The Noble Experiment

By skepticlawyer

Until I came to do the research for my MPhil, I didn’t realise that Prohibition — that great failed exercise in mass planning — was also known back in the day as ‘the noble experiment’. I learnt of the alternative moniker through Daniel Okrent’s superb history — Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. I also learnt a few other unsavoury things about that period between 1921 and 1933 when the United States of America — in ways less uniquely American than one would imagine — attempted to legislate morality. More about them later.

As time has passed and we have matured politically, western countries have tended to avoid legislating morality, and where we once did — abortion, homosexuality, BDSM, contraception — we have slowly given it away. We have given it away because, at the most basic level, it doesn’t work. As my pupilmaster used to remind me regularly, ‘a sure way to bring the law into disrepute is to pass a law that not only fails to work as intended, but actually creates more of the harm it was originally designed to prevent.’ Legislating morality does this with such monotonous regularity that giving up on attempts to make us more moral by law becomes the only reasonable option. As Joseph Raz points out in various places, unless a set of moral norms apply independently of the law to all citizens, then making those norms into laws brings both law and morality into disrepute. People don’t obey the law against murder, for the most part, because it is a law, but because murder is wrong. If this were not the case, for murder as for many other crimes, we would live in a world that would require one policeman for every citizen. Enact a moral norm not widely accepted among the citizen body: drug laws, say, or anti-prostitution laws, or anti-pornography laws… and I can tell you in a moment that you will achieve nothing. Except bring the law into disrepute, because the laws in question can’t be enforced, except — as with prohibition — at terrible cost.

I was reminded of both Okrent’s fine book and the limits of law when reading this thoughtful post by Anna Winter over at Larvatus Prodeo. Anna’s post is primarily about promoting a dialogue among people across the political spectrum who oppose the Rudd government’s proposed internet filter. It focusses particularly on an advertising campaign (featuring standup comedian Akmal Saleh) called ‘time to tell mum‘. Based on market research indicating that the strongest support for the proposed internet filter comes from mothers of young children, Electronic Frontiers Australia have done what any pressure group with a limited budget would do: gone for the jugular, targetting their campaign at the children of women who are likely to support the filter, and encouraging them to talk to their mothers in the hope that minds may be changed.

As one would expect, women who do not fall within the target demographic have reacted angrily, suggesting that the campaign is sexist, treats women like idiots, doesn’t acknowledge that people are different, and so on. Read the comments thread at Anna’s place for a good run-down of the objections. The EFA have responded, and Anna makes the following observation about the dialogue:

Where perhaps EFA failed here is in being too obvious about that stereotyping, because no-one likes to feel that they have been reduced to a stereotype, whether accurate or not. However, as EFA pointed out, it’s not an ad targetted at mums – it’s an ad targetted at their kids. It’s an ad calling for a specific action, which is: communicate with the people we think are most open to being convinced. There are of course a number of names they could have given those people, “your folks” being the most obvious. But calls for action are difficult, and it’s usually best to keep it simple. In using a descriptor that applies to more than one person, it may have reduced the ad’s effectiveness, whereas by using a word that immediately puts a face in the mind of the viewer, it’s possible it makes it more powerful as a call to action.

Does that mean it isn’t sexist? No. But it does mean that maybe it isn’t. If their research showed that “mums” was a genuine group worth targetting then is it sexist to formulate an ad based on the reality? Maybe it’s the reality that’s sexist, again, maybe it isn’t. It’s a debatable point is what I’m saying, although one that is absolutely worth debating. But not one that’s worth telling EFA they’re on their own, and refusing to help them in their campaign against the filter.

The perplexities Anna attempts to address (and the complexities that the thread raises) put me in mind of Okrent’s book, and some of the research I did for my MPhil, which concerned the limits of the government’s ability to legislate to promote citizen wellbeing. It also reminded me of a worrying tendency towards moral totalitarianism present in some forms of feminism. Nowhere, historically, was this moral totalitarianism more plain than in the feminist campaign for prohibition. Rather than extract great slabs of Okrent, I’ll draw on this excellent and accurate review. In it, Johann Hari observes that:

It was women who led the first cry for Temperance, and it was women who made Prohibition happen. A woman called Carry Nation became a symbol of the movement when she traveled from bar to bar with an oversize hatchet and smashed them to pieces. Indeed, Prohibition was one of the first and most direct effects of expanding the vote. This is one of the first strange flecks of gray in this story. The proponents of Prohibition were primarily progressives—and some of the most admirable people in American history, from Susan B. Anthony to Frederick Douglas to Eugene V. Debs. The pioneers of American feminism believed alcohol was at the root of men’s brutality toward women. The anti-slavery movement saw alcohol addiction as a new form of slavery, replacing leg irons with whiskey bottles. You can see the same left-wing prohibitionism today, when people like Al Sharpton say drugs must be criminalized because addiction does real harm in ghettos.

