Whenever people hear "You're a slave" anymore, they always think something like "slave to your ideology" or "slave to advertisers"--something like that. We've previously looked at marriage, drugs, capitalism, and organ sales, but this time, we'll go a little further, and see how we don't actually own our bodies in any conceivable way.
Freedom of Contract
Hypothetically speaking, suppose I know two lesbians, and that their situation inspired me to put together this post. They've been together c. 15 years, and there's a third lesbian that's sort of involved somehow, but we'll focus only on the original two. To add unnecessary color to the story, suppose that one is kinda cute (or maybe even almost amazingly cute, depending on your mood).
Anyhow, as I was saying, they've been together a while now, and know each other pretty well. One of them works in government, and has a plum administrative position, and the other one bounces around retail and hospitality. The former one is levelheaded, and she keeps all their bills paid, checkbook balanced, etc. Her partner is a little wacko in the financial sense, since she's been known to let a handful of tips blow away in an unexpected wind, forget she signed up for credit cards she wasn't supposed to, etc.
They approach their thirties, then see their mid-thirties sorta looming there, and everyone yabbers about gay marriage, and the issue arises to them, and they like the thought of it at first, because one of their still-living grandparents is hugely, unexpectedly behind the idea, and also because the then-waitress is having thoughts about having a kid before it's too late. They do all the normal things to lead up to it, but the more levelheaded one has a problem, namely, what happens if I sign onto this thing and then Loopy McSilliness there makes some major fuck up and I end up having to pay for it? Naturally, Level has been planning her life pretty well, since she's got a form of tenure and seniority at her job (in the way that some lucky non-academic governmental positions can sometimes become almost un-firable), and she's got a guaranteed-benefit pension plan, and insurance she can borrow against, and pristine credit--all the normal shit that people like. Meanwhile, Cutie is regularly in and out of debt, went bankrupt when she was 22, and has been known to lose her car keys in other people's hospital rooms.
Level loves Cutie and wants to provide for her, be with her, etc., but the normal financial specter of actual legal marriage remains: if Level signs on, she takes on responsibility for Cutie's debts. If Cutie rear-ends someone again, Level could have to pay for it. Level's credit would get matched to her spouse's, so getting a better house would be pushed back years. Even worse, Cutie might somehow end up getting Level's house, particularly if Cutie were to ever have a fling with an older guy, which has happened before (and which may have resulted in a brief marriage and/or minor physical abuse).
For the purposes of this example, assume also that Cutie is a self-identified passive-aggressive bipolar schizophrenic, who is not actually diagnosed with any of these conditions, and who would not be so diagnosed if she went to a doctor and tried to, but who does, nonetheless, meet a few of the symptoms of each and acts a little wacky now and then. Assume that, therefore, Level has a non-frivolous reason to be concerned about the stability of Cutie's behavior now and again. Assume also that Level knows that, after any episode of stupidity Cutie gets into, Cutie will fix herself up in a couple weeks, and everything will be all right again. And Cutie is adorable, duh, and actually a really good person, but if she were to get in a wild mood and sign any papers in Vegas, there would be a major problem for Level. Not only a problem for Level, but a problem for Cutie--because every other time in her adult life that Cutie has fucked up, Level has been the one to bail her out. And if Cutie gained the power to ruin Level's stability, Level would no longer be able to bail Cutie out after a bad decision. So marriage could spell ultimate doom not just for Level's credit, but for Cutie's ability to procure consistent food, shelter, and medical treatment.
You get it, right?
So there we are: Level and Cutie might or might not get married. What would be the perfect solution for them? Well, when Cutie is in her better moods, she often says she wishes she could just put Level in charge of everything. Then, Cutie "wouldn't have to think about it, any of it!" and Level could always take care of Cutie. Cutie could bungle her credit up even more, sign up for supposedly zero-interest balloon loans, disappear inexplicably for four days, etc., and all without affecting Level in any way other than the emotional way. At the end of any period of weird behavior, Cutie could come crying back to Level, and find Level just as strong, just as intact, just as able to take care of her.
And what about when Cutie gets older? God help them when it gets there, right? But Cutie thinks that if she could just let this one loving, trusting, ultimately-protective person look after her, all would be well. In fact, stripped of the ability to be such a fuck-up, Cutie might find herself less desirous of exercising her powers of fucking up, and able to settle down and do all the stuff she's always wanted to do without the ability to ruin it.
