The Dissemination of Thought

Just because it's in print doesn't mean it's intelligent…

Posts Tagged ‘free choice

Black, white and the flashing red light‏

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When you’re a view stats junkie, all you focus on is your next hit. That feeling of euphoria that comes about by seeing someone comment on a post. That rush that can only be achieved by releasing site views and search terms into your bloodstream. For me, the quest for a fix involves pawing at my BlackBerry every eighteen seconds, day and night, yearning to see the flashing red light that indicates someone has liked, subscribed or felt compelled to comment. I know constantly looking for the light or feeling for the vibration (I do occasionally remember to put my phone on silent) isn’t healthy, but it’s what I do as a stats-addicted blogging strumpet.

Just to clarify, this is NOT the type of flashing red light I’m talking about. Source: stopthetraffik.wordpress.com

In this obsessive state, tunnel vision takes over; there is no middle ground: you are either black in your constant quest for hit after sweet electronic hit, or you are white: throwing your BlackBerry and laptop into the river before curling up fully clothed under a shower, attempting to go cold turkey from the compulsion to check your blog statistics every six minutes.

Irrespective of whether you are black or white, this battle against blogging makes you lose sight of things: time; ensuring that you have more than an orange and soy sauce in your fridge ; what point you were trying to make with the confusing colour metaphors; and, most importantly, the grey area.

The grey area is the demilitarized zone of opinions and personal beliefs. It’s a part that’s usually forgotten about when we judge, argue or write someone else’s opinion off as wrong. While it’s easy and self-serving – albeit incredibly naïve – to assert that our opinion or belief is the right one, it’s critical that we recognise there’s a lot we don’t know and can’t see from black or white. As we’ve discussed, coming from either corner tends to see us have blinkers fitted; this inadvertent narrowing of our perspective results in an inability to see more than about ten feet in front of our specifically colour-coded noses. Isn’t it about time that we accept that between the absolutes of right and wrong, there’s a lovely shade of grey? I hear they have wildflowers growing there. And pancakes.

While I’m adverse to making resolutions of any sort – especially on New Year’s Eve – I think we should all resolve to try and spend more time in the grey area from 2012 onwards, especially before judging others and condemning them for thinking black instead of white, or vice versa. Just remember: mixing black and white produces grey; therefore, the grey area is the location from which to listen, learn and debate. Colours don’t lie.

See, I told you there’s a grey area between black and white. Source: ianfitter.com

Finally, it’s starting to look more and more like the 21st century in the Sunshine State

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I hadn’t planned a TDoT post for today, but it would be remiss of me to not congratulate the Queensland Parliament for passing the bill that will allow same-sex civil unions to be recognised in the Sunshine State. It’s finally a step in the right direction, but between the amount of media coverage that the decision is receiving and some of the comments that it has provoked, I have to ask the question about where we really are with equality, tolerance and genuine open-mindedness. In my current sleep-deprived, emotionally drained condition, the most succinct way I can phrase it is this: why does there have to be so much speculation and debate about whether people deserve to be treated equally in the first place?

Isn’t this the 21st century? The question about same-sex unions shouldn’t even be an issue: it should be a basic right as human beings.

There won’t be any new TDoT posts until early next week, as I’m heading away at the weekend for my 31st birthday. Yes, I’m getting old.

Strippers, beer and Germaine Greer: why the sex industry gets a bad wrap

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Okay, I’ve finally decided to act upon the numerous emails, texts and comments from my readers, asking why I haven’t written anything in the best part of three weeks. I’d like to say that it was because I had been lacking inspiration, or that no story had compelled me to put the virtual pen to paper, but that would be a load of shit. In a nutshell, the combination of my work schedule and the general debauchery that is my life has left little time to write. Strangely enough, it’s an indirect association to the latter that convinced me to start typing this morning.

I admit it: I am not adverse to strippers. And when an article comes through on my Facebook news feed that includes the words sex slave, feminist and respect in the blurb, it arouses my curiosity. If Germaine Greer’s name is also mentioned, the arousal disappears, but I can’t help but read on.

Vivica Delicious (yeah, I think it’s an awesome name too) has written a piece for The Punch this morning, exploring how females working in the sex industry are viewed and unfairly labelled by certain sections of society . She makes a very valid point, because it seems like a lot of the individuals who are running around with their label makers are doing so uneducated, with either a poorly preconceived idea of what the sex industry is all about, or a notion that all women should be in the kitchen baking pies, popping out children and being doted upon by their husbands. Now, if any of the stationery-wielding, old-school feminists are going to send me hate mail, please include a pie – I’m partial to both apricot and lemon meringue.

