Gay marriage and becoming an Australian

I’m living in Australia at the moment, but I’m not an Australian. There’s always been too much about the country that makes me feel like I don’t want to join it, or identify with it. 

There’s the racism, in particular.

I’m not talking about the stuff where someone is making conversation and asks a person who is black or Asian, “Where are you from?” Because there’s a possible sub-text of, “If you’re not white, you’re not from here” about it. But it can also be a well-meaning but under-informed person who means, “I think you look fantastic! Where do they make more people like you?”

My point is, it’s always a clueless question to ask, and sometimes there might be a negative racist meaning to it, and sometimes there might not be. But my sympathies aren’t always with the person taking offence. A little bit of polite person-to-person education goes a lot further, and does more good, than all the offence-taking in the world.

Anyway, when I say Australia is a racist country I’m not talking about that kind of thing.

Rather, it’s about the deliberatively, knowingly genocidal history of what has been done to the Aboriginal people. And the incredible, shockingly callous endorsement of that genocide by a fuck of a lot of Australians, once you get them in private. They don’t even need to have a drink in their hand. The day after I arrived in Australia, some quite wealthy, educated guy said to me, “oh, Abos: they should have put out more poisoned flour sacks.” 

Then I was in a Post Office and I saw a police notice. They wanted to know if the public had seen some offender. The ad said, “non-Australian appearance”. What that meant was that he wasn’t white. Then I was talking to a cop, who said it was a pity we’d moved out of the old days when they’d just take Aboriginal young men down to the station and “give them a bit of a flogging”. He was a young cop. By “the old days”, he’d mean “about five years ago”. 

It’s about the fact that life expectancy for Aboriginal people in their own country is fifteen years less than any other statistical group. Fifteen fucking years. 

And so on. And their media is run almost entirely by Rupert Murdoch, and leans so far to the right it’s lying on its side. And “lying” is the word. “Bullying of people who dare to speak out” are also the right words to describe Australia’s craven, contemptible media. 

So I don’t love Australia. I love many Australians, and like a lot of others. But the vibe of the place: No, I don’t love that. 

Now a group of right-wing nutters and church-ridden homophobes are trying to stop marriage equality from coming to Australia. They’d decided to put the issue to a postal survey, which is calculated to favour the group most opposed to gay marriage, that is, the over-65s, while cutting out the group – just about everyone 30 and under – who most favour gay marriage. 

Knowing that no one in that group uses postal mail, or checks their letter box, any more. It’s a “survey” where the homophobes get to have their thumb on one side of the scales. 

So … I’m going to have to become an Australian citizen. Not because I love a sun-burned country. The truth is that I don’t. But I approve of love, and if people want to marry the person they love, I’m not going to let a bunch of heartless bigots keep them from having that right. 

Bdsm guilt, and doing good works

Being into bdsm means knowing that you’re different from most of the people around you. I learned that early. I was with my older brothers and sisters – who didn’t want a 4-year old’s company, but my parents hadn’t given them any choice – and they went to an abandoned forest workers’ hut, that happened to be in the neighbourhood.

For generations, children and adolescents had been going there to play sex games.

Bottles got spun and boys kissed girls, girls cuddled boys, and the penalty for losing a round of any game they played was taking off an item of clothing. And so on.

Anyway, I was much younger so I didn’t take part. I mostly climbed up the shelves on the wall, and found a place where I could look down if I wanted to. A lot of the time I just day-dreamed. But one day they played a game of “school”, where, at the end of each round, someone got spanked. A girl called Donna getting spanked caught my attention, very strongly.

With my little four-year-old hard-on. 

That’s not “why” I’m into bdsm, of course. I was already into bdsm before I entered that shed; I just didn’t know about it. Rather, it was the first time I realised that this was something I was into. It was going to be important to me. And it wasn’t important, it seemed, to anyone else who’d been in that shed. 

But it didn’t take very long to find out some other things. The first is that this is a minority sexuality. My friends weren’t interested. It was just me.

The second thing I learned was even less welcome: people who had this sexual interest weren’t admired and respected, to put it mildly. 

People like me were the villains in movies and TV shows. We were evil. We were sick. I was a priggish little bastard when I was a kid, so I wasn’t happy about being evil. I wanted a moral pass-mark, at least.  

So I devoted most of my life to Good Works. My first job was as a psychiatric nurse. Then I did a social work degree. I helped set up the first domestic violence women’s refuge in my part of the world. I set up the first union for unemployed people that’d existed, in my part of the world, since the 1930s. I helped set up Shelter in my part of the world.

I campaigned for, and won, changes to landlord-tenant laws that meant landlords couldn’t just go round to tenants and throw them out of the property and change the locks any more.

I went on anti-racism events and got clubbed by cops. Though ridiculously straight, I’d put on my pink triangle and go on gay rights marches and vigils. You get the picture. 

One thing that strikes me, looking back on this period, is that I hardly ever hung round with political people when I wasn’t doing politics. I didn’t actually like them very much.

I didn’t like their jockeying for power, and I didn’t want power for myself. The social changes I worked for all had the effect of sharing out power, not concentrating it. Especially not into my hands.

