Tag Archive | Sexual politics

“Don’t vote for ‘Satanic’ SNP” Minister tells congregation

Wee Free clergyman brands gender and child policies “evil”.

$$-AAA-0001In the run-up to the Scottish Parliamentary elections, a Free Church of Scotland minister has branded the Scottish National Party (SNP) as “Satanic” over their stance on gender fluidity and one of their key policies on children in an outspoken and strongly-worded letter to his congregation, asking them to think before voting SNP.

Reverend Paul Gibson of Knox Church in Perth, part of the “Free Kirk” or “Wee Frees” as they are known, published his letter online in the wake of the recent announcement SNP party leader and First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament) that if re-elected, the SNP would restructure gender recognition laws in Scotland to bring it into line with “international best practice”. This would include individuals being allowed to change their gender on their birth certificates without medical consultation or authorisation from a committee, and for non-binary people to be able to state their gender fluidity on official documentation.

Insisting that “The Scriptures plainly teach that God is the author of all life (and therefore the sole designator of each person’s sex)”, Rev Gibson, also taking a side-swipe at same-sex marriage, insists that human beings are made male and female, that God “ordained the institution of marriage between a man and woman as the pinnacle of all human relationships”, and that “He has not only enabled the biological process of procreation but also given this married partnership a divinely ordained responsibility of raising their offspring according to His precepts.”

Continuing in what can only be called a rant, Rev Gibson states “We have already seen widespread celebration of the oxymoron that is same-sex marriage… …our authoritarian “progressives” want to take us further into the darkness by effectively disregarding the God-given authority and responsibility of parents, as well as allowing – if not even encouraging – all people to choose which gender they wish to identify with. You almost have to pinch yourself each time you even think about it – so extreme is the departure, not just from biblical morality, but basic wisdom and common sense. Can a government really be this foolish and that Satanic?! The answer, tragically, is yes.”

Conceding that “there is a good degree of truth to the statement, “they’re all as bad as each other” – at least from a Christian perspective”, Rev Gibson goes onto claim that “I for one have no burning desire to champion the cause of one party over the others within the church, nor to make out that one is worse than the others purely on the basis of some long held political bias”, but then continues, “However, when you consider the massive potential there is for the Named Person Scheme to be used as a means of interfering with the role of parents who seek to raise their children according to Christian values, coupled together with our government’s plans regarding gender, you would have to conclude that true believers need to think long and hard as to whether such a political party – one which seems intent on destroying any lasting imprint of God’s design – can honestly be supported in good conscience before our Creator.”

Really, Paul dear? You are trying to say your god is the designer and creator of all life, who decides the sex of every individual, that the same god ordained marriage between a man and woman for procreation and bringing up children, you call same-sex marriage an “oxymoron”, you brand the SNP as Satanic, say you have no bias, then state that “true believers” cannot support the SNP?

A lot to get through here, but deep breath…

The SNP are Satanic, and by inference anti-Christian?

For a great many years now the SNP have been funded by the deeply religious Stagecoach buses founder and owner, Brian Souter. That is the same Brian Souter who led a campaign to retain the deeply homophobic legislation, Section 28 (in England) / 22A (in Scotland), which made it illegal to ‘promote’ homosexuality in schools. That legislation effectively made it illegal for LGBT+ young people to mention their sexuality and thus further entrenched guilt and depression in many. Although I truly admire the SNP government in Scotland and am a firm supporter of Scottish independence, that they continue to receive money from Souter is one of the main reasons I refuse to join the party.

Every Education Committee in Scotland must, by law, have a religious, i.e. Christian, representative upon it. In ten years in power, and in five years of a majority government, the SNP have done nothing to change that, despite only 39% of Scots now counting themselves as religious, and church membership and attendance in sharp decline in Scotland.

The SNP administration have built more new Roman Catholic schools than any administration previous to them.

Every school in Scotland must offer Religious and Moral Education (RME), which parents can opt their children out of. Few parents are aware of this right, and when the SNP government were petitioned by the Scottish Secular Society to change this to an “opt-in” – whereby the schools would have to ask parents if they wanted their children to receive RME – they downright refused to do so.

John Mason MSP of the SNP in 2014 tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament stating that creationism should be taught in schools as science could not disprove it (yes, dears, he really asked science to prove a negative). The motion failed, but that it got as far as being considered underlines the fact that the SNP government is in fact riddled with Christians.

The SNP candidate for Central Scotland, Sophia Coyle, is a committed Christian and ardent anti-abortionist, and is also opposed to same-sex couples adopting children.

The Scottish government has an advisory committee on religion, which secular, humanist and atheist groups were not made aware of until 24 hours before it’s first sitting. The Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, Rev David A Robertson – effectively Rev Gibson’s boss – sits upon that committee.

God designates the sex of every individual?

Well firstly, biological sex, i.e. how we are born, and psychological gender are two different things. Gender Dysphoria is a recognised medical condition, which has been deeply researched by experts in the field, not “progressives”, and the conclusion of science is that a transgender woman is a woman, a transgender man is a man, and a non-binary person is a non-binary person – which is precisely what transgender and non-binary people have been telling cisgender people since time began.

Being transgender or non-binary is no more a choice than being cisgender is. If anyone disagrees with me, then I challenge them to present me with the peer-reviewed science disproving Gender Dysphoria, or stating it is a choice. And note I said “peer-reviewed science”. Do not even try presenting that dusty old book of Bronze Age goat herders campfire tales; that is not the proof, it is the claim.  And if anyone still disagrees and claims that gender is a choice, then tell me when you chose to be cisgender?

I think I speak for all transgender and non-binary people that while we are happy with who we are now, if we could have chosen to avoid the confusion with our gender identity, the mental turmoil, the mixed emotions, the depression, the ostracisation from family, friends, and society in general, the abuse, the threats and the actual violence visited upon us, we would have never opted for it. As it is we never got that choice, and all the psychological damage and abusive treatment we have suffered has been at the hands of others, not our own.

Of course the greatest place where Rev Gibson’s argument of his god designating everyone’s biological sex falls down is when intersex babies, with genitals from both sides of the gender binary are born. When an intersex baby is born, if God existed, would that then not be that God’s design? One wonders how Rev Gibson would cope were he father to such a child. Would he decide the child’s gender, and authorise surgery to assign his chosen gender? If he did so, would he not be interfering with God’s design? Or would he leave it to the child to decide when they were old enough which gender they were? If so, and surgery were carried out, would that child not then be interfering with God’s design? And would that child leaning towards one gender not then completely destroy Rev Gibson’s argument of gender being a “choice”? Or if the child grew to realise they were happly to remain intersex, which would be adhering to “God’s design”, would that not then completely destroy Rev Gibson’s arguments against gender fluidity?

If you’re reading this, Rev Gibson, I suggest you sit down and consider the above carefully – a large glass of perspective and soda may help. And while your at it, consider that the only person who is the ultimate expert on their gender is the individual concerned. And that applies to transgender, genderfluid / non-binary, and cisgender people.

Marriage was ordained by God as one man / one woman for procreation and bringing up families?

By ‘God’, Rev Gibson here of course means the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible. I can only take it by making such a statement that to add to his sins, the reverend gentleman is also a young earth creationist, who maintains that the Bible is to be taken literally as the unerring word of his God, and that the entire universe, the Earth, and all life – including mankind – were created in six days, 6000 years ago (someone forgot to tell the Egyptians, in the same region where the scriptures were written, and who have a recorded history going back 7000 years). Unfortunately for Rev Gibson, that has long been proven to be cobblers, and just as mankind long predates the Bible, so does marriage, which has been found in every culture on the face of the globe as a social contract between two people who love each other.

