Every woman.

Thanks to the US presidential election, there has been a lot of discussion lately about sexual assault, attitudes towards women and how men conduct themselves when they are in the private company of other men.  It’s really quite hard to ignore at the moment as the media is in the grips of what must be the very exemplar of a true media frenzy. For most women, the topic of sexual assault and sexual harassment hits us somewhere deep and personal that we’d rather not think about.  It brings ugly memories to the surface and dredges up life experiences that we’d prefer to leave quietly filed away in The Past™.  Many of us have these long suppressed and often ignored, but never forgotten, unpleasant memories of how we have subjected to the abysmally inequitable status quo that continues to exist in our society.  To varying degrees, most women I know have had a lifetime of unsolicited sexual attention.  All women live with the awareness of possible sexual harassment and assault every day – it is the background noise of our lives.  It hurts us, it scars us, it sure as hell scares us, and it follows us around our entire lives. And more often than not, it starts really young. So goddamn young.

I was 5 or 6 years old and at primary school, when a man we called ‘Window Willy’, lived in a house adjacent to our playground. He gained this nickname from his habit of flashing his penis at us little girls during our lunch breaks. Despite repeatedly reporting it to teachers the message always came back to just stay away from that area of the playground.

I was about 8 years old when one day, I was up at the Carina Terminus shops waiting for my mother in the haberdasher.  A man who was seated outside the shop had been staring at me through the window, and I thought nothing of it.  While my mum was busy with her purchase, he shifted the leg of his c.1970s very short shorts, and displayed his penis and scrotum to me – a little girl.  I told my mum and the lady in the shop… they just told me not to look at him.

I was an athletic, short, blonde, tanned and already busty 12 or 13 year old, when I came out of the surf at Stradbroke Island one holiday with my hair slicked back wet to my head, and a ‘friend’ of the family said I looked like Bo Derek.  My Dad gave me a towel and told me to cover up.

I was 13 when I had recently joined the Army Cadets and a Cadet Under Officer came over to me while we were at attention on the parade ground and fiddled with the lanyard attached to my breast pocket, saying it wasn’t sitting right.  Seemed innocent enough but then I caught the satisfied and smug look on his face as he walked away because he had touched up my boobs in front of everyone.

I was a little over 14 when I went to the movies in the city with a large group of (mostly male) friends one Anzac Day. The boy I was sitting with thought it was appropriate to pull out his dick and put my hand on it in the dark. I screamed, everyone laughed, I switched seats.

I was barely 15 when a 21 year old man, an officer of the same Cadet Unit decided to single me out. I was flattered at the attentions of this older guy, so it never occurred to me to object when he woke me up in my tent at 1am, and encouraged me to go for a walk with him.  He took me to his panel van and convinced me to ‘come talk with me’.  After a while he kissed me and that was okay, but when he started to grope under my shirt and and tried to pull down my pants, I had to fight tooth and nail to get out of there without pissing him off and causing more aggression… or god help me, violence.

I was nearly 16 when another CO – this time a 23 year old man – took me and two other 16 year old friends to the Gold Coast for a ‘night off’, while we were supposed to be on bivouac.  He bought two bottles of vodka and got us all drunk. I vaguely remember doing cartwheels and round-offs over a campfire that night.  I absolutely, 100%, clearly remember waking up in the early hours of the morning in his car with his hands inside in my pants and him saying, ‘Let’s finish what we started.’ Those words have simultaneously haunted and comforted me.  If things needed ‘finishing’, then maybe my fuzzy drunken memory lapse wasn’t covering up something even worse…

I was 17 when I was waitressing at the local Leagues Club, helping out some friends with their catering business, when a drunk footballer stood up and waved his dick at me to the amusement of his friends.  I ran and hid in the kitchen, shaking my head in disbelief and discouraging my black belt boyfriend from going out there and smashing his face in. One of the older women who was also waiting tables with me offered to take over that table.  He didn’t flash at her.

I was maybe all of 19 when a colleague who I had been reasonably friendly with, cornered me in the copy room late one Friday at work. He pushed me up against a photocopier and pressed his erection into my thigh saying that he thought I was really sexy and he couldn’t help himself.  Knowing that more than 80% of the office had left for the weekend already, I talked fast,telling him I had a boyfriend and asking him what his wife would think. I never scrambled so fast to get the fuck out of a place in my life.

