Warning: This blog post may offend you.
Every day in the Western World, some 14 year-old girl willingly has sex with a 16 year-old boy; pictures are taken to document and commemorate the act and shared with pride with a small group of friends and schoolmates. If the pictures escape the small group, society is upset that such activity actually occurs – “Where are the girl’s parents?” is the usual question. Every day, some 12 year-old willingly has some form of sexual activity (virtually or real) with another 12 year-old; pictures are taken and shared. Even just imagining such activity, society is absolutely shocked at the precociousness of ‘youth today’ and the decline in societal ‘values’. On many days, a 14 year-old girl will willingly engage in some form of sexual activity online with an older man (could be anything from 18-40 years old), sometimes leading to actual sexual activity. Society goes ballistic at even the thought! Internet police squads are constantly engaged in actively searching for evidence of such activity and in tracking down the man and putting him away.
These acts of virtual and real (documented) sexual activity by minors raise several important questions. With online bodies and spaces, what is deviant activity? When we think of agency within children and the power they hold, what makes power structures quick to dismiss their actions and to label certain among them as deviants? I am not referring to actual rape, unethical coercion, or someone being so drunk or stoned that they are not in control of their actions. I am talking informed consent. Everyone seems to want to overlook the word “willingly” in the above paragraph. Did you notice it or did you just choose to ignore it? Ignoring it is risky. “Deviant groups who regularly, because of their deviation, fall foul of the law, and are harassed by law enforcing agencies and the courts, may in response, develop programs, organizations, and actions directed at ending their stigmatization or redefining the legal injunctions against them” (Hall 64). In other words, if the kids are really serious about living their lives the way they say they want to, get ready for some serious changes in the near future.
Let’s look specifically at cross generational relationships, which Western culture defines as deviant activity. On the other hand, some cultures see child brides as desirable; and, not so long ago, the Catholic Church supported marriage as soon as a girl had her period and was able to conceive children. So, is this perceived deviance another product of cultural imperialism? “In contrast to cultural imperialism . . . globalization of culture encourages researchers to focus on cultural resistance and cultural consumptions as well as on the power of people, both on individual and collective levels, to read, appropriate, and use cultural products in creative and often counter-hegemonic fashion” (Demont-Heinrich 669). In other words, more change may be coming to our status quo.
Thus, to consider an “object of desire . . . as a cluster of promises we want someone or something to make to us and make possible for us” (Berlant 20), we need to consider if it is time to rethink the policy on child pornography in Canada. Just as there is a need for improved and aware regulation of sex work in Canada, might there not also be a need for improved regulation on underage bodies inhabiting space online – not to censor them, but to protect them in their intended desires.
P.S. I’m just asking. I have no desire for an inter-generational relationship. Clearly, others do.
Berlant, Lauren. “Cruel Optimism.” Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 17.3 (2006): 20-36.
Demont-Heinrich, Christof. “Cultural Imperialism Versus Globalization of Culture: Riding the Structure-Agency Dialectic in Global Communication and Media Studies.” Sociology Compass 5.8 (2011): 666-78.
Hall, Stuart. “Deviance, Politics, and the Media.” The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader (1993): 62-90.
According to my last Blog, my favourite space is McDonald’s; and, although this place has its faults, such as being an unhealthy, American, multi-billion dollar, fast food corporation often used by many progressive writers as a symbol of everything wrong in the Western world, the service it provides to its customers is actually an accurate reflection of our time. To be honest, in Blog Post #1, I was trying to be ironic, which has somewhat backfired on me here. However, in working through this thought process, I must say that McDonald’s is not my least favourite space, and being in that space allows me to experience various truths.
My local McDonald’s is located next door to a Second Cup and across the street from a Starbucks; these other spaces provide a contrast to the McDonald’s, and help to highlight its otherness. Lefebvre states that “(Social) space is a (social) product” (Lefebvre 289); let’s examine this further. According to Lefebvre, spatial practice in western contemporary time is defined by daily routine and ‘private’ life and leisure (Lefebvre 291). The norms of spatial practice in the 21st century are closely tied to both history and the natural ecosystem. I will look more closely to the historical side. With the arrival of the industrial revolution in the 19th century, a growing middle class in western society flourishes. The idea of prosperity for all seems possible, even in the working class; modern thinkers and artists in the United States create a national identity for their newly born nation and culture. However, this growing identity is a misleading one. Although its words and symbols give motivation to many in the underclass, building for a better individual and common future, the actual space is one that continues to oppress the majority while speaking of democracy and freedom for all. Almost two hundred years later, awful working conditions and corruption still endure. ‘MacJobs’ exist for a MacPopulation, who consume their refillable coffees and fat-filled breakfast sandwiches while waiting for redemption. Sara Ahmed raises the concept of “fit” and how bodies inhabit space (Ahmed 51-52) and states that “. . . bodies are submerged [in space], such that they become the space they inhabit” (Ahmed 53).
