Back to Table of Contents



Chapter 1 Where to Start

Chapter 2 Language and Giving

Chapter 3 Reciprocity

Chapter 4 Definitions and Exchange

Chapter 5 The Concept of Man

Chapter 6 'Marksist' Categories

Chapter 7 The Collective Source

Chapter 8 Castration Envy

Chapter 9 Is = $

Chapter 10 Value 157

Chapter 11 Shifting into Exchange

Chapter 12 Giving Value to Exchange

Chapter 13 Market and Gender

Chapter 14 Deserving to Exist

Chapter 15 Pointing and Patriarchy

Chapter 16 The Point of the Ego

Chapter 17 What Does Democracy Re-Present?

Chapter 18 The Unmasculated Agents of Change

Chapter 19 Dreaming and Reality

Chapter 20 Giving and Love

Chapter 21 From the Garden to the Grail

Chapter 22 Cosmological Speculations

Chapter 23 After Words Practicing the Theory

Index of Figures

Selected Bibliography

Return to Home Page

Chapter 13

Market and Gender

An Altered Reality

I am trying to trace the self-similar patterns of patriarchy in different areas of life, so that we can recognize them. Women and other have-nots may feel that if only we 'had,' we would realize our potential, becoming 'equal' to the haves--and finally, fully human. Thus, we aspire to the rewards of patriarchy and unwittingly help to motivate the system. If we can recognize the patterns, we can use the system for survival while we are changing it, without giving it value, without giving it our hearts. (See Figure 18.)

The market is like a language which is evolving from a past into a future state, according to quantitative (rather than qualitative) value and having only one word, money. The constraints upon this language derive from the kinds of human relations it is required to mediate, the mutually exclusive relations of private property. Money 'names' the products again and again as values, but because of the exchange mode, which preserves the ego-orientation of all, no further mutually inclusive material relations can develop.1 The human exchangers cannot evolve fully as a co-munity.

The market seems normal, 'given' to us by the way things are. Instead, it is actually an altered reality. Why, indeed, should human beings allow the naming process to stand between those who have goods and those who have needs? The market involves naming or defining with the money word, over and over. 'This coat = $20.00. This other coat = $100.00. This bag of potatoes = $4.00.' The equation between products and money, which is a moment of the naming process, becomes an important moment for the society as a whole. It seems to be the gateway to all value. In fact, it is used to bring some products into the category of 'valuable,' while others appear to be valueless because they are not saleable, or because they are free (gifts of nature: air, water, sunlight, etc.).

Masculation has made everyone expect to be 'elevated' or fear being demoted by being put in one category instead of another. The moment of naming with the gender term: 'John is a boy,' or with money: 'one pound of coffee = $2.00,' puts the person or the product in the category of those having value in relation to that word or that amount of money. Girls and products which are unsaleable or free (giftgivers and nature's gifts) do not belong to the superior category. Thus, the gender term for females already attributes to the person the contradictory value of not being in the superior, valued, category. Being put in a superior category by '... is a boy' seems to deprive the members of the category of their ability to give in the present, while giving them another mode with something else--words, positions, money to strive for (a distraction and a kind of addiction). The naming of gender and the exchange of products for money focus us in the present, but only through the mis-recognition of gifts and overemphasis on the equation and substitution.

We give value to definitions rather than to people or to the nurturing way, which remains concealed, in the shadow. Gifts give value to the receiver, exchange does not--except through the process of 'deserving,' where the exchanger appears to cause the payment herself through her own value, her previous production, etc. As in masculation (where boys learn to 'deserve' the name 'male'), the definition takes over, and the gift model gives-way. The social gift, the name, takes over from individual gifts and, because it is general, appears to be something else, to have an arcane power. The one-many position, when used as a privileged, phallically invested sample with power in the real world, backs up this fetishized power of the name. When we 'earn' a profess-ional qualification, we can call ourselves a 'journalist' or a 'doctor.' We enter a privileged category. By behaving in appropriate ways, and learning to put into practice the knowledge we have mastered, we are able to fit the definition. Like the boy, we 'earn' the right to bear the name. And we earn a 'living' in the exchange economy.

A Self-Replicating Parasite on the Tree of Life

At a true meta level, we would recognize exchange as partial, just as we would recognize the male gender (and its definition) as partial. But giftgiving does not see itself, nor giftgivers, as its creatively receptive others. The meta level is confused by the different kinds of self-similar reflections. Anything attributing importance mainly to itself is necessarily partial, because it diminishes its other and decontextualizes itself--pulls itself out of its context (while the reflections of the concept structure make it appear to be all there is). Gifts require others who will receive them. But people in the closed system of extreme hierarchical patriarchy attribute importance to themselves through the instrumentalization of those who are 'different' or 'inferior.' They use others for the purpose of enhancing themselves while denying others' importance as the source of their good. This process gives these artificial egos completion, while making it seem as if they are self-made, either through being nurtured because they 'deserve' it, or through manipulation or force, or because the other is 'inferior,' or it is her/his 'nature' or 'instinct' or duty to give to one in that position. 'Of course she takes care of him; he's her husband.'

