Filling space with compliments and right-wing incest.

12 04 2011

You know what really pisses me off?

NOPE?

Me neither. I’ve forgotten…

So I’m going to make up a few rants to fill the space.

1. What’s in a name?

Don’t you like the title of this blog? Knew it would get some attention!

Probably from a bunch of perverts hoping for some photos but there you go. Sorry to disappoint. Bet this ends up my most viewed post this week, purely due to the title.  Isn’t that an interesting marketing concept. All the SEO on the planet still won’t get you as many views as the threat of some good ole incest. The internet, despite its business potential is still fuelled by voyeuristic desire to consume pornography of all sorts.

2. Compliments?

I read this BBC Article “Is it OK to compliment a stranger?” and realised that it’s a sad day when a man or a woman cannot be complimented in the street by a complete stranger. I think there is a massive difference between a bunch of builders wolf whistling in an intimidating manner and someone passing a compliment such as “you look beautiful”.

I grew up with a complex about my hideous big nose and one day in a ladies loo, of all places, a complete stranger walked up to me and told me I had the most beautiful nose she had ever seen. Usually I would have thought she was taking the piss but she said it with such sincerity and I knew instantly that she meant it. From that day onwards, I never hated my nose quite so much. It taught me that everyone has different tastes and that some people did find beauty in things others saw monstrosity.

Just as its wrong to tar all feminists with the same hairy comfortable brush, its wrong to assume all men who pass compliments to strangers are doing anything other than just passing a compliment. Too often I’ve been stopped and ridiculed for how I looked, which was a minor step down from being ignored completely or having people cross the street to avoid me. To have someone offer a pleasantry (not vulgarity) shouldn’t be offensive. I find people’s fear and distrust of strangers sad. I find the assumption that there has to be a sexual or power motive behind stranger communication sad.

One of my happiest moments was when a “tramp” stopped to talk to me in the local park as I was leaving with my dog. I had seen many others pass him by looking the other way, as he approached. All he wanted to do was pet the dogs and offer them a biscuit. He told me he didn’t have much money but was clear that he wasn’t asking for money, merely to offer my dog a biscuit. He had spent the last of his money on a packet of biscuits and he diligently fed them to my dog, saving two for his cup of tea later.  This was at the entrance to the park and while he intimated he would continue his journey through the park as I left, he turned and left too. He thanked me for taking the time to talk to him and stated that I, along with my  beautiful dog had made his day by “acknowledging” him. The smile he produced upon saying this changed his face and you could see the once handsome young man shine through. He walked away with a spring in his step and I left choking back the tears.

How sad that simply stopping and talking to the man, and not even so much talking but allowing him to pet my dog would make him so happy. How sad that just acknowledging his existence made his day. I had little faith in humanity at that point in time, and that “tramp” restored it. He may not have been an example of conventional beauty but for a short time he hid the ugliness of humanity I was seeing all around, and for a short time, I did the same for him. Why those other people didn’t stop is beyond me but it was most definitely their loss.

Not being able to stop and compliment people or interact with strangers creates an alienated and hideous society. So what if a man or woman feels the need to highlight that you look fantastic wearing a particular outfit or that they love your hair colour, or even that you have the most beautiful Roman nose they have ever seen. Who does that hurt?

That said, I was approached by an ageing drunk one evening while quietly drinking my cuppa tea in a pub who proclaimed at the top of his voice “My, you are a handsome woman.”  I really wasn’t sure how I was meant to take that statement. Is being described as a “handsome woman” a compliment or is it a subtle dig as to your manly features? Is it a compliment more deserving of a hatlady in her 60s or as was at the time a hatlady in her early 30s? Is it even a compliment at all?

3. Freedom of Speech

Voltaire said something along the lines of, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” We are meant to be a society where freedom of speech is all important but it seems that freedom of speech only exists if you say the right thing.

I may not agree with fascist right-wing opinions but we need to allow them to hold such opinions and discuss them. Without the ability to do so, rational human beings will not be in an educated position to judge their lunacy.  Just as freedom of speech allows people to publicise their opinions on all matters, it also allows others to educate on why they believe such reasoning is flawed.

I knew of someone who had an active and obsessive hatred of right-wing political groups, and in many of his opinions he was highly astute and articulate except to the point where he claimed all followers of the groups shouldn’t be allowed to spout their vitriolic bullshit. He believed freedom of speech didn’t extend to their cause. He also tried to sell made-up stories to newspapers about various celebrities partaking in illegal acts with underage children, yet couldn’t see why his behaviour in that respect could be considered far worse than a political leaning. “Freedom of Speech!” he claimed as justification for selling his “Scoops”, yet defamation and libel weren’t words in his vocabulary.

I hate when someone tries to manipulate me for having differing opinions. (I should note I am not in the slightest right-wing, the complete opposite in fact). If freedom of speech allows an organisation to claim that letting children eat meat is tantamount to child abuse, or following a religion can be legitimately compared to raping a child, then it should also allow people who do not believe such things to say so without retribution. It should spark up debate, it should allow people to educate others in such a way that the more reasonable opinion will out.

That’s the thing about opinion. There is no empirical truth to them. Some may not conform to the word of law, such as race based discrimination, but what is wrong in the eyes of one person is not guaranteed to be wrong in the eyes of another, regardless what legislation states. I remember an anthropological lecture as a student claiming there was only one universal “wrong” amongst humans and that was incest*. If that is indeed the case then everything else is theoretically fair game, even if you happen to vehemently disagree with what is being said or done.

*I should also note that in my time since that class, I’m sure I recall reading that there were cultures where incest wasn’t considered such a taboo. Doesn’t sit right in my mind but you know what those crazy academics can be like when they get hold of a theory.

As well all know, however, you are all wrong. I am right and as I am in control of the comments section, I get to publish whatever I want… or not.

This was merely a grumpy idiots guide to filling some time with musing in my crocheted little hat.

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