Brought up on Porn

There are a few ‘interesting’ programmes on the BBC at the moment about pornography. Whilst they’re worth listening to for some reasons it’s desperately disappointing to hear how naively the topics are dealt with by both the interviewers and the participants. They don’t appear able to think critically about what they are saying, often confusing totally normal relationship matters such as ‘what should one person do for another as part of healthy compromise and what constitutes an abuse’ with genuine pornography related issues such as ‘my other half spends two hours a night w*nking to porn on their own and as a consequence we never have any physical contact’.

An example might be the fixation with bodily hair I note in the broadcasts – seemingly viewed as a safe tea-time porn related topic. Now, head, face and pubic hair configuration has been a matter of fashion since time began, it doesn’t have to be about porn anymore than a particular body type or size being popularised. Of course you’ll see more exposed genitalia in porn than anywhere else and if it’s mostly shaved these days then you can easily assume that’s all there is to it, but be very careful before assuming links based on that kind of thing – it certainly wouldn’t stand up in a study. People always make demands on their partners (whether implicit or explicit) – they may include not wanting their bloke to get a big fat gut or fart whilst eating or be clean shaven or someone else not wanting their girl to have a short hair cut or pick their nose or get a piercing. I’m not defending porn but I do not like lite-touch thinking when it comes to complex matters such as the psychology of sexuality, attraction, love, self expression and so on.

I also object to a programme claiming to be frank and then constantly reminding the contributors of their needs to self-censor. The risk is that the uninitiated will believe what they are hearing is frank when in fact it’s hideously euphemistic. Therein lies the risk that a netherworld is allowed to exist right under the noses of parents and so on who have responsibility for children and a genuine need to know what’s what out there.

For the record I absolutely believe that porn can be unhealthy, but if you’re a broadcaster or politician or teacher or whatever and you’re gonna say this, you need to be able to say why and how and for whom.

See in particular the ‘Brought up on porn’ item here
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/search?q=porn

And from about half way through this programme
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07nn87c

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My Prayer

I don’t believe in God, but you sure as shit have to believe in something so it seems like yourself is a good place to start. Anyhoo, with that in mind, I rewrote the Lord’s Prayer…

My Prayer

And in text form…

Me, who art on Earth
My name is handy to narrow down who you’re talking about
My ‘kingdom’ is already here
What I do on Earth
Probably matters a bit
I’ll buy my own bread, or make some
Friends forgive my trespasses (thanks!)
And I try to forgive those who trespass against me
I think it’s OK to indulge in a bit of temptation
But I try not to be a total shit
This blue and green ball belongs to everything that lives
Power and glory isn’t real
Most of us get about 70 years, the good ones a bit less
Barmaids

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These are the boxes I use to move

At first sealed, shiny, perfect, full of promise
Persuaded from their shelf through fair exchange; a drive home
Taped up seams at first resisting, now broken, treasure revealed
Contentment through contents new, superseding all that came before

And so the box, now folded, finds a new home for months or years
In time it is awakened, unfolded, resealed, filled, marked
The marks remain and the box reused through many, many moves
So it is now that I find these boxes, corners damaged, scribbles faded

The writing of a once loved-one’s child, now unknown to me, yet about me
The love of a child is easy though it has no aim, a driverless train
The quiet, unthinking legacy of the broken family has or pays no mind
As we ride a carriage on the line between fate and blame

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Don’t vote tactically

Vote for who you want, no matter what, or to put it another way, don’t vote for a party you don’t want. A democratic vote was never and can never be a route to getting solely what YOU want, as an individual. It’s a way to indicate what you want, and when enough people indicate the same thing, they should get it or something like it – I suppose that’s democracy, when it’s working. It’s hugely complicated by our horrible electoral system but until we get electoral reform that isn’t going to change but we can build collective confidence in our positive choices and that will effect change and will encourage electoral reform. Sadly, electoral reform is tricky for any party in power to take a punt on, after all, they got voted in on the current flawed system and therefore unless they think a new, less flawed, more fair system would deliver the same results to at least them as the leading party, their reasonable assumption is that they would do best if they leave it alone until they’re not in power at which point it’s safe to moan about.

