Saturday, 9 May 2009
Carnival of Socialism
When I agreed to Phil’s request to do this Carnival of Socialism , I thought, “What on Earth shall I put into it?” My first thought was to just do a roundup of current blogs, but I thought that would be a bit tedious for me to write and for you to read. So I thought, instead, it would be better to pick a theme, and then see what various bloggers had to say on it. Question what theme? In a recent discussion with a regular contributor to my blog, I found the answer – Sex!
For some reason the Left seems always to have had a problem with sex in recent decades, a problem that earlier socialists and feminists, certainly don’t seem to have suffered from. Its probably, a bit like racism. Afraid of saying the wrong thing or being accused of being racist, people on the Left have often shied away from the necessary discussion of important issues. Similarly, afraid of being called sexist, or having impure thoughts, their seems to have been a similar tendency in regards sex, and even as my contributor demonstrated a retreat into Victorian moralism.
The dilemma was illustrated to me 25 years ago when I was a Stoke City Councillor. One of the Committees I sat on was called the “Law and Parliamentary Committee”, which had responsibility amongst other things, for licensing the sex shops that were just beginning to be set up. I have to say that some of the most illuminating information I had come across in relation to sex was provided to me at that time, by a succession of Church groups who bombarded me with mail including photocopies of all sorts of adverts for dildos and vibrators from the aforementioned shops, in an attempt to mobilise the good Christian people of the area to oppose such a den of iniquity in their midst.
In fact, compared to the sex education Phil says he got at school, the information we received at school was non-existent. The only thing I remember was for some reason the Music Teacher showed us some films about fish, we didn’t even get to see rabbits shagging. Its, perhaps amazing, that I can’t remember any of the girls at the school getting pregnant, but then it wasn’t as though even without the officially sanctioned education we were completely ignorant. I remember learning all you needed to know from a friend of mine when we were about 13. Going round to his house during one school summer holidays he was explaining why he was in some discomfort from the teeth marks one of the girls in the class had left in his dick. A female maths teacher in the school was also a bit of a ‘biker chick’, and delighted in telling the class in a very suggestive voice that her favourite bird was the Shag. I seem to recall she had to leave.
Anyway, when the vote came for licensing the sex shop I found no reason to vote against it. As far, as I was concerned if women found anything they were selling offensive, or exploitative they could picket the shop, and I’d support the picket, but apart from that I saw no reason why I should censor other people’s sexual behaviour.
That was fine until some time later on another committee there was a proposal to subsidise the holding of the Miss Stoke on Trent Contest. As far as I was concerned, opposing censorship by the State was one thing, but actually giving support to an event that specifically portrayed women as sexual objects to be leered at by a bunch of old men, was completely different. I voted against it, and almost immediately, started getting anonymous and threatening phone calls, my wife even got a load of hassle at work. Part of the reason given for the huge opposition that arose was the excuse that the event raised a lot of money that was given to local charities. That was a load of bunk, but even if it wasn’t it wouldn’t have been a justification.
Of course, what it did lead to was a load of Puritanical Right-Wing Labour Councillors attacking me on the basis of voting against a beauty contest, whilst not opposing the licensing of a sex shop. That I think sums up the dilemma I mentioned at the beginning. On the one hand we oppose sexual as much as any other kind of exploitation, but we are not Puritans, nor Moralists, and our job is not to dictate to people what kind of sexual behaviour is acceptable, and what is not.
So, I thought this was a good opportunity to see what various Left bloggers have to say about Sex in the hope that it might open up the discussion. After all according to some survey I saw a while ago people on the left are supposed to make the best lovers because of our tendency to be more open to new ideas, and generally more adventurous attitudes. And who am I to disagree with that?
Running a search on “sex”, on Phil’s blog I found quite a good selection of posts ranging from a fairly recent blog dealing with the question of Paedophilia as viewed through the always interesting prism of Louis Theroux, to Phil’s terrible attempts to tell us that he only went in to Ann Summers to buy a Birthday Card!!!!!
For those who prefer their sex not straight a similar search at Afemanistview provides a wealth of information, including quite a good set of reviews of the recent TV series, “Sex Education Show v Pornography”.
Another example of the dilemma, and self-censorship I was talking about above is given by Action Without Theory , who talking about a meeting at Manchester University, asks,
“I was wondering whether we live in a climate where organising for a man to speak to students about sex would be considered inappropriate.”
There is an interesting post about male and female prostitution Air Pollution at Air Pollution’s blog.
Over at Anglonoelnatter there is a discussion of the supposed moral breakdown that we are supposed to be experiencing.
Always willing to give a plug to those who bash the Daily Mail, this selection from the Angry Mob looks at a number of Mail stories and its campaign for moral rectitude.
On the theme of censorship Benjamin Solah has a number of good pieces starting with a look at Amazon’s decision to withdraw a number of books from sales ranks, search listings and the store’s bestseller lists, including some LGBT books, which it classified as “adult”. He has quite a number of other interesting posts dealing with various forms of sexism, and sex and religion.