Of course, there were more obviously sinister proponents of Prohibition too, pressing progressives into weird alliances. The Ku Klux Klan said that “nigger gin” was the main reason that oppressed black people were prone to rebellion, and if you banned alcohol, they would become quiescent. An echo of this persists in America’s current strain of prohibition. Powder cocaine and crack cocaine are equally harmful, but crack—which is disproportionately used by black people—carries much heavier jail sentences than powder cocaine, which is disproportionately used by white people.

Hari is too kind to tell you that American feminists — including Susan B Anthony — traded off support with the Ku Klux Klan, in an agreement that saw the Klan back women’s suffrage and admit women as full members in exchange for feminist backing on the ‘nigger gin’ issue. He’s also too kind to tell you that feminists — instead of agitating for divorce law reform and an end to coverture marriage, leaving British, French and American libertarians to fight that battle alone — thought that prohibition would make men live up to a higher standard: in short, that it would make men something that human beings of either sex have never been, except by choice: more moral.

Part of the problem was that most feminists were Christians, while libertarians like Wordsworth Donisthorpe were willing to out themselves as atheists. Echoes of the Christian desire for ‘moral improvement’ find a place in feminism today, with increased agitation against so-called ‘corporate paedophilia’ and ‘sexualisation of children’ and a worrying alliance with the most doctrinaire conservatives. Take a look at these articles over at Online Opinion, and then do a quick google in order to expose the political affiliations of the ‘fauxminists’ in question. I believe this kind of thing is sometimes referred to as ‘astroturfing’ (especially when done by the right).

Few people realise that the term ‘libertarian’ was actually coined by critics of broader 19th century movements for social change as a term that identified reformers who supported women’s rights, and who — contra Proudhon — thought that women’s rights were as important as the proletarian rights for which the likes of Proudhon agitated.

Various people on the LP thread argued that some of the support for the filter comes from women who dislike men (perhaps even their husbands/partners/boyfriends) using pr0n. This comment struck me as particularly insightful:

My impression is that one of the reasons more women support the filter than men is that they think the opponents are men fundamentally concerned about their access to pr0n. Virtually the only people I know who support the filter are women who think that the only thing besides child pornography that will get caught up in it is mainstrean pornography. They may or may not support this in principle, but they certainly don’t see it as a big problem, and they think that all the arguments given against it are just cover for men who’re worried about losing their access.

If this is indeed the case, then feminists and their allies are making the same mistake as Susan B Anthony and her friends did in 1920, not only by attempting to draft a law that (a) cannot be enforced and (b) where any attempts to enforce it will be hideously expensive and counterproductive, but by trying to make people moral by dint of law, rather than by those persons’ individual choice and agency. All the arguments marshalled by the likes of Okrent and Milton Friedman against prohibition apply with equal force to other ‘vices’ like prostitution, drugs and pornography. This point cannot be made too often, it seems, because it seems every other week there is some talking head or another attempting to raise humanity to some sort of artificial standard, rather than accepting that ‘down to a price’ is a better metaphor for human social organisation. Clive Hamilton is emblematic of the type, but you don’t have to think too hard to come up with others.

I’ve always seen feminism as a philosophy intended to liberate, not constrain, but this very early involvement with prohibition and other attempts to police non-criminal behaviour gives me serious pause. I have no trouble with campaigns for abortion rights, against sexual harassment, in favour of equal civil rights and employment opportunities. The attempt to engage in some sort of wider project of moral reform, however, is not remotely liberatory, and the desire to police normal male sexuality and social habits (believe it or not, most men like to lech at most women, and people of both sexes like the occasional tipple) is foolishness, and needs to stop. Not only because unsupported moral law never works (something that Stephen Conroy is about to learn to his cost), but because there are larger issues at stake. Helen Razer captures something of this when she comments:

Prominent writer and lobbyist Mia Freedman is among many bright Australian women who hold that the sight of a little cottage cheese on celebrity thighs has the potential to “empower”.