The male occupies the 'sample' or one position, requiring others to relate to him as many, reinstating the moment of comparison and equivalence between relative items and the sample in the concept formation process. The many also give way and give to the one who takes over, repeating the 'many-to-one' relation between things and their names. These patterns become self-confirming, also because of their similarity with a more abstract meta level. The human 'one' ignores the many and stands alone, out of context, self-reflecting as one instance of one.

In thinking about his 'one position,' a person then applies the concept process again to it. Seeing himself as one alone, he is equal to himself and to other ones alone.

The process repeats and reflects itself at different levels. Since re-cognition is based upon comparison and equivalence, comparison and equivalence appear to be the all-important relations even at the meta level.2 Thus, even using a meta level in thinking about the situation validates the de-contextualized concept formation process in its various incarnations. However, the equation and the concept form only seem to constitute the whole meta level. Instead, they are one branch of the (fractal) tree, the trunk of which is giftgiving. Perhaps, we should say that their self-similar structures are a vine, a parasite upon the tree.

Reworking the metaphor: it is not just the trunk of the tree that has the structure of giftgiving. In fact, the possibility of giving and receiving elicit a living tree: the leaf receives sunlight, uses it in photosynthesis, sends its products throughout the tree to satisfy its needs for energy, the roots receive and transmit moisture from the rain and minerals from the earth and the humus of previous leaves and trees. The availability of the gifts of earth, water, air and sunlight allow the development of living things which can receive the gifts. The decontextualized equation and the concept, classes, exchange, hierarchies and the self-reflecting meta level also derive the possibility for their existence from the gifts that are given to them, through the roots they have planted in the gift way. They serve living beings who have warped and distorted themselves, so that they can receive these abstract gifts. The whole society creatively receives the altered nourishment.

Patriarchal structures develop in a 'culture' of giftgiving, because they, too, are able to receive in special ways and give again to beings who are adapted to receiving them. De-contextualization is only a moment of abstraction used for concept formation. It has been made into a permanent condition of ego isolation, which serves the economy, the psychology and all the institutions built upon masculation. Patriarchy maintains control through the supporting interplay of various decontextualized self-similar structures. The vine, the parasite, is the over-development of the equation, the concept structure, classes. It is made up of human definitional strings organized in hierarchies, which suck up gifts to nurture the ones at the top. Patriarchy cannot exist on its own but twines around the tree of human giftgiving and feeds on it, draining the goods away from needs, creating the scarcity which serves as its necessary environment.

The artificial parasite becomes believable and self-validates by reiterating its own form. Exchange, as it replaces one product with another, also continually replaces the need-oriented qualitatively varied gift with the qualitatively simple, quantitatively varied equation. It asserts part of the concept process, the equation, as 'reality' while replacing the giftgiving female with the sample male. Qualitatively-oriented giftgiving is replaced by a quantitative naming process, which has had its gift aspects canceled. This take-over is the acting-out of masculation. The equation itself appears to be a gift which also appears 'inalienable' or perhaps inescapable. Actually, it creates a focus upon itself and receives importance from others through its reflections.

Being and Having

What we are seeing here is the psycho-socio-economic meeting between being and having, in the relation between the word and the sample, the sample and its items, the father and his sons, and the owner and his properties--even the owner of the male body and his body parts.3 The masculated boy identifies what he 'is' by what he 'has,' and by the similarity of what he 'has' with what others 'have,' rather than creating his identity in an ongoing way by what he gives and receives. Then he lets that relation be played out symbolically, as he constructs his identity around other possessions, many of which are phallic symbols. Because the erect phallus is the possession of the adult male, who is his model, the symbolic phallus--in toy cars and little guns--lets the boy privilege that having in the immature present.

Exchange is made necessary by the mutually exclusive relation of private property. Property is a relation in which the many things give and give-way to the one owner. This makes it similar to the relation between men as body-part holders, with the phallus in the forefront, and women who are 'lacking,' but who give and give-way to the one who 'has.'

