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construction of desire

This LJ post has some really good thoughts:
http://orbitalmechanic.livejournal.com/105179.html

Someone (in a friends locked post) quoted some of them.

I found some more I wanted to quote:
The heart is totally untrustworthy, people. All you have to do is make it want something and you think you invented that wanting, you think desire is an expression of truth and unmediated self.
The primary arena I've noticed this in myself is in my responses to clothing fashions. Over and over again, I'll see some new fashions or colors and go EWWWWW...and then in six months to two years or so I will see the same fashions and really like them. This doesn't happen with every new fashion, but it invariably happens with some, and it happens even though I know it happens.

This flexibility can be used for good or ill, of course. I've also used it to widen and shift the set of people I'm attracted to, which I think is a good thing. The constant shifting of my fashion sense, not so good (although fairly harmless overall).

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
starcat_jewel
May. 12th, 2006 07:38 am (UTC)
OTOH, seeing the ideology is the first step toward deciding which parts of it you want to keep or discard.

If you haven't read HellSpark by Janet Kagan, you might want to give it a try. It did very much the same thing for me that this book seems to have done for the OP, but from a somewhat different direction; it showed me how to look at my own culture "from the outside" and see what makes sense and what's just "because".
firecat
May. 12th, 2006 07:48 am (UTC)
I agree. I have to say I haven't tried very hard to discard my easily shifted fashion sense. :)

Thanks for the book recommendation!
ckd
May. 12th, 2006 02:14 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes. Second the recommendation for Hellspark. I was really glad to see Meisha Merlin reprint this in a nice trade paperback edition a few years back, because my mass-market copy was getting worn out.
epi_lj
May. 12th, 2006 02:02 pm (UTC)
Some of that post makes me feel guilty and sad (as a man married to a woman and with mostly female sexual partners) because part of what I'm seeing in it is an assertion that all heterosexual sex and marriage is support of the patriarchy and oppression of the women involved (even though the author doesn't seem to feel that that should stop them).

I didn't read the book, so perhaps that's it, but I also didn't understand why the guy telling the lesbian woman to find a partner who is better for her because the other partner didn't appreciate her and treated her poorly is bad (even if he did himself treat women poorly).
firecat
May. 12th, 2006 03:22 pm (UTC)
part of what I'm seeing in it is an assertion that all heterosexual sex and marriage is support of the patriarchy and oppression of the women involved

This notion goes back to the feminist thought of 20-30-40 years ago. When I first encountered it, it used to make me feel guilty that I was interested in relationships with men. :-( I kinda got over that part.

I don't think it's quite so direct as "support". What I do think is that people in male-female partnerships have privilege and when they are out in public they are *inadvertently* seen as upholding the status quo, and the status quo has oppressive elements. I'm including myself because my primary partnership is male-female.

I think that one can mitigate this by being aware of it, by speaking out against oppression, and by being public about how one's partnerships differ from the status quo. (All of which you are and do.) And I also think it's impossible to do that all the time.

If one has privilege one can use it to "infiltrate" the mainstream and communicate messages that undermine the status quo. (I'm thinking now about the thin men like Paul Campos who are communicating the fat-acceptance message in the mainstream.)

As for sad: I think it's sad that it's impossible to get away from the political ramifications of one's actions, because I do get damned SICK of thinking about political ramifications all the time.

I also didn't understand why the guy telling the lesbian woman to find a partner who is better for her because the other partner didn't appreciate her and treated her poorly is bad

I don't know either. I haven't read books by that author and didn't really pay much attention to parts of the post discussing the author.
abostick59
May. 12th, 2006 06:58 pm (UTC)
I am deeply suspicious of someone who warns us, The heart is totally untrustworthy, people. If I cannot trust my heart, then I have nothing left but reason, and reason is notoriously subject to being misled by unwarranted hidden assumptions. Without the guidance of my heart, I am more subject to manipulation by the forces of culture, not less.

Of course it might be that what I mean when I say "my heart" may be completely different from what the OP means.
firecat
May. 12th, 2006 07:45 pm (UTC)
Good point. Given the context, the message I take away is that the heart by itself is not more trustworthy than reason by itself.

Ultimately we are pretty limited in just how much we can undo our cultural conditioning, especially in isolation. Other people can help.
innerdoggie
May. 12th, 2006 08:58 pm (UTC)
What if it's the initial EWWWW that's the problem, and the gradual broadening of taste that's the Good Thing?

vito_excalibur
May. 12th, 2006 11:05 pm (UTC)
Not speaking for firecat, but my take on it is that the bad thing is neither liking green nor not liking green; but remaining unaware that one's opinion on green, like one's opinion on many other things, is influenced by prevailing trends, and not keeping an eye cocked at who is managing those trends and why and whether one wants to go along with them.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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