Vivica covered some sex industry assumptions and facts in her article, so I’m going to try and expand on two of them with my own input, based on personal experience. I’ve spent a bit of time in various clubs, dated a few strippers and have known people working in other parts of the sex industry, so I’m going to assume that my view will be as well-rounded and based on fact as any other.

Assumption: All women in the sex industry are uneducated, slutty, drug-affected sluts with no self respect.

My thoughts: Most of the women I’ve met who have worked as strippers were anything but uneducated. The majority of them were doing undergraduate study while dancing at night to cover their living expenses and university costs. A few were at postgraduate level, while one was in the final stages of her PhD. The common theme was that stripping was a great way to make money by working irregular hours that fit in with their study commitments.

On the point of losing your self respect by working in the sex industry, nothing could be further from the truth. From what I have observed, and from what I’ve been told, getting to the point where you are comfortable enough to parade around naked takes a hell of a lot of confidence and self respect, and a very unclouded understanding about yourself as a person.

Assumption: The adult entertainment industry breeds misogynists.

My thoughts: How does this argument even begin to make sense? By definition, a misogynist is one who, amongst other things, harbours a hatred or dislike of women. If I really hated women that much, I certainly wouldn’t go to see them somewhere that I had to pay ten dollars for a beer.

On first appearances, when you take a very half-hearted look at the sex industry, it can seem like nothing more than depravity, sexuality and people – mainly younger women – taking off their clothes for money, because they have no other option. Because they have hit rock bottom, and can only use their bodies to procure income. But the truth is, for the women who work within the industry in any capacity, they are there because they are exercising their free choice to do so. They aren’t all mentally unbalanced with father issues, riddled with STDs or trying to bankroll their meth addiction. They do it because they enjoy it, generally get paid very well and, from what I have been told numerous times, find it incredibly liberating and empowering. The real issue is one that usually gets lost in the bigger picture, and that is the question of why it is anyone else’s business what someone does or doesn’t do with their lives. Unfortunately, as we apparently “progress” as a society, there seems to be less and less acceptance of free choice, and an increased propensity to condemn without understanding.

And so once again, I find myself signing off a post by asking why people can’t seem to mind their own business, focus on their own lives, and respect the choices of others.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou

Written by disseminatedthought

September 15, 2011 at 15:01

To breed, or not to breed: that is the question

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It seems that in mid-2011, everyone takes it upon themselves to tell you what you should be doing. For whatever reason, some people have in their mind a path that you, as a contributing member of society, must follow in order to adhere to what is deemed the cultural norm. Should you decide to veer off the path of the apparent status quo, and then declare this intention to people, they will look at you like you’ve just shown them the video of your recent Alaskan seal clubbing holiday.

In the office today, we somehow got onto the topic of marriage, and as a natural progression, onto the subject of having children. When I casually informed my colleagues that I didn’t want children, I was met with a few mortified yet bewildered stares, as if some part of my ejaculation defied comprehension. That’s right, my ejaculation. While I realise that there are literally dozens of synonyms that I could have, and probably should have, used in place of it, I chose not to. See, it’s all about free choice as individual. Besides, I like the pun, and I’m sure at least one person at the news with nipples will find my reckless use one of H.G. Wells’ favourite words amusing. Once you have finished reading this, head across and check it out – it’s always a great read. Anyway, back to my ejaculating.

Once they got over the initial shock of my defiance, my co-workers interrogated me as to why I didn’t want children. In between questions, they peppered me with nuggets of wisdom like “everyone wants kids” and “once you find the girl, she’ll change your mind”. One even went as far to suggest that I needed to sow my seed and surround myself with progeny, ostensibly to fulfil some unwritten obligation to the universe. Why is it so much of a surprise to some people that not everyone wants to bring forth a legion of Mini-Mes? More importantly, why do they presume that what I do or don’t do with my swimmers is any of their fucking business?

Quintuple strollers: the stuff of nightmares for yours truly. Source: Stroller-Advisor.com

As far as I’m aware, I’ve got no medical issues that would prevent me from impregnating some poor woman with a bonsai version of your 6’5” scribe. I’d like to think that if I ever did decide to procreate, I’d at least have a basic understanding of what constituted good parenting. While I’d more than likely be sketchy on the specifics, I’d know that trying to sell my spawn for $2,000 came under the umbrella of “shit that makes one a poor parent”. Given that sale of parental rights is an existing felony charge in Florida, one has to assume that in order to necessitate such a charge, a lot of parents – and I use the word for want of a better description – missed the Parenting 101 class.

