“The end of love”: The first criminal is sexual freedom in consumer societies

Eva Illoz seems very pessimistic about the state of her romance

Sexual liberation, the break-up of family relationships, the spread of divorce, the doubling of the number of people living alone, the proliferation of dating sites, online relationships, the body trade … and other manifestations of moral depravity in the West are just – According to Eva Iloz in her book, which has just been published in the paper “The End of Love: The Sociology of Negative Relationships” – Symptoms and a direct reflection of the spread of late capitalist culture and the spread of consumerism.

Her approach, a prominent professor of sociology and author of several books examining the impact of popular culture, social media, psychotherapy, and consumer capitalism, on (new) forms of love stems from a position that sees every effort to understand the difficulties. feelings of alienation, confusion, distraction, ambiguity of sexual identities, dissatisfaction and shortness of breath The duration of associations that prevail over contemporary (love) relationships relying exclusively on psychological analysis and psychology, will not be enough to capture the dimensions. of a wide-ranging complex phenomenon that has become not only threatening to the mental health of individuals, but also negatively affects the ability of societies in general to renew themselves, to develop their economies, and to provide decent levels of care for generations old, and that a sociological approach is necessary to critique the form of emotional and sexual relations in the context of a more general critique of the capitalist system and its dynamics.

In fact, in “The End of Love,” Illus seems very pessimistic about the state of emotional relationships in Western societies, at least compared to her early books like “Consumption of Romantic Utopias – 1997” when she thought there was a place. for the passion of love within the traditional institution of marriage for the middle class – without the poor – and the close connection of this with the material ability to exchange gifts and participate in fun activities, so that this institution becomes the end of an important. the cornerstone of the economic cycle in western countries. In her most recent books, she sees that the consumer economy system has penetrated the depths of the contemporary individual unit and distorted the private sphere through the ideology of “extreme personal freedom”. The result is what she calls “negative (social) relationships” or “non-love,” when relationships fade, disintegrate, evaporate, and disintegrate, replacing mature forms of love and enduring companionship. He examines examples to demonstrate this “non-lover” from literary texts and the media, but most of the data come from interviews she conducted with about a hundred people living in various western countries, young and old, men and women, most of whom can be classified as middle class. And if love in the modern age was once characterized by the freedom to enter into sexual and emotional relationships according to desire and choice, then love – always according to Illoz – as it ended in the postmodern era, was distinguished by the generalization of freedom to withdraw from relationships . While sociology has classically focused on how social ties are formed, The End of Love goes the other way to investigate how and why social ties break down and fade.

“Desire,” says Illoz, “was guided during the nineteenth century and for most of the twentieth century by the norms, texts, and symbols authorized by religion and the interests of elite (bourgeois) society. Clearly this was a system of patriarchal patriarchal authority, yet it provided young people with a path to the practices of friendship and love within the range of options that often lead to marriage and the formation of a family, not to mention one of a kind strengthening national solidarity among members of a community through intermarriage. But today, consumer capitalism, with the dominance of its minds, has driven people to think of themselves and the opposite sex as commodities in a market that inevitably becomes less profitable over time and must be replaced by new ones. . Worse, sexual desire has come to be defined by what she calls a “visual action system”: fashion and cosmetics partners, media and porn producers have teamed up to turn “desire” into a flat visual performance and display of erotic bodies – especially. women — has become Profit has become commonplace in advertising and the workplace, and the libido industry has become an essential component of the economic structure.

Although this situation in which we ended up was essentially the result of late capitalism with its consumerism, the criminal that capitalism has assigned to the task of eliminating “love” is sexual freedom, with its acceptance of the principle of the “right to enjoy” reciprocal. without restrictions, to separate the sex life of individuals from the institution of marriage and the intimacy resulting from the exchange of feelings of love over the days. Illose accuses sexual freedom of killing the social rituals of gender relations – long-term civil accounts, proper etiquette and expectations of emotional transparency – and replacing them with the concept of “consent” associated with a purely subjective sense of desire. Even ordinary cohabitation relationships in western societies, which some might say are a form of contractual relationship where lovers voluntarily enter into a lasting sexual relationship with the intention of exchanging pleasure while maintaining independence by insisting that there are no commitments long-term or consequences of separation. , objective reality says – As Iloz points out – this contractual form often fails to reach a mutual consensus because both parties may have had different goals and expectations from the relationship, and often ends when there is a lack of satisfaction over the days because it lacks the spirit of intimacy and separation, which is emotionally painful at least for women. Those who usually tend to form relationships based on personal appreciation, while their male partners – in general – want to enjoy multiple and variable sex , not to mention that the nature of the female body undergoes transformations in relation to the age of fertilization, pregnancy and childbirth, while the male body appears less variable in comparison.

Illoz compares classic forms of dating, where people start having sex after falling in love and try to present themselves in the best possible way for the other in a tireless pursuit of some kind of compatible social and class background for him reduce the chances. of divorce later, versus new formulas in which Replacing the social framework of the relationship One-on-one contacts often begin through social media, with immediate binary ratings of the other primarily based on sexual attraction. In this new mood, recognition seems closer to buying fast-moving consumer items and creates an atmosphere of lack of commitment, instability, and betrayal that leads to women being sexually exploited, objectified, and humiliated by those less fortunate. of aesthetics and class in this market of supply and demand.

Illose concludes that for “love” to flourish, it needs more standards and consensus than pure sexual attraction. But after that, she denies that her book calls for “a return to the traditional family values ​​or culture of patriarchal societies, or a restriction on the freedom to engage in trans sex,” which may leave the reader confused. great, as it criticizes current relations-building practices, but is hostile to their traditional forms, without presenting any conception of alternatives to be considered as a possible way out of the catastrophe to which late capitalism has led us. But this in no way diminishes the value of the book and the critical debate it raises at the center of the future of Western societies and human beings in general, and about the philosophy about the meaning of personal freedoms, especially since many Eastern societies – including our Arab world – are in the position of accepting dominant cultures and their consciousness has penetrated into the imported practices of the consumer, including, without a doubt, some of the phenomena observed by Illoz.

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