Objectifying Women was once Bad but now may be Good according to a Yale Professor

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 8th, 2013

Week in Review

Objectifying women is bad.  For it dehumanizes a woman.  Makes her a thing.  And not a person.  Then again, some are now saying that objectifying women actually humanizes them.  For when we see women in pornography we ascribe them feelings.  Feel empathy for them as they writhe in sexual ecstasy.  And feel compassion for them as they end a sex scene in the classic porn ending.  Which is why men watch pornography, I guess.  To feel closer to these women.  And lament that they can’t ask them how they feel.  And what they’re thinking.  At least according to a Yale professor (see New York Times Op-Ed Finds the Upside to Objectifying Women. What a Relief. by Amanda Hess posted 12/3/2013 on Slate).

What do we think about when we think about naked people? In the New York Times this weekend, Yale psychology professor Paul Bloom says that it’s time to rethink the theory of objectification. The feminist argument is that when people are depicted in sexualized contexts, “the objectifier (typically a man) thinks of the target of his desire (typically a woman) as a mere thing, lacking autonomy, individuality and subjective experience.” Bloom argues that the objectification process is actually more complicated: While focusing on people’s bodies as opposed to their minds does decrease our perceptions of their ability “to act, plan and exert self-control,” he writes, it can actually increase our perceptions of their capacity to “feel pain, pleasure and emotions.” When we look at people in a sexual context (or catch a peek at them without their clothes on), we’re less likely to ascribe them agency, but we’re more likely to ascribe them feelings. That could actually inspire greater empathy toward the objectified party—a silver lining to the focus on flesh…

To Bloom, the findings are hopeful. “Part of the effect of nudity that our study found is morally positive—it’s usually a good thing to be more attuned to someone else’s ability to experience,” he writes. Bloom’s interpretation of human psychology could even make us feel less bad about ourselves for watching porn. “It’s not literally true that women in pornography are thought of as inanimate and unfeeling objects; if they were, then they would just as effectively be depicted as unconscious or unresponsive, as opposed to (as is more often the case) aroused and compliant,” he writes. Looking at naked people can “trigger disgust, fear, and hatred,” Bloom says, but it can also “elicit empathy and compassion.”

Interestingly, the same week this article appeared this article was published (see ‘She wanted to be a superstar’: Never-before-seen photographs of Linda Lovelace, aged 24, reveal her attempts at becoming ‘a legitimate actress’ by Sadie Whitelocks posted 12/4/2013 on the Daily Mail).

Despite the two movies making her a household name, Lovelace later spoke out against pornography in speeches to universities and governments.

‘When you see the movie Deep Throat, you are watching me being raped,’ she boldly stated in a 1986 official inquiry into the sex industry. ‘It is a crime that movie is still showing. There was a gun to my head the entire time.’

For her old friends in the business, though, she was labeled a traitor; they sneeringly coined the term ‘Linda Syndrome’ to describe former porn stars who later try to disown their seedy careers.

The exhibition’s photographs reveal, even before Lovelace made Deep Throat II, that she was keen to get out of the adult entertainment industry.

If you’re unfamiliar with the film Deep Throat you can look it up on IMDB or Wikipedia or some other online source.  Suffice it to say that this movie objectified Linda Susan Boreman (who was Linda Lovelace).  And then some.  Sadly she passed away in 2002 after a serious auto accident at the age of 53.

Boreman would probably not have agreed with this Yale professor.  Of course, she might have done so only because she wanted to disown her seedy career in the adult entertainment industry that objectified her.  But it does beg the question why is Yale studying naked women?  A bastion of liberalism.  And feminism.  I mean, this is the kind of thing you would expect to read in Playboy.  Not in a paper from an Ivy League university.  Then again Playboy has a special relationship with the Ivy League.  Putting out a few pictorial specials objectifying women of the Ivy League.  Maybe they’re planning a return to Yale.  And this is just to make the coeds comfortable in shedding their clothes in front of the camera.  So we can study their nude bodies.  Feel empathy for them.  And compassion.  As we study their nakedness.  For socio-scientific purposes, of course.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #68: ” Beware the demagogue, the champion of the poor, for he has dictatorial aspirations.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 31st, 2011

A Despot needs a Mob

A despot can’t rise to power alone.  Because there is only one of him.  Or her.  A despot needs a mob.  Either to take power by force.  Or to vote him or her into office.  And unless the despot is in a despotic/third world country, the taking of power by force is not an option.  Military coups are just not that common in first-world democracies.  Mainly because no one’s life is that bad where they would risk the punishment for treason.  Because things like that will stay on your permanent record.  Doesn’t look good on a resume.  And treason can get you killed.

