Generation Sex – “Everybody knows that no means yes.”

“Everybody knows that no means yes” is a line from Divine Comedy / Neil Hannon’s “Becoming More Like Alfie” the laddish side of 60’s sex-and-gender-liberation that evolved into “Generation Sex” – the latter quoted in its entirety below. I’ve dropped a Divine Comedy reference into a few – very few – pieces of the post-Weinstein, now post-Fallon dialogue. Is it a scandal? is it about sex? For the avoidance of mansplaining, I’ve shut-up for several weeks, and listened / observed.

Agreeing this morning with Isabel Hardman that Ruth Davidson gets it, and her position means supporting her is most likely to achieve the changes we need. [Full stop. End of] But …

My take, just in case anyone asks is pretty straightforward. If you want to take issue with me, please ensure you read it, all of it, carefully. As Isabel says earlier in that thread it’s not about flirting  but let’s start there.

Flirting – verbal and non-contact body-language – is part of the game of life, gauging respect and establishing level of common interest in any topic that excites one or the other. Often completely a-sexual, the excitement being in the topic. The topic may be sex.

Making a pass (I hate the term) – is the signal of interpersonal physical – sexual – interest (if any). This is where the minefield can go either way. Done entirely verbally it’s an extension of the flirting “game” and gauging the response depends entirely on any level of respect and common ground already established – one thing’s for sure no, no does not mean yes, even if it may mean I need you to try better for longer if that’s your interest. Taking it further, persistence verbally or making the move to first physical contact is entirely down to having interpreted the invitation to do so, and conversely interpreting the pass declined and moving on.

Of course we’re not all equal when it comes to social skills and good manners, with either clear-headed, infatuated or alcohol-impaired judgement. Alcohol is a part of the game and sharing food, and music & dance, and whatever turns you on …  life’s a complicated social game, whatever your business.

Anyone who thinks these “definitions” can or should be made tight and objective, and rules of engagement – codes of practice – based on them, is living in cloud-cuckoo land. In all walks of life – all topics – this is normal social gaming in operation. I don’t use gaming pejoratively, but …

Persisting at the pass level without confirmed consent is clearly harassment, assault if physical, rape in the extreme.

Where clear rules matter, and where the problem really lies, is in power, more specifically the abuse of an imbalance of power. There is always some imbalance of power, and there are often good tactical reasons why it is exploited with good strategic intent. Machiavelli’s Prince gets a bad press, but it serves as a parable of how complex a tangled web can be woven. But as I say, the issue is the abuse of power as means to nefarious ends, and most of the above has little to do with sex.

Focussing on the dominant-male cases, Weinstein, Spacey and Fallon say, they clearly lie on a spectrum from gross to trivial via unfortunate and sad in terms of actual details of events, but they are all abuses of power and they all involve (potential) victims. Unethical even at the thin end of the scale and criminal at the more serious physical end.

[Generation Sex]

[Well, there’s nothing wrong with a woman having two men, Every woman should have at least two men, if you don’t, there’s something wrong. I mean, guys do it all the time. Guys have a woman on this side of town, the other side of town. They have a woman in another city, why shouldn’t we? I mean, it’s the 90s!]

Generation sex
Respects
The rights
Of girls
Who want to take their clothes off
As long as we can all watch that’s okay

And generation sex
Elects
The type
Of guys
You wouldn’t leave your kids with
And shouts “off with their heads” if they get laid

Lovers watch their backs
As hacks
In macs
Take snaps
Through telephoto lenses
Chase Mercedes-Benzes through the night

A mourning nation weeps
And wails
But keeps
The sales
Of evil tabloids healthy
The poor protect the wealthy in this world

And generation sex
Is me
And you
And we
Should really all know better
It really doesn’t matter
What you say

[It doesn’t matter what colour you are, long as you’re happy. You know, loving has no colour, you know. I’d rather be with someone that’s white and keeps making me happy than with somebody my same colour and be miserable the rest of my life.]

====

[“Becoming More Like Alfie”, reprise extract only]

Everybody knows that No means Yes
Just like glasses come free on the N.H.S.
But the more I look through them the more I see
I’m becoming more like Alfie

(c) Neil Hannon, The Divine Comedy.

[As well as the rest of Neil Hannon’s “Becoming More Like Alfie”, I could easily slip Lily Allen’s “The Fear” in there to add to the story from the female side. Everyone understands the rules of the game(s) and if we look to our poets we’ll find no shortage of wisdom.]

The more we look … the more we see … we really should do better.

It’s about the abuse of power, especially in walks of life where patriarchal dominance have been slow to evolve, and therefore needs to change faster. But it’s not a matter of  more / better rules. It’s about a culture where trust thrives on manners and respect for fellow humans.

=====

Coda:

I hate to mention it, but off that scale on which we find UK parliamentarians is Trump, the pussy-grabber-in-chief  running the white-house.

And generation sex elects the type of guys you wouldn’t leave your kids with. And shouts “off with their heads” if they get laid.

I also hate to mention, whilst we’re hand-wringing around the abuse of alcohol-fueled patriarchal culture in the mother of parliaments <cough> Islamism <cough>. It’s several levels beyond irony. And even a more “puritanical” Christian take on modesty and temptation. These are not things that can be wished or legislated away. Counter-intuition as well as irony-levels. That modesty “elephant” is still taking-up space.


Also published on Medium.

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