What is called upon is to critically analyse the space and the bodies inhabiting it, and to do acts of détournement. I would like to try an experiment, which may be seen as a form of détournement; not simply for McDonald’s, but as a new economic system. When a customer buys x amount of product from a vendor, that customer then becomes a shareholder in said company. Rather than simply being a consumer, that person becomes an owner, who is seeking a return on his/her investment. So, when a company opens, it automatically becomes publically owned as soon as it starts to sell its product/services. This, in turn, will create a new form of conscious consumer. This will stimulate each individual to think twice before purchasing goods or services. There will still be a structure of power in place; however, it will flatten and distribute the power on a larger scale. As everyone becomes an owner rather than just a customer, people will purchase in spaces where they believe they will get the largest return. Subsequently, some people might not want to invest (consume), but will become artisans of their own where they will be the majority shareholder. This, in turn, will generate the emergence of new tastes, where people will try to “make it new.” Coming back to McDonald’s, if a customer buys, for example, 10 Big Macs, that customer will now own, say, one share in the McDonald’s enterprise. That consumer has now become an owner of McDonald’s, where s/he will be invited to annual shareholder meetings (held virtually, of course) to determine the future of the enterprise. If, as publicized, “McDonald’s brand mission is to be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat and drink” then there is no reason why it will not survive, and thrive.
It is easy, from a power perspective, to look down on the space that is McDonald’s and its customers. It is actually a welcoming space and refuge for many that do not fit in Second Cup and Starbucks. However, we could make it better if we tried.
Ahmed, Sara. (2006) Queer Phenomenology Ch. 1: Orientations Towards Objects, section “Inhabiting Spaces” (51-63). Durham: Duke University Press.
Debord, Guy. (1959). ‘Détournement as Negation and Prelude’, Bureau of Public Secrets. http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/3.detourn.htm
Lefebrve, Henri. “The Production of Space.” In Gieseking, Jen J. And William Mangold, (Eds.), The People, Place, and Space Reader. (289-293). London: Routledge.
by Samuel and Devon
Smithsonian taught me that they’re all old and feeble
But this statue shows me that they are still people
Everywhere I turn “Je me souviens”
How do we act so indifferently?
Conscious of my dry sneakers
Let me see your pitchforks
No, wait! Postpone
I might be misinterpreting
Long live the idols
Scratch that may they be your rivals
Voice of power right across the hall
“Above all else we stand for men”
When I read this, I think comedians
As you take a closer look
These people are no joke
Voice of power might believe their oath
Influence can be homicidal
Our French friendly Foucault said it the best
Take a gander at the History of Sexuality
Are we in total control?
Control of thought to turn our desires of flesh into the root of all evil
Look inside and you will find
That there is still a veil
Is this so scandalous to tell everything?
Or is it merely a call for reaction to transform what is forbidden into desirable?
Only the one living it can be opinionated on it
Stuck in these four glass walls
Don’t feel claustrophobic
Let your thoughts and emotions guide your actions
Phone a friend to tell them the enemy is coming
Perhaps this method is overrated
A more logical way is to call to shop around for the best priced market
If all else fails make an appointment to bounce off a few new ideas
This space is only as productive as you make it
Don’t feel intimidated
Watch you stroll past it
I remain calm
Hello Coms 324 colleagues,
I am in search of a partner for the mis-guide due in two weeks? Is anyone in a similar situation?
Hello Communications 324 class. My name is Samuel Schmidt.
I enjoy music that marginalizes groups of people; even though those are not my beliefs. Although equality is a fairly new concept, I do not believe I will ever see it in practice.
When I think of communications, I think of art and technology. Art is an expression of how we remember nature and technology; it is emotions and acts that reflect the ever-changing events in the world. I view technologies as human discoveries and inventions; they evolve with us, and go as far as nature lets them. The question is whether nature is infinite; thus, is technology infinite? Some would believe not. For example, Plato believed that the body was a dungeon for the soul (Grosz 1). My personal favorite invention of all time, whatever its origin, is language, which allows us to think about and ask these questions.
Culture, ideology, and politics are a mere reflection on how humans view and interact with nature and technology. Thus, worldviews and traditions are ever changing with the times. Which brings me to the act of participation; I am always let down by the application of this concept. I do not want to seem controlling or imposing, but I have high expectations of people and the amount of involvement and participation everyone should contribute. Alas, I am often let down.
What do I spend most of my time doing? I believe this to be a loaded question. I would not know where to even begin; so, I will answer it by writing, I spend most of my time living life.
My goal for this class is for the class readings and subsequent discussions to make me think of things I would not normally think about.
One of my favorite spaces would be any McDonalds, because anywhere you are in the world, things will always look familiar to you (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgFIL2CztYY)
Things that make learning difficult and school unpleasant:
– Assigning anything written by elitist academics who lack the courtesy to make their texts understandable (e.g. Judith Butler),
– Abstract discussions in class about readings written by elitist academics,
– Group assignments with uneven participation,
– Lack of windows in classrooms (unhealthy environments),
– Courses not available when they are wanted/needed.
Things that make learning easy and school pleasant:
– Stimulating readings,
– Stimulating discussions,
– Caring professors who know how to facilitate a class into the right discussions,
– Interesting and relevant examples of media texts,
– Collaborative, supportive, and participatory colleagues.