Archive for human rights

For Once I Should Be Serious

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2011 by AF

It’s a serious matter and that makes me very wary of saying anything at all about it in public, but then it’s something that I abhor and feel very strongly about, so here goes…

The subject is rape.

In truth, it’s something I don’t really understand from a male point of view, because I have never really wanted to do anything to, or with, a woman that she didn’t want too – that to me is part (a very big part) of the magic of sex. I might on occasions have wished that a beautiful woman felt differently (or even bloody well noticed me, if I’m honest), but that’s light years from what we’re talking about here. Heck, we wish for all sorts of things – I wish I was George Clooney, but life can be such a bitch and so I’m not.

However, recently, there has been considerable anger and debate in the UK over a statement made by our Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, that some kinds of rape are worse than others, or words to that effect at least. I’m not even a fan of Ken Clarke as a politician and I certainly don’t believe in a justice system that worries more about the “human rights” of criminals and terrorists than those of their victims, or even of ordinary people. In my opinion the current trends have been utterly stupid political correctness gone absolutely loopy.

All that said, I do think Mr. Clarke has a point of sorts in this instance, if I’ve understood what he’s saying correctly. Rape, like burglary, mugging, domestic violence, murder and all the rest, is a fact of life – part of the human condition – whether most of us wish it were not so, or not. I do, though, understand (I think, at some level at least) how a woman can view all rape as equally awful and that any man who rapes should be castrated and left to rot in a hole somewhere – that is only natural. It’s exactly the same as a parent must feel about the driver of a car that kills their child – he (she) deserves all they get and much more. It’s murder! There should be no forgiveness! Right?

Looked at dispassionately, though, there are so many variables involved in any crime that we cannot make sweeping statements and lump all drivers who speed, or robbers, or even rapists together. All crimes of a broadly similar nature are not the same. A woman who goes out on a date and perhaps likes and finds her partner for the evening attractive, but he misunderstands all her signals and fails to uphold the most basic of rules – “no” means “NO!” – will (in the short term at least), be just as horrified, hurt, disgusted, even traumatised, by this man’s abhorrent behaviour (of which he will hopefully be utterly ashamed in the cold light of dawn and increased sobriety), as any other rape victim.

Yet that situation simply cannot, in my opinion, be regarded in exactly the same way as the evil, twisted bastard who stalks a woman (or grabs her randomly off the street) and then subjects her to a litany of brutal and degrading physical, sexual and mental humiliation usually designed specifically to satisfy his hatred of women and to sadistically break and demean her and probably traumatise her for life. Such acts actually have little to do with sex at all (and more to do with inadequacies of the male involved) and there is a viciousness about such perpetrators that is surely disgusting to all decent people of both sexes and who I, frankly, believe deserve no mercy at all. To talk of human rights for such people as that is an affront to the rest of humanity and to the term “human” itself – they certainly should be thrown in a hole to rot along with paedophiles, mass murderers, youths who beat up old ladies for a few pounds and similar scum!

But a guy who gets too impassioned and looses his sense of judgement? No. He should be punished of course, because there’s no excuse and he needs a lesson that will remind him to be more respectful the next time, but to compare the two situations, or even all the variations in between those extremes is just plain foolish and (I think) does nothing to advance the cause of women at all.

Putting unequal crimes against women into one huge category is just as demeaning to all men as the male attitude that sometimes says all women are the same in bed in the dark – it’s not only wrong, it debases the decent people in society, who are, incidentally, in the vast majority, whatever some victims might have us all believe.

So… Go on, then – tell me why I’m wrong…  😦

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A Question I Feel I Just Have To Ask

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , on January 24, 2010 by AF

This is a serious matter and I apologise right now if I’m going to offend any of the Americans who read my blog because I feel I “know” many of you (to a greater or lesser degree) and, as far as I can tell, you’re all nice, kind and decent people. Some of you are, of course, also gorgeous women (I’m sure you will know who you are) and that worries me even more, since it is not in my nature to intentionally insult any woman, particularly one who is both beautiful and adorable, however much I might disagree with her.

Nevertheless, I feel this question should be asked. Many of you got the President you desired (a heck of a lot of you voted for him) and you are mostly caring and responsible citizens. So, since Barack Obama is the USA’s knight in shining armour and unless it is just the way it appears to me (and a lot of others I’ve spoken to about it)… when do you think America might stop landing endless troops and military hardware on Haiti and do something more positive about organising and distributing the huge amount of food, water and medical supplies that are so desperately needed by the surviving population there and that is unquestionably readily available through the amazing international response that the disaster has produced?

If I’m out of order, or being overly cynical, then I will expect you to tell me, but (from what I’ve read, seen and heard on UK TV and other news sources) it does seem to me that the US perhaps sees this as a golden opportunity to finally take control of Haiti and quell its rebellious attitudes and maybe even to turn it into the fifty first state, but without any of the labour protection laws that mainlanders enjoy?

