Why don't they get it?

The Guardian treats us to another of these feminist rants where the writer manages to show absolutely no understanding of the subjects under discussion at all. For we’re led to the conclusion that the problem with sex is capitalism. Well, OK, we’ve all rather suspected that a certain portion of the feminist movement has rather got the wrong end of the sex stick but could they at least get the economic descriptions here right?

What is being discussed is a market, not capitalism. Something we can in fact prove rather easily. Something that we’d rather hope that those who would ponitificate to us on the subject would manage to grasp in fact, even if hoping the Guardian’s editors grok it is a step too far:

A broken idea of sex is flourishing. Blame capitalism
Rebecca Solnit

Nope, it just ain’t capitalism.

In this world, women are marketed as toys and trophies. Are we surprised when some men take things literally?

That ain’t capitalism either.

Since the Toronto bloodbath, a lot of pundits have belatedly awoken to the existence of the “incel” (short for involuntary celibate) online subculture and much has been said about it. Too often, it has been treated as some alien, unfamiliar worldview. It’s really just an extreme version of sex under capitalism we’re all familiar with because it’s all around us in everything, everywhere and has been for a very long time. And maybe the problem with sex is capitalism.


Many of the rest of us have some degree of immunity, thanks to our access to counter-narratives and to loving contact with other human beings, but we are all impacted by this idea that everyone has a market value and this world in which so many of us are marketed as toys and trophies.

Market value indicates a market, not capitalism.

Feminism and capitalism are at odds, if under the one women are people and under the other they are property.

That would be so but having abolished slavery, having – entirely rightly – reached the economic emancipation of women then they’re not property, are they?

Which is why the basketball star Wilt Chamberlain boasted that he’d had sex with 20,000 women in his 1991 memoir (prompting some to do the math: that would be about 1.4 women per day for 40 years). Talk about primitive accumulation!

What capital did he accumulate precisely? What sweat of the brow of another did he save to be put to work again elsewhere?

This idea of sex as something men get, often by bullying, badgering, tricking, assaulting, or drugging women is found everywhere.

This has been known to happen, all of them, but that’s still not capitalism.

Under capitalism, sex might as well be with dead objects, not live collaborators.

You’re just not describing capitalism. Seriously, you’re not.

It is not imagined as something two people do that might be affectionate and playful and collaborative – which casual sex can also be, by the way – but that one person gets. The other person is sometimes hardly recognized as a person. It’s a lonely version of sex. Incels are heterosexual men who see this mechanistic, transactional sex from afar and want it at the same time they rage at people who have it.

Transactions are not capitalism.

So, to explain for any passing third wave feminists or other deluded.

There are some 7 billion of us human beings. Perhaps, oooh, dunno, 5 billion adults? 2.5 billion of each (no, don’t care to break down the possible variants any more than that). We tend to like sex quite a lot we humans, not really for any other reason that we’re descended from those apes which did like sex quite a lot. There’re therefore some number of possible variants of how the 2.5 billion hook up with the 2.5 billion. In terms of anything other than statistical noise that’s going to be one male and one female each time.

So, we’ve a market here. Sure, the currency of the exchange can be all sorts of things, money, love, children, status, pure spine-tingling lust, but we’ve transactions going on, with choices about who to transact with, why, when and how. That’s a market.

And that’s all it is, a market. What it ain’t is capitalism.

No, markets are not a necessary component of capitalism. Fascist economics is, to a large extent at least, capitalism without those markets and their competition. We can also have markets with socialism – John Lewis does it very well and Yugoslavia certainly had a damn good try at market socialism.

The defining element of capitalism is who owns. The capitalists, obviously, thus the name. Economic assets are owned by this different and special group over here, the capitalists who own the capital. Sure, it can get a bit messy when it’s our own pensions* who own the stock market and so on but still, it’s that divorce between the worker, their labour, and the capital assets which enhance their labour which defines the system.

Does this apply to sex? Nope, it don’t. Even when we talk about sex work, the pure financial marketisation of rumpy pumpy, it’s still the workers who own the means of production, isn’t it? Thus it’s not capitalism.

Now, it might be fair enough to complain about the marketisation of sex. No, not necessarily the financial part, but the trading of it for those love, lust, children, status and so on payments. But doing so does rather then run into the brick wall rejoinder, well, what do you call having sex in cooperation with another consenting adult – you know, voluntary exchange – if it’s not a market? And how do we all get to pick and choose who we’ll cooperate with if we’re not going to have said market?

But what this all isn’t is capitalism. To insist so is just to claim that capitalism is “everything I don’t like” which is a ridiculously childish manner of analysing the world.

Sex is one part of the market where the means of production are most definitely in the hands** ownership of the workers. It’s simply not capitalism therefore.

*True, there are stories of sexual attractiveness being traded for a pension but….

**Fnarr, fnarr…

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Rhoda Klapp
Rhoda Klapp

No woman, of course, would ever make use of an extra share of sexual attractiveness to gain an advantage.


Rush Limbaugh in his first book said “Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.” So some are now “involuntary celibate”? This does not mean they are victims of The System; some men would even sleep with a fatso who does nothing about her facial hair, if she were not quite so bossy all the time. Blaming capitalism is not just fatally imprecise, but is evidence of proud unwillingness to confront the real problem. Even blaming markets would be to state that she should not have to make herself more marketable. PS… Read more »


The lady doesn’t like capitalism- so she doesn’t like owning her own body?
She doesn’t sound like a fan of markets either. Perhaps she’d prefer a planner to tell her who to sleep with?
The incel’s problem is that they aren’t offering enough to persuade ladies to barter. Planning would solve that, though not every lady would be best pleased.


Put the NHS in charge of that and there would soon be an acute shortage of beds.


The only really intelligent regular writer the Guardian had was Richard Adams, and while you could disagree with him he could make and defend a point of view in a manner that made you think. So, they shuffled him off to write about schools instead. Thomas Frank sometimes appears and he’s not bad. I often think he understands economics reasonably well; he just bemoans that there are economics. Otherwise, it’s become a pretty sorry place.


Reread the Guardian article with images enabled and saw the President surrounding himself with beautiful women (the first in US history to do so!), proving that involuntary celibacy, like having the IDF shoot at you when you toss a chunk of asphalt at them, is Trump’s Fault. Then went to Wikipedia, where the author’s inability to keep a man does not seem to owe to innate hideousness but more probably to a tendency to view any feedback as “mansplaining” (a word just as good as “homophobia” to show the utteror’s unwillingness to be self-aware). Grad degree from Berkeley, partly funded… Read more »