Re-blogging with respect.
I’ve seen a number of articles written this week by men – nice, well-intentioned, feminist men, I’m sure – about how they empathize with Elliot Rodgers.
Oh, of course they’re disgusted by his actions and of course they think he was a terrible excuse for a human being, but, well, on some level they get it. Because they know what it’s like to be a lonely dude who feels isolated and unloved. They know what it’s like to want female attention but not know how to get it. They know what it’s like to be embarrassed and ashamed at finding yourself still a virgin at the age of twenty two. So while they condemn his actions, they can’t help but somehow feel a little bit sorry for him.
I can find it in my heart to feel many things, but being sorry for Elliot Rodgers will never be one of…
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This is a fine, accurate and considered response to issues I’ve long been aware of. Please read, and share if you will.
I’m not officially back. Maybe I am. I don’t know. All I know is that this needed to be said.
There’s news circulating today about a study linking autism and mass murder. You can read it here.
It’s not a terrible study. It might surprise you to hear the mother of a 5 year old on the autism spectrum say that, but I actually don’t have a ton of problems with it. Why? Largely because it spells out its limitations very clearly. The authors reviewed research (and I use this term loosely – you’ll see what I mean if you read it) in order to determine whether mass murderers since 1985 were formally diagnosed as autistic or likely should have been in order to reach their conclusions. They found that 67 of 239 killers researched fit their criteria.
The authors are careful to note this doesn’t mean people on the…
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When he noticed the naked little girl at the beach didn’t look quite like he did and asked why, they answered his questions in simple phrases painted in black and white, pink and blue, and tradition. And he learned that boys and girls were different.
When one of the neighbor kids painted his nails, they got angry. That wasn’t something boys did. And he learned that there were different rules for boys and girls, and that breaking those made people upset.
When he was handed down a pink bike from his cousin, they replaced it with a blue one, because they didn’t want him to be mocked for having a “girly” bike. And he learned that being girly was something to be mocked.
When he cried, they told him to be a man. And he learned that crying, and being not a man, was something less.
When he was being picked…
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Not my words – not my thoughts – but a summation of the words so often used to make the victim of a rape or assault into an offender.
Misogyny. Defined in one online dictionary as:
dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.
It has been around a long time.
Genesis, Chapter 3, King James Authorised version: Adam and Eve have eaten of the forbidden fruit, discovered shame in nakedness, and ‘God’ is asking him why:
14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
It’s pretty strong stuff, this, and stuff that is absorbed even where it is not directly promulgated, as if it were a kind of fairy tale yet more.
According to this it is woman who has caused pretty much all the suffering of man.
Timothy develops the theme thus:
Not Adam’s fault, but Eve’s. Oh, and the serpent’s.
For more than two thousand years, within the same cultures that defined as “God’s Will” the subjugation and the elimination of other cultures, which so defined also the subjugation of their own poorer brethren, within the same culture that allowed people of supposed ‘belief’ to perceive slavery as their “God’s Will”, within the same culture that today produces the hate mongers who vilify people for having different sexual orientations, women have been institutionally despised.
And the ‘Good Book’ from which I have quoted owes its existence to the same King James VI, it appears, who wrote the “Daemonologie”, a treatise on the evils of witchcraft in which the witches were…. You guessed it. Women.
Does age make all this irrelevant to the misogyny debate? No. Age gives a veneer of respectability, an endorsing continuity, to the worst possible of ideas.
The quotations have elongated this post. There is more to come.
I posed this question a while back, as some may remember. I have tried to get around to the key answers several times, but they refuse to resolve themselves properly. I seem to be engaged in combat with a ghost.
The ghost being there, I propose to let it reveal itself at a time of its own choosing rather than at a time of mine. It is an answer so capable of misinterpretation that the ground needs to be thoroughly prepared, the seeds carefully planted if they are going to turn into a comprehensible truth that is more than just a little more internet chatter.
The stoniness of the ground is illustrated – and I mean no unkindness to the poster concerned – by a response to my suggestion that when we say we ‘dress for ourselves’ we, to some extent, delude ourselves. ” I dress for myself,” said the respondent (I’m paraphrasing, not quoting) “and give no thought whatever to what anyone else thinks.”
This is commonly believed among women to be the truth. Questioning it is hard, but it is one of those hard questions that needs to be considered carefully before answering.
