Opinions. Everybody Has 'Em.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Not One Iota of F**k To Be Given!

So another birthday goes by ( in a suitably beer-flavored blur ) and with the passing of one more year of life I find myself giving one less iota of fuck about the opinions others may have of me or of the way that I do things. I mean, I stopped giving much of a fuck about all that a long, long time ago ( not that I ever was overly-concerned with what others were thinking of or about me ) but with every year older I get the negative balance of fucks given increases exponentially.

I doubt I would ever have been the kind to give much of a fuck but for sure the circumstances under which this tendency developed into an integral part of my makeup occurred early on in my life when, through events beyond our control in the 1970s, my folks and me had to move from the city to a small town. Unfortunately it turned out to be a small town which could have taken a starring role in any Stephen King novel…only minus the decency to be at least cool enough to be terrorized by a psychotic clown named Pennywise or infested with vampires. The evil of our small town was just as banal as most real evil is and grew largely from the twin roots of insularity and ignorance. For me, going to school there was a daily waking nightmare. Sometimes I think the only reason I got through it was that the whole experience quickly became fodder for my imagination and love of writing stories. Anyway, I spent years striving to get away from that small town and once I did, I spent more years scrubbing from memory all trace of that part of my past which had held little joy but altogether too much resentment and bitterness. Then one day, long after I’d left it behind and was just visiting my parents there, the one-time best friend of a girl who had spent every school day of our lives creating as much merry hell for me as she could get away with, buttonholed me on the street and began chatting away as though we had been the best friends. She particularly could not wait to inform me how that once BFF of hers had wound up spawning three kids to three different guys and super-sizing herself before the age of twenty-five. I realized two things that day: one, bullies really don’t recall that they were bullies, and there really is no point in either reminding them or holding a grudge over what they did to you; and two, that you really shouldn’t put too much stock in how others feel about you because there is nowt so fickle and wont to change as human feelings about other human beings. The person who was your best friend one day may indeed be your mortal enemy next day.

As a result of this now-forgotten past in the ignorantly evil mire of a small town, the very notion of things like school reunions and friending old classmates on social media sites just fucking baffles me. Truth is, I stopped giving a fuck about those people so long ago that today I fail to see any value in either my knowing what they are up to nor in them knowing diddly-squat about me. Yes, some people do like to indulge in “Look at me now!” with the citizens of that foreign country called The Past but to me their motivation for this is a mystery. Are they so starved of adult self-esteem that they need to prove something to people with whom they shared a mutual dislike thirty years ago? People whom they haven’t seen nor heard from since the last day they all ran out of the school gates, breathing a collective sigh of relief that this hideous part of their lives was now over. Or have their adult lives turned out to be so drearily disappointing that they feel the need to relive their glory days as the teenage Prom Queen? Does it make them feel better to know that at least they haven’t been through as many husbands as Betsy Whatserface? Does it boost their flagging ego to think, “Hey, Johnny Whosit is only a welder and not the manager of a second-hand furniture store like I am!”

How ineffably sad. For them.

Today we live in a world which moves faster - and arguably moves through shallower waters - than ever before, a world in which people come and go from our lives with dizzying rapidity, people who might live halfway around the world and whom we’ve never event met except in an online forum. Out of the many hundreds of these ‘friends’ we all have, we may make an actual connection with a mere handful, the rest being just monikers attached to thumbnail pictures with whom we occasionally share a meme or like a link. We should be concerned even less than ever with the opinions these amorphous others have of us. It further baffles me then why anyone should be so concerned with their online image, to the point of carefully editing every comment they type, and selecting only pictures and links that will put them in a favorable light. Favorable to whom? That housewife from Bumfuck, Idaho who friended you because you listed ‘knitting and baking’ amongst your hobbies and because you had ninety-nine friends in common ( the one-hundredth person unfriended you just prior to this because you stopped liking the Lol Cats )? Or the guy who used to sit three rows behind you in high-school Biology and whose once-only exchange with you consisted of “Outta the way!” on the stairs? And even that you don’t recall because you were too busy gabbing to your girlfriends. Or are you one of those writers/artists/whatevers who fear that your ‘fans’ will desert you in droves if they find out that you aren’t the down-home Chatty Cathy always smiling and baking apple pies for the neighborhood folks that you spend all that time and effort trying to come across as, but that you are in fact as capable as the rest of us of being a downright foul-mouthed bitch on wheels when you get a raft of martinis in you?

