Month: March 2013

A note on Capitalism, Consumerism, and all of this Monsanto Business…

consumer power

This week Facebook, Twitter, and the like were all abuzz with slactivism regarding the Supreme Court hearings on DOMA and the validity of Prop 8 (passed in CA, 2008).

And then of course, by the end of the week there was the more subtle wave of, “Meanwhile, the Monsanto Protection Act was passed,” floating just beneath the radar.

The thing that’s been getting to me about this is….

We live in a capitalist society (hopefully I am not shocking anyone with that info) and I am- yes, even as a “radical” feminist- okay with that. I am not anti-capitalism. But I do think it merits social safety nets. After all, I’m a homeowner- I own property and I am damn proud of that fact, and moreover super stoked that my husband and I (together, as a team- we could not have accomplished it otherwise) accomplished this achievement just before we each turned 30. However, that does not mean that I am okay with predatory lending and bad mortgages being handed out. Now I’m no economist, but I am a feminist and I do care about stuff and things, so naturally this is just one of those aspects of life which I believe it to be both my personal, as well as political, responsibility to know a little bit about. I happen to have this crazy notion that it’s my right, my privilege, and ultimately, my responsibility as a citizen- i.e. a private individual as well as member of public society- to be at least a little bit well-informed on some social issues and politics.

While our capitalist structure does, unfortunately, allow for the existence of things such as lobbyists, it is also fueled by and founded on, above all else, the consumer. At the base of our capitalist pyramid is us- the workers, the 99%, the consumers. And there is, indeed, such a thing as consumer power. Just look at the rise of the organic food industry over the past decade, or the rise of “Fair Trade,” and other forms of socially conscious consumerism. Seeing all the posts and articles about Monsanto over the past week has resulted in a recurring thought of mine:

What if Monsanto didn’t have any customers? What if they had no consumer base…?

Imagine if we all grew our own produce and/or only bought from vendors at farmers’ markets (or other individuals or small businesses) that we trusted?

I understand that Monsanto’s customer base is not directly us, the general public, but rather the farming community and farmers themselves, and this does indeed complicate my proposition; But if the basic principles of economics are still in operation then there is still room for change. As long as there is supply and demand, there is still consumer power.

We can always put our money where our mouths are.

BANDZ A MAKE HER DANCE

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The priorities of this country never cease to amaze me.

GET IT TOGETHER, U.S. OF A!

Did you know that *apparently* words such as, “nigga,” “niggerish,” and the like are actually allowed on the radio…

yet in the song, “BANDZ A MAKE HER DANCE,” the word “stripper” is bleeped out.

?!

This is what first struck me when I heard it on the radio.

For those of you that don’t know, this song is about “BANDZ,” that is to say, rubber bands, that make strippers DANCE, as in, the rubber bands around the stacks of bills they are unwrapping to give the strippers money is making those girls dance. Hence: “BANDZ A MAKE HER DANCE.”

Now you probably just think I am going to launch into a tirade about how sexist and disgustingly misogynistic this song is. But is it? Well in my opinion, yeah, it is. But what complicates my attempt at a feminist analysis of this song within our sexist social context is what I am just going to go ahead and call “the stripper paradox.”

Here’s the deal: Women have been concomitantly revered and subjugated throughout history and modern day rap is highly reflective of this longstanding history. So my question is: Are strippers (or perhaps more appropriately, sex workers, in general) exacerbating this dichotomous confluence of reverence and subjugation? (<—does what I just said even make sense???)

Simply put, do sex workers help, or hurt, the feminist cause?

Are they examples of strong, independent women that are in control of their own sexual agency? Or are they just propagating the longstanding tradition of women being revered, yet ultimately subjugated?

If you can believe it, this is something that I’ve never actually been able to form a solid opinion on. I have been sitting on this fence for one heck of a long time now. I have seen both sides to the argument and have never swayed in one direction or another. I have leanings, to be sure, but I’m not even going to share that, as I’ve no conviction behind them. What I would really love- and I’ve been saying this for years now- would be for someone to convince me.

Any takers?