Scarlett Johansson on Monogamy

Staying on the subject of sex and relationships and messed up women, I have been forwarded this article on Scarlett Johansson in which she is quoted as saying:

I don’t think it’s natural to be a monogamous person. I might be skewered for that, but I think it’s work. It’s a lot of work…And the fact that it is such work for so many people—for everyone—the fact of that proves that it is not a natural thing. It’s something I have a lot of respect for and have participated in, but I think it definitely goes against some instinct to look beyond.

So anything that is hard work is unnatural? As the opening line in a Universal Loafer’s Charter this would take some beating but it’s clearly bollocks. Pretty much anything worth doing requires effort, including getting yourself fed.

Well, some have gotten animal about insisting that monogamy is unnatural, pointing to examples in the animal kingdom.

On that basis eating one’s own turds is also natural. Should we be more open to this? Finding lunch partners might be problematic following adoption of such practices, but with enough education and a few Supreme Court rulings these issues can be overcome.

On the other side of the argument, people have pointed to the health benefits of monogamy, such as … offering more emotional and mental stability and comfort. Emotional and mental stability can in turn have a range of health benefits…

Who knew?

The final answer may be that monogamy is both natural and unnatural. Natural for some. Unnatural for others.

Ultimately, what’s natural depends on the individual and what fits the individual. It’s better to know where people really stand and let them choose the situation that works best for them as long as they are not hurting others (e.g., having multiple partners without appropriate protection and precaution can hurt others).

Well, yes. But that’s the issue, isn’t it? I am quite happy for people to engage in the wonders of polyamory and shun monogamy if it makes them happy, but I am permitted to be skeptical about those who, for no apparent reason, doth protest too much in telling me how great it is. Taking Scarlett Johansson as an example, I would have held her comments in higher regard had she said them when she was 21 and looked like this:

Than having been twice divorced at 32 and looking like this:

True, she now has the wisdom of experience under her belt but cynics might think that, having fucked up two marriages and is now staring down the barrel of middle age and diminishing professional appeal, by declaring monogamy as unnatural she is looking to shift the blame for her own failings and, perhaps, launch a secondary career as an angry, bitter celebrity with a lesbian haircut turning up at wimmin’s marches denouncing The Patriarchy.

Look, I get marriage and monogamy isn’t for everybody, and perhaps it isn’t “natural”. And I am quite prepared to believe that there are plenty of well-adjusted, normal people who are perfectly happy who have chosen to live in an alternative manner. Good for them. But it remains the case, at least in my experience, that most people are happiest in a normal, functioning, monogamous relationship despite all the difficulties involved in maintaining one. The vast majority of people would find the idea of their loving partner sleeping with somebody else to be abhorrent, and the jealousy and anger will bubble up from something deep inside them that has very much been put there by nature and not social conditioning. If celebrities want to make statements denouncing monogamy and authors want to pen articles assuring everybody that shagging around doesn’t cause friction with their own partners, then fine. But the rest of us are entitled to point out that their advice is hardly a universal blueprint for personal happiness and question their motives for imparting it.

Polyamoric Patterns

Commenter Tui posts some links to articles praising polyamory under my article on the same subject here, noting:

Once trans issues become passé, poly living will be the hot new fashion. Gotta keep the sexual revolution chugging along, after all.

Let’s take a look at the first article:

Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins and I have plans to meet her boyfriend for lunch…Her husband, Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa, is out of town at a conference for the weekend

Before I traveled to meet her in Vancouver last June, she told me on the phone that most “mono” people misunderstand the challenges of polyamory — the practice of being openly involved romantically with more than one person at a time. “People ask, ‘Tell me about the downsides,’ ” Jenkins says. “They expect the answer to be that it’s so hard jealousy-wise. But the most common answer is timing and scheduling. I’m a fairly organized person, so I don’t find it super challenging.”

