I’ve discovered a new black cherry yoghurt. If I eat any more, I will explode.
Almost every woman I know has fallen in love with Tormund Giantsbane. The Khal Drogo fetish was straightforward – physical male beauty at its apex – but Tormund is a different matter altogether. Intelligent women are swooning over him on social media, demanding a storyline that puts him and the hulking, spiritually magnificent warrior Brienne of Tarth together.
This made me think about men and women and the fatal differences in our culture’s gender marker behaviours. Old school males believe in the perpetual canvassing of the female population for sexual partners. Their gameplay is tried and tested and, with apex predators, perpetually refined. The same lines, the same looks, the same tricks are used on all their targets because the entire process is hollow and depersonalised, triggered by their need for validation rather than genuine feeling. Humour and substances (alcohol, drugs) are the most popular techniques employed, because they act as disinhibitors with their targets.
Their canvassing can either be overt (clubs, pubs, bars) or covert (preferred by men in relationships), in which sex sites and social media are used to approach scores of women. Outrageous sexual suggestions are followed by jokes or exhortations to drink. The goal? Pan-global masturbation or hotel room hookups. Basically, living porn. Their capacity for love is so stunted that they cannot conceive of dedicating themselves emotionally, mentally and sexually to a single woman, with everything that such devotion entails. Renouncing porn? The idea of such limitation is hilarious to them because sexual entitlement is part of the gender identity package. Devotion, they think, would make them less of a man. So they lie, manipulate, hide. The disconnection between sex and love cannot be bridged. Emotionally, they’re deformed.
“What is wrong with men?” I hear this over and over and over again.
Which brings us to Tormund. He not only falls spectacularly hard for Brienne, but his love is exclusive from the beginning, infused with appetite and wonder, joyous. He loves the way human beings should love, with intimacy and tenderness and discrimination. The spontaneity and intensity of his feeling has women stamping their feet with desire. As one meme says, “On a scale of one to Tormund Giantsbane, how much are you into your current crush?”
I know people who mocked Indian call centre workers by suggesting that they bleach their skin. They were “in tears” laughing at this hilarious joke – so much so that they actually recorded it on Twitter. This was in addition to mocking Indian men to their faces with Peter Sellers Indian accents and then giving them the finger. I cannot begin to imagine the humiliation and self-loathing the call centre workers and other men experienced as a result of this hateful behaviour.
One of the people involved is a public relations consultant in London who prides herself on her egalitarian politics.
In the early 1960s, Australian men spat at my beautiful, delicate Italian grandmother when they heard her accent. As English is my second language, my early schooling was marred by racism; I stopped eating and developed near-unmanageable asthma. Subjected to years of racist taunts, the Eastern European father of a friend, a man who had endured unimaginable horrors in his war-ravaged homeland, cracked and shot his wife. The Danish father of another friend also took the racism to which he was regularly subjected out on his wife and children, punching them in the face. The children of these and other victims of racism pay the price with depression, suicide, self-loathing. The incidence of psychosis is significantly higher in people subjected to racism.
If you find this kind of thing funny, get the fuck off this site.
And this is sex in the 21st century. Devaluation, depersonalisation, depression. I pity adolescents most of all. Imagine evolving sexually without curiosity, without discovery. Utilitarian orgasms. Love without poetry. I would forfeit my life before forfeiting this:
Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.
- John Keats
Two men I know found themselves in the same situation as teenagers. Because the boys had powerful, corrupt and status-hungry parents, both cases went unreported. One of the men now works as a beach lifeguard. These crimes are taking place with increasing frequency because adults – in particular, parents – refuse to acknowledge the deleterious impact of pornography on the community. Wanking above child welfare. And these are the results.
Critical reading for those who use the term “mental illness” as a means of avoiding responsibility for drug abuse, promiscuity and so on – which is not to say that trauma does not deform behaviour or that genuine grief, impacted sadness and neurological damage do not exist.
I have known narcissists who identify themselves as “mentally ill” as a means of asserting their specialness in relation to others in the way a spoiled only child demands special treatment/dispensation on a permanent basis, and who righteously consider themselves above the rules of civility (“I don’t have to be kind or honest because I’m mentally ill“; “I can do what I want at all times because I’m mentally ill“; “I had sex with the entire cheerleading team and the neighbourhood Dalmatian not because I’m self-indulgent, sexually dominant as a way of expressing anger or lack the tools for self-expression but because I’m mentally ill“).
