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Posts Tagged ‘modern views of sexuality

All Life is Precious

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“Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts!”

Kurt Weill, “What Keeps Mankind Alive?”

The Girl (our two-year old blonde and super precocious daughter) and I usually take the bus to daycare. We often sit at the front of  the bus, where she makes lots of friends, unless the front is inhabited by the grumpy variety of old person. Today it wasn’t looking good, so we went directly to the back, where the Bad Kids sit.

Imagine our dismay (my dismay, really, she says “Hi” and “Bye” to everyone without bias) when the back also filled up with grumpy old people, including one who commented on her cuteness and immediately related it to his wrist ban (right next to the “Livestrong” band) that said “All Life is Precious,” with a little pair of baby foorprints, which he connected to the Girl’s feet with his finger.  I didn’t debate the point – we’re on the back of the bus having a (for me) casual conversation, I had a toddler on my lap, and he’s going to be dead soon – but I did have to suppress one burning question – “If all Life is Precious, why do you just have a pair of human baby feet on there? Where are the chick feet, calf and piglet  hoofs? Fish fins? And while we’re at it, what about humans who don’t fit into your preferred social/racial/economic/sexual stereotype? How can we represent them?”

I’m not sure why he drew the connection between the Girl and the wrist thing. I suspect that he was suggesting that, but for cruel abortion, there’d be a whole army of precious little blonde girls sitting on the bus.

 Pragmatic Practices

Human cultures function usually thanks to a bunch of  pragmatic and often harsh decisions that were made in the past and formalized into Tradition, Good Business Practice, Cultural Stereotypes and so on. In North America, most of us our lucky because our particular consumerized culture tries to protect us and lie to us about the ugly pragmatic stuff that has to happen every minute to keep us in the manner we’re accustomed. Animals are mistreated and brutally killed, employees are underpaid and disrespected, governments make far-reaching decisions to answer immediate and fleeting situations and please their supporters, the earth is further polluted and  messed up, and third world people are made to live in work in horrible conditions. Many of these pragmatic decisions-made-practice involve controlling and using human nature to the advantage of whatever power base is making the decisions. One of the biggest aspects of human nature is the urge to mate – arguably, it’s the reason we’re all here. Mating has always been useful to empires and popes since it brings more bodies into the army, factory, or tithe lineup, so we have all sorts of rules about it – The pope tells starving third worlders not to use birth control, the British Empire made it illegal to sell birth control at certain points in history, mating with someone of the same gender is bad because it places emphasis on the pleasure aspect which takes everyone off on a bad tangent if they think about it too much.

 Individual Sexuality

Due to all these rules around mating, and the lingering effect of these rules and the absolute thinking they required, we’re still screwed up over the it. But it needs to be looked with what seems to be a simmering possibility in human cultural evolution, that the needs of the individual can be emphasized and co-exist peacefully with a general set of rules that look to the needs of the group. Mating and sexuality should not be looked at as tools of the church or state, but a fundamental component of each individual’s being, and dealt with in a manner that best suits the individual, according to circumstances. Abortion is not the best, but this is a complicated world with weird stuff happening, everyone makes mistakes. It’s not good to make a whole series of additional mistakes just trying to satisfy some dogma regarding the first one.

I also think the Animal Rights community should really take advantage of the excellent traction the “All Life is Precious” motto has and print up some with the additional footprints.


Written by balloonhed

June 15, 2011 at 11:37 am

Teletoon Retro

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The Boy likes to watch Teletoon Retro. It horrifies me to see this stuff again that I grew up on or witnessed in passing over the years – Bugs Bunny, Pink Panther, Tom and Jerry. Incredibly violent – guns blazing all over the place, characters getting pounded with all sorts of stuff, diced into pieces , etc etc. You see a bit of violence in modern cartoons, but not at the constant rate in these old hunks of junk. You still see guns, but they’re often absurd cartoons of guns, not the realistic depictions you see in the Retro stuff (Yosemite Sam seems to favour a pair of American Civil War pistols).