Okay, I’m seeing a pattern here. Every time I hear or read somebody explaining polyamory they stress that the main drawback is the logistical nightmare it represents in terms of scheduling, keeping everyone partnered-up, and presumably doing the laundry (although nobody ever mentions that). I have no doubt that this is true, that juggling multiple partners requires a lot of planning and organisation. But what I have noticed is this is usually thrust forward as the only drawback: issues such as jealousy, emotional stress, interpersonal conflicts, finances (who pays the rent?), communication, and adhering to the ground rules are rarely mentioned at all. Are we to believe these things – which exist aplenty in monogamous relationships – are not present and exacerbated in polyamorous ones? I’ve seen this gambit so many times that I am starting to believe it is thrown out there as a red herring: distract the readers with the “surprising” logistical problems and skirt around the rest.

“See,” says Jenkins, gesturing at the living room as she clips on Mezzo’s leash, “We’re a very boring and respectable couple!”

You see this a lot too: people in polyamorous relationships insist on telling everyone that their arrangement is perfectly normal and respectable. In my experience, such qualities in people do not need to be advertised and especially not by the individuals themselves.

Jenkins wrote about polyamory because she felt she had to: She and her husband were tired of living in the closet.

This is a common theme too: we live a normal, boring, respectable life but feel the need to go around with a megaphone telling everyone about it.

On the front porch are a swing and a coffee table with an ashtray on it. The ashtray is full, as if they have just had a party, or someone has been sitting out there, for a long time, thinking, while gazing into the street.

Or nobody has bothered doing any cleaning in a while.

Despite the personal clarity that she has gained on these points, socially the relationship has not been easy. Even in liberal settings, where people might not blink at the idea of a friend sleeping around or dating someone of the same gender, Jenkins says that “mononormativity” persists: The ruling assumption is that a person can be in love with only one other person at a time.

Hmmm. I’d like to hear what was actually said. I don’t think anyone has an issue with somebody loving two people at once: love triangles have been a staple of literature since quill was first put to parchment. What people find odd is the idea that you can sleep with someone you claim to be in love with one day, cheerfully wave them off the next in the full knowledge they will shag somebody else, and be happy about it.

She recalls a colleague becoming extremely discomfited recently at her husband’s birthday party, when Hsu introduced himself as “Carrie’s boyfriend.”

“Hey! We have unusual sleeping arrangements that we just spring on unsuspecting guests in the middle of a party! Look how edgy we are!”

Still, Jenkins believes that we are in urgent need of a more expansive concept of love.

We?

Jenkins did not set out to become a love expert. After growing up in Wales…

What was I saying in my previous post about polyamorists often being people who have experienced severe childhood trauma? Speaking of stereotypes, here’s a photo of the happy three:

The second article:

When I met Emily Witt six years ago, I felt that touch of vertigo that comes when you realize you’re in the presence of a highly sophisticated and committed mind. Witt is an alumnus of Brown, the Columbia School of Journalism, and Cambridge. So she did not strike me as the sort of person who would get high and have sex in the “orgy dome” of Burning Man with a person she’d just met.

Ah yes, the Burning Man orgy dome.

We met for coffee last week in Brooklyn to talk about Future Sex and how to approach writing about female sexuality.

Brooklyn, eh? Now there’s a surprise!

In the book, you describe being on drugs in vivid detail, but you don’t describe actually having sex.

Drugs? More surprises!

You know, somebody could write a book about Burning Man, orgies, polyamory, and drug-taking and the sort of individual that emerges from the wreckage in middle-age. It could even be set in Brooklyn, at least in part. Thankfully for mankind I was born to shoulder this burden, but I’m beginning to worry that it’ll be irreparably clichéd by the time it’s finished.

Brother Husbands

I’ve written about polyamory, the practice of having more than one sexual partner in a relationship, on this blog before: here and here. The interest I have in this subject is mainly one of morbid curiosity triggered by my having inadvertently gotten to know a woman who spent most of her twenties in polyamorous relationships and I became fascinated by the mental gymnastics required to maintain one.

The other night I was flicking around through Sky looking for some rubbish to watch and I stumbled across a show called Brother Husbands on TLC. The show concerns an American woman who lives with two men, one of whom is her husband and the other her lover. The title of the show is a play on the term “sister wives” which Mormon polygamists use for their multiple wives. I decided to watch it to see if any of it married up (‘scuse the pun) with what I already knew about polyamorists.

