Abuse, Optimism, Sexuality: The Whole Damn Thing

Abuse, Optimism, Sexuality: The Whole Damn Thing

I've seen a few articles and blog entries online that I've wanted to link to in the last while and am only now catching up on. Let's start off optimistically, with this BBC article: Optimism is the cure for the downturn. Now, I don't believe in the philosophy that The Secret espouses, that all we have to do to make our lives golden is think positively, but Sir David Tang's article which states, “Pessimism is the most serious cause for the global economic tsunami,” makes a lot of sense to me. The more we hear about how badly stocks are performing and how much various company profits are down, the less confident people are going to feel about hiring new employees (or even keeping the ones they already have) and making major purchases (or even minor ones!).

On one hand, it makes perfect sense to be frugal and keep ourselves up to date with news of the current economic crisis. On the other, submerging ourselves in negative financial info on a daily basis is bound to fill us with fear and uncertainty (which could be crippling). And if no one spends any money how will we ever get out of this mess? Read what Sir David Tang advises and do let your government know how important you feel it is that they invest in infrastructure.

If you read my blog you'll notice I don't spend much time talking about celebrities but so many people have been discussing Chris Brown's recent assault on Rihanna lately, some of them judging her for supposedly getting back together with him or offering excuses for Chris' violent behaviour, that I want to point people in the direction of this fantastic entry on the topic from the Yes means Yes! blog: What it doesn't mean. The entry breaks open some of the myths surrounding abusive situations—e.g. getting back together with someone who abuses you doesn't mean you're stupid and deserve what you get next time or that what your abuser did wasn't so terrible in the first place.

While we're on the subject of romantic relationships I wish everyone who has a teenager, or writes for teenagers, or is concerned about what's happening in their lives would take a few minutes to read Heather Corinna's Scarleteen post on young women and sex: How Easy It Isn't. Heather's done such an amazing job of bringing enlightened, inclusive, nonjudgmental sex-ed to the Internet with Scarleteen that I truly can't say enough good things about her. I think some people, if they don't look at the present state of our culture too closely, may assume that young women today have it easier when it comes to sex.

Heather points out that while many young American women today grow up aware that no means no, “they don't always have an easy time saying it or feel the permission to. Too, many young women are more frequently, and at earlier ages -- which for some is due to sexual development happening earlier historically than it ever has for women before -- finding themselves in the position of responding to sexual invitations and situations.”

She has this to say on pornography: “...it -- like every other media -- has also continued to more frequently broadcast from and for the lowest common denominator and {girls} are inundated with an even greater volume of homogeneous and sexist sexual messages, beauty and sexual ideals and representations of sex from men and/or for men but dripping over with women in whatever mold they imagine into being for themselves. The feeling that sex needs to be about performance and one-upwomanship -- and one young women often express feeling sex-as-competition is not merely between they and friends but they and professional sex performers -- rather than personal expression seems to be growing...”

For an exploration of a fairly new type of body image problem young women are faced with you can read this F Word blog entry on a British TV show where doctors performed a labiaplasty on a nineteen year old girl.

Finally,  The Republic of T blogged about the murder of fourteen-year-old Larry King and how reading about Larry's experiences reminded him of some of his own experiences at that age. He highlights the astonishing spin some media have put on Larry's murder. Example from The Advocate:

Guided by a welcoming support system at the group home where he lived, the teenager was encouraged to dress as he pleased and live as the person he wanted to be. What King and others didn’t recognize was that this encouragement—and his response to it—placed him on a collision course with a culture that found him repulsive.
Even before his death, Larry King was notorious. He was the sassy gay kid who bragged about his flashy attire and laughed off bullying, which for him included everything from name-calling to wet paper towels hurled in his direction. King was an easy target—he stood 5 foot 4 and was all of 100 pounds.

…As wonderful as this encouragement sounds, did it put Larry in harm’s way by sending him out in a world not ready for him? It may be beyond the capacity of kids to reconcile a tolerant atmosphere like Casa Pacifica with the xenophobic, conformist nature of school. Children like Brandon McInerney are products of their society, one that simply does not know what to do with a boy in heels.
As The The Republic of T surmises: “The consensus seemed to be that Larry “brought this on himself” and that someone allowed him to do so or failed to stop him from doing so — instead of that harassment (let alone death) shouldn’t have been the consequence for being Larry.” He discusses “the time-honored schoolyard tradition {Larry's classmates} will go on to uphold as adults: that of policing gender.” And asks how, as one person against a group, you deal with the onslaught of harassment.

Looking at how long my post here is, considering it's basically a collection of links, you can probably see why it took me so long to get around to writing it! So I'll sign off now, closing with Billy Bragg singing Lovers Town Revisited way back when so we can all enjoy the flashback and get energized!

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