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This is an absolutely fascinating article which talks about the current decline in sexual activity among young people globally. It's a thoughtful and reflective analysis, rife with stats which are very telling: increase in the average age at which young people first have sex, decline in teen pregnancies, decline in dating and marriage rates. The anecdotal reports of attitudes are also interesting - a sort of general malaise, with respondents, rather than being wildly angst-ridden about not getting laid, merely delivering a resounding "meh". The general feelings seems to be that sex, and sexual relationships, are hard work, and possibly not really worth it, and who has time anyway?

This fascinates me, if for no other reason than for over a decade now I've been teaching a segment on virtual sexuality within a third-year course on the history of the erotic, and despite consistently positive student comments about the course, have watched sign-ups drop to under half of the levels they were at when the course was first offered. I don't know if South African youth follow the same trends they do in the West and Japan, but I suspect they may, at least among the educated middle classes I see in the university context. I think it's a complex set of pressures which is giving rise to the decline, and I would imagine that general anxiety levels under our current terrible geo-political ramifications are probably co-equal causes with the rise of more abstract forms of online sex expression, porn and fanfic among them.

And the prevalence of virtual sex-substitutes is not, I think, a harbinger of doom: if nothing else, it suggests that virtual connection or virtual eroticisim can be sufficiently "real" and satisfying to the participant that they engender a reduced need to seek them out in the flesh. (I can testify to this myself. I have been single for over a decade now, and it's a comfortable state in which friends, internet interactions and fanfic embed me sufficiently in society and culture and a notional erotic that I'm not lonely, I feel connected and I really don't want or need to change anything).

More than that, though, I see this decline as having the potential to be weirdly positive, because the "meh" of relationship reactions outlined in the article must, I think, quite heavily implicate shifting gender norms and the rise of a more enlightened feminism among women. It's a sign of cultural growth, actually, for large swathes of heterosexual women to have reached the conclusion that no relationship is actually a hell of a lot better than a bad relationship. And a bad relationship is very likely to be one with one of the large swathe of male partners who have not contrived to rise above the misogynistic conditioning of their culture in order to offer something like equality of emotional labour. (The article's description of horrendous male expectations of sex learned from porn was chilling). The article mentions at one point that dating and sexual activity levels among lesbians don't, in fact, seem to have dropped in any equal sense, which seems significant.

I mean, I can see the whole post-Freudian landscape having quite healthily undermined bad relationships across the board simply because modern psychology encourages us to seek individual happiness without requiring us, as previous generations were required, to subsume our own needs to the cultural expectation of the relationship. But the fact remains that that kind of emotional self-sacrifice has always, always been more heavily demanded of women. It's almost inevitable, that relationships will decline in the face of women's realisation that by culturally accepted definitions relationships are so often bad and unfair, and particularly unfair to women. We have the tools to realise this now, and we're mad as hell and we're not gonna take it no more. Participation is, at least, something more within our control than actual male behaviour; female cultural capital has risen enough for awareness, and for women to make the decision to abdicate involvement, even if it is not yet high enough to actually change the game.

There is, of course, another level entirely on which a decline in sexual activity in young people feels potentially apocalyptic; if not Bowie's drive-in Saturday future from my subject line, it feels as though we might, in fact, be drifting into Tepper's version in Gibbon's Decline and Fall. Leaving aside genetic manipulation by benevolent-if-marginal Elder Races, a disinclination to procreate makes sense when current evidence suggests that the biosphere may not survive to support our children; our overpopulated and rapaciously destructive culture may be self-sabotaging in sheer self-defence.


Thursday, 11 August 2011 03:35 pm
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Bleah. Talking to my nice therapist lady this morning about various Stupid Ex-Boyfriend Incidents way back in the mists of time (disclaimer: applies to no-one who's reading this) has put me into a profound depression for most of the day. Either that or the increase in my Warfarin dose has made me draggy and tired. Apparently my blood remains determined to clot madly, recking not the insane quantities of anti-coagulant we apply to it. Adds whole new dimensions to "bloody-minded". I contemplate with a certain quiet smugness the fact that it can't make my hair any worse owing to how I cut it all off.

Since I'm uninspired, and have moreover not much to talk about owing to the tight correspondence between my return to work and my return to Dragon Age II (the "Escape My Life At Any Cost" clause; newsflash, plotting still irritating and inadequate, romance options mostly insulting to right-thinking female players, but can I stop playing? noooooo1), I fall back into random linkery. These will be familiar to those of you who retain any consciousness whatsoever of my Delicious feed.

