Thursday, 20 December 2012

... On the age of consent.

OK, i'm going to tell everyone a secret, you know those teenager things? Yeah, those weird awkward human beings approaching adulthood?  The ones that make terrible decisions... well more terrible decisions?  Yeah, them. They're going to have sex with each other.  That's just how it works, I don't care if you have abstinence only sex-ed or you've told them that some magic guy in the sky will strike them down if they so much look at another person's crotch, they will do everything in their power to successfully have awkward, terrible sex with each other. Now, most western countries (maybe all) don't have a problem with 18 and 19 year olds having sex and this makes sense, by that age they're mostly physically developed and psychologically they're *relatively* stable (well more stable than some of us twentysomethings at any rate) and here in the UK anyone over 16 can "get it on", but for some reason the idea of younger teenagers doing anything is particularly bad. This is despite the fact that their hormones are busy going insane telling them that if they don't have sex with every member of their desired gender(s) within the next week the world might actually end.

I'm going to put this out there, but this seems completely illogical to me.  The idea of allowing teenagers under 16 to have sex with adults is something I could never agree with, but letting them do it with each other would seem a pretty sensible thing to do.  I would propose that anyone between the ages of 13 and 17 should probably be allowed to have sex with anyone else in that age bracket, they're going to be doing it anyway and by making it legal you're bringing it out of the shadows and, hopefully, opening up an easy route to teach them about how to look after their sexual health.  Sexuality is an important part of the human experience from the point at which hormones start dumping into our system telling us to "REPRODUCE RIGHT NOW" and burying it and pretending it doesn't happen doesn't help anyone.  So long as we protect young people from being abused by the worse adults in our society, by allowing them to discover their bodies as they change it becomes easier to teach them to respect each other and learn how to look after their own sexual health.

Final point, if you're a teenager reading this and you're going to have sex with someone USE A CONDOM, other than that, have fun.


Saturday, 8 September 2012

... On approaching women

OK, so its been a while, my thesis is currently eating up mountains of time as I struggle to get the thing finally completed so I can move on in my life; however, recently I have noticed a few posts about geeky guys at cons causing major distress to women and in some cases going so far as to sexually assault them while attempting to hit on them.  Or rather, I assume they're trying to hit on them, it's difficult to really come up with any sensible reasoning behind what they've done.  Whatever they were attempting to do they are a danger to women around them and I would be extremely upset if they were to treat any of my friends in the way they have treated these women.  One example is the case of Ky being sexually abused at the Minecraft PAX party.  A very good article on these sorts of incidents is available over on Paging Dr Nerdlove.

In the article there is discussion of another incident from UnWinona's Tumblr, in which she is threatened by some truly horrific specimens of humanity, which, for obvious reasons, does not do much good for her sense of safety in the world at large.  A problem I find with the post is her annoyance at being approached by men as I am unsure as to how a man is meant to meet women as either potential partners or as potential friends without first initiating contact.  As a fairly empathic person I do my best to prevent any emotional harm I may cause to people when going through my daily life and reading that merely by approaching someone to talk to them I may cause such harm is extremely worrying from my perspective.  If I didn't approach women in coffee shops, bars, on trains or wherever I would have far fewer friends than I do now and certainly would have not had any dates in the last 3 years or so, so I'm not entirely sure what the solution is.

Part of the problem are obviously the men that do these horrible things in the first place and another are those who ignore it when such things occur (such as the security guard, who's JOB it was to do something about it, in Ky's story and the business man on the train in UnWinona's, although he may have been just as scared as she was), but it is truly unsettling to learn that to properly respect women I have to avoid all contact with them.  This leads me to a conundrum and one that, at least for now, I cannot solve but am forced to ignore if I ever want to make new female friends or meet potential partners.  I understand why women can feel threatened (I'm a small guy and find being approached by large males relatively unsettling having been attacked in the past), but I don't think the solution is for men to avoid talking to new women as some of the more radical feminists I have met have proposed.  The best I can do is make sure that when I do approach a new woman that I treat her with the respect she deserves as a fellow human being and do my best to read signals telling me to go away, should there be any.