If Rev Gibson insists that marriage was instituted by HIS God, then I leave it to him to tell every married couple in Scotland who are Muslim, Hindu, some other non-Christian religion, or of no religion, that they are not married. And once Police Scotland are done with him for Religious Hate Speech, he may wish to look at what Scots Law has to say about marriage, and the fact that it makes little mention of religious faith.

Likewise for Rev Gibson is to claim that marriage is for one man / one woman is to be a hypocrite to his own faith. In the scriptures polygamous marriage is the most common form, with monogamous marriage being the exception rather than the rule. I often found it amusing that religious objectors claimed that same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy, which they called sinful, when it is so common in the Bible; just as the same people claimed it would lead to incest, when it is equally common in the Bible, and if creationists were to be believed, then we would all ultimately be the descendants of incestuous unions of the children of Adam and Eve.

If marriage is for procreation and bringing up families alone, one has to ask if Rev Gibson has ever refused to marry an elderly couple, or a couple unable to have children due to matters of physical disability? This is another piece of hypocrisy I intensely dislike from homophobic clergy, who bang on about procreation and family, yet will happily marry elderly couples and those who cannot have children. This entire argument falls down on the fact that people marry for love, and for companionship. My own parents often stated they married for companionship, my siblings and I came along later. So if a heterosexual couple marry for love and companionship, although they be elderly, unable to have children through physical disability, or even if one or both are asexual, then exactly the same applies to same-sex couples.

Rev Gibson calls same-sex marriage an “oxymoron”. He must agree then that it makes sense? Or is he just as ignorant as many others using that word are nowadays? An oxymoron is not, as many think, a mere contradiction in terms. Rather it is a contradiction which ultimately makes sense.

The Oxford English Dictionary gives this definition of ‘oxymoron’;

“A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g. faith unfaithful kept him falsely true).”

We can see from that example that “falsely true” whilst apparently contradictory in this instance, ultimately makes sense. Likewise, Liverpool beat poet Roger McGough made wonderful use of an oxymoron in his poem The Fallen Birdman; “People gathered round the mess, in masochistic tenderness”.

Therefore, if Rev Gibson is asserting that same-sex marriage is an oxymoron, he is essentially stating that it ultimately makes sense.

If I am wrong on this one, I am sure the lovely Clare Flourish whom I follow here on WordPress, and who is much more learned in the English language than I am, shall soon put me right.

There is “massive potential… …for the Named Person Scheme to be used as a means of interfering with the role of parents who seek to raise their children according to Christian values”?

The Named Person scheme is part of the SNP policy of Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC). It is part of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, which when going through the Scottish Parliament, had full support of almost every party, with only the Scottish Conservative Party (who are about as “Scottish” as a Wiltshire cricket pitch) opposing it. It has the full support of several children’s charities and Police Scotland, it is based on models from other countries and yet more countries are looking at GIRFEC and the Named Person scheme with views to emulating it.

GIRFEC recognises that every child is different and an individual and aims for them to achieve their best within their abilities, rather than treating all children as the same, and expecting them all to achieve the same standards. The Named Person scheme is not about interfering at all. Every child will have a Named Person within the education and / or social care systems whom the child or their parents can turn to in time of need. The Named Person equally shall be trained to look out for a child who is unhappy, failing, and how to help them, and the warning signs of abuse, and how to properly address that.

The only objectors to GIRFEC and the Named Person scheme are a tiny group of protesters, who are attempting to challenge it in court, and which is almost certain to fail.

I have to say, if Rev Gibson thinks that the Named Person scheme has the potential for interference in bringing up children, particularly in the Christian faith, then he must have a very dim view of Scotland’s educationalists and one can only wonder just how much contact he has had with Scottish teachers. It just so happens that through a job I was once in, I had quite a bit of contact with teachers in Scotland, and a surprisingly large number of them are in fact active Christians. Indeed, I find the number of Christian teachers quite disturbing and I would be more worried about them attempting to push their faith upon children irrespective of children’s wishes. These fears were realised a few years ago, when two head teachers at a South Lanarkshire primary school were dismissed after children had been presented with creationist literature at an after-school club ran by American evangelists.

If the Named Person scheme were such a worry to Scottish parents, then the tiny take up of the No To NP protest certainly does not bear that out. Likewise, the Scottish Tories have been extremely quiet about it in their campaign for the Scottish Parliamentary elections. The SNP won a majority government in the Scottish Parliament in 2011 – in a proportional representation voting system devised to make majority government ‘impossible’ – and are on track to win another majority government when Scotland goes to the polls on Thursday, 5 May, 2016. If Named Persons were really such a huge issue, then the Tories would be pushing that strongly, just about every parent in Scotland would be against it, and the SNP would be lucky to win a handful of seats. The fact that the same parents are fully intending to vote SNP tells it’s own story; that having been given the information about GIRFEC / Named Persons, they understand it, and they like it.

But then, in claiming he is not biased but given his strong opposition to Named Persons, Rev Gibson gives away that he is indeed biased, and given which party was the only one to oppose GIRFEC, it is obvious how he votes. He says it himself; “I for one have no burning desire to champion the cause of one party over the others within the church, nor to make out that one is worse than the others purely on the basis of some long held political bias.” Why even add that bit about bias unless he has one?

So what does Holy Wullie, sorry, Reverend Gibson, do? He effectively tells his congregation how to vote, stating that those “true believers need to think long and hard as to whether such a political party – one which seems intent on destroying any lasting imprint of God’s design – can honestly be supported in good conscience before our Creator.”

And goes further by calling the SNP “Satanic” and “evil”.

Want to see what a truly evil government is, Rev Gibson? It is one which tells severely disabled and terminally ill people that they are fit for work and takes benefits away from them. It is a government which seeking to make savings, goes after the poorest of the poor, while giving the obscenely rich tax breaks and incentives to make even more money. It is a government of one of the richest countries in the world which tells people who have paid into the system all their working lives that there’s no money in the pot for their pensions, and they’ll have to work for more years to come. It is a government which claims to be helping refugee children, taking only those from Syria, and turning a blind eye to the lone refugee children just across the English Channel, many of whom are at danger from trafficking and child prostitution. All that, and many other things visited upon the UK by the Tory Westminster government, are the epitome of evil.

And I personally think Rev Gibson is crediting his Wee Free parishoners with far too much intelligence; if they were at all capable of thinking long and hard, they would not be in the Free Kirk.

I am an atheist, and I am also a secularist; I believe in removing religion from politics and public life as much as possible. I fully recognise that everyone is entitled to an opinion, even the unco righteous like Reverend Gibson. I am also fully aware that for many Christians, including dear Clare Flourish, their faith is a main driving force in speaking out against all sorts of wrongs, and I admire their passion in that. The Society of Friends (Quakers), the Iona Community and St John’s Episcopal Church in Edinburgh are certainly no slouches at speaking out against social injustice.  When any member of clergy tries to tell their congregation how to vote however, they cross the line from opinion to interference in politics, and that needs to be challenged wherever possible. I am fully aware that clergy pay taxes on their earnings, just like the rest of us, the churches as organisations however do not, and given that Reverend Gibson and his own Wee Free Moderator, Reverend David A Robertson, have both been very vocal recently about SNP policies on transgender and non-binary people, then I for one say it is time to remove tax exempt status from the Free Kirk.

As a footnote, given that Reverend Robertson has long stated his support for an independent Scotland, one wonders if he will pull Rev Gibson up for his attack upon the SNP? Given that Robertson recently published an “open letter” to Nicola Sturgeon, saying much the same as Gibson, I sincerely doubt it.

