Category Archives: sex

Waxing lyrical

Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but I’ve never understood the appeal of the Brazilian wax. In fact, I’m a bit disturbed by the thought that there might be guys out there who prefer women to be hairless. Do these guys like to imagine that the woman is very young? Erk.

There is a piece in The Age today about Brazilian waxes for teens and pre-teens. The piece references a site called girl.com.au which touts itself as “Empowering girls worldwide”. The site has a feature on Brazilian waxes. I thought I’d go have a look. I was horrified. It explains the concept as follows:

Removing all hair from the vagina area, the Brazilian Wax although sadistic in nature is surprisingly not as painful as you might think, to some.

My first comment is that this is an appalling sentence. (Yes, I’m a pedant). My second comment is that I have my legs waxed and it hurts! And once my sister persuaded me to have a bikini wax…owch! Not the kind of thing you want sensitive girlish skin to undergo. I think I’ve made the right decision to avoid Brazilian waxes. The piece goes on to describe the process in ways that make it sound like some kind of torture or violation:

Brazilian waxing involves spreading hot wax your buttocks and vagina area. A cloth is patted over the wax, then pulled off. Don’t be alarmed if the waxer throws your legs over your shoulder, or asks you to moon them, this is normal and ensures there are no stray hairs. A tweezer is used for the more delicate areas (red bits).

EEEK! Doesn’t sound very empowering to me. Apparently if I wanted to become a model this would be a “must”, but fortunately, I got over that particular desire at the age of 13.

I think they have changed the most offensive part of the feature since Dubecki wrote her article. Dubecki says that the site says “Nobody really likes hair in their private regions and it has a childlike appeal”, but the site now says, “Nobody really likes hair in their private regions and this removes it.” Nonetheless, it’s still pretty full on. It suggests that “nobody” likes people who have pubic hair and that “everyone” is removing it.

I suppose it’s all about what you’re comfortable with. I can understand wanting to remove leg hair, and if my 15 year old daughter wanted to wax her legs, I’d let her, with parental supervision. However, I don’t think I’d allow it before the age of 14. Also, if my daughter wanted to shave her underarms, I’d let her. It would be hypocritical of me not to let her do these things because I do them myself.

But I draw the line at Brazilian waxing. The skin there is particularly delicate. And that area is private. It is a sexual area, in a way that legs and armpits are not. There’s no reason to undergo Brazilian waxing unless one is (a) wearing very revealing clothing or (b) exposing that area to others. I just don’t think that it’s appropriate for young teens to do either. Furthermore, I don’t want my daughter thinking that there’s something wrong with her when she hits puberty and gets pubic hair. The inference is that an adult body is somehow dirty or wrong, but girlish, thin and smooth is “sexy”. It’s just a continuation of the idea already present in the media that only girls are attractive, and that a womanly body (with curves, breasts, pubic hair) is ugly. I don’t want my daughter to believe that. And I’d encourage her never to undergo the process described above.

As I’ve said before, there are some very confusing messages out there for young girls these days. Girls’ magazines seem to assume young girls will be wearing makeup and revealing clothes before hitting their teens. Let’s not beat around the bush. Makeup, revealing clothing and waxing are all designed to make a woman more sexually attractive to men. Do we really want 8 year olds doing things which are ultimately designed to make them sexually attractive? I don’t. No wonder Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant at the tender age of 16: to be rather crude, she looks like “gaol bait”. If we sexualise girls at a young age, we shouldn’t be surprised if they then go out and behave in a sexualised manner.

I really don’t want my daughter to go out and explore her sexuality until she’s ready. And I want her to be comfortable with her womanly body when she grows up. Now, I think that’s an idea which is truly empowering.

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Filed under children, corporate paedophilia, feminism, media, morality, motherhood, parenthood, sex, sexuality

No wonder I cancelled my subscription to The Age

I’ve been a bit out of it lately; no time to read blogs or newspapers much. And I cancelled my subscription to The Age when we moved hoise. Why? Because they keep publishing stupid opinion pieces by authors like Catherine Deveny and Tracee Hutchison. I think the final straw was Deveny’s opinion piece about changing one’s surname after marriage. I don’t mind if someone has a different opinion to me, as long as it’s well thought out and well justified. But frankly, I’d prefer to read posts of my blogging friends, which are vastly better written and reasoned than these opinion writers. I think the blogosphere keeps a person honest. Try writing a post where you haven’t thought the issue through properly, and commenters and bloggers will point out what you have missed very quickly.