A hetero male like myself attends a function and finds at least one other male present identically dressed. No issue. At a formal function, and even at a formal function, the closer the hetero male is to uniformity the easier he is in his mind. At a less formal function, perhaps in that period of youth when most seek to emphasize their ‘uniqueness’, he may be mildly chagrined to find some other youth wearing exactly the same patterned shirt and blue jeans combo.
A woman arrives at a similar function and finds another woman identically dressed. For many, it seems, that is an issue.
You leave your home to go to work or to go out for the day. As you proceed down the street someone passing by seems, to you, to do a slight double-take. You’re not sure. A little while later much the same happens again. In a very short while you will be standing in front of a reflective surface checking that all is with your appearance as it should be. A seed of doubt has been planted. Why?
Why check yourself out? You did it in front of the mirror before you left and were satisfied. You dressed ‘for yourself’. How is it that someone else’s glance can make you uneasy?
Invited to a wedding you will not usually attend wearing the yoga pants and loose sweatshirt in which you may prefer to spend your off-duty hours, and that is not purely out of some sense that it would be disrespectful or irreverent to do so. And going to the office – even if there is no formal dress code – it’s unlikely that you will appear there in cut-off jeans and a ragged tee shirt just because you like the way they feel or look.
You stand before a mirror and look at an image that is not exactly your own, since it is inverted, and you apply the lipstick and face powder you didn’t bother to apply whilst you were doing chores earlier but do apply now that you propose to leave the house. Why? If you liked the way you looked before why will you not like it when you step outside the door?
Let’s go the ‘whole hog’. You’re going out to dinner, with friends of the same gender. You apply make-up. You carefully make the most of the hairdo that you have spent no inconsiderable amount of money on and yet which you can only see, like the make-up, in a mirror. You may go for the slinky number, for the low cut back or low cut front, for the uplift or the no-lift-at all nipple-poking-through-fabric look, and why?
You want to look ‘attractive’.
Flowers attract pollinating insects by their various forms of display; that is ‘they draw toward themselves’. The quality of magnets ‘attract’ – draw toward themselves – certain metals. Localities ‘attract’ – draw towards themselves – visitors by the display of their facilities.
So who do you seek to attract, to draw toward yourself? Yourself? Is putting on make-up, revealing or figure hugging clothes, skimpy underwear rendered visible by pantie-line or the simulation of semi-nudity that is avoiding the pantie-line altogether?
If you are doing all this ‘for you’ and with no thought for anyone else’s perception does it mean that what you really want is to hold, caress and even fuck yourself?
Don’t misunderstand me. You are entitled to wear – just as I am entitled to wear – anything you damned well please, and you are entitled to wear it in absolute safety. Come to that, we should all be entitled to wear absolutely nothing at all in absolute safety. Nothing, from nudity to the skimpiest outfit and a tight tee shirt emblazoned with the legend “Come Fuck Me!” entitles anyone to behave in a predatory way towards you.
NOTHING excuses the violation of another person.
But in order to properly understand the male-female dynamic, I believe it is necessary to come to terms with the truth. The ‘I’ for whom you and I dress is not some isolated and uniquely self-created individual. The ‘I’ for whom you and I dress has absorbed, often without question, values and constructs of the world around us. In no small part the ‘I’ for whom we dress is an ‘Other’, an internalised external other, the world that sees us.
This has consequences.
Posting because I haven’t posted in quite a while. Frankly, I’m not convinced I have anything worth saying any longer.
‘Good’ bless out there.
A discussion programme on the Nicky Campbell Radio 5 Live Breakfast show this week on whether a tight budget means a poor diet prompted quite a few callers to make comments including, ‘it’s all down to organising yourself’ or ‘it’s due to a lack of education’. Here at the London food bank, the majority of the people who come here for help know exactly what they should be eating. They know what a healthy diet looks like. They’re just desperate and hungry, and can’t often afford to buy items such as meat or many fresh vegetables. Or anything much at all. That’s why they’ve been given a voucher for the food bank by a frontline care professional such as a GP.
People on low in-work incomes – for example those working two zero-hours contracts paid below the Living…
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Strange Zander, alone, has never failed her. No lies, no excuses – only unfailing sweetness. No hint of another, no wayward glance, only compliments and kindness. Every day he worships her.
Her thighs upon his fluttering shoulders, his face deep-buried in pink and scent, moisture of tongue and pussy commingling, consuming fire dances, electric, in her loins.