My own view is that such “real”, “bold” images are every bit as useful to the ongoing feminist struggle as, say, a discount voucher for a push-up bra. Pictures of gorgeous ladies looking a little less gorgeous than they normally might serve no real civic purpose beyond selling product.

I recall an era when feminism’s purview was not limited to banging on about the need for more fat chicks in glossy magazines. While others fight for the right to force-feed Kate Moss, I continue antique fretting over equal pay, domestic violence and federal representation. At 40, I am old and clearly out of step with a movement that demands Size 14 representation. And, at 40, I am quite inured to life in a nation that tolerates only the merest debate on feminism.

Hari’s excellent review concludes with some salutary cliometrics on prohibition. As Australia looks down the barrel at an internet filter and other government attempts to police our private pleasures, then perhaps a reminder of those cliometrics is in order:

By 1926, [Capone] and his fellow gangsters were making $3.6 billion a year—in 1926 money! To give some perspective, that was more than the entire expenditure of the U.S. government. The criminals could outbid and outgun the state. So they crippled the institutions of a democratic state and ruled, just as drug gangs do today in Mexico, Afghanistan, and ghettos from South Central Los Angeles to the banlieues of Paris. They have been handed a market so massive that they can tool up to intimidate everyone in their area, bribe many police and judges into submission, and achieve such a vast size, the honest police couldn’t even begin to get them all. The late Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman said, “Al Capone epitomizes our earlier attempts at Prohibition; the Crips and Bloods epitomize this one.”

One insight, more than any other, ripples down from Okrent’s history to our own bout of prohibition. Armed criminal gangs don’t fear prohibition: They love it. He has uncovered fascinating evidence that the criminal gangs sometimes financially supported dry politicians, precisely to keep it in place. They knew if it ended, most of organized crime in America would be bankrupted. So it’s a nasty irony that prohibitionists try to present legalizers—then and now—as “the bootlegger’s friend” or “the drug-dealer’s ally.” Precisely the opposite is the truth. Legalizers are the only people who can bankrupt and destroy the drug gangs, just as they destroyed Capone. Only the prohibitionists can keep them alive.

Once a product is controlled only by criminals, all safety controls vanish and the drug becomes far more deadly. After 1921, it became common to dilute and relabel poisonous industrial alcohol, which could still legally be bought, and sell it by the pint glass. This “rotgut” caused epidemics of paralysis and poisoning. For example, one single batch of bad booze permanently crippled 500 people in Wichita, Kan., in early 1927—a usual event. That year, 760 people were poisoned to death by bad booze in New York City alone. Wayne Wheeler persuaded the government not to remove fatal toxins from industrial alcohol, saying it was good to keep this “disincentive” in place.

If the statistics are not sobering enough, perhaps this comment — also made over at LP — from an ‘iorarua’ (I’m assuming a New Zealander) will have the desired effect. First, ‘iorarua’ quotes Anna, where the latter argued that ‘…maybe, as activists, we could recognise that it’s tough going sometimes, and be a little more forgiving of one another’. Iorarua then goes on to say this:

Until I participated on LP’s ‘On Banning the Burqa’ thread, I thought this too. However, after that thread, I lost all hope of that. Those who either supported a ban (or limited regulation), or who at least wanted to maturely discuss pro-ban arguments while not actually supporting one, were repeatedly accused of being fascist, misogynist, islamphobic and plain stupid or had their arguments constantly derailed by deliberate misterpretation.

So much for liberal tolerance. And therein lies the problem. Both this and the burqa thread are fundamentally about the increasing conflict between feminism and liberal tolerance, which I believe are on a collision course. This is because the next major wave of feminism will be played out in the arena of culturalism. Conservative women’s advocates are ready for it, but left-wing liberal feminists are woefully unprepared.

My take home point? To the extent that feminism engages in attempts to enact moral law rather than liberate women, this tendency needs to be exposed and undermined. To the extent that market research reveals that women (of whatever sort) rather than men support attempts at moral control and manipulation, then those women need to be addressed, if necessary as a group, and if necessary, using stereotypes. And to the extent that those of us on the side of human liberty catch ourselves shoulder to shoulder with the modern-day equivalent of Klansmen, then a reminder about the company we keep is likely to be necessary.