Hmmm. Apparently the entire upbeat content of my life has migrated to the internet. I console myself that it's better than no upbeat content at all.

1 Looking at that parenthesis, to the hypothetical question "Does that apply to Dragon Age or my life", I am forced to answer "yes".

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Owing to the extremely happy-making fact that Friday is a public holiday for deserving South Africans, the part of Random Friday will today be played by Thursday. Excelsior!

  • Students give me stuff. Frequently strife, but not always. On Tuesday the sweet child for whom I wrote an Official Letter (is it unnecessarily anachronistic that writing those always makes me obscurely want ribbon and sealing wax and an Official Seal?) gave me a giant bar of chocolate. Earlier this year a student gave me a flower in a pot, and right now, with Cape Town's flirty dalliance with Spring, it's busy flowering like a mad orange thing. Every time I walk into my office I feel as though it's giving me a slightly manic one-hand wave, and a goofy grin.

  • The latest XKCD caused me unholy glee which is not entirely unrelated to my Historically Dreadful Taste In Boyfriends (a categorisation which I hasten to add excludes any of the exes on my Friends list. By definition). I think life would be a lot better with an Official Blacklist. I'm just saying.

  • Unicorn Pegasus Kitten. You don't need me to say anything other than the delirious concept of a Unicorn Pegasus Kitten itself, but there is also resulting Scalzi/Wheaton fanfic, some of it from Big Names, much of it pleasingly silly. I am desolated that they excluded slash. (Actually, not really. Geek slash is not a genre behind which I can, so to speak, get). I have to say, there are a couple of really excellent stories in there - Stephen Toulouse's one-act play is, in particular, genius, as is Scalzi's own "interview". Also, yes, I donated. Lawful Good, remember?

  • Echo Bazaar. I've been playing this madly for several months now, and am very, very hooked. It's at the stage where my primary character has so many items which pump various stats that each card-play requires a lengthy pause while I swap them around to maximise my skills. And, yes, I have a secondary character. Docinatrix is playing the Persuasive/Watchful track as a Lawful Good character, which means my Austere and Steadfast are high, my connections with Constables, the Church and the Great Game are stratospheric, and I'm continually betraying revolutionaries and turning down come-ons from devils with marked disdain. LadyJessamyn, on the other hand, is on the Persuasive/Watchful track as a ravening hedonist and Chaotic Neutral, which means she's hanging with the criminal classes, dallying with devils and generally kicking up her heels with a fine disregard for authority. Both characters are highly connected to the Rubbery Men, though. I love the Rubbery Men. They have very little game significance, but they're adorably mournful.

    Notable events: Docinatrix just attended her first hanging! Also, she is facing the end of the Cheesemonger story, a brilliant set of action choices which I've been thinking about for three days without being able to decide which is the appropriate response. At the higher levels the narrative aspects of this game become seriously chewy.

Plans for the three-day weekend include Movie Club (stv's choice: post-apocalypsi), [ profile] first_fallen's Hermanus whale-watch, and the final run of beating into shape the paper from the Glasgow conference. I am looking forward to all three activities with a near-identical happy anticipation.

naughty monkey

Tuesday, 13 July 2010 10:44 am
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One of these fine days I'm going to wake up all Sid-ravaged, force down some breakfast to armour my stomach against the anti-inflammatories, stagger blearily into my bathroom to grope for the Advil, and not immediately drop one down the basin plughole. Apart from the fact that this butterfingers tendency is almost doubling my Advil quota and causing the nice chemist man to look at me narrowly every time I buy another pack, it adds insult to injury to contemplate the fact that the basin drain system must have the most decongested, least inflamed tubes on the planet. There's no justice.

In other news: new Guild episode, first in Season 4, and Fawkes is still prevalent, yay! I find myself hopelessly rooting for the Fawkes/Codex relationship: they're both so screwed up, but I can't help feeling that if they could only synchronise their separate rare moments of functionality, they'd be good together. (And a cynical voice of internal reason with considerable experience in my romantic history enquires, sarcastically, "Projecting much?"). The Season 4 trailer is all over the show, try here. "Naughty monkey sex" is my new favourite phrase. (Alternatively, ignore all of the above. Am I the lone voice of Guild fandom in this corner of the internets? It is a sad and isolate state. It's also leaving me with a sneaking desire to try WoW, except that that, probable enrichment of my internet lectures notwithstanding, that way madness lies).