So, in a democratic country, you need to get people to vote for you.  Because the path to power is through the ballot box.  Even Adolf Hitler got his power in an election.  And he did that by lying.  Well, if you read his book (Mein Kampf), you had an idea.  Because he pretty much spilled his guts out in that book.  But few read it, apparently.  Even though it became a best seller.  After the fact.  When he had already ascended to power and it became required reading.  Or, required ownership.  It was the Nazi Bible.  Everyone had to have one.  Though few read it.

So how did Hitler rise to power?  He made the people like him.  And took advantage of some crises.  The armistice that ended World War I.  The Versailles Treaty reparations.  The Great Depression.  Things that really hurt the German people.  Made them angry.  Looking for relief.  And Hitler promised it.  Delivered in some magnificent oratory.   He hypnotized the masses with his speeches.  He knew what was wrong.  And it wasn’t the people’s fault.  It was others who wronged them.  The Allies.  The politicians who stabbed Germany in the back at Versailles.  And, of course, the Jews. 

Class Warfare works because it’s Emotional

It’s a winning formula.  Take advantage of a crisis.  By blaming it on someone.  It doesn’t really matter who.  As long as it is a small voting bloc.  And, of course, championing the little guy.  Being their voice.  Say the things they would like to say.  Say what they want to hear.  And who is the little guy?  None better than the poor.  Because there are always a lot of them.  And a lot of them are uneducated.  But they know one thing.  Rich people have a better life.  And an easier life.  While they have little.  And have a harder life.  Anyone can see how that isn’t fair.  Anyone that is poor, that is.  And anyone looking to exploit the poor.

There’s a reason why class warfare has been successful.  It works.  It’s irrational.  Illogical.  But it’s emotional.  Which is how you win elections.  By tapping into the feelings of the masses.  You don’t want them to think.  You want them to feel.  To feel their wrath.  Their frustrations.  Their hopelessness.  For them to feel how unfair life is.  How those in power (the politicians, the rich, the Jews, etc.), are keeping you down so they can live a privileged life.  It’s powerful.  And wins elections.

Of course, it’s often nothing more than a bunch of lies.  A complicated formula of treaties started World War I.  After the assassination of an Austrian duke.  In contested land in southeast Europe.  The Balkans.  A great historical crossroads of culture and religion.  That everyone and his brother has laid claim to since time immemorial.  It was a mess getting into.  And a bigger mess getting out of.  It had less to do with Jewish bankers.  And more to do with territorial ambitions of empires.  Which Germany had.  As did Hitler.  But that doesn’t go over well with the masses at election time.  Because history is boring.  No one wants to hear about it.  History is old.  About a time long ago.  The voters don’t want to hear about that.  They want to know what you are going to do for them now.  What are you going to do about their anger and frustration now?

The Power of the Lie

Well, you lie, of course.  You have to.  Because an angry and frustrated people want some kind of relief.  And they’re going to vote for the person who promises to give them the most.  They’re not going to vote for someone that is going to take away their freedoms and make them live in a police state.  I mean, if Hitler had told the truth in one of those magnificent speeches instead of putting it in a book that was painful to read, people would have heard the truth.  And it would have made a difference at the ballot box.  “So, Heinz, who are you going to vote for?  The Independent (Hindenburg)?  The Communist (Thälmann)?  Or the Nazi?  That guy that’s going to create the Gestapo that will oppress us and make us live in fear?  And conscript us and send us away to fight in a world war while our cities are bombed?”  “Hmmm, I don’t want a harder life, Günter, so I’ll probably vote for the Commie or the Independent.”  Incidentally, the vote tally in 1932 was as follows:  53.1% (Independent), 36.7% (Nazi) and 10.1 % (Communist).  Hitler didn’t win the presidential election.  But because of the large vote he got, Hindenburg reluctantly made him chancellor.  Proving the power of the lie.  And the rest is history.

No one willingly votes for a harder life.  And that’s what a despot will do once elected.  Because the despot wants power and wealth.  Not to help the poor.  The poor are only a convenient tool to use during an election.  So the despot must lie.  And because they are lying and have no intention of following through on any of their promises, the sky is the limit.  They can promise anything.  Even things that are impossible to do.  And attack the rational plan of the opposition as radical and extreme.  So they appeal to the emotions.  And attack the rational.  That’s why dictators in third-world nations round up intellectuals, college professors, students and anyone with glasses (a sign that they can read).  They don’t want people thinking.  They want them feeling.   Feeling their anger.  And feeling their frustration.