Bent Society had quite a few good posts, including this one on advertising and prostitution.
A roundup of news stories affecting trans people is given over at Bird of Paradox , while Blood and Treasure I think strikes a correct note in a story about Kink.com being given a subsidy by California, when he comments,
“The actual scandal here is that subsidies went to a company which should be able to turn a perfectly good profit without state aid, while being required to meet payrolls and tax bills. Union recognition should be required too.”
Bob Piper has quite a lot of short comments dealing with the question of hypocrisy by mainstream politicians when it comes to matters of getting caught with their trousers down.
An interesting discussion about the term “sexy” is given by Capitalismbad . Additionally, there are some good posts about the question of rape. Othering Rapists .
“(This in turn feeds into a meme where straight sex is a necessary social glue - an "investment" in the future of society, as it were - whereas gay sex is seen as a purely "consumption commodity", a frivolous luxury. The Protestant work ethic has much more in common with the Protestant sex ethic than we might have thought.)”
Comments, Chaos Marxism in a post titled, “Mistargeting”.
Chicken Yoghurt has a spread of topics covering every part of the body politic.
In a post entitled “Fucking With Kant”, I’m assuming this could be some kind of pun, Considerphlebas gives a penetrating philosophical discourse on intercourse.
Coventry Green Voice have some good posts dealing with sexual health, as well as questions relating to prostitution. There is also a good little short post about Tory hypocrisy over lap dancing.
Cruella-Blog also has a wide range of posts dealing with many aspects of sex, especially the way it is dealt with in the media.
Culture Sluts has a post based on a post from stroppyblog about what the left get up to in bed. As they say, and as part of the reason for choosing this topic, “So what does this tell us? Firstly that lefties, who tend to have a theory on pretty much everything, have no unified approach to sex. In my experience most left-wing bloggers, who are generally male, tend to avoid or fudge the subject. It does however come up quite regularly on Splintered Sunrise and A Very Public Sociologist, and Madam Miaow can be also very funny when she deals with the subject.”
I’m not sure that I agree with the statement “The survey also tells us that a lot of people- presumably men, as they are primary users of porn- are hypocrites, in that they use porn even though they think it degrades women.”, because there seems to be a lot of evidence that women use porn quite a lot too. For example, Cambridge Women’s Porn Co-op .
The Daily Quail has a number of humorous posts, including one that has discovered a survey that found pornography is rude, and another story about Homosexual Ducks in a Polish Zoo.
daisydeadair has a number of interesting posts, including one asking the question Can Comics Be Pornography to which with a picture of Homer Simpson attached to it, you are almost bound to say no.
Dave Ostler over at Dave’s Part has a good selection, in particular his post Capitalism and the Commoditisation of Heterosexuality which he begins with,
“BACK when I used to frequent strip joints,”
Just, to put my own oar in on the discussion on this topic. A few years ago, I used to do some training at my Kung Fu club with a woman who was a Lap Dancer. I have to say that she was far from the image of someone who was oppressed or exploited. She was extremely confident at both a personal level, and when it came to sparring. She was intelligent, and saw her job as being just that a job like any other, except as she said, she was very well paid for the hours she put in, and for her, the martial arts training was just part of an overall fitness regime she saw as being part of the training she needed to do her job professionally.
Directionless Bones has a number of posts on Sexual Political Philosophy, and on Sexual Politics .
This story caught my eye.
“I find this story utterly baffling. A man has "sex" with a bicycle, ok so far, so normal, though I quibble over the phrasing (was the bicycle a willing partner? courted with flowers and candlelit meals? roughly seduced?). Anyway he does this in the privacy of his locked hotel room, then a pair of nosey-parkers use a masterkey to force their way into his room, catch him in flagrante delicto, then "extremely shocked" inform the hotel manager, who in turn informs the police.”
Given by Dolphinarium . But, this story covered a lot of the ground here
If you want a comprehensive round-up of the treatment of sex by the tabloids then Enemies of Reason have a wide selection.
Charlie Mc Menamin has a bit of a chuckle at the way the credit crunch is affecting bankers sex lives.
I found that Fat man on a Keyboard has some very posts looking at sex and hypocrisy.
Over at Feminist SF there are a number of posts that include discussion of sex within Sci-Fi.
Feministing had a range of posts, including one providing “Agony Aunt” advice.
Fetch Me My Axe had probably more material on the subject than most, and some of it quite funny.
I’ve noticed many blogs concentrating on what the media have to say, and 5 Chinese Crackers again looks at hypocrisy in the treatment of sex by the papers.
Generation Y has a number of posts on sex and sexuality with a Latin twist.
Issues such as Sikhism and Homosexuality, and Sex Before Marriage, are just a few of the topics covered by get There Stepping .
In The Unkindest Cut Grimmer Up North looks at Genital Mutilation and “The perfect Vagina”.
