There Is No Such Thing


I tend to go on a bit about the matter of issue framing, the concept that how we discuss ideas matters almost as much as the ideas, themselves.  Thus, we can either refer to taxes finally paid to the country when someone wealthy dies as “death taxes,” or as “estate taxes,” or as “owed anti-aristocratic adjustments.”  We can refer to people opposed to abortion as “pro-life” or as “pro-coat-hanger.”   We can talk about “putting coal miners out of work” or we can talk about “providing new, clean-energy jobs.”  We can talk about “taxing corporations,” or we can talk about “anti-corporate freeloader adjustments.”   You get the idea.  And, as George Lakoff  has pointed out, attempts to negate a frame —  Your President is not a crook! — often backfire.  By invoking the other side’s frame, even to argue against it, you strengthen it.  Far better to do a good job framing your own position.

The right-wing tends to be much better at framing than we are.  First, they believe in it and spend money doing focus group tests of various phrases.  Then, once they’ve picked a term, they all get on board and use it over, and over, and over again, drilling it into the national subconscious.  Meanwhile, we liberals are trying to be exact, using as many words as possible to make sure we’re being clear, and assuming that everyone else functions, just as we do, on an intellectual, rather than an emotional, basis.

I bring framing up today because the Patriarchy has come up with a rather insidious bit of framing and it’s slipping instantly, as it was meant to do, into our national dialog and, as a result, into our national subconscious.

“Sexual marketplace.”

(Not going to link, but the fucking NYT is one of the worst offenders.  You can Google.)

If you’ve followed the sickening “incel” movement and the so-called intellectuals and male professors of economy and psychology who are getting rich promoting it, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term.  Some young men are being “excluded from the sexual marketplace.”  In the currently-unregulated “sexual marketplace,” attractive women are only willing to have sex with successful men.  Society is going to have to “re-distribute” the “commodity” of women’s bodies and sexual services more “equitably” throughout the “sexual marketplace” in order to keep the incels from murdering even more of us.   (Know who actually runs a “sexual marketplace”?  ISIL.  They auction off, on the internet, captive girls as young as eight-years-old.  A man can buy a female body, use it, and then, when he tires of it, sell it off in a market that makes Craig’s List look well-regulated.  And that’s what the incels want.  Welcome to the Handmaid’s Tale.)

And you can see, right away, what’s wrong with this framing.  A marketplace is where commodities are sold.  You can go to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and watch traders sell stocks — interests in corporations.  You can go to the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade and see interests and futures in various commodities — wheat, corn, pork bellies (marijuana crops are coming soon) — traded and sold.  You can go to the  floor of the PJM Regional Transmission Operator and watch electrons, electricity futures, black start services, and ancillary services — all forms of electricity sales– traded and sold in increments that range from minutes to years.  PJM runs auctions for everything from capacity (long-term supply), to demand response, (being willing to power down in times of high demand), to FTRs (financial transmission rights:  the right to use congested transmission lines.)  Those are commodities.  There are marketplaces for them.

There was a time in America when you could go to the slave market — there used to be one in SouthWest D.C.,and there were hundreds of others throughout the South, but also in New York City, and Philadelphia.  There, you could see human beings traded as commodities.  In those markets, women’s bodies were commodities and there was, indeed, a sexual marketplace.  Attractive women brought a higher price — could only be afforded by wealthier men — than less attractive women.  Men could buy women and use them for sex whenever they wanted, and then send them out into the fields to pick cotton, or into their kitchens to cook, or off into their wives’ boudoirs to serve as ladies’ maids.  Let’s be clear.  These women weren’t just required to lie still and be raped, although, certainly, that happened.  If the man who owned you wanted you to perform oral sex, to act excited, to enact whatever fantasies he had, then, well, you did that.  You got pregnant, you bore children who were enslaved and could be sold away from you, and then (because you had no choice) you went back to his bed and did it all again,  You were a commodity in the sexual marketplace.

We fought a pretty ugly war to put an end to that crap.  To stop the idea that there could ever be any such thing as a “marketplace” where the “commodity” of women’s bodies and sexual attentions were auctioned off.

Women’s bodies, their sexual attentions, their children, their lives are not commodities.  What the incels, and the economists and professors who give them legitimacy, are pushing is enslavement.  And to enslave people, you have to turn them into commodities.

I hate that we even have to discuss the incels.  By murdering women and then getting their powerful friends to discuss them and push the narrative, Incels rip open the Overton Window  and now, great, we’re seriously discussing whether or not we need “forced monogamy” (for women, obviously.  There will never be any such thing for the men.  Sally Hemmings had “forced monogamy;” Thomas Jefferson did not.)


There is no sexual marketplace.  There is enslavement and enforced female monogamy.


The end.

Please stop using the oppressors’ framing.

Picture found (don’t go there) here.

8 responses to “There Is No Such Thing

  1. Absolutely. We let others (usually men) control the agenda and the language. It is difficult to know how to change that – as women have we been conditioned to be timid, to be too nice, to let men take charge? Many of those that we would expect to be our allies also do not stand with women and often appear to actively work against us. I’m thinking particularly in the UK of left wing men who seem as anxious to attack Feminists as incels and right wingers.

  2. Byron Ballard

    Ditto “child bride” and”child marriage.”

    The “Left” is so piss poor at framing…I despair.

    And the NYT? NPR? Don’t beg me gore another godsdamned red cent until you get your fucking act together.


  3. Hecate, dear friend, what a excellent exposition!
    Jamaica Kincaid makes a similar point about (not) letting the oppressors define what constitutes “crime,” in her sparkling memoir/commentary, “A Small Place.”
    Always pedantic regards “Woody/WGG”

  4. Of course there is the very dangerous underlying myth that if these men “just had sex” that they would “behave” within society.
    Don’t think that.
    At All.
    What would they demand next – just to behave?
    Narcissism (of that order) can not be stopped … as we all have found.

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