Jan 27, 2011
Historic Eye Candy and A Very Serious Note About Kids
1) Historic Eye Candy:
A friend just e-mailed me the link to this site: Bangable Dudes in History: Dead Man Porn for Your Still-Beating Heart. Starting with Alexander Hamilton and jumping around in history, the anonymous (?) blogger behind this genius site posts pictures of super-hot dead dudes and lists (in pie-chart format, for your nerdly pleasure) the reasons why they're so bangable. Being a sizable dork myself (in case the Gangbangs = Clone Armies post didn't tip you off), I'm finding this absolutely fascinating, giggle-worthy, and totally moistening. Plus, she included Nikola Tesla, on whom I've been harboring a Bowie-induced genius crush for years now. Totally worth a look.
2) A Very Serious Note About Kids (and porn and sex, but I can't say that without parentheses without seeming like a creep):
So there's been a total uproar on the internet (dunno about TV, since I don't watch it) about these two second-graders in Oakland engaging in oral sex in the classroom, supposedly while the teacher was there. The teacher has been suspended while the school investigates what happened, relying, one would assume, mostly on the testimony of the other seven- and eight-year-olds who either saw what happened or will pretend that they did so they can sound grown-up. Conservatives are calling it a sign of our "Climate of Depravity," parents are fuh-reaking out, and child psychologists are trying to figure out how such young kids could have gotten it into their heads to behave like this, since actual sexual contact of such an overt sort has usually never occurred to second graders, though by the age of eight most kids are starting to experiment with their bodies and understand more about pleasure.
I'll admit, it's pretty shocking. I'm not gonna get up on a shoddily-constructed soap box and say that people should calm down about this. I'm not going to say that the parents of the students in the class, where reports say that not only were some kids going down on each other, but that other kids had "at least partially disrobed" during class, also, shouldn't be totally freaked out. They should. Nobody wants to think that their kid was either involved in totally and absolutely inappropriate behavior or that their kid witnessed said behavior and might now, at the age of seven, be considering its implications. It's just waaaay to early for all that. But at the same time, the witch-hunt for the supposedly-hedonist teacher (whose name the school has prudently withheld from the media thus far) who said he had not witnessed any of the above activity and the absolute moral outrage that's sweeping the world (Telegraph UK picked this up) is... gasp... maybe a bit over the top? (Also, it doesn't help that they apparently went to a school that looks like the Death Star from the outside.) Sure, it's another good shouting point and a way for conservatives to mention how the Tucson shooting wasn't all that bad and call liberals hedonists (cause obviously liberals were responsible, and no, I'm not making this up). And sure, there's a chance these kids saw their parents or guardians or older siblings engaging in this behavior consensually, which might denote a certain air of immorality about their home situation. Or maybe these kids are really computer whizzes and figured out how to look up "blowjob" on Google and got a real eyeful. Or, and I hope this isn't true, maybe one or several of them have been sexually abused and they're acting out accordingly, which would be horrible. But pointing fingers and hurling blame at the liberal agenda, the climate of hedonistic depravity in this country, the entertainment industry, or the porn industry isn't going to change what happened, and I'm getting really sick of watching everyone fly into rages and blame people across the aisle.
The point here is: look, guys, these are kids. Young kids do weird shit ALL the time. This may be very abnormal behavior that we can't condone, but it's not a sign of the apocalypse, either. Kids this age are kind of psychotic. They eat dog poop off the front lawn. They beat each other up and bully each other mercilessly for no real reason. They pick their noses and wipe their boogers on school property. They practice using swear words they hear adults use, almost always mangling them (and I bet whichever kid was on the receiving end of that oral session probably had some of his or her equipment mangled, too). They eat paste, goddammit. They basically exist in a hedonistic frenzy 99% of the time as they learn the basics of what's acceptable and when, what's fun to do to get a reaction out of other kids and adults, and how to control their wildly inappropriate impulses. Granted, those impulses normally, at such a young age, don't include oral sex, but the point here is that seven-year-olds mimic the behavior of adults to try to seem cool all the time, while beating the snot out of one another on the playground and trying to remember what 7 + 3 equals and why it matters all at the same time. Kids are kind of wild cards, casting about in a very confusing world where what's appropriate and what's not aren't always entirely clear until they get called to the principal's office. They do a lot of things they shouldn't, and most the time they don't really understand why they want to or why they shouldn't do it at all. The idea of repercussions and real-world consequences is still a pretty long way off to a seven-year-old.