The full text of Reverend Gibson’s letter can be read here:


“Open letter” from Reverend David A Robertson, Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, to Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland:


Stephen Fry may just be right

$$-AAA-001FryWords taken out of context?

I have to admit to deeply liking Stephen Fry. Erudite, educated, highly intelligent, extremely funny, a brilliant actor, comedian, presenter and orator, a biting sarcasm, and very outspoken about things he is passionate and cares very deeply about, including LGBT+ rights and atheism, what is there not to like?

He has now come out with a statement however which one can only hope are ill-chosen words. It certainly seems like that. But if not, then he perhaps needs to take a good long look at himself. Speaking on censorship and online attitudes, Stephen Fry appeared to tell rape and child sexual abuse victims to “just grow up”.

“There are many great plays which contain rapes, and the word rape now is even considered a rape,” Fry stated on US chat show, The Rubin Report.

“They’re terrible things and they have to be thought about, clearly, but if you say you can’t watch this play, you can’t watch Titus Andronicus, or you can’t read it in a Shakespeare class, or you can’t read Macbeth because it’s got children being killed in it, it might trigger something when you were young that upset you once, because uncle touched you in a nasty place, well I’m sorry.

“It’s a great shame and we’re all very sorry that your uncle touched you in that nasty place – you get some of my sympathy – but your self pity gets none of my sympathy because self pity is the ugliest emotion in humanity.

“Get rid of it, because no one’s going to like you if you feel sorry for yourself. The irony is we’ll feel sorry for you, if you stop feeling sorry for yourself. Just grow up.”

I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, but nonetheless I am going to attempt to be charitable and give Stephen Fry the benefit of the doubt. I think I can see what he is trying to say, just that on this occasion he did not express his views as clearly as he should have.

I think what Stephen is trying to say is that rape and abuse survivors, and I count myself in this, cannot expect the world to fit itself around them. Plays, films, shows, other media and even everyday things will indeed spark of memories, but we survivors cannot expect that to change just to fit us.

Fry, who quit Twitter earlier this year, calling it a “stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous”, is referring to is that scourge of the internet which is now finding it’s way into mainstream society, the SJW – Social Justice Warrior. There are people sitting at their computers just ready to be offended by the slightest thing and to speak out against it, whether it is something which affects them or not – nine times out of ten it does not.

The SJW culture reminds me of the 1980s and my days of running with the hard-left, ‘alternative’ crowd. Every day was a verbal minefield, where I had to watch every word I was saying, because there was always some arsehole just waiting to be ‘offended’ – usually on behalf of others – and ready with accusations of racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, misogyny, or any other “ism” or bigotry they chose to dream up. And trust me dears, make them up they did. I was once accused of being “speciesist” for believing that human life outweighs animal life – guilty as charged. At times, purely to fuck with the minds of such people, I would deliberately come out with things like “That separates the men from the boys.” or “I wouldn’t want to be blackballed.” (a Freemasonry reference, and nothing at all to do with race).

SJWs are ever ready to don the shining armour and jump on the white charger to fight for others. Worse still are those precious little snowflakes who are all too ready to let others do their fighting for them; these are the self-pitying. And when they are not doing that, then they are expecting the world to change and make accommodation for them.

George Bernard Shaw once said “There are two types of men in this world; the reasonable man, who adapts the himself to fit the world, and the unreasonable man, who adapts the world to fit him. Therefore all progress counts upon the unreasonable man.”. Now, I am first to agree with that; one need only look at world history to see that on a great many occasions it has been the unreasonable, the radical, the progressive, the eccentric, the oddballs and the complete nutters who have advanced and enhanced the world for the common good (I don’t have enough money to be eccentric – I’m just plain barmy). But there are limits to that. When society bans something because a minority may be offended or may feel uncomfortable, that same society takes it away from the majority, which unfairly deprives their enjoyment. Oh, and of course, Shaw would immediately be castigated by SJWs and radical feminists for his “sexist” statement, which refers only to “men”.

How far do we take this? I am old enough (as much as I hate to admit it) to recall actually seeing Disney’s Song of the South. It’s never shown nowadays, because it was deeply racist. That’s fine – Africans are not a minority. But then, as Stephen Fry says, do we ban Titus Andronicus because of rape? Do we ban Macbeth because of child murder? How about The Merchant of Venice, which could be seen as being deeply anti-Semitic? How about Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist for exactly the same reason due to his portrayal of Fagin? Some have called for Scotland to have a new unofficial national anthem claiming that the present one, Flower of Scotland, which speaks of the army of Robert the Bruce routing the invading forces of Edward II of England is anti-English. I personally think it’s a dirge, but guess what, it’s never going to change (there is also something deeply satisfying about watching Princess Anne, Patron of the Scottish Rugby Union, singing along to Flower of Scotland with the rest of the fans). Hey, here’s an idea; as a republican and an atheist, I find the present British national anthem, God Save the Queen, offensive – let’s ban it.

Stephen Fry himself, presenting the wonderful TV show, QI, once mimicked Scots accents. As a Scot was I at all offended by this Englishman of minor gentry parodying my people? Not a bit of it. Rather I almost peed myself laughing at him because it was so damned good. He gets away with that for three reasons: one, every word he said was true; two, he was so damned accurate at it; three, he is Stephen Fry.

And then how far does it go? Ever watched Mel Gibson’s movie of Passion of the Christ? No matter how well made it is – and I will grant Mel Gibson that it is well made – it is brutal in the extreme, and many may be offended by the deeply traumatic scenes of violence in it. But then, rather than the gospels, the movie is based not upon the Bible but rather a medieval play, which attempted to place the killing of Jesus squarely upon the Jews. Also on the Christian faith, what of Jerry Springer, The Opera; an extremely funny stage show which sells out at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe every August, and which includes the role of Jesus in a nappy (diaper) saying he is a little gay and hitting a woman, and that of God singing “It ain’t easy being me”, and asking Jerry Springer to help him. It is always, and I mean always, protested when it’s shown, and given that a recent poll showed only 39% of Scots consider themselves religious, should that show be banned for offending a minority?

See how ridiculous it could get? And online that’s exactly the way it is going. There are too many SJWs and others online who have the pitchfork at the door, just ready to grab it and head out for an old-fashioned lynching. They see these issues in black and white, with no room for the many shades of grey (no apologies for what is not a racist reference). They are waiting and wanting to be offended because it makes them feel superior, when in fact their petty victories are empty and meaningless. Worse still, they are actually detrimental to the very people that those who are offended claim to be defending.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I have to live every day with what was done to me, and it can indeed take the slightest thing to kick that off. I hear or read stories of other kids being abused, and suddenly I am right back there. If I read a novel, watch a movie, a show, or a play with that subject matter, then it affects me deeply and can indeed be deeply traumatic. As an adult, I read up about paedophilia in an effort to understand it (there is no understanding it – it is not a mental illness, it is just sick selfishness), and that was bloody hard for me to do. But it was important for me to do so. Just as it is important for me to face news stories, books, movies, and shows in which paedophilia is part of the plot line, because as disturbing as it is, like all society should, I am facing the fact that it happens. If I did not face that fact, I would indeed be self-pitying, and would still be seeking pity, and because of that, I would still be a victim. But I am no longer a victim – I am a survivor.

And this too is important, for all too often the ‘newspeak’ of the internet is to not use the word ‘victim’ at all, but to always use the word ‘survivor’. I could not disagree more. There is a distinct difference between victims and survivors of abuse, any abuse, and only we survivors fully understand the enormity of that distinction. To try and lock things away from us, to protect and shield us, so that we may never see things that may upset us does not help one victim. Keep doing that and the victim will always be the victim.