The perfect, traditional solution for Cutie and Level is marriage. Not modern marriage, but a binding contract whereby Cutie agrees to give up all of her financial rights to Level. Cutie will contractually defer all her future powers in that area to Level. All of Cutie's paychecks (if any) will be directly deposited into Level's bank account; whenever Cutie tries to sign up for a credit card, it will require Level's written pre-approval; if Cutie tries to pledge her and Level's house as security for a Las Vegas loan, the system will deny her until Level signs on. Cutie can go bankrupt without it affecting Level at all, because anyone stupid enough to have loaned money to Cutie without Level's approval knew that they were dealing with someone who had given up her contractual right to be bound. Cutie will be--actually be--a wife in the traditional sense, namely, someone who has, under a system of free trade, assigned her contract rights to another.
Duh, Cutie can revoke this whenever she wants. She can walk out the door this instant, solely sign and file a divorce decree, and she's done. Level no longer has any part in her life. But what she can't do, per the terms of their contract, is leverage financial power over Level. She can't trade her 401(k) to someone for magic beans, and if she walks, her 401(k) stays behind. Cutie knows she is guaranteed Level's care for life, and Level knows she's able to care for Cutie without any chance of Cutie independently messing up their joint ability to provide for each other. If Cutie walks, Cutie walks with nothing; if Level throws Cutie out, Cutie walks with half.
Suddenly, life is perfect. Level is in charge of all the things she's good at, and they can finally settle down. But they're not legally allowed to do that, oh no. Just as the government protects people from growing organic marijuana in their back yards, the government "protects" Cutie from having the freedom to decide, as an adult, "I love and trust Level so much, and am aware of my own personal issues so much, that I want to appoint Level as my decisionmaker, and to give up my own ability to be tricked in the future." Not allowed. The government claims that's "slavery" or "indentured servitude," which causes great business: it allows people like Cutie to be prevented, by all the power of the police and courts and armed forces, from making an advantageous contract in order to protect herself from bad financial decisions. According to the government, any individual citizen--even a 50 year old with multiple PhDs--is a moron juvenile who can't be trusted to freely make contracts.
This is such great business because people like Cutie, by being unable to protect themselves from future bad decisions, fall constant prey to the racketeer marketers who are ever pillaging America, such as politicians and corporate marketing departments. The government holds a monopoly on such power: the government makes itself Cutie's life partner through its bankruptcy and family court systems. Because Cutie is unable to protect herself from future bad decisions, she falls constant victim to advertising, payday loans, car salesmen, home builders, etc. The government skims billions of dollars from these industries, and takes billions more from taxpayers to regulate these industries and to maintain the bankruptcy and family courts that have total control over Cutie's life. The powers that Cutie is unable to give to Level, she is mandated to give to the government from the moment of her birth: unelected bureaucrats who have never met Cutie, and who consider her nothing more than a file number, can limit her spending, adjust her contractual rights, and determine where her property goes, while Cutie's completely beloved life partner, Level, cannot gain that power no matter how desperately Cutie tries to give it to her.
Applies to men and women too, if you're interested in that. Barring perhaps India, no one is forced to get married anymore, but we're all forced to marry the government. From our most public affairs to our most intimate, from birth to death, we may never manage our own bodies. It's far too cruelly profitable if only the State may look out for Cutie's best interests. Traditional marriage, amidst its many ills, offered these protections. No one had to cohabit or get married, but those who did had the option of negotiating powers and duties in their own way. A better society would permit such contracts, allowing a couple, or any other group, to negotiate any set of rights and responsibilities they wanted.
The obvious counterargument is, "Oh, but that means husbands controlled wives!" Granted, as discussed in the links above, chattel marriage was often bad. Those who would make that argument, though, would do well to look into the embarrassedly, indirectly-referenced western and eastern traditions of wives who managed family businesses, spending, politicking, and socializing, particularly when marriage contracts, dowries, and inheritance rights were negotiated between parents beforehand. The Disney conception is no more comprehensive in its State-boosting presentation of free marriage.