Especially if any of the kids in this particular case are the victims of sexual abuse and are acting out as a cry for help, this is not a time to go around screeching about declining morals. It's a time to think about what might be happening to these particular children and to landscape of American sexuality in relation to these kids. I don't want this to come across sounding the wrong way, but I think it's incredibly important for us to stop pissing our pants over the possible deleterious effects of depictions of sexual acts on MTV and in advertising and in online porn that kids can access on our youth. I think it's time to quit pointing fingers and ranting about depravity, spending all our energy and time blaming other adults and nebulous blame-sponges like "the internet" and "the media" and "the porn industry"--huge conglomerations of people and ideas that can't be held accountable in any real way--and start looking at what we, as parents and teachers and individuals with individual access to individual children and their perceptions of sexuality, can do to prevent these kinds of weird behaviors.
Kids, as I've just pointed out, aren't existing in some kind idyllic vaccum where everything is ponies and butterflies and cops and robbers these days. Even if we really want them to, they aren't--and, frankly, they never really were, but that's another post. They're growing up in a world that's bombarding them with messages from all sides at all times about what it's ok and not ok to do, and often these messages get mixed up when it comes to what's "cool" and "not cool" to do. Our society, it's true, fetishizes violence and sexuality, and kids aren't stupid. They pick up on these things. But they don't know what to do with them because we as adults are SO terrified of broaching these topics.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a parent myself, so I may be vastly oversimplifying the matter. But I am the result of terrified parenting. I grew up in a house where we DID NOT discuss things like sex or drug use because they were things that, as a kid, I wasn't supposed to have any curiosity about. But I wasn't just a kid, I was a human being with natural curiosities, and I always wondered about these things, and I did some stupid things to try to find out more. When I was in second grade, I was looking up naked pictures in the "Renaissance" and "Michelangelo" sections of the classroom encyclopedia because I was curious; I'm damn sure that if I were that age now and I knew that I could type "naked people" into Google, I'd be doing that instead and getting much more revealing results. By the time I left second grade, I had experimented with naked touching with another girl and had been the victim of nothing less than sexual bullying by another. I'd practiced French kissing with the bully against my will, but I'd been more than eager to pretend to "make out" with another friend. I'd pretended to have sex with a life-size doll I kept in my room, and I'd made my Barbies "mate" on countless occasions. My mom had stopped reading me the "how babies are made" book because I was too interested in the topic.
I recognize that there's a good chance I was just a particularly horny kid, but I also can't help thinking that my level of insatiable curiosity wasn't that odd, especially because nobody was willing to take all this evidence into account and sit me down and explain to me that sexual behavior was a perfectly ok thing, but only between people who were old enough to understand the consequences of their actions and who respected each other and consented to all the things that were happening. Not that I would have really understood what that all meant, necessarily, but I can't help thinking that if someone had just been honest with me, or even expressed to me that my curiosity wasn't devil spawn but normal and ok as far as it goes, and given me the opportunity to ask questions instead of feel ashamed of my body and impulses, I might not have gone about doing so many weird things to satisfy my curiosity.
Screaming at each other about whose fault it is that these kids did something so drastically beyond the scope of childhood sexuality isn't helping anything, but it is very likely confusing and shaming the hell out of these children, who might very well need help and an honest, open discussion about the things they did. They should know that oral sex is not a BAD thing in principle, but that it's only a GOOD thing in certain particular places and times when shared between particular people. Let's not shame each other and children who probably don't understand what the big fucking deal is, let's talk about it and let them talk about it too. There is such a violent fear in this country about children finding out about sex that it's often deemed a horrible crime against nature to be honest with them about sex. But in a world where messages about sexuality are coming at them from every side at earlier and earlier ages, the only result of giving in to the fear of "looking like a pedophile" by being willing to discuss these topics in a responsible way is going to be more inappropriate and shocking behavior by kids who are trying to figure out their bodies, their world, and themselves. We've go to get over our irrational fear of sex in the sphere of children and admit that it's the fear that's leading to a lot of the problems we're so terrified of. Kids need to know, even in broad terms, about sex, about sexual abuse, about sexual norms and sexual boundaries and the age of consent and so much more, or we're leaving them to their own means of exploration, which, from one once-bullied victim of peer sexual abuse to probably many others, is not a fun way to go about it. Shame, fear, and blame create an atmosphere of shadows and terror in which children are afraid to express their worries and questions, let alone the truth when they are made victims of abuse. And when kids wonder about things they're afraid to ask adults about, we get poop eating and misspelled swear words scrawled on desks, and, sometimes, oral sex in second grade.
Buck up, people. Sex isn't the end of the world. Actually, it's the start of the world for every single one of us. It only has the power to hurt us instead of make us happy if we allow it to be the most terrible thing we can imagine and keep it a secret from kids who deserve honest answers. Can we please quit calling each other Nazis and hedonists long enough to think about the kids?