Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Dichotomies of Consumer Culture

    The most fundamental dichotomy, man/woman, or if you like, day/night, is the basis of modern thought, stemming into religious morality and thus government and rule. Throughout culture, sexism has been persistent. Even the woman-based or goddess based cultures of ancient times were eventually physically put in submission. Patriarchal societies have the upper hand when examining the polarity of feminine/masculine. To this day, in for instance, Feng Shui, the method of balancing one's environment, is based upon Yin-Yang, feminine/masculine, dark/light, night/day. These basic dichotomies are almost universally accepted and become the principal foundation for gender roles.
    At once dualism becomes the structure of collective thought, every concept is divided in two, so day/night becomes light/dark, good/evil, positive/negative. It is easy to see the relationship between day/light/man in ancient culture when the sun was the main focus of worship (sun=son?). This leaves night to represent female whereas night is dark, when the unknown occurs, naturally inspiring fear, longing for daylight. Many children have fear of the dark, vampires, ghosts and nocturnal animals come out at night, making evil interchangeable with night, dark, and female, most noticeably in Western society and religion.
    Upon examining the book of Genesis, the story of Adam and Eve gives much insight into modern association between good/man and evil/woman and the identification of men representing all of humanity. Before Eve, Adam was neither man nor woman, therefore Adam represents all people, i.e. "man kind" not "woman kind". To further reinforce  male superiority and woman inferiority, Eve, is tricked by Satan, i.e. evil, and gets both Adam and Eve kicked out of Eden the beautiful paradise God (a man nonetheless) made. Now, according to Genesis, women suffer painful childbirth for our collective misdeed. This of course is the Judea-Christian religion Western society is built upon, especially the United States, a more recent concoction of religion and state (supposedly separate).
    Religion reinforces the unquestioning of these modes of thought. Religion is one of the main culprits of the evolution of gender roles, why women are submissive and men traditionally the bread-winners. Nowadays, gender-roles have a slightly new configuration after the Woman's Right Movement and politically, on most accounts have equal rights. Equal rights, should not, however, imply overall equality. Women are still fitted into traditional stereotypes of being weaker, still take on domestic roles as well as jobs outside the home, are still paid less than men, and are still objectified through all branches of media. This atmosphere of consumer culture is where more complex dichotomies evolve.
    For instance, we are constantly being advertised and sold products, while watching a weight loss show we are also being shown McDonald's commercials, while watching a cooking show we are being sold diet pills, while looking at anorexic models we are being told "big is beautiful" (then being called either too skinny or too fat), while seeing women run for office we are seeing half-naked women in music videos. These are alot of confusing images, especially for young women. This is a result of the religion/state dichotomy - on one side we have the pure, house maker religious moral side, then the demonized over-sexed pro-women's rights, left. These polarities make it possible for gender roles to be perpetuated and for rifts between other women or feminists to persist over which side to take. Dualism in our thinking patterns makes it black/white as if there is no gray!
    People are politically divided into left/right when, in reality, they are the same people making decisions for whichever company they have sworn allegiance to. Since capitalism is based on the consumer's demand, it is necessary the companies who run our government find a way to please us, or to create demand for their products.
    For example, even if there is no real demand for cheeseburgers there is one created through advertising and other types of psychological manipulation. This is how we have become a brand-based culture and a culture that racks up debt for the newest cars and computers even if we don't need products or can't afford the products. So it becomes necessary to find to the audience to sell to and to box up their characteristics to find a way to reach their vulnerability.  For example, a company needs to sell a new oven cleaner, they have spent millions on animal testing, researching and creating something slightly different than the previous oven cleaner, so to sell it they give deals to stores so it can be sold cheap and also advertise. They figure, who does the oven cleaning in the home? Who is the majority of our audience? Women? Aged 30-50? Are they a parent with a job and busy lifestyle? What do they watch? Oprah, maybe? Soap operas? Therefore they create the right opportunity, during the right time slots have a commercial with a busy mom with alot of things to do, praising how much she enjoys having this fast acting oven cleaner to save her time, then you go to the store remember that catchy jingle and see that it's on sale, then, voila! A company has millions in their pocket and can continue to have political sway.
   This culture makes it possible to continue stereotypes even after the so-called "women's liberation movement". To indulge in this psychological manipulation is indulging in sexism, racism, animal torture, environmental atrocities and political ignorance. Our black/white thinking makes it impossible for our green parties to ever win an election and nearly impossible for individuals to be individual. This why examining the dichotomies persistent in our moral values and political structure become the crux of anarchism and individual liberty. To ignore gender roles, where they stem from and how they persist is going to be the downfall of politics, environment, and freelance information.

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