If you haven’t read part 1 of this post, it might be helpful to do that before continuing to this one, since I set up arguments in the first that I extrapolate on here.
What Zizek implies in Interrogating the Real is that we, as subjects acting within our cultural paradigms, have a very strong need to obey, to be acknowledged, to be validated. Consumer culture puts this mechanism to good use; life-style identification type marketing ‘shows’ us what we should aspire to.
But more interestingly, it also teaches us just how far we are from being acceptable – in gender, in sexuality, in body-type, in race, in religion – not by making resistant behaviour illegal, but by encouraging us to demand acknowledgement and inclusion. Lee Edelman’s No Future offers a counter-argument to that yearning for inclusion by pointing out how ironically self-hating it is. For Edelman, equality in marriage laws for gays and lesbians doesn’t promise equality, but is simply caving in to the pressure of a hegemony that refuses to recognize that love without legal status is as precious and valid.
I find this is also the case for many non-normative individuals: transgendered people, practitioners of BDSM, polyamory, etc. This demand to be recognized, respected, validated does not grant them equality or fair-treatment as much as confers and underscores the power of that system to grant them legitimacy. Where once we entered a confessional and begged god, via the priest, for absolution, we are now begging the same off power structures with fairly questionable power-practices. In essence, we want our Daddy to love us as the perverts we are and tell us that what we want is okay. But in that very act of petitioning, we are saying that this system has the legitimate power to do that.
I don’t think it does. I think, for the most part, Western neo-liberal capitalism is a very poor parent. It pays lip-service to equality while jailing and killing a disproportionate number of people of Colour. It persuades us that we must consume things that offer us no real benefits. It stages elections but allows votes and influence to be bought by rich and powerful interest groups. It uses us to work and to consume, and enriches and empowers itself at our expense.
As parents go, it’s a userous, manipulative and selfish parent.