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性工作者、性爱机器人和性的再分配 | 时报专栏

纽约时报中文网 NYT教育频道

ZACKARY CANEPARI FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

(本文为时报专栏文章,作者是Ross Douthat。)

One lesson to be drawn from recent Western history might be this: Sometimes the extremists and radicals and weirdos see the world more clearly than the respectable and moderate and sane. All kinds of phenomena, starting as far back as the Iraq War and the crisis of the euro but accelerating in the age of populism, have made more sense in the light of analysis by reactionaries and radicals than as portrayed in the organs of establishment opinion.

从近年的西方历史中也许可以得到这样一个教训:有时,极端分子、激进分子和怪人看世界,要比正派、克制、理智的人更清楚。从伊拉克战争和欧元危机时期就已开始,在民粹主义时代加速发展的种种现象,用反动派和激进派的视角做出的分析,看上去要比宣扬建制观点的机构所做的阐述更合理。

This is part of why there’s been so much recent agitation over universities and op-ed pages and other forums for debate. There’s a general understanding that the ideological mainstream isn’t adequate to the moment, but nobody can decide whether that means we need purges or pluralism, a spirit of curiosity and conversation or a furious war against whichever side you think is evil.

这就是为什么近年来大学、专栏和其他辩论的场所显得如此焦虑。人们普遍认为,主流意识形态不足以解释当下的情况,但没人能确定,这意味着我们需要的是排斥还是多元,是好奇与对话精神,还是和你认为邪恶的一方展开惨烈的厮杀。

For those more curious than martial, one useful path through this thicket is to look at areas where extremists and eccentrics from very different worlds are talking about the same subject. Such overlap is no guarantee of wisdom, but it’s often a sign that there’s something interesting going on.

对于那些好奇多于好斗的人来说,要弄清这种错综复杂的情况,有一条有效途径是看看那些来自不同世界的极端分子和怪人谈论同一个话题的方式。在这些重合的部分,你不一定能发现智慧,但它往往能表明,一些有趣的事情正在发生。

Which brings me to the sex robots.

于是我就想到了性机器人。

Well, actually, first it brings me to the case of Robin Hanson, a George Mason economist, libertarian and noted brilliant weirdo. Commenting on the recent terrorist violence in Toronto, in which a self-identified “incel” — that is, involuntary celibate — man sought retribution against women and society for denying him the fornication he felt that he deserved, Hanson offered this provocation: If we are concerned about the just distribution of property and money, why do we assume that the desire for some sort of sexual redistribution is inherently ridiculous?

呃,事实上,我首先想到了罗宾·汉森(Robin Hanson),他是乔治·梅森大学的经济学家,自由意志主义者,出了名的聪明怪人。他在评论前不久的多伦多恐怖主义暴力事件时给出了一种挑衅性的观点——该事件中,一个自认是“incel”,也就是“非自愿独身”(involuntary celibate)的人,认为自己被女人和社会剥夺了他应得的婚前性交机会,决定进行报复。汉森说,如果我们在意财产和金钱的公正分配,那么凭什么就假定,进行某种性的再分配就势必是荒诞的想法呢?

After all, he wrote, “one might plausibly argue that those with much less access to sex suffer to a similar degree as those with low income, and might similarly hope to gain from organizing around this identity, to lobby for redistribution along this axis and to at least implicitly threaten violence if their demands are not met.”

他写道,毕竟,“我们完全可以说,那些性机会较少的人所遭受的折磨,与收入较低的人相当,可能同样希望从围绕这一身份的重组中受益,就沿着这一轴线的再分配展开游说,在要求得不到满足时至少可以发出隐性的暴力威胁。”

This argument was not well received by people closer to the mainstream than Professor Hanson, to put it mildly. A representative response from Slate’s Jordan Weissmann, “Is Robin Hanson the Creepiest Economist in America?”, cited the post along with some previous creepy forays to dismiss Hanson as a misogynist weirdo not that far removed from the franker misogyny of toxic online males.

对此,思想上比汉森更贴近主流的人的反应——客气地讲——是比较激烈的。一个代表性的回应来自Slate网站的乔丹·韦斯曼(Jordan Weissmann):“罗宾·汉森是美国最让人发毛的经济学家吗?”他引用了汉森的文章,以及之前的一些惊悚观点,指责汉森是一个憎恨女人的怪胎,与网上那些更坦率的厌女毒男并无二致。

But Hanson’s post made me immediately think of a recent essay in The London Review of Books by Amia Srinivasan, “Does Anyone Have the Right To Sex?” Srinivasan, an Oxford philosophy professor, covered similar ground (starting with an earlier “incel” killer) but expanded the argument well beyond the realm of male chauvinists to consider groups with whom The London Review’s left-leaning and feminist readers would have more natural sympathy — the overweight and disabled, minority groups treated as unattractive by the majority, trans women unable to find partners and other victims, in her narrative, of a society that still makes us prisoners of patriarchal and also racist-sexist-homophobic rules of sexual desire.