So you’re human. My, my. Imagine that. Now get the fuck over it. And yourself.


Monday, 26 May 2014

A Woman's Work Doing A Man's Work Is Never Done

I don't often come down on the side of the more radical feminists but just occasionally I'll grant that they make a point or two, and even more occasionally I even find myself thinking that they are just too damned soft on the male of the species!

Case in point. In April two of our male neighbors were instructed to have their overgrown gardens cut back and the landlord ran an inspection of the expected work in early May. Of course it wasn't done. At all. Nada. So the landlords told them again. One guy ran all the pat assurances that he'd get it done in the necessary time ( don't even bother with the other guy, he's just being a total creep and the landlord is dealing with that ). We've waited since to see even a glimpse of intent to do anything about these assurances ( we even intended to help the guy do the work ) but...nothing. More nada. With the deadline up and work due to start on our garden next day, me and Housemate had to spend two hard hours cutting back years worth of bush and tree overgrowth ourselves. At the end there was a huge pile of garden waste which we simply dropped on the property of its rightful owner. After all, he should have been doing the job, not us. Why should we have to get rid of his foliage?

Only this guy doesn't think so and he comes pouting at us that he's going to chuck it all back into our garden and we can get rid of it because we cut it. Well, as we pointed out, we cut it because he wasn't doing it even after being told to do so twice.

His response?

"I was going to do it!" Followed by a blank look when asked when exactly that might have been since the deadline was up? Seriously, do males learn to stick out their lower lips and sulkily utter this statement in childhood when Mother asks them repeatedly to tidy their rooms and why do mothers a. believe this shit? and b. not nip it in the bud if they don't believe it? It sure isn't the same for girls. Not in my experience and I'm sure not in the experience of other girls who also had mothers would not accept anything less than definitive answers to questions which began "When are you going to...?"

It crosses my mind that this guy really never intended to do anything except wait it out and force us to do exactly what we did, thus letting himself off scot-free and with the smug self-assurance that he won. It further crosses my mind that had the situation been reversed and the neglect been on our part, I'm pretty sure this guy wouldn't have hesitated to do exactly what we did and if we'd chucked it all back into his garden there'd have been one hell of a row about it.

And what self-respecting male then goes into a diva-ish huff because two women of hardly imposing physicality HAVE UNDERTAKEN A TOUGH OUTDOOR PHYSICAL JOB THAT HE SHOULD HAVE FUCKING WELL DONE HIMSELF? PLEASE, YOU SHOULD BE EMBARRASSED TO ADMIT THAT WOMEN DID WHAT YOU KEPT PUTTING OFF DOING! Not sticking out your lip and crying at the perceived injustice of having to clean up a mess that belongs to you anyway. I daresay there are those who'd be of the opinion that we should have just kept waiting, even if it meant holding up work on our garden ( at our expense ), and spent perhaps weeks or months going through proper channels whilst our neighbor continued to be always "getting around to it" but we ain't anyone's mommies and we're not prepared to wait around until the end of time listening to some guy emptily flap his lips.

I've had the misfortune in my life before to have had this kind of guy as a neighbor. The kind of guy who always wanted to be an alpha male but who was never, never going to be that, and who has harbored a resentment his whole life for it, becoming instead the kind of petty martinet who lords it over anyone he thinks is smaller, weaker, or less powerful than he is. And because he is the kind of nasty little bully who makes sure to only bully people who won't or can't fight back, often using well-honed passive-aggressive tactics in his bullying, he gets his way, sometimes for a long time. Until one day he doesn't. Until one day he picks on the wrong target and it turns out that person can and will fight back. That's when the pouty little boy comes out and goes crying back to Mommy.

Sure, anyone can be a jackass regardless of their gender but it does seem that this kind of bully is more often to be found among the male of the species than the female, even though it tends to be women who are blamed in the situations created by these men for being 'fussy' and 'nagging', which makes the outrage of the feminists even more understandable. Even if I do wonder if the ire of the feminists - and those of us who simply don't want to put up with the shit - shouldn't be directed at least in part at the women who are the mothers, sisters, girlfriends, and wives of these men and who condone their behavior by letting them away with it. 

Saturday, 5 April 2014

It's A Dirty Job And We've Probably Done It

Lately me and Housemate have had occasion to rework our current business plan because, well, things in business rarely go as planned. Doing so led us the other night to reminiscing about our first foray into business and our own early jobs...

