immiseration of erection labor only intensified in late capitalism

Throughout history, men have commonly paid women for sex. At the same time, men’s erection labor has been progressively alienated from them and turned into a means by which the gynocentric substructure disciplines and punishes. A momentous stage in this historical process occurred in the Industrial Revolution of late eighteenth-century England. As men were made subject to factory discipline, their sexual activity was also more strictly regulated. Men’s erection labor was immiserated to an extent surpassed only now under the sexual Stalinism of late capitalism.

man attempts de-icing

In England about 1800, population growth was roughly double that early in the eighteenth century. An increase in fertility predominately drove the increase in population growth.[1] Assuming health, economic welfare, and child-limitation practices didn’t change to increase fertility, the increase in fertility must have been driven by an increase in heteronormative sexual activity.

This hypothesized increase in sexual activity across eighteenth-century England occurred in conjunction with the rise of disciplined labor within factors. An influential scholar has suggested that these developments are connected:

I hypothesize that the invention of foreplay is an aspect of the history of capitalism, that the invention of industrial work-discipline is an aspect of the history of heterosexuality, and that both developments are in an important sense the same. [2]

In short, men’s erection labor was disciplined from spontaneous sexual play toward more efficient foreplay leading rigidly into heteronormative sexual activity to produce new human beings. Other than enjoying more children, men didn’t receive increased compensation for their increased erection productivity. That’s what scholars call the immiseration of erection labor, or immiserating growth. The capitalist system has continued to evolve through the same dynamic between the relations of sex and the material-biological forces that produce new human beings.

Within the gynocentric system of late capitalism, all methods for raising the collective esteem of women are put into effect at the cost of the individual man. All means for the development of gender equality undergo a dialectical inversion so that they become a means of dominating and exploiting men. Relations of men-subordinating gender equality distort the man into a fragment of a man, they degrade the penis to the level of an appendage to a wrongly constructed machine, and they destroy the actual content of his erection labor by turning it into a torment. They alienate him from the intellectual and emotional potentialities of sexual intercourse in the same proportion as mass-media representations are incorporated in it as a source of false imagination. They deform the conditions under which he interacts with women and subject him during the seduction process to a despotism the more hateful for its meanness. They transform his intimate relations into financial obligations and drag his wife and child into the roles of debt-collection enforcers on behalf of state “child support” agencies. These horrors of capitalist development are only now starting to be identified and criticized.

Men must no longer tolerate their erection labor being concealed with disdain. Relations of sex must be transformed. The material-seminal forces of human production must be priced in accordance with the full quantity of labor men perform throughout their lives. Let women again tingle with appreciation for men’s labor. Men must throw off the chains of gynocentric late capitalism, seize in their hands a vital means of sexual production, and work only as individuals laboring for their own pleasure.

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[1] See Wrigley & Schofield (1981), Wrigley (1997).

[2] Abelove (1989) p.129. The relevant article is reprinted as the second chapter in Abelove (2005).

[image] A 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crane operator de-ices a KC-135 Stratotanker on the flightline for flight preparation Jan. 29, 2014, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Photo id. 140129-F-BN304-002. U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes. This and other works of U.S. government employees are in the public domain in the U.S.  See also men laboring to drill into dry rock.


Abelove, Henry. 1989. “Some Speculations on the History of Sexual Intercourse during the Long Eighteenth Century in England.” Genders. 6 (Fall): 125-130.

Abelove, Henry. 2005. Deep gossip. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Wrigley, Edward Anthony, and Roger S. Schofield. 1981. The population history of England: 1541-1871 ; a reconstruction. London: Arnold.

Wrigley, Edward Anthony. 1997. English population history from family reconstitution, 1580-1837. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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