Friday, July 8, 2016

Phallic Friday - confronting norms

I read two articles this week, along with Emmanuelle's articles, that have made me look hard at myself, and question what I'm here for.

Emmanuelle's articles we looked at last week and a couple of new ones have been added this week, which you should read too. Her website is:

The new articles were, firstly, this one about a naked swingers festival in the UK, you can find it here.

Maybe it's because it's winter here and I have minimum 3 layers of clothes on, but I was shivering while I read this. The opening line didn't help, which says, "It’s typical festival weather — wet, windy and freezing."

The article then goes on to describe a bacchanal-style festival, complete with naked bodies, freely available drugs, open-air sex, orgies, alcohol, wet undies contests, wet t-shirt contests, races to orgasm, games of cock dribbling and toss the knob.

I was cringing and shivering by the end of the article.

Then I read this more academic article, you can find it here, where Ruth Charnock, a lecturer in English at the University of Lincoln, speaks about her PhD research in Anais Nin. I was almost crying while I read this, my heart was breaking for this academic, who was being made feel a lesser being because of the choice of literature and author she was studying.

It was an article on a larger platform called the Dangerous Women Project. A project to highlight what it means to be a dangerous woman, and each article I've read has touched something deep inside me. It's been a tough week.

I started to think about my reactions, and in turn the societal expectations or 'norms'. I have a swirling jumble of thoughts in my head that aren't being expressed, so I'm going to blurt lots here and see where I go. Pretend we're having a D & M over coffee/tea :)

Humans don't like change, as a rule they like to maintain the way things are. Change requires effort and it causes instability, fear of the unknown, a loss of a safety net (however imaginary that may be). For change to occur, something dramatic has to happen so that people take notice and change slowly occurs. In the 1980s, particularly in Tasmania with the threat of damming the Franklin River and causing widespread damage to large tracts of unspoiled land, a huge movement with many larger-than-life characters brought about change in the environmental laws of the land. There was always an environmentally-aware segment of the community, but this needed a larger base for change to occur and an over-the-top campaign brought about the results they were after, and a stronger environmental movement (or maybe I was at an age when this seemed to be what occurred).

At present, we have Brexit (UK) and Trump (US), and at home an election so close to call because both major parties have lost a lot of voters' faith. There's been disquiet in the community for a while, but these huge events will most likely lead to change - because the over-the-top manner of the protests have demanding something be done.

Maybe sex needs something over-the-top to bring about the change needed to make it more acceptable in society. Maybe a naked swinging festival isn't an awful cliche of distorted party games, but an over-the-top display to ensure change happens. It's certainly confronting, something the media are likely to pick up on, and something that people will talk about.

I'm not only cold, but an introvert, so nothing about being naked in a crowd is comfortable for me. As for party games, even clothed, those require a lot more alcohol than is possible for my body to absorb! So to me, this is scary... but if it brings about awareness and change, good on them.

After having these thoughts and working my way through my reactions, I've realised that I'm not only cold, and an introvert, but I have become exceedingly passive. In my youth, I used to go on crusades to change things that annoyed me - but my crusades were in the manner of letter writing, voicing my opinion to an authority figure, or arguing with a parent. I was never overtly passionate, I never tied myself to trees, or bucked the system to bring about change.

These are the things I was passionate about while growing up - I wanted to be an altar boy but wasn't allowed, I wanted to play football but it wasn't allowed, I wanted Australia to work together to pick up litter and wrote to the PM suggesting it but I got no reply, same when I suggested a huge celebration for Australia Day rather than the non-event we had. I wanted a fair go for girls in sports so they could play the games boys played, I wanted women to be allowed to be priests and not just relegated to being nuns (you can see the Catholic upbringing here, hey?). I didn't get to do any of these things. I've always felt like I had great ideas but never benefited from them, or my fight.

But if I look at each of these points...most things have changed now. Girls can serve on the altar, girls can play football, there's Clean Up Australia Day, and huge Australia Day celebrations. Girls are still not paid the equivalent of men in sport, but the coverage women get now is a huge increase on what they used to get. Catholics still don't have female priests, but other religions have female ministers.

Changes have been happening. My ideas have come about. They haven't been something I can take advantage of, but they have happened. I'm sure many suffragettes never actually got the opportunity to vote - yet today I benefit from that.

I'm not saying I'm going to the next naked swingers festival, but I think I need to become more pro-active in the fight to have erotic literature recognised in the mainstream market, and in academic circles.

I'm going to put on my thinking cap to see how this could happen... I've always toyed with doing a PhD, maybe I need to become more active in that pursuit. Maybe I need to do some guest talks as an author of erotic fiction. Maybe write some articles for magazines or newspapers.

I'll have to think... but more importantly, I need to act, even in my tiny little way.

I've brought this discussion up before, or at least something similar, so it's plaguing me. I just need to do, instead of think. Or at least think faster about what I can do...and then get to action.
If you have any ideas for me, please let me know.

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