Right, vampire Snow Whites beckon, although they're not going to get the attention they deserve until the bloody Advil kicks in. I find it doubly unfair that the sinus headache tendency seems to have joined forces with the dear little clockwork-regular PMT headache, causing a monthly 2-day epic double-whammy - hormonal headache plus concrete skull symptoms, not pretty. It's all making me seriously consider the nice operation thing where they scrape out your sinuses, which sounds icky but which may be a tenable alternative to all this business of dropping pills down the sink. And whinging at the internets. Dear internets, you're such a comfort to me.

nice day for a

Saturday, 21 March 2009 08:17 pm
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New Interesting Discovery: weddings are better if they're smaller. And if I know a fair number of the people. And if the bride asks me to do usher duties, thus giving me a cast-iron reason to actually talk to people and ply them with champagne. Also, if some of the guests are interesting grad students/artists who not only listen to me wittering on randomly on several glasses of champagne, but who engage me in spirited debate and take it in good part when I feel impelled to state that their argument is a load of bollocks. (I seem to get argumentative on champagne, not to mention determinedly polysyllabic).

Anyway, Robbie and Vi are now safely married, in a truly lovely ceremony and reception. Vi's parents have a home in Tokai with a particularly beautiful garden which, with true Germanic efficiency, they clearly planted about 15 years ago with the intention of allowing their daughter to be married under the shower of bridal-white bougainvillea which covers the pergola. You have to admire Germanic precision, it's the only wedding I've ever attended where the several clocks in the living room struck the half hour (Vi's dad is a clockmaker) and the bride proceeded to shimmy down the stairs precisely and absolutely on time. The guests were all present and seated, partially due to my ushering efforts, which took place to a schedule provided by the bride. I attribute my success entirely to my one-sixteenth German blood, of which I am modestly proud.

I am also modestly proud of the fact that the bride and groom were re-united a few years ago, having dated in school/undergrad and then separated to different continents for about fifteen years, by dint of me Googling on Vi's behalf to find Robbie's email address. The Fatal Communication which brought them together again was sent from my computer. All my own work, that was. Heh.

Now I am going to bed, on account of how I was madly dancing until almost midnight last night and my feet and calves celebrated by throwing themselves sharply into cramp at random intervals throughout the night. My body basically hates me and doesn't want me to have any fun. In revenge, I shall take it off to the dentist next week. That'll teach it.
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It seems subtly unfair that I should growl my way through Monday's student stupidities with a pounding headache when we didn't, for once, undergo the usual jo&stv food-and-drinkfest last night, owing to their unaccountable commitment to large-scale musical frivolities. I went goodly to bed at 9pm entirely sober, and dreamed strange and fabulous dreams not entirely unconnected to Albion, balverine-bashing and my current happy gay relationship in Oakvale. The game is narking me off no end by insisting on referring to my dweeby little blonde boy partner as my "wife". Pshaw. On the upside, I've persuaded it to to allow me to have sex, twice. The secret is apparently to creatively mix up gifts and flirting in the immediate vicinity of a bed, and not to give the same gift twice in a short period. I am left a little staggered at the paucity of the game designers' romantic imagination. On the other hand it is a sad truth that my avatar is getting rather more action than I am at the moment, so what the hell do I know.

The Khoi-wife's very pleasant birthday thingy on Saturday put me in the immediate vicinity of [ profile] first_fallen, among other good company, yet again reminding me of my current utter failure on the knitting front. I've been thinking wistfully of getting back to it for several months (I will knit lace! I will!), but am in that unpleasant beginner stage where it takes actual brain, concentration and energy to get a project going, and I am significantly lacking in all three just at the moment. The work hell should start improving from here on out, though, so I may yet prevail. In the interim, Wondermark does knitting cartoons, which I reproduce with respectful awe, having reached nowhere near this level of obsession yet:

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It turns out I actually did make a New Year's resolution, despite intending not to - it seems to have sort of happened. Apparently I've resolved to keep on top of my work email instead of letting it build up to ridiculous unanswered piles of increasingly querulous queries dating back up to a month. There's this happy little row of orange answer arrows in my inbox, stretching back two weeks, interspersed with follow-up emails sprinkled with enthusiastic and validatory comments about my efficiency. I feel smug.

Huh. We'll see how long it lasts. Of course, it does mean I have to cut down on the random web browsing in favour of random email answering, but all is not lost. I still have time to stumble on truly amusing links such as this one, courtesy of Elizabeth Bear. Balloon animals having sex. N really SFW, in a lateral and rather endearing sort of way. It's a Durex ad that's probably old news to you mad overseas hordes, but it's new to me, so there.