16 Comments

  1. iorarua
    Posted June 14, 2010 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Dave Bath: Your comment begs the question: What was your dad doing in the girls’ toilets?

    LE: The EFA research actually found that 73% of men (cf 87% of women) supported MIF. Although 87% is a higher percentage per se, 73% is still a VERY STRONG majority in statistical terms. So it’s misleading, as well as sexist, to target ‘mums’ as the pro-MIF demographic.

    ‘I think there’s far more important issues than the EFA ad for feminists …’

    So what? Why should an issue be ignored or trivialised just because somebody deems some other issue somewhere else as more ‘important’?

    And if you don’t mind, I’ll refrain from reading your link to Janet Albrechston. I have ‘far more important issues’ to attend to than reading the opinions of someone whose anti-feminist rantings are treated as ‘far more important issues’ than she deserves.

  2. Patrick
    Posted June 14, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Hi DB. The French Constitutional Court also found that, invalidating overly draconian copyright protection laws which provided for administratively determined deconnexion. The Court said in short that access to the internet was the modern equivalent of access to the town square and so at least needed a judicial determination to be cut off. The logic is compelling – American Courts could readily find something similar – but more limited in its scope than might initially appear.

    However, no cigar at all on the privacy-inspired musings. Despite minor setbacks such as the decision above (the law in question, HADOPI, was reworked to provide for judicial determination of disconnection!!), the rabid copyright media suicide collective advances apace around the world, in Europe as here.

    Personally I wish we had a real charter of human rights, starting with the right to free expression (and ending about five items later).

  3. Posted June 15, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    iorarua – the proprietors, boards and managerial roles are dominated by men. Women are often at the creative coalface in these industries,
    .
    Yes this is the usual retort. And it’s a valid one. There’s also the market (also female dominated) and it’s impossible to disentangle the whole thing to say which part of the matrix is responsible etc. But I don;t believe that feminist theory adequately looks into this, I may be wrong, but it doesn’t come across. Instead there’s the resort to blaming the ‘patriarchy’. Ineffective.

    Consumption is also easily manipulated to condition women to ‘want’ things that reinforce their role in such a culture.

    It’s not so easy.

    it’s debatable just what gender behaviours are ‘natural’.

    Indeed. But feminist discourse prefers to pretend thatnature does not exist. I think it’s arrogant to assume that. I also think that, despite the wide variety of sexual behaviours there are a few constants. Whatever attributes of sexuality one may relegate to cultivation I think that the whole business stems from a natural force. What is needed is a new form of cultivation. And all forms of cultivation start with an understanding of nature.

    Whether or not it exonerates them, feminists have as much right to be arseholes as anyone else.

    Indeed.

    One of the reasons that ‘arsehole’ feminists get up people’s noses so much is because of the patriarchal mindset that women must fulfill their role as the well-behaved or ‘moral’ sex. In patriarchal terms, a badly behaved woman is the ultimate anarchy.

    Another reason is that said arseholes piss off other women frequently for attempting to impose just the sort of stricture that feminism is supposedly against. I’m not anti-feminist most of my female friends consider themselves feminist, all of them assert the rights feminism’s won. And most of them object to certain things.

    Vivienne Westwood said that she doesn’t consider herself a feminist because she dislikes puritans. Does that say something that the feminist establishment may not wish to hear but should?

  4. Posted June 15, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    That is: Most of them object to certain things associated with ‘feminists’ being discussed here.

  5. su
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    But feminist discourse prefers to pretend that nature does not exist.

    Some might but I think that a lot of it is resistance to a reductive view of people as set-and-run biological machines and to the rationalization of all current behaviour as having origins in adaptation as per the wort of ev psych. Anyone who cares about science would reject the characterisation of current humans as no different in essentials to pleistocene hominids and the posthoc rationalisation of all current behavior as having served adaptive functions as unscientific hogwash. We do not and cannot know about the psychological states of early hominids and everything that we know about both early and modern humans indicates that we engage in a lot of behaviour that does not result in any reproductive advantage whatsoever.

    I can’t understand the desire to separate so called nature from culture either since culture must by definition be a natural feature of human existence. I may have missed what you meant by this distinction but IMO it is an unhelpful oversimplification to characterise human society as some kind of primitive biological essence overlaid by “artificial” cultural constraints.

