News just in - it’s everywhere; they’re all at it! If there was such a thing as a divine creator he would be banging his head repeatedly on his desk. Why oh why, he/she/it would be asking, did he/she/it create the laws of sheer cussedness? You know them: Sod’s Law, Murphy’s Law, Parkinson’s Law and here, the inevitability going under the monicker of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Who could possibly have predicted – save for an omnipotent, omniscient god – that a design feature that ensured the survival of the species would turn out to be so, er, problematic.
Animals fuck; they can’t help themselves. And when they aren’t fucking, they are thinking about fucking, talking about fucking, trying to create the opportunity to fuck or slagging off somebody else for any or all of the above. The selectively sanctimonious media just love it. Take Gove gate (what a long time ago Saturday seems now). My, what opprobrium was heaped on Michael Gove when he observed that an interview with John Humphrys was akin to entering Harvey Weinstein’s bedroom.
The weak punchline was lost amid the howls of derision and anger, completely ignoring Neil Kinnock’s follow up repetition of the arguably closer to the knuckle comments about groping. As ever, there is a divide between the punishment tariffs for left and right; it took several days for Jeremy Corbyn to approve sanctions against Jared O’Mara’s transgressions, even in the face of petitions from most of the rest of the party, while Gove was hung out to dry before he’d even finished talking about losing his dignity. Maybe Jeremy was reflecting on his own sexual shenanigans before passing judgement?
And suddenly the entire male population of the planet seems to be getting in pre-emptive apologies for advances, real or imagined, from their dim and distant past. It’s a bloody minefield. In a phone-in radio show I heard a presenter undergoing all sorts of linguistic contortions to try and grasp what was considered acceptable. At which point does a compliment become an unwanted advance? I mean ‘nice bangers’ is probably out in most circumstances, but given the lengths some women go to, ‘your breasts look very attractive in that tee-shirt’ would surely be a welcome observation? ‘Top top’ hardly cuts it.
And having negotiated the unsolicited advance without rejection, at what point of persistence does that morph into sexual harassment and that in turn into sexual assault? If there are indeed rules, then we should be told. Men especially are very good at rules, if only we know what they are. Seriously, if you lay down exactly what is and isn’t acceptable we would behave so much better. But this is just the problem; nobody knows at which point any given woman will switch from interested to repelled and we’ve all seen it happen... or is that just me?
Honestly, the world has gone stark, staring bonkers over all this. And it isn’t even particularly recent; negotiating the sexual battle ground has always been fraught with difficulty but it seems to have become increasingly awkward in direct proportion to the amount of sexual freedoms won by groups with ever more diverse proclivities. All we want to know is, how do we ‘know’... you know? In other news it has been reported that up to 300,000 people in the UK leave jobs in the UK every year due to mental health issues. Is it any wonder?
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