It's also horribly apposite, in that I just sat through ninety minutes of orientation leader training in HIV/AIDs awareness, now with added giant floppy dildo and incredible lists of obscure and colourful phrases for even more obscure and colourful sex acts. I was forced to correct the presenter's spelling of both "abstinence" and "fellatio".

Now taking bets on how many witterers have this post blocked by nanny software. Sorry, mother.
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I am reduced to Friday Random Linkery, because I've run out of brain. This week's theme appears to be Romance, i.e. that which any of I am not getting.

  • Edward Gorey's The Deflowered Girl. Lateral, dodgy, louche. I unearthed this link within the last twenty minutes, but owing to lack of brain cannot remember from whence, and my browser history wots it not either. Maybe I hallucinated the whole thing. (Edited to add: no, wait! [ profile] librsa sent it to me, clever man).
  • Pride and Prejudice as Facebook updates. This has been around for a while, but I keep forgetting to post it. It is, in my far from humble opinion, much better than the Hamlet one.

Things I need to do in future posts: rave about Lee Child. Review the Doctor Who Christmas special (I liked it, perhaps Russell Davies may live after all). Unwrap for posterity the symbolic ramifications of the fact that I have lost my University Avenue parking, by my own, unaided choice, 24 hours after being granted it. Talk about turning into a lizard-creature (scaly, prone to shed skin and snap). Rant about Roswell. Apologise for neither knitting nor blogging about it. Fortunately, I have no brain for any of the above just at the moment, so shall go back to compiling lists of courses open to first years instead. Have a nice weekend.
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Too weird. Cooking malva pudding is apparently a pervasive process, to the point where I can still smell it on my hair after two days. I am not sure if the effect of this is to mark me inescapably as a stay-at-home domestic type, or if it'll operate closer to David's well-known Vanilla Theory Of Seducing Women (men smelling of vanilla are comforting and safe and associated with kitchens, baking and nurture, therefore get rebuffed less). While he has never adequately demonstrated the validity of this theory to my scientific satisfaction, I possibly ought to go and stand hopefully in a well-ventilated area full of interesting men just in case.

I have emerged from the fog sufficiently to finish this batch of marking, which is something of a relief as I was becoming more than somewhat bored with dragging the pile fruitlessly between home and campus in order to studiously ignore it. Having marked the lot more or less by pretending not to, I have to conclude that students are odd. They had an option between a slightly tricky question on World of Warcraft and its potential for online eroticism, and an easy, wide-open one on the kinds of narrative gaps fanfic usually fills. I spent three lectures on fanfic and half a one on WoW. The WoW question answerers gave me some lovely essays, whereas the fanfic ones were uniformly blah. Memo to self: less information next time, the resulting panic seems to inspire students to actual intellectual activity.

Last Night I Dreamed: an epic dash through forests and into the cellars of houses to evade the golem armies staggering through the trees. I woke up abruptly with my heart pounding at the point where the traumatised girl in the white dress sat bolt upright on her bed and screamed because of the incredibly significant shapes of the ceramic jugs on the cellar wall.
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Good grief.

That's ... disturbing. In a horribly excellent way. It comes from here, where there are some very bizarre and definitely non-excellent playgrounds.

The Billboard Poet of the Daily Voice is back:


Note the characteristic compression - "rasta" is a highly resonant stereotype conveying a world of assumptions, as does "panga", which has all the attachments of insane homicide. There's also nifty play with assonance (rasta, panga) and rhyme (rol, zol), and a sort of subliminal riff on "roll over". Actual meaning is, however, less obvious - what the hell is the significance of "rol" in this context? I can't find anything on Google, and am assuming it must be quite specific Cape slang. Even I, however, know what "zol" is.

Last Night I Dreamed: I was wrestling with an affectionate bobcat. This was strangely sexy, with an undercurrent of fear at the thought that I could get my head ripped off any second. In retrospect, it's probably a potent symbol for my general feelings about romantic relationships.

bah, humbug

Wednesday, 14 February 2007 11:17 am
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Ah, yes. LJ's toolbar is all over pink and hearts, and the price of roses has gone into orbit around what used to be Pluto. Mental torment! I can't work out if I loathe the merry commercial festival of Wellington's Day more or less than I loathe the merry commercial festival of Christmas.