Women internalize the desire for property and the mistrust of giving that come with the exchange paradigm, and this is also perhaps part of the reason we do not propose the giving model for our sons. We push our sons away from giving and into the (ex)change of categories and likeness to their fathers, so that we can be sure the boys will have the right kind of identity to get what they need and keep it. If they were to follow our model, they could presumably be considered 'sissies' and excluded from heterosexual patriarchy, exiled in a no-man's land, where they would be neither male nor female. This strange mothering behavior occurs because gender is actually an economic identity. What we consider 'male' characteristics of competitiveness, aggression, sublimation of emotion, focus on goals rather than process, etc. are qualities rewarded by capitalism. The reason for this is that capitalism is the economic way that is based on male gender characteristics. Capitalis

figFigure 19. The owner of the money is a human 'one' to whom property is related as 'many.' Money, the value sample, can itself be an item of property.

the (ex)change of categories caused by the definition of gender, and the denial of nurturing.

Owning the Value 'Sample'

Patriarchy denies and discredits giftgiving in order to preserve itself. The two paradigms remain consistent with themselves: mothering appears as giving away the penis-property, and the boy (and being deprived of both) but continuing to give. Giftgiving therefore seems self-sacrificing, even self-mutilating. Practitioners of the exchange paradigm appear to be giving up the mother, but receiving the penis, the superior male identity, and the exchange model itself in exchange. The logic of exchange confirms itself, and the logic of giftgiving confirms the 'other.'4

Money takes the place of the owner as the privileged sample for value, to which the property is related. Then the same thing happens again when another former seller buys.

The one-many pattern is embodied first in ownership, then in the one-many money relation repeatedly. (See Figure 19.)

Though exchange for money is a commonplace process, it is much stranger than we realize. We need to look at it carefully, in slow motion, to see its similarities to language, the concept process and masculation. In fact, an amount of money is the value of that product on the inter-individual plane--'for others and therefore for me'--socially. Money does the same thing economically that the word does on the plane of language. Products cannot get to the needs, except through exchange. Because products cannot be given in co-munication, they are 'spoken about' with money. Like the word, money mediates among people with regard to something, and that mediation changes their relation from a general 'everything is possible' sort of attitude, to one in which something is relevant in the present, and with regard to other people, addressing some need. The exchanger's relation to something becomes a present relation, selected from everything else it could have been.

Money takes the place of each person in turn, as the 'value-sample' to which the product is related, when the person gives up property. The owner of the money is a human 'one-many sample' to whom the value concept sample itself--money--is related as property. As a seller each person lets the other's money take the place of an item of her property and, by doing so, becomes the owner of the money. We might say she is 'meta' to the money, while the money is 'meta' to the products. As a buyer, she lets her money take the place of another's product, transferring the relation of ownership of the money to the seller, and of the product to herself. (See Figure 20.)

The (mutually exclusive) relation of ownership itself thus remains the same, while the kind of property that is owned is abstract as money, and concrete as the product. The relation of ownership changes levels from concrete to abstract and back, according to whether what is owned is a product or money. This permits the actual piece of property which was sold to be replaced by another (or others) constituting the same value and remaining

figFigure 20. Money is the value concept sample, owners are samples for the complex of property. Money as sample is in the same (or a similar) relation to products as owners are to property.

in a sense the 'same' thing. At the same time, the seller's relation becomes one of ownership of the abstract sample itselfmoney. The one-many ownership relation can actually apply to money, the one-many concept sample itself, as an item of property.

There is a single kind of substitution performed over and over, as money continues to be given to others as the substitute concept sample for their products (another similarity money has with the word).5 Money is always in the concept role of value sample for the product, while the owner is always in the transposed one-many concept role of ownership.6 The owner can be in many different overlapping one-many roles. S/he can be, for instance, a father, a king, a pope, a city counselor, or a CEO and

figFigure 21. Money-laborer-owner allows her son-product to be 'named' by phallic money and gives 'him' away. Buyer gives up phallic money value-sample and remains 'lacking' but unharmed, with a use-value.

still own money. However s/he can have no access to the 'one' position in human hierarchies and still be a 'one' with regard to her/his properties, satisfying in that way the need to become a 'sample.'

The Social Nexus:

Male Sexuality Overtakes Mothering

The male gender is incarnated in the father in a way which is different from the incarnation of value in money, but there are many similarities due to the 'one' position. Money takes the place of the owner as the 'one' to which the commodity is related as a value according to the concept process pattern, and the same thing can be said when the gender term and the father take the place of the mother as sample for the boy. Moreover, the owner is superceded as 'one' by the money, which functions as incarnated word-concept sample for the value of the commodity, and the mother is superceded by the father as concept sample for the child. The similarity of the pattern permits a replay of the alienation of the boy into the category 'male,' through the alienation of the product into the category of economic value and the replacement of the product by money.