I had to quote this from HarpyMarx because I had the misfortune to see this Jeremy Kyle bloke on a TV in the gym the other week, and was intending to write something similar.
Homo Ludens has some great posts on pornography.
Ian Bone has a blog about “Anarchist Speed Dating”!
Confirming, that I was not making it up in an earlier statement, Identity Check has a number of relevant posts including this one on why “Anarchists Make Better Lovers”. No doubt, however, this will provoke a debate on whether it is actually Anarchists or Marxists who are better, and whether this has to be considered within some kind of structural context. So, which is better Anarchist love-making or Marxist Love making …. There’s only one way to find out. To paraphrase Harry Hill.
There is a series of great posts on the question of legalising prostitution amongst other things at Infantile and Disorderly .
If you’re more into the mechanics than driving the car, Rough Trade has a couple of posts on human fertilisation and embryology.
For a fascinating view transgender transformation, including swimming in Stoke, visit Jenny v The World .
Tom P at Labour and Capital has a short post about a survey on people’s fears about the risk to children from paedophiles. He’s right that the stats actually mean people think the risk to kids was greater 20 years ago than ten years ago, though still less than today. I think it probably says more about people’s understanding of statistics than it does their attitudes to paedophilia.
As we approach Hay Fever season, Lay Science has some welcome news in research that suggests that the solution to nasal congestion could be masturbation!!!
Life is a Question has a number of posts on gender as well as another about a woman who was desperate for here son with Dwns Syndrome to lose his virginity.
If you have the time to read it all there is also Louis Proyect’s review of “The Homosexual in Society”.
Madam Miaow gives us a taste of her own flair for literary erotica, as well as an obituary for Betty Paige.
There are some excellent posts on the question of abstinence and chastity, and the attendant religious bigotry and hypocrisy over at Ministry of Truth
Musin and Confusin has some great posts on sex workers rights, and one about young men’s expectations suffering from watching too much porn. Time was that when you looked forward to your Sunday roast it came with Yorkshire Pud.
There are a number of posts on sex and sexuality, particularly in respect of Muslim societies in a series of posts by Not Of A Free Thinker .
Obsolete was not alone in having a post about the recent case of the teenage dad, and the issues that stand behind it.
Penny Red has a range of posts. I was going to say “including”, and pick out a couple of the best, but there is such a range that my advice is just “Go read em”.
As Republic of Teesside says, “Brace Yourselves, It’s a blog about Girls Aloud”!
A selection of more good posts over at Pink Scare.
Plattitude has a couple of good blogs for example, one on cyber sex, and another entitled “Polygamy, Oral Sex, and the Imam”.
I was glad to find a number of posts on sex here Postman Patel , because I just love that name, and would otherwise have had to have made some up just to include it.
Progressive Gold had this about old naughty cartoons.
Rachel From North London had some good posts, and I was particularly taken by two posts –you should check out – “Won't somebody please think of the perverts?” and “Poledancing slatterns and media tarts”
There are some good posts from an internationalist perspective, particularly looking at attitudes to porn, and roundups of the legal position in a number of European countries at Radical left
If you want a psycho-therapists view then this piece by Ragged Trousered Philanthropist should fit the bill.
Red Star Coven has this blog on the response to the Tarrantino film, “Death Proof”.
Skip the first two posts in this selection from Ryan McReynolds , and you get to some interesting posts on Nazis having sex with animals, and a blog about Andrea Dworkin amongst others.
Second Life left Unity has a discussion on the attitude to Pornography amongst other issues relating to sex. In addition to this post another view is given in This Post
Serge’s Fist has some great posts on Sex and the Revolution.
There should be a new Commandment instructing “Thou Shalt Have Sex”, says, Shavings Off My Mind.
Shiraz Socialist has this thoughtful, and in my view pretty much correct view on Lap Dancing.
There were a number of posts at Splintered Sunrise such as this one on the Sex Education Show.
Fancy a bit of Literary Sex? Try State Street .
The Cedar Lounge Revolution has this interesting review of Tristan Hunt’s new autobiography of Engels. For those who seek to turn Marx and Engels into some kind of automatons this quote is a useful remedy.
“It is absolutely essential that you get out of boring Brussels for once and come to Paris, and I for my part have a great desire to go carousing with you,” Friedrich Engels wrote to Karl Marx in 1846. “If I had an income of 5000 francs I would do nothing but work and amuse myself with women until I went to pieces. If there were no Frenchwomen, life wouldn’t be worth living. But so long as there are grisettes [prostitutes], well and good!””
The last Resort has this post on raising Trans Gender awareness.
You should definitely check out Un-Cooler Than Thou .
For a more Trade Union orientated view also look at Union Futures .
Unknown Conscience has a post on Polyamory.
Vulgar Marxism has a number of posts about beauty pageants.
Phew, that’s about it. I need to lie down now. If I missed you out its probably because you had nothing much to say about sex. If you did, and I missed it, I blame the search engine. You can still post a comment, and a link here.
The Next Carnival is over at The Third Estate .