Anyway, I thought I might catch up on what I’ve missed in the blogosphere and MSM over the last two months, but I didn’t get very far before I discovered Deveny’s idiotic offering about affairs in marriage. I’m almost reluctant to talk about it, because to talk of it gives some credence to the piece, but I can’t get this irritation out of my head. I came upon it by reading Cynthia Karena’s response to Deveny’s article in The Age today. Karena puts it succinctly: “There’s no such thing as a good affair.” Well said.

Here’s an excerpt from Deveny’s piece.

Lifelong monogamy is an unrealistic expectation that makes people feel like failures. And if you don’t believe me, take one look at the divorce statistics. People are torn between their emotions and an archaic expectation that was conceived when the average life expectancy was 30. Monogamy is a wonderful way to maintain what the church and the state would call “social order” and, more importantly, to ensure paternity to hand wealth down to offspring.

Things are different now. In First World countries most people’s lives are no longer just about survival. Seeing survival’s sorted, we’re distracted by the promise of stimulation, happiness, constant change and upgrading. Eating our way up the food chain via hedonism and desire.

Yes, of course I think lifelong monogamy is a wonderful concept. And I would love to think that we would all find a mate for life and live happily ever after and be buried in the ground side by side for all eternity and never fancy another person. But it’s an unrealistic expectation. That is not to say that we shouldn’t try our best to achieve it. You can’t go into a relationship thinking: “I’ll stay till I get bored or she gets fat.” The mantra of for better or worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health is something that applies to all relationships. Not just sexual ones.

But what about the notion of spiritual theft? An open relationship is one thing, but what about a secret connection on the side that is filling the desire for something more breathless, more glittery, more slippery, more illusive. Something you just don’t get in a long-term relationship. Some people have confided in me that an affair has saved their relationship. We hear all the bad affair stories, but never the good affair stories. Most would say that it’s not right, but I can see that some people may feel that if no one is being hurt, that it is not totally wrong either.

This piece sounds like an apologia for cheaters, and that’s not something which sits well with me. It’s an excuse for the selfish person to cheat on his or her partner and say “Well, it was in everyone’s best interests really. I deserve it. I mean, after all, I’ve stuck with this person for 30 years. And now I can go back to my partner again.” And then they feel a happy little glow…

I disagree. If you go into a relationship which is expected to be monogamous, then you should not cheat with another person. I also disagree with the proposition that friendships are equivalent to sexual relationships. I don’t think that I have to swear to stay friends with someone, but if I’ve formally sworn that I will stay married with someone, that’s a different story. It’s no chance that in Jewish law, the bride and groom have to sign a ketubah or contract – it’s a promise. There are some friends who will be friends for life, of course, and whom I will stick with through thick and thin. And other friends drift in and out of your life, and I’m not a “cheater” if I drift apart from a friend and make new friends.

Of course cheating happens, and sometimes, there’s even a good reason for it. I have had friends who have cheated while they were in a relationship. And the circumstances were almost identical. The cheater repeatedly tried to end the relationship honourably, and the other person wouldn’t accept this and became hysterical and suicidal. So the cheater committed the ultimate unpardonable offence of cheating to finally put an end to the relationship. In both cases it worked, too. It seemed to me that the cheating was understandable in that kind of a situation.

But what about cheating on a partner who doesn’t know the relationship is in trouble or that the other person is unhappy? Or cheating on a partner just because you are “bored” and want to try something different? That just doesn’t seem appropriate to me. In the first instance, the cheater should communicate his or her dissatisfaction. In the second instance, the cheater is just a selfish bastard.  I don’t think there’s such a thing as a “good affair”. Say A is married to B and has an affair with C, but doesn’t tell B. Firstly, C might be expecting the relationship to continue, and C might be hurt. Secondly, even if B doesn’t know about the affair, it could still hurt B, and it’s certainly dishonest to B. The only one who wins is stinky old A. I would hate the idea of my partner cheating on me and not telling me. I’d rather end the relationship than keep on going with someone who lied to me and cheated with someone else. But I wouldn’t have a real choice because in the scenario above, I wouldn’t be told. And then if there’s kids involved, and they are aware that A is cheating, but can’t tell B, then they’re being hurt and betrayed too.