但汉森的文章让我立刻想到了埃米娅·斯里尼瓦桑(Amia Srinivasan)前不久在《伦敦书评》(London Review of Books)上的一篇文章:“任何人都有性权利吗?”斯里尼瓦桑是牛津大学的哲学教授,她也表达了类似的观点(一开始也提到了那个“非自愿独身”杀手),但她把争论扩展到了男性沙文主义群体之外,考虑到了《伦敦书评》的左倾女权主义读者会更同情的那些群体,包括超重者和失能者,被多数群体视为不具有性吸引力的少数群体,无法找到伴侣的跨性别女性,以及社会的其他受害者——在她看来,这个社会依然在把我们变成父权制以及种族主义性别歧视恐同的性欲规则的囚徒。

Srinivasan ultimately answered her title question in the negative: “There is no entitlement to sex, and everyone is entitled to want what they want.” But her negative answer was a qualified one. While “no one has a right to be desired,” at the same time “who is desired and who isn’t is a political question,” which left-wing and feminist politics might help society answer differently someday. This wouldn’t instantiate a formal right to sex, exactly, but if the new order worked as its revolutionary architects intended, sex would be more justly distributed than it is today.

斯里尼瓦桑最终以否定的方式回答了她题目中的问题:“性不是应得权利,人有权去希望得到他们想要的东西。”但她的否定回答是有限制的。“成为欲望的对象不是每个人的权利”,但同时,“什么人是欲望的对象,什么人不是,属于政治问题”,左翼和女权主义政治将来也许能帮助社会给出不一样的回答。这本身不能作为性的形式权利的示例,但如果真的能实现那些革命建筑师所设想的新秩序,那么将来,性的分配会比现在更合理。

A number of the critics I saw engaging with Srinivasan’s essay tended to respond the way a normal center-left writer like Weissmann engaged with Hanson’s thought experiment — by commenting on its weirdness or ideological extremity rather than engaging fully with its substance. But to me, reading Hanson and Srinivasan together offers a good case study in how intellectual eccentrics — like socialists and populists in politics — can surface issues and problems that lurk beneath the surface of more mainstream debates.

我看到的对斯里尼瓦桑文章的许多批评,与韦斯曼这种正常的中左翼作者对汉森的思想试验的批评,往往是存在呼应的——他们批评的是怪异或意识形态的极端,而不是实质内容。但对我来说,将汉森和斯里尼瓦桑的文章放在一起读,是一个很好的案例研究,展现出一些偏离主流的知识分子——和政治中的社会主义者和民粹主义者一样——是如何将较主流的辩论下面潜藏的话题和问题暴露出来的。

By this I mean that as offensive or utopian the redistribution of sex might sound, the idea is entirely responsive to the logic of late-modern sexual life, and its pursuit would be entirely characteristic of a recurring pattern in liberal societies.

我这么说的意思是,性的再分配可能听上去会显得恶劣或不切实际,但这个想法完全是对现代晚期性生活逻辑的应答,对这种再分配的追求,完全是自由主义社会中一个复现模式的特征。

First, because like other forms of neoliberal deregulation the sexual revolution created new winners and losers, new hierarchies to replace the old ones, privileging the beautiful and rich and socially adept in new ways and relegating others to new forms of loneliness and frustration.

首先,因为和其他形式的新自由主义去管制一样,性革命创造了新的赢家和输家,新的等级制度取代旧的,通过新的方式让有颜、有钱和擅长社交的人获得特权,并让其他人陷入新的孤独和沮丧。

Second, because in this new landscape, and amid other economic and technological transformations, the sexes seem to be struggling generally to relate to one another, with social and political chasms opening between them and not only marriage and family but also sexual activity itself in recent decline.