We got into the whole idea of self-employment in the early 90s when I becamse possessed by the overwhelming notion that dating services were going to be HUGE in the future. Back then there were only maybe two majors in the UK, neither of which were utilizing the burgeoning new technology known as 'the internet', and maybe a handful of those homemade penpal-mag types. The idea took real hold after I joined one of the agencies as part of the market research ( they were having a half-price sale and it seemed like too good an opportunity to waste ) and found that most of the clients using them were ordinary folks, not a bunch of sexual deviants and serial killers. That came later with the internet...Anyway, fast forward and we had this brilliant business plan ( "Sitting on a goldmine" as one of our business advisors put it ) and we couldn't get the funding we required for love nor money ( pun intended ). Not just were the banks and the government leery of such an idea, it was actively prohibited as a loan or grant option! Which, I think, proves that those bland-faced financial types in their boring pinstripe suits really don't have a scrap of creative vision to pass around between them. So we had to go sideways, starting a cleaning business instead to get the funding we needed, with the intention of quickly diversifying into the online dating service. I mean, us? cleaning? You can all stop laughing any time.

Remember those best laid plans? We got stuck in the cleaning thing for so long that by the time we were in a position to diversify, the online dating market had already boomed and for us to enter it would only have been us adding a whisper to that increasingly loud white noise. So we diversified into something else that we'd never intended to do. Such is self-employed life.

On the My Weird Job subject, Housemate once sold teatowels and other gimcrackery to tourists on a boat. Which wasn't too bad except that most of the tourists were drunk and quite a few were obnoxious ( what is it about being in someone else's country that makes some people think it's okay to act like an ass-clown? Or do they behave like that at home too, and if so why are they still living? ) and Scotland's lochs, although very picturesque, can also be surprisingly choppy, and cold. Freeze-your-tits-off cold. She also cleaned houses for a while. Until one day she found herself standing on a rickety wooden chair, scrubbing the baby-food handprints off someone's patio doors with some Windex and a crappy little excuse for a chamois, beautiful day outside, the pub just a couple miles down the road beckoning to her, and she suddenly thought "What the fuck am I doing here? I went to college for this?" And no, don't even ask how a baby's hand-prints got to the top of a patio door. She once found a dildo inside the lamp shade in another house. The lamp shade in the kitchen. Do not even go there. Please. Housemate also had a more recent cleaning job where she accidentally let a rather expensive brand-new Vax vacuum cleaner fall down the stairs. I swear I almost ended myself laughing when she came home and told me that!

As for me, my wackiest job was manning one of those 0800 read-your-Tarot phone lines. The office was one of those rent-a-lemon places at the arse-end of a badly-lit street in a crappy part of Glasgow that you'd be dubious about going to in full daylight with an armed escort. I took a friend along to the interview and when the guy interviewing me said "You shouldn't really bring your friend to an interview" I laughed at him and pointed out, "Do you seriously think any female in her right mind would come to a place like this, for a strange job interview like this, alone? You're not from around here then, are you?" I guess he liked my cheek because I got the job! It was a relatively easy job, you just sat back on a comfy couch, drinking tea, and suckers phoned up to have their fortunes read. It was all storytelling...the longer the story you told, the more money the company made from their £1000-per-minute number. And it wasn't all tea that was being drunk by the storytellers either. You worked from 7pm-11pm ( because those are the hours when the suckers were most likely to be unable to resist the lure of the 0800 number ) and Glaswegian women do enjoy their vodka...even in a cup of tea. I stuck with that job until the boss began asking us to work the 'other' lines...the ones which had nothing to do with Tarot cards. Don't get me wrong, I didn't give the job up because I found it disgusting or sick or any such thing. Hell no, I could sit there and talk dirty to some stranger on the phone until the cows came home and never have a single moral qualm about it, because sex is only dirty if you're doing it right, right? No, I had to pack it in because I couldn't stop laughing. Seriously, that was the problem... I just couldn't take it all seriously. And let's face it, the last thing that the bloke with his knob in his hand wants to hear is the woman he's talking to laughing like a maniac! So I left the employ of the 0800 numbers.
In an interesting little twist, it turned out that I actually possess something of a real talent for reading Tarot cards. I have no idea how, nor where it comes from, nor do I even believe in fortune-telling or any of its offshoots, but apparently I have a spooky accuracy when reading cards. Maybe I just read people well, who knows?
"Hello caller...yes, I can tell you that a feeling of sexual supremacy is definitely not in your future!"