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

... On 'choosing' your sexuality...

I was reading around the internet last night when I came upon this video, which I will admit to finding slightly odd, enough so in fact, that I have decided to put together a post on it.

Overall I agree with the interviewer's position, (ie. that homosexuality should not be considered a choice, just a way of being in much the same way that heterosexuality is); however, I find the way he chooses to interact with those who suggest that environmental factors may be part of what leads towards someone's sexuality, highly combative and massively flawed.

In the video when someone expresses a belief that homosexuality is a choice, the interviewer, quite rightly, asks the question "when did you choose to be straight?", leading to the person he is interviewing reconsidering their standpoint, maybe not enough to change their entire worldview, but at least enough to force them to think about it.  Unfortunately the interviewer also asks this question of anyone who believes that environmental factors also have a part to play, which damages his argument somewhat, as believing (quite sensibly considering the evidence) that environmental factors effect the development of a person is not the same as believing that the person made a conscious choice to be that way.

As a straight man I never really decided to be straight; however, over the years I have asked myself questions about my sexuality and it took me a long time before I really noticed that I felt very differently about women that I did about men.  At school I didn't really fancy anyone as far as I remember, although I thought I did on a number of occasions, I tend to believe that the reason I thought I did was probably down to societal pressure that a boy of ~13-18 was meant to fancy people and that in general most boys fancy girls so I "fancied" a girl.  This leads me to believe that sexual preference is a result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors and that to suggest otherwise is to ignore an important part in the development of our personalities.

I will admit I don't understand why the interviewer takes such a stance against environmental factors (maybe it's because of some people's suggestion that certain things can "make" someone gay, but that only matters if it is assumed that being gay is a negative trait), but to outright deny the existence of such things is a detriment to the argument as a whole.  Additionally there do appear to be a minority who do "choose" their sexual orientation, although whether this is down to societal pressure to define themselves or or down to a naturally occurring facet of their personality I cannot be sure.  If this orientation exists independent of societal pressure, it is another form of human sexuality which must be accepted and not talked down to as in this video.

Anyway, overall this video is attempting to put across a very important point, that hetero and homo-sexual desires almost certainly stem from the same place; however it does this in a way that I feel overlooks a large number of important points in the discussion that need to be accepted.


Friday, 13 April 2012

... On suggestive texts

Yay, this picture is about as interesting as this slightly whiny blog post!  More exciting ones to come in the future... At some point... Maybe...
I met a friend recently for breakfast and she was talking about how things with a guy she likes had been going, he'd expressed interest but hadn't entirely made clear how seriously he was taking the dates they'd been on.  Anyway, they'd been sending flirty and suggestive texts back and forth the night before and she'd decided to ask a bit what was going on.  The second part I understand completely, I don't entirely go along with the 'bluntly request information' approach to such things, but it certainly gets everything out in the open even if it can kill the mood dead (this probably says more about my self-esteem than I'm generally comfortable revealing of course, but... *shrugs*); however the first part, ie. 'flirty and suggestive texts' is something that completely eludes me.  I have, in the past, received such texts and responded in kind but I find initiating any sort of mildly explicit conversation via an electronic medium completely impossible and fail miserably at upping the ante when someone else initiates it for me.  I don't entirely know what it is that makes it so difficult for me, but it's why I tend to avoid talking to women I'm interested in via Facebook or in text messages if at all possible, except to arrange face to face meetings if required.  I think part of the problem is that texting or writing seems to engage the brain a bit more than communicating in person and, as a naturally cautious person when it comes to implications of a sexual nature with someone I'm interested in (almost certainly a topic for another day), that may give me time to worry too much about potential fallout if I've misread something.