(The people I hung round with were more drug-oriented artist types. Much more fun, and much sexier.)

You can’t get more evil than Frank Thring. The thing simply can’t be done.

My point is that I wouldn’t have done all this, I don’t think, if I hadn’t felt guilty about being into bdsm. I wanted to be a good person. You know, not a saint, but at least not as floridly evil as a James Bond villain. Or Frank Thring.

They were all good causes, and I’m still proud of the work I did. But in part it was compensation.

It meant that in the self-critical darkness of the night I could argue to myself that I couldn’t be all bad. I might be one sick fuck, but at least I was a useful one.

Has anyone else had their life course shaped in this way, by social attitudes to bdsm?

A dom should not be an idiot

When I arrived in Italy, I wrote off a car. It was the first time I’d driven a right hand drive vehicle. I was following a guy who was showing me the way to the castle. 

Never trust a Fiat

But though I’d said he should go slowly he set off at a pretty fast pace down narrow, winding back-country roads. I was trying to be careful by keeping to the right side of road.

Anyway, I managed to catch the tyre on a tree, and the rubber flew off and the car dropped onto the rim. The chassis was absolutely undamaged. It was just a glancing clip that took off the tyre. 

Life being what it is, this happened in front of a carload of cops, carbonieri munizipale. Though at least they took a look at it, decided I hadn’t broken any road rules, and fucked off. Anyway, I’ve listed the extenuating circumstances, but the fact is, I was at the wheel and it was my fault. 

A complete idiot and incompetent

The thing cost me 900 Euros. Worse, it took a huge chunk out of my self-confidence. I don’t like feeling a complete idiot and incompetent, and yet that was exactly the way I was feeling. A man, in particular, isn’t supposed to make mistakes like that.

I know that’s stoo-pid, but it’s what I was taught growing up. And I’d never had to confront that part of my upbringing before because I’ve never hit anything with a car before. So I felt an idiot, and I felt unmanned.

Then my love arrived to join me. She’s a good girl and my support, and I need her. So I got my shit back together. 

But it reminded me forcefully of another fact about domming. Sickness will leech away the energy and the certainty of will that makes me able to do it. So will considering myself to be an idiot. 

A dom, faking it. As we all do

A dom is supposed to have his or her shit together. She or he is supposed to be competent, and therefore reliable and trustworthy. I don’t think my girl felt the worse of me, but I did. It took real focus to lift myself up to the psychological state in which I could could dom.

We doms need certainty that we know what we’re doing and are competent. So, therefore, doms should not be idiots.  

 

Domming with no energy

I’m still recovering from being very very fucking sick. I had a rush of energy a few days ago, and thought I was up and over it, but the last two days have shown me I was, um, mistaken. 

I can’t walk far or do any of the work that needs doing. And I can’t focus enough to write anything that takes focus or concentration. 

But I got to thinking. Right now I couldn’t dom a Jack Russell terrier, let alone a submissive girl. I could probably deliver a spanking, if it wasn’t too strenuous, but overpowering even a submissive who wants to be overpowered is probably beyond me right now.

It’s not about physical energy. It’s mental energy. 

Partly the mental energy involves planning, thinking about what she and I want, and working out a path for getting there, taking in some interesting stops on the way. The nipple clamps? The tawse? Cuffs or rope? Start where? What’s the climax? That kind of planning.

But the real thing is the certainty a dom has to have. Not just when giving an order, but from the very beginning, so the submissive knows she can relax and drop. It’s a great mental space to be in, for the dom, because you can see it working, and because simply being a dom is hot. Simply domming

Domming takes a hell of a lot of energy and will. I don’t mean Will in a magic sense, exactly, but will is really important in bdsm. The dom has to gather it, hold it and use it. But right now, if I ordered a kitten to go away, I think it would ignore me. 

Whipping your way through Pompeii

I went to Napoli a few days back. The first two days I did nothing except lie in bed and cough and shiver. Ate breakfast cereal for dinner the second day because all the shops and restaurants had closed when I woke up. Anyway, I was determined to get to Pompeii, so I stayed an extra night and headed out on the third day. 

I could probably say something thoughtful about the flagellation scene at the Villa deii Misterii, but right now I don’t have the nodes. Or the lobes. My brain hurts already: I’m not going to try to think. 

Anyway, here’s a loving couple engaged in an apparent spanking, taken from the wall of the underground baths. 

When your lover (or slave; it’s hard to tell in Roman art) complains the water’s cold…

The really fascinating image from Pompeii, that I should really write about, when I’m not so fucking sick, is this one. (This was an incredibly awkward picture to take, by the way.)

Many think the woman being whipped in the first scene is the woman dancing in joy in the second. That’s certainly my take.

For now, it’s time to have breakfast, pack my bag and head to the airport.

Dublin and pain

I’m in Dublin. I had an idea, after my father died earlier this year, that I should go to Ireland, to see where I came from, at least genetically.

