Live Young Die Never
Why our obsession with youth has less to do with our patriarchy and more to do with our oligarchy.
A constant refrain and flagship argument for our subjugation under the patriarchy is our culture's obsession with youth.
The theory: a global cabal of men has decided that taut teenage skin is what they like to see, so women are desperately scrambling to oblige. As the damning age of 30 nears, the panic sets in, and drastic measures are necessary, pushing women to plastic surgery and ever more kawaii Instagram filter choices. Beauty and its relentless proxy, youth, are oppressive social forces and need to be reinterpreted and wrangled back into the realm of reality.
The truth is that men do tend to like young women. As the famed tidbit in Dataclysm tells us, men of all ages rate women as maximally attractive at about (ok, pretty much exactly) 20. This seems damning - we're surrounded by dirty old men who want to shoehorn women into an unattainable ideal of fresh-faced beauty. The same study, though, showed that men tend almost always to message women in their own age range. Men, though biologically drawn to the ingenue, will consider other factors as well, including the age-old "what you can get" variable. If we were to measure male attractiveness on a similar one-factor scale, and that being billionaire-hood, I would venture to guess that you could observe a comparably remarkable constancy in the answers of women. We'll have to wait for the study.
So if the men aren't pushing the exhausting quest for eternal female youth, what is?
Like any social force worthy of obsessive blogging, our contemporary quest for youth is emergent from the cultural, social, technological, and, not least, material circumstances of our lives. Today, we are - first - denizens of the global market, an endless, shifting funhouse mirror and playground for the empowered.
The way to play in the market is as an individual. That's the only level of granularity that it knows. The stakes are high, the prizes chunky. You have a shot of making it in the hierarchy, of hitting the jackpot. There are many ways to win, but they are all in the here and now. They are about you, being your best self, playing your cards, making your choices, getting your XP - now. The market wants you to have lots of choice, to keep your options open, to experiment, to consume in every which way, ever more optimized goods and services. But the highest status playground is populated by the young, the people with the most interesting and significant A/B test results, the aspirational.
The market is not jealous, but it's so seductive it doesn't have to be. You know it’s right. You wouldn't want to spend your prime consumption years, what, not enjoying yourself? You wouldn't want to cut your love affair with all these choices short by, God forbid, getting older?
Nature is feared because she is the great choice shredder. With every year, and eye-wateringly faster if you’re a woman, choice is reduced.
The idea that women maximize their youth to "get men" or "get men to do x for me" is reductive. Youthful beauty is just as much currency with other women. It's also money, but most of all, it's XP in the interminable, zero-sum battle for individual status.
The seasons of female existence have transformed from (ideally): childhood, youth, motherhood, grandmotherhood, and fingers crossed, great-grandmotherhood to childhood, youth, youth/career, mid-life crisis, later life scramble, or divorcee/multiple-divorcee or wine aunt.
The ground is shifting ever faster, and the only undeniable truth remains that you are an individual - because Nike says so.
This latter part of your lifelong adventure as a woman is either glossed over or adorned with false or inflated promises: "you can freeze your eggs!", "your career will only get better once you take on more responsibility" or "filler takes ten years off your face" - it may, but in ten years, you'll look like an anaphylactic pin cushion and/or latex mold of yourself for another forty years.
Without a long-term role to play that's not XP generating, something that is not about the here and now, but about the "after", life becomes a scramble to hang on to the best of times, when your stock was soaring, your consumption options endless.
Men are subject to similar pressures, but women are the canary in the coal mine of lifestyle consumption, for they do so much of it. They interface with the market for hours a day on social media, thousands of A/B tests working their magic, pointed at every crevice in their soul, taking their predispositions, adding a sprinkling of steroids, ENHANCE, just to feed them back into the machine. Whatever is coming down the pipe memetically, women will tend to be first infected. They are the social avantgarde and the enforcers of social conformity once the meme has latched on.
The core meme is old, though. It's been on the way at least since Mill mused about what it means to be an ever more perfect individual, and at least as long as the market realized that the individual is the perfect, and, if you look at it closely, the only possible consumer.
Youth is just part of the price of entry to the larger game, and it’s increasingly the only game in town.
FYI, there is now another "product" in the Kaschuta stack - the Subversive Podcast @aksubversive.
This podcast is an excuse for me to talk to all the people I already want to talk to, which, I believe, is the only legitimate reason to start a podcast. If you like my taste in associates and at least some of my takes, you may enjoy the podcast as well.
My first episode with the brilliant @RokoMijicUK is already out and we discuss the idea of Tradhumanism, how a personal AI may help in a quest for peace from technology and how tech is eating the world and we may (or may not) be able to stop/temper it. Chilling and exciting stuff, so if you're curious about it, please have a listen.
You can find the video versions on my Youtube Channel and the links for all currently available audio versions on my Anchor.FM page. Subversive is percolating towards a podcast app near you and will arrive in the next day or two, but at this very moment, you can find it on Spotify and PocketCast.