Social Engineering

Staying on the subject of gays:

A bill that would have wiped clean the criminal records of thousands of gay men has fallen at its first parliamentary hurdle.

The private member’s bill would have pardoned all men living with UK convictions for same-sex offences committed before the law was changed.

Mr Nicolson says he was motivated by his work as a BBC journalist in the 1990s: “I made a documentary in the 1990s looking at the discriminatory laws which criminalised gay men.

“There were some shocking injustices. Men were arrested aged 21 for having ‘under-age sex’ with their 20-year-old boyfriends,” he said.

Section 12 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 concerned buggery.  Which means 60 years ago politicians sat down and decided what two grown men of sound mind could and couldn’t do to one another, and how the rest of the country should treat them.  Does this sound reasonable to you?  It doesn’t to me.  There is an argument that this is what the majority population wanted, but I don’t see any reason why the wishes of the majority should be taken into account when two independent adults decide what they’re going to do behind closed doors.

Had the principle of individual freedom and liberty been in force in 1956, this law would never have come into being.  This is why the war cry of the gay movement was “Get the Government out of the Bedroom!”, implying what two men get up to is no business of the government’s or anyone else.  On that basis, the gays of the day would have had my full support.

Across the Atlantic there is a parallel: pre-Civil Rights Era laws requiring blacks to be segregated from whites, and the two treated differently.  At some point legislators sat down and determined that blacks should be treated differently from whites, and anyone breaking these laws – be they black or white – would be subject to criminal prosecution.  Regardless of whether a free individual of one colour wanted to interact with a free individual of another, this was prohibited by law, which in turn was justified on the grounds that this is what the majority wanted.  Only if individuals are truly free then they can associate with whomever they please, and it ought not to be a matter to be decided by the majority.

My point is that not so long ago legislators put severe restrictions on supposedly free individuals as to how they could interact with each other based on rather arbitrary criteria beyond the individuals’ control.  They justified these laws by saying that this is what the majority wanted and it was for the greater good of society.  These laws, the majority agreed, made for a better, safer society.

Only now we look back and most people are in agreement that these laws were an abomination and ought never to have been passed.  Hence the attempt now to pardon those in the UK and the rioting and looting in the USA.  I’m being ironic about that last one.

Fortunately politicians and the voting public learned their lesson that individual liberty and freedom is paramount and governments have no business passing legislation as to how free individuals should interact (short of causing actual physical harm or loss of property, reputation, etc. covered by laws that have been in place since Man first wandered out of the Great Rift Valley).

Oh wait.  No, actually they didn’t.  With breathtaking hubris they determined that although the last lot of politicians and voters were catastrophically wrong, they are much smarter and hence are able to write laws setting out exactly how individuals must interact in a hideously complex society to achieve the absolute optimum outcome in terms of happiness and security for all.  Clever folk, eh?

So now we have laws which actively discriminate between people of different skin colours and religions, insist that gender – which can be changed on a whim – should be both ignored and acknowledged simultaneously, maintain an ever-growing list of sexual orientations all of which deserve special treatment, allow grown men to wander into women’s toilets a fundamental human right, and make formal (and even informal) criticism of all of this practically illegal.

Whatever happened to the principle of all humans are equal?  Or the principle of individual freedom?  Well, that’s the problem: there are no principles being applied, it is simply a small group of people deciding this is what they want to do, claiming a democratic mandate, and forcing it on everyone else.  Just as they did when they criminalised gays and made blacks drink at a different fountain.

Some people call this Social Engineering, and it’s a good term.  But engineering is all about the application of principles, not doing whatever a gaggle of people fancy doing this week.  If you tried to build a bridge like this it would collapse.  As will our society if we keep this up.

Owen Jones: Gays are Mentally Disturbed

This is an odd thing for Owen Jones – an openly gay journalist – to write:

[Author Matthew Todd] identifies a number of problems that most gay men, if they were honest, would at least recognise: “Disproportionately high levels of depression, self-harm and suicide; not uncommon problems with emotional intimacy … and now a small but significant subculture of men who are using, some injecting, seriously dangerous drugs, which despite accusations of hysteria from the gatekeepers of the gay PR machine, are killing too many people.” He lists a disturbing number of gay friends, acquaintances and people in the public eye who struggled with addictions and took their own lives.

The statistics are indeed alarming. According to Stonewall research in 2014, 52% of young LGBT people report they have, at some point, self-harmed; a staggering 44% have considered suicide; and 42% have sought medical help for mental distress. Alcohol and drug abuse are often damaging forms of self-medication to deal with this underlying distress. A recent study by the LGBT Foundation found that drug use among LGB people is seven times higher than the general population, binge drinking is twice as common among gay and bisexual men, and substance dependency is significantly higher.

Hasn’t it traditionally been the religious nutcases that insist homosexuals are mentally disturbed and in desperate need of help?  Now it’s Guardian journalists.  We live in strange times.