Certainly, where things are deliberately and intended to be abusive, they need to be challenged and shot down. But the same cannot be said where things are not intended to be directly offensive. Whether you be a rape victim, abused, a racial or ethnic minority, LGBT+, physically or mentally disabled, elderly, young, female, whatever, don’t go looking for your “safe place”, because there are no safe places. And as long as you continue to seek one, as long as you attempt to lock the real world out,  you are continuing to make yourself the victim – you’ll never move on to be a survivor.

That is what I believe Stephen Fry was attempting to say but unfortunately went about it in an asshat way, and could have chosen his words a little better. Ironically, Stephen is now coming under fire for his words, from the very people he was talking about and with exactly the same attitudes he was referring to. And no doubt I shall receive flak for exactly the same.

Of course, I could be very wrong about that. It’s not the first time that Stephen Fry has come out with a highly controversial and asinine comments. On an edition of QI once, whilst supposedly speaking about the larynx, Fry stated “Basically, a good ladyboy can imitate almost anything female, in terms of how they hold their legs and you know…anything like that.” and “A dainty ladyboy can easily fool and often has”. Needless to say, the LGBT+ community was up in arms about Fry’s comments. But hold on, was he actually speaking of transgender people, or merely those who are androgynous? Again, I think it was taken out of context. He did indeed say “ladyboy” and may well have meant just that, s transgender people were never once mentioned. Hands up here how many trans / genderfluid people here identify as a ladyboy? Nope, thought not. He concluded the segment “The truth is, without undressing them or testing their DNA, you can’t be sure what sex someone is. So be careful out there.” Well, ain’t that a fricking truth, and one which all of us who are either transgender or genderfluid are all aware of. But if there are people going to be so upset, perhaps the Edinburgh Fringe should ban another of it’s sell-out shows; The Ladyboys of Bangkok, which is a revue show made up entirely of Thai drag queens (who are all stunningly beautiful, by the way).

Even if he did mean everything he said, guess what peoples? Stephen Fry is a human being, with human failings just like the rest of us. If there’s anyone here who has never said and never does say anything foolish or ill-chosen, then being so bloody perfect and superhuman, you alone have the right to criticise others. But even then, nobody will like you, because you’ll be an arrogant prick  – and a boring bastard no doubt. Also, as intelligent and well educated as Fry is, and a celebrity does not make him superhuman, nor would he ever claim or wish to be. Another disturbing aspect of this is today’s cult of celebrity, where people hang upon every word of the rich, the famous, those in the media, and expect them to be perfect, when they are anything but. Some people need to take the message from the Strangler’s song No More Heroes, which is you shouldn’t have heroes, as being human, they will only let you down.

Fry’s work were indeed ill-chosen and illustrate he has no idea just how traumatic childhood sexual abuse and rape are. I don’t need to “grow up” as Fry puts it, I grew up a long time ago, while I still should have been enjoying my childhood. Do not ask me to recount my childhood because my mind has blocked out most of it – it is lost and gone forever. And no, that’s neither self-pity nor seeking pity; it is merely illustrating just how extremely traumatic it can be. It can indeed take the slightest thing to remind you, to set you off, or put you back into that dark time, and that is not for today, not for tomorrow, it is for your whole life, which is precisely why moving past the victim stage to become a survivor is so important. As long as you let it affect you, your victim is still ruling your life; moving past that removes that power and puts you in control.

But then, if there is anyone who should realise that, it is one gay English actor who happens to be bipolar, and who once had a West End show which received so many poor reviews that he basically spat the dummy, stormed off in a huff, and petulantly locked himself away for weeks.

Now, who was that again?

Oh yes – it was Stephen Fry.

NZ schoolgirls told to cover knees – from teachers

$$-AAA-001In 1955 Vladimir Nabakov wrote his controversial novel Lolita. The novel tells the story of the antihero, Humbert Humbert, having had a sexual encounter at an early age, becomes obsessed with young teenage girls, takes up a career as a school teacher, and marries a woman in order to gain access to her 14-year-old daughter Dolores, aka Lolita, with him he has become madly infatuated. After the mother’s untimely death, Humbert takes Lolita on the road with him, until she goes missing from a hospital, leading to Humbert hunting her down for two years. Very dark in it’s subject matter, the novel tells of Lolita fleeing an abusive partner, ending up pregnant, Humbert killing her abuser and Lolita dying in childbirth.

In the novel it is Humbert who insists that it is Lolita who manipulated and seduced him, when properly interpreted, it is she who is the victim of men unable to control their lusts. Since it’s publication in 1959, “Lolita” has been used as a common term for sexually promiscuous and manipulative teenage girls. And there is a common thread which goes right back to the novel; blaming the victim, which is an all-too-common trait sexual abusers of children.

So as both a feminist and survivor of childhood sexual abuse, when I heard the story of Henderson High School in Auckland, New Zealand, I immediately recognised a culture of blaming a victim, and worse still, became somewhat alarmed at the mention of adult males in the context of the story. This school has dictated to it’s female pupils that skirts must be worn below the knee, to prevent the male pupils becoming distracted. Now, it is not uncommon to hear this; it has happened in schools all over the world, and roundly needs to be criticised as it is the boys who need to stop looking upon the girls as sex objects; there’s the blaming the victim right away. What singles Henderson High out however, is the rather disturbing way they have gone a step further, and stated that this rule is also to prevent male teachers becoming distracted – by girls who could be as young as 13.

Sade Tuttle, a student at the school, states that a group of 40 girls were told by Deputy Head Teacher Cherith Telford after an assembly that the rule to keep skirts below the knee were necessary to “keep our girls safe, stop boys from getting ideas and create a good work environment for male staff”. And should anyone think that is but one teenage girl trying to stir up shit against her school, then it appears that her story has been corroborated, by no less than the Principal of Henderson High, Mike Purcell, who has stated that rules around school uniforms are “regularly enforced to ensure that all students and teachers can focus on their learning and feel comfortable in the school environment. All families are made aware of them when they enrol students. The rules include a stipulation that the hemline of female students’ skirts must be on the knee, no higher. This rule is in line with most New Zealand schools where uniforms are worn.”

Nobody is for one moment disputing the rules surrounding the length of school uniform skirts in New Zealand. It is the handling of this matter by Henderson High School which seriously needs to be called into question. Ms Tuttle said it best; “The rules themselves aren’t the problem; the problem is when these codes target girls specifically because their bodies are sexual and distracting”, as did another student, who stated that she went to school to be educated – not to be sexualised. A former pupil went further; “How about you stop telling 15 year old girls – that aren’t even legal to have sex – how sexual their knees are and how they need to cover themselves up because its a risk and distracting to male staff,” she posted on Facebook, “How about you don’t hire staff that are going to get aroused by a teenage girls knees?”

One has to ask what prompted Ms Telford and Mr Purcell to word the ruling in this manner? Were there male pupils who had made complaints? And worse still, were there male teachers who voiced their concern? In both cases, it is the boys and men who need to be educated not to look upon the female pupils as sexual objects. But if any adult male has brought the matter up, I would suggest that the professionalism of that teacher immediately needs to be called into question, because frankly, that is setting off a whole load of alarm bells in my head.

I am not for one moment denying that some teenage girls can be little minxes – it happens. Some girls can, do and will push the envelope wherever possible and see how far they can hitch their skirts up. Equally, young teenage girls can and do become infatuated with boys and even male teachers at schools. Just as some young teenage boys can and do become infatuated with girls and female teachers. And yes, they will go out of their way to dress in a way to show off their bodies – and their bulges (oh, hide it, for goodness sake – nobody’s impressed). Human beings are sexual creatures and in the nightmare of puberty, when our hormones completely screw up our minds and we start discovering our sexuality, it is quite common for this to happen. But when this does happen, the onus is always – always – upon the adult to behave like an adult and gently put the child down. And that is never more important than when that adult is a professional entrusted with a duty of care to those children. Anyone who denies that is behaving like Humbert, attempting to shift the blame onto Lolita. And if anyone cares to search the internet for court cases involving paedophilia and hebephilia (sexual attraction to pubescent or post-pubescent teens – Humbert was a hebephile, not a paedophile) then they will find that most defendants attempt this line of blaming the victim.