The first, and probably only, surprising thing about the show is that the woman, who goes by the name of Amanda Liston, is quite attractive:

Although I keep reading articles explaining that women engaged in polyamory can be young and cute (and the woman I referred to earlier was not ugly), most of the time they look more like this:

I suspect the general attractiveness of the leading lady in Brother Husbands was the crucial factor in the programme being made. If she was a warpig, it is unlikely anyone would have watched it for long.

But that was about it in terms of surprises. Amanda’s two lovers look like this (the husband is the one in the middle):

It is almost a certainty that the men in a polyamorous relationship will be noodle-armed omegas of hipster persuasion (note the similarity with those in the other photo). On the odd occasion this rule doesn’t apply, he will be an astonishingly ugly, middle-aged man with a pot belly and wearing bad knitwear. As “The Inimitable Steve” once put it at Tim Worstall’s:

The males – “men” would be over-egging it – mostly look like they came straight out of central casting for a 1970’s Public Information Film warning kiddies about paedos.

The sleeping arrangements insofar as Amanda’s relationship is concerned is for her to sleep with one guy for three nights followed by the other for three nights, and then all three of them climb into the same bed for one night (Amanda goes in the middle). Amanda is in her mid to late twenties and has two children from the husband and triplets from the other fella. They live in a large house somewhere in what I guess is flyover country (I doubt they could afford to live on the coasts).

Both of the men were whiny as hell, and it was obvious that Amanda wore the trousers in that household. I speculated early on that the husband, Chad, was actually gay as he appeared about as straight as Graham Norton. Both he and Amanda mentioned a Christian upbringing, and I understand he was raised in a foster home (probably run along Christian lines). Sure enough, thanks to further investigation carried out by my research assistant who guffawed along with me while we watched the show, it turns out he is bisexual. My guess is that Chad is actually out-and-out gay but his Christian upbringing doesn’t allow him to express it, and so he got married to somebody from his church group. This is probably why he had few objections when this other chap called Jeremy entered their lives and announced one day that he was in love with Amanda. As far as Chad is concerned, having another man in his bed is all fine and dandy and probably what he wanted all along.

Jeremy looks as depressed as hell and is as whiny as Chad. I expect he entered into this relationship, also via this church group, because he has no chance whatsoever of getting laid any other way. He didn’t smile once during the entire show and if I read headlines in a few years saying he’s slaughtered the entire family with a large carving knife nobody will be less surprised than me. If part of the arrangement is an agreement to be Chad’s top for one night a week, we can bring this butchery forward by a few months.

The last non-surprise came yesterday when my research assistant uncovered this article, which reveals that Amanda and Chad got married on an MTV reality TV show, and she had been on another reality TV show called King of the Nerds. In other words, she’s an attention whore.

Back in June when I was trying to get my head around this polyamory lark I entered into some online discussions with people who had some experience in the practice, mainly via friends and relatives who’d gotten into it. They said the attractive people who enter into polyamorous relationships are generally Cluster B types, possibly with a history of mental illness and childhood sexual abuse. For the rest, a combination of their personalities, physical appearance, and low self-esteem means this is probably all they can get. One of the points mentioned was that polyamory can work, but those who make a success of it practice it in a very low-key, very individualistic manner to the degree that nobody other than their close friends and relatives would know about it. Baring all on a TV show, writing about polyamorous lifestyles in columns (see Laurie Penny, who fits the bill on almost every measure), joining polyamorous “communities”, and having weddings in Central Park with all the various lovers invited for group photos appear more like acts of desperate attention-seeking than an alternative to a normal, functioning relationship.

During some of my online discussions (which David Thompson generously hosted in his comment section) somebody mentioned a documentary made in 2002 called When Two Won’t Do about polyamorous relationships in Canada and the US. I haven’t yet seen it, but I am contemplating purchasing it from Vimeo (this discussion on polyamory forms part of the book I am writing, hence all of this is research in a way). The producer is a woman from Montreal who covers who own polyamorous relationships as well as others. Here is how I saw it described:

People in the poly community praise it as a realistic and positive treatment of the lifestyle. Normal people see it for what it is: a collection of deeply dysfunctional people with severe self-esteem issues desperately self-soothing with meaningless sex. One of the subjects commits suicide during the filming; that’s included in the film with virtually no impact or comment despite it being directly related to the stress of trying to maintain the fiction of the non-monogamous relationship.