Less wacky and more I-can't-believe-this-shit-goes-on was the job I had in a bingo hall. This was one of the early mega-bingo places, not so much a palace, however, as converted from a one-time fleapit cinema which might have been called The Palace but that's about as close as it ever came. The boss was a Hitler-in-tights, so twitchy and tightly wound that you spent the whole time wondering if that severely scraped back hair in the impossibly tight bun was really the only thing keeping her head from exploding. She would make us stay behind at lunch time, or after our shifts had ended, to count all the loose change and bag it. Unpaid, I should add. Labor laws in the late 80s under a Tory government were a joke. She also decreed that females were not allowed to wear trousers, only skirts, which really made me wonder about her because the punters were mostly women and they were so intent on their bingo numbers they wouldn't have noticed if the attendants were naked on rollerskates, nor would they have cared. So long as you hustled with their change. I left that job after less than one week and in the wake of *ahem* having had words with Madam Hitler over her whole there's-a-dress-code-if-I-say-there's-one-and-never-mind-company-policy demands.

Anyway, I daresay we shall find our way now to diversifying and reworking, as we have always done. But it was fun to have a laugh along the way reminiscing about the weird and not always wonderful things we have been paid to do in the past.

Combining housekeeper with sexy bingo caller who might also work an 0800 number in her spare time?

Sunday, 26 January 2014

A Spanking Good Read - The Prejudice Against Fetish Fiction

Spanking fiction. What is it, and why does it engender such acrimony amongst some folks? I was inspired to this blog post by questions and incidents relating to spanking fiction which recently have come up in two different Facebook reader/writer groups, one of which is a relatively small lesfic group and the other a fairly large general fiction group. What struck me was that despite the differences in the sexuality of the members of each group, their reactions to posts raised on spanking fiction were very similar. First of all, the strongest objections to it came largely from females even in the hetero group, and used much the same language of protest i.e. abuse, disrespect, violence etc. Two things, in fact, struck me: one, how two groups of people - straight females and gay females - who often will display prejudices otherwise toward one another, can be united on some subjects; and two, how misunderstood spanking fiction - and indeed most kinds of fetish fiction - is by both groups.

So, first of all, let’s clear up what this kind of fiction is and is not. Spanking and other fetish fiction, whether it be BDSM or toe-licking, is not about one-sided humiliation or disrespect or violence or rape coming from the dominant partner and directed toward some terrified and unwilling, helpless submissive victim. Fetish fiction is about exactly the same as any other erotic - or even romantic - fiction, it is about the mutual sexual pleasure of two consenting adult individuals. If the fiction glorifies the hurt and humiliation of one person without their consent and pleasure, or above the other, then it’s being done wrong ( And don't even try to use Fifty Shades as a justification for your dislike because the only thing it managed to be was an example of how to write truly bad fetish erotica ). Fetishes, as all sexual relationships, should and mostly do involve exactly that - two consenting adults and mutual pleasure. Most fetishists are just as horrified as non-fetishists by things like rape, pedophilia, bestiality ( the latter of which an unfortunate amount of urban legend has sprung up around ), and anything that involves the unwilling degradation of another sentient being. Yes, it may be difficult for some people to wrap their heads around why anyone would get off on being hog-tied and paddled with something that involves hard rubber and spikes. Or equally why someone would derive pleasure from being the Sub in a Sub-Dom relationship. This seems to be especially difficult for women to understand when it is the woman who is the Sub to a man’s Dom. It’s hard too for lesbians to understand why one woman would want to be a Sub to another woman’s Dom and a lot of the butch-daddy erotic fiction causes such ripples of horror and revulsion to pulsate through the faintly trembling hearts of many lesbians that it’s almost amusing to see. Well, it would be if it wasn’t that they can make people who are in such a relationship feel about two inches high and somehow ‘dirty’ and that makes their disgust not funny but both irritating and abusive. Yes. Abusive. Because it’s not a femme’s butch daddy who is making her feel small and grubby, but you, dear stranger, with all your moral superiority and rush to judgment of another person’s chosen sexual lifestyle.