And this is why they win elections.  For people would rather hear a pleasant lie than an unpleasant truth.  Because it feels better.  Vote for me and I will give you a free college education, a housing subsidy, a shorter work week, a longer summer vacation, a younger retirement age, a richer pension and, of course, free health care for everyone.  We’ll pay for it by taxing the rich.  And we’ll tax them so much that we’ll be able to cut your taxes.  People like that message.  Those who don’t consider themselves rich, at least.  They don’t want to hear that the country is broke.  That we can’t afford these generous benefits anymore.  They want to hear yes we can.  If only the rich pay their fair share.

Pushing People down into Poorer Classes

Of course, the problem becomes that dividing line between the rich and everyone else.  Because the rich are the bad guys.  The ones living the comfortable life without having to work hard.  They’re easy to demonize.  The poor have no love for them.  But the middle class is another story. 

The middle class is the sweet spot of the population.  They’re not rich.  And there are a lot of them.  More importantly, they’re not poor.  And they vote.  So what to do?  If you lump them in with the rich when you attack the rich, they may not vote for you.  But politics is about one thing.  Money.  And you get it by increasing taxes.  The rich are taxed so much that raising rates on them does little.  They got rich because they’re smart with money.  And they will only pay so much in taxes.  And the poor are poor.  No, if you’re going to increase taxes, you have to do it on the middle class.  So you do.  After the election.  After the lying.  Then you raise their taxes.  So much so that you force those at the bottom of the middle class into the poor class.

For this is the goal of the despot.  To push people down into poorer classes.  Push some of the rich into the middle class.  And a lot of the middle class into the poor class.  Then you champion the poor.  Attack the rich.  While taxing the middle class.  Those you allow to remain rich become your cronies.  As in crony capitalism.  Who lavish you with wealth in exchange for government contracts.  While the middle class toils away for less.  And the poor look up to you as their savior.  Grateful that you’re one of them.  Even though you live in a palace.  While they don’t.  And even though their lives are still pretty wretched, the rich at least got theirs.  Sure, it doesn’t put food on the table.  But it feels good.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #26: “If we need Big Government to protect us from ourselves, then our public schools can’t be the best place to learn.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 10th, 2010

IT’S A PARADOX.  You can’t have both.  Great public schools.  And a Big Government nanny state.  The public schools can’t be the best place to learn if we graduate hopelessly incapable of taking care of ourselves.  You cannot reconcile the two.  It is impossible.  The need of Big Government is an indictment on public education.  It sucks.  It sucks so bad that our only hope to survive is by a dependence on government.

The Founding Fathers did NOT want a Big Government nanny state.  So they tried to limit its money and power.  The nation’s capital ended up in a swamp because Thomas Jefferson wanted to keep it out of the big cities (such as New York and Philadelphia).  History has shown that wealth (the big cities) and power (sovereign authority) combine to make the worst of governments. 

And they believed in the importance of education.  A real education.  History.  Math.  Science.  Architecture.  Engineering.  Economics.  For they believed an educated constituency was the greatest protection against Big Government.  They knew it.  Just as well as the proponents of Big Government knew it.  Know it.

So is it a coincidence?  That the rise of Big Government corresponded with a fall in the quality of public education?  If we need Big Government to be our nanny, we obviously are not well educated.  Otherwise, we could take care of ourselves.  Like we did for the first century or so of our existence.  So, did our poor public school system give life to Big Government?  Or is it the other way around?  Did a growing Big Government protect itself from the danger of a well educated constituency?

STUDENTS GRADUATE TODAY without being able to do the most simple of tasks.  To point to Australia on a map.  To identify the three branches of government.  To name a current member of the U.S. Supreme court.  The current Speaker of the House.  To identify the allies during World War II.  Or even tell us who’s buried in Grant’s tomb.

Few can define compound interest.  Or calculate it.  Few can make important investment decisions for their retirement.  But they can tell you how Christopher Columbus raped the indigenous people in the New World.  How America ruthlessly expanded westward, stealing land from the North American Indians.  How we cruelly enslaved a race to build a nation predicated on liberty.  You’ll find these in the curriculum.  And in the schools’ libraries.  But you won’t learn much about how Martin Van Buren created the Democrat Party to prosper on political spoils and patronage.  Or that the Democratic Party was the party of slavery.  The party of the KKK.  The party of Jim Crowe laws (the legal segregation of blacks after the Republicans ended slavery).  That it was the Democrats who enacted Prohibition because they knew what was best for us.