The 'castration' of the mother is replayed when the buyer gives up the money-phallus-word and receives the reward of the nurturing goods s/he needs. Those who hoard and accumulate money do not undergo this symbolic castration and, in capitalism, find a way to increase the money-phallus-word almost infinitely. The market serves as a 'safe space' in which to act out the childhood trauma of the boy's change of categories due to the naming of his gender. It has the healing effect of showing that giving up the product for sale, transferring it into the value category and the category of ownership by another, is not a harmful process in and of itself. (See Figure 21.)

Moreover, the symbolic castration involved in giving up the money is shown to be benign, not harmful to the buyer. Unfortunately, the whole process of exchange for money takes the place of giftgiving as the form of life of the co-munity. Then giftgivers give to the exchange process itself, valuing it above the very process they are practicing, giving gifts to it and to those who practice it in the same way that they give validation to masculation, to their sons and to other males. Exchange is a process that, to some extent, alleviates the psychological burdens having to do with masculation and castration, but it causes an aggravation of the problem at other levels.

In the economic realm the dependence of the child upon the mother is also played out in the dependence of the wife upon the husband. The wife and children all appear to be in a 'many-to-one' concept relation to the father, similar to the relation of property to owner or things to a word. He gives them his name. In the traditional family, the father appears to give the money-word-phallus to the mother, who in turn gives it to others, buying the means of giving, in order to give gifts to him and the children. His gifts are visible and counted, while hers are invisible and uncounted.

However, the wife is actually receiving the support (means of giving) of the husband in return for having given the boy into his category and having given up her place as concept sample (almost) becoming the husband's property. By shifting her validation onto her husband and exchange and masculation, she abdicates from the position of gift paradigm sample and puts the exchange paradigm in its place. For this, she receives the 'gift' of the husband's salary. The daughter is also given to the father, because the model the daughter follows is the mother who gives-way and gives to patriarchy and to the father.7 In a context of scarcity, 'pockets' of gift economy are dependent on gifts from some part of the exchange system. Women have traditionally given up everything in order to put themselves in a position to be able to receive these gifts. Now they have joined the exchange paradigm as its actors, using the money they earn to support and nurture their children.

Even when the giftgivers are working in the exchange economy themselves, they often have to give their children up to the definitions and models provided by schools, television, and the streets, while they sell their labor in order to support them. The mothering economic model is diminished again at the same time that women are re-presenting it at another level, giving up their labor time in exchange for money with which to provide for their children, and giving up their children to be educated by others in the exchange economy.

The large scale economic changes that happen during wars (as in World War II) bring women into the capitalist workforce, weakening the link between economic activity and the masculine gender, which continues to be promoted by masculation. Changes in the big picture have an effect on the smaller picture, which changes more slowly. Even though many mothers now engage in monetized labor, there is an expectation that gender roles will continue to be distinct. One-many social structures take the place of the phallic father.

Television and film personages locate the father in the imagination; the 'word' becomes abstract once again. The motivation towards the general equivalent, money, produces many things in its image: the programs which show us one-many dominant men from police chiefs to fathers, supermen to singers. Women stars also perform one-many roles as sex objects, businesswomen, superspies. Even newscasters, as the one visible speaker to whom the many invisible listeners are related, fit this pattern. The dominance-submission model combined with hierarchy and competition are everywhere visible in our entertainment industry, business, politics, and academia, continuing to offer the poisoned gift-apple to little Prince Charming, providing the pernicious patriarchal models which are no longer directly available in mother-centered families.8

Gang relations also sometimes personally supply the one-many (violent) paternal models which are missing from the families of single mothers. Male sexuality, formed according to naming and the shift of categories, over-takes mothering as what Alfred Sohn-Rethel calls the 'social nexus'9--the deep pattern upon which society constructs itself. I think that, in spite of the difficulties, mother-centered families are beginning to change this situation. All too often, however, the discrediting of the single mother, together with the lack of the father, leaves the boy vulnerable to other, more negative masculated samples, as he follows the maze of one-many patterns that make up patriarchy.

Acting Out Masculation in the Market

The world of commodities imitates the world of patriarchy. The commodity-son is presented to the money-father, and found similar to it, relative to it as its equivalent, allowed into the concept of the 'other,' the privileged concept of things having monetary value, and given away to the 'other' by the mother-owner-producer (labor-er). The mother-owner-producer's place is taken first, by the money-father, as the concept model for the son-commodity, and then by the buyer as the one to whom that property is related as its owner. The mother-owner-producer gives the son-commodity away to become related to someone else as his/its owner. Then s/he changes roles and the phallic-father-money serves him/her as that to which the product of another is related. Another mother-owner-producer is giving up the product-child.