It’s just a question, but…

Addendum: Please let me make it plain here (since it may not be) I’m not criticising Americans, or even America, I’m simply questioning whether the military is so busy being military that it has lost sight of what’s paramount here and additionally I think it’s right to question the motives of some powerful factions of the US administration…

I’m Shocked

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2009 by AF

I am truly shocked. If this reported statement had come from some aging redneck hate-monger in Mississippi or somewhere like that, I’d have been appalled, but not shocked the way I am, or perhaps even entirely surprised.

But this was apparently said by an undergraduate student attending a lecture on dehumanizing actions and he questioned the inclusion of rape – referring to it as “just” rape!

Apart even from the awful attitude it displays towards women, it shows a total lack of understanding of what sexual relationships and even sex itself is about. It’s bloody Neanderthal!

If that’s what educated young men think these days, then I despair of our culture, I really do…

Do yourself a favour and read the full post (it is quite a few months old, but that does nothing to detract from its validity)  here at Hecate of the Crossroads because this young woman puts it far better than I can.

The Human Tribe

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , on October 27, 2009 by AF

Much has been said about tribal communities, as in Afghanistan, and democracies and dictatorships, but I wonder if they’re not all actually different forms of tribal society. The sophistication and scale may vary, particularly in larger countries – even as big as the USA – but isn’t it just another take on tribalism? In fact, isn’t it the case that humans are simply mostly tribal animals and you probably can’t change that?

OK, let’s start with what is the definition of a tribe. Well there are a number of differing versions, but they amount to alternative means of defining a particular tribe. So, the general description? “A group of people who have something in common such as an occupation, social background, or political viewpoint.” I’d have thought that describes just about everyone, with the possible exception of the odd loner.

One of the ways a tribe defines itself is, of course, by ethnic or ancestral origin – remotely genetically connected, but not actually family, although even a family can itself often be a sort of tribe. In reality, though, it can be anything from a close-knit family to a gang, to a society, to a village, or town, or state, to a political group, to a country or even a continent. In truth, we seem to create tribes because we have a need to belong, to fit in, to be part of a group. That’s probably because, much as we love to boast about our individuality, there is safety in numbers and most of us feel vulnerable when isolated. However, I did include countries in that list and a country, particularly a big, federal country like America is a tribe that is itself made up of many smaller tribes at various levels and most individuals will belong to several.

I guess I’m looking forward to the day the aliens finally land. Then perhaps we’ll at last begin to look at humanity as a single global tribe, because that would surely be how they would see us – friendly or not!

What’s The Real You Like?

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , on October 25, 2009 by AF

More accurately: What’s the real any of us like? Is each of us just one person, or are we all in fact a whole myriad of people depending on the other people and situations we’re reacting to, or even the time of year or the day of the week?

We like to think of ourselves as an individual and indeed we are just that, but is there anything constant about that one person? I’m not at all sure that there is. For instance, let’s take a real basic situation. Most of us probably like to think that we wouldn’t kill – I know that’s just not part of my make up in the normal scheme of things.

But what if the scheme of things is not normal? Many psychologists will say that we’re all capable of killing given the right circumstances and I think that’s almost totally true. I’m sure there are some that are so strongly pacifist that it’s unlikely they would do so, even to protect themselves or their family, but those people are few and far between and, personally, although I respect their right to their beliefs, I regard them as slightly nuts. The normal human instinct is to protect yourself and your own.

What if you and your offspring were trapped – prisoners – and you and, particularly your child are threatened with all sorts of vile horrors, perhaps indefinitely? A momentary lapse in the captor’s security occurs; it’s your one chance to save yourself and your child; the gun is on the table, you know it’s loaded, you can use a gun, a bit at least – all you have to do is pick it up and fire it straight into the middle of your captor’s back which is turned towards you. What would you do? I know what I’d do – I’d shoot the bastard and be happy I got the chance!

However, I feel sure that we change almost constantly in much more subtle ways than this, principally in order to suit differing situations and the people with whom we interact and how we feel about them. Of course our overriding beliefs, upbringing and instincts will modify how we behave with others, but so will the people themselves that we meet and the places and situations in which we find ourselves and most of us are in fact different people with different people.

I don’t want to get into an argument over religion, but what many refer to as a “soul” is to me more the mixture of instincts, self awareness, learned values from experience along with our excellent and often insightful imaginative abilities that all come as part of our human knowledge of self. That mixture forms the core of who we are, but the edges and boundaries of that are constantly changing as we go through life and, indeed, even the week.

As another instance of my argument, please just ask yourself this simple question: “Would I as easily and completely forgive someone I don’t like for an action that upset me, as I would someone I do like?” For me, much as I’d like to think otherwise, I’m pretty sure the answer is often a resounding “No!”

So, I’d like to come back to my statement that we like to think of ourselves as an individual. It’s comforting and most of us accept it most of the time. But, the minute you think of my definition of the “soul”, or something like it, to me it becomes obvious that each of us is not a “hard wired” individual, but more a core person whose almost every action and reaction is modified by a raging mess of hormones, chemicals and electro-chemical signals and external influences whizzing around inside us and the outcome of that – to put it mildly – is likely to be unpredictable!

Helps to make life interesting, though, doesn’t it? 🙂

We Should ALL Get Over It

Posted in Miscellaneous, People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2009 by AF

Well, my last post produced a couple of comments that rather surprised me, but I’m not sure why I wasn’t quite expecting some (fairly mild, as it happens) dissent, even from people I respect.

