Jessica Rabbit 2.0

31 05 2011

Why can’t women be more upfront about masturbation, asks Bim Adewunmi

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Groupthink

28 05 2011

Groupthink:
This occurs when a group sacrifices critical thinking (in order to have agreement on everything.) The primary socially negative cost of groupthink is the loss of individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking.

I have a big problem with Groupthink. And as far as I can see, it is everywhere. It starts in school, when you’re expected to believe everything you’re being taught, (even, as someone recently pointed out, when they were teaching us the big bang theory in the science class while simultaneously teaching us creationism in the religious knowledge class and no one was allowed to ask why).

Home is where you’re not allowed to cut your hair short and wear that hyper-miniskirt because of what the neighbours might say. Then we grow up and come up against dress codes, marriage rituals, sexual choices, political preferences and religious beliefs that all end up for the most part falling into the same old stereotypical categories because we’re all too scared or thick to examine just why we’ve chosen what we have in our lives.

Richard Dawkins protested about how we tend to automatically categorise children into their parent’s chosen faith.  He observed that feminists have succeeded in arousing widespread embarrassment at the routine use of he instead of she. Similarly, he suggests, a phrase such as “Catholic child” or “Muslim child” should be considered just as socially absurd as, for instance, “Marxist child”: children should not be classified based on their parents’ ideological beliefs. According to Dawkins, there is no such thing as a Christian child or a Muslim child, as children have about as much capacity to make the decision to become Christians or Muslims as they do to become Marxists (Wikipedia).

Groupthink is how we decide so many things with little or no analysis or critique. It is the brainless worship of the accepted norm, carrying with it the equally brainless sense of exclusivity and exceptionalism. It also helps reinforce prejudices, stereotypes and meaningless ritual which are often cruel, deadly or at the very least thoughtless.

Here in Sri Lanka Groupthink governs a great deal. From childhood to ancient old age we are told repeatedly to conform, to give in, to accept and to say the words ‘what to do’ in the appropriate tone of resignation. Since we have no recourse in most cases this is what we do. The punishment for rebellion is anyway quite severe, involving huge social and personal sacrifice and isolation. You only have to ask a queer person what it means to be gay in this country. Whatever their story, it will involve either persecution, exile or deception. But while the gay community has its own internal issues with Groupthink, it remains one of the bravest icons of rebellion, standing against conformity and mainstream views in this island. Because if you’re gay, you’ve already broken one of the most important rules.  You have broken out. You’ve been thinking for yourself.





Rape is not a compliment

1 04 2011

Rape and sexual harassment are not compliments doled out only to the beautiful and alluring. They are an extreme form of bullying, and they can, tragically, happen to anyone.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/30/rape-is-not-a-compliment?INTCMP=SRCH





Coming out…

27 03 2011

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/mar/13/dear-mariella?INTCMP=SRCH

THE DILEMMA:I used to think I was close to my twin sister. However, six months ago she got in touch with me on a social-networking site and said she was a lesbian and didn’t love her husband any more. I flipped out – mainly out of shock, but also anger. She refuses to go to counselling. At Christmas she and her husband “split up” and she moved in with my parents for all of three hours before going back to him. He is a solid guy and knows all about her supposedly being a lesbian, but is standing by her. I guess she still wants to be with him. I feel hurt and feel like I’ve lost my best friend. I’m just wondering how I can ever get my sister back, or do I have to accept she is now a stranger who I perhaps didn’t know anyway?

I read this letter (and the reply) in the Guardian recently and was struck by the issues that are raised when a member of the family decides to come out as gay. All my gay friends have stories about this traditionally life-changing moment and most of their stories are positive….in the end. Over time, most families realize its not going away, and simply give in, either embracing it all or just not talking about it at all.

I remember trying to tell my supposedly liberal and highly educated family of brothers and sisters, that I was a lesbian. One of them immediately blocked it out and pretends even now that she knows nothing about it; one of them tried manfully to talk about it but later started to avoid the topic and the third is now known to have worriedly discussed it with a friend saying “I think something must be wrong with her.” (My parents, fortunately for them perhaps, are dead)

Luckily my siblings and I don’t live in the same countries so I don’t have to deal with their reactions to my lifestyle very often. I know who I am and what I feel and this is not going away to suit anyone. I sometimes wonder how such intelligent people could be so retarded about an issue like this, in this day and age…but that’s how it is.

http://www.oberlinlgbt.org/bechdel/bechdel-1.html





The Dish Campaign

25 02 2011

Dear Owner of the Elliptical Reflector Dish,

Congratulations. You must be feeling quite smug now!