When the product is found equal to 'him,' that phallic-father-money can be made to satisfy the communicative need for a means for (altering) a relation and changing from the mother to the father sample as the product moves from seller to buyer. The present (mother role) seller relates her son-commodity to (father role) money, comparing them, finding them equal, belonging to the privileged concept of things having value. The process of naming the product as a value-in-exchange, like the process which names the boy as 'male,' takes over from the process of giving-and-receiving a useful good. It is not the need of the other which determines the exchange, but effective demand. The money which the other possesses becomes relevant to one's own need for the money as a means of altering the property relation of someone else again to their useful good, in order to satisfy one's own need. The definitional meta need is superimposed upon the material need.

The use of the term 'labor' in English is interesting, as if the mother gave up her son as soon as she finishes her 'labor' and he is 'delivered' to become gendered, related to the term 'male' as soon as the midwife or doctor says, "It's a boy." She gives him up so quickly, and gives up her own sample capacity--in favor of what? a word! "In the beginning"--as soon as he was born--"was the word." He never had a chance.

In buying to sell, the phallic-father-money goes forth in society again and again, allowing son-commodities to become related to him, thereby confirming 'himself' as general equivalent. His/its human owner or collaborator then takes the son-commodity to others whose needs he/it will satisfy, and for whom his/its value is greater, so that the quantity of phallic-father-money in the hand of his human collaborator is increased. The economic operator engages in a kind of sexual activity, buying not to use the good to satisfy his needs, but to give it up again so as to increase the amount of his phallic money-holding.

From the linguistic point of view, the interaction of the economic communicators brings the 'money-name' into play so that the thing can be related to a human being by means of its socially validated general word equivalent. What is visible of all this in stores is the hierarchy of products with their prices from least to most, the 'sons' with their 'marks,' their price tags, dangling down with numbers on them to show 'how much' they deserve the money-name.

A Collective Psychosis

We are creating our reality collectively in a way which is harmful and unnecessary. By this, I do not mean that trees and cows, mountains and automobiles, children and grandmothers are not 'there.' I mean that we have been living out a distorted process, masculation, taking the images it spawns of itself as the principles by which to organize our lives. The misinterpretation of who we are and what we ought to be doing results in the rewarding of 'having' and the punishment of 'not having.'10 Masculation creates a collective psychosis by which individual men vie with each other to be the sample man, and whole armies vie with each other to make their Fatherland the sample nation.

The 'over-taking' (substitution) aspect of words is inflated to become domination, while the giving-way (being substituted) of things becomes submission. These complementary activities can be found at many different levels. Overtaking is sometimes implemented violently in the family as the masculated gender role, or through the dominance of the adult over the child. Giving-way seems to be the role of the woman (or the child) who is obedient to the adult's words or commands. In the market, money takes over and the product gives-way, at the same time that the exchange process takes over and giftgiving gives-way. 11

Patriarchy is a collection of vertical definitional strings, aspects of which are self-similar with relations in the market where the verticality of the strings is displaced onto the numerical progression of price. The market's definitions are many and short-lived, high-speed compared with the long-term definitional positions of over-taking and giving-way that are typical of the roles of command and obedience, for instance in hierarchies of the government, the army or the church.

Though many short-term acts of over-taking and giving-way and command and obedience may occur in these hierarchies, they flow together to make stable long-term roles. In the market, the position of the head 'honcho' is only one: money, the general equivalent, while in human hierarchies there is a chain in which the ones above take over from those below, and those below give and give-way to those above--to the ever more privileged ones.

The intermediate moment between product and need, which is based on exchange and the equation, becomes the focus of the whole society, requiring equality12 with money for access to goods. The masculating definition over-takes nurturing and imposes itself as a model everywhere.

Rather than resolving our problems through acting out the incarnation of the word, we have distorted reality, distributing goods psychotically to the benefit of the few to the point almost of omnipotence, according to a child's dream. We are using our linguistic ability to name or define, to transfer privilege onto some people instead of others, making them 'haves' instead of 'have-nots.' The priorities of masculation have altered reality collectively in a pernicious way, but if we understand, as Eastern religions have always said, that this reality is an illusion, a nightmare, we can return to a gift economy the ever-present possibility of which is the true dream into which we can finally awake, re-creating a reality which is a gift for all.

The Long Arm of the Definition of Gender

In spite of the odd and devalued positions giftgiving is forced to assume, it continues to be creative and life-sustaining. It is necessary for the enhancement of activities based on the definition--activities which, by themselves, would be abstract and barren. Thus, the denial of giftgiving sometimes includes incorporating some gift elements into the masculated model post hoc. Patriarchal religions do this, satisfying spiritual needs (while diminishing the importance of the mothering model) and legislating altruism. Sometimes masculated males create needs which they then satisfy. For example, a group isolates and disempowers its giftgivers by feminizing or enslaving them; then it gives them 'protection' by asserting its phallic hegemony over them and over other similar male groups which might try to overtake them. Such is military might.

