Living in His Parents Basement Part 2: The Ideological Image

From The Speed of Dreams guest author Gregory Lucero. For part 1 of comrade Greg’s series on Living in His Parents Basement: An Exercise in Settler Ideology go here.

Illustration 1: The ideological picture of the typical “basement dweller.”

We can now examine the ideology as presented in society at large with the the background of the tools of analysis we found in part I. In this section, we’ll look at the dominant ideology of shame related to those living with family, see how it statistically affects people within the United States, and touch briefly on some issues regarding sex and gender.

The ideological trope of a man “living in their parents basement” implies an immense immaturity and social failure in life. The failure of the individual is implied in several key fashions. First, it’s implied in an economic manner. The individual in question never reached a level of economic independence from not having a job, working on low paying jobs, or from spending money on frivolous things which frequently imply toys, video games, comics, or movies. Thus, we can see the individual remains immature and never moved along to living on their own while still economically depending on their parents. Secondly, it implies a social failure. It implies a failure because it’s assumed that such an individual either remains under parental control in a substantive way or they ironically exist as an “ungrateful child” who rebels against the rightful and reasonable demands of the parent. In addition, its implied that the contours of such individuals world includes nothing but the basement with the possible exception of the Internet, video games, or similar “nerd” activities. In addition, the ideological position reasons that if said individual had friends they could move out with roommates instead of maintaining the humiliating position of living in their parents basement. Finally, it has a sexual component. Society assumes the basement dweller cannot have any meaningful romantic relationships because either the parental authority will not allow it or the individual will prove too social inept to create such a relationship. If they could form meaningful romantic relationships then they could move out with their romantic partner. The ideological image of someone living in their parents basement remains pretty bleak. It paints a picture of a economically, socially, and romantically immature, impotent, and ineffectual person. I will deal with the ideological origin of this image later, but for now let us examine some glaring inconsistencies and blind spots within the ideological image itself.

Imagine the image of the typical basement dweller in your mind. What race is that person? For the vast majority of you, the answer will be white. What is the gender of that person? For the vast majority of you, the answer will be male. We should always remain cautious when such an overwhelmingly homogeneous picture arrives in our mind because it does not show that a concrete relationship exists, but rather we have a relationship to something that exists. Simply put, our ideological image only tells us how we relate to something, not the actual truth of the situation or our relationship to the truth of that situation. We can see this ideological image obscures reality with a quick comparison of the facts.

Illustration 2: The spinster version of Mary Hatch from It’s a Wonderful Life

The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) has put out a report (http://www.prb.org/articles/2011/us-young-adults-living-at-home.aspx) concerning those living with their parents and it primarily contradicts the image presented by the dominant ideology. Some validity exists for the gender differentiation. Currently women make up 9.7% of the people age 25-34 who live with their parents. Men make up 18.6%. That’s nearly a double increase in those living at home. Even so, it should strike us as odd that women rarely appear in the ideological image of the basement dwell given that nearly 10% of the female population would fit the supposed group. Yet, the PRB provides us some possible answers. They write,

For many decades, young men have been more likely to live with their parents than young women. Researchers have linked this gender difference to women’s earlier age at marriage, although cultural and economic factors also play a role… Over half of all men ages 25 to 34 (52 percent) have never been married, according to the latest Census Bureau figures. Men’s marriage rates have dropped sharply during the past decade and the decline has accelerated since the onset of the recession. Some of these single men are in cohabiting relationships, but a large and growing number are living at home. Marriage rates have dropped for women as well, but young women are still much more likely to be married (51 percent) compared with their male counterparts (42 percent)—a difference that reflects women’s earlier average age at marriage.

Statistically, we can see that marriage for women helps them avoid living at home. However, we can make a brief detour to point out the ideological blindness in regards to women. Historically and concretely we can see that women have a higher chance of earlier marriage. Part of this remains that women have an expectation to produce children and support a house hold. Engels wrote in regards to marriage,

Thus when monogamous marriage first makes its appearance in history, it is not as the reconciliation of man and woman, still less as the highest form of such a reconciliation. Quite the contrary. Monogamous marriage comes on the scene as the subjugation of the one sex by the other; it announces a struggle between the sexes unknown throughout the whole previous prehistoric period.

Marriage women have been expected to marry in order to satisfy societies demand for unpaid labor. Spinsterism has been the dominate ideological picture of unmarried women. Rather than seeing daughters living at home as incompetent, impotent, and immature, the ideological frame for women living at home (where one exists) simply reduces down to the fact that they’re “unmarriable.” This ideological image has rapidly disappeared as marriage has become less frequent and women have gained more economic independence, but we can see that the “blindspot” of the basement dweller ideology in regards to women rests on the basis of sexism. So women frequently do not appear in this ideological image both because they have a statistically lower part of being the group and the prevailing ideological sexism in regards to women. The same does not hold true for race.

The data from male basement dwellers does not correspond to the ideological image in the slightest. The PRB shows that men from oppressed nationalities make up the overwhelming majority of those who live with their parents. It states,

In 2011, 31 percent of young black men lived in their parents’ homes, compared with 11 percent of young black women—a startling 20-percentage-point gap. Among Latinos, 21 percent of young men and 11 percent of young women lived with their parents, while the gap between white men (15 percent) and women (9 percent) was smaller than those of other groups. African American and Latino men have been disproportionately affected by the recession, which may have exacerbated these gender differences.9 Since 2007, Latino men have experienced the largest jump in young men living at home—an 8-percentage-point increase in just four years.

We can see that black men make up more than double and Latino men nearly half as many the number of white men living at home. One cannot argue any kind of statistical case for the ideological image of white over oppressed nationalities unlike the case for women. The image of the basement dweller should overwhelmingly paint a black and brown picture. Yet, the ideological image remains decidedly white. We see an even greater “blind spot” with oppressed nationalities than we do with even women inside the ideological image. We must ask ourselves, “why?” To answer this question requires an historical materialist analysis that strikes to the very heart of Euro-Amerika Settler ideology and the foundations of the United States itself.

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Posted on June 29, 2012, in Revolutionary Theory, White Leftism & Neocolonialism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Living in His Parents Basement Part 2: The Ideological Image.

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