Perhaps it depends on what is meant by “cheating”. Speaking to another man is definitely not cheating. Looking at Brad Pitt and thinking he’s hot stuff is not cheating. In my view, nor is flirtatious conversation, as long as it’s made clear that it’s in fun only. Kissing or sleeping with someone else is definitely cheating.

There’s just no way to keep the hurt out of it. A friend of mine had ex-hippy parents with an “open relationship”. For many years, this seemed to work okay. Until he confessed he’d been sleeping with someone from work, so she told him that she had been sleeping with his best friend. Apparently just sleeping with just “someone from work” was okay, but sleeping with a “best friend” was a different story. They separated for a while. Then they decided they couldn’t live without one another, and got back together on a “non-open” basis.

I doubt that there’s many open relationships where both partners have remained unhurt, unless they are both selfish narcissists who don’t really care for one another, only for their own gratification.

People aren’t perfect, and unfortunately, cheating happens in marriage and other monogamous relationships. Some marriages or relationships may emerge stronger from the other end, with better communication between partners. But many break up, causing a great deal of pain to at least one party in the relationship. Let’s not make excuses for cheating. To cheat is to hurt the other person, and there’s no way around it.

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Filed under cheating, marriage, media, sex

“Everyone wants you when you’re bi…”

That’s what Living Colour said in a song a few years back. But it seems that they might have been wrong.

I was surprised by the account of a recent decision of the Refugee Review Tribunal (discovered via Anonymous Lefty). Ali Humayun sought asylum on the basis that he was a bisexual Christian and would be persecuted if he was returned to Pakistan. He had commenced a relationship with a Mr Lorenzo after being detained in the Villawood detention centre.

Giles Short, the Refugee Review Tribunal member found:

… I do not accept that the Applicant is in fact bisexual in sexual orientation as he claims. I consider that his relationship with Mr Lorenzo is simply the product of the situation where only partners of the same sex are available and says nothing about his sexual orientation. I am not satisfied that the Applicant’s conduct in telling his family in Pakistan about his claimed bisexuality and his claimed relationship with Mr Lorenzo was engaged in otherwise than for the purpose of strengthening his claim to be a refugee… Since I do not accept that the Applicant is in fact bisexual in sexual orientation, as he claims … I do not accept that, if the Applicant returns to Pakistan now or in the reasonably foreseeable future, there is a real chance that he will be persecuted for reasons of his actual or perceived membership of the particular social group of homosexuals or bisexuals in Pakistan.

Huh? The Member accepted that Mr Humayun has had sexual relationships with both men and women, but then refused to accept that he was “really” bisexual? Seems a little illogical to me. Does it matter that the cause of Mr Humayun’s relationship with Mr Lorenzo is his incarceration? Does it matter that Mr Humayun’s relationship with Mr Lorenzo may be simply a casual one? I would suggest that neither of these things are relevant. What is important is whether Mr Humayun would be persecuted for entering into a relationship with Mr Lorenzo when he returns to Pakistan (regardless of the cause of the relationship and the duration and seriousness of it).

The concern seems to be that refugees should be deterred from entering into short term homosexual relationships simply to gain refugee status.

I have since looked at the decision of the Federal Magistrates’ Court which reviewed and upheld Mr Short’s determination, and it sheds more light on the real reasons behind the decision.

First, Mr Humayun also made an unconvincing argument that he had converted to Christianity after 9/11, but showed no knowledge of the Christian faith, and he did not realise that homosexuality was frowned upon by the church of which he claimed to be a member. Therefore, it seems that his credibility was limited. Secondly, Mr Humayun is a heroin addict.

It seems to me that Mr Short should have concluded either:

(a) that Mr Humayun had entered into a supposed homosexual relationship as a sham to gain refugee status, and his lack of credibility on the issue of his conversion to Christianity also cast doubt on his evidence with respect to his relationship with Mr Lorenzo; or

(b) that Mr Humayun was bisexual, but had over-emphasised the seriousness of his relationship with Mr Lorenzo for the purposes of his application.