Some may think I am making quite a jump from school uniforms to actual convictions of child sex abusers. I say prevention is better than cure, and one has to watch out for the warning signs. If any teacher, or any professional entrusted with a duty of care to children, looks upon their charges with any degree of sexuality, that person is not fit for the post they are holding and needs to be removed and investigated. Should anyone think I am overplaying this, then consider that in the 1970s the rather sick Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) – who sought civil ‘rights’ for paedophiles and hebephiles – had a list of suggested careers for paedophiles; top of the list was join the clergy, second was to become a school teacher.

The whole issue goes deeper however, and surrounds the way that girls are sexualised from an early age. I recall once reading an article in one of my mother’s magazines which utterly horrified me. It was written by a mother trying to justify buying her daughter “frothy” undies, because “she just wants to be just like mummy”. There again was an adult acting without any sense of proportion, but then when there are firms and stores which produce and sell ‘sexy’ lingerie for little girls, it is yet one more symptom of the overall sickness. And no, I am not blaming the victim here, merely saying that adults need to act with some sense of propriety. Every little girl likes to make herself look pretty, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But when that crosses the line from making herself look pretty for her own self esteem, to making herself ‘attractive’ for the attention of males who can’t control themselves, it immediately becomes a problem. No young girl becomes “Lolita” on her own; it is adults who make her so.

Yet society too owes a responsibility to that. The fact is that girls and women, are sexualised, sexually harassed, abused, and raped from tiny babies to the extremely elderly, at all times of day, in all kinds of environments, whether they are attractive or plain – and in whatever they are wearing. Even nuns in habits and Islamic women in full burqah and niqab are not immune from from the unwelcome sexual advances of men. And then of course, one has to ask what does and does not constitute seductive clothing. Well this can cover a great many things, including lingerie, mini skirts, boob tubes, basques, stockings, nurses uniforms, ermm – nun’s habits, and of course – school uniforms. Doubt the latter? Stores and online outlets selling sexual cosplay gear make a fortune out of ‘naughty schoolgirl’ costumes, Britney Spears got a number one on the back of a video of girls in school uniforms, Japanese anime is full of them, and the St Trinian’s movies (old and modern) did indeed sexualise schoolgirls in uniforms, as did The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

So, if school uniforms are already sexualised, if girls are already sexualised, then the Deputy and Principal of Henderson High School have openly discriminated against their female students and are now trying to hide behind the dress code for most New Zealand schools. They are in fact further blaming those who are already victims, when in reality they seriously need to address their own behaviours, as well as those of their male students, and more importantly still, their adult male staff, whom they may well wish to examine more closely, in order to root out any potential ‘Humberts’ – before it’s too late.

New Equalities Minister stood against Same Sex Marriage

Caroline Dinenage MP

Caroline Dinenage MP

(But she promises to support it now)

With a new Conservative government being formed at Westminster, the Prime Minister, David Cameron has appointed a new Equalities Minister for England, and his choice is Caroline Dinenage – who not only voted against Same Sex Marriage but took a strong stance against it in public.

In 2013 Ms Dinenage replied to a letter from a reader of Pink News in which she stated that marriage is defined in Canon Law as “one man, one woman”, that this definition is “distinctive”, that the state had no right to change that definition, nor was there any need for it in her opinion.

Ms Dinenage stated in her letter,  “As you may know, as the established Church, its own Canon Law is part of the law of the land and one of its canons states that marriage is in its nature a union of “one man and one woman”.

She continued, “I therefore believe that the institution of marriage is distinctive and the State has no right to redefine its meaning – these proposals were not included in any of the three main manifestoes nor did it feature in the Coalition’s Programme for Government. As I have mentioned, under current law same-sex couples can have a civil partnership but not a civil marriage and I believe that there is no legitimate reason to change this.”

Ms Dinenage subsequently also voted against same-sex marriage in the last parliament.

Caroline Dinenage is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Gosport.  In 2013 the MP, who is also a mother of two children, left her husband and entered a relationship with fellow Conservative MP, Mark Lancaster.  Lancaster walked out on his wife of 12 years, Katherine, in 2007 and moved in with Journalist Amanda Evans.  18 months later he left Evans, just four months after the birth of their baby daughter, and entered a relationship with election agent Kathryn Buckie, but their relationship soured.  After Dinenage and Lancaster entered into relationship in 2013, the pair married in February 2014.

Strangely enough, for all her moral outrage against same-sex marriage, Caroline Dinenage has never once made any mention on what the Bible has to say about a wife disobeying her husband, divorce, adultery, and sex outwith marriage, all four of which she has participated in.

With her new appointment however, Ms Dinenage claims to have had a change of heart.  She told Pink News that she is now “fully committed” to LGBT equality and that she was “looking forward” to her new post.

Caroline Dinenage stated “I know that some of your readers will be concerned about my voting record on same-sex marriage however, I want to be clear – I am fully committed to advancing the cause of LGBT equality and support the law on same-sex marriage.

“I’m proud that the UK has just been named the most progressive country in Europe for LGB & T rights for the fifth year running, but as the new minister for equalities I know there’s no room for complacency.

“That is why I’m particularly looking forward to taking forward this government’s work on tackling homophobic bullying in schools and implementing our manifesto commitment to introducing a new law that will build on the posthumous pardon for Alan Turing by erasing the historic convictions of those who would be completely innocent of any crime today.

“I’ll be meeting with LGBT organisations such as Stonewall as soon as possible to discuss this Government’s priorities for this parliament.”

I for one shall believe it when I see it – and I’m not holding my breath. Right away I am concerned at the lack of “Q” and “I” in that statement.  At least the Scottish Parliament has extended their definition to “LGBTI”.

It also may interest Ms Dinenage to learn that while boasting “the UK has just been named the most progressive country in Europe for LGB & T rights for the fifth year running”, it was actually Scotland, which she will have no remit over (thank goodness) which led the league table, with 92%, while the rest of the UK achieved 86%.  One can only wonder if England would have achieved that figure had Ms Dinenage’s appointment been known when IGLA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) drew up this year’s “Rainbow Index”?  I sincerely doubt it.

Meanwhile in a poll in Pink News, over 90% of readers have voted that Caroline Dinenage should never have been appointed Equalities Minister.

During the UK General Election, Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said of Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon, “You wouldn’t get Herod to run a baby farm, would you?”  Where England’s LGBTQI community are concerned, it seems to me that Boris’s old school chum and Conservative Party leader, David Cameron has just done precisely that.

North England / Scottish parents most accepting of Gay / Trans kids

gay-scotland-flag-But it’s bad news for London

In a shock result, a poll has shown that London parents are the most likely in the UK to reject a gay or trans child, with the north of England and Scotland being the most tolerant.

The poll by YouGov and commissioned by Pink News showed that 13% of those polled in London would be least likely to support a gay child, while 20% would be likely to reject a trans child.  The north of England proved to be the most tolerant, with only 1% saying they would reject a gay child and 9% not accepting a trans child.  Scotland was just behind them, with 2% indicating they would reject a gay child, and 10% being against accepting a trans child.

The result has come as something of a shock, as London being such a cosmopolitan city, has long been considered to be the most tolerant part of the UK, while more rural and tradionalist parts, such as the north of England and Scotland, being considered more parochial and guarded against change.

