Mr G tore his eyes away from the motor racing for a nanosecond, curiosity overcoming him as I sat hunched over a small book, reading it through Dad’s old magnifying glass. “What are you reading?”
“Erotic Book of the Year, actually.”
“Well, if you can’t read it without a magnifying glass, then you’re too old to experiment.”
It is an assumption that the publisher’s of John Ozimek’s prize winning book on the subtle discrimination and exclusion practised against those who are not young, mainstream, procreating, sexual Gods, are guilty of themselves.
8pt font and shinny white paper? The elderly and the visually challenged have no chance of learning anything new; with the aid of the magnifying glass, which had previously never read anything steamier than the cricket results in The Telegraph, I persevered.
Sex is the universal leveller; virtually every human being indulges in some form of sex at some point in their lives. There is no logical reason for the State to intervene beyond protecting those who are incapable of giving informed consent to sexual activity, by which I mean children, of course, the mentally vulnerable in some cases, and animals. Beyond those protective barriers, the state has no business dictating how our penis or clitoris is stimulated.
Ozimek traces the history of first the intervention of the various religious orders in sanctifying ‘approved sex’, then State intervention, even that of the psychiatric profession, notably Freud, in creating a ‘charmed circle’ of those whose sexual activity was approved. The title of the book ‘Beyond the Circle’ suggests that he seeks to redress the balance in favour of those outside the circle.
However, it is not just the bifocal wearers that find themselves excluded in his work, the disabled get narry a mention. A strange omission in a work which claims to point out the anomalies in the law and the drastic effect they can have on those outside the ‘charmed circle’.
Recent legislation has redressed the balance for those who are Gay, Lesbian, or Transgendered. The State has sought to bring them into the ‘charmed circle’. Rather than outlawing ‘discrimination’ on any grounds, the State has sought to protect various categories of persons who have the right not to be discriminated against.
This still leaves a large number of people who indulge in perfectly harmless activity, that is considered aberrant by the psychiatric profession – fetishism for instance, those lovers of exotic underwear, who can open any newspaper or magazine to discover underwear provocatively displayed in order to increase sales, but whose interest in viewing such images is listed, along with paedophilia, and necrophilia in DSM-IV-TR, the American diagnostic bible of mental illness.
Recent legislation against the possession of ‘extreme pornographic images’ has outlawed the possession of images, not only the oft quoted images of children, for which the state is rightly entitled to protect, but also images of sexual practices which are not of themselves illegal. They are, to hark back to the words of the Obscene Publication Act, likely ‘to deprave or corrupt’.
At 6pm, your young children and your aged granny can gather companionably around the television to watch images of perfectly healthy young men being blasted to smithereens, you are able to gaze at the blood stains left behind, should those young men be of another nationality, you are even subtly encouraged to raise a cheer, this apparently does not tend to deprave or corrupt. You may not, in the privacy of your own homes, gaze upon images of some acts performed between consenting adults.
Not even, as the State seems to forget, if you are of that class of person who gains sexual stimulation from such an act, but is physically unable to partake in person, either through age or disability.
Why should it be any business of the state?
In 1990, the ‘snigger case’ of the law student’s studies was decided. From memory, it involved four young men who had chosen to nail each others nipples to a bread board. They were all consenting adults. Had they chosen to punch each others teeth down the back of their throats, they could have charged an admission fee; parliament has never declared boxing illegal.
The full majesty of the law was brought to bear upon them and the High court duly intoned the limits to which one can legally ‘enjoy’ pain during sexual activity. It must be ‘fleeting and transitory’, you can’t have too much of a good thing……
There is a more serious side to this debate, for with the advent of Criminal Records checks which apply to an astounding 40% of jobs in the UK, an ever increasing number of people will find themselves barred from employment, not just for criminal convictions for paedophilia, with which no one can complain, but because of the hearsay or ‘gossip’ element of the record keeping, a quiet whisper that perhaps they enjoy nailing their nipple to granny’s bread board in their free time, will be sufficient to ensure that they are not considered ‘suitable’ for employment in a wide range of careers.
The advent of the Human Rights Act, and the general thrust of our legislation these days, is to create victims, classes that are protected from discrimination. True equality demands that everyone is protected from discrimination for legal activities.
CAAN, the Consenting Adult Action Network, who has published this book, (available here) is campaigning for just such an outcome. They reject the ‘assimilation’ model, by which vociferous campaigners gain admission to the ‘charmed circle’.
At the moment, if you are, for instance, gay, you are protected from discrimination by a raft of legislation. If you chose to stimulate your clitoris with a plastic rabbit, you are lauded by the ‘Cosmopolitan’ magazine group. If your taste runs to a dead and frozen supermarket rabbit, you may be unemployable. With no protection.
It is a ludicrous anomaly, and none of the State’s business.
*Dons hard hat, and bravely leaves comments on*