If the conclusion is (b), even if Mr Humayun’s relationship with Mr Lorenzo is a casual one created by the circumstances of incarceration, there remains a question of whether he would be persecuted in Pakistan because of the relationship. You can’t say “He is bisexual, but it’s not “real” bisexuality, even though he has had a sexual relationship with a man.” It’s just a matter of definition.

The other question which springs to mind is – if the relationship was caused by the circumstances of incarceration, could Mr Humayun argue that the Australian government had “caused” his bisexuality and thus ought to wear the consequences…?

If I were a refugee who had been genuinely persecuted because of my homosexuality, I would be angry if Mr Humayun had cynically claimed to be bisexual and had entered into a relationship with Mr Lorenzo solely for the purposes of getting refugee status. On the other hand, if he was in a relationship with Mr Lorenzo for more genuine reasons (even if those reasons were created by circumstance) and he would be persecuted for it when he returned home, I would want to see him protected from persecution.

If the Australian government wants to give a message that false claims with regard to sexuality will not be tolerated, it would be better to just say it outright.

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Filed under immigration, law, sex, sexuality, tolerance

British sex ed not up to par

I see that a recent survey by the Family Planning Association has established that there is widespread ignorance in Britain about contraception and “the facts of life”. This is interesting. As I’ve disclosed before, I attended an English secondary school after spending a couple of years at an Australian secondary school. When I arrived at my English secondary school, I found that I was behind everyone else by a long way…except in one very specific subject.

That subject was sex education. At my Australian secondary school, we had to learn sex ed in Science, in Home Economics and in some subject called “Personal Development” (or some silly name). We had to put condoms on bananas and study explicit diagrams. We had read a terrible text dating from the early 1970s, which featured a naked man who was so abundantly hairy (on his head, face and body) that no genitalia could be discerned. He looked like a gorilla. (I wonder if the school had chosen it purposely? It certainly put me off the idea of the naked male body for a while.) I knew all about the mechanics of the facts of life: but the closest I had come to men (well, those who were not related to me) was to sit next to a few examples of the species on the bus to school. I think you could safely describe me as a “late bloomer”.

Anyway, when I started at my English school, most of the subjects we studied were a mystery to me. I was very much behind everyone else. I had not read Shakespeare before, nor did I know what Avagadro’s number and the mole concept meant, nor did I have any idea about matrices. In combination with my indecipherable accent, I believe that this led the school to believe I was mentally retarded in some way for a few weeks or even months.

Then we had a test about sex education. I didn’t even have to study! Suffice to say, I topped the class. In fact, from recollection, I think I got 100%. Afterwards, I was astonished by the ignorance of many of my class members. Some girls confessed to me afterwards that their parents had never spoken to them about the facts of life, and that they had learned everything they knew from Girlfriend and Just 17. The questions in these magazines had to be seen to be believed. “Can I get pregnant from oral sex?” read one question. They displayed a fundamental ignorance about contraception and matters sexual in general.

Despite this, sexual activity amongst my class members was widespread (of course, any evidence of this is apocryphal only). One classmate (she must have been about 14 or 15 years old) boasted of her nights of passion with a German ski instructor while on holiday. In hindsight, this story takes on an unpleasant cast: if it was true, I wonder if the ski instructor had a thing for little girls? Ugh. Another girl was notorious for having contracted a number of venereal diseases (I don’t know whether this was true; I sincerely hope not for her sake). It has to be said that some members of my Biology class knew more about contraception than the teacher did, and one particular classmate ended up practically taking the class on the subject, relating her experience with each particular method of contraception, including the morning-after pill (she didn’t recommend it).

At the time, I found the Australian way of ramming sex education down your throat at every available moment annoying (as far as I was concerned at that age, the whole thing just sounded gross). But it is certainly better than the English approach, where many of my schoolmates had little idea, despite the fact that a number of them appeared to be highly sexualised at a young age. Or, like my friend with the morning-after pill, they had ended up learning about sex and contraception through bitter experience. So the results of the Family Planning Association study are no surprise to me whatsoever. They confirm my own experience as a school girl in England. Although I have a few gripes about the inadequacies of the Victorian school curriculum when I was a teenager (but that’s another post), I cannot fault my Australian high school at all in regard to sex education. I am glad that we have a more pragmatic approach to this matter in Australia.

