So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

29 April, 2007

Controlling The Four Fs

Back when I was a kid, I took a paleobiology course over the summer. One of the things that I've retained out of it was the teacher's declaration that the "Four Fs" were the fundamental responses of organisms: "Feeding, Fighting, Fleeing, and Reproduction." We all laughed.

But now I'm sort of looking at mechanisms of social control, and ...

... how much fucking weirdness is there about what people eat? About controlling what they eat? Getting beyond the nutritional stuff into the politically correct food, or the coming down on heavy people who dare touch a cookie, or whatever else. I had a juvie novel when I was in elementary school of which the basic plot bunny was "Mom's on a health food kick and I'm embarassed to eat my lunch in public", and part of the culmination was new research changing the diet again with new! improved! modified! what food is The Correct Stuff To Eat.

And then of course there are the assumptions about people's value that depends on what they eat or how they eat, or presumptions about what people eat by their appearance, that vast tangled morass. Worthiness evaluated in terms of fat. The "sinfulness" of certain types of food. The presumption that a vegetarian will be a pain in the arse to a meat eater because of course there's a moral crusade involved.

Or one can abstract it back a little: for lots of folks, whether or not they eat and how they eat is an economic question. And that gets into the whole tangle of jobs, the value of jobs, the value of a person depending on their jobs. And it also gets into things like people who are so poor that they can't get an apartment with a working kitchen, or who don't have time or the skills to prepare food from scratch, and thus are depending on microwave dinners and snack packs -- which are more expensive overall, as well as less nutritious per meal.

"An army runs on its stomach." Control the food, control the people.

Control the responses to threat, control the people. If people are passively compliant and unable to stand up for themselves, so much the easier. If they don't fight back when compelled, so much the easier.

"Boys will be boys" was one of the things that I was told in junior high school, in response to sexual harassment. It necer escalated quite to physical violence, but it was deemed acceptable for them to try to touch me. (I hit one or two of them, and they tended to circle like sharks after that, taunting but never crossing that social line again.) Boys do that sort of thing; there is no way to legitimately get them to stop, no way to fight back.

And we get into the whole deranged response some people who want to argue gun control had to Cho and the VT shootings -- this whole notion that either people need to have more guns so they can mow someone down who tries that sort of thing, or fewer guns so the psychos can't get the means. None of this is the answer -- there are the beginnings of right questions available, but they're off on the fringe and nobody hears them with all of the shouting about the damn bang-bangs. Too much instruments, not enough paying attention to what makes the fight thing go whack.

And so then there's the living in fear, the cultivation of this state of terror, of preparedness to snap at people, to break them for crossing some invisible line. The danger of putting out your recycling while brown. Or taking photographs. Live in fear, be ready to fight your demons as they are projected upon the people around you.

Control where people can retreat to, what spaces they find safe, where the boundaries of their ability to be private fall.

If you aren't doing anything wrong, citizen, there's nothing to worry about. The surveillance is for your own protection. We will only break in to houses where we have good evidence that there is dangerous crime. We're only checking your soap for drugs for your own good. Really, we have good reason to want to know what prescriptions you're taking. Maybeyou're not being allowed on the plane because of that rally you went to or conference you spoke at. We just need your tax identification number to deliver your package -- just fax us a copy of your Social Security card!

It's for national security.

It's for being able to serve you better as a consumer.

It's not like you're doing anything wrong, so why do you care? It's for your own good.

And then you get into sexuality. And it's not like most every dystopic science fiction novel doesn't have strictly regimented sexuality -- whether drugs to keep the sex drive down, or 1984's for-the-Party-comrade supervised fucking, or whatever else. Visceral, intense stuff that people feel strongly about, that's all tangled up with their sense of who they are.

You must be taught not to have sex before marriage, and marriage must be heterosexual monogamy. Heterosexual monogamy is the only acceptable manifestation of sexuality, but it is not about sex; anyone who wants something different is a sex-crazed freak. Love the sinner, hate the sin.

It doesn't matter that it's what they enjoy, that they are consenting adults who are aware of the risks, that stuff is just wrong, and nobody should be allowed to do it. Sex toys are like prostitution, after all. Those kinky people are freaks and abusers. Disease-ridden sex fiends! Broken people incapable of forming healthy committed relationships! Shame, shame, shame, never show your face!

And if you didn't consent to the sex, shame anyway. And we know that that means that you're ruined forever. Better Dead Than Raped. There goes The Victim (or The Lying Slut), never anything else. The nightmares are not enough punishment, or the jumping at any sound; only unpersoning is sufficient.

The only good sex is the ideologically correct sex -- and if you fuck in the wrong way, well, that shows that you're traitorous scum. You haven't considered the question enough. Who you are -- who you love -- how you express that -- is Wrong, and needs to be destroyed.

Four Fs.

1 comment:

Keshwyn said...

"You gentlemen who think you have a mission
To purge us of the seven deadly sins
Should first sort out the basic food position
Then start your preaching, that's where it begins"
-- Pet Shop Boys, What Keeps Mankind Alive

Indeed. I was told the other day (by a woman in her last year of nursing school) that the BMI index was created by the healthcare industry, then modified by the Health Insurance Industry, to make it harder to be at the target healthy weight, so that they could charge higher premiums.

The level of frustration this generated in me was quite amazing to behold.