So, you really hate Labour, or the Tories or whoever and you’re shit scared that they will get in or get a seat in your area but a vote for the party you really want is a ‘wasted vote’ so you vote for a party you don’t really want to stop the baddies getting in, but then the party you really want gets fewer votes and the next time it rolls around everyone says a vote for the party you really want is still a wasted vote so you vote for someone else and so it goes on. The only parties benefiting heavily from tactical voting are the major ones, because they are apparently the ones with a chance and therefore who you need to vote for to keep the baddies out – after all, even the supporters of your preferred party, including yourself don’t vote for it. I wonder if it has no chance *because* even the people that support its policies don’t actually vote for it?

vote

Tactical voting is bound to appeal to almost everyone. We are mostly a politically uneducated island population. Ask the person next to you to usefully summarise the workings of the House of Lords, House of Commons, Queen’s Speech, Hustings, whips, seats, first past the post, proportional representation and so on. I bet they struggle. I would, so don’t worry, I’m not being highbrow. Despite my lack of knowledge on matters political, I can be made to believe that voting for a party I don’t want is ‘tactical’. This makes me feel pretty good and empowered. Yes that’s right, I’m using tactics. How could I use tactics if I didn’t know what I was doing? The OED definition of tactics begins ‘The art or science of…’. Check me out with my artistic, scientific vote for a party I don’t want slightly less than another party I don’t want slightly more.

If I challenged you to think of a way to get people in their thousands to vote for parties they don’t want you’d say that was impossible, but it’s not – it’s here and we’re doing it, aided capably by our electoral system. Election after election, both local and national we head out to the polling stations to put a cross against a party we don’t want, and why? Because we are being tactical. Clever us! Excellent use of our democratic right. It feels more like I’m being given the right to be tricked, the right to imply through my voting that I want to be lead in a direction I don’t want to go in – after all they’ve expressed their polices and plans and I’ve voted for them. It must be what I want. In some ways I can’t even blame them for that, after all, they did warn me and I said ‘yes please’… Ever wonder why we’ve had government after government of the same major parties, are they really that good, do we like them that much? Most people seem to claim the ruling parties aren’t very good and even that they don’t trust them or hate them and yet we keep on voting for them because we have no faith in the potential of success of the parties we believe in.

When it comes to the party I vote for I don’t like the idea of least worst. We had a chance for electoral reform in the Alternative Vote Referendum of 2011. I fear the process was confused with a vote on whether or not we liked the coalition and as such we lost our best chance in a long time to get a system to return what we ask for. I suppose I may simply be asking for another chance at electoral reform. Maybe it will take yet another poxy coalition to push us in that direction. Of course, this is a long game and really requires electoral reform, but it would be a whole lot shorter if we vote for what we want and keep on doing so.

I have to acknowledge after all this that I am hugely over-simplifying matters, to the point where I’m probably wrong – perhaps what I’m asking for simply can’t deliver the best results, not only at this election or any in the future. I must also acknowledge that a lot of people do know how these things work much better than me, and that they do vote tactically based on that knowledge. To those people I must concede, they understand the political landscape and take a pragmatic approach typically to minimise the negative impact of their least favoured party getting a seat locally and therefore the chance to win at a general election – they do this in good faith and with well-considered reasoning. My belief is that these people are not typical and that for the most part, especially long term this may not help most of us as it in effect playing a system. If the system needs to be played then it’s too complicated for many citizens and therefore is a system that fails many citizens. I don’t want to vote for that.

To me a vote for the party I support feels right, it sends the message I want to send both to the politicians and to my fellow citizen. It does so whether or not my party wins a seat or gets in to power. That’s what I’m doing and it’s what I think we should all do alongside campaigning for a better system where our votes really do count.

Having said all that….

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/05/02/leader-most-seats-has-biggest-mandate/

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The nineteen-greaties

Taking a moment away from reality and allowing nostalgia to run rampant…

I hope everyone has a period in their life when they could feel like I felt in my late teens watching American eighties movies and wondering when I could have a day off like Ferris Bueller did. The innocence combined with expectation captured in the films of Chevy Chase, John Candy, Steve Martin and the brat pack (among many others) has never been matched, before or after. You could almost feel that pregnant pause, that deep intake of breath just before the world launched into the information revolution spanning the 90’s and 00’s that we are now living in the wake of and have no way, short of apocalypse, out of. No one gave a shit about txting or recycling, cars were still big and smoke came out the back of them. Girls wore bikinis and usually got about on roller skates and men had short shorts and serious hair options, everyone was happy. I’ve no idea if I was but thanks to the dream I was fed by the films of the time I certainly expected I would be. That’s a good start.

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What’s wrong with this Christmas?

