Children – and childhood – seem to be disappearing.
I almost… almost feel like an old, whinging madwoman saying this. But I’m not, so here goes:
When I was a kid, I dressed in jeans and t-shirts, flat sandals or shoes, fleeces, party dresses that came down below my knees, those little-girl white socks with the foldy-over bit of lace at the top.
But now, all I seem to see are little girls of seven, eight, nine… all dressing like teenagers, like adults. It’s like being back in the Victorian age, for goodness’ sake! What’s happened to childhood, to having those things that you’ll remember for childhood?
I know kids try to dress older, act older, but really, it just doesn’t feel right for them to be dressed in little miniskirts, high heels, knee-high boots, those little jackety things that are there just to cover your breasts — except that they don’t have any, because they’re eight!
I can remember just one girl in my year at primary school who dressed like that, out of probably fifty-odd girls. And she was the weird one.
And actually, I know I’m not wrong on this, and I know it’s not right, because recently a man was given a fairly light sentence for “statutory rape” of a ten year old.
His defence? She dressed like she was sixteen, acted like she was sixteen, told him she was sixteen. Therefore it was consensual and he didn’t know any better, so he can’t have been to blame.
This should never have happened.
And I am so, so sad for that child, who seems to think that trying to be a sixteen year old, way before her time, is an appropriate thing to do.
Poor girl. When I was her age, I was playing make-believe stories where sixteen was an impossibly big age to be, grown up and unattainable.
And I thought that sex happened like it does in James Bond films, where they take their tops off in bed and kiss and roll around lots, and in the morning she wakes up with underwear on.
And it was always really embarressing to watch those things with your parents there, because you were always really interested and never wanted to seem like you were.
If I have children, I want them to think exactly the same thing, until they can screw up their courage to ask myself or their father about it.
And I won’t just give them a “Facts of Life” book, either. Not the one I got, anyway!
It took me ages to work out where all the legs went, after looking at the anatomical diagram. The man and the woman – helpfully colour coded in blue and pink respectively – seemed to only have half a leg each, and using Barbie and Ken to try to figure it out didn’t really work!
I’m not saying for a moment that I’d give them a copy of the Kama Sutra, but seriously, from a real explanation point of view, that book was crap.
You know, in a kind of, “when a man and a woman love each other very much….” kind of a way, that tells you fuck all.
I thought you had to kiss on a sofa, sitting mostly properly – that is, facing forwards – with just the very top part of your bodies turning towards each other, and one of his hands on your breast, because of my book.
And I thought you had to move your hips and nothing else, once you were actually having sex. I thought there was nothing between the two – that you’d automatically go from kissing on a sofa to sex in a bed. I could never quite equate the James Bond films with this, either.
Oh, yeah – and I thought that you’d get pregnant every time you had sex, so you’d only be able to do it once every nine months.
Oh, for those years of innocence…..
Before I began this Second Thought business, I was happily and not so happily ranting away over on Metalsunflower. Which I still do, of course, but it tends to be less grumpy there these days.
Anyway, I once wrote this post about creepy guys.
And when I wrote it, I thought it would do me good to get it all out in the big wide virtual world, I kind of thought I might be able to ignore it more.
Actually, it annoys me a hell of a lot more now than it did then.
But then again, I’ve never been whistled to as though I were a cat before. Complete with ‘here, kitty’ style remarks.
Oh well, at least it was original.
It was also so very well calculated to dent my pride, I very, very nearly went back to beat the hell out of his bollocks. Hey, maybe if I did something cruel and hurtful to his ‘pride and joy’, he’d be less likely to try the same with mine.
Sadly, he was in the company of two girls, and while simple caution had a hand in forcing myself to walk on where he was concerned, it was actual fear that stopped me going back while the girls were there.
They knew what he was doing, and they said nothing. That was enough.
I’m sitting in my Religious Studies class, in year 11. So I must be fifteen, going on sixteen. There’s an “us and them” style arrangement in the class; there are only eight of us, which at least means it’s even. So I sit with Rachel W, who is sweet and funny, and Marie, who is sharp and funny, and Breneve, who is painfully shy, but capable of great conversation. And on the other side of the room are Nancy, and Ndidi, and Billie, and the one whose name I always forget, and we bait them and they bait us….. and the teacher, Miss. Smith, who is delicate and strong and clever and young and wise and stubborn all at the same time, tries to keep us in line. But we all of us adore her, because she listens to us and lets us argue, and somehow we learn the curriculum as well, so when she tells us to please get on with some work and discuss it in ten minutes, we mostly do.
