14. Define Sexuality

For much of history sexuality has not been divided up into fixed categories. In Ancient Greece being gay was seen  as a practice not as part of a person’s identity. The invention of the term homosexuality was recorded by Karoly Maria Kertbeny to right an injustice against a gay man.
Define Sexuality
In the Ottoman Empire there were three genders and two sexualities. The genders were Men, Women, and Boys and the sexualities the penetrator, and the penetrated. Sexuality was more fluid, not defined. Sex was seen as what people practiced not identified.

Towards the late-19th century, relationships between men and boys had fallen into disrepute. In a much-quoted document submitted to Abdülhamid II, sultan from 1876 to 1909, the historian and statesman Ahmed Cevdet Pasha wrote:
Woman-lovers have increased in number, while boy-beloveds have decreased. It is as if the People of Lot have been swallowed by the earth. The love and affinity that were, in Istanbul, notoriously and customarily directed towards young men have now been redirected towards girls, in accordance with the state of nature.

The decline of a more fluid view of sexuality was hurried in by the advent of Western-influenced heteronormativity in Ottoman society, and of the repression it inevitably entails. Ending up with homophobia being a powerful force in Turkey today. Define Sexuality

What is salutary is how we view the sexual norms of society today as being fixed and held forever. Our norms are just like any other. Fixed in a time and place. To begin and end. Seen over hundreds of years the fluidity is more apparent.
As part of global living perhaps we feel more threatened living with the others. So we have to have identities to make sure we can be amongst our own. And not some others. Also the rise of marketing demands categories so people can be specifically targeted and sold to.

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13. Confabulations

How to Resist a State of Forgetfulness.
Is it possible to read natural appearances as texts? Drawing flowers can be seen as messages, which are not verablised or scripted. The aim to respond to different rythms and forms which have a text but not a wriiten one. Confabulations 

In this present world of financial speculation we are drowned by the media by distracting information which blinds us to what is real and a truth. The world is no longer dictated by politicians and politics. But a global cartel of financiers, bankers, and speculators. Politicians debate the issues as if they are in charge. They use words such as democracy, choice, freedom which have been emptied of meaning. Populations glance at their talking heads, as though it were a pointless rote exercise.

The Press deliver a constant stream of shocking events which pulverises the listener into a glazed numbness. There is no back story or complicated history. Just a stream of shocks focused on the unpredicatability of life.

Everything is quanitified numerically, stripping it of a sense of quality or individuality. GDP, percentages, profit margins. But nothing of people and their hopes and fears. This creates an amnesia or forgetting. We are being educated to live as suffering in an endless uncertain time in a state of forgetfulness.

While the state of people around the world becomes more threatened. Countries invaded, eating junk, the planet warming. To be an activist in this time needs fortitude, and courage. The ways to protest are at the moment unclear  and unavailable.

Rather than the digital binary state of existence on a straight line we are the centres of circles. The circles of us remind us of an age where texts were not addressed to us but witnessed by us. Symmetry exists with chaos. Not just chaos alone.
“that what is desired is more reassuring than what is promised.” Berger P.142

Confabulations by John Berger 2016

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12. Four Minute Mile

Roger Bannister the first man to run under the Four Minute Mile in 3:59.4.
He almost didn’t run that day due to the weather conditions – well high winds.
As it was – before the commercialisation of sport – he didn’t train much, snatching runs in his lunch breaks.

Remarkably he had a bad month training previous to the record breaking run. So he decided that he should go on a three day hike, to regain his mojo. Not a good idea: but it allowed him a break from the burden of breaking the record.
Having run the 3:59.4 in Oxford the burden was lifted from him. But the record didn’t stand for long.

Six weeks later the Australian John Landy beat his record by a second. At a rematch in Vancouver named the Miracle Mile, Bannister beat Landy by 15 yards.

This was the era of sport was not professionalised. Runing was an amateur sport with little sponsorship. Bannister squeezed running into his career as a neurologist. Apparently he was more proud of his career than his running.
Roger Bannister 1929-2018     Four Minute Mile 

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11. Male Gaze

Men look at women in what can be described as the male gaze. Feminists believe that this is an objectification of women. The male gaze is not concerned with her personality. Her thoughts and feelings are subjugated to the dominance of male desire. For some men this is a right, for others an embarrassment that has to be repressed. It might be argued that for both groups of men it is subtly reinforced and sanctioned in a patriarchal age.