More on Polyamory

James Higham made the following remark on his blog which reminded me of something I’d had occasion to think about at various points this year:

There’s another factor and I’ve left it to the end – it seems peculiar to women – and that is the need – nay, almost the necessity – to be ‘torn between two lovers’.

The reason for this I believe has to do with something I read over at Chateau Heartiste about a year ago, and that is the idea that it is rare for women to be able to sleep with two men concurrently.

Okay, women cheat.  We all know that.  But if a married woman is cheating on her husband by shagging the pool boy, it will either occur a few times and then she’ll end it, or she’ll not be having much sex with the husband.  And if she is, she’s going through the motions to avoid raising his suspicions, but most likely she’s not.

It is also not uncommon for young women to be “seeing” two or more men concurrently in non-serious flings, but this is often for a relatively short period before she chooses to settle with one.

What I am talking about is a sustained, sexual relationship lasting several months or more with multiple partners.  I have only met one woman who admits to having been in this situation – prostitutes excepted.  Which is what makes female polyamorists – who I have written about before – so unusual.  I’m not saying they can’t do it, or it is wrong, or they shouldn’t do it, I am just pointing out that, in my experience, it is highly unusual and probably requires a certain mindset which most women don’t possess.

Contrast this with men who – guilt aside – are easily capable of continuing full, concurrent sexual relations with a whole harem of women, should they get the opportunity.

I understand that polyamory is becoming more popular with the young folk, although I get the slight impression it is the tiny minority of practitioners that are telling us this and/or are conflating it with merely shagging around.

(I’m posting this partly because polyamory and women’s ability to participate in it is one of the themes I am exploring in a book I am in the process of writing, and I’d be interested in any feedback or readers’ thoughts/experiences.)

Laurie Penny on Polyamory

Via the comments at David Thompson’s excellent blog I came across this article by Laurie Penny on the subject of polyamory – or “open” relationships, as they are sometimes called – of which she herself is a practitioner.

The reason why I found this interesting is that earlier this year I made the acquaintance of a woman in her early 30s here in Paris who, like Penny, had practiced polyamorous relationships since her early 20s and I strongly suspect still did (regular readers can probably guess who I’m on about).  My acquaintance mounted an impassioned defence of polyamory and her participation in open relationships, and during one of several rather lively discussions we had on the subject I asked her what the advantages were of sleeping with several people over having one loving partner other than the obvious – sex.  She admitted that it was all rather idealistic, but the answer she gave me was as follows:

“Supposing” she said “you are dating a guy and you really like each other and you get on really well, but he’s not into rock music and you are.  Well, if you’re in an open relationship you can also have a partner who is into rock and you can go to a concert with him, and your boyfriend won’t mind.”

“Yes,” I replied “but you can go to a rock concert with a guy who’s into rock when you’re in a normal relationship; people often have hobbies and interests that their partners don’t share.”

“Yes,” she said “but after the concert you can go and have sex.”

My next remark – which made her considerably angry – was that this sounded more like an excuse to fuck around than a substitute for a meaningful relationship, and that the whole polyamory thing was merely an attempt to put a veneer of respectability on it all.  As somebody put it afterwards: “this is polyfuckery, not polyamory”.

What I find interesting is that Penny mounts pretty much the same defence in her article:

It’s the conversations. It’s the texts with your girlfriend’s boyfriend about what to get her for her birthday. It’s sharing your Google Calendars to make sure nobody feels neglected.

The Daily Mail would have you believe that polyamory is all wild orgies full of rainbow-haired hedonists rhythmically thrusting aside common decency and battering sexual continence into submission with suspicious bits of rubber. And there is some truth to that. But far more of my polyamorous life involves making tea and talking sensibly about boundaries, safe sex and whose turn it is to do the washing-up.

Conversations, texts about birthday gifts, making tea, and having sensible discussions are indeed pleasurable social activities.  But you don’t need to be having sex with multiple partners to enjoy them, do you?  So – like going to a rock concert – I’m not sure why these are cited as a benefit of polyamory.

Over the past ten years, I have been a “single poly” with no main partner; I have been in three-person relationships; I have had open relationships and have dated people in open marriages. The best parts of those experiences have overwhelmingly been clothed ones.

Well, quite.  If the best part of those experiences have been clothed ones, then why doesn’t she do what most normal people do and keep the clothes on permanently?  She’s completely undermined her own case.

Penny unintentionally includes the most succinct explanation of polyamory in her article, probably thinking hers would be the more convincing:

When I told my editor that I wanted to write about polyamory, she adjusted her monocle, puffed on her pipe and said, “In my day, young lady, we just called it shagging around.”


Sex Survey

This via Emily:

Most surveys about sex find impossibly that men have had far more partners than women, typically two to four times as many.

Either there are a bunch of phantom females out there, or somebody is lying.

Not necessarily.  If you take 10 women and 1 man in a village, and the man sleeps with all 10 women, the statistics would show that the man has had 10 times more partners than the women.  There is no reason why this logic could not have produced the numbers returned by the surveys under scrutiny.

That said, he’d have to be an implausibly lucky chap.

Posted in Sex