Regardless of bad contracts made in the past, there's no good reason to make Cutie a slave, and decide for her what's best. Free marriage is the only just marriage. Permitting people contractual freedom over their own bodies would result in some evangelist women falling willfully under the sway of idiot boar husbands, which is in practicality no different than permitting women to walk outdoors unescorted--because a woman might commit a crime, go to jail, and there suffer loss of personal freedom and physical violence. A feminist should never take away a woman's right to choose, right? Otherwise, she's really just a totalitarian. So let women, and everyone else, be free, rather than deciding that you know what contracts are best for them.
Cutie and Level's enslavement to the United States is not something in which they're alone. Everyone else has been similarly stripped of so many of their contractual powers that this national socialist farce of a republic would be evident even without constant aggressive war and a corporate legislature.
By now, most rational people have figured out that there's at least a touch of wrongness in the Controlled Substances Act. And we talked about organ sales above. I can't sell a spare kidney to someone, oh no. The government and the health care industry love me too much to allow me to do that. So they'll protect me from being taken advantage of by allowing me to donate the kidney for free, then charging for it themselves.
Prostitution, too, of course. At the most extreme example of cleanliness, if I were to get STD tested along with a client, wait in separate sterilized rooms until we'd both had our results, bathe in harsh antimicrobial soap, have him use six condoms, give him a handjob without a finish, then film the encounter and claim I was just being paid for acting in a porn movie, it would still be illegal. Your body, like your mind, is property of the United States Government. Just like they know better than you what kinds of financial decisions you can make, they know when and how it's right for you to have sex.
Most people reading this have probably figured those out, but try more: I have an old family photo album that has pictures of me swimming in my aunt's pool when I was six. Pictures of me. Let's say I was going to die unless I got some heart operation that I couldn't afford, and I were to sell the pictures of me to some perve who thought I was attractive as a six-year-old? Illegal--I may be 18 or older, and the pictures are of me, but because my body doesn't belong to me (and because it never did), illegal. In fact, now that I think about it, time to break out the shredder, because it's also illegal for me to possess pictures of myself. And I looked young at 18, so if a judge could construe pictures of me at 18 as "resembling a minor," even the ones of me at the waterpark with some 18+ friends are child porn. God only knows how many parents and grandparents out there are harboring a massive treasure trove of illegal child pornography in the form of family pictures. (Not an exaggeration; criminologically speaking, most of what is called "child porn" is reputed to be just pictures of people standing or playing. The old Rolling Stone spread of young Britney Spears was waaaay naughtier.) Reminds me of the case of the guy who, at his 50th anniversary with his wife, was telling old anecdotes with his and his wife's friends, and mentioned how he had a picture of them skinny-dipping when they had been 15. And someone told the police, and he got arrested, because he possessed pictures of a nude 15-year-old girl, even though that woman was now in her seventies and married to him and standing there when he told the story. (No, seriously, that's a real case. He spent time in jail, lost a lot of money, and got put on the sex offender registry somewhere. He also lost his cherished photos of his and his wife's life together.)
What else am I protected from? I can't sell my organs, even to save my own life; I can't eat magic mushrooms, even when I'm dying in excruciating pain; I can't take pictures of youthful me, and use them to fund my education years later...ah, here's another one: I can't provide that, upon my death, should I die young and attractive, my remains will be mummified and transferred to a necrophiliac society for their usage. Hey, if necro futures were real, people could make a few grand! In the non-sexual realm, I can't provide that, upon my death, I'll be immediately dumped into a giant composting machine and used for organic mulch at a local farm, because the racketeers control corpse disposal, too.
Christ, they own every molecule of me from birth to death. I'd make a "consumer" joke and say that my only choices left are where to work and what to buy, but even that's so controlled you can't legitimately call this place a "market." What jobs you're allowed to do, what products you're allowed to produce and buy...it's all just as controlled as what you're allowed to do with your body.
Endnotes: if you're into Marx, you gotta stop using anything American as a reference to "capitalism." Maybe whatever this is is a result of capitalism, but it's certainly not capitalism itself. If you're into Jesus, you gotta consider how this whole thing portrays the ancient battle between free will and enforced assimilation. Satan is clearly winning the field in the U.S.A., where exercising free will is prevented by the police state. If you're into Buffett, you gotta consider how it's impossible to know who's smart and deserving when everything is so totally rigged ahead of time.