When I was about 20 we used to hang out down at Fisherman’s Wharf for lazy afternoons of live music and cheap drinks.  After one of these nights, we ended back at my boyfriend’s best mate’s place.  My boyfriend passed out drunk in a spare room, leaving me in a strange house with a guy I had met only once before.  This guy. This ‘best friend’, decided this was a good opportunity to pin me down on the carpet, stick his tongue down my throat and have sex with me.  I was too drunk to say no… I was too drunk to say yes.

Thus began my life of never drinking to the point where I might lose control. Of my wits. Of the situation. Of myself.

I was 23 the FIRST time I felt the penis of a complete stranger digging into me when riding a packed train in London.  I’ve lost count of occasions when I have been on trains, buses, or in a tight packed crowd at a concert, and someone has pushed their erection into me, or an anonymous hand opportunistically groped at my breasts, or grabbed on my arse. What do you do?  What do you do?  Sometimes you don’t even know who did it.

I was 35 when a man in Pakistan at a tailor’s shop, slid his hand up my thigh.  I stepped away, only for him to sidle over to me and do it again. Culturally this was seriously creepy – I know how little men value women in countries like this. I was over 40 when a skeezy little Chinese guy in Shanghai pretended to sneeze – face first right into my chest. Fucker.

Thankfully, it happens less and less these days… perhaps because I’m getting older and I am no longer as desirable as the younger version of me was. Perhaps because I no longer frequent pubs and taverns without the protection of a group of trusted friends.  Perhaps, because like many older women, I have carefully cultivated a general ‘fuck off’ vibe, that I arm myself with whenever I leave the house.

I am not in any way tormented or traumatised by my experiences. Have my behaviours evolved to ensure my personal safety and to avoid situations like this?  God, yes.  I don’t go out by myself at night, I am careful about my alcohol consumption (even among friends), I dress fairly modestly most of the time – primarily because I prefer people to talk to my face and not my tits, but also because I don’t want to offer encouragement. Mostly I don’t think about these things because is just the background noise of my life – this constantly and habitually minimising risk.  I don’t dwell on these experiences or in anyway, nor do I feel myself to be any sort of victim.  I’ve never sought justice or expected sympathy over any of this.  These are just things that happened to me.  Sometimes I think the fact that I am not traumatised from these incidents is an indicator of how normalised sexual harassment and sexual assault is in our lives and in our thinking. Other times my thought patterns are more: ‘Yeah, that happened. I can’t change it. I wasn’t seriously hurt. I’m still here. Could have been worse. Who cares?’

Mostly I just don’t think about it at all… but at the moment, with the current media climate, I don’t know how NOT to think critically about my past experiences and how/if they have effected me. What I do know is that sexual assault of varying degrees is so completely pervasive in all our societies. It doesn’t matter what your background is –  it leaves no girl or woman untouched.  I may not have suffered the torment and horror of a complete stranger raping me behind a dumpster – but every single woman I know has stories of unwanted sexual attention.  Every. Single. Woman.

And now, whenever that simply horrid, overblown buffoon of a billionaire, wannabe President, opens his mouth – all I hear and see are these men from my past.  These men who took liberties with my person because I am female. Fuck them and fuck him. If this self professed pig of a man wins the White House and sets a shining example for people all over the world – how do we even begin to try and fix this if it?  I can’t believe he is even being considered as remotely suitable.

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​I Grew Up in a Polyamorous Household

Interesting article penned by Benedict Smith.  I find different peoples views on polyamorous lifestyles to be very interesting – though this is the first article I have found written from the perspective of a child reared in a household with open relationships.

 

Few cultural symbols have as much heft as the “traditional” nuclear family. You know the one: two heterosexual parents, two kids, one dog, two tablespoons of white picket fence, whisk gently. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that—it’s just not how I was raised.

My parents are polyamorous, a Greek/Latin mishmash word meaning romantic non-monogamy with the consent of everyone involved. As a kid, I lived with my dad, my mom, my mom’s partner, and for a while, my mom’s partner’s partner. Mom might have up to four partners at a time. Dad had partners too. I was raised by an interconnected network of grownups whose relationships weren’t exclusive but remained committed for years, even decades.

