Little Pleasure Machines

I try to stop thinking so much, I honestly do. I tried watching a mindless TV series on Netflix, but it just bored me. I tried not blogging for a while, but it bottled all of my need to publish up. I tried putting aside my extracurricular Nietzsche project, but his mustached visage glared at me from the corner of my desk and beckoned me to dare to challenge him. I suppose it is simply in my nature to be thinking all. the. time, which is a little bit of a convenience in times when others may easily be bored, and a lot of a headache when you just want the world to be quiet for a second. That being said, my unannounced, unplanned blog hiatus is off, so just prepare yourselves for that. I'm trying to keep sane over here.

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I've seen this thing being floated around the viperous den of the internet that is in no way a new idea (or more aptly, the root of which is not a new idea), but is just irking me. And I'll explain why.

It is not a picture or a meme or anything like that, but rather an attitude: the gentlemanly white-knight of a boy changes his facebook status to something along the lines of, "Ladies, do not settle for a man who treats you like an object." The tired-of-being-played girl writes, "I'm through being used." We photoshop our profile pictures because that's what the magazines do, and that's how we're expected to be - so we also photoshop our real-life faces with injections and the best contouring techniques and "nude" makeup. We improve our bodies so that we may show our bodies. We write our blogs so that we may be praised for our blogs. We foster good relationships so that we may take screenshots of text messages from our good relationships.

"Don't treat humans like objects."

How simple that is, right? As a pretty unashamed (though somewhat revisionist) Kantian Deontologist, I fully agree with the statements: "treat all people as means in themselves, never as means to an end," and "always act in a way that, should your actions be followed universally, the world wouldn't collapse." (A paraphrase of Kant's Deontology, of course).

But I think we have it backwards: I shouldn't implore men to quit treating women like items to be bought or sold or used. I will offer something far more simple: treat yourself as more than an object.

This is not the age of the objectification of women, it is the age of the objectification of self; it is just that women see themselves as objects to be loved and men themselves as objects to be pleased. (A gross oversimplification, I know. Just go with it.)

The problem is not that women are being sold into sex slavery, it's not that relationships are crumbling around us, it's not that family is a colloquialism of the past - those are mere symptoms; the problem is that we see ourselves as skin-covered pleasure buckets rather than as vessels of grace.

Trust me, that hits me just as hard as it hits anybody else, and perhaps more, because I am the foremost of self-pleasers and the last to extend the grace that has been demonstrated to me even to myself.

I've become increasingly burdened for the enslaved and the abused and those stuck in oppressive darkness, but I cannot for a second forget that without the hope available to me, I'm just as much a slave to myself as anybody. It is true, human sex trafficking will end as soon as men stop buying women for sex, but it will simply be replaced by something more sinister until we quit treating ourselves as pleasure-hungry dopamine zombies. It extends to drug use. It extends to abusive relationships. It extends to frustrated political squabbles. It extends to those people (coughcoughhamilton) who insist on always being right.

Treat yourself as an end in and of yourself, not as a means to receive pleasure. Love yourself, for you are fearfully and wonderfully made, but giving yourself everything you want isn't love. Do what feels right? Absolutely not. Do what is right, and do not compromise, for in the course of that compromise you will begin the long slip to despair.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.