Friday, 25 August 2006

Brief Encounter

I’ve just watched ‘Brief Encounter’: what an extraordinary film. The atmosphere and the clothes remind me of my childhood growing up in the fifties. I wonder if people really did speak with such stilted voices, though. It reminds me how old I am and it feels quite strange. I think it was quite extraordinary how sympathetically the film dealt with infidelity. It was psychologically very realistic even though it took a short while to adjust to the different world in which they were living. I think they were more ‘daring’ in the rawness of the emotions than many modern films (well most modern films) and no one took off more than their overcoat.

Friday 25 August 2006

AF asked who was unfaithful to whom in the film.
Well it depends what you mean by unfaithful. They both are, in the sense that that are having an extra-marital affair. In the sense of nookie, in the film version they don't manage it, but in the play (apparently) it is unsure. It was from 1945 so it was actually before I was born but many of the things resonate since it was only ten years before I started to be aware of my surroundings. I remember 3rd class steam railway compartments, advertisements for Watney’s Pale Ale, the style of motor cars, the women's dresses, make up and hats. I remember gas mantles and gas street lighting.

Saturday 26 August 2006

Concerning a discussion in a book about polyandry and polygyny, AF railed against the notion that women were inherently monogamous and men polygamous.
I think there is one sure rule: that with people there are no sure rules. It is sure that both men and women have polygamous tendencies. We humans are not as patriarchal as gorillas where there is one silverback alpha male and he services all the females or as promiscuous as chimpanzees where everybody has everybody. Apparently about 20% of fathers are not fathers at all so the evidence of polyandrous women is very clear indeed. The problem, as you rightly say, is that society tends to ‘normalise’ men having mistresses but is less tolerant of women having lovers. It is, and always has been, grossly unfair that women get stigmatised for everything because their ‘misdemeanours’ tend to be visible whereas men’s never are: even though the ‘evidence’ (hymen non intacta or pregnancy) is often misleading.  
Undoubtedly there are those who are content with one mate and will be devoted exclusively to them. And you are quite right that polygamous people should have monogamous mates. I am actually in favour of legalising both polygyny and polyandry. I am in favour of lifelong commitment and I am in favour of the law protecting all spouses/partners equally in all cases. I am also in favour of gay marriage. I believe strongly that the family is important and that casual relations should be discouraged. But I also believe in tolerance and support rather than stigmatism and rejection. The hypocrisy of people who are polygamous not being able to live their lives openly is so damaging to them and their spouses/partners. I feel repelled by the idea of the act of sodomy even though I know that some of the most creative and sensitive people were homosexual. If people love each other why should society not recognise their love? I personally find the idea of intimacy with another man abhorrent and you find the idea of intimacy with a woman equally so. You also find the idea of polygyny bad, but polyandry desirable. We both know these are our own viewpoints and we should not wish to impose our own perspectives on others. I know that I want a society in which polygyny is an acceptable and normal and legally recognised practice. In an open and purportedly tolerant society I cannot logically argue for polygyny unless I equally accept, and even campaign for, polyandry and homogamy.
I support fully and completely tolerance (of things which are tolerable) and justice and freedom from oppression of anybody by anybody else. The things which are intolerable are those things which limit tolerance or interfere with the rights, comfort and wellbeing of others or are damaging to us collectively.
As you know, I object to the substitution of the word ‘gender’ for ‘sex’. Genders are masculine, feminine and neuter and sexes are male, female and intersex. Maybe polygamy is a ‘masculine’ thing rather than a ‘male’ thing. But I just do not know. People are just wonderful and that is their most important characteristic.