This is our truth, tell us yours
“Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.”
Jemima’s superb post yesterday reverberated with thousands of people, and brought with it the usual ration of commenters who were less than charitable. Some were downright vile.
Trash talk about other people is always a two edged sword. Iago leads Othello to believe that his good name is the most important thing in his life, and that his good name is being diminished by trash talk about his wife. We all know how that story ends.
The girl in the photos from Slane Castle was not the first woman to be pictured giving a man a blowjob, and probably not the last. It’s not even a modern phenomenon, although, to be honest, the string of pearls look affected by the Duchess of Argyll when dishing out on camera blowjobs in the 1960s is probably not the best look for a festival field. Embarassing pics and sexual promiscuity (along with General Sternwood’s concern for his good name) is the theme of The Big Sleep. The revealed blowjob has even become a cultural phenomenon, the leaked sex video of the minor celebrity being a sure signpost of a career on the slide.
The key point is the facts we reveal about ourselves when we judge others, or indulge ourselves in trashtalk. And I’m not just talking about the commenter on yesterday’s post who outed himself, via a link to his Facebook page, as a racist buffoon, which may or may not be an asset to him in the job market sometime in the future. I’m talking about the ideas and the assumptions we reveal, often unconsciously.
One of the well meaning memes that cropped up in yesterday’s comments was that the girl in the photos must have been inebriated, or on drugs. Dear reader, I have to confess, the first time I sucked a man off in front of an audience (ok, it was in a cottage…) I was neither drunk , nor drugged, merely excited, exhilarated by the risk, and the attention. The girl in the photo may have been drunk, or have taken drugs, but assuming that she must have been one or the other says something about our attitudes to sex.
Similarly, if you say of someone ‘she’s ruined her life’, or her ‘reputation’ what you’re really saying is that you will ruin her life, or her reputation. If you say nothing about #slanegirl, or offer her support and empathy, her reputation is unharmed. As soon as you repeat the trash talk about her being a slut, or a slag though, you become one of the haters who would destroy her good name. And for what reason? There will be those lashing out at immorality who believe they are pure of thought and deed, a conviction they will no doubt share with such pillars of the community as Pol Pot and Ayatollah Khomeini. There will be many more though who will simply be seeking to establish a distinction between themselves ad someone they wish to look down on.
I haven’t got a clue about the girl in those pictures. She’s just another kid at a festival. She might be a future Nobel prize winner, a poet, a future priest or a rocket scientist. Trash talk about her and you reveal that you think you can judge instantly, on appearances alone, the depth and intricacies of human behaviour and character. Jemima wrote brilliantly about the depths and layers of character a few days ago; the idea that we can discern everything about someone from one photo, one incident, says more about our obsessions than it does about the subject of the photo.