My point is this: just because I can reproduce doesn’t mean that I should automatically want to, nor be expected to. Hell, the woman in the story obviously had the physiological capacity to give birth, but she strikes me as someone who probably shouldn’t have done so. I’m not going to speculate on how or why she came to have children to sell, but she followed what many see as the path of social convention, and is now being ostracised and denounced by society, which includes those the people who have the “everyone should have kids” mentality.

People decide to have children for a myriad of reasons, but there are also just as many reasons behind the decisions of those who elect not to. As long as that individual is happy with their determination, and the decision is an informed one, based on their own personal circumstances, why is it anyone else’s business what they do? What’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander, so isn’t it better that a decision of that magnitude be made at an individual level, and not predicated purely by a physical capacity to do so, and the expectation that one will adhere to society’s “must-do” list?

Written by disseminatedthought

August 22, 2011 at 21:47

A ridiculous spat by The Kat in the Hat

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There are things that genuinely deserve to be ridiculed. Ten gallon hats in Canberra, for example. After reading this article today, I’m going to add anything that comes out of Bob Katter’s mouth to the list. As far as the Independent MP is concerned, the push for marriage equality in Australia is a stupid idea, and “deserves to be laughed at and ridiculed”.

I find it concerning that an elected member of parliament is laughing off a change that will give all Australians equal opportunity to marry, thus removing the discrimination that currently surrounds the act of marriage in this country. After reading Bob’s comments and observing the make up of the crowd, I’m surprised that someone at the pro-marriage rally didn’t have a banner saying “Discrimination’s okay, if you’re gay!”

During his speech, he alluded to the fact that gay, one of “the most beautiful words in the English language” has lost its original meaning in modern society, and homosexuality is to blame. Bob seems to have forgotten that as languages develop, words often gain new meanings, both official and colloquial. I’m currently rereading The War of the Worlds. In it, H.G. Wells frequently uses the word ejaculate. When he penned the story in 1898, the word was used in a totally different context, and while it’s amusing to read “his landlady came to the door, loosely wrapped in dressing gown and shawl; her husband followed ejaculating” with a 2011 mindset, it demonstrates how easily the meaning of words can evolve.

On what was apparently the day for it, Barnaby Joyce also jumped on the ludicrous statement bandwagon when he suggested that same-sex marriage would be detrimental to his four daughters. According to Senator Joyce, “we know that the best protection for those girls is that they get themselves into a secure relationship with a loving husband…”. What the fuck? While it would probably be pertinent to point out to him that a Y chromosome doesn’t necessarily signal a protected, secure relationship, he’s missing the big picture. Legislating same-sex marriage will mean equality for all, so while his daughters would still be able to marry men, they would also have the freedom and right to marry women, if that was their choice. I find his comment about not wanting any legislators “to take that right” away from him – yes, his right – archaic and somewhat disturbing, but it’s a discussion for another day.

I’ve said it once, and I have no doubt that I’ll say it again: there is no room in politics or the public education system for religion. These battlefields need to be the domain of clear, free thinkers, who are prepared to take an open mind into investigating changes to benefit us all, representative of the views of majority Australia. It has again been demonstrated that when people are asked to make decisions, on behalf of every Australian, that clash with their singular personal beliefs, emotion and bias come to out to play, while rational argument is relegated to the corner, wearing the dunce’s cap.

They say any sex is good sex, so why doesn’t it apply to marriage?

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There are several reasons that I’m pro-gay marriage. Most of the reasons are based on common sense, and the belief that the free choice and the option to make important life decisions shouldn’t be restricted by the fact that you are a boy who likes other boys, or a girl who likes girls. One of the other reasons is that this is the twenty-first century, and we tend not to burn people at the stake for appearing to be different anymore. If you believe what you read in the media, it would appear that I’m not alone, and that the public voice in support of marriage equality is gradually getting louder. One would hope that those whom we have elected to act on our behalf would genuinely hear this voice, but it seems that a lot of them only hear what they want to hear. Exhibit A in support of this argument is John Murphy, the Labor MP who doesn’t believe that there is a strong public backing for change, and whom suggested last week that ALP members who advocate same-sex marriage should “join the Greens”. Really, John? Perhaps you should take a look at the ALP’s values, which include fairness, as well as democracy and freedom.