Freud talked about a deep seated male drive, called scopophilia: the sexual pleasure of looking. Cinema is used as a medium to satisfy male scopophilia. Perhaps a better description might be a hetrosexual masculine gaze.

To scrutinise the idea of the male gaze consider the female gaze. The stereotype would be that male gaze is visual, where as female gaze is more linked to the senses. But is the female gaze an equivalent to the gaze? There are many beautiful men to admire through media.
Yet if you believe in patriarchy – no. The male gaze exists in a power imbalance. Patriarchy encourages the sexual objectification of women.
Maleness oppressed by political correctness? Or the continuing oppression of women by men? 

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10. Gun Country

Another month and another mass murder in an American High School.
This was the 18th US school shooting this year. Mental health is used as an
explanation by the Right. 
But for most it is simply the number and easy access to guns.
Gun Country.

Like humans we are born to repeat and repeat. Particularly around trauma. The repeat is a signal to our slow primitive brains that there is something to be looked at. But we ignore it. It’s too painful. It’s too big. It threatens to shake the core. So it has to be pushed away. Reasoned with platitudes, excused with false reasoning.
It is again shut away. The top screwed on even tighter so that it doesn’t escape into view again.

Guns are at the heart of America. The trauma was the way the States were won: the gun was the medium of the creation of the Federation. No gun and the country might be lost. Protect yourself and your land from potential invaders who might grab it back.

And so it is to this day. If you don’t have a gun – you are vulnerable. Weak. Ready to be picked off by someone who is armed. The US is a vast country with many single homesteads in large empty spaces. Protected by the gun. Alone against strangers coming in from the emptiness.

But this time the repeat might be different. People have had enough. Something might change. Like the repeating drug addict who finally managed to kick the habit. The repeating repeat was more painful than the trauma. The message broke through. He had had enough and wanted to stop.
Gun Country.

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9. Oxfam Abuse

Oxfam abuse is in the news about its workers using vulnerable women in vulnerable parts of the world for sex. Apparently this is new news. Working abroad in challenging conditions trying to help a desperate local population attracts a certain kind of man. There is no infrastructure to enforce law and order. Rules are made up, to suit the situation allowing opportunity to be taken advantage of.

As ever the majority is tainted by the few. But the few are confident, charasmatic, entitled and priviledged. The education of the priviledged is in private schools where a sense of entitlement and getting what you want at any cost is subtly and not so subtly nurtured. This expectation with the networks to support this expectation creates rulers and managers with power.

The mix is the same. Men with Power, & Vulnerable Women with no power. What happened in Haiti was clear cut where the abuse of power was obvious. The charities allegedly tried to cover it up.
Men in power covering for men with power?

But abuse of power nearer home is a complex and tricky. The legalisation of prostitution is a popular liberal idea of the moment. But is all prostitution abuse? It seems that abuse has to be taken on a case by case basis. Does consent make the relationship non abusive? Even then is it up to the individuals’ judgement of morals and values as to what is abuse or abusive?
Oxfam Abuse 

 

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8. Stalingrad 75th

The Battle of Stalingrad was a turning point in the Second World War. It was considered one of the greatest battles of the entire war. It halted the German advance into Russia and turned the tide of the war in favour of the Allies.

The City of Stalingrad was a centre for the production or arms and vehicles. Capture of the city would cut transport links to the South of Russia. It would protect the northern flank of the German Army so they could press on into the oil fields of the Caucasus.

The City was attacked by 330,000 German troops. The Red Army put a resitsance inflicting casualties on the German Army. The Luftwaffe bombed the city with incendiary bombs destroying the wooden housing. Like modern warfare the city was fought by block by block, street by street, and building by building. 

The Russian counter offensive took the already dispirited and exhausted German Army by surprise. In a pincer movement through the more vulnerable under supplied flanks of the army manned by Romanian, Hungarian and Italian troops. The Volga River had frozen over which the Russians used to resupply their troops.The Russians forced the German army against Hitler’s orders to surrender. 

250,000 bodies were recovered in and around Stalingrad. Over a million Red Army soldiers dead, wounded or missing, with 40,000 Stalingrad civilians dead. The cost of war?
In 1945 Stalingrad was named a Hero City of the Soviet Union for its defense of the motherland.

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7. Rolling Stone

Dennis Edwards who was a former lead singer of the Motown group the Temptations died last Thursday. One of his most famous hits was “Papa was a Rolling Stone” The song was part of the group’s legacy in writing more political songs rather than the usual love songs.