Listening to a discussion on the matter on LBC Radio, I heard two callers trying to play the Islamophobe / racist card by suggesting that immigration and the large number of Muslims in the English capital was to blame for the apparent homophobia.  One gay caller however refuted this, stating that the majority of prejudice he faces comes from white men.

When I heard the claims of religion being responsible, I immediately shook my head, for that does not explain the high amount of tolerance in Scotland, despite bigotry from the Christian churches.  Scotland remains the most Presbytarian country in the world, and due to our bloody history, to this day there is sectarian bigotry between Protestants and Roman Catholics.  However, one of the few things which unites the Protestant Kirks and the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland is their shared opposition to the LGBTQI community.  The Free Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland were two of the most vocal opponents of equal marriage when the Bill was going through the devolved Scottish Parliament.

Consider also that the 1984 Bronski Beat hit Smalltown Boy was based upon Scots lead singer Jimmy Somerville’s own experiences of familial rejection and homophobia in a Scotland with a prejudiced, small town mentality, and why he had to get away from it.

There has obviously been something of a sea change in Scots attitudes to the LGBTQI community since those days.  Of course, it’s still 2% and 10% too many (and we’re apparently trailing north England – come on Scotland, let’s show these Geordies), and I would not for one moment suggest that Scotland is by any means a “Rainbow Paradise” – there are certainly areas I simply will not even enter.  However I for one cannot help feeling a wee bit rightfully proud.

And come on London, pull your socks up.  You’re letting the side down.

Holy Smoke! Religious Freedom Bill goes all to Pot

_0NunIndiana’s anti-gay legislation inadvertently opens door to cannabis smokers

You shouldn’t laugh, dears.  No, really, you shouldn’t.  Ohh, but how can you not?

For those of you who have been living in a box and are unaware of it, the state of Indiana in the good ol’ USA recently rushed through the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a hateful piece of legislation which makes it legal for businesses to refuse service to gays (and one would imagine other LGBTQI people) on grounds of religious belief.  The backlash from this legislated bigotry has been considerable from both LGBTQI and supportive cis/het people alike.  Former Star Trek star George Takei, himself openly gay, is calling on people to boycott the entire state.

Now it seems however, that Indiana’s homophobic legislators may well have shot themselves in the foot.  Indiana attorney and commentator, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, has pointed out that the wording of the kneejerk legislation would may well also protect those who smoke marijuana as part of their religious beliefs.

Shabazz has pointed out that owning and / or smoking marijuana remains illegal in Indiana, if a pot smoker can prove that they are performing a religious sacrament, then under the wording of the RFRA, their rights must be protected.  “I would argue that under RFRA,” says Shabazz, “as long as you can show that reefer is part of your religious practices, you got a pretty good shot of getting off scot-free.”

RFRA supporters state the Bill, “only spells out a test as to whether a government mandate would unduly burden a person’s faith and the government has to articulate a compelling interest for that rule and how it would be carried out in the least restrictive manner,”  Shabazz maintains this merely compounds problems; “So, with that said, what ‘compelling interest’ would the state of Indiana have to prohibit me from using marijuana as part of my religious practice?

Shabazz went on to point out that alcoholic wine is used in Christian sacraments and that marijuana is a far less dangerous drug than alcohol.

So, is this farcical?  Not one bit of it, dears.  On Thursday, 26 March 2014, the same day the Bill was passed, Bill Levin, founder of the First Church of Cannabis Inc, filed paperwork in Indianapolis to register his church as a non-profit, religious organisation.  Referring (should that be reefering?) to followers as “cannataerians” on the group’s Facebook page, Levin stated that they seek “love, understanding and good health.”  Colorado-based Green Faith Ministries, who use marijuana as part of their sacraments, have also reportedly voiced an interest in setting up a branch in Indiana.

And of course, these two are not alone.  There are plenty other established religions which use marijuana as part of their belief systems.  Rastafarianism regards marijuana as a sacred plant, to be used for the purposes of meditation and achieving heightened spiritual awareness (yes dear, been there, done that).  The Hawaii-based THC Ministry, founded by Roger Christie of the Religion of Jesus Christ, considers cannabis sacramental for both spiritual and healing properties.  They state that the “cultivation and enjoyment of cannabis sacrament is a fundamental human right provided by God and protected by the Constitution.”  The California-based Church of Reality, founded on the principles that some of the best ideas come from smoking pot (truth), similarly maintain that smoking cannabis is a constitutional right in the USA.  Should anyone doubt how serious the Church of Reality are, consider that the US Internal Revenue Service recognised them as a non-profit, tax-exempt church as far back as 2005.

Oh dear.  It seems the bigots of Indiana may have bitten off more than they can chew.  Before long the streets of Indianapolis and other cities may be full of dreamy-eyed people walking about in a beautiful haze – and the conservatives who made that possible won’t be able to do a damned thing about it.

Who knows, maybe that could be a good thing?  If the overbearing homophobic bigots of Indiana inhale enough secondary smoke, it may just lead them to chill out a little, get those pokers out of their arses, and actually try being nice to people.  If that happens, I’ll believe the age of miracles has not passed.

Of course, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz has pointed out that as the use and ownership of marijuana remains illegal in the state, a test case may well follow, and states “I want a front row seat at the trial that we all know is going to happen when all this goes down.” 

Oh indeed, dears, so do I, and I’ll be watching out for developments.  As any attempt to apply RFRA to the Christian faith alone would be wholly unconstitutional, then any test case under it can have only one of two outcomes; either those who smoke marijuana as a religious sacrament have their rights protected by law, or this odious piece of homophobic legislation will have to be scrapped altogether.

Pornography: As old as Mankind

_000000Coitus40000yrA study into how pornography is as old as human sexuality itself, and why it is just as harmless.

One of the most contentious issues surrounding the internet today is that of pornography. Depictions of nudity and sexual acts, be they in photographs or video, have both their detractors and their supporters. There are few, if any, who sit on the fence on the issue of what is classed as pornography.

And I do say “classed as”, as there is and has always been, a thin line to what is considered pornography, and what is art. Indeed, one could go further and state that there is third, in-between, category of erotica. The distinction is not and never has been clear and the lines often blur between the three. There is one thing for sure, depictions of nudity and sexual acts with us ever  since we became sapient creatures. And I would argue that, contrary to claims from it’s detractors, it is harmless.

Around 37,000 years ago one of our early ancestors in what is now Spain dug a carving (above right) into the wall of a cave which depicted coitus between a man and a woman, with the man depicted having a huge phallus (thereby proving that men lying about dick size is nothing new). Since then sex and sexuality have commonly been depicted in carvings, drawings, paintings, and sculpture. And today we refer to this as “art”. Many of this folk art of course was done for religious reasons, but that does not deflect one iota from the explicit nature of some of the pieces. The fact remains that for centuries paintings and sculptures of nude and sexual scenes were the pornography of their time, for the simple reason there were no cameras. There is nobody is ever going to convince me that some bishop alone in his office below a portrait of Diana or Aphrodite never had a quick knuckle-shuffle when nobody was looking.

Even when photography did arrive, nude photography followed – immediately. In 1839 Louis Daguerre perfected his first practical camera, and having experimented with some landscape shots, the next thing he did was to drag a prostitute off the street whom he paid to pose for him. And so it was the first nude pictures were taken on the very first day of the advent of the media of photography, and they have been with us ever since. Once photography got going, it wasn’t too long before nude and sexual pics were changing hands for vast sums of money, “What the Butler Saw” machines appeared, and men were buying black market postcards of women showing, gasp, their legs, or even in, shock horror, swimsuits or their underwear. Brazen hussies!

