There is an assault on the rights of women, a very selective and hidden form of sexism where men who now call themselves feminists are tolerating and approving that women have the right to perform plastic surgery, wear expensive clothing, and have an appetite for social vanity. The rights of a specific type of woman. While freedom is indeed a human right that permits the individual the right to expression without discrimination, can there be permissible limitations when both men and women are undermining the authenticity of the purpose behind the movement?
Contemporary western culture is completely immersed in capitalism, where the acquisition and exchange of commodities has shaped our identity and even our perceptions of reality. When a person acquires commodities that are desirable as regulated by the market, they appear to be a certain type of person and by attaining this image they are happy. This image that we are motivated to reach towards is engineered to appear as desirable by capitalism and thus it regulates social relations and how we understand and define the qualities and characteristics of people.
These patterns of exchange begin to emerge when men and women start to emulate qualities that society believes are sought after and attractive, both physically and mentally. These qualities are entirely propelled by capitalism, where our characteristics are commodified and objectified so people begin to market themselves in an exchange between one another as they compete for attention, attractiveness and even love, but all submerged in a false reality. Their perceptions of reality is submerged by a capitalist lens.
Women who are fashionable and domesticated, who speak softly and are social are considered to have characteristics that are attractive and so they emulate these qualities. In some cases, they do nothing else, have no education and poor ambitions, doing absolutely nothing but remaining completely immersed in beauty and appearances, and yet they are congratulated, they still appear to be leading fulfilling lives, even a life to be ¨jealous¨ of and desire.
Why? Because, like material objects that one can attain, a woman who has attained these socially marketed qualities becomes attractive and thus they themselves become a material object. These women have commodified ¨woman¨ and are performing qualities of “good” when they are not actually inherently moral. It is merely about manipulating, convincing and trying to sell themselves in an ideal and these false prophets appear to be doing the right thing only because capitalism needs people to cooperate, to think as part of the herd and with the masses, and so it has thoroughly shaped our understanding of what is good and bad.
Previously, men who were aggressive and masculine meant that they had attractive qualities, but this is now shifting and men who are social and tolerant have desirable traits. They tolerate the commodification of women not because of any ethical or moral position, neither do they have any intellectual understanding of feminism or the historical oppression of women, but, in much the same way, they understand reality through capitalism and the acquisition of material goods. Since qualities like tolerance have become an attractive commodity, they market themselves as having the quality of tolerance and so call themselves ¨feminists¨ in order to compete for attention. It is solely about their image.
At what cost? If the value of our existence and of love is based solely on these patterns of exchange governed entirely by some unknown authority, then the authenticity and meaning behind the rights of women are completely engineered under false pretenses. People are not alive. While feminism itself is broad and involves political, jurisprudential and philosophical thought in an attempt to define the purpose and meaning behind the movement, ultimately it is about human rights, about gender equality and the rights of women. Where is the human if people are commodities?
There is no right to plastic surgery for good reason. The concept of human rights encompasses a range of critiques, but a narrative that presupposes the rights of women to simply mean having liberal means to do whatever they want is not an explanation of being human at all, on the contrary it continues to objectify characteristics and features that are desirable and thus continues the emancipation of women. While there may be some dangers to balancing the human right to freedom with virtue, the latter explaining the attributes that should be inherent in both men and women (thus to be human) without losing our individuality, we need to reexamine the boundaries and status of being human in a divided world defined by the masculine experience.
This is a fight against sexism, a deep and unseen form that capitalism has ensured by making women appear ¨good¨ only after doing what is dictated, thus controlling our very perceptions of reality. We need to begin to recognise our inherent vulnerability to this and challenge it.
Virtue, without moral consciousness, without cultivating rational thought and having clear and decisive principles, only means a person is faux, automaton, and they cannot have the attributes that will enable them to understand ethics and care with authenticity. These character traits need to be universal. As said by Erich Fromm,
Modern capitalism needs men who co-operate smoothly and in large numbers; who want to consume more and more; and whose tastes are standardized and can be easily influenced and anticipated. It needs men who feel free and independent, not subject to any authority or principle or conscience—yet willing to be commanded, to do what is expected of them, to fit into the social machine without friction; who can be guided without force, led without leaders, prompted without aim—except the one to make good, to be on the move, to function, to go ahead.
What is the outcome? Modern man is alienated from himself, from his fellow men, and from nature. He has been transformed into a commodity, experiences his life forces as an investment which must bring him the maximum profit obtainable under existing market conditions. Human relations are essentially those of alienated automatons, each basing his security on staying close to the herd, and not being different in thought, feeling or action.