I am writing to ask if you can tell us where to buy this Dish? It seems such a good idea!

I am not sure, of course, that we can use it regularly here in Sri Lanka. Our problem is a little different to yours. Most women who have sex with other women can’t make any noise, leave alone a gasp and a screech. Either they are living with their family, in which case, sex is really silent. Or they are boarded in someone else’s house, which is not very different from living at home at the end of the day. Which leaves a few lucky women with their own space who still have to be mindful of the neighbours. And believe me, those neighbours will dislike the screaming for an entirely different reason than you did.

So you can see now why I am asking for information about this Dish. How wonderful it would be to use Elliptical Reflector Dishes, at some pre-arranged time with all the other women who can’t sigh, gasp and scream loudly during sex. We could just flood, flood the country with the noise of women having sex with each other. Sigh.

Sincerely,

Vak





The infamous queen

4 02 2011

One thing that always irritates me is the lack of diverse sexual practices in our historical accounts. What I mean is, most of the historical texts seem to be devoid of anything other than kings with many wives and extra-marital affairs by royalty.

The only person of interest seems to be the queen Anula (47-42 BC). She doesn’t get much coverage in historical texts, the Rajavaliya refusing to even name her. The Mahawamsa is the only text that gives a detailed description of her and has this to say:

“After his death king Mahacula’s son ruled three years as king, being known by name TISSA. But Coranaga’s spouse, the infamous Anulá, had done her infamous (consort) to death, giving him poison, because she was enamoured of one of the palace-guards. And for love of this same palace-guard Anula now killed Tissa also by poison and gave the government into the hands of that other.

When the palace-guard, whose name was SIVA, and who (had been) the first of the gate-watchmen, had made Anula his queen he reigned a year and two months in the city; but Anulä, who was enamoured of the Damila Vatuka, did him to death with poison and gave the reign to Vatuka. The Damila VATUKA, who had been a city-carpenter in the capital, made Anula his queen and then reigned a year and two months in the city.

But when Anula (one day) saw a wood-carrier, who had come to the house, she fell in love with him, and when she had killed Vatuka with poison she gave the government into his hands. TISSA (Daru Bhatika Tissa) , the wood-carrier, when he had made Anula his queen, ruled one year and one month in the city. In haste he had a bathing-tank made in the Mahameghavana. But Anula, enslaved by passion for a Damila named Niliya, a brahman who was the palace-priest, and eager to be united with him, did Tissa the wood-carrier to death giving him poison and gave the government into (Niliya’s) hands. And the brahman NILIYA also made her his queen and resigned, upheld constantly by her, six months here in Anuradhapura. When the princess Anula (who desired to take her pleasure even as she listed with thirty-two of the palace-guards) had put to death Niliya also with poison, the queen ANULA herself, reigned four months.”

I can only admire a queen who lived the way she wanted and didn’t care for the conventions of the day. The descriptions of her numerous consorts of varied origin serve to distract us from the fact that even though she took the throne after a tumultuous time in the country’s history, no wars or rebellions are recorded in her time. We can only imagine what this might mean.





Naming and shaming

29 01 2011

Are we instigating murder?

You may recall, the Sri Lankan media, under the directive of the Police Crimes Division, published photos of men and women who they claimed appeared in porn movies.  Subsequently, these people’s lives have been completely ruined. Some have been expelled from their homes and can never show their faces in society again.

In Uganda, a prominent gay rights activist was murdered in his own home, following a newspaper article that published pictures of several Ugandan homosexuals. The headline that appeared in October 2010, read “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos” and showed photographs of some of them. David Kato was among them. By the end of January 2011 he was murdered.

In the months in between, David had sued the Rolling Stone newspaper that carried his photograph for defamation. In the meantime The Supreme Court of Uganda ruled that people must stop inciting violence against homosexuals and must respect the right to privacy and human dignity. However, it seemed like no one really paid any attention to Kato’s action of suing, nor to the Supreme Court directive.

This is a lesson for all of us and a lesson for Sri Lanka too. By trying to name and shame people  who are different, either because they sell sex, appear in porn movies or have sex with people of the same sex, we create stigma and discrimination against them and also instigate violence.  In some cases, even death.

Do we want to sleep with blood on our hands?