The cultural references were puzzling to me when I was a child (“Open up that door! –You’ll notice I didn’t say ‘Richard’”). They must be even more bizarre to more recent generations of kids. Of course, back then I thought it was funny because of the casual slapstick violence, and perhaps the perception I’d picked up that “this stuff is funny.”

It occurs to me that Teletoon Retro isn’t actually for kids. It’s for adults who remember this stuff when they were kids.  The adults are nostalgic for it, and their fulfilling of this nostalgia is exposing a whole new generation to a bunch of fossilized cultural values and behavior. Take “Looney Tunes/Bugs Bunny” for instance – when the majority of them were made, a major world war had just ended. The “Honeymooners” was popular in the same time period, which demonstrates the level of casual violence and the implied right of the man of the household to beat up other people in the house. Racism was rampant, foreigners were rudely characterized as a matter of course. Single parenthood was an embarrassment and shuffled out of sight, being non-straight was a crime almost everywhere.  Handicapped people were a burden and a joke. The earth was being freely and happily ripped up and polluted without thought to consequences. Draconian punishments were common in justice and in schools. In the United States, black people were still heavily marginalized, denied the vote in many states, and regularly killed by mobs without recourse for their friends and relatives. In Canada, killing a Native American wasn’t a serious crime.

In essence, many retro cartoons were created in the same time period as the “golden age” cultural values many in North America continue to try and force down over a world that is entirely different from the world that created them.

Yes, they’re cartoons, fun to watch sometimes and a reminder of childhood. They’re also the compression of the cultural point in time when they were produced, containing badness it took us lots of time, energy and pain to overcome. They’re one more thing that’s revived and kept around for the comfort of older generations, and accidentally rubbed on younger people.

Written by balloonhed

January 11, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Everyday Alphabet – Ss – Self Stuff

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Everyday Alphabet - Ss

Going Gay

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(republished because apparently september 23 is is bi visibility day, an option everyone should have the right to consider)

The other day, the boy told me which of his (male) classmates he’s likely to “go gay” with, just as he`s informed me which of his female classmates he`d like to marry. I asked for background on the term – it is apparently applied to any set of boys who get along really well, who `love`each other. For the most part he and his classmates don`t seem to get the*other* implications of love, but he says he can see himself loving and spending his life with another boy as well as a girl. The boy has friends who have same-sex parent sets, relatives that prefer the same gender, and has had the whole thing explained to him. It`s totally acceptable to him – what surprised me is that it appears to be acceptable to his peers.

I explained to him that many people have issues with the concept, since their thinking is framed in terms of religion, tradition, and occasionally fears of their own deep-down desires. he found that puzzling and silly. I also pointed out many people see same-sex love as unnatural` as the `parts don`t fit together well,` (introducing the physical aspect of the whole thing), even though it does occur amongst many sorts of animals and humans are believed to have some predisposition to it. he took this all in stride.

While I have to acknowledge the boy goes to an alternative school in a privileged and educated neighbourhood, this relaxed and accepting attitude regarding homosexuality filled me with relief. While there does appear to be some teasing involved in the delivery of the `going gay` concept, it is more of the “sitting in a tree, K-i-s-s-i-n-g` variety than the `hey faggot!` insult-grade use common to school grounds i traveled as a child, or in most other places today, including adult venues. `going gay` is comparable to `liking`a girl, it seems – both possible and acceptable in the minds of these kids, but equally tease-worthy.

this is progress. this is human spiritual evolution. This is a hopeful thing for me, and indication that education and modeling of accepting attitudes is paying off. An upcoming generation is starting out with an open mind about sexuality. Granted they`re a subsection of their generation, and a privileged one at that, but they will have influence on how things continue to shape up.

Written by balloonhed

September 23, 2010 at 10:43 pm