23 Nov 2010

Pornography.

In my Religious Ethics class today we were having a discussion about Internet pornography and the moral implications of it.

"It degrades women."

Yes, it does. But let's not forget that it degrades men as well. This should not be a feminist issue. By saying that it's only women who suffer from the sex industry, we alienate men from the debate and seem to make it okay for them to enjoy and participate in pornography. What about gay porn, or straight porn? The man in those films are being taken advantage of, like the women. To be paid for having sex and being filmed or photographed is a decision that many people will take because of financial need. The men and women in this industry are being exploited at the basest level possible.

Men are also suffering from watching porn in the same way that women are. Their view of sex is being manipulated and altered in the most awful of ways. Something which should be about love and mutual pleasure is often being portrayed to young, impressionable boys as something violent and atavistic. These boys are growing into men whose early knowledge of sex has stemmed from images they have seen on the Internet, and they are projecting these false sexual ideals onto young women, who cannot and should not match up to them.

Pornography degrades people. Those involved and those watching.

20 Oct 2010

Politics has left me disillusioned, suddenly.

A few months ago I had a small disagreement with someone whose blog I really like and respect (http://jjbeazley.blogspot.com/ ) about voting. I was decrying people who don't vote, and I think (as far as I can remember - it was a while ago) he told me to wait until I was older and I might feel differently. He said that he doesn't vote because he felt there wasn't anyone worth voting for. Well, I think I understand a bit of where he was coming from. I am losing my faith in politics and it scares me. What if I get to 18 - only 10 months away - and I don't want to vote for anyone because each political party is as downright awful as the next.

I can't, I can't, I can't bring myself to imagine voting Labour. I may agree with some things they say but others are so contradictory to my views that I know I would not be able to vote for them with my conscience in tact. I don't and I don't think I'll ever support Trade Unions, for example, and so to vote for a party with such a link to them feels against my better principles. And it was partly them who put the country into the dire economic straights it is in now, and has meant the present government have to make such awful cuts now.

I have always thought I'd vote Conservative, but suddenly I feel let down by them. I don't give a fuck what David Cameron might say - he's squeezing the middle in all the places where it will hurt me and my family most. I feel betrayed by the decisions they are inevitably going to make about University - they are short sighted and mad. I don't like that they are investing more money into science and maths and are bringing the arts and humanities to their knees. As Benedict Cumberbatch said at the rally/conference thing to save the Arts Council - the NHS saves lives but it's the arts that enrich them. The government actually put more money into the arts during the war because they understood the importance of culture in dark times. And I think the Academy scheme is fucking ridiculous - my awful Grammar school is going to be the first in my county. All they will do is marginalise the humanities and continue with the elitism among science students. A little part of me wonders, too, whether private school boys who have grown up in a privileged little bubble can really understand the problems facing me?

And, Jesus. Don't even get me started on the Lib Dem's. Principles? Standards? Shame? Do they have any? I think it's clear what the answer to that is.

I'm sorry. This is not coherent and I've sworn too much. And I'm sorry if I misquoted you, JJ Beazley.

13 Oct 2010

My Faith in Humanity is Bruised but Never Broken.



All this news coverage about the miners rescue is one of those times when I feel extraordinarily proud to be part of humanity. This is the human race at it's very best - it's their survival instinct and their capacity for coping with terrible conditions. It's their perseverance and the way they won't give up without a fight. It's their technological advances and their compassion.





It's just bloody nice to feel proud of ourselves for once.


4 Oct 2010

Freedom Fighting.

In 1912 The Suffragettes broke every single window down the length of Oxford Street and Regent Street. Every single one.

That is passion. That is the depth of commitment and that is the courage these women had.

I told someone this today and they said "that's like terrorism. Didn't they used to put acid in post boxes and stuff too?"
My response was yes they did. "But I wouldn't call it terrorism." I said. "I think they were freedom fighters."
The person snorted. "You wouldn't call the people that crashed the planes on 9/11 freedom fighters, would you?"

Fair point, I thought. "No. I wouldn't. But I don't think the people who flew into the twin towers were in the same position as the Suffragettes. The difference is is that the Suffragettes were actually fighting for their freedom, they were actually being persecuted by a social injustice and they were actually being denied a basic human right."

And do you know what? I'll stand on my soap box and stick up for a 'terrorist' who has been pushed so far into a corner the only thing that they can do is fight for basic human rights any day.

11 Sep 2010

This says everything I would like to say but can't quite put into words as wonderful as this.

"Five years on
what false alarm can be trusted again?
What case or bag can be left unclaimed?
What flight can be sure to steer its course?
What building can claim to own its form?
What column can vow to stand up straight?
What floor can agree to bear its weight?
What tower can vouch to retain its height?
What peace can be said to be water-tight?
What truth can be said to be bullet-proof?
Can anything swear to be built to last?
Can anything pledge to be hard and fast?
What system can promise to stay in place?
What structure can promise to hold its shape?
What future can promise to keep the faith?

Everything changed. Nothing is safe."


- An extract from 'Out of the Blue' by Simon Armitage, written to commemorate the September 11th attacks five years on.

4 Sep 2010

"September, 1939."

