Are You A Pawn In The Capitalist Market?

A study at Northwestern University sought to address how early our culture affects our understanding of the world. They found that at age 2, children from China and the United States view scenes differently. Children from the U.S. are interested when the objects in scenes change, while children from China are interested when the subject’s actions change in a scene.

The study involved showing the children a scene with a person petting a dog. Then a new scene was shown, where either the subject’s action changed (i.e. from petting the dog to kissing the dog) or the object did, (the person petting a pillow instead of a dog). The children from China were interested in watching a scene with a new action, while the children from America were focused on scenes that had a new object. The implications of this are broad, including Americans maybe having a weird thing for pillow petting.

The study suggests that in America we view and define ourselves based on the objects that surround us, versus our internal motivations; a natural result of consumerism. This affects how we communicate, work, relax, and even how we solve problems. For example, when I’m upset I buy frosted mini donuts and Merlot instead of going on a walk. For every problem you have, the market has a product to help solve it.


In the photo:  Something to fill your empty void

Like Mattel, who just made headlines for making “progressive” Barbies, ones that come in all shapes and sizes and two colors. Mothers and fathers across America can easily combat the complex issues of self-esteem, body hate, sexism and racism with a $10 doll. A masterful move by Mattel who previous to this was famous for losing millions of dollars a year, and no one caring about Barbies.


There’s nothing inherently wrong in changing the products we consume. The only thing to be wary of is the culturally conditioned tendency to view objects as synonymous with a solution. Many work tirelessly, committed to activism, and they currently have the American public’s attention. But now that corporations have caught on, activists have the added struggle of keeping the American public’s attention in the face of all those products.

Because feminism is about how all you lady-folk just really want to look and feel pretty, right?

The way Mattel and other companies manipulate modern feminism to make money, is not only distracting, it can sometimes be harmful. Women have been objectified for thousands of years; they continue to be objectified throughout the world. This objectification, in some countries results in the loss of your job, in others, the loss of your life. In America, we sell objects, and create messages for them to represent.

Kim Kardashian herself is not an object, unless the robot illuminati theory is finally proven, but she is sold to us as one. Not only can we consume images of her glamorous life style, buy lip injections to get some super sexy bloody lips, we can also rest assured that she stands for some pretty feminist stuff. Like that women with all bodies can be beautiful and should accept themselves. Because feminism is about how all you lady-folk just really want to look and feel pretty, right?


In the photo: Beautiful lips

The reality is the things that cause 91% of American women to find issue with their bodies are more far-reaching than media.

Research shows that the majority of women who struggle with body image also struggle with depression and anxiety. Of those who develop eating disorders, the biggest unifying factor is feeling lack of control. These emotions and states seem justified when women face threat of violence daily (from their closest friends and family), when they are automatically perceived as incompetent in their professional environments, and when they are taught to avoid their problems and emotions via products, whether they be diet pills or “body-positive” pop-stars.

If the public forgoes feminist ideals for capitalist activism, we’ll end up like a snake eating its own tail. While the standard of beauty continually changes to accept what we consider feminist, the very idea that we don’t have to be beautiful, is never even considered.

There’s nothing to sell that way.

The problems, which run deep, are never fully addressed, and women continue to be sold and to sell themselves in the confines of the market.

While operating as a member of a capitalist society, it is important to be aware when we’re being sold solutions in place of action. If we don’t pay attention we run the risk of getting too drunk off Merlot, staring blankly at our chocolate smeared faces at 4 in the morning, and wondering why we’re still sad.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of
About the Author /

Alena Ivanov lives in Chicago, is very neurotic, and writes things sometimes (do you think she sounds weird?)


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