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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2980


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:11 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

That sounds a very interesting book - and probably on my level, as regards gender issues.  My husband tends to groan when what he sees as yet another gay couple in a murder mystery is shown.  I said last time, "Well, apparently 10% of the population is gay."  And now you tell me that is a myth!

I did have some sympathy with the Oldie writer (unnamed, maybe the editor)  who wrote that he had to fill in a form at his local health centre when there to have his feet checked which asked for his sexual orientation: heterosexual/straight; homosexual/gay man; gay woman/lesbian; bisexual; other; rather not disclose.  Then he said, "What can 'Other' possibly mean? Hermaphrodite? If so, why the insulting prudery? And the imagination runs riot at 'Rather not Disclose'.  What about 'Asexual'?  But the most disturbing thought is, what has all this got to do with feet?"

And somewhere yesterday I read/heard that the terms were extended when it was realised that 'gay scene' excluded all the women, but I thought 'gay' was an inclusive term, just as straight includes those people who have (to my mind) quirky habits.

But my author has found a woman in Afghanistan who has never married: her father realised she was happiest in male clothing and supported her to stay as a man.  These men/women do seem to develop periods and breasts later than usual and have them less often and smaller than other women.  She has mentioned a similar style of living in Albania and says it is lessening as Albania modernises.  And she talks about warrior women dressing and living as men in many countries, including Joan of Arc, Zenobia in Syria and Roman women.


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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3367


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter Wildeblood's AGAINST THE LAW published in 1955 Is essential reading for anyone interested in gay history and homosexual law reform.  Wildeblood, together with Lord Montague of Beaulieu and Michael Pitt-Rivers, were jailed in 1953 for homosexual behaviour which was then illegal.  Wildeblood's account of the events leading up to the trial, the trial itself, and his experiences in prison makes absorbing reading and is a salutary reminder of the appalling treatment of homosexual men before the law was changed in 1967. The book is very much of its time, an historical document, you are very conscious of how Wildeblood is at pains not to offend readers, one might almost say he appears self-oppressive, perhaps understandable at the time. But, inspiringly, he is honest about his sexuality, makes no apologies for being gay, and is indignant at society's opprobrium.  The Montague scandal and trial were almost certainly instrumental in helping to bring about changes in public attitudes in Britain to homosexuality in men, the publication of the Wolfenden Report, and ultimately changes in the law.  All younger gay men who benefit from these earlier struggles should read this book which I first read when I was twenty years old.  There's to be a TV play based on it later this year.


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Chibiabos83
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3423


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must read it, Mike. Peter Wildeblood is a name to me, but not much more than that I fear. I think perhaps he's featured somehow in the current Tate exhibition on queer British art, which I've made a mental note to try and get to before it closes in October.


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
Posts: 689


Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaking of asexuality - is it actually a thing? Hard to imagine, but I just came across it in John Gunther's bit on Adolf Hitler, written in the 1930s. He says extensive research by German journalists into Hitler's background - 'when it was still possible to do that sort of thing' - led them to believe he had had nothing to do with anyone, sexually and was likely a virgin.
His fantasies ran along other lines, to the detriment of millions, as it turned out.
Freud would have had a ball psychoanalyzing the guy.


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Chibiabos83
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3423


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very much a thing, Joe. My take is that because asexuals are defined by what they don't do rather than what they do, they're not a very visible demographic and, perhaps as a result of this, asexuality hasn't been very widely documented or thought about, so non-asexual people (or allosexuals - another word for the vocab list) often don't realise that asexual people exist. There are people in public life who have sometimes been suggested by others to be asexual - Edward Heath is one example that springs to mind, or the illustrator Edward Gorey, or T.E. Lawrence - but most of them haven't identified publicly as such, and so it's really no one's business but their own. But if you look online presumably you'll find websites and message boards and support groups about asexuality just as with everything else. A good thing about the internet, that it's helped people who might otherwise have felt isolated feel less so.


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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3367


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Read Terry Sanderson's THE ADVENTURES OF A HAPPY HOMOSEXUAL which is an entertaining, and very readable, account of his life as a gay activist.  From his early years in Rotherham to being a regular writer for gay periodicals, to author of gay self-help books, to leading light of the Secular Society. Reminded me of many things I was part of in the last fifty years. It's thanks to people indefatigable people like Sanderson  that modern generations of gay men can lead freer, happier, non-criminal lives.


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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3367


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2017 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Neil McKenna's FANNY AND STELLA is an interesting and surprising book about the Victorian sexual underworld.  In particular it's about a pair of famous cross-dressers and stage performers Frederick Park and Ernest Boulton who, in a famous trial, were accused of procuring for the purposes of sodomy.  The trial is an amazing hotch-potch of lies, half-truths and bribery. The author has delved deeply into the documents of the case and the period and the trial come to vivid, lurid and often amusing life. I think learned more than I really wanted to know about mid-Victorian sexual practices.  Oscar Wilde was very much the tip of the iceberg.


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Chibiabos83
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3423


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Read this week: Future Sex: A New Kind of Free Love by Emily Witt. It seemed like a good idea at the time. A student requested us to buy it, and the Faber edition has such an attractive design that I borrowed it when she was through with it. Shame about the book, really. Briefly: Emily Witt is a US writer in her mid 30s, and this book is ostensibly an exploration of 21st-century sex. It begins with Witt single and looking for purpose in her life, looking for love, really, while her peers are beginning to settle down. 'We were souls flitting through limbo,' she observes, 'piling up against one another like dried leaves, awaiting the brass trumpets and wedding bells of the eschaton.' I don't know what an eschaton is, but I found the overwrittenness of the introduction endearing. She travels from New York to San Francisco in search of whatever she's in search of, and begins with internet dating, though her own timidity (her word) means she never has sex with anyone. I liked this chapter, and I liked her. Then she signs up for 'orgasmic meditation' classes and things begin to fall apart. An acquaintance tells her she's into 'extreme non-monogamy'. Commence eye-rolling. I dare say my own small-c conservatism is at fault, I mean it's not as if any non-conventional sex practice is inherently harmful to anyone provided it's consensual. The same can't be said for pornography, which is doubtless harmful not only to many of those who consume it but also to many of those involved in making it. Witt attends various porn shoots, and they really do seem the most unpleasant and unsexy and humiliating and sordid and grotesque things. There is a serious discussion to be had about the morality of pornography, and about ethical, non-exploitative porn, but that's not broached here. There are other chapters on webcams, polyamory, hooking up with strangers at Burning Man... It's a curiously unfocused book, a mix of the personal (sometimes interesting, a case in point being a study of the dynamic of a three-way romantic relationship between a woman and two men) and generic (the history of online dating, that sort of thing) that reads like a collection of magazine articles thrown together. What surprised me most was how boring it was, most of the time, but that's sex I suppose. I know you weren't planning to anyway, but I don't greatly recommend reading this book.



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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3367


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting.  Glad you didn't recommend it.



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