Suffused and writhing, she begs him fill her, weeps come and joy and, coming, cries aloud:
“Zander! You are a fucking angel!”
As she sleeps, fulfilled, complete, the stars that once were him filter skyward, dust-motes in reverse, from her Heaven to his own.
by R V Raiment
Copyright 2004, Richard V Raiment
At the point of calling it a day I’ve decided instead just to put some work out there, starting with Flashers. These will be appearing in my WordPress and Tumblr blogs too.
Here’s a very slightly revised ten year old of 99 or so words.
A Writer’s Dilemma ( was’Variation on a Theme’)
Chance or mischance brought me home to find her naked, sucking the happy cock of a happier friend, his familiar head back-tilted with his pleasure, his familiar voice unfamiliar in its ecstasy. Having written the scene, I’ve never thought to see it, do not know if my anguished heart fits the script I typed so eagerly days ago.
And seeing me she’s laughing, looks so winsome, his jizm drizzling down her chin:
“I was only keeping him busy till you came home, hon,” she tells me, cheekily smiling, “so’s we could try the threesome that you wrote last week.”
Copyright 2004, Richard V Raiment
A week or so ago and as the freest of my free time drew to an end, I spent several hours composing a post in the series “Truth Seeking”. I composed it in WordPress, posted it, and saw it transpose from the article I had written into the new title I had chosen and a repeat of a book review I had posted only a little earlier in the week. The whole new article and the work it contained simply disappeared.
I have to start again, from the very beginning, and having learned my lesson am beginning in a word processor. My apologies for the delay.
A further digression:
Whilst I want, very much, to get onto that curious question, “What exactly is sex?” there is something else which needs to come first, tying-in with the concepts already raised:
- The human brain enjoys ‘games of deduction’ and searches out the hidden.
- Our brain uses our bodies to send and receive signals, of which many are unconscious, subconscious signals.
That the first is the case is scarcely debatable. In origin perhaps a defensive mechanism enabling us to understand potential benefits and dangers in the unseen and the partially-hidden around us, it is a major part of what we are. Whilst some might object to the concept that we may constantly have an unavoidable awareness of the bottoms, breasts and other private parts that clothes are ostensibly intended to conceal, there is no great surprise in some societies that deductive ‘seeing’ rather than deliberate ‘looking’ may enable some to detect the bulge of a concealed weapon under a jacket. We need also to explain the endless interest to all of us in forms of deduction as entertainment, including Sudoku, crosswords, quizzes, who-dunnits and the rest.
In the patch pocket tightly stretched I ‘see’ a small rectangular shape and easily deduce that it is a mobile phone. I can’t tell you what colour or model it is, but I ‘know’ what I am seeing. In the jeans tightly stretched I ‘see’ curves and I know they are not a pair of water-filled balloons. I am not choosing to ogle, I am merely ‘seeing’ with the information already contained in my brain.
Explain, otherwise, the attraction of the bikini. Ostensibly it conceals yet, in practice, it draws direct attention to that which it pretends to hide.
The second is likewise – I believe – virtually irrefutable. I read recently that ‘make-up’ was first used by men, long, long ago, and that kind of surprised me. In reality, however, this does not contradict the essential concept that what is worn upon the face is and was intended to emit signals, even if the signals intended were not always the same.
The reality – I believe – remains that modern cosmetics radiate sexualised signals of which both the sender and the recipient may not be entirely conscious.
The next step has to be that other digression I mentioned and concerns two fundamental beliefs of my own:
i) That the most dangerous lies are the lies we tell ourselves.
ii) That the human brain is an environment in which, to a very profound extent, we live, and that we shape it – consciously or otherwise – for our own comfort.
As the would-be dieter asserts “one more biscuit won’t harm me”, the smoker “one more cigarette’, the alcoholic “one more drink” there are times when most of us – I believe – are tempted to lie to ourselves. “Another ten minutes in bed and I’ll still have time to get to work”, “Another ten minutes playing Grand Theft Auto and I’ll get enough sleep before school tomorrow”, “So we haven’t got a condom; unprotected sex with this clearly fine and honourable would-be lover isn’t going to give me (a) an unwanted pregnancy, (b) an STD”. “All politicians are the same; voting is a waste of time”. “He says he loves me and will stop beating on me and I believe him”,“When she says ‘no’ she’s really saying ‘yes’”, “She was asking for it”.