As I’m sure most of you have heard, many parents / carers have been encouraged to lie to their children regarding the identity of a fast-moving light in the sky on Christmas eve. If we manage to spot it, what we will see is not Father Christmas but the International Space Station (ISS). Rather than discuss with children this incredible project begun in 1993 with the first component put in space in 1998, resulting in the largest artificial body in orbit being visible to the naked eye from space on Christmas eve many parents will tell their children that an obese, judgemental trespasser is wibbling past on his reindeer-powered sled.

I’ve spoken to some people about this and they’re surprisingly defensive of this cover-up and indeed the Father Christmas myth in general. Don’t worry, I lied to my children too, so you can trust me (hmm). To compound problems, many people tell their children that ‘Santa’ gives all the presents. I should note that I wasn’t brought up like this, in my house he only delivered the things which he choose to leave on the end of my bed, wrapped in my mum’s old tights (not weird, eh?). So what’s wrong with him giving all the presents? Doesn’t that make him super-duper generous? Well… the practical upshot of this particular pack of lies is that unavoidably the wealthier the family, the more he gives to their children. In the cases of the poorest families the children may be totally ignored. Why would he do that? I’ve always found children to be very logical, perhaps more so than adults, and at some point this inequality will be realised in their brain (perhaps just subconsciously) where it will sit along with all the other confusing things in life such as why our parents sold our milk teeth for 50 pence to a mythical creature. In effect Father Christmas is a sort of anti-Robin Hood, OK, he’s not stealing from the poor, but he’s giving to the rich and neglect of the poor is hardly a kindness.

Getting back to those defensive parents. Forget your past, and imagine now a choice: You can have a jolly annual celebration with time off work and an exchange of modest (or not) gifts along with an excess of food and drink, OR you can have all of the above plus you get to pay bizarre homage to a religious icon you likely don’t worship or really believe in, lie to your children about the provenance of their presents and then be pressurised by the media and your peers into layering more and more nonsense on the initial guff to the point where we ignore a chance to gaze upon one of our greatest technological achievements. After some time, typically 7 or 8 years, your children will be plenty smart enough to recognise you for the confusingly selective charlatan you are (no offence, I’m one too) and will then have to try to come to terms with the confusion,  disappointment and unnecessary nature of what they’ve just been through. A realisation of long-term deception causes trauma – ask any psychologist. Amusingly we usually see this particular trauma as part of ‘growing up’. What children really love is seeing their family, sharing presents and time together, eating, having time off school and being able to completely and utterly trust their guardians. They enjoy all of the good stuff naturally, the rest of the stuff is what they’ve been trained to believe they enjoy – so why bother? Children don’t actually like being lied to. No one does.

Which do you choose? Easy, isn’t it. You take all the good, ditch the lies and away we all go. You’re not 6 now and you don’t believe any more, right? Wrong! You do believe – not in Father Christmas but in the myth of Father Christmas, the value of the myth and the importance of perpetuating it. You have to believe that as to think that you were deceived for no good reason and to acknowledge how that feels is much, much harder than just repeating what you experienced. I feel the same. That’s why I lied / lie to my children.

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Party every day, party every dayayay

It’s clear from the regular supply of news articles and documentaries that what this country needs is more reasons to drink excessively. One way to bring about change is to normalise that which you are trying to encourage. You can do this by attributing a catchy or amusing name to something that typically already has a perfectly functional name. In of itself this seems harmless enough and it gives us something to smile about. One example of this would be ‘Thirsty Thursday’ – an amusing piece of alliteration that is popularly used by bars to get folks to come out boozing a day earlier than they might otherwise. It sounds fun, is somewhat logical (it’s nearly Friday so your thirst is building etc.), and it means we get a longer weekend – win-win.
drunk-5[1]
Another example I’ve heard recently and seen in action is ‘Sunday Funday’. Sunday Funday works well with Thirsty Thursday as you now have a four night weekend – oh, and you actually drink all day on a Sunday Funday. You can see the opposite of this too, when people refer to the weekday evenings as ‘School nights’. In that case it helps to normalise/encourage ‘not drinking’. Attaching this prosaic title to something as tempting as a Wednesday night can work to bolster someone’s will power as it defers responsibility for decision making – I don’t have to say ‘no’ I just say it’s a school night and immediately my peers will reduce the pressure on me – because it’s a SCHOOL NIGHT – and that means something. Sooo, what I wondered is do we now have drink-friendly names for every day of the week? I’m aware of Thirsty Thursday and Sunday Funday, I can imagine Twatted Tuesday could work or even Titsoff Tuesday. Wankered Wednesday goes without saying. But…. what do we do about Monday?!

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