其次,因为在这种新格局以及其他经济和技术变革中,两性似乎普遍都无法理解对方,他们之间的社会和政治鸿沟日渐扩大。最近,不仅是婚姻和家庭,就连性活动本身也在减少。

Third, because the culture’s dominant message about sex is still essentially Hefnerian, despite certain revisions attempted by feminists since the heyday of the Playboy philosophy — a message that frequency and variety in sexual experience is as close to a summum bonum as the human condition has to offer, that the greatest possible diversity in sexual desires and tastes and identities should be not only accepted but cultivated, and that virginity and celibacy are at best strange and at worst pitiable states. And this master narrative, inevitably, makes both the new inequalities and the decline of actual relationships that much more difficult to bear …

第三,因为尽管自《花花公子》(Playboy)哲学的鼎盛时期以来,女权主义者试图进行某些修正,但文化中对性的主流观点本质上仍然是海夫纳式的。这种观点认为:性生活的频率和多样性是人类社会条件下最接近至善的;尽可能多元的性欲望、性品味和身份不仅应该被认可,还应该进行培养;贞操和禁欲往好了说是奇怪,往不好了说是可悲的状态。这种主流叙事不可避免地会让新出现的不平等和实际关系的衰落变得更加难以忍受。

… which in turn encourages people, as ever under modernity, to place their hope for escape from the costs of one revolution in a further one yet to come, be it political, social or technological, which will supply if not the promised utopia at least some form of redress for the many people that progress has obviously left behind.

……这反过来鼓励人们——尤其是在现代性之下——把逃离一场革命的代价的希望,寄托在另一场还没到来的革命上,无论它是政治、社会还是技术的革命。对很多显然已经被进步抛在了后面的人来说,它即使不能带来承诺的乌托邦,至少也能提供某种形式的补偿。

There is an alternative, conservative response, of course — namely, that our widespread isolation and unhappiness and sterility might be dealt with by reviving or adapting older ideas about the virtues of monogamy and chastity and permanence and the special respect owed to the celibate.

当然,还有另一种保守主义的反应,即也许可以通过恢复或调整一些旧观念——对有关一夫一妻制的美德、贞节、天长地久,以及对禁欲的特殊敬意——来解决我们泛滥成灾的孤独、痛苦和不育。

But this is not the natural response for a society like ours. Instead we tend to look for fixes that seem to build on previous revolutions, rather than reverse them.

但对我们这样的社会来说,这不是自然的反应。我们倾向于寻找的解决办法,看上去是要扩大而不是逆转之前的革命。

In the case of sexual liberation and its discontents, that’s unlikely to mean the kind of thoroughgoingly utopian reimagining of sexual desire that writers like Srinivasan think we should aspire toward, or anything quite so formal as the pro-redistribution political lobby of Hanson’s thought experiment.

就性解放和性不满而言,它指的不太可能是那种对性欲望完全不切实际的重新构想——即斯里尼瓦桑等作者认为我们应该会追求的东西,也不会是汉森的思想实验倡导的再分配政治游说那么正式的行动。

But I expect the logic of commerce and technology will be consciously harnessed, as already in pornography, to address the unhappiness of incels, be they angry and dangerous or simply depressed and despairing. The left’s increasing zeal to transform prostitution into legalized and regulated “sex work” will have this end implicitly in mind, the libertarian (and general male) fascination with virtual-reality porn and sex robots will increase as those technologies improve — and at a certain point, without anyone formally debating the idea of a right to sex, right-thinking people will simply come to agree that some such right exists, and that it makes sense to look to some combination of changed laws, new technologies and evolved mores to fulfill it.

但我预计,有人会有意识地利用商业和技术的逻辑——这种情况在色情制品中已经出现了——去解决非自愿独身者的痛苦,无论他们是愤怒和危险,还是只是沮丧和绝望。对于正日益热切地主张把卖淫变成合法的、受管制的“性工作”的左翼,这样的结果是他们暗藏于心的。自由意志派(和普通男性)对虚拟现实色情制品和性机器人的迷恋,会随着这些技术的改善而增加。到某个时间点上,不需要正式去讨论性权这个概念,思维正常的人都会认同这种权利是存在的,这样一来,通过修订后的法律、新技术和有演进的道德观念结合来实现这项权利,就显得合理了。

Whether sex workers and sex robots can actually deliver real fulfillment is another matter. But that they will eventually be asked to do it, in service to a redistributive goal that for now still seems creepy or misogynist or radical, feels pretty much inevitable.

性工作者和性机器人是否确实能带来真正的满足是另一回事。但他们最终会被要求这么做,他们需要为一个现在看上去依然很吓人、厌女、或激进的再分配目标服务,这一点感觉应该是不可避免的。

翻译:纽约时报中文网



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