From little lies to lies of devastating enormity, most of us deceive ourselves at least some of the time.
The environment of the mind.
Whether it’s by way of a furry gonk dependant from a PC, a photograph of a loved one on our desk or as a screensaver or the immediate adjustment of the height and ankle of our seat, our first instinct at the work-station is to make its environment as comfortable and comforting as we can make it. At home the same dynamic extends to the meals we eat, the curtains we hang, the décor of our rooms, the knitted toilet-roll cover in the bathroom and the positioning of that one key cushion on the sofa. In the car we adjust temperature settings, the tilt or height of the driver seat and make a selection in our in-car music. Just as the bird feathers its nest, we adjust the environments in which we exist to suit our greatest comfort. To do otherwise is considered strange.
Living in the physical world we live also in our minds. Thinking never really stops, reacting never stops until we die. We can deliberately modify our emotions by a choice of environment, by visiting a place (physically or mentally) that is of significance to us, by reading a book, listening to music, contemplating a work of art or watching a movie. We can do this, and we do do this.
We like to keep our minds comfortable, and this – very often at least – is a function of the self-deception I mentioned earlier.
Sitting comfortably at home we may turn the page of a newspaper, look away from the TV screen or change channels when suddenly confronted by images we do not want to see, because our minds are discomfited. When we realize that we have made a potentially humiliating mistake – forgetting a business appointment, forgetting an important anniversary, forgetting that we’d promised to be home by a particular time and returning to an incinerated dinner, our first instinct is usually to seek excuses – and for excuses read ‘lies’ – that will ameliorate the situation and, crucially, make our own minds more comfortable. Even in ourselves we will seek to excuse ourselves – ‘Well it’s not really my fault that I’ve been so busy…’ because there are times when it is uncomfortable to see who we actually are.
“On the other hand, one who has cultivated the art of reading will instantly discern, in a book or journal or pamphlet, what ought to be remembered because it meets one’s personal needs or is of value as general knowledge.”
“The art of reading consists in remembering the essentials and forgetting non essentials.”
Unable to find the specific – possibly misremembered – quote I wanted, these will have to suffice. They are words written by Adolf Hitler in his book “Mein Kampf” which, taken together, demonstrate the power of self-selection and self-deception. In essence, Hitler read with an agenda, accepted as evidence what he wanted to believe and rejected out of hand anything which contradicted the ‘evidence’ he sought.
He chose the furniture which brought the most comfort to his mental environment.
Vexed by the question of how much influence the media actually had in UK politics, significant studies were undertaken and came to a depressing but unsurprising conclusion; people absorb the information they want to absorb.
If a newspaper is telling you something you don’t like, buy a different newspaper. Indeed, make sure you go first to the newspapers which you know already are comfortable to your mind-set. If you’re a UK Conservative you avoid what remains of the Labour and Liberal Press. An editorial in the Independent is not going to impact significantly on the Conservative voter because he/she will never read it. An editorial in the Sun (UK) is not going to impact significantly on the Liberal voter for exactly the same reason. We are tribal in our loyalties because the tribe is a comfortable place to be.
It is this which makes so much of the media, including social media, so often a waste of time and effort. People develop a mind-set with which they are comfortable, a mind-set full of ‘common sense’ that is neither ‘sense’ nor ‘common’ but which meets their needs.
The haters hate because hating meets a need of their own and, often, because they are afraid to question the reason for their hate. Questioning upsets the mental equilibrium, discomfits the mind. Nonentities hate most easily, perhaps, because they are nonentities and because their hate gives them commonality with a particular tribe of haters, gives them a significance they don’t already have, allows them to despise others as much as they feel themselves to be despised, provides a raison d’etre.
But it is not only others, not only nonentities. We are all tempted to lie to ourselves in order to achieve a comfortable mindset, and that is the reason this piece has gone on so long.
Whatever belief I hold I must, in honour, try to question it and continue to question it until and unless I can come to an absolute certainty. Whenever a belief I hold offers me comfort, I must question it all the more intensely because I am human, vulnerable, and possibly therefore inclined to hold to beliefs BECAUSE they are comforting.
A belief offering comfort is not automatically wrong. It is, however, because it offers us comfort, something we need to question.
Henceforth I will be questioning some of those beliefs, beginning, at last, with ‘What exactly is sex?’