Receiving a suggestive text from the right person can be very exciting, assuming the time and place are right (ie. your lover/partner/spouse/benefit heavy friend hasn't decided to text in the middle of one of those well known sexy accounts meeting) as it engages the imagination and helps to send it off into lustful thoughts relating to the sender, always fun... Truth be told, depending on the last time you saw the person in question, even the mere reminder that they exist can be enough to send you mind off on a tour of some of your more interesting fantasies, but somehow even the slightest direction in text form can make it all the more interesting, again assuming a sensible time and place.  I think part of what makes suggestive texting so much fun is the secrecy of the whole thing, you can be sitting in a very public place having your 'significant other' describing to you any number of naughty things the two of you could be getting up to, even something as innocent as gently resting your hand on their leg can be sexy if it's in an inappropriate place (take that as you will), so your brain entertaining such thoughts out in public is fairly fun.

Anyway, enough about that, the main thing is I'm crap at it. Damn.


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

... On Coffee Shops

So... This coffee shop doesn't exist any more...
OK, so I'm sat curled up in my favourite coffee shop, my regular Americano far colder than it really should be, having been bought probably over an hour ago and my laptop balanced precariously on my knees, a very picture of manliness, or content childishness, probably the latter, and want to write about what it is I love about coffee shops.  What's that? You don't care what I think about coffee shops? My blog, my rules, so stuff it.

Considering that my coffee is now reaching room temperature it's clearly not the coffee that keeps me coming back, although it certainly influences my choice of venue to start with and it's certainly not the seating; however comfortable that may be, it's generally the clientele. Coffee shops are a great place to watch the various subsets of humanity pass by and ponder what it is they're doing, are they stressed out working on a last minute design document for a lousy boss?  Are they escaping an uncomfortable argument with a spouse or partner?  Are they just their to meet a friend for a quick coffee in between getting important things done?  Or, are they, like me when I'm alone, merely there to feel closer to the general hubbub of daily life and the potentialities presented in such a place for chance meetings with new people that could develop beyond those of an acquaintance or friend, perhaps to that of lover or loved one.

And that's where we really get down to it, I love sitting in coffee shops watching the people go by; in particular the beautiful, intelligent young women that frequent such places (at least in a university town), hoping that they might choose to sit somewhere nearby so I have an excuse to talk to them and learn a bit of what makes them tick.  The truth is I love humanity, warts and all, but what inevitably most catches my attention are the women in my "age-range", those with whom, assuming a compatible personality, may choose to spend more time in my company than is really necessary for something so simple as a friendship.  As a single man in my mid 20s, busy writing up a boring PhD, interesting women are a bit of a vice of mine, especially those with a hint of their sexuality without being so open as to be a little scary to someone such as me with only a couple of long term "relationships" to my name.

I tend to read a number of feminist blogs as I consider myself an egalitarian and some such sites demonise heterosexual men who allow a small measure of our sexuality out in the way we notice women around us and the way we choose to interact primarily with those we find attractive, which does worry me at times, as I am more guilty of this than most (hence coffee shops), but I'm not entirely convinced that it's a bad thing.  I don't think I objectify the women I notice, generally on seeing someone I consider very attractive my first thoughts are of trying to find out what makes her who she is, what she considers her flaws to be and what I can do that will brighten her day somewhat, much as I do for nearly everyone I meet, but I will admit that there are also slightly less innocent thoughts kicking around too; however, the former are not considered as a means to successfully bring the latter thoughts into being.  I'll probably have to write something more in depth about my views on misogyny and feminism in a later post as it's an area I've put a lot of (probably misguided) thought into.

So, in the strictest sense I visit coffee shops for the beautiful and intelligent members of the opposite sex that tend to while away hours in such places, and, to date I seem to have a lot of evidence in favour of such places being a good place to get numbers and Facebook contacts.  I have met a number of close friends in coffee shops and the last person I dated, unfortunately, my personality does sometimes get in the way of forming a deeper connection, and my "knight in shining armour complex" can sometimes lead to me growing close to someone for all the wrong reasons.  I'm not arguing that coffee shops should be the centre of interaction with those I am/could be attracted to but they certainly help me when I'm feeling disconnected from humanity as a whole reconnect with that side of myself and remind myself that maybe being a sexual being isn't really all that bad.