This is our truth, tell us yours
Ir is often difficult to understand why people get so exercised about how and why other people have sex. Today I have seen Melissa Farley clutching her pearls about stripping and Gail Dines holding forth about BDSM. Both seem to think their personal moral objections carry the weight of law, and that laws should be based on them.Mary Honeyballs major objection to sex work seems to be based on her dislike of the thought of it, and mumsnet allows sex workers to be described sneeringly as “wank socks”.
In Britain we are in the position of having a mish mash of laws alternatively banning and allowing things with very little thought ever given to the ethical underpinning of such laws because of this very “I don’t morally approve of X” tendency. So watersports is legal but until the Micheal Peacock case showing a film you have made of it is apparently intended to deprave. A certain swinging site bans squirting pictures on the grounds they might be mistaken for watersports, cowed by the lack of a coherent voice in this area.
Dogging is another area where it seems laws and bylaws are passed without any thought as to the why. Regular readers will be aware I am no believer in the idea that people have the right to have sex in public where ever and when ever they please, and I have berated doggers who think their sexual fun outweighs the desire of others not to see a naked arse bouncing up and down from their kitchen window.
However time,money and energy is wasted on stopping people who do everything possible to ensure their outdoor activities impose on no one. Take last night as a typical example. We went for a drive on a grey rainy evening, and ended up in a secluded spot where even the sheep were sheltering from the weather. Miles from the nearest house, overlooked by no one, what harm would have been caused had we met up with others for outdoor sex and exhibitionism? Such activities are deemed dangerous enough to society that gates are put on county roads and we passed the waterboard van as we left, doing the rounds to ensure each gate was secured against those looking for a secluded spot to play. Now you might say dogging is illegal, it isn’t of course, what is illegal is outraging members of the public, and well it should be, but why is it policy to send employees, and sometimes the police to ensure no one is doing anything it has been decided is immoral?
It goes back I think to that great schism in the British psyche between Cavalier and Roundhead. A famous quote about the English Civil War is that the Cavaliers were romantic but wrong and the Roundheads rotten but right. It is, of course , far more complex than that. The bloodiest civil war the world had ever seen split the country on religious, political,national and ethical lines. I am no historian, but the “rightness” of the Roundheads is based on ignoring their intolerance, bigotry and to coin a phrase belief in “one twue way”. They needed no defence to ban a thing other than the belief that something was wrong. The destruction of religious artifacts was condemned when it was the Taliban, but our own Taliban did exactly the same half a millennium ago. This tendency to leap to the ban, the prohibition, without any more evidence than it must be wrong because it is disapproved off, still runs through British civil and political life.
We are not of course a country of Roundheads, those romantic and wrong Cavaliers also have a grip on our souls. It is not necessarily a split of left and right either, Thatcher and Brown were Roundheads, LLoyd George and Portillo Cavaliers. The Cavalier attitude is seen in our long-held belief that we should not intrude into private lives, that what goes on in the bedroom, or kitchen, or dungeon is nobodies business. A sitution the Roundheads in office hugely dislike. We end up in a compromise situation where prostitution is legal but soliciting not, where sex in public is legal, unless someone complains, and the policeman sent expressly to catch doggers can be the complainant. The civil war has not been resolved, simply pushed under the table, and covered with that gentile exhortation never to discuss religion or politics. This situation helps no one. As amnesty so bravely voted at the weekend, ignoring laws which endanger and oppress for the sake of keeping a 400 year old peace is not a solution.