The good will of masculated men, of which there is still much, comes into play long after their personalities have been formed by giving up the gift paradigm and taking on their gender identity. Men's good will sets the standard for 'moral action,' while leaving aside the paradigm which would normalize the satisfaction of needs--not only in the lives of individuals, but also in the economic and political institutions of the group. If the society as a whole were already giving and giving value to needs according to the gift paradigm, morality would be quite a different thing. Much less individual heroism and 'willpower' would be necessary, because the good of others would already be a life premise of everyone and of the group.

The definition from which giftgiving has been deleted is broader than the gender definition and does not altogether coincide with it. Because it is at the basis of masculation, however, it resonates strongly with the male gender identity. The definiendum, and the equivalent position in concept formation are apparently over-valued on their own, though they are actually re-infected by the gender definition (which they helped to create). Thus, money the value sample and ways of dominating by naming and definition like academic discourse or the law are over-valued, but it is not immediately evident what part gender has in this emphasis, or what part giftgiving has.

Other seeingly gender-neutral categories, such as that of race, follow the pattern of gender, instituting a competition to be a concept sample for the human, over-taking other races, considering those who are different from the chosen sample as inferior. Like gender, these differences are culturally seen as physiological, while it is actually the form of the definition 'loaded' by masculation that implies that some group is 'superior' to others, who must then give-way and give to the 'superior' group. Similar situations can occur with political or ideological systems and nationalisms. Those born within the national boundaries of a country may consider themselves superior to those born outside those boundaries, even when there are no other differences affecting the actual bodies or minds of the nationalists. The whole nation then assumes the general equivalent (sample) position, potentially reinforcing the egos of the entire population with regard to other nations. Political systems, religions, interest groups follow these same patterns towards hegemony.


The definition can be manipulated for the superiority of those who use it in other areas of life, just as it is used to confirm and perpetuate the superiority of males. It seems that by being related to more of what is in the position of the economic definiendum (the money-word), we are better than others. It is as if this repeats the birth situation, again and again putting a person in the superior category by a relation to the general equivalent and taking him/her away from giving. Moreover, by providing the general equivalent, some of us can buy and control the time of others to our own ends. Requiring those for whose time we provide the general equivalent also to give unpaid gift (surplus) labor, the products of which we sell, allows us to make profit and accumulate capital. If we consider the general equivalent also as phallic, and so much the more so capital, we can understand the sexual appearance of investment, putting money 'in' something, taking it out increased, and re-investing it until we finally reap the profit.

We should realize that every time we 'make' a profit, some or perhaps many other people are giving a gift. Instead, we think our profit is a reward or that we earned it. But this again repeats the 'deserving' of the male, because he acts in a masculated way and thereby enters the privileged category again, 'deserving' the name 'man.' In fact, the male is rewarded by the gifts which he gave up giving when he entered that category in the beginning. If some primary or essential male gender characteristics were being put to work in our economic lives, they would be easier to trace and identify. But both the gender characteristics of men and the functional characteristics of our exchange economy derive from a 'common ancestor,' which is the definition by means of which males are privileged while being alienated from their nurturing mothers.

It is as if the collective boy child mind said, "But why am I a boy, and not like my wonderful Mommy?" The reply, "It is that way just because it is" becomes what he cannot beat but must join--what he, like his father before him, models himself on and then 'discovers' as his 'male' or 'human' characteristics. It is as if being itself, being equal, being equal to a sample, being the sample and being the word all collapsed into each other as the characteristics of male over-taking by categorizing and naming. This distressing situation is then projected out upon the society at large and finally becomes the lebens-form of the economic way of exchange. The 'father-sample' has the same characteristics of being, as did his father before him. There is, therefore, an infinite regress back through the generations of 'father-samples.' It is no wonder that male identity, which, denying giftgiving, has been read until recently as human identity, has had such a prominent place in philosophical discussion. It was and continues to be the source--not of some 'higher destiny'--but of our many problems.

Having More

The motivation towards increase can perhaps be found in the fact that the little boy's member is really very different and much smaller than his father's. If the phallus is the 'mark' of the male category, perhaps the boy cannot really consider himself 'equal' and part of that category, until he has a bigger member. The need to become the concept model, to occupy the general equivalent or word position, would imply also the need for a large member. The child is, of course, powerless to make this happen, while he, his brothers, his mother and sisters may be dominated (and sometimes abused) by the large phallic father, who is himself finally living out the mandate of the masculating definition on which he modeled himself in his own childhood.

