Monday, August 17, 2009

Sex Education: Time for a Reform

I caught a promotional interview on CBC News with Victor Malarek for his new book, The Johns - Sex for Sale and the Men who Buy It. In it, he talks about human trafficking and how myths about the "need for sex" and outdated attitudes about women drive men to seek poor, uneducated women from developing countries in order to find women they can pay to dominate totally and live out their most disgusting sexual fantasies with.

According to Malarek, much of what's causing (or at least reinforcing) unhealthy attitudes about women and sex is the Internet. Everyone knows the Internet is swimming in porn but what a lot of people don't know is that it doesn't have to stop at porn; if you're looking for a body to live out your fantasies on, you can find women who'll agree to do almost anything for money and the global nature of the Internet makes it easy for men to find these women anywhere in the world.

He goes on further to say that all this objectifies sex, turning it into a commodity to be bought and sold purely for the man's needs. The women aren't doing it because they want to (despite what most men hiring them think); about 96% of them are doing it because they have no choice either because they're caught with a pimp that won't release them or because they simply don't have the ability to raise the money they need in any other way in their given situation.

Worse, some of these women didn't even enter the "profession" willingly; some were drugged, kidnapped and sold into prostitution against their will. Why? Because the sex trade is growing faster than any other organized criminal enterprise right now, drug trafficking included. Why? Like any other business venture, it's profitable because there's a demand for it, and that demand is driven, in turn, by these "needing sex" myths men perpetuate for their own benefit.

"It's about men," Malarek says, "and men still control. [Prostitution is] probably the last bastion they control." So, these men are looking for control, not relationships. Porn does not teach relationship skills, only the mechanics of sex (and even in that it's often unrealistic or outright inaccurate); the only way to break that control is to bring about true equality between men and women by learning an appreciation for the beauty and value of loving relationships.

I haven't read his book (yet), but he said something while explaining this that really hit a nerve in me and prompted me to sit down to write this. He said:
We have to really start talking to boys, at very young ages, about relationships, about love . . . about being involved . . . We can no longer have sex education for kids and say, 'This is a penis, this is a vagina.' . . . they're way more sophisticated than that [thanks] to the Internet. You have to start talking to them about relationships; you have to start talking to them about the equality of young women, of all women and girls. You have to start talking to them about dignity.
A lightbulb went on over my head the moment I heard that.

When I was in late elementary and early junior high, sex education was taught but it was still pretty sparse, focusing almost totally on the mechanics. We were actually given diagrams of the male and female reproductive systems and most of the discussion revolved around the biology of sex; from what I understand, aside from increased emphasis on sexually transmitted disease (particularly HIV), very little has changed in this regard today.

Even back in my day, long before the Internet, I always felt that this was a waste of time. By the time this was even brought to our attention, about 95% already knew how sex was done; the parts we didn't understand, how it affects people, the power of the emotional drive and so on wasn't even touched on. Today, with the Internet bombarding our young people with a plethora of sexual imagery, any class about the mechanics of sex today, to me, seems totally pointless.

I think it's time for total reform of sex education. It should start in Grade Six, I'd say. After a brief discussion about the mechanics (to dispel any myths) covering maybe a class, two at most, then the focus should shift on to the emotional impact of sex, the intimacy of the act, how it affects the judgment, the dangers of how early sex disorts judgment in a relationship, how to build a balanced, equal partnership, and so on.

In fact, people are so screwed up about relationships right now that I think this needs to be more than a subject covered as a segment of a bigger class like science (as it was in my day); it needs to be a subject in and of itself. Perhaps we could call it, "Relationship Education." It'd be a class that explores, not sex, but the emotional dynamics shared by two people who are intimately involved, learning to share each other's lives in a fair and equal way.

We can't stop young people from learning about sex and the domination of women through society; it's everywhere today. What we can do, however, is help them understand what to do with that knowledge and hopefully instill in them an appreciation for equal love, and dignity, for both partners in a relationship, man and woman (or between two men or two women in the case of homosexual relationships).

When my local library opens on Tuesday, I'm going to look for Mr. Malarek's book; I get the feeling he and I think a lot alike on this subject.

