Go to ...

Political Context

The Progressive Mosaic

RSS Feed

Capitalism Stole My Orgasm


A new study by the National Sleep Foundation suggests that twenty five percent of married or cohabitating Americans are too sleep-deprived to have sex.

Now, this truly sucks, for reasons I’ll get to below–but what’s nearly as awful is the spin put on this and similar data by mainstream bourgeois news organizations like CNN, which gathered a bunch of gee-whiz experts to opine the following:

It’s not surprising why sleep trumps sex: Between work, family and social obligations, our need for shuteye often suffers.
Add in problems such as financial stress, health issues and relationship woes, and you can see why sex tends to drop to the bottom of our “to do” list — if it’s on there at all.

The article contains the usual list of solutions, too: think outside the box, have sex earlier in the day, and hey, have sex even if you’re tired. And I’m down with all of those solutions, but that’s not the point. Articles like that serve to normalize what is foundationally an unnatural and unjust system–the newswriters see a study like that from the National Sleep Foundation, then they contact “experts” whose myopic methodologies accept the inevitability of current material and social structures, and suggest therapeutic or other adjustive techniques for coping with what, after all, must be inevitable and beyond our ability to change. Too sleep-deprived due to your inhumane work schedule? Cope with it. Don’t question the fact that we have inhumane work schedules.

But we live under a social and economic system that extracts surplus value from our labor in the service of an ultimately gratuitous and socially/environmentally destructive system based on the calculability of profit. And not only is that system destroying the planet, it’s also alienating us. It fucks up our intimacy. It undermines our ability to access the source of the most positive spiritual, physical, and intellectual energy we have in our individual and collective being.

There are even darker and more serious implications here. The excesses and paradigmatic hierarchy of capitalism is linked to sexual oppression and even sex trafficking. The progressive impoverishment of the planet’s periphery forces many¬†women in poor nations to choose prostitution–not in the sense that a stable entrepreneur chooses to sell a new kind of widget, but in the sense that financially vulnerable women “choose” to surrender their sexuality for money.

But even in relatively stable societies, the price we pay for economic injustice and the acceptance of financial vulnerability is alienation from our relationships. If we accept the inevitability of capitalism, its 50-60 hour work weeks, its transferrence of its financial contradictions onto the everyday stress of the working class, its tendency to make us worry about money at the expense of our organic mutual bonds, then we’re giving in to lives of alienation and self-destruction. We’re dying sooner, and dying inside even before that.

So on top of all the other reasons (war, environmental destruction, the laundry list of categories of oppression, and bad pop music), we need to transcend corporate capitalism, poverty, and the paradigm of economic hierarchy and the growth imperative for the sake of our sex lives. Workers of the world unite, indeed.

Leave a Reply

About Thad McGregor

Pseudonym for a writer who has been around the global block, leaving a pile of lovers, political victories, and empty beer bottles in his wake.