Rape Culture: Extreme Pornography / Extreme Sexuality (Part 3.1)

Extreme Sexuality 1

The Liberation Principle

“The Matrix is surely the kind of film about the matrix that the matrix would have been able to produce” (Baudrillard, 2004)

As free-market globalisation and the artificial instruments of technology have intersected with the formerly established sex categories of male and female; and as discourse was liberated from its containment within these essentialist categories, an identity continuum was born right across the sex/gender spectrum. An identity continuum that liberated sex from its biological and social poles, opening it up as a market of unlimited, polymorphic potential.[1]

One modern politics to form around this continuum has been that of intersectionality – an authoritarian vision which appears to have appropriated aspects of Foucault’s post-structuralism. In this model, power, domination and discrimination are analysed through the way dominant forms and categories (biological, cultural, social and other identity axes) intersect and thereby marginalise particular groups. So for instance, racial prejudice cannot be understood outside of gender-prejudice as both intersect to create an inter-related zone of exclusion. At the same time, both these types of prejudice are seen to supervene on particular structural intersections such as norms, discourses and institutional configurations. In short, it reveals the same miniaturization of macro-power into micro-power that Foucault so adequately described and is one manifestation of the new way in which we experience power (or the method by which politics is staged) that Foucault too, unwittingly instanced.

Three things here: firstly, that intersectionality (or Foucault’s post-structuralism) does not exist as truth, but rather only exists as the dominant illusion by which we measure the present: one based on a globalised, techno-free-market capitalism. Fluid, producible identities for a fluid, producible culture for a fluid, producible economy; and what is this except an institutional, hallucinogenic suppression of all the alternative forms – all the rigid, less technological, more essentialist , more nationalist, less rational, more ritualistic or mystical forms?

Secondly, Intersectionality, though focusing on those traditionally conceived as marginalised, produces its own categories of exclusion: identity exclusions such as the racial or gender separatists (racists or misogynists); behavioural exclusions such as racist or homophobic jokes; or institutional exclusions, such as patriarchal institutions and so on. Moreover, in re-engineering the environment in terms of liberating the marginalised forms (and therefore destroying those traditional forms supposed to intersect in oppression), one also empowers these original victims to create their own systems, institutions and hence we reconfigure the forces of exclusion and social violence.

A third notable feature is in the operational detail of this system: that it is through repression that identity and power are created. For every exclusion and every deterritorialised norm within the matrix, there is a counter-energy produced and the possibility of a new identity commodity in the matrical marketplace. So feminism, having liberated women and their productive energies, funnels them into the same competitive and psychological domain as men, [2] at once uprooting and destabilising men and women alike. One consequence has been the emergence of anti-feminism and men’s rights activism – one openly resistant to the feminist discourse and the other tending to produce men according to the same informational and discursive strategies as women are produced in feminism – oppression, matriarchies, the violence of social intersections and power-flows. To exist in this system, men must be produced in information according to the energizing principles of repression-liberation. This too though is far too distant a view – zoom in and we will see endless intersections within feminism, men’s rights and anti-feminism; a million fault-lines of every type where even supposedly equivalent disciplines exclude and produce fractious tension between the various factions.

All political and liberative rebelry here takes place within the matrix. They do not even touch its sides, for it’s these conflicts that produce and instance its internal workings. It’s interesting that the MRAs speak about taking the ‘red pill’ and seeing though the matrix (that of feminism and matriarchy). They are a minor form within the matrix – a relatively recent counter-form to the better established feminism whose success created them and vitalised their narrative, but the process is as much a symptom of the matrix as are black feminists and white feminists fighting over the meaning of a haircut. For all their professed radicalism, diversity and the focus on identity, their cultural origins are identical – repression-liberation, info-capitalism. ‘Identity’ merely masks this cultural commonality, staging a politics that disguises the absence of substantial radicalism at its heart.

On this political model, the social is generally a territory, endlessly reconfigured along the lines of liberation and repression. Dominant forms appear, identify new negative forms, detrritorialise and destabilise those negative forms releasing new energies to produce afresh within and outside these negative domains. It’s within such a system we can begin to talk about sex-negativity and extreme sexuality.

Part 1Part 2Part 3.1

Notes

[1] Even if there are biological facts in the real world which resist this polymorphic continuum, there is still a perceptual fantasy of a polymorphic sex/gender insofar as sexual diversity has been liberated from pathology and the idea of nature (that is, an idea formed by a proximity to nature as opposed to an idea formed by a technological distance from it). And in any case, what is it science brought to our perception of the body if not the mad accident of its micro-elements, and later, the inscrutable purpose of its genetic code?

[2] From a structuralist perspective, it may be worthwhile querying just what has taken place to make this oppression of women narrative such an effective one today.[2.1] What it is that characterises the perception of the oppressive past, how that oppressive past was conceived of at the time and what technological and discursive tendencies were emerging at the time the oppression narrative began to meaningfully take hold. In the same way Foucault’s History of Sexuality would portray Freud as a witness to the birth and deployment of sexuality (not its liberation), one might want to apply the same principles to the new feminism – investigate it in the context of productive, market-forces intersected with new technologies, an insulation from the natural world and developments in and around polymorphic sexuality and identity.

[2.1] There is very real cause for conceiving new feminism as having been assimilated into the structure of global markets as a means of simulating political meaning and political tension. The new feminist trades in an identity market-place and therefore needs the constant drip of controversy in order to exist. Similarly, the controversial product is more visible in the marketplace of commodities as a result of the controversy. The relationship between these markets – commodity and identity – is symbiotic. MRAs will simply add a further dimension to this mechanism – a machine for male identity/marketability mirroring that of feminism.

As a secondary note, these activisms also fit in nicely with the new immersive relationship between people and their digital identities. In new activism, one’s life is able to enter a system of immersive narratives and vital affects in a very similar way to how it would in a game, a virtual world or a TV show. Moreover, if one needs some foundation in a structural universe of related, narratisable signs (a culture), new activism provides this in a world where polymorphism has destabilised and washed-out such structures to the point of irrelevance.

New feminism then, is reducible to an operational mechanism of the current dominant order, parasitic on the ghost-legacy of revolutionary-romance and presented as if it were a challenge to an order it only serves to establish. To take anything too seriously here is to risk losing oneself in the phantasmagoria of a wider structural phenomenon.

References

Baudrillard, J. 2004. The Matrix Decoded, The European Graduate School. Available from: http://www.egs.edu/faculty/jean-baudrillard/articles/the-matrix-decoded-interview/” target=”_blank. [10 July 2015].

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