Update

Despite better sex education in Australia, young people still leave themselves at risk of sexually transmitted disease – see this report. I wonder if this comes from the psychological attitude that disasters happen to “other people” – why else would people still undertake risky activity such as smoking, driving fast, taking illicit drugs etc etc, when we’re told over and over again that we can harm ourselves and others by these things?

Just goes to show that no matter how much you educate people, they’ll still put themselves at risk. However, at least if they have been educated, they are making an informed choice to put themselves at risk. Although it’s not ideal, it’s better than an uninformed or ignorant choice, which is no choice at all!

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Filed under Australia, England, sex, sex education

Prudish jurisprudence?

A reader of the Soapbox sent me this interesting article about the furore created when a suit company ran a sexy ad in a legal magazine in the US. There are two questions arising from this:

  1. Is it appropriate to run an ad like this in a legal magazine?
  2. Is the ad demeaning to women? (The woman who appears to be seducing the man seems to be wearing nothing more than a suit jacket.)

To be honest, I would be a bit irritated if I had written an article for the magazine, and this ad was placed right next to it. This is because it would take attention away from my very worthy and exceptionally interesting article about resulting trusts and the ways in which they are so special. Many people might not even read my exceptionally interesting article because they had been distracted by this ad, whereas otherwise they may have been converted to the cause of the beautiful resulting trust! But if the magazine had put the ad next to that boring and turgid article on fusion fallacy, well, that’s a different story! I believe lawyers should be distracted from learning about fusion fallacy. What a stupid concept it is.

Other than that, I don’t see the difference between this ad and ones which I see in other kinds of magazines all the time.

Is the ad demeaning to women? First, I’m guessing I’m not a member of the target audience, because it doesn’t make me want to go out and buy a suit. I find the ad a little silly. Why is the lady only wearing a jacket? Isn’t she cold? Why do male models always have jaws like that? Those law books are awfully skimpy, aren’t they? Even skimpier than the lady’s jacket. What kind of law are these people practising where there are such skinny text books? Why did I never practice in that area? Maybe I wouldn’t need glasses if I had only needed to read short text books…

But secondly, what is the ad actually saying? The message is that if you wear this particular brand of suit, a sexy woman will seduce you. Is it such a bad thing to suggest that a sexy woman may seduce a man? It might be a bit naughty to suggest that it happens in the office, but that’s also realistic: such things apparently happen quite often. I was always blissfully unaware of the office scandals and relationships, and would then be shocked when someone enlightened me.

As the article in Slate above notes, it’s not clear who is the lawyer in the ad (maybe they both are, maybe she is, maybe he is). I don’t know that I’d really want my daughter to follow this woman’s example, but then again, if she grows up and seduces a sexy man at her office, I won’t judge her harshly. Such things happen. It seems to me that the woman is the one with the power in the ad, anyway. She’s the one who has the man by the tie – she’s “pulling the strings”.

As the angry bee has pointed out, the reality is that for some women, sex is a very powerful weapon in the workplace. It’s not a weapon I have ever really used. Well, to be perfectly frank, it’s not the best weapon in my armoury. I clearly remember the day when my sister was trying to teach me to flirt. “Look flirtatious!” she commanded. I looked flirtatiously at her and fluttered my eyelids. “Oh dear!” she said. “You look like a horse with a gall stone.” Even if I could flirt, I don’t think I would have done so in the workplace anyway, because as the angry bee also says, it’s a double edged sword which can attract both good and bad attention. I would rather not even open that can of worms, and I personally prefer to keep sex right out of the workplace.

But it is naive to think that sex does not enter into the workplace. Of course it does! Some people use it to gain power and influence, some people fall in love at work. One of my old bosses was telling me that he had met his current partner at work. “I’m a workaholic”, he confessed, “and if you spend so much time at work with a colleague and very little time at home…well, that’s how I fell in love with my partner.”

So although I am a feminist, I don’t think this ad is demeaning to women. In fact, I think it raises topics which should be discussed and considered by lawyers: sex, work and power.

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Filed under feminism, law firms, sex