A tool of women hijacked by and for men
What happens when the individual right of every woman to objectify their bodies, if they so wished, is mistaken not only for
coerced commercialisation of women’s sexualised image, but also for ideologically prescribed and indoctrinated corporate clean cut sanitised feminism?
We have today among women a perception of themselves that when it is not an ideologically prescribed corporate clean cut sanitised barbie image of themselves, it is then a commercially sexualised ideal body's image as a model to aspire. The rest is, well, being extremely happy about being shabby, fat or whatever.
Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook wrote in her book, Lean in:
"A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes."
Sandberg misses a crucial point about true equality. Equality is not about rounding people or things in halves.
Equality truly work by having a non linear mindset with number and quantification. Imagine you are having a party and you wanted to buy 100 bottles of beer. One bottle of beer cost $1, but if you wanted 100 bottles of beers you might think it would cost you $100 if you had a linear mindset.
You might go for a discount of $80 for 100 bottles of beer. However, if it were late at night and the place you are buying from is the only place open, the seller might tell you, "I give you one bottle for $1, but 100 bottles for $200."
We can see in the case above that 100 bottles of beer can be equal to $100, to $80 or to $200 depending on the leverage.
Now when you go back to your party after having bought 100 bottles of beer, you might think you are going to be fair by distributing beers in equal amount for men and women? However, some men might want beer, some women might not. Some men might prefer one kind of beer or maybe whisky. Some women might like wine or just gin and tonic, but not beer.
Equality, in most cases, is not base on quantifiable linear approaches to numbers. For most of its glory the 50-50 fairness logic has limited scope when it comes to understanding human diversity. Equality is best implemented when we apply quantifiable nonlinear approaches to things and people.
We fail to be equal when we can't recognise internal differences beyond our assumption of slippery homogeneity. There are differences not only between men and women, but differences among women as much as among men. This is not intersectional feminism, but intersectional individuality.
Equality between men and women is about giving equal access to men and women to any opportunity regardless of their gender. It might result in women numbers being 80% in one sector, men 50% in another or vice versa. Equality is attained not when the numbers match linearly, but when all genders have equal access to any sector of society and gender is not a measure of their worth.
Trying to prescribe and indoctrinate women and men into the linear equality of the 50-50 falls out of the scope of real equality and tends not only to generate a privileged sector of women across the gender spectrum, but to be dismissive of men and every other gender.
Corporate feminism is based on the principle that what is best for women is to look up to those women who have made it to the top. What fails in such logic is that being a female leader, let alone a top leader, is not necessarily connected to women equality in general. Leadership is a profession like any other and being the top leader not necessarily galvanises the best nor the top of humans achievements.
There are many innovators, scientists, artists and great people coming from different backgrounds who have never been leaders. Even Steve Job, not only at the top of Apple, but at the top of technological innovation, was the worst leader to look up to. It was not leadership what brought Steve Jobs to a memorable place in history. It was his holistic view, as much in business as in life, what single-handedly gave him his greatness.
Obviously, corporate feminism comprises just a sector of women. It is actually more telling of women greatness when women aim to the best of whatever in their individual circumstances and capability they might consider best to contribute to than to turn leadership in the mojo for women liberation.
Sheryl Sandberg alienates herself from many other women, no matter how much she tries to represent women in general, as she concentrates in a small group of elite women who have piled up fancy degrees and racked up experience in the corporate world while she fails to rally women of different socioeconomic backgrounds and assumes she is addressing women in general.
The Lean-In mantra is on the prowl, rampant and it seems so ubiquitous, but it is not. There are many things Sandberg's feminism doesn't lean in. And you might wonder why some things today seems to be so pervasive when they are not.
It is far simpler, a general worldview sometimes is made by a dominant media, but the real world is not made of dominant media. Dominant media can make a cocooned world appear widened beyond proportions.
Forget about feminism a la Sandberg. What she really represents is a brand, her own brand, which extends that of Facebook. Whether she is a woman or a man, even when her feminist pet project drips some oils to her cause, makes really no difference to her bigger agenda. Her brand proliferates right through the gender divide, but stay cocooned in corporate America.
Women are objectified through corporate feminism, and yet objectification has rather a far more elastic meaning than feminists would like to consent. The common feminist narrative defines objectification in the same sense Marxism defined alienation.
It is based on the subject-object status. The subject is active, it has an agency. The object, on the contrary, is passive, being acted upon. The subject exerts power over the object in a manipulative and exploitative way.
This Marxist logic, extracted from Hegelian dialectics, completely misses the point not only about the subject-object relationship in Hegel dialectic, but about the peculiar understanding of such relationship in human societies.
