Amanda at pandagon offers some wise criticism of capitalism and sexism (sexism against women). She approvingly (“best eviscerations of a little bit of knee jerk rhetoric I see all the time on the left”) quotes Ellen Willis (R.I.P):
As expounded by many leftist thinkers, notably Marcuse, this theory maintains that consumers are psychically manipulated by the mass media to crave more and more consumer goods, and thus power an economy that depends on constantly expanding sales. The theory is said to be particularly applicable to women, for women do most of the actual buying, their consumption is often directly related to their oppression (e.g. makeup, soap flakes), and they are a special target of advertisers. According to this view, the society defines women as consumers, and the purpose of the prevailing media image of women as passive sexual objects is to sell products. It follows that the beneficiaries of this depreciation of women are not men but the corporate power structure.
(italics added, we’ll get back to them soon!)
As an example, Amanda picks this comment from her previous thread about “purity balls”:
Yes it’s bizarre but let’s not miss the real point of all this. Someone is making money running these stupid purity balls. It always comes down to shearing the sheep with these people even if it means turning little girls into mental cases.
And refutes that argument by writing:
Wha?!, my poor, beleagured brain said. I shouldn’t have been surprised. There’s a ton of people out there who literally think that marketing drives everything and everything in the world is the scheme of some brilliant marketer who created a desire in people through magic and then filled that desire with products and got rich.
I can understand her poor, beleaguered brain. After all, it isn’t “magic” that creates desire in people, but psychic manipulation by mass media, and it isn’t “some brilliant marketer” who filled that desire with products and got rich, but the corporate power structure.*
People should remember the distinction.
[edited for substantial changes improving clarity]
[I misunderstood the Ellen Willis piece by not reading the whole thing. It appears that women are not psychically manipulated by media directly, but rather consumerism is a compensation for oppression and that sexist society forces women to behave in a manner that male supremacy approves, and advertisers exploit this. I think.
This means that it is not psychic manipulation that creates desire, but instead it is a survival tactic for women in sexist society, and it is not just corporate power structure, but male supremacy that benefits. Eh.]