“Pin up” shots started with the drawings of Alberto Vargas and others of “idealised” women in erotic poses, and eventually were supplemented by photographs of scantily-clad women. Some women, actress Betty Grable among them, happily posed for these photographs, believing they were doing their bit for lonely American servicemen away at war. I personally find that a very kind, touching and beautiful gesture.

The dam finally broke in December 1953, when Hugh Hefner published the first issue of Playboy, which had a centrefold of Marilyn Monroe in the nude. While her genitals were covered, her breasts were on full display, and having seen the photograph, I can personally attest that Marilyn had a truly beautiful body. Once Playboy took off (Hefner never thought it would get further than issue 1), it wasn’t too long before other titles appeared, and within time the market was flooded with a plethora of titles which the puritanical backlash (no dears, that’s not a BDSM reference – I should be so lucky) of the 1950s seems to have been powerless to stop the prevalence of such “girlie” magazines. The “permissive society” of the 1960s and thereafter saw magazines become much more explicit and magazines started appearing for specific tastes, including those with nude men aimed at the female and gay markets.

Even the feminist heyday of the 1970s and 1980s, when some wanted porn mags either covered up in shops or removed altogether, was powerless to stop the number of titles increasing, and increasingly explicit content within them. The only thing which did eventually see falls in sales was not through puritanical ideas or feminist philosophy, but simply because porn became freely available with the advent of the World Wide Web and digital technology in photography and video. Which brings us up to the present day when anyone, whatever their sexuality or sexual tastes, can view nude images and / or sexual acts, from tasteful nude shots right through to extremely explicit pics and videos, at a few keystrokes.

It is apparently internet pornography which is a problem for some. I have seen it referred to as “sad” and “evil”, that it objectifies women, that it is exploitative of women, that it damages society as a whole, and that viewing (and obviously masturbating to) internet porn can cause sexual problems in some individuals.

Whether nudity or depictions of sexual acts are “sad” or “evil” are opinions, not facts. That’s fine; those who believe that are entitled to their opinions, so long as they do not try to enforce those opinions upon those who do not happen to share them. If those stating that pornography is “evil” say so from a religious point of view, then that is even worse, as they are trying to force their faith upon others, and that is something I shall always rail against. Besides which, anyone with any modicum of sense knows that it is the religious suppression of natural sexual urges which causes problems.

If pornography objectifies women then where men are involved, it logically follows that it must objectify them as well. Objectification means that the viewer ceases to see the participants as people and treats them as objects. So no-one can claim that if objectification exists then it pertains only to one gender and not the other. Indeed, I have seen many a video in which all you see of the men are their penises, rarely and sometimes never their faces. Could that not be considered the epitome of objectification?

Similarly if pornography is exploitative of women, it logically follows that it must be equally exploitative of men. And if it is exploitative, then there is scant evidence to support that. Models and actors in pornography make a pretty penny for what they do, and strangely enough, it’s not them I hear complaining when they receive payment for their services.

Yet this goes further still. In 1971 one of the oldest and most popular soft porn magazines in the UK, Fiesta, launched a new phenomenon into the market which has since been copied and emulated by a host of other titles; Readers Wives, which all started when a women – not her male partner – sent in some nude polaroid pics of herself, which the magazine duly published in one issue, and suddenly found themselves inundated with similar pics from women all over the UK and further afield. Fiesta Readers Wives remains the oldest (and I would say best) section of it’s type, they even publish Readers Wives Specials, and Channel 4 Television once aired a documentary following some of the women who contribute photographs to them. Some women said that apart from the money they receive, they enjoyed the thrill and ‘naughtiness’ of exposing themselves. Some said that it made them feel glamorous. One woman admitted that it made her hot to think of hundreds of men masturbating over pics of her naked body.

The vast majority of women who send nude pictures to Readers Wives are no spring chickens, and they are not what would be considered “model material” either. And in my opinion, with their natural curves, even the more mature ones, and presented in unretouched photographs, they are all the more beautiful for it. There was actually one woman in the documentary who actually was in her mid-20s, had a fantastic body, beautiful facial features – and just so happened to be paralysed from the waist down. Notice that all of these women have one thing in common – there is not one of them feels in any way exploited by having their nude photographs published in a magazine. They feel confident about their bodies; confident enough to show them off to the world. They enjoy doing it, there are those who enjoy seeing them, and as nobody is hurt by it, just exactly what harm is that doing? And exactly the same goes for the nude men who send their pics into Fiesta’s “One for the Ladies” column.

Of course, I am not for one moment suggesting that there is not exploitation in pornography. Only a fool would say that it does not exist. People trafficked and forced into pornography is of course a constant worry, and one I would no sooner sanction than I would child porn or zoophilia. When I tried to research this online however, I found it extremely difficult to find well-informed and scholarly articles, or one which did not have their own agenda, be it religious or hyper-feminist, upon the subject. Of those I did find, what they actually state is that the majority of those forced into porn are either children or underage teenagers. So I am not about to go watching that in any case. It seems to me that where adults at least are concerned, the incidence of human trafficking and pornography has been grossly overstated. Certainly, unproven and generalised blanket statements such as one I found in Huffington Post, “You support trafficking when you watch porn” are deeply unhelpful, and precisely the sort of sensationalist guff I am more likely to ignore than take any notice of. Huff Po (which has really gone downhill in recent years) also claims – without offering a shred of evidence – that even where it claims those involved are over 18 and have consented, that they may be younger and made up to look older. Well, no worries with me there, as I prefer to view those in their mid-20s at the youngest, but prefer more mature men and women.

If pornography damages society as a whole, I want to see the empirical evidence to support that claim. For as I have pointed out above, pornography has been with us always, and far from damaging society it seems to me that it is the suppression of perfectly natural sexual desires which is far more likely to cause that. And should not we in the LGBTQI community be more wary of that than anyone? It is not too long ago that it was similarly claimed that homosexuality damaged society. And some religious detractors or pornography also tend to be homophobic and transphobic. In the 1960s, some religious moralists were stating “sex on the streets by 1970”. In actuality sexual liberation has enhanced society and strangely enough, we don’t have sex on the streets, 45 years after the predicted date.

Some come out with the shock statement that some children are viewing porn as young as 11 years old. Ermm, yes, around the same age I discovered my father’s stash of girlie mags. That was down to not hiding them well enough on his part, just as modern-day kids accessing porn is down to similar lack of parental controls, which in this day of explicit porn being freely available should be paramount to every parent. But know what, there’s always going to be that one kid who is determined to view porn, or that one parent whom frankly any sane person would not entrust with the responsibility of a whelk. That does not mean that every child of 11 is viewing pornography. Neither does it mean that the producers (or viewers) of porn are at fault.

Let me use an analogy here. According to the Child Accident Protection Trust, 25,000 under 5 every year are admitted to hospital with suspected or actual poisoning, the vast majority from products found in most households. Now, if wee Johnny finds a bottle of detergent on a lower shelf and manages to open it (“childproof” caps are never truly childproof – I used to ask my nephew to open my tablets) and drink it, who is to blame? Wee Johnny, who does not know any better? The parent? The manufacturer? Other users of that detergent? Should responsible users then be denied that detergent all because wee Johnny’s mum and dad were either forgetful, or are a pair of irresponsible jackasses who are ill-qualified to be parents?

