Friday, 20 February 2015

50 Shades of Consent

I was standing at the bar of what passes for my ‘local’, ‘The Turf’ when my mate Cris’s wife Amanda strided up followed closely behind by a very sober Cris. The Turf is an old fashioned type of bar, it doesn't have a TV, there’s no free Wifi, it doesn't show sports events,its basically a bar where you go to socialize, get drunk or relax. ‘It makes me ashamed to be a woman!’ which was one helluva way to start a conversation when I hadn't even had my 1st sip of my beer.  Amanda's dreadlocks and piercings quivering with a quiet rage while Cris looked on alarmingly sober. I’d never seen her in such a serious mood or so quietly pissed off.  After asking a few questions I realized I was in the middle of a perfect storm, and what could end up being a very unique time.

So let me first outline the scene for you: Consett a small rural town in northern england, an ex industrial steel town which still brings up its citizens to have a certain special type of mental isolation on a subconscious level.  The people of Consett are special and the atmosphere of the town is something any student of life or people watcher finds infinitely amusing, at least for a few months until the very weight of the town and its people start to slowly gnaw away at you like a dog with a fresh bone.  The heavy drinking in Consett won’t kill, you town itself will.

Its people have grow up over generations first with a steel works spewing red dust everywhere that laid a blanket over everything making white a rare color and imbuing all street signs with a lovely pink hue.  Lately the long term effects of over a hundred years of heavy industry that was rarely a model of health and safety.  Consett's dirty little secret that many of its inhabitants are not aware of is that many places in the town have very high levels of asbestos, a nasty vile cancer causing menace, with many more heavy metals and pollutants in the soil that all Consett children play in for generations with their parents mostly unaware of the danger.

I have vivid memories from when I was a child of hitting what I and my parents were unaware was a blue asbestos roof on our garage with a huge hammer I had ‘liberated’ from my dads tool box soliciting a vast fog of dust which I happily breathed in.  A thought that still sends shivers down the hopefully far wiser version me even today.

When the steel works were torn down, the land like many industrial areas that steel plants like it had stood on like great iron giants were polluted to fuck.  Local politicians being what they are, and governments being what they are all ignored the fact that this land was polluted and should be properly dealt with, instead they simply skimmed the top off the main site and dumped some top soil on it.  ...and there is sat as a toxic time bomb for 20 or so years.  As I type this they are building houses on the old site, on toxic ground with many of the old polluted tunnels only a short distance below the surface. Some young families have already moved in unaware of the danger and misled by both politicians and building companies.  One day there’s going be subsidence and a whole load of those houses are going to disappear down a great big fucking hole.  (Although given the long term effects of living in that area, that may well be the kindest thing).

So no… the hard drinking in Consett won’t kill you...smoking probably won’t kill you… but the town itself will.  The people of Consett live with the most dangerous killer of all, the town itself silently waiting its time to trim another person from the tree of life. To understand the gist of this article that bit of background will prove very important as it sets the mindset of the people of Consett and the challenges and life many have had to face their entire lives.

So I was rather interested to see what the cause of Amanda’s displeasure was.   It turned out that as it was the day before Valentines day, the film ‘50 shades of grey’ was being shown for the 1st time at the local cinema (an old style non multiplex cinema, although thankfully renovated to make it a bit nicer a couple of years back).  The place had been packed with women of all ages from all over Consett came to see the vivid spectacle of ‘kinky bondage’ oozing lady fluids all over the nice new seats.  They came out from the film in many cases baying with horniness like a bunch of wolfesses and headed straight into local bars serving cheap drinks and shots.  

Over the course of the night I observed something that made me feel rather uncomfortable and forms the main ‘point’ of this article.  I saw before my eyes numerous small groups of women, often in their late 50, or early 60’s like a pride of lionesses about to take down a zebra.  Only in this case the zebra was a late teenage / 20 year old young lad, who like many young guys on a Friday night had had one too many to drink. They pounced on this young lad and his mate sinking their horny teeth into him.  The poor bastards didn't know what hit them before they are dragged out and into a taxi. Heading towards to whatever abode awaited to be taken advantage of by these sex crazed lionesses and no doubt waking the next morning hungover into orbit and struck with horror when they see what they had awoken next to.

What immediately struck me was the fact that if the sexes were reversed and this was a group of men taking advantage of a couple of late very young heavily drunken women his would be seen as unacceptable and they would end up in the cells and in court so fast their feet wouldn't touch the polluted ground.  But in a much similar way to their male vulture like counterparts they would forget all that on the Monday and return to work in the local cafe or bakery, hoping all the time they didn't have a little bun of their own in the oven.

It often strikes me as odd that if a group of middle aged women go to a pop concert by one of the many young up and coming faceless talentless clones like Justin Bieber or One Direction and behave with depravity rarely seen since Sodom and Gomorrah it is seen as fine and healthy.  If however a group of men did the very same thing they would be vilified for ogling young ladies and treated like the perverts society undoubtedly thinks they would be. So what is equality and is it ever truly possible for there to be a balance and equal views for both sexes? I don't have the answer, all I have are the questions that bug me.

So what is ‘consent’ and why does it seem to be far more variable when it is women doing the exact same thing that men are vilified for (quite right vilified I may add)?  Why is is seen as socially acceptable for a group of old women who have came out of a glorified advert for the sex shop industry to take advantage of young men?  Are you at this moment thinking ‘Well they should have had less to drink! its their own fault!’?  Now switch the sexes again and suddenly that thought feels uncomfortable doesn't it?  They weren't ‘asking for it’ and similar to a women should be able to dress however she pleases without reprisals, so a young guy should be free to go out and enjoy himself without the fear of waking up next to a horror the next morning.

It made me feel uncomfortable and I could understand Amanda’s comments about being ashamed to be female that night.  After seeing this occur numerous times that night, it got too heavy for even this grizzled old soul and I headed as far as god damn possible away from the lioness V’s drunken barely legal zebra carnage.  We need to look as a species at true equality on a sexual level, so that what is deemed unacceptable for men is also seen as just as vile and unacceptable for women.

Now I’m not a prude, far from it in fact and have been ‘around the block’ more than a few times and not just ‘bought the T shirt’ but have enough old t shirts to open a damn vintage t shirt shop.  So as opposed to consent being a case of black or white… yes or no, it really has become in some cases 50 shades of a terrible dirty grey.  Consenting adults in a state to make an informed decision are free to do whatever they please, hey you want to have a gang bang with 16 people who I am to stop you? But as long as everyone fully consents, is in a fit state to give that consent and not taken advantage of, be they men or women.  If you feel the need to spice up your pedestrian love life in an interesting and legal way, go for it if it floats your boat.  However don’t board the sinking ship of taking advantage of another human being for your own gratification.  

This was the perfect storm of the night before valentines night, where single people without partners abounded the town (while most people in relationships were staying into go out the following night); with 50 shades of an Ann Summers advert on at the cinema, combined with cheap drinks and a lot of drunken young lads ended up showing the darker side of life.  

Men can, and have done many terrible things to women, I’d like to think that equality doesn't mean that women then feel they can also take advantage of the opposite sex just to get their rocks off.  Is that the equality everyone really wants? Or are we better than that?