes, as most fetishes result from the bizarre meme that sex is bad (or, more specifically, that where there's nudity, there's sex, and both are bad).

2. For the most part, a male's desire to rape a female is different from the current cultural tendency toward using sex for profit (prostitutes, pornstars, record label owners), ego gratification, or just to distract from how bad life is. The former is something that I do view as a legitimate concern, whereas the latter -- that is, the concern that being sexual needs to be incorporated into one's identity, etc. -- is really silly. I'm fully aware that many feminists are against these things; on the other hand, it does seem to be the case that our society accepts things like makeup as more legitimate as advertising methods than index cards with lists of ideals taped to foreheads. In other words, much of what makes obsession with sex superficial has been accepted for over a hundred years, now (remember the roaring 20s?).

Yes, this all applies to males as well, but outside of the gay community, there isn't much in the way of intensive male body decoration. If you want to out male attention-seeking and signs of being out of touch with reality, you'll have to go with rock stars, Facebook status updates, and emasculated whining about the government.

"If you think such advocates are necessarily motivated by selfish considerations, you are wrong. If you think this issue is trifling, you must not have researched it much or given it much thought. Not having to worry about such things is part of the privilege this culture accords you as a man."

I wouldn't know; I don't have sex.

I'm sure that I could if I really wanted to, but the amount of energy involved does not reflect the reward, especially given current relationship stability statistics (but certainly not because of such statistics). Anyway, I'm sure that there are plenty of outlying males who are -- mostly due to terrible values and false hope -- dying to have sex or be in a relationship, but also unable to due to arbitrary personality aberrations or lack of physical mass.

Everyone on this planet is impacted by this fundamental problem, regardless of the form that it takes. It's called prejudice.

"That’s why it’s crucial to not underestimate your connection with Western culture: you may be a culture drone in ways you don‘t even realize. You seem to think the slut stigma is a non-issue compared to people’s wasting time and resources on expendable entertainment, but at least people want to do that (and those who are currently starving would do the same, if they could)."

The slut stigma is a huge issue, but it isn't so big that it needs to drown out the issue of cancer or the more general issues of presumption and social exclusion. If you're in favor of ending the slut stigma, great; so am I. If you're in favor of ending the slut stigma and then using that scary "we" pronoun to declare a false victory -- especially if by "ending" you mean "replacing with more selfishness and pleasant fantasy" -- then I'm afraid that you've missed what it is that living things are doing here on Earth.

"If women's sexual freedom somehow became the new status quo, that would be a good thing"

Again, sexual freedom and slutification -- the original term that I used -- are two different things. I'm in favor of people being able to have sex with whomever they choose (although it still concerns me that this necessarily leads to a massive portion of people -- particularly the obese, socially inept, and elderly -- getting ignored by the rest of us in the exact same way that monogamy does). I'm not in favor of sex being glorified as some symbol of one's identity or "inner self," or some other nonsense. I was poking fun of that mentality, as it's all over our culture to the point where every time you turn around, someone is talking about how having sex makes his or her life meaningful. If you think that women having lots of sex is still as big of a taboo as it used to be -- or that what's been happening to what we value in our fellow human beings is good -- then you're not living in the same society as me.

"Re: it was a joke. It wasn’t funny."

You're still being a bit uptight here, I think. Maybe I just have a dark sense of humor.

"Why not make a joke about how separate drinking fountains for black people were merely a symbolic standard, and getting rid of them was a waste of time?"

Because being allowed to drink clean water is a billion times more important than being allowed to get really drunk and then seek undeserved attention from anyone within proximity. Again, the target was people who advocate slutification -- not people who advocate promiscuity. It was just my way of making fun of modern society.

I should also probably note here that I think polygamy makes way, way more sense than monogamy.

"And, of course, you still haven’t shown how advocating slutification makes one unable to also advocate other things, even if one does it for selfish reasons."

I don't recall making this claim. If I remember correctly, I asked you whether this is true of you, since it is a common occurrence for people to defend only those things which apply to them personally.

"Do you write this blog from your own computer? Why not sell it and donate the proceeds to Oxfam or some such organization? It would probably make more of an impact than writing a blog, realistically"

Don't know what Oxfam is. I'll do some research, and if it's something other than a generic charity, then maybe I'll take you up on this offer. If it is just a generic charity, then I'd prefer to write a blog. Either way, this blog doesn't get many views, and I don't pretend to be making a difference; it's just that if I do or don't write it, I'll probably not make a difference either way, so why not?

"You seem to have some kind of idiosyncratic virtue ethics about eschewing happiness and pleasure"

That's called asceticism -- something that I'm very against. What makes you think that I'm in favor of this?

"You have not provided convincing evidence that the rest of us should adopt your virtue ethics or, more importantly, that it is even possible for everyone to do so."

Spreading memes that influence others is a tricky business; you have to know what you're doing before promoting the memes in question. If, for example, I declare that self-expression through music is the gateway to harmony for all life on Earth, I'm going to be promoting a really skewed perspective of the world on par with the most out-of-touch of religions. On the other hand, if I love music that personally moves me and merely state as much, then I'm doing no harm.

1. Do things that you enjoy, so long as they do not tip the pleasure to suffering ratio for sentient life in suffering's favor.

2. Don't teach people that enjoying the things in question is valuable, or some end goal for humanity. Just enjoy them.

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