This is the background, by the way.
We talked a lot about ethics in that lesson, too, so we’re used to arguing like crazy, because you have to, but this conversation must have spawned from something about the Church and how marriage may or may not be one of the sacraments (is it? I can’t remember, now.) Oh, and Miss. Smith is engaged, too.
So we begin to discuss marriage like teenage girls. On the other side, there are the comments about wanting a rich, footballer husband, or marrying in order to never work again, and the innevitable questions about what Miss. Smith would be wearing for her wedding day. Cue the arguments about just how big the merringue (sorry, dress) would be if it were their wedding.
Until I chip in with my own take on the matter; that I didn’t think I’d bother to get married, and even if I did, I wouldn’t want to shuffle down any church aisle at all, and least of all wearing something that made me look like a giant cake. Time enough for that when I get old and mad, and start to wear a gran coat and cakes on my head.
This met with a flood of incredulous comments, along the lines of “but that’s what every girl wants…” and so, as Rachel W props her chin in her hand and grins, and as Marie’s shoulders shake with suppressed giggles, and as Breneve looks calmly on at the mayhem unfolding, I suddenly loose part of my grip on my sense, and declare loudly and irritably,
A well thought out argument of mine was never met with such a stunned silence!
If only, if only that wasn’t the reaction of society in general, I wouldn’t mind.
In fact, the only thing that’s stunned people more is learning of my engagement.
It occurs to me, as I am in somewhat of a reflective mood, that there is a small question to be posed here.
I’ve seen the arguments, for and against porn, by feminists or not, and… well, it’s pretty much all been said, so I’m not going to. What got me thinking was wondering:
a) when the next issue of Scarlet comes out, and
b) why, why did it have to go so mainstream?
For the unaware, Scarlet is now becoming regarded as the most ‘hardcore’ of the UK womens’ monthly magazines. It’s relatively new. It’s rather like Cosmopolitan, which previously held the word-of-mouth award for the most sex obsessed womens’ magazine, but without the bits on diets.
So far, so good.
In every issue there’s a section called Cliterature. Erotic literature – four or five short stories, all featuring sex in one way or another.
As you might expect, I was pretty interested in this, not having seen it before, so I went hunting on the internet, like you do, and came up with Literotica. And I read, and some of it was shite, and some of it was pretty good, and some of it was really quite nauseating.
So, my question to be posed is,
is erotic literature written about rape, nonconsent or reluctance given the same reaction as film of the same subject? Is it, for lack of a better vocabulary, just as ‘bad’?
I can see that it’s good insofar as nobody is actually, physically degraded or abused in the making of said literature – or at least, it’s not mandatory. What’s actually happened behind the authors’ closed doors, of course, is another matter.
But would the anti-porn movement rail against it on the grounds that if people read about it, they’ll want to watch it / emulate it?
Does that hold true of the other themes of erotic literature?
Does the anti-porn movement also want to eradicate erotic literature as a genre?
As an amusing aside, there is a marked difference between bad erotic literature on that site appearing to be written by men (going by pseudonyms and the gender, if applicable, of the narrator/ first person) and those appearing to be written by women.
The good ones are all much the same; they work!
The worst ones, both ‘male’ and ‘female’, tend to be poorly spelt, poorly written, unimaginative and with very little concept of grammar, which makes them irritatingly hard to read. There is generally little build up, and even less plot – fine for a film, foolish for a story.
Hilariously, the ‘male’ ones tend to be obsessed with size. There will be constant references to the protagonists thick 12 inches, and so on (come on, guys – a FOOT LONG?!?!). Any character development will start something along the lines of “she was a hot blonde with natural 34DDs”.
I’ve even found a description of breasts as “conical mammaries”!