  6. Posted June 16, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Su – I can’t understand the desire to separate so called nature from culture either since culture must by definition be a natural feature of human existence. I may have missed what you meant by this distinction but IMO it is an unhelpful oversimplification to characterise human society as some kind of primitive biological essence overlaid by “artificial” cultural constraints.

    I agree. I’m not actually advocating this characterisation altho’ you be forgiven for thinking so. I’m afraid I can’t find the words because I don’t understand my thoughts as yet well enough. Culture is, as you say, natural. Making marks, for example, ‘art’ if you will is natural. We have no experience of another intelligent technological species so we don’t have any way of comparing and contrasting these things. Altho’ we know that ‘culture’ and ‘nature’ are not polarized by Asian civilization the way they are in the West. There’s a distinction of course but it amounts to the distinction between humanity and the rest of the animal world.

    I know that customs diverge widely but still there are, am I wrong, certain constants? A lot of sexual behaviour feels natural.

    The Left has for a time now simply excluded the natural from social discourse because inconvenient. This is a mistake. First because nature is something that can’t be defeated and second because nature is actually mutable and therefore the argument that ‘you can’t change such and such because natural’ has less veracity. Thing is nature changes slowly. This can be frustrating. But I think it’s in error to maintain silence on or draw stern prohibition against natural inclinations because they make trouble for conceptions of how the world should be.

    I’ve been reading Anaïs Nin again and it occurs to me that her perceptions of human sexuality would lead some feminist inspired intellectuals to write her off as a victim of the patriarchy which is laughable considering the degree to which her life was self-determined. I know women who often complain of the authoritarian streak in feminism that says, for example, you can’t wear high heels. This produces resistance and disregard for a movement that advocates in their interests. Surely that can’t be a good thing.

  7. Posted June 16, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    I might just add that the presets of discourse on these matters are understandable because biological determinism has been used to keep women down since the 19th century.

    For that reason it’s hard to discuss biology at all without people entertaining the assumption that you are in fact cladenstinely advocating such rhetoric. I’m not, most definitely. Biology isn’t destiny. It has no destiny. Except change.

  8. su
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I know that customs diverge widely but still there are, am I wrong, certain constants? A lot of sexual behaviour feels natural.

    Yes but often people are very selective about which of those behaviours they justify by reference to its naturalness.

    It’s natural for someone to play grabass but it’s merely some cultural overlay when the grabee wants to enforce their right to walk around unmolested. There seems to be a pattern whereby antisocial behaviour is defended by recourse to its naturalness while the restraint of antisocial behaviour is deemed somehow less natural, merely cultural.

    I am absolutely on board with the idea that outside of the worst kinds of antisocial behaviour like murder, assault, rape etc, the law should play no role in that restraint but the thing is that then we are left with using other forms of social pressure to promote prosocial behaviour. And that is why I am surprised that some of the comments above seem to elide the distinction between official censorship/legal sanction and criticism because that gap is the region in which those other forms of social pressure must operate if civil society is to function well.

  9. Posted June 17, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    I’ll just point out here that I deliberately didn’t link (in this post) to any research by Steven Pinker on this stuff because I didn’t want to land on a ‘Bingo’ square. Maybe that makes me a coward, but I did want to keep focussed on what I know about — the limits of law and also economic policy — without straying into arguments about biology/biology is destiny/etc.

    It does seem that male attempts to control female sexuality run very deep, because humans are a high paternal investment species. Societies where men do little or nothing exhibit diminished attempts at controlling women sexually. Some form of sexual double standard is also universal, but it is interpreted so widely across cultures as to be identifiable but not much else. The fetishisation of female virginity, for example, is cultural, not biological, and condemnation of same-sex activity is also cultural (and rather recent), not biological.