Fortunately, help is at hand for the terminally romance-challenged. Anti-Valentines! Since her site allows you to send them, I'm hoping it falls under Fair Valentine's Use to blog a select few as a valentine to you witterers. They include useful sentiments such as



I like the site particularly because (a) it's rude, and (b) it explicitly objects both to the commercialisation of romance, and to the ingrained cultural assumption which constructs coupledom as the norm and singletude as some kind of failure. To which I say Tchah!, and also:


romance, excitement

Wednesday, 17 January 2007 05:55 pm
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What's with the New Year? Two separate members of my Flist (no-one I know in person, she says, hastening to check the gossip-hounds) have reported the end of long-term romantic relationships in the last few weeks. Clearly the turn of the year is accompanied in many cases by the nervous twitch of new brooms. I retreat, as usual, into Dorothy Parker, who, in the character of Constant Reader, is charmed by a tome on Appendicitis which reports on "the love-life of poisonous bacteria. That, says the author, 'is very simple and consists merely of the bacterium dividing into two equal parts.' Think of it - no quarrels, no lies, no importunate telegrams, no unanswered letters..." Should my current long bout of celibacy pall (which I have to say, it hasn't yet), I shall definitely look into simple fission.

In other news, possibly deliriously happy, reports that George Clooney is developing a six-hour miniseries version of Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age, with Stephenson himself adapting. This is one of my favourite sf books EVAH, plugging straight into my Victorianist fixations, and I rather respect Clooney's artistic wossnames, so there is The Happy chez Extemporanea, I can tell you.

that stuff

Monday, 9 October 2006 03:40 pm
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The Evil Landlord has been retrenched from his job, as a result of which he's (a) in the house all day, driving me crazy; (b) in the middle of about five carpentry projects simultaneously; and (c) celebrating. Celebratory braai last night, taking place squarely in the middle of (a) courtesy of the Usual Cape Town Cussedness, high winds and occasional burst of rain, and (b) courtesy of my defective physique, my second bout of gastric 'flu in a month, necessitating me being pale, withdrawn and pained all evening, and eating very little.

Memo to self: stop listening to wall-to-wall Belle & Sebastian. Their particular brand of gentle, whimsical, poignant, bittersweet, off-the-wall love songs with odd and unlikely lyrics is making me feel even more pale and very, very single, a state not materially assisted by the fact that I am currently re-watching the wonderful BBC Pride and Prejudice*, which means I am going to have to re-read the book again, it being one of my absolute favourites in the whole world evah, but horribly inclined towards Matters Of The Heart.

Memo to self: acquire more Belle & Sebastian.

* I didn't used to get the Colin Firth thing, but I think [ profile] starmadeshadow has corrupted me.

cures for hiccups

Saturday, 18 February 2006 11:29 am
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Somewhat drunken fondue evening with the jo&stv last night, marred on my part only by two things: (1) onset of another bloody epic headache, and (2) several attacks of the hiccups. However, drugs more or less dampened the former, and my concerned and caring friends were standing by to cure the latter by scientific application of shocks, conversations going something like this:

Take One:
ME: *hic*
KIND FRIEND: "OK, you're married to ... Kevin Costner!"
ME: ! (sharp intake of breath, stops hiccuping in horror, since in my actorverse he's second only to Tom Cruise in loathesomeness).

Take Two:
ME: *hic*
KIND FRIEND: "OK, you're married to ... Keanu Reeves!"
ME: *goes cross-eyed as brain momentarily shuts down, torn between oh-my-god-he's-meat-between-the-ears and hmmm-but-he's-kinda-cute. Hiccups stop owing to cessation of brain activity*

Take Three:
ME: *hic*
KIND FRIEND: "OK, you're married to ... George W. Bush!... oops, somebody fetch a bucket, she's going to throw up!"

I have to admit, rising nausea stops hiccups quite effectively.

several things

Wednesday, 15 February 2006 08:06 am
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(1) Ten actual students in lecture theatre for late-afternoon info talk, that'll teach me to be all Scrooge-like in my expectations.
(2) Slept like very, very dead thing last night and the night before.
(3) Encyclopedia entry on Shrek was actually coherent.
(4) Giving curriculum advice is a pretty good way to distract oneself from the horror that is Wellington's Day, but unexpected virtual chocolate also helps.
(5) I am deeply enamoured of the first season of the new Doctor Who, which is mad and British in all the good ways. More expensive DVD-buying in my future. And I'm grateful to [ profile] strawberryfrog, who flung himself wholesale at my elderly system in order to force it to be compatible with anything this century and actually save the bootlegs.
(6) I clearly need a bigger hard drive, more RAM and a Windows upgrade. Unless I finally succumb to Confluence's Linux blandishments.
(7) None of above (upgrades or Doctor Who) happening any time soon, owing to the shortage of money, which you can't get, you know. (Unchannels Goon Show).


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