The child, already in a position of competition with his father for the equivalent position, may also feel the need for a large phallus and its economic and symbolic equivalents, so that he can defend himself and the women with whom he is still participating (to some extent) in a giftgiving situation from the father and from still other men who may try to take over. The boy learns to dominate in his turn, playing the role of the definiendum. While the mother's nurturing bridges the differences of size by engaging the child as a human receiver (and giver and receiver of signs) at a very early age, the gender definition places the child at a decided disadvantage. For the moment he cannot achieve his gender mandate. He must be relative and part of the many, seemingly because he is too small. The real reason, after all, is due to the logic of the situation: there can only be one 'one.'

Perhaps the basis of the motivation for violence, power, and greed is this desire to be bigger (have more of the phallic equivalent), so as to occupy the position required by the gender definition. Girls can buy into the competition for superiority, though we do not have the physiological phallus and often do retain at least some of the giftgiving, mothering values to which we have been socialized.13

Because the father is often absent, the boy child, who has been taken away from the mothering model, can be left without a model for his identity (other than the definition itself) or a content for his category. Add to this the violence that many large men perpetrate on those who are smaller than they are, and it is clear that size (or quantity) can become the obsession not only of individuals but of whole cultures. A visitor from another planet who came here would surely look aghast at the ever-taller skyscrapers with which businesses demonstrate their corporate pride. Those who have offices in the towers of steel are of course superior to those who have offices in smaller, less erect buildings. They have more money and more power, which makes them closer to the concept model of the father, the adult male to which the little boy can only aspire. Then again, apart from any erotic sense, it is the erection which is different and so much larger than the boy's member, and it is that which the skyscrapers (guns, rockets, missiles, etc.) imitate.

All of these edifices are constructed upon the abandonment of the mothering model. Abandonment itself becomes directednot towards the boy, but towards those who are lacking the phallus-word-money. Those with needs are left to die by those with goods. Those without the phallus have to pay for having put the boy in a different category. In fact, they have to invisibly continue to transfer the money-phallus to him as surplus value. Paradoxically, other-oriented giftgiving seems to be hypocritical and certainly no match for exchange as a method for providing distribution.

What is also concealed in plain sight is the draining of wealth into phallic symbols and infinitely expanding capital, away from the needs of the many. Wealth and energy flow from the many into the 'ones.' They also flow from giftgiving into the market and into capital, and from the 'Third World' to the 'First World.' The illusion is that it is the other way around.14 As in the formation of the concept, the sample receives its value from the existence of other items of the same kind, but now there is an actual transfer of wealth from them to it.

Punishment by Scarcity

This whole situation could also be read as society's reprisal against the mother and her giftgiving way, for having given up the child to the father. Reprisal, of course, is part of and consistent with exchange. The displacement of the goods away from the needs, into the hands of those who have more and more of the phallus-word-money, creates the scarcity which burdens and discredits giftgiving, making it impossible or sacrificial. Continuing to practice giftgiving in spite of scarcity requires enormous effort and an almost obsessive sense of purpose. Women have often been branded masochistic because of it.

Instead, the burden of proof should be placed on those who are creating the scarcity and on the system which creates them. Their motivations are to be found in their attempt to heal their childhood change of gender category. Perhaps in our maternal tenderness, we are inclined to understand and humor them, but this must stop. It is not an appropriate response to the consequences of their actions and institutions--the deaths of millions by war, starvation and disease and the ecological destruction of the planet.

Scarcity has several advantages for patriarchy. It makes giftgiving difficult so that it cannot offer a visible and viable alternative to exchange. It punishes mothers and the giftgiving way for having given their boys away to the category of the father, at the same time providing the boys with the enticement of accumulating more than anyone else of the general equivalent. Moreover, those who succeed in becoming privileged samples can also materialize their priapic economic excesses in phallic symbols of all kinds. If citizens do not succeed in accumulating more individually, they can perhaps participate in a body politic which has more--bigger guns, airplanes, bombs.

Having this excess, while others do not have enough goods to survive, allows those who have to consider themselves superior and to distribute small charitable gifts in manipulative ways, controlling the behavior of the have-nots. The masculating definition is also used directly to manipulate those who need positive judgments which have also been rendered scarce--judgments of intelligence, beauty, efficiency or expertise. These are often accompanied by monetary judgments, which they complement.

The economies and the eco-systems of the earth are being altered by the attempt to accumulate large amounts for the few, while depleting the resources of the many. The relative size of the possessions of the few increases by this means. The desire for security is also intensified by the use of the threat of scarcity, and it may seem that without a considerable margin, even males risk being transferred back from the category of the haves to that of the have-nots.

