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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hold Your Nose - and Vote

They're having an election this year, in case you hadn't noticed. God what a dismal set of options we have before us.

Labour? They seem desperate to stay in power, and willing to do just about anything to do so. But so tired, so arrogant, (witness their indignant howls when the Auditor General demonstrated they'd broken the law) and so out of touch. Plus I don't recall seeing the EFA on the list of promised policies before the last election, when I did vote for them. If they'd had that on the list I wouldn't have. Their constant spiteful attacks on John Key for being successful just don't do it for me either. I know whoever was in power would have cosied up to China, but I find that country as morally bankrupt as apartheid era South Africa. But Labour won't mention a word on those issues.

National? Moving so fast to the centre they're nearly indistinguishable from Labour on social policies. Economically neo-liberal still (no thanks!) and not really sure how far they can be trusted to do what they say. And look at their front bench - Night of the Living Dead! Lockwood Smith! Maurice Williamson! Toni Ryall! Ugh...

Greens? Lovely people, I admit, and honest and reliable, which are attributes not to be dismissed lightly in politics. But I don't sign up to cults these days, and the Greens' perpetual battered spouse role to Labour (witness their handwringing angst every time Labour does the dirty on them, yet they keep coming back for more, because they know, deep down, that really, one day Labour will show how much they love them and let them sit at the big table). I suspect I wouldn't really want to live in the world the Greens want to bring about: I've tried the hippy communal thing and it just isn't me.

Maori Party? Too homophobic for me - Tariana didn't support Civil Unions, and again, I don't sign up for cults. I also don't go along with the trend that says "Indigenous culture = automatically wonderful". Indigenous culture is just indigenous culture: it has its pluses and minuses like anything. And I'm not Maori.

NZ First? You're joking, right?

I know, it's easy to be cynical, to be dismissive of hardworking good people. And I know people in a number of the parties who are all those things. Sometimes I think if we could get rid of the parties and just vote for the best people... but no, that wouldn't work either.

Voting often involves going for the least bad option, it certainly does this time round.

I have moved away from my radical Marxist/anarchist ( I was indecisive - sue me) youth where I wanted a revolution that would change the world. More experience of the world, travel, study, and education has taught me that revolutions are nasty, do not achieve what they set out to, and end up fucking up a huge range of people. Except for the few who stay in power at the top.
In some ways it is naive of me to hope for anything really good to come out of any political system. Politics is about the excercise of power, and this always involves making some better off and others worse off. I know I don't want to be in the worse off group. Who does? But if I am anything I suppose I am a Human Rights hawk, a proud supporter of the best parts of the Western Enlightenment Tradition.

What about the economy? I'd say the global economy is a dog and New Zealand is flea on its back - we go where it goes, and as everything has become more and more globalised, our Government has less and less power to really affect any changes in it. And if we fall off the dog won't even notice.

It's all very uninspiring - the parties are all next to hopeless, but I'll still vote. Because if I don't I can't complain. And whoever gets in, you can be sure, I'll complain.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Conoisseurship: The Fruits of Experience

I was talking a bit about types of men we find sexy with a friend the other day. I don't know if I have one anymore.

When I was younger I used to have a type, or types, of men that I found attractive. I am old enough to remember being young with men who had long hippy hair and untamed beards, dressed in flares and wearing love beads, smelling of patchouli and were sweet and gentle and passionate. In my early 20s, they were in their early to mid twenties (28 seemed so old, 30 ancient) slim, trim, but not covered in muscles - I don't think the uber-developed gym-body was around in those days when I think about it. I have always liked a hairy chest, I have to say. And for some reason, a man's back has always been a major turn on for me. Some backs are like warm ivory shields, and tracing the muscles and lines of them as I lie entwined is still something I enjoy. Legs too, I've always been a leg man. I can remember deliberately standing at the bottom of the stairs at school to watch the other boys going up in their shorts, and admiring their calves and thighs.

As I got older, and more experienced, I got into different scenes.

The whole leather scene was a big turn on for me in my early 20s, living in Australia and the USA. The men in it seemed so confident, so sexy, so potent and also always seemed to be having so much fun. The clone look of the late 70s and early 80s was powerfully attractive too. Plaid shirt, short moustache, short hair. Overtly, calmly, celebratorily masculine - a move away from that earier hippy style for sure.

Then things shifted - I moved away from the centres of the gay world to the edges of Europe, lived in Turkey for 8 years. The men there were different again. The men often looked like clones, but they weren't - that was their natural style. The short hair, moustache, jeans and leather jacket was just the ordinary working uniform of so many men in Turkey. Very odd to have to rearrange all your assumptions about what it meant to be a man. And also to realise that the man in the tea house with his hand on your knee wasn't trying to pick youup - it was just the normal way for men to be physical with each other. But it did contribute a bit to a slight erotic haze.

Ethnicity, skin colour, has never been a huge issue for me. I think I've always been fascinated by difference, turned on by the way a Maori, Chinese or Indian skin looks when its excited, but just as turned on by pallid north Europeans or olive-skinned Mediterranean types. Red heads with that pale freckled skin - so beautiful.

Now, I don't care really all that much - hairy, smooth, tall short, skinny, chubby, bald, long hair, fair, dark. As I was chatting to my friend, I said this to him, how now it can be something as simple as the lines of muscle in a man's forearm, the shape of his hand, or the way he smiles, the shape of his beard or the smootheness of his skin or a certain way of moving, that can grab my erotic interest.

He turned to me and said "You know, you have to have been a real slut to get to that point."