Monday, January 28, 2013

Sexual exploitation and power relationships

One of the best conceptualizations of these things that I've found separates sexual relationships into ones based on difference and ones based on incestuous impulses. Difference is just that, seeking out the other, someone who is not an extension of yourself, in a relationship, whether that other is your own sex or a different one. Incest, in this definition, consists of seeking out someone who isn't different from yourself but is in a way linked to you by sameness, which translates out into having them be an extension of yourself that you are using. Sameness, in turn, doesn't just mean blood relationships but also means being part of the same hierarchy,with the exploited being someone further down in the hierarchy that is subordinate and therefore can be treated as an extension of the self.  The hierarchy in question can be based on power, it can be based on an age difference, it can be based on money, or it can be based on internal family power dynamics, both in the personal and extended family. This can also be extended to pedophiliac priests.

The incestuous impulse doesn't seek an equivalent in the other that's being pursued, but seeks a subordinate who can also be used for sexual activity.

I don't think that this conception necessarily includes sex work, whether 'dancing' or otherwise, in it, though, if what's being transacted is between two free, and therefore equivalent, people, as opposed to one person who's being controlled and manipulated and another who is paying for it.

People often talk of others using people as objects, but object in this case implies possession, it implies that it's mine, under my control, and is part of my personal hierarchy. Our possessions often function as extensions of ourselves, that we use for particular purposes. If someone is using someone as an object, perhaps the type of object is one that functions, like a car that you use to take you from one place to another, that you own, that becomes an extension of your self, rather than a static object like a book.

*on edit: the incestous and control part of it also explains the repressiveness, in that what's being repressed in a power relationship like this is the individual's self hood or individuality, which is being put down so that the other party can absorb and use them as part of his or her own self.

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