Possibly the worst one I ever found, which made me laugh out loud, was the story in which the male narrator, while having sex with, in all likelihood, a “hot blonde”, explains totally seriously, “I have amazing stamina, but when I cum, I cum for a solid five minutes”. Straining the bounds of credibility a little, methinks… and even worse, he continues “but don’t worry, I stay rock solid for that time, so I’ll be able to carry on fucking you”…
The stories filed under the “humour and satire” section were more erotic than that!
Whatever your views on porn, and whichever bracket you think erotic literature should fall into, I’d say there’s a great temptation to let it be, just so that you can laugh at stories like that….!
I really didn’t intend to write again so soon, but there we are, these things happen.
Talking of being places, there I was, calmly – if a little groggily; it was early morning – clearing the counter ready for a thrilling day of glorified cooked-pig-carvery, when suddenly our supervisor, who can never normally be arsed, called us for a ‘short meeting’.
So, I ambled over, perched on the other side of my counter and listened in mild suprise as my colleagues and I were informed that the dress code was changing. Though the revised code we were given did not apply to us, as food halls sales associates, it does affect the rest of the store in its entirety.
What really got me thinking were two items under the ‘female dress code’ heading.
I’m forced to paraphrase slightly as my memory really isn’t that good, but believe me, I got the gist of it right. Anything within the “s are real quotes, as you might expect.
1: Female sales associates will be expected to wear full make up at all times. This includes “base, blusher, eyes made up, lipstick, lipgloss and lipliner”.
Oh, and please be aware that certain store lighting “has a ‘washing out’ effect,” and take this into consideration when applying make up.
The old dress code, of which I thoughtfully saved a copy, has this to say:
“make up must be fresh and natural looking”, something which was echoed in the food halls dress code. We wait with bated breath for the new food halls code.
Surely I can’t be the only person to see this for the idiocity that it is. You can’t just force women to wear full make up! More to the point, what twisted logic said that it was in any way acceptable, to the point where the changes were allowed to happen?
I mean, if I were asked, my rationale for refusing would be, simply “I am allergic to most cosmetics”. Which is perfectly true. However, there is also the point that I really have better things to spend my money on than finding that perfect blusher. Or that I really have better things to do with my time than apply said perfect blusher. Or, the one that would really irritate them – “oh, I wouldn’t want to spoil the beauty I have naturally“. Would any of these be considered a reasonable excuse? I think not.
2: Shoes must not be rubber-soled. A little strange, no? Well…. No. Because which shoes are rubber soled? Trainers, yes, but anybody with even the vestiges of common sense knows not to wear trainers to work in Big Posh Department Store. Think about it, though, and you realise that pretty much every flat shoe in existance has a rubber sole, unless it is a moccasin and therefore also very, very unsuitable for work. In fact, three options of shoes were given: court shoes, shoes with a kitten heel, and stiletto heels.
In the old dress code: “court shoes or boots”, although “boots may only be worn with trousers”.
This shoes thing just annoyed me. We do long days – a seven hour day, the equivalent of a ‘normal’ nine-to-five job, is considered a short day on my counter – and when you’re standing for that length of time, day in, day out, I imagine you could really tire yourself out by wearing heels, even kitten heels.
And in general, I find myself bemused that somebody thought that this was a good plan.
Which it is really, which kind of feels special. And because I can see them looking at me, my second thought is my breasts.
But not in, as Eddie Izzard would have it, an entertaining night-time telly kind of a way.
More in a, when did those two round bits stop being something uncomplicated kind of a way.
The reasons I can see them looking at me are, one, the way I’m sitting encourages them to make a bid for freedom while I’m distracted, but two, because I’m wearing a lovely low-cut strappy top which I love and cherish.
Anyway, that’s just the background, as it were.
The dilemma I have is this:
When I want to look good or feel good (note that, by the way – not sexy, just good) I wear tops that reveal more of my breasts / cleavage.
On the one hand, I don’t feel that I’m doing this for anyone but myself, because I happen to love my breasts, and because I like the way that the low cut tops I have make them look.
But on the other, I find myself wondering why I feel good because of this. Is it just because I’ve been exposed (no pun intended, though I am now mildly amused!) to images of partially or totally naked women for as long as I can remember?
Is it just because I associate exposed breasts with the beautiful models that are used to sell absolutely everything these days, and therefore feel better in myself if my breasts are more exposed?
One day I’ll get an answer to that……