Perhaps we may be excused for looking at the market and patriarchy in this irreverent way. It seems to be a sort of tragi-comic passion play, in which the alienation of the boy from his mother into the category of his father is replayed endlessly. The symptom of our psychological disorder occupies our minds and time, preventing us from following the mothering way, while millions of real children of both genders starve. The eyes of the visitor from outer space would fill with tears of pity for this excellent species which has gotten itself into so much trouble for what, after all, begins as a small and innocent mistake.

As for me dear reader, I howl in the night.

If you understand, maybe you do, too.

1We have been talking about exchange as definition. Because there is only one material word, money, I am now talking about naming. Several of the functions of the definition are collapsed into each other in monetized exchange.

2The class of all de-contextualized classes (classes taken out of context) is a de-contextualized class. However, a true meta viewpoint would be logically broader and would include giftgiving, thus including the different (the other), bringing about contextualization and destroying the de-contextualized class. The patriarchal view of thinking over-emphasizes classes and under-emphasizes the giftgiving context, just as patriarchal society over-emphasizes classes, and under-emphasizes the gift paradigm. A critic might say that comparing exchange and giftgiving is like comparing apples and oranges. My point is that these apples only exist within a context of oranges, which also give to them.

3Jacques Lacan described what he called the 'mirror stage,' a level of integration of the child's body parts image greater than that appropriate for his age. I would speculate it is the relation of ownership that integrates them as 'his' and that their fracturing the relation to the male sample as reflected in exchange. See Ellie Ragland-Sullivan, Jacques Lacan and the Philosophy of Psychoanalysis, University of Illinois Press, Chicago, 1986. Kenneth Wright, Vision and Separation Between Mother and Baby, Jason Aronson Inc., Northvale, New Jersey, 1991.

4In addition to all this, mothers who are afraid of the father's competition with a nurturing son for their affection, may also be motivated to make him similar to the father, so that the father will not destroy him. Like Moses' real mother, they deny that he is theirs, give him to someone more powerful, and stay nearby to take care of and serve him.

5 Money is only substituted itself when, having been 'invested,' it returns increasedanother transposed masculationperhaps a boy being born from the head of Zeus. The capi-talist is the one who makes this happen.

6Ownership is perhaps more like Vigotsky's 'family name' complex than like the concept; since the properties owned are diverse, they have no common quality, except that of being properties of that 'one.'

7The daughter might be considered as the 'good' or 'use value,' which is once more part of the nurturing way after the buyer has given up the phallic equivalent. She could also be considered the good which is not exchangedat least until she marries.

8The norm-ality of exchange is reinforced by the ascendancy of the verbal over the nonverbal in the society, and in childhood, since the child is learning language precisely during the Oedipal period during which masculation is occurring. The possibility of the precocious genitalization of boys is stimulated by the importance given to language and naming and the transfer of the boy from the mother's category to the father's (or at any rate the sample male's). Economic exchange for money then actually retraces and reinforces the Oedipal situation, as well as this moment of genitalization. Ex-change is really a sex-change.

9Alfred Sohn-Rethel, Intellectual and Manual Labor: A Critique of Epistemology, MacMillan, London, 1978. Sohn-Rethel thinks that the 'exchange abstraction' deriving from the exchange of commodities is the social nexus. I believe that commodity exchange derives from masculation, which is therefore the basis of the exchange abstraction.

10Even the Bible says, "To him that has much shall be given."

11At another stage of the same process, exchange for money takes over and barter gives way. There are at least these three layers of overtaking and giving way involved in exchange for money. We can tell they are still there because, at any time, we can revert to the 'previous' stage according to the will of the exchangers. We can barter instead of exchanging for money, or we can decide not to require an exchange and simply give the product to the person with the need.

12I believe that social change movements make too much of equality as a criterion, because they do not realize that its use in the market broadcasts its validation everywhere. Instead, I think we should celebrate qualitative diversity.

13See Making Connections, Carol Gilligan, Nona P. Lyons, and Trudy J. Hanmer, editors, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1990.

14The 'gifts' from the 'First World' to the 'Third World' contain hidden exchanges and actually return to the 'First World' many times over. See, for example, the work of the DAWNE collective and Gita Sen and Karen Grown, Developmental Crisis and Alternative Visions, Monthly Review Press, New York, 1987; Susan George, How the Other Half Dies, Allanheld, Osmun & Co., Montclair, 1977; and Vandana Shiva, Staying Alive, Zed Books, London, 1989.

For-Giving Chapter 14

Table of Contents

Return to 'For-Giving' Home Page