The ordinary is of no interest to them. Respect for others is unnecessary.
Diagnoses of mental illness cater beautifully to the self-serving. Any criticism of the status quo – that is to say, of the King/Queen Baby Syndrome – is held up as a global attack on vulnerability and evidence of general perfidy. Never mind the fact that the self-serving bully, deceive and manipulate at will. Never mind that they manage to meet their own needs for pleasure without difficulty. Never mind that they can function superbly in a professional context.
The self-serving must remain exempt from emotional accountability at all costs.
After a specious diagnosis of mental illness, an intelligent individual I know emotionally tortured their partner of almost four decades for a number of years before abandoning them without acknowledgment. They are now very happy with their similarly afflicted partner, with whom they spend many hours discussing the tragic specialness of their “condition”.
That which I find interesting is this allegedly terminally flawed individual’s capacity to hone in on their own desires and fulfil them at the expense of however many other people’s feelings, ending up with adoration, significant alimony, almost no parental accountability, zero judgment for their behaviour on account of their “disease” and universal sympathy.
The psychologically “normal” partner, on the other hand, was almost destroyed.
As the sister of a suicide, I am fully aware of the ramifications of impacted trauma, grief and sadness. I am familiar with the matrix of such trauma, and with the need to immediately seek loving, cognitive support. But I am also familiar with the self-serving manipulation of intelligent people whose refusal to be honest, vulnerable and respectful amounts to so much sadism.
Three men respond …
Chip Somers: “Social media in last 10 years as been a total game changer. Besides the basics of bypassing usual social channels of developing social skills and confidence which are now a thing of the past. You need no confidence or healthy ‘fear’to say the most outrageous things to people. But it is the images, freely available and passed round. Men now feel inadequate as a result of the genitalia they see online and are therefore more likely to try and ‘make up’ for their ‘inadequacy’ through being more violent but women, too, feel shamed and ashamed of their bodies. Expectations of sexual behaviour have gone through the roof so that a BJ is now first base and anal sex is expected. People as young as 13 are fully sexualised and I fear for the consequences on them and natural development over the next 10 years. Besides the sexual damage people today are now being parented by people who also spend all their time on smartphones thus bypassing natural nurturing, hugging and verbal affirmation. I am massively pessimistic.”
Roger Foley-Fogg: “I think our egregious polity and the ensuing top down elimination of capital E Empathy has a lot to do with it.”
Anon: “Sex and sexuality are becoming fetishised in a new and frankly disturbing manner. As Antonella Gambotto-Burke states, intimacy is lost. and decency too. Sex is supposed to be a spiritual practice or at least has the potential to be. Porn is eroding that potential.”
In response to my post yesterday, a reader in her early 30s wrote: “Here in the UK, doctors have started seeing girls as young as 12 turn up with anal prolapses and other rectal and vaginas traumas because watching porn is so endemic amongst teen boys that they think extreme and dangerous acts are the norm – plus the men in porn act like rapists too – and girls submit to these things (or are forced into them) also thinking this is part of ‘normal’ sex. And a friend of a friend is a sexual health advisor and over the last few years she’s seen a huge sea change not only in terms of what boys are demanding from girls but in terms of how girls view sex: when she talks to them about their pleasure, or what they like, they are utterly confused. Porn is teaching them that sex is about the awful, painful, degrading things that they have to accept boys doing to them. They didn’t even know stuff like it not being acceptable to be spat on, choked or called vile names. It’s utterly terrifying.”
A reader who works in the modelling industry replied: “I’m in Australia and have been sexually active since I was 14. (I’m now 43.) All those things you wrote in the last para ^ happened to me (+ more) & I thought i was being ‘sophisticated’ by being ‘adventurous’. It’s such a lie. And then it spreads to all areas of life/the relationship.”
And another reader wrote: “It is precisely what you say about thinking you’re being sophisticated etc. at the time and not being able to realise the impacts of this later in life. It scares me that roughed up violent sex is presented as the norm in porn. I used to think porn is harmless but there are so many horrible consequences from it and it shifts the goal posts of normal.”