Owen Jones, ageless boy wonder of the British Left, has apparently upset some of his more matronly fans. Seems he wasn’t sufficiently scandalized by revelations that Labour MP Simon Danczuk from Rochdale beats off at work. “Who cares?” asked Jones in The Guardian, as if shrugging his shoulders. “Danczuk is a human being with flaws. For me, it’s the political flaws that matter.”
Not everyone is taking this matter so lightly, of course, as our preceding remarks suggest. EP from the matfem (maternal feminist, not materialist feminist) blog All Mothers Work scolds Jones for laughing this off:
Too many men, like Owen Jones, seem to think that men have a right to do whatever they want sexually, at any time, in any situation. His attitude throughout his piece is tiresomely familiar; a pathetically schoolboyish sneer at deluded prudes who clutch their pearls at the thought of a bit of wanking. Let’s cut the bullshit: anybody who thinks it is acceptable to masturbate at work is not fit to be in decent society and needs therapeutic help.
What might such sentiments mean for the international proletariat, however? Can the toiling masses not demand “the right to jerk”? Need we remind you that Marx’s Das Fapital is the Bible of the wanking class? Didn’t Lukács write something about the simultaneous autoerotic subject-object of History?
Luckily, the good folks over at Left Unity in Britain were pondering these questions just the other day. Comrade Coates mentioned it in passing in a post entitled “Wanking while you work: Debate shakes Left Unity, but we have the whole unexpurgated version for you here to enjoy. It’s a bit long, so we’ll break it up and intersperse commentary throughout.
Bet you hadn’t considered the dilemma faced by “professional sperm donors.” Personally, I would have never thought of that. The commenter Colin Chambers is right to bring up the decision in Brazil, though. It’s very relevant.
According to the popular mental health magazine Uncovered, a Brazilian woman recently won a landmark case. Charlotte Fantanelli reports that the court found in favor of Ana Catarian Bezerra, a 36-year-old accountant suffering from a severe chemical imbalance. Her condition requires that she masturbate up to forty-seven times per day, though meds have brought that number down to as low as eighteen. Under the new ruling, Ms. Bezerra will be allowed to watch pornography and periodically pleasure herself while at work. It is unclear whether or not she will remain on the clock during such times.
Obviously, this could have major economic repercussions should other countries and their legal and judicial systems follow suit. Fantanelli spells out its radical implications: “The need to orgasm [is now] recognized by law.”
Who’s to say that masturbation is unproductive labor, either? It’s perfectly legitimate for wankers to demand wage compensation for their self-gratification. PornHub just released its new Wankband™ last month, which recharges your phone using repeated movement of the wrist. Half the world’s energy problems could be solved right there.
Enough idle speculation, though. Back to the sexperts in the public Left Unity thread.
That’s right. Someone just dropped the DicProle into this discussion. How does the dictatorship of the proletariat relate to watching porn or having a wank while at work, you ask? Your guess is as good as mine.
As heated as this whole ridiculous exchange got, one observer noted, it was still a good deal more fraternal than last year’s #SexyChair controversy. The one where blogger Richard Seymour was denounced as a “racist mansplaining pervert” for not immediately assenting to the idea that risqué raceplay in sex ought to be condemned as vile, consensual or not, in case everyone repressed it or forgot. Seymour and I don’t see eye to eye on many things, but I think he got a raw deal from the prudes in the fledgling ISN. “I can disagree with what a man has to say,” the great Enlightenment philosophe Voltaire once declared, “but I will defend to the death his right to make innocuous online comments about interracial lesbian dominatrix fetish furniture.”
Joking aside, however, it’s pretty sad this sort of thing would even be debated by a group looking to revitalize and unify the scattered fragments of the Left. Besides, it’s a reformist strategy. One could argue that it’s analogous to allowing employees a lunch break, that it’s just fulfilling a biological need (or desire or drive, take your pick), but we already waste too much of our lives at work. Whether it’s the injunction to “do what you love” or the option to “love yourself on the job,” all manner of ideologies are invented in order to justify prolonged hours.
I’ve been reading through Ben Noys’ book Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism — which is excellent, by the way — and he raises the grim specter of “the utopian merging of libidinal acceleration with an acceleration of labor that is repetitive and machinic…Work would (finally) be sexy.” This is precisely the problem with talk of a “right” to masturbate on the clock, apart from the obvious zaniness of the idea. As Amber A’Lee of the Dangerous Minds collective put it,
This is just an extension of the Google office-as-home. “YOU CAN HAVE PORN. YOU CAN BRING YOUR DOG. THERE’S A DOCTOR ON SITE! YOU NEVER HAVE TO LEAVE!”
Here’s the rest of that Left Unity thread, in case you were wondering. Or you can click here to view the whole thing at once. Either way, you should probably despair at the state of revolutionary politics today.