By William Schnack
Evolution of Consent
The two words, sex and economics, placed together in a sentence, are controversial by nature. Yet, the relationship of sex to money is a very interesting one, and one which has been studied by sex therapists, economists, social psychologists, sociologists, and many other specialists; one which is yet to be discussed by many anarchists, much less anarcha-feminists. The subject itself seems quite taboo, particularly in lefty anarchist circles.
In this essay, I intend to demonstrate that economics does indeed play a role in straight cissexual relationships,i that this is natural, and, aside from being distorted by capitalism, is otherwise healthy, so long as existing gender dynamics (if they exist at all) are freely ascribed to, and are not externally compelled. I will begin with a look at sex and gender, will follow with discussion on the economics behind sex, and will conclude with the cause of sexual and relational scarcity among straight cissexual couples of the working class.
Sex and Gender
This essay will naturally be offensive to some, but this is not at all my intention. I want to be clear that, although the content primarily regards straight cissexual couples, I in no way support the repression of other forms of relationships, sex-, or gender-identities. I am simply commenting on a common dynamic, among many, and the influences mutualism may have on it.
Though my mutualist economic proposals may be prescriptionist, the gender-dynamics are meant to be read in a descriptivist manner, and one which applies to that subpopulation which acts freely in favor of those gender dynamics, and to no other. My intention in writing this is to analyze the economics of freely-ascribed-to gender dynamics of straight cissexual relationships, not to argue that everyone needs to be cissexual or straight. As an anarchist, I have no intention to force my will on anyone, and, as a decent human being, I have no desire to take shots at anyone else’s lifestyle. It is perhaps possible that, in the future, gender and heterosexuality may be abandoned altogether, and this is fine so long as they go voluntarily, but so long as they exist voluntarily, I mean to comment on the economic effects which cause strife in straight cissexual relationships. If this conversation is to be made obsolete in a free society, by the voluntary abandonment of gender and/or sexual preference, so be it. In the case that it remains in a free society, this is a comment on that.
Discussions on gender generally relate in some way to the topic of essentialism and constructionism. Essentialism is a position which states that for any category there is a crucial set of intrinsic characteristics to define it. It is a structuralist position, seeing a thing as what it is. According to essentialist philosophies, people act the way they do because of their genetics, which are intrinsic to them, and are not external. An opposing position of non-essentialism, often called constructionism, states that there are no intrinsic traits that make a thing what it is. It is post-structuralist in nature, believing a thing to be defined from the outside, by what it isn’t. Hard social-constructionist philosophies of this nature are based purely in the idea of social constructs and nurture as the extrinsic determinants of a person. These views, if taken to the extreme, disregard nature and self-determination entirely.
Relating to the topic at hand (sex economy), hard essentialism would suggest that a woman, for instance, acts feminine because of her intrinsic characteristics (chromosomal arrangement). Hard constructionism would say that a woman acts feminine because of her extrinsic characteristics (social conditioning). Essentialists generally believe biological sex and gender naturally match, while constructionists allow for much more deviation, believing gender to be a social construct.