States us are like parasites. They extort us via taxation feeding off of our labor and they infect every aspect of our lives, including the most personal and potentially meaningful aspects. In parts of the middle east and Asia where Sharia law applies, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Syria women can be punished for not covering every nearly every inch of their skin. In the industrialized West, the ways in which both genders are controlled is more subtle but still very damaging.
Different cultures objectify both genders in different ways. Boys and men are told our muscles, wealth, size, and sexual experience are most important. Girls and women are told their appearance is most important, their sexual behaviors define them, and that the most meaningful endeavor for them is to please men. Of course, these primitive messages do incredible harm, especially to impressionable kids going through puberty. However, it is not just sex and good looks that are used to manipulate people. Even relationships and what is truly attractive like our best attributes are objectified and sold in the media.
Our sexuality is used against us to profit financial rulers, so we end up alone or feeling alone with unsatisfying encounters or relationships, and our sociopolitical and economic rulers even try to profit from healthy relationships. Industries tell us we need to show our love with their gifts, and the government says we need a financial contract (marriage). In many orthodox religious and fundamentalist cultures, a dowry or dower is often paid, or marriages are arranged. Most marriages end in divorce or people stick together even when they shouldn’t because of societal expectations, they have a child and feel a divorce would hurt the child too much, or they don’t want to deal with the potential financial implications of divorce. Bad marriages can hurt children more than divorce because inevitably they make the parents miserable, and marriage creates financial pressure that shouldn’t have to exist in relationships. There is also sometimes coercion and rape in marriages. It is believed by some that there is an “obligation” to have sex with your partner if you are married or in a sexual relationship, but we all know marriage does not equal consent to have sex. That is not to say the idea of life-long commitment to one person is harmful but marriage that is not entered into freely is not the basis of a good relationship.
One ubiquitous lie taught to men almost everywhere is that to “be a man” means to be strong, cold, and unfeeling. We are told to disregard women and our feelings and acquire riches. We are fed ridiculous machismo lies about “manhood” and told it is defined by our stature, wealth, status symbols, the number of women we’ve slept with, and that this attracts. Nothing could be more damaging to young boys and men and the people we have encounters or relationships with, because it makes us value and seek all the wrong things. It is detrimental to us and others because it almost inevitably leads to feelings of insecurity and misperceptions and mistreatment of women. No one can live up to that ridiculous idea of manhood and be healthy and happy.
Sexual behavior is also incredibly controlled and misrepresented in other ways. For example, female virgins are sometimes fetishized or viewed as “more valuable” or “pure” while male virgins are seen as worthless or fundamentally flawed, which are both very harmful attitudes. Both attitudes stem from the fundamentally wrong idea that sexual experience is somehow representative of our worth. For women, the reality is far worse as they can be killed for their sexual behaviors in some regions of the world like Saudi Arabia, and they are even blamed and punished for being raped. Young girls also still receive virginity tests in a disturbingly large number of countries.
Women and girls have a different set of lies pushed on them by our governments and media in industrialized, first-world countries. Women who are less sexually open than their piers may be called “prudes,” but if they sleep with many people, they may be labeled as “promiscuous” or something more harmful, whereas men (so long as they are married) can have as much as sex as they would like.
Sex is used to sell in hypersexualized, industrialized cultures to the point at which we can never forget about it. Certain types of pornography can also feed into these incredibly unhealthy perceptions of sexuality. Sex is associated with “conquering” to the point at which it becomes violent. Men are told the way to assert their manhood is by taking a control of a woman in any way they can, and so consent becomes unimportant for some. All of this contributes to a sick “rape culture,” which makes it very hard to have normal relationships and encounters, even when our desires do not reflect the sick culture. But the media, massive corporations, and our government don’t want us to be happy and healthy. They want miserable little, lonely, statist drones, working, fighting, and feeling like they have no option but to submit to the state and continue on in miserable nine to five jobs or to take loans to go an expensive school to eventually get a nine to five job. If we are paying to live out some fantasy or another, that is profitable for them. Real relationships that cost nothing in which neither person feels the need or has the expectation that money will ever be involved or define their relationship are not profitable for the government or corporations. And these relationships are more difficult in a capitalist state wherein our survival depends on how much money we can get for selling our labor to the market.
We are all objectified. We are all infantilized. Even our good qualities are bought and sold like commodities. It is difficult to change because so many of us are so reliant on the system. Most are focused on “surviving,” but never being happy and healthy. We don’t have the time to think about life beyond survival when our jobs take up nearly a third of our lives, and resistance can be dangerous and costly, so most people take the safer yet unfulfilling and occasionally soul-crushing path of wage slavery and obedience to the system.
Hypersexualized, industrialized cultures are much like the atmosphere in Las Vegas. Everything is fake. People are motivated by big riches they will never get in a system that is rigged, and people are treated like objects. The government and corporations do this to us. We are treated like pieces of meat by our governments and by much of the media, and so some people treat each other in the same way. But we have to rise above it. If there is no market for this kind of thing, sexual violence will become far less common, and people will start valuing each other more and not living fantasies, but instead start connecting in all kinds of meaningful ways. We could stop looking for sex to forget about what is painful, and instead use it to add fun to already meaningful connections. If sex was only seen as truly meaningful or worthwhile in the context of existing connections that go deeper than physical attraction, then we would be much happier and healthier. Part of the way we could get there would be to reject the commodification of our bodies and our labor, stop selling our labor to large corporations that exploit us and the environment, and instead trade and barter, live off the land, and use social currencies to subvert the system and its taxation. We can reclaim our autonomy, our sexual behaviors and identities as our own by pushing the state out of our personal lives and making every effort to dismantle it.