Labor believes that all people are created equal in their entitlement to dignity and respect.

Labor values the freedom of all people to hold whatever beliefs they choose while respecting those of others, and the freedom to express those beliefs without fear or favour.

I’m lucky to be surrounded by a lot of amazing people in my life. Some of them are straight, and some of them aren’t. Some of them are married, and some of them are aren’t legally able to be. A few of my close friends are in long-term, committed same-sex relationships, but the option to take the next step in their commitment isn’t afforded to them. There’s every chance that they may not want to get married, but it’s a moot point – shouldn’t they have the right to choose for themselves? They work. They pay taxes. They contribute to society as much as anyone else, yet on the face of it, our elected law makers seem to believe that they shouldn’t have the same rights as other Australians bestowed upon them. When you remove all of the emotion and bullshit excuses from the equation, all the current laws do are prohibit people in same-sex couples an option that is unchallenged and freely available to heterosexual Australians.

Australia purports itself to be one of the most developed, culturally forward-thinking countries on the planet. If this is to truly be the case, we can’t continue to deprive individuals of the free choice to make the same life decisions as everyone else, based purely on that individual’s sexual orientation.

Creationists get on the floor, everybody Walk the Dinosaur

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Another day, another attempt by Christians to push their ideologies on the general masses. Nothing new there, right? I’m surprised I’ve managed to make it almost a full week without vociferating about a religiously themed topic that’s pissed me off in the news. What makes the story different this time, however, is that Creationism is being taught in public schools, and students are being fed scientifically inaccurate, absurd explanations to justify the theory. Worse still, the information is being primarily provided to the students by volunteers with no formal teaching qualifications or experience – just an ingrained belief that Christianity has all the answers, even if the answers are about as credible as the existence of the Easter Bunny. Have you ever wondered why carbon dating puts dinosaurs on Earth so long before any form of humans? If you listen to Tim McKenzie, one of the Religious Instruction (RI) teachers interviewed for the story, it is because the great flood must have “skewed” the data. Are you fucking serious Tim?

PhD researcher Cathy Byrne found in a NSW-based survey that scripture teachers tended to discourage questioning, emphasised submission to authority and excluded different beliefs. She said 70 per cent of scripture teachers thought children should be taught the Bible as historical fact.

When looking from a scientific perspective, the Bible could hardly be classed as an historical text, given that it is open to incredible individual interpretation, and the validity of some of the information contained therein – such as the whole able-to-rise-from-the-dead concept – is somewhat dubious at best. But I will get to the feasibility of zombies shortly. A fact is something “that is known or proved to be true”, not something that is believed to be true by a specific group. That being the case, for these individuals to assert that the Bible provides historical fact and should be used in schools as an historical text is incredibly condescending and narrow-minded – is it the Christian way or the highway?

One of the facts apparently taught to the students was that Adam and Eve were not eaten by dinosaurs because they were under a protective spell, which seems about on par for Christians from a perspective of rationality, considering that their faith is based on the premise that Jesus rose from the dead after being crucified. One would have to suppose that if the concept of a zombie makes sense to these people, then the notion that dinosaurs could be held at bay by some sort of Hogwarts-type incantation seems perfectly reasonable. According to the The Courier-Mail article, when one Year 5 student was told that all humans had descended from Adam and Eve, she questioned how this was possible, given the scientific acceptance of DNA. The teacher – and yes, I have used substantial creative licence with that description – responded to this by stating that “DNA wasn’t invented then” and essentially dismissed what was a genuine, very valid question. This riposte affirms the position that if you question any aspect of a religion you are automatically labelled as trouble and a non-believer. That sort of approach isn’t that conducive to encouraging individual thought or tolerance, is it? Why the hell is it being allowed in our public schools?

Is it time to forego any form of religiously themed learning in our public schools, if for no other reason but then to ensure that the inquisitive, malleable minds of these children are filled with actual scientific fact, and not the unsubstantiated, nonsensical beliefs of self-appointed (and undoubtedly intransigent) instructors? If RI is to continue, how does one decide on what is taught? All religions have differences in their beliefs – be they small or immense – and the very unyielding nature of religion ensures that any faith that differs is seen as wrong. How is the point of difference to be worked around? Why not replace the RI with learning to encourage free thinking, as well as respect for other cultures and philosophies, and leave the pontifical teachings to the home of the individual parents and to their place of worship?

Why do I get the feeling that David Barker has had a stint as a purveyor of religious instruction at some stage?