Statues commemorating the Irish Potato Fame. The starving, beside the Liffey, in Dublin

Both of my parents were of almost entirely Irish stock. Though the people who were my ancestors left Ireland during or shortly after the Famine, they continued to marry other Irish expatriots over the next several generations. Although there’s the occasional Welshman or Scot in my traceable ancestry, it’s basically all Irish men and women.

I’ve always been grateful to my ancestors for leaving. Ireland is still disfigured by the Catholic Church, essentially a corporation for the enabling and protection of child rapists, and for the torture and enslavement of women, the Magdalene Laundires episode being only one example of this.

I’d been in Dublin for about six minutes when I encountered a march of young women demonstrating for the repeal of Ireland’s stupid, cruel and life-threatening ban on abortion.

I make a lousy nationalist. If I’d been living in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, I’d always have voted to be part of the United Kingdom. Not out of nationalism: I’d don’t give a fuck what Cromwell did to the Irish three hundred-odd years ago. Or the Elizabethans before that. (Both sides seem to have forgotten the Scots invasion, and the land theft, famine and massacres under Robert the Bruce’s brother Edward, because that doesn’t fit the narrative.) 

I’d have voted to be in the UK because I didn’t want to have the cops, directed by the church, tell me what I’m allowed to buy in a bookshop. I’d have wanted to be able to buy contraception, which you could then do in the UK but not Eire. I’d want a woman to be able to get an abortion if she has an unwanted pregnancy. Fuck nationalism: I only care about human rights. 

So it was sobering to be reminded that Eire’s abortion law is still the one dictated by the Church. Rapists, torturers, murderers and their enablers, still claiming moral authority. Sooner that’s dumped into history’s Dead Joke Box the better. 

Anyway, the pain I cause is consensual, intended to help, to lead to pleasure and other kinds of growth, and never to cause harm. Ireland is full of the traces of the domination of an organisation that seeks no consent, and is entirely indifferent to the pain, suffering, harm and death it causes.

 

By the way, I’m thinking about pain because after Eroticon, and after seeing Gretel off on the place back to her native land, I went to Dublin and got a cold. My head hurts. Really hurts. My bones feel like I’ve been beaten up, apparently in my sleep, by the secret police. I need to cough all the time, and it hurts like hell to cough. I’ve got chills. God, I’d love a hot flush. 

On the other hand, I’m outside a pub on Talbot Street, drinking coke and watching pretty girls go by. So … silver linings, that’s what you have to look out for. 

Eroticon is (almost!) here! And I’m in London at last

Sorry to regular readers. I’ve been on the road going up through northern Italy, then Paris, and I’ve just arrived in London. I’ll probably write something about that later, but it’s hard to write much while you’re in transit. 

And though I have a lovely and loved travelling companion who speaks French and Italian, also Railway, immensely better than I do, it’s still hard work.  

I’ll do what I can in the next few days. In the meantime I’m tossing up between having a beer and going to sleep.

In the meantime, here’s “Roman Decadence” by Thomas Couture, in the Musée d’Orsay. I’m going to Eroticon’s meet and greet evening tomorrow, and I’m hoping it’s something like this.

In full flight

I’m cooling my heels in an airport transit lounge, on my way to the castle. I’ll be in my castle in 20 hours. 

Then my girl arrives in Rome the next day, so I’ll be with her (some might dispute that preposition) in about 40-odd hours. 

Wifi here is dodgy, so I’m not even going to try to post a pic, though I’m having a hilariously bad hair day.

 

Jerusalem Mortimer soon to be on sale!

Er, not actually a real book. But it you want it, I’ll write it. For food.

I used to place stories in magazines and anthologies. I had one in Playboy, once. I’ve never actually seen it because they forgot to send me a copy. (Also, they chopped out 1,000-odd words, and I sulked.) But the money was real, generous and much appreciated.  

Then I got involved in political activism, and it became a bad idea to keep publishing. I don’t care much about political parties. I put my energy into campaigns for political and legal changes about unemployment, homelessness and domestic violence, for example. It’s what government does that matters.

But it wasn’t a good idea to have a guy who worked with the male children of women victims of family violence write stuff about tying up and spanking girls who enjoyed being “bad” and its consequences. There’s a huge difference between a pink bottom acquired willingly and joyously, and a black eye acquired in out-of-control terror.

But anyone working for Rupert Murdoch (spit) and his media empire, for example, would pretend to be confused by that difference and use it to discredit any cause I was associated with. And when I wasn’t writing about sex I was writing about a world in which everybody broke the law – especially but not only about drugs – routinely, and the cops were experienced as violent, corrupt thugs.

So I worked on what I thought was important and I shut up. I’ve achieved some social reforms, one major one and a few minor ones, and people are better off because I did that.  But I’ve served my time now. I’m back to writing and, more importantly, publishing, for money. 

This, on the other hand, is absolutely real

My big and serious book, Between the Lines: A biography of BDSM has to come out in paper form, from a mainstream publisher. That’s important, for it to get to the audience it needs to reach.

But I have other work that can emerge in e-form. So I’ve registered on Smashword. There’ll be a story available for sale in a couple of days. Look in if you feel like it. Even buy it! 

Yeah, I know. As a salesman I absolutely suck.

My Smashwords page, for what it’s worth, is here.