    There is some interesting stuff in this article (some of which contradicts Pinker, btw; such is the nature of science):

    http://hanson.gmu.edu/forager.pdf

  10. su
    Posted June 18, 2010 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    I wasn’t aware that there was a bingo square with Pinker’s name on it. I have skimmed through your link and it seems to be a description of the features of contemporary societies. I have no problem with descriptive evidence but there are insurmountable issues with drawing conclusions about human psychological adaptation from the pleistocene onwards on the basis of contemporary societies. Not least of which is that humans excel at creating complex new niches for themselves and the rapidity at which these new niches alter both the environment for adaptation and the nature of adaptational problems is completely ignored by the subset of ev psych which seeks to recreate the pleistocene on the basis of either contemporary hunter gatherer societies or even worse, ape studies. I recommend David Buller’s Adapting Minds which is on Google Books where you can read a summary of the problems with the both the evidence base and the formulation of adaptation problems in ev psych from about p92 onwards. Or you can read palaeoanthropologist John Hawk’s reviews of the book at “John Hawk’s weblog” which I recommend anyway, it is a great source of information on human evolution and genetics.

  11. Posted June 18, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Societies where men do little or nothing exhibit diminished attempts at controlling women sexually.
    .
    What? Like ours? 🙂

  12. Posted June 18, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Su – I think Skeptic expressed something salient here:

    Some form of sexual double standard is also universal, but it is interpreted so widely across cultures as to be identifiable but not much else.

    The thing that persists is the difference. How that difference manifests varies from place to place and, I’d wager, environment to environement.

    When Iorarua above talks of total transformations of the cultural industries she seems to be suggesting some kind of political transformation. I don’t think this is the problem. We have entered a new era in which men and women work together. Women can, are expected to, get an education and the rest. Certain things remain the same: women are mothers for example.

    Our culture is very young therefore, if we indulge Marx’s base/superstructure supposition. And we will articulate all things necessary to human culture as we go forward. It is my belief that these things will be done by individuals and associations doing as they’ve always done, adapting.

    I don’t think feminists in general are as aware of this as they might be. If so there’d be more emphasis on designs and techniques than abstractions such as patriarchy. IMHO

  13. su
    Posted June 18, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    It is my belief that these things will be done by individuals and associations doing as they’ve always done, adapting.

    I’m not sure how this statement, which I broadly agree with, is at odds with political transformation. Surely politics, including feminist politics just forms part of the environment to which people will adapt and therefore it would be shooting ourselves in the foot to fail to register disappointment in or opposition to things like sexism or racism although I agree that how we do that matters. While I am at it I don’t think I agree with SL’s conceptualization of advertising as merely responsive to society, I think it has played a very significant role in constructing that society although, if I remember correctly, this is something on which you are more qualified to speak than I.

  14. Posted June 19, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Su – I’m not sure how this statement, which I broadly agree with, is at odds with political transformation.

    I can think of two modes of political transformation. In one, like in the racial emancipations of the 1960s, the ethos alters its attitudes and this expresses itself in the political arena. In the second the political arena generates rules that attempt to transform the ethos. Mostly its the first that is effective and relatively peaceful. Both are necessary, eg the Suffragette movement.

    While I am at it I don’t think I agree with SL’s conceptualization of advertising as merely responsive to society,

    The way it works, I think, is this: Advertising is about moving merchandise. That’s it. To do this advertisers seek to associate the merch with our desires. Desire is both a longing for something and the need to avoid other things of which we’re afraid.

    The more basic the desire and/or fear the better. Everyone desires in some fundamentally similar ways and the more primal the desire the less reason puts up resistance.

    Multiply this in all the ways that modern mass media can and you have a world awash with it. This reinforces and amplifies desires as they’re already articulated. So in a world in which men still make most of the money the desires of women are shaped by the economic need for mateship. And this is expressed by a certain manifestation of ancient sexual competition.

    It’s more than simple response. But it is kick-started off with response. The solution is in equipping people with enough sense to ignore so much frivilous imagery. To bring up there children with limited exposure to it. This is difficult but not impossible. Since advertising is about influencing our consumption patterns, since it needs to move merch, it will adjust if we adjust our patterns of consumption.

    In my opinion the standard education which amounts to ideological counter-indoctrination does not do this well. It’s both over-simplistic and makes the desires advertising bombards us with more desirable.

    My view is that, instead of saying ‘you shouldn’t want to be desirable’ to girls one should articulate that there are different ways of being so and that being so isn’t the whole. Instead of fighting nature, you go with it.

    Lot less work and more effective.

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  1. […] rather than tolerance, from the majority. I do believe that demanding the former (allied to attempts at controlling how one is portrayed) are fraught with danger. I’ve written about this before: People – as a general rule – […]

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