Back in April I had barely heard of polyamory, but as I said, the subject was kind of forced on me one evening. Since then, nothing I have seen has convinced me that the following statement, offered by the same person who I quoted above, is untrue:

Broadly, the best way to describe polyamory is that it’s a coping mechanism, not a lifestyle choice.

The Myth of Russian Prostitutes

Even rabid lefty journalists seem to think that these latest allegations regarding Donald Trump are bollocks of the first water, but I’m going to put in my two cents anyway:

In the document, a source says Mr Trump hired the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Moscow, where he knew President Obama and Michelle Obama had stayed on one of their officials trips. The source goes on to say that Mr Trump asked prostitutes to perform lewd sex acts on the bed where the Obamas had slept.

“According to Source D … Trump’s perverted conduct included … defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him.”

Ah yes, of course.  One can’t possibly have a story taking place in Moscow without prostitutes being involved, be it a poorly-written Hollywood film or what looks like an internet hoax being passed to the CIA who then took it seriously.  Whenever anything slightly dodgy is happening involving Russians, prostitutes must be shoehorned in there somehow.

It seems to be a reputation Russia cannot shake.  I wasn’t in Russia during the 1990s, but from what I heard from those who were pretty much everything that was there was for sale – women included.  During this period the former Soviet Union saw an exodus of young women who went abroad to be mail-order brides, prostitutes, and strippers and thus the reputation was born.  I don’t know when this peaked, but when I arrived in Dubai in 2003 certain clubs were packed with “Russian” prostitutes.  Only they were almost all from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and to a lesser extent Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Moldova.  About a quarter of them were ethnic Russians, the rest Central Asian or mixed.  By the time I left in 2006 their numbers had dwindled and they’d been replaced by Africans and Chinese.  I never went back so I don’t know if there are any there now.

When I went to Sakhalin in 2006 I found a lot of young women who were keen to form relationships with expatriates, and some of those expatriates were two decades older than the girls and sported large beer bellies.  However, even these women were in the minority: most girls on Sakhalin wanted to marry a Russian guy (or Korean if the girl was part of that community).  But I never saw a prostitute the whole time I was there.  I heard there was a kind of brothel catering to Filipino workers somewhere out on the airport road, and there were certainly banyas where prostitutes worked, sort of like the massage parlours in the UK.  And the local paper and presumably websites had plenty of adverts featuring women who promised to show you a good time, but this is hardly unique to Russia as a brief glance at Craigslist would reveal.

I went to Moscow on a business trip once in 2008 and ended up with a group of guys from Gazprom in some high-class strip bar where girls my height wandered around in spangly bikinis and high-heeled shoes made from clear plastic.  By the time I arrived I’d been sick twice thanks to ferocious drinking which took place earlier that night, after which they’d dragged me to a place where I’d drank a whole pot of tea to get me on my feet again.  I must have stayed all of thirty minutes in that strip bar and whilst the girls were undoubtedly for sale, they were hardly throwing themselves at the customers in the manner one sees in gangster films.

In other words, whatever happened in the 1990s is a long time ago and prostitution in Russia – from what I can tell – is not much different from how it is in any European country.  Contrary to what many people think, a trip to Russia will not see eighteen year old stunners throwing themselves at you; the closest you’ll come to that is when one walks into you while uploading photos onto vkontakte.ru on her mobile.  True, the women there are pretty and there are plenty of single ones with whom a relationship is possible (although perhaps not always advisable) but prostitutes they are not.  Nor are Russians particularly into group sex, lewd acts, and other weird stuff that Hollywood likes to portray.

By contrast, I saw a lot of prostitution in Nigeria and in Thailand.  I saw a lot of strip clubs in Melbourne too, which made Blackpool Pleasure Beach look as classy as the US Masters.  Having lived in Russia and France, I don’t see much difference between the two in terms of prostitution, weird sex, and the propensity for wealthy, successful men to like attractive young women.  Nobody would have written about Trump visiting Paris and getting prostitutes to swamp on a bed, but if it takes place in Russia seemingly this is quite normal.