They first explained it to me when I was about eight. My four-year-old brother asked why James, my mom’s partner, had been spending so much time with us.

“Because I love him,” Mom said, matter-of-factly.

“Well, that’s good,” my brother replied, “because I love him too.”

It was never really any more complicated than that. Looking back, that’s what I find most extraordinary about our situation: how mind-numbingly ordinary it all was. I almost wish it were more exciting than that—a wide-eyed kid, stumbling into amphetamine-fueled sexfests to find a gaggle of ass-naked circus mimes, nuns, and poultry—but we were just as run-of-the-mill-dysfunctional as every other family on the block.

I never resented my parents for hanging out with their partners. We all went on trips to the movies and narrow boat holidays together. Having more adults around the house meant there was more love and support, and more adults to look after us. Dad and James didn’t get jealous or resent each other either, far from the alpha male antler clattering you might expect. They were good friends.

I do remember the first time James told me off. I was eight and had almost toddled into traffic, when he pulled me to the pavement and shouted at me for not looking left and right. I remember thinking:Oh, this grown-up is allowed to discipline me too? But it didn’t take me long to realize that it also meant that another grown-up had my back—and would keep me from being flattened by oncoming traffic—and that this was a good thing after all.

It’s fortunate I was living in relative familial bliss at home, because school was a living nightmare. I had a stutter and a penchant for 80s power ballads—telling anyone about my domestic situation would be to give myself a wedgie by proxy. I mean, one kid got picked on by (weirdly patriarchal) bullies just for having a stay-at-home dad—I wasn’t about to profess that Mom had four boyfriends. I had only one best friend (any more would’ve interfered with my spiritual path of devotedly studying Star Wars encyclopedias and reveling in epiphanic early masturbatory experiences). He was the only one who knew about my parents, and he just shrugged it off.

Our church community, on the other hand, did find out about my parents’ arrangement. We were very close to our parish at a local Anglo-Catholic church in East London—my mom even taught at Sunday school. We never lied about our family dynamic; we just didn’t want to broadcast it. James was called “a family friend,” which worked for a while. Eventually though, we were outed. Someone trawled the web and tracked down my mom’s LiveJournal page, and word got out that my family was poly.

Most people tried to understand, but not everyone could. One family was so condemning of our parents’ lifestyle that they forbade their kids from playing with us. This later escalated into a particularly nasty phone call to social services, essentially conflating polyamorous parenting with child abuse, and sending a swarm of social workers into our home. I remember sitting on the living room floor with my Robot Wars toys, Hypno-Disc in one hand, Sir Killalot in the other, trying to convince them that my parents weren’t hurting me.

“Good parents are good parents, whether there are one or two or three or four of them. Fortunately, mine were incredible.”

Nowadays, if I mention to people that I have poly parents, reactions oscillate between “that’s so weird” and “that’s so cool.” Most people enjoy the novelty of it. Some feel threatened, but they’re usually OK once I reassure them that it’s not a criticism of their monogamy.

All in all, my upbringing shaped my personality for the better. I got to speak to adults from all manner of varying backgrounds, whether they were my parents’ partners, or parents’ partners’ partners, or whoever. I lived with people who were straight, gay, bi, trans, writers, scientists, psychologists, adoptees, Bermudians, Hongkongers, people of wealth, and benefits claimants. Maturing in that melting pot really cultivated and broadened my worldview, and helped me become the guy I am today.

I never envied my friends with monogamous parents. I knew kids who lived with two parents or one, or stepparents, or grandparents, or aunts and uncles. So what I had didn’t feel odd. I’d imagine there’s very little variation between the ways monogamous and poly parents fuck up their kids. Good parents are good parents, whether there are one or two or three or four of them. Fortunately, mine were incredible.