"For me, everything boils down to dignity: the dignity of another Human soul. If we don't have that, we lose everything." - Victor Malarek

Saturday, August 08, 2009

New Computer!

Well, although it's going to be hard on the old pocketbook, I decided it was finally time to bite the bullet and get a new computer. I realized my old iMac just wasn't up to the task anymore when I started having trouble playing YouTube videos and I got sick and tired of not having a functioning DVD-ROM drive (the one on the old machine died quite some time ago, the very first hardware failure I've ever had on a Macintosh).

So, I am now the proud owner of a 20" Widescreen iMac! Driven by a 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 2 GB 1067 MHz DDR3 RAM, this thing's got power to spare! Plus, as the RAM is expandable to 8 GB, this thing will grow with me as software requires more and more power (I never did upgrade the RAM on my old machine; who has 256 MB of RAM nowadays?! :P)! Thank God I'm on vacation this week; I forsee a lot of late nights with this thing. ;)

That being said, although my evaluation of this machine is still preliminary, I have a few quibbles:
  1. While I'm getting used to it more quickly than I thought I would, I'm still not a big fan of this keyboard. As a 95 wpm typist, keyboard feel is critical to me and I find this "flat" form factor a bit awkward. On the other hand, looking around at the other non-Apple computers at Future Shop, I can't help but notice that the "flat" form is becoming the norm for all keyboards. Might as well get used to it, I guess.
  2. The keyboard that comes with this machine also lacks a numeric keypad. I suppose I'll get used to that, too, but right now whenever I go to enter a number, I find myself reaching to the right and my fingers finding nothing but mouse and wood (or air when it's in my lap). Maybe when my pocketbook recovers from the purchase of this thing, I'll sell this keyboard and get one of the full sized versions (they're still flat, though).
  3. I miss my Page Up and Page Down keys, which this keyboard doesn't have, either (again, the full sized one does). Like the keypad, I keep reaching for them out of force of habit.
  4. I'm having trouble transferring my Apple Mail E-mail archives. It's odd; some mailboxes transferred without a hitch, others didn't. I want to hold onto my archives; I have archives of my sent mail going back to March of 2000 and they'd go back further if not for a hard drive crash I had. I think I might be able to rescue the lost data but it'll involve importing a few mailboxes manually.
I was about to write a fourth quibble but I'm just realizing it might not be relevant. Just let me try something here...

Ah, OK. Never mind. I was about to complain that there are no USB ports on the front of this machine which makes using a portable USB "key" drive a real pain but I just realized there is an easily reachable free port, not on the machine itself, but at the left of the keyboard (intended primarily for the left handed who hook their mouse in there but it's still a USB port like any other). I just tried plugging my portable drive in there; it works fine. OK; one problem solved. ;)

Now, on the plus side:
  1. Fast. 'Nuff said. :P
  2. The screen is much brighter, much higher quality and the wide screen gives me a lot more screen real estate to work with; I'm even finding it an advantage in word processing (and I thought I was going to find it awkward :P).
  3. Despite the flat form factor, the keys on the keyboard are nice and firm yet responsive, giving good tactile feedback yet responding to a near feather touch. I'm actually thinking, aside from the missing keys, I'll eventually come to prefer this keyboard over the old fashioned keyboards which "rise up" with each row.
  4. The keyboard is small enough to use in my lap (where it is right now) which is actually more comfortable than using it on the desk.
  5. This thing has nearly ten times the storage capacity of my old machine; no more "out of disk space" messages. Plus, with a functional DVD-ROM drive, even if I do run out of space some day I can always transfer less used files to DVD to free up drive space.
Those are my initial impressions. So far, my most serious issues are with the keyboard. Looks like I can get used to the feel but I think, eventually, I'm going to break down and get this baby's bigger cousin so I can get my full set of keys back. However, for the time being, this works. :)

By the way, any of you out there who've been waiting for E-mail from me you'll be getting replies soon. I was just waiting until I got this new machine. Now that I have it, it'll be a lot easier to catch up on E-mail, Facebook and lots of other stuff without the machine bogging down and taking forever to do anything. :P

I think this thing's going to be worth the financial headaches. ;)