May 28, 2014

I've been thinking a lot about the UC Santa Barbara shooter. Online feminists are boiling with rage at the idea that a man would shoot women for not finding him desirable, and we've read a lot about the misogyny that clearly pervaded his mind.

But I'm not so sure where to draw the line between misogyny and plain old consumer capitalism on this one -- or any of them.

I mean, what's the basic impulse of capitalism? "I want, I want, I want." (I recently heard someone say on TV, "How the hell can people say we're a Christian society with a commandment like 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods'? That's the basis of our entire economy!")

In America, having the means to purchase what you covet is also the basis of social status, and thus power. People look up to you on the basis of your education, your income and the good taste to display it with the "right" possessions. We're all brainwashed, right? It's a pretty fucking shallow way to live.

When I first visited L.A., I looked around and said to my friend (only half-kidding), "Where do you keep all the fat people?" Because I was astounded at how uniform everyone looked. My friend explained to me that in L.A., if you didn't get your hair and teeth bleached, get liposuction, nipped and tucked, etc., you could end up a social pariah. She told me that's why the Hollywood power elite upgraded their wives all the time -- they didn't want to be seen with women who were past their sell-by date.

I think about the kind of movies we see now, mostly where the schlub is the hero who gets the model-pretty girl. I think about some of the male geeks I've known. I remember this one guy who was just a classic mess: reeked of B.O., was badly dressed, even ate his boogers in public. And of course he wanted to go out with one of our co-workers, who was stunning. I tried to talk him out of it, but he mistook her kindness for attraction and plunged ahead. (Ho boy.) He didn't kill her, of course, but he was badly shaken and angry when she said no. I think he bought into the romantic-comedy idea of his pluckiness winning her heart.

In the meantime, there were some nice women in his church group who actually liked him. One was too fat, one was too pushy, one was... well, you get the idea.

I want, I want, I want.

I think about the classic movie "Marty", where Ernest Borgnine in the title role met a nice girl (nice but plain). His friends made fun of her because she wasn't a looker and he stood her up. He finally came to his senses and called her again.

I think the reason the movie was so satisfying is that real people want a real relationship with another human being, not a trophy to display.

Far too many men don't know how to connect with real women, and so they've made women a commodity. They're not looking for a relationship, they're looking to dominate and win. Women haters -- or good little capitalists who want their status symbols? I can't tell the difference anymore.

Sexism ruins a lot of things in our culture, but capitalism sure helps it along.

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