No, instead, students today learn about the importance of being sensitive to other people’s feelings.  That we should be our brother’s keepers.  That Big Government is good.  Important.  And necessary.  We teach them that FDR’s New Deal programs ended the Great Depression.  That massive government spending on make-work government jobs restored the economy.  It didn’t.  They learn that LBJ’s Great Society ended racial discrimination and poverty.  It didn’t.  These programs failed.  As many Big Government programs of compassion do.  But that’s not in the curriculum. 

Worst, most students haven’t a clue about economics.  What makes economic activity.  What hinders it.  The consequences of monetary and fiscal policy.  So they haven’t a clue about how all those compassionate programs of Big Government often lead to unemployment and recession.  So when they are old enough to vote, they are compassionate.  They approve of expanding the nanny state without any idea of the economic impact.

WE SPEND A fortune on public education.  Per student expenditures are among the highest in the world.   But the money we spend is never enough.  They always ask for more.  For the children.  So, to help the children, they raise taxes (property, sales, etc.).  For the children, they get the poor to gamble away what little they have (the lotto).  More money than ever before is collected.  For the children.  But it’s still not enough.  Which begs the question, where is all that money going?  Clearly, it isn’t to the children.

And because the children are so precious, they’re good leverage.  There’s nothing like a good strike at the beginning of the school year to get a better contract.  Why, they even have our precious children carry picket signs.  Because it’s all about the children.  Of course, unions protect dues-paying members.  And the last I heard, children don’t pay union dues.

But the teachers are underpaid and overworked, aren’t they?  If they are, they are the only union workers that are.  It’s why you join a union.  For leverage.  For negotiating power to get better salary and benefit packages.  And they do.  Your typical public school teacher does better than your typical salaried worker.  And they work less to get it.  Oh, they talk about ‘non-compensated’ hours worked after school.  That means approximately anything more than an 8-hour day.  The real world typically pays a salaried worker for only a 40 hour week when they often work 50 hours or more.  And they often don’t get the Friday after Thanksgiving off.  Or a Christmas break.  Or a winter break.  Or an Easter break.  Or the 3 months of summer off.   When you factor in the actual time worked and the benefits, they do very well.  Far better than private school teachers.  And private school students outperform public school students.  Hell, some of the most stalwart defenders of public education send their kids to private school.  Because they can.  The poor do, too.  When they can.  When they have access to school vouchers.  Everyone, when given the choice, chooses private school over public school.  If that ain’t an indictment on the public school system, I don’t know what is.

So where does all that money go?  To the teachers.  Their unions.  And the public school bureaucracy.

WE SPEND MORE money on public education.  But private school students do better than public school students.  And private school teachers make less than public school teachers.  So when we pay more we get less.  A more poorly educated student.  So what conclusion can we draw?  We are spending more money than we need to on public education.  And if we’re spending too much right now, spending more money sure isn’t going to make anything better for the children.  The teachers, perhaps.  But not the children.  Because the truth is this.  It’s not about the children.

The public schools are not educating.  They’re indoctrinating.  They’re producing good liberal democrats.  Because Big Government knows that an educated constituency is the greatest threat against their power.  So they control education.  They take care of the union teachers who, in turn, teach the students to love Big Government.  It’s rather Orwellian, really.  Elites taking care of elites.  At the expense of the children.  And our future.

Conspiracy?  If it wasn’t so much in the open, perhaps.  But the Democratic Party hasn’t changed much since the days of Martin Van Buren.  It’s about getting power.  And keeping power.  And you do that with patronage.  And dependency.  Big Government has given us Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits and numerous welfare programs.  And now the holy grail of them all.  National health care.  The larger these programs, the greater the dependence.  The larger the dependency, the greater number of loyal Democrat voters. 

SO IS THERE a paradox?  It depends on your point of view.  From outside of the public school system, yes.  If you think it’s about the children, yes.  But from inside the public school system or from inside of Big Government, no.  Because, there, it is not about the children.  It’s about well paid teachers.  And an uninformed electorate.  And the systems in place work very well in achieving these goals.

So, no, our public schools are not the best place for children to learn.  But it’s a pretty good place to indoctrinate them into loving Big Government.

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