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Unisex Society

Whether factory employee, office worker, consumer, or corporate shareholder, the significance of the unisex individual is that the society of mass production and consumption requires standard components and procedures. Consumerism and the unisex society follow together from industrialization. Moreover, all individuals must be essentially alike as governable social atoms. They must be functioning parts of the political-economic machine—reachable segments of the market whose vote, with the ballot and the dollar, must be cultivated by a universal media mill in which commercial and political propaganda merge. The tastes of men and women must alike be turned toward consumption and investment. Since love cannot easily be commodified, it must be trivialized as sex. Since family and local governance resist this structure of control, they must be eroded. Society must be atomized to yield the maximum number of consumers, and centralized to maximize control over them. In many North American cities, the same magnificent old houses that were once supported by a single white-collar income are now subdivided into several apartments or suites, each of which can scarcely be supported by two incomes. The ideal of consumer society would have everyone living in isolation, devoting all of their leisure time to spending or in activities that lead to spending, such as television watching and internet shopping. At the same time, consumers are encouraged to invest their savings as well as to spend them, in both cases putting more money in the hands of corporations. Isolated, we may labor not to express individuality or pursue creative purposes, but to have access to standard consumer ideals: car, house, entertainment center, new computer, second car and second house, boat, vacation package, etc. These are the off-the-shelf, clichéd goals and life plan of modernity. The vernacular values of homemade entertainment—whether making love or music or conversation together—are subversive in the consumer-investor society because they are not commercial products, do not enter into the economy, and generate no profit or taxes. He or she who is original is marginal, an economic dropout, a traitor to the system.

RELATED TAGS: [unisex individual/consumer/society, political-economic machine, social atomization, two-income family, internet shopping, economic dropout/traitor, plan of modernity, mediocracy]

© Copyright Dan Bruiger 2008. All rights reserved.