I don’t think polyamory is superior to monogamy in any way—it’s just different. But I wish it wasn’t so stigmatized. Only 17 percent of human cultures are strictly monogamous; the vast majority of human societies embrace a mix of marriage types. There is no traditional family. In his book Sex at Dawn, author Christopher Ryan argues that human monogamy only dates back as far as the agricultural revolution. Prior to this, we lived in small foraging communities and shared our property (food, shelter, wooden clubs, saber-tooth loincloths, etc). Then, post-agriculture, monogamy developed, out of concerns regarding paternity, and the inheritance of material goods. Ryan argues that our modern romantic attitudes are needlessly puritanical, “an outdated Victorian sense of human sexuality that conflates desire with property rights.” Since the 20th century, many of us have begun to return to ourpolyamorous roots, following the sexual revolution, and feminism, and by extension the increased financial independence of women. This upward trend will only continue.

A lot of people ask me whether having poly parents has shaped the way I look at love as an adult, which is hard to answer. Growing up with polyamory as the norm, monogamy seemed alien and counterintuitive. We can love more than one friend or family member at the same time, so the idea that romantic love only worked linearly was befuddling. I’m in my 20s now, and I tend to have multiple partners (though that’s more my libido than a philosophical conviction). I don’t consider myself poly, but I am open to having either multiple partners or just one.

Life is mostly pain and struggle; the rest is love and deep dish pizza. For the cosmic blink of a moment we spend on this tiny dust speck of a planet, can we simply accept that love is love, including love that happens to be interracial, same-sex, or poly? Discrimination against love is a disease of the heart—and we get enough of that from the pizza.

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Reposted from Vice (mainly because the Vice article is full of ads and shit and a really stupid Slutever video has been embedded int he middle of this interesting article – you can find it here if you want the same content surrounded by crap). Drawing by Kelsey Wrotten.

Når du er i Danmark

What on earth is going on in Denmark?  They’ve been making the news for all the wrong reasons.  The other week it was an unwanted/surplus giraffe that was purportedly offered a new home in several different international locations, but ended up being ‘culled’ and fed to lions in front of tourists and small children!

This week, Denmark is banning the halal and kosher slaughter of animals saying that animal rights take precedence over religious traditions.  Well, that sounds kind of fair enough to me.  As it stands, Denmark requires animals to be stunned before slaughter, but there has been a long standing loophole (very likely a similar loophole exists in many countries), where animals can be slaughtered while conscious, if religious traditions dictates it be so.  Animal activists have been lobbying for a long time to stop the Islamic, halal, and Jewish, kosher, methods of slaughtering conscious animals, and it seems they have finally gotten a foothold.  However, it seems many commenters are saying these laws are less about animal welfare and are largely being introduced to be deliberately anti-Muslim and anti-Semite to interfere with the religious freedom of those minority groups.  Personally, I think… yes, many of us eat animals and they are an integral part of the food chain, but there is no need for them dying in fear and panic because your 2500 year old Torah, or your 1600 year old Koran, say they should… it’s the post-modern/technological era we are living in, and it’s about time everyone got used to that.

ON THE OTHER HAND… I think where the hell does Denmark get off saying they are all interested in animal welfare and don’t want to see animals slaughtered by inhumane means when animal brothels are legal in Denmark!  That’s right, the law in Denmark is fairly lenient and open when it comes to interspecies intercourse and it is LEGAL to profit from pimping your pets to paying punters.  I mean, the rights of animals maybe come before religious freedoms, but they should definitely come before unusual lifestyle choices, shouldn’t they?!  So screwed up.  Generally speaking, I think most of us feel that bestiality is not all that okay, and especially not in a situation where animals (incapable of giving informed consent), may be restrained and repeatedly abused for financial gain!

For the record, animal brothels are also legal in Norway and Germany… where oddly it is illegal to own animal pornography, but quite okay to roger Black Beauty so long as you meet the owner’s set fees!  Apparently it’s turning into quite an international sex tourism industry, as people from countries with more stringent animal welfare controls decide to visit Germany and Denmark and avail themselves of these animal bordellos.  It turns out that many proponents of the animal brothels feel that ‘mere concepts of morality have no business being law’.   But if that is the case, and morality has no place in law, then should murder be taken off the books too… seeing the only reason it’s illegal to kill another human being is because society (very early on) deemed it immoral to do so.  I’m gobsmacked.

Denmark – clean up your act.  It’s well and truly time you instituted safe and regulated employment conditions and access to healthcare for your animal sex workers, before you bother legislating against kosher and halal slaughter!!!  O_o

Zoophile