Some claim that pornography leads to sexual assaults. Others state figures which suggest that the incidence of sexual assaults has dropped in line with increased access to pornography. As a survivor of child sexual abuse, I personally think either is a false dichotomy, or at least an unknown quantity. I have yet to be convinced that sexual abuse is actually driven by sexual urges. As a way of attempting to come to terms with the things which were done to me when I was a little boy, and to help me transition from victim to survivor, I researched sexual abuse deeply, and my understanding of it is as well-informed as it is painful, believe you me. I firmly believe that sexual abuse, like all abuse, is primarily about control by inadequate people seeking power over those weaker than them. The abuser – whether they use verbal, psychological, physical or sexual abuse – is a bully, and in the true nature of the bully, a coward at heart. I would suggest that if this is the case, then pornography is unlikely to have any affect either way upon the incidence of sexual abuse.

There is one thing for sure; pornography is already heavily regulated, and while I tend not to trust governments, I am fully aware that they take advice from highly qualified people over the matter; people who are much better qualified that religious busy-bodies and paranoid hyper-feminists who see a male plot at every turn. It is based on this advice that governments gauge any potential harm pornography may pose. Therefore if pornography did present any serious risk to society in general, then far from the explicit content found on the internet and in magazines today, there would be stringent moves to control, suppress and censor it. That we do not have oppressive control and censorship tells it’s own story on whether pornography endangers society or not.

Pornography may cause sexual problems with some viewers – and the little birdies go tweet. Yes, and “social” drinking may lead to alcoholism and health problems for some drinkers, having a flutter on the horses may lead to gambling addiction for some punters, Munro bagging may lead to a broken leg, and eating pies may lead to some people having heart attacks. Adverse and negative things can and do happen to a small number of people in a great many activities, but that is never the case for the overwhelming majority who take part. As with so many things, it is all about moderation. Those treating internet porn addiction have found that those suffering it are sitting in front of it almost constantly, and that obviously does become a problem. As Catherine Salmon, associate professor of psychology at Redlands University, states “Porn in moderation is the same as everything else – no harm, no foul. If you spend your whole day whacking off, your sex drive the next day will be down.”

Yet groups talking a load of heavily-loaded, opinionated, pseudo-scientific claptrap, with Reboot Nation being the biggest culprit, would have you believe that if you view porn, then you are automatically going to become addicted to internet porn, suffer mental problems and / or erectile dysfunction and / or lack of desire. Strangely enough such groups rarely, if ever, mention any adverse effects pornography may have upon girls and women. Can we take it then that females viewing porn suffer no ill effects? Or could it be much more likely that Reboot Nation et al are talking bullshit, and misandric bullshit at that? Frankly I find those who talk about the dangers of pornography being as believable – and laughable – as Samuel-Auguste Tissot, whose 1760 work L’Onanisme claimed that masturbation could lead to “a perceptible reduction of strength, of memory and even of reason; blurred vision, all the nervous disorders, all types of gout and rheumatism, weakening of the organs of generation, blood in the urine, disturbance of the appetite, headaches and a great number of other disorders.” Today we know this is nonsense and that masturbation, for both males and females, is both natural and healthy. It seems to me that Reboot Nation, like Tissot before them, just want to stop men wanking to suit their own agenda, and are as equally guilty of unscientific fairy tales.

With equal strangeness one never finds the detractors of pornography mentioning the positive effects it can have. Yes, they do indeed exist, which is why some therapists will use pornography as an aid to sexual dysfunction. Far from reducing desire, pornography can actually increase it, just as it has done for millennia – well there’s a surprise. In 2007 a study of 600 Danish men and women aged 18-30, conducted by Martin Hald and Neil M. Malamuth found that viewing hardcore pornography had a positive effect upon their lives. In 2009 a study by Michael Twohig at the University of Utah found that the mental state of students viewing porn only suffered when they tried to control their viewing habits. Some others argue that the sort of porn someone views may tell their partner a great deal about them, and can lead to greater understanding, as well as more fulfilling sex lives.

I would also mention other personal positives I have taken from pornography in my life. Far from me viewing people, particularly women, as objects, it has led me to have greater respect for them. I learned much, much more about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, particularly HIV, from articles in porn magazines than I ever did from official channels. Fiesta has to be congratulated for continually emphasising the importance of condoms and safe sex, and being one of the pioneering magazines to teach that AIDS was not solely a danger for gay men and drug users. And most of all, it helped me come to terms with my own sexuality, because strangely enough, the producers of, and most readers of porn mags, tend to be a lot less judgemental than others.  Crossdressers and bisexuals writing in to those magazines helped me realise I was not alone, and that I had nothing to be ashamed of.

In conclusion, I would therefore suggest that pornography has been with us always, that it will always be with us, that it does not objectify, exploit, harm society (and never has done), or most individuals, and if anything can actually have positive effects. The bottom line (no pun intended) is that pornography is about personal choice, about who we are as people and no-one has the right to judge or castigate another concerning that.

I make no bones about the fact that I view pornography and no, I am not ashamed of that. Far from it I will proudly proudly state that I like to look at vanilla pics of beautiful male and female bodies, as well as viewing photographs and videos of straight, gay, lesbian, and bi sex, be they solo, couples, or groups, involved in all sorts of sexual acts. Human beings are born sexual creatures and we deny that and our urges to our own detriment. I myself admit to being highly sexed, but hey, that’s just who I am. I don’t have a problem with being highly sexed, and nor should I. Just as I do not have a problem with viewing pornography, and neither does my partner, who views it herself. Just recently we both enjoyed a vanilla pic of four very tasty nude guys washing a car.

Pornography is not for everyone, and if anyone has a personal dislike of it, then that’s fine; that’s your life and I’m cool with that. I’d never try to force porn on you or change your mind about it. If any of you have a problem with me viewing pornography however, that is your problem, and I suggest that you go and sort that out yourself. But if you are thinking for one moment of attempting to try and enforce your views and opinions on my lifestyle, don’t even go there, because I’m not interested in hearing them. Talk to the hand, sister, cos the face ain’t listening.

The Pope Calling The Kettle Black

_80297179_80297178Hypocrisy is also a form of selfishness, Frankie Baby

So, Pope Francis has condemned those who do not have children “selfish”.

In a speech to his general audience in St Peter’s Square, the Pontiff stated “The choice not to have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: it is enriched, not impoverished”

The remarks were supposedly directed at couples who make an active choice not to have children.  Yet as well as attempting to make such couples feel guilt and shame, his comments, whether intended or not, can only ever be yet another attack upon LGBT people.   I for one certainly feel deeply offended by his statement.

And I’ll just head others off at the pass here that, yes, some LGBT people do indeed have children.  Many more would love to be parents.   The vast majority however shall never know the joys of parenthood.  And the factors governing that are not selfishness, but rather biological impossibility, coupled with societal attitudes which frown upon LGBT people parenting children, whether that be through surrogacy or adopting or fostering children.  And why do societies frown upon that?  Because of conservative religious dogma from many faiths, with the Roman Catholic Church being one of the strongest critics of same-sex marriage and LGBT parenting.

Let us, however, take the Pope’s statement into context.  Pope Francis says that not having children is selfish. That immediately castigates not only heterosexuals who choose not to have children, but also LGBT people whose sexuality and gender is wholly natural and something to be embraced and enjoyed, not made to feel ashamed of.  That is quite a comment from a man who not only (allegedly) has no children of his own, but is the supreme leader of a faith in which whose millions of clergy, nuns and monks make an active, concious, and wholly unnatural choice – going by the very rules of that faith – to live a life of celibacy, thereby making procreation an impossibility.

It is also a church which still actively protects some of the most selfish people on the face of the planet, namely paedophiles priests, who steal childhoods and destroy lives, for their own self-gratification.

What was that about selfishness?

Given that Pope Francis has chosen both to point the finger at others, and attempt to castigate those who do not have children, as a celibate man at the head of an organisation with millions of fellow celibates, methinks today’s Bible lesson for him should come from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, Chapter 7, verses 1- 5 (King James Version);

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”