The relation between human subjects, as it is in the case of a man and woman, is never a relation of pure subjects no matter how much of an ideal equality feminists might have in mind. This is not due to a primordial alienation of social relations at the early stages of human history (marxists and feminists premises).
Humans are never pure subjects and neither pure objects when they enter into a clear cut subject-object relationship. There are, however, gradients of the subject and of the object in human social relations which could turn such relationship into an alienated one, but from the subject-object relationship doesn't necessarily derive a relation of alienation as marxists and feminists keep on insisting.
The Master-Slave logic in Hegel has a better comprehensive grasp in Science of Logic than in Phenomenology of the Spirit, but most analyses, including marxists and feminists, are stuck in the last one.
The fact that the subject and the object have always gradients to themselves doesn't mean that there is not a clear cut definition of roles. On the contrary, in their clear roles there are mutual gradients of subject and object they both share, which might or might not lead to the oppression-liberation logistic.
Marx concluded out of the Hegelian dialectic that such share reaches a fundamental gradient of maturity in the objectified subject (proletariats) at which point it will vindicates its nature as the true subject of human history and the so called object( proletariats) would sublate its so called subject (capitalists).
Marx completely wrecked Hegel understanding of sublation. First, he saw human history as a history of alienation through periodical sublations until it reaches its final stage with capitalism and its sublation by communism. Second, he expected a long standing object(proletariats) to subvert its own essence as object and that of its subject (capitalists) in a final move without proletariats nor capitalists: the communist paradise.
Sublation in Hegel's Science of Logic doesn't have neither the eschatological nor the teleological movement Marx tried so hard to extract from him. True be told, we can't discard the possibility of Hegel himself betraying the spirit of the Science of Logic in other works.
Even when in Hegel sublation does mean to negate and at the same time to preserve as a partial element in a synthesis, neither sublation nor synthesis are set in stoned from the outset.
If human history were a history of an evolving oppressed class liberating itself from an oppressor until it reaches a final point of true liberation that very narrative could be read in reverse. It would be a history of an evolving liberation and betterment in societies. Under that light oppression wouldn't have been oppression, but just natural obstacles in the path of enlightenment.
Yet, as it is the case with life's evolution, human historical evolution doesn't have a predetermined path toward a final enlightenment, be it through the hurdles of oppression or through human progressive betterment.
Human history can progress and in many instances it has aim to progress, but it is neither predestined to its end nor to its glory. In fact, it has regressed many time and it can get extinct. That's the lesson Marx never learned from Hegel, let alone Darwin.
Marx viewed alienation like a chronic disease caught by humanity at some point in its infancy after the idilic situations of our hunter-gatherer societies were left behind. Then, somehow, nine thousand years later with the advent of capitalism humanity woke up from its exploitative slumber to end it for once and build a happily ever after communist paradise.
The idea that throughout history the true subject of freedom (working class) has been turned into an object of subjugation by an oppressive subject (dominant class) completely removed from any marxist and feminist analysis the possibility of the subject simultaneously being an object without being subjugated and oppressed.
Objectification, in that sense, becomes synonymous with alienation and exploitation. Objectification is ideologised, turned negative and meant to be removed from the natural processes of the subject true expression.
The reality of subjects, and of human subjects true expressions, however, is a different one. We humans are not always fully passive when we let others act upon us and we also are not fully active when we act as agent upon others.
This, obviously, doesn't mean that there are not instances in which being act upon is exploitative and abusive. What this mean is that women are not necessarily exploited nor victims when they are objectified or they objectify themselves.
It doesn't mean either that objectification is an invention of the dominant or mainstream culture. Mainstream media and corporations, no doubts, can and do manufacture consent, needs and desires in consumers. Yet, we can't lose sight that for them to do so they have to tap first into the basic raw patterns that create trends from people's real lives.
Those raw patterns in women and men tell us that before corporation and the mainstream manufacture consent and the objectification of women and men to recycle them back into the very women and men who inspired them, such women and men have been already celebrating such objectification themselves.
Commercials just uses what is already there, but in an ultra polished fashion. The cosmetic industry and fashion didn't create patterns of beauty and body image, they were already among people. Fashion and cosmetics just made them ultra polished and hyperreal.
Once they do so, the same audience just turned them into God-like guarantors of beauty and once such cliché of beauty worn out for some sectors then they manufactured a new consent for other sectors.
Body positive movement and campaigns were born out of such logic. An add-on to the existing polished beauty was manufactured. The long considered ugly now can have its own catwalk. The old ugly is the new beauty.
What an irony! Beauty is still the same, right on the surface of our bodies and it was supposed to be truly inside, in our souls.