A decent journalist would have known this is a crude, inaccurate stereotype and declined to print the story.  To their credit, most of them did.  Apparently the CIA has taken it seriously though.  Doesn’t that just fill you with confidence?

Gay Men: A Problem After All

Owen Jones reports on what happens when a game of victimhood poker takes place when normal people have long left the table:

Racism is a serious problem within the LGBT community and needs to be addressed. Despite the determination of many minority ethnic LGBT people to do just that, it is not happening. “How can I be a bigot when I am myself a member of an oppressed minority?” is a prevailing attitude among some white LGBT people.

An attitude which prevails because of years of browbeating people into believing bigotry is based on who you are and not what you do or say.

But another far more pernicious reason is that the LGBT world revolves around white gay men to the exclusion of others.

So white gay men are a problem now? Here’s what I said the other day:

And that will be their downfall: they are so mainstream they won’t be able to maintain this minority, victim status for much longer and it is a matter of time before they come into conflict with the feminists and transgender lobbyists in the victimhood stakes.  Give it a few years and we’ll see gay men being discriminated against and passed over in favour of other designated victim groups simply for being men – gay or not.

Let me just swap out “a few years” for “a few months”.  Back to Owen:

According to research by FS magazine, an astonishing 80% of black men, 79% of Asian men and 75% of south Asian men have experienced racism on the gay scene.

This manifests itself in numerous ways. Some are rejected because of their ethnicity; on the other hand, some are objectified because of it. On dating sites and apps, profiles abound that say “no Asians” or “no black people”, casually excluding entire ethnic groups.

People have physical preferences when selecting a sexual partner?  Who knew?  Of course, this has been known for years in relation to heterosexual dating sites, but by implying it is unique to gays Owen Jones can get paid to write a column on it.

It’s like a “bastardised ‘No dogs, no blacks, no Irish’ signs”, as Anthony Lorenzo puts it. “On apps like Grindr,” writes Matthew Rodriguez, “gay men brandish their racial dating preferences with all the same unapologetic bravado that straight men reserve for their favourite baseball team.”

Grindr is an app for gay men to hook-up with one another for meaningless one-time sex.  How odd that this should not only contain users’ preferences but also boorish behaviour.  But here’s what I wrote the other day:

I genuinely think within five years we’ll have seen a case where an escort or prostitute is sued for discrimination, and dating apps and websites are being put under pressure to remove preferences based on race and other criteria.

We’re moving in that direction, aren’t we? Back to Owen:

Homi tells me he has Persian ancestry, and is “sometimes mistaken for being Greek, Italian, Spanish, etc”. Once, at a nightclub, he was relentlessly pursued by a fellow patron. Eventually, he was asked: “Where are you from?” When Homi answered India, the man was horrified. “I’m so sorry – I don’t do Indians! Indians are not my type.”

This suggests it is not appearance or skin colour that is the issue, but cultural background.  Presumably this isn’t important in homosexual relationships.

And it is not simply a western phenomenon. Luan, a Brazilian journalist, tells me his country has a “Eurocentric image of beauty” and there is a “cult of the white man, which is absurd, given more than half the population is black or brown”.

Thanks heavens this is not true of heterosexuals and Owen is able to provide us with a rare insight into race relations in Brazil through the prism of gay dating.

Others speak of their experiences of being rejected by door staff at LGBT venues. Michel, a south Asian man, tells me of being turned away because “you don’t look gay”, and being called a “dirty Paki”. He says it has got worse since the Orlando nightclub massacre, where the gunman was Muslim.

The gunman was Muslim?  I’m glad that’s been cleared up.

And then there’s the other side of the equation: objectification. Malik tells about his experiences of what he describes as the near “fetishisation” of race. The rejection of people based on ethnicity is bad enough, he says, “but it can be just as gross when someone reduces you to your ethnicity, without consent, when dating/hooking up”. His Arab heritage was objectified and stereotyped by some would-be lovers, even down to presuming his sexual role.

I can sympathise.  Coming from Wales, everybody assumes I prefer sheep to women.  That they are wholly correct on this point does not negate the fact that I am nonetheless subject to appalling racist bigotry based on where I was born.