Within the lesfic community, there is much sneering and ado about what is termed F/F or Female/Female fiction. This and all the other variants - M/M, M/F/M etc - apparently started out as an industry shorthand for helping readers to know what they could expect in their erotic fiction. For example, M/F/F would mean a threesome involving a male-female couple who invite another female to join them in sex. F/F fiction largely involves two women who are not necessarily lesbians, or who don’t necessarily identify their lives as lesbian, but who enjoy sexual and even romantic relationships with other women. It can be a good deal more complicated than that - because human relationships are nothing if not complicated - and this is just a very generalized outline. Lesfic, or lesbian fiction, is supposed to be about women who identify in all ways as lesbians, having relationships with others of the same mindset. Of course, these lines have been blurred just like the rest. That causes more of those ripples of horror and revulsion especially amongst a certain faction of the community who make a practice of noisily self-righteous protest in groups whenever they see something that offends their high moral sensibilities by being something that they are ‘not into’ and therefore do not understand ( and refuse to even find out the facts about or engage in sensible discussion of ). This results usually in either getting the perpetrators banned from the group or making them so uncomfortable that they leave. Apparently the irony at work here of the oppressed becoming the oppressors quite escapes them. Part of the horror is rooted in the fact that fetishism comes up more often in F/F fiction than it does in lesfic. Fetishism is a no-no in lesifc where the average storyline goes something like this:

Girl meets girl, and girls initially don’t like each other. Girls face some kind of ‘adversity’ together ( getting snowed in at some remote mountain cabin is very popular ) and during the course of this trial girls fall so totally in love that they go from all the crying and arguing of Chapter 1 to talking marriage and babies in Chapter 4. Girls then have some ‘misunderstanding’ such as Girl A overhearing Girl B’s telephone conversation with another woman and, instead of just asking her about it which would be the sensible fucking thing to do after all, Girl A jumps to all sort of way-out conclusions and runs off in high dudgeon. After some angst and confusion, Girl B eventually finds out - through some third-party best buddy - what got Girl A’s goat like that, and she then charges off to explain everything and win Girl A back, never once stopping to ask herself why she would even want to win back some ditzy bitch who‘s going to freak out every Girl B has a conversation with another woman. Anyway, they get back together amidst much declaring of everlasting love and you-are-the-only-one-baby ( There must be a lot of calling each other 'baby', it seems to be a prerequisite for lesbian romance to be True Romance - don't ask me why. Anyone calls me 'baby' the only true thing they can rely on is to be truly losing some teeth ). And they live Happily Ever After. Presumably with their matching wedding rings and perfect little babies in a wonderfully supportive lesbian community.

Nary a spikey paddle nor a whip or chain in sight. Hell, it’s considered ‘racy’ ( and sometimes too racy ) if a dildo gets involved, and the mere mention of leather underwear would probably cause many to faint dead away ( That I’m pretty certain there’s more fetish sexuality going on in the world than these laced-up soccer moms on both sides of the sexuality fence want to admit, well, that’d be a Part B to this post, I think ). What they say in public amounts to: the lesbians want the F/F fetishists to go and join the hetero community where they think these women belong; and the heteros want the F/F fetishists to stay in the lesbian community where they think those women belong. Both sides like to put on their best Puritan sneers when regarding fetishists in general. Both sides also like to demonstrate unpleasant prejudice against the other from time to time ( “I just don’t understand how lesbians can like that - ugh!” “I just don’t understand how a straight woman can like that - ugh!” ) Neither side sees the irony also at work here. How contrary we all are, and how prejudice is ugly, no matter what form in which it rears it head. For one person to be unable to comprehend the pleasure derived by another person from a consensual, mutually-pleasing act is understandable and, acceptable if expressed in a reasonable, non-judgmental way. What is unacceptable is for anyone to claim some kind of automatic moral high ground and to use it as a platform from which decry the other’s sexual choices. Emphasis on the word choices. People's emotions do have an effect on their moral judgments, so if a person is afraid of or disgusted by something they are more likely to make a harsh moral judgment of it. But this emotional knee-jerk reacting can be easily un-learned. All that's needed is to pause for a moment before hitting that CAPS LOCK button, put aside your personal feelings, and look at it from an objective view-point.

As a final word, there is also a prejudice that all fetish fiction is poorly written. This is so obviously not true that it doesn't even bear too much arguing against. I've read - as I'm sure we all have - plenty of non-fetish poorly written fiction. If someone writes a poor cop thriller it doesn't create a widespread and prejudicial notion that all cop thrillers are poorly written. Because that would be silly, right? Right. So the idea that all fetish fiction is poorly written is frankly nothing more than a bollocks excuse for all that noisy, uptight Puritan sexual prejudice. Bad enough that you are prejudiced, but do you have to make it worse by using intellectual snobbery to try to justify it? Get over yourselves with that.