It was one of those beautiful days that come in late September where the evening sun bathes everything orange and pink. Sylvia was sat on the back step outside her house with her blue tea-dress and big wooly cardie to keep off the chill. She'd just lit up a cigarette when her eyeline was obstructed by a tall, dark figure.
"Robbie!" She budged up to make room for him on the step and blew smoke in his face. He coughed, politely. They sat in comfortable silence. They'd been doing this for 18 years, ever since their respective mothers had had babies next door to eachother in the same month. Beautiful, noisy Sylvia and pale, bookish Robbie had grown up with and in spite of eachother.
"I've joined up." Robbie said it in a rush, as if he couldn't hold it in. He looked jangly and strung out, his grasshopper legs bouncing up and down. Sylvia dropped her cigarette and made a strange 'oof' sound, as if she'd been winded. She picked it up and tried to light it again, but her hands were shaking. In the end Robbie did it for her.
"You're joking, aren't you? I mean, who'd want a skinny little spec like you?"
He blushed. "The navy. I'm going to read maps and that sort of thing - navigation."
"The navy? The bloody navy! What on earth do you want to go in the navy for?" She was trying to laugh but it wasn't coming off. "I thought you were leaving me to be all la-di-da at University - not leaving me to go play boats!"
"There's a war on, Sylvie."
"And don't I bloody know it! It's all I've heard for days and it's only been three weeks!" er voice cracked. "It's all a lot of fuss about nothing." She rested her head on his shoulder, it fit just exactly in the space between his neck and his shoulder. "Will you wear those trousers like that film we saw? Do you remember that one? The one with the naval officer and his girl in the Congo?"
Of course Robbie remembered that film. He'd spent the whole picture trying to pluck up the nerve to kiss her, but had lost it when all she could talk about on the way home was the handsome lead actor.
"Robbie?" She moved her head slightly so the tip of her nose pressed into his neck.
"Yeah, I remember. I'm not sure what I'll be wearing to be honest."
"Oh Robbie. Why do you have to go? Couldn't you have just waited for them to call you up if they'd needed you?" Sylvia pulled her arms up and around his shoulders so the cigarette smoke blew through his brown hair.
"If I wait for draft - and draft's coming - then I'll get put in the army straight away. You know I'd be no good as a private, Sylvie. This way I can be useful and still make sure I don't get myself killed."
Sylvia began to cry quietly. "Shut up! Please don't say anything like that."
"You sound like mum."
She sighed. "When do you leave?"
"Two weeks."
She took another drag over his shoulder and he coughed again. "You'll have to start smoking if you're going in the navy. And you'll need tattoo's. Tattoo's and prostitutes - one for every port."
"Lay off it Sylvie."
They sat for a while like that, her arms around his neck and her lips and nose pressing into the skin between his collar bone and chin.
"Don't forget me. I don't care how pretty the whores are in Calcutta. You've always got to come back to me." He could smell the smoke on her breath as she lifted her head up and looked at him, very seriously.
"Sylvia Jones, you are the most beautiful girl I will ever see - even more beautiful than the whores of Calcutta." They both laughed nervously as their heads drew closer together.
In the end she kissed him. Everything was about to change for good. This last golden September of 1939 would be remembered as the calm before the storm of the next six years. It would be the memories they made in this moment that would carry them through the horrors they had yet to face, and Sylvia seized on this moment to make her own.
Robbie reached out for hand and held it tight. "I'm always going to be coming back for you, Sylvie."

"Homecoming."

This is another story. I imagine that the stories I will be posting at the moment could be organised into some kind of collection.

Life continued exactly as if a war had happened. Husbands returned to wives who had lived new, independent lives for six years. Pretty, quiet girls who liked reading and listening to the wireless had turned into beautiful women who smoked and drove vans and worked salvaging war-torn London. Whereas once they had been happy to practice recipes they had learned at a cookery class on their husbands, they'd got used to cooking meals for 10 families at WVS Shelters on rations. When they tried (and they did try, every single one of them) they discovered they couldn't go back to a life before Woolton Pie and careless talk costing lives and air raid sirens. They'd seen horrors too. They might not have been in Africa or Italy but they'd seen children lying dead in the street after bomb blasts. They'd spent nights sitting awake in Undergrounds listening to aeroplanes and doodlebugs. They had had their own war.
Their husbands, their men, their boys, their heroes - they were having trouble too. Blighty had been so idealised in their absence it could never match up to what it really would be; tired, grey, damaged and altogether older than it had been when they'd left. Some of them returned to houses without rooves. Others returned to houses without wives.
It was hard to explain why they had been changed irrevocably. When you are asked across the dinner table what's wrong, how can you tell your wife that the reason you feel sick and dizzy is because burnt pork fat smells exactly like a burnt man in a plan? How can you explain why you don't want to go to church and plays God's benevolence anymore? How can you lie in your marriage bed and admit the nightmares you have are about the man you killed?
It wasn't just the memories of war, either. It was the routine of civilian life. Men who had flown spitfires and left with a perfect record were rewarded by returning to bank jobs. Where were the card games, the dirty jokes and where was the adrenalin? Living every day for six years with the fear of dying had given many men an edge and a hardness that couldn't translate back to life in England. If boredom was depression then the whole of the country was suffering badly.
Yes. The war changed everything all over again when it ended. Life continued as if it had happened.