When the Royal Vauxhall Tavern – a famed London LGBT venue – hosted a “blackface” drag act, Chardine Taylor-Stone launched the Stop Rainbow Racism campaign. The drag act featured “exaggerated neck rolling, finger snapping displays of ‘sassiness’, bad weaves” and other racial stereotypes, she says.

Whereas they should have just stuck to limp-wristed mincing and avoided mimicking stereotypical behaviour.

LGBT publications are guilty too. Historically, they’ve been dominated by white men, have neglected issues of race, and have portrayed white men as objects of beauty.

How dare they.

There has been positive change in recent months, one leading black gay journalist tells me, but only because of the work of ethnic minority LGBT individuals “holding magazines to account, setting up their own nights across the scene” and using social media, blogs, podcasts and boycotts to force change.

That rumbling sound you can hear is the bus under which white gay men are about to be thrown.

While LGBT people are much more likely than heterosexuals to suffer from mental distress, the level is even higher among ethnic minorities. Undoubtedly, racism plays a role. As Rodriguez puts it, seeing dating app profiles rejecting entire ethnic groups causes “internalised racism, decreased self-esteem and psychological distress.”

Trawling dating apps doesn’t bring happiness?  Who would have thought?

Many of the rights and freedoms that all LGBT people won were down to the struggles of black and minority ethnic people: at the Stonewall riots, for example,non-white protesters. The least that white LGBT people can do is to reciprocate and confront racism within their own ranks. Shangela, an actor, tells me that racism from the LGBT community “hurts more because it’s coming from people that I’m meant to share a kinship with”.

That’s the problem with expecting people to share your values based on their subscription to various victim groups.

The far-right movements on the march across the western world are consciously trying to co-opt the LGBT rights campaign for their own agenda.

Beware the rise of the Queermacht!

This week, Milo Yiannopolous – a gay attention-seeker who has become an icon of the US far right – was at the centre of a media storm because a platform to speak at his old school was withdrawn. In the Netherlands, the anti-immigrant right was led by a gay man, Pim Fortuyn, until his assassination. In France, reportedly a third of married gay couples support the far-right National Front.

Why, it’s almost as if a person’s sexual preferences don’t define their politics.

Being oppressed yourself does not mean you are incapable of oppressing others: far from it.

And the basis of 99% of Grievance Studies courses in American academia collapses in a heap.

What’s the opposite of a rose tint?

From the BBC (which considers this front-page news):

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres was praised by the US president for her influence on the gay rights movement as she received the country’s highest civilian honour.

Barack Obama said it was easy to forget the risk Ellen DeGeneres took to come out as gay in 1997.

He said her bravery helped “push our country in the direction of justice”.

“It’s easy to forget now, when we’ve come so far… just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages almost 20 years ago,” he said during the award ceremony at the White House.

“What an incredible burden that was to bear – to risk your career like that – people don’t do that very often. And then, to have the hopes of millions on your shoulders.”

It is probably easy to forget how far we’ve come in twenty years because it’s equally easy to remember what 1997 was like, and a hotbed of homophobia the western world was not.

I was in university in 1997, the year Tony Blair won the General Election for Labour with no little help from Peter Mandelson.  Julien Clary was a household name and Graham Norton was getting there.  Diana died in 1997 and Elton John – who came out of the closet in 1976, when times really were different – wrote a song for her which reached number one on the singles chart.  The Mardis Gras was a mainstream event in Manchester, and Canal Street was as much a feature of the city as Maine Road.

Perhaps New York was different, and perhaps women coming out as gay was less common, and hence more difficult, than it was for men.  I just get the feeling there are vested interests out there trying to convince people that twenty years ago the world was a darker place than it was, and any progress is due to the benevolent actions of our enlightened political classes.  So we must grant them more power and allow them to intrude more deeply into our personal lives, of course.

Obama would have had a stronger point had he said 1987, and definitely 1977.  But 1997?  Nah.  Sex and the City hit the screens in 1998, and the (many) references to gay life and culture in there were hardly shocking.  Philadelphia came out in cinemas in 1993.  Things have improved to some degree of course, but I think any changes in public attitudes towards gays in the last 20 years have come almost exclusively from the older generations dying out and being replaced by people for whom homosexuality is unremarkable.

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.”

Heh.

Posted in Sex