I have, though, thought quite a bit about what was said and it was undoubtedly fair comment on what I wrote. So, I think that’s probably part of the reason – what I wrote wasn’t a very good explanation of what I wanted to convey.

That said, I’m not very sure I can do better, but I feel the need to try because it does quite upset me that women should ever feel threatened in the way that they often apparently do and also that men should behave in some of the ways that women complain about and be so disrespectful to others (male or female) as they seemingly frequently are.

Firstly, let me say that all this is, in my view, simply symptomatic of much of life today and the US in particular (with the UK following closely behind – as usual) seems to me to be becoming daily more confrontational. That may be just an impression I get from the news and TV, but it seems to me to be true anyway. Also, much of this PC nonsense is encouraged by the litigation culture that has grown up and the only people that benefits is the lawyers who have fought tooth and claw to create it! I sincerely believe that, if it were only possible (and which it clearly isn’t), we really should toss out most of our current culture and start again with a much more enlightened and tolerant approach to almost everything.

The other things that I have to admit to are that I’m sure that what I see and the way I view things will be coloured by my, perhaps rather old fashioned, very English upbringing and the fact that, not being a woman, it’s very difficult to put my maleness aside and understand exactly where the women might be coming from here.

Nevertheless, to some extent that last sentence is my point! If a society doesn’t make the big deal about sex that ours do; if it’s just accepted as being amongst the most important and natural functions of humanity; if (as they are by quite a number of women) men are not expected to think like women and the differences between us are celebrated rather than complained about, then to my mind there is really only one problem left on this topic – the fact of women feeling (and actually being) threatened by men.

So we’re back to upbringing and education – I wouldn’t hit a woman, or try to force anything upon her physically, simply because I was brought up to believe that it is wrong and cowardly. Furthermore rape is something I just don’t understand at all, since desire from my partner is the biggest turn on to me and the converse is therefore also true – i.e. it’s critical to me and if the woman isn’t interested specifically and plainly in me, then she may be lovely, but she’s not for me any more than I am for her. I can’t say I would never be violent towards a woman because none of us can say “never” about anything, but I would absolutely hate myself for it if I were and I can’t imagine the circumstances in which I would behave in that way. I certainly hope I’m sufficiently adult and educated not to need to use violence towards anyone, unless I or someone I cared about was physically attacked, of course.

So that’s perhaps why I see what I see, but it’s also why I don’t understand any other way and believe in much less confrontational relationships between men and women than appears to me to be becoming the norm, which saddens me.

Hmm… that seems like another rambling expression of a lot of differing things to me, but it’s probably the best I can do for now 😉

Addendum: something else has occurred to me that I realise I didn’t make clear – I’m talking here about people who are at the very least acquainted with each other and not total strangers. I cannot recall ever hearing the cat-calling that some commenters mentioned, not even in the UK (though I’ve certainly heard OF it there), so I guess I must’ve just been lucky.

Faith By Nature

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , on September 30, 2009 by AF

By its very nature, faith is something that is accepted – taken as read – without there being any “hard” evidence to support it. A belief in something one can see, or hear, even directly see the effects of in action, is not faith. The very word itself implies trust in the truth of a belief without anything external to back it up at all and the expression “blind faith” is simple tautology because faith by its very nature blindly follows an idea.

I, as I’ve mentioned before, am not religious, but I do respect those that are and there are times when I (almost) envy those that have faith. In fact, some of the nicest, funniest, most open-minded and well balanced people I know, or have come into contact with on the internet, are religious. An example of one such is the delightful PJ and you can see her blog here. My favourite quote of hers is, “I don’t understand why humanity can’t play nice and share.” To me that says it all really!

How, then, does it come about that some of the worst and what I would regard as downright evil people are also apparently extremely devout in their beliefs?

Personally, I think that the best thing about Christianity and many other religions too is the tolerance they preach. The worst thing about them is their acquisitive nature – the insistence that their disciples should go out and “convert” the rest of us to their particular beliefs. That, of course, is the standard methodology used by all large sales organisations to whip up incentive and motivate their sales teams. “Go get ’em. What we have is the best in the world. Everyone needs it whether they know it or not!” is the theme used to get the best out of sales representatives the world over. It has a second function too and that is to “bind” the group together; to make them feel part of a “family”. The secondary result in turn of that is to increase the “them and us” feelings of the group – “us” against the rest.

In my view, that belief in the group is often what seems to initially drive the evangelical brigade and it then translates into a need for the individual to justify to him or her self their continued adhesion to the cause and which some part of them that they will not admit to even to themselves, probably rejects their faith. Consequently, any dissention or alternative opinion is regarded as a threat to their “family”; to their beliefs; to their faith; to what has become their raison d’être.

Beware the superficially faithful who are apparently fanatical in their beliefs for, without any real independent depth to their own personalities to fall back on, their biggest fear is becoming faithless.

Lovely people like PJ on the other hand are, I think, simply confident and happy in what they believe themselves and don’t give a darn what other people think of that – and good for them!

What do you guys think?