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The offending article. Premise is that children in the UK are being exposed to more and more sexualized imagery and are being damaged. Boys are becoming sexist pigs and girls feel like objects. I’m not sure that is really anything new in western culture, but I agree it is a problem.

However, the solution is not censorship of everything. For one, kids and teens are better at finding porn on the internet than adults are at thwarting them. Two, adults have a right to material that is not appropriate for all ages. We cannot sanitize the entire world on account of protecting the children keeping children ignorant. I don’t agree with the expert cited in the article, either. “Author Dr Linda Papadopoulos said there was a clear link between sexualised imagery and violence towards females.” Uh, heard of Afghanistan? Saudi Arabia? Any other state with violent fanatics? I don’t think those places have lad’s mags, much less boys acquiring them. There’s a clear link between sexism and violence towards women, but not necessarily sexual imagery.

I keep seeing sentiments like the Dr.’s put forth as a reason to censor this, censor that, ban “extreme” porn, ban all porn, etc. and I think it’s misguided. Guess what? The content in my porn folder would probably get me arrested in the UK. I’ve seen all manner of horrible and/or sexy things on the internet, yet I still look at women as people. Okay, but I’m a woman myself so that makes me more immune? No, I know men who can look at the same supposedly depraved porn I do without turning into rapists or abusers.

The difference between us and the boys harassing girls for naked pictures is we were taught that females are people too. They have a right to make decisions like consenting or not consenting to do things, and other people have to listen to them. I can see an attractive woman or man in public (or a photo, or a video) and not assume I have a right to touch him or her, or stare, or comment, or otherwise infringe upon their space and wishes. If I see an unattractive woman or man, I know that person has a right to exist and be happy and my amusement is not a factor. People can say no to me and I won’t have a tantrum. I don’t think this is really that difficult of a concept, considering we teach children that they can’t beat up the other kids when they don’t get their way.

Sexist messages in the media don’t teach children healthy social interaction or to value themselves and others as more than pairs of balls or boobs. Parents and teachers can help kids understand what they see though, and process it in a way that doesn’t lead to negative outcomes. This isn’t an endorsement for giving 10 year olds access to violent porn or for sexy clothing ads to be directed at them, as those things aren’t age appropriate. But, if a 10 year old happens to see a BDSM themed clothing ad in the mall it can be explained in an age appropriate way so that the child understands it’s not about male superiority, rape, or abusing women (assuming a male dom and female sub depiction).

I’m guessing the biggest problem is that kids are learning that it is okay to harass girls, hit women, etc. from family and friends. Children who see the adult men in their lives mistreating the women will think it is okay to do that. Girls who see their mothers struggling with body image are more likely to hate their own bodies. Kids will have to re-educated to break the cycle.

Recent posts by Holly and Figleaf have gotten me thinking about my ignorance and confusion regarding my orientation over time.

At Figleaf’s post I commented,

“I knew I was attracted to boys, therefore I must be straight and not like girls… right? In middle and high school I spent a lot of time sneaking glances at other girls in my classes or trying to get their attention, but it didn’t occur to me at the time that I had crushes on them. Bi phobia didn’t help. I mentally wrote off my fascination as “oh, she’s really cool” and didn’t follow through to the conclusion that I liked girls, until I was in college. It helped that college had far more women I found attractive than my non-diverse high school did.”

I was 22 when I fully realized I was bi. I keep wondering why it took me so long to realize that I was attracted to both men and women. Then I remember that when I was in high school, my peers thought being bicurious was only something “slutty” girls did to be trendy and impress boys with fantasies of threesomes. It wasn’t considered a real orientation, people had to be straight or gay. More than one guy I dated was openly adverse to relationships with bi girls. Thus, I was always quick to reassure them I wasn’t one of those girls. They were supposedly all about cheating, head games, and drama, luring in hapless boys with the promise of threesomes or something. Bi women were evil or didn’t really exist. Ahh, phobia.

A girl asked me out once in high school. I actually took a day to think about it before responding to her. I was unattached and considered giving it a whirl if she had feelings for me. When I saw her again, I asked if she had really proposed a date. Turned out someone had made a bet or dared her to go ask out a girl and she thought I was the least intimidating option. So nothing came of it and I didn’t give it further thought, but that was the first time I started to question.

A lesbian friend was a big fan of a particular actress I also find hot. My friend had a poster and showed me one of her movies with nudity. I liked looking at the actress and would join my friend in pretty much ogling the poster. No idea how that didn’t tip me off.

Once I got to college, I actually had some bi identified friends. Any phobia I’d had was over. As mentioned above, I did look at some girls as a teenager but there were far more boys who caught my eye at my middle and high schools. The vast majority of the girls were simply unappealing to me (not my type). At university, things were different. The ratio of interesting men to interesting women was a lot more even, and I started to wonder about myself. By that point I had been identifying as straight for nearly a decade (close to half my life). It was uncomfortable to consider the prospect of telling friends and family, “sorry everyone, you’ve been wrong about me all these years, my bad.” I was in a rapidly deteriorating relationship with a man and ended up keeping things to myself, as I was unsure and didn’t need any more potential drama at the time.

The lightbulb finally came on while browsing nude photos with my partner shortly after we got together. None of the mainstream porn my friends and exes had ever appealed to me. Then I saw my partner’s collection. His tastes are very similar to mine and I quickly found myself drooling over naked women on the internet. It was the confirmation I needed to push me off the fence. I came out to my partner first, and then my friends. I half-assedly told my mother, but I think my relatives still assume I’m straight since they’ve only seen me with boyfriends.

Occasionally I’ll still question, but then feel silly for doing so. I’ve had sex with a woman, but I haven’t had the experience of falling in love and having a relationship with one. No opportunities for that since I already have a relationship and am not looking to be romantically poly. I guess I’m just insecure and would feel like a bad poser queer for identifying as bi if my romantic orientation doesn’t match my sexual orientation. I think my dating record only reflects the fact that I’ve met far more M4W than W4W, though. Looking back at all the crushes I’ve had, I’m pretty sure I would have had a girlfriend if I’d met someone compatible.

Hi, if anyone is reading this.  There’s so much to write about, it’s hard to decide where to start.  So many topics, so little time.


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