He replaced David Ruffin with more grittier urgent soul voice better suited to the political agenda of the new songs.

The song is a lament from a son about his errant Father. The son keeps asking and asking to be told the truth about his Father, with the only retort being “Papa was a Rolling Stone” 

Dennis Edwards, singer and musician, born 3 February 1943; died 1 February 2018

Lyrics 

It was the third of September
That day I’ll always remember, yes I will
‘Cause that was the day that my daddy died
I never got a chance to see him
Never heard nothin’ but bad things about him
Momma I’m depending on you to tell me the truth
Momma just hung her head and said, son

Papa was a rolling stone
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died, all he left us was alone
Papa was a rolling stone (my son, yeah)
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died, all he left us was alone

Hey Momma!
Is it true what they say that Papa never worked a day in his life
And Momma, some bad talk goin’ round town sayin’ that
Papa had three outside children
And another wife, and that ain’t right
Heard some talk Papa doing some storefront preachin’
Talking about saving souls and all the time leechin’
Dealing in dirt, and stealing in the name of the Lord
Momma just hung her head and said

Papa was a rolling stone (my son)
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died, all he left us was alone
Hey Papa was a rolling stone (dad gumma it)
Where ever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died, all he left us was alone

Hey Momma
I heard Papa called himself a jack-of-all-trades
Tell me is that what sent Papa to an early grave
Folks say Papa would beg, borrow, steal
To pay his bills
Hey Momma
Folks say Papa never was much on thinking
Spent most of his time chasing women and drinking
Momma I’m depending on you to tell me the truth
Momma looked up with a tear in her eye and said, son

Papa was a rolling stone (well, well, well, well)
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died, all he left us was alone (lone, lone, lone, alone)
Papa was a rolling stone
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died, all he left us was alone

(I said) Papa was a rolling stone (yes he was, my son)
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died, all he left us was alone
My daddy was
Papa was a rolling stone (yes he was, yeah)
Wherever he laid his hat was his home)

 

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6. Hostess Grope

So the President’s Club has closed after reports of hostesses being groped, and propositioned by rich powerful businessmen. This was revealed by two undercover reporters from the Financial Times.
In the post Weinstein era more and more industries are coming out & recognising men abuse women physically, sexually and financially.
Hostess Grope

In this era of patriarchy where men use power to subjugate women, it is difficult to look at mens’ sexuality in an undistorted way. It seems that a large majority of hetrosexual men’s desire, want, or instinct is to try and have sex with as many women as they can. Men use status, money and power to attempt to do this.
Is this selfishness, greed, or an inbuilt imprint to procreate?

At this time the predominant norm is that hetrosexual men and women have couple relationships which children can be born into to create family units. There are issues of fidelity and trust which both sides subscribe to excluding anyone else from the partnership. Monogamy. There are many cultural norms to support monogamy, so it remains undisputed socially. But more critically it is an internal value deeply stamped into our psyche.

So on the one hand this male behaviour is selfish and greedy. Men should be able to control their urges. Society expects men to behave to the norms of Monogamy.

On the other hand Monogamy doesn’t appear to contain male behaviour. Mens’ behaviour must be repressed. Mens’ clubs exist where women are made available to men. The use of prostitutes and the sex industry is rife, and the rise(?) of human trafficking of women and men increases.

But even to start to have debates around the topic of male & female sexuality seems threatening and to undermine the basic building block of society: the family. Perhaps we could start to admit however civilised and technologically advanced we are: we still have very primitive brains, which determine primitive behaviour.
Hostess Grope

 

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5. FOMO

FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out is the anxiety of being left out from what other people are doing through social media. People write about the highlights of their lives on media platforms making their lives look continuously special. This creates anxiety and anger in the spectator who feels their life is boring, and they are missing out.

Though FOMO is exasperated by social media it has always been so.
Throughout time.

To survive we have to know what is going on around us. In a tribe this could mean the difference between life and death. The feeling of anxiety and fear is a signal that we need to pay more attention to out external world and the people in it. To feel that we are not part of what is going triggers a primitive part of the brain into fight or flight mode.

How ever modern the medium: we are still humans interacting with the medium. Our brains are slow to adapt to the modern world. In fact they are designed for a life no longer lived. Technology keeps pushing ahead while our brains stay fixed in the natural animal world.  

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Disclaimer: This weblog is the view of the writer and for general information only
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