When I was off booze for Lent, I did weight training at least twice a week. By the end, I was deadlifting almost double my weight. Even after all this exercise I didn’t actually get any lighter (damned Easter eggs).
This fitness will be put to a significant test when I complete the Four Peaks Challenge, for a very good cause. Things that may not be for a good cause, but are nonetheless important to me, include:
Business is good but could get better. I have made what will hopefully be the first of many video recordings of one of my Chinese lessons. It is for Intermediate reading, and on the subject of myths and legends:
I’m also delighted to announce that I am now set to be published in Litro, a first-rate literary magazine. My first article will be a review of the novel ‘Solo Dance’ by Li Kotomi, and will appear within the next few months.
Of The Kev songs I’ve written since the launch night last November, this new one (demo here) is probably my favourite. I look forward to recording it in studio:
This month’s miscellaneous cover was ‘Baila Me’ by The Gipsy Kings:
The song is in the Spanish dialect of Gitane, a traveller language that is a mixture of Spanish, French and Catalan. I’ve always wanted to be conversant in Spanish, and every day of this month I have been studying it hard on Duolingo, a website I should have started using years ago.
Toward the end of the month, UK Deputy Opposition Leader Angela Rayner was subjected to sexism in The Daily Mail, the nation’s most popular newspaper, accused of crossing and uncrossing her legs to distract male adversaries. The following week, a Member of Parliament for the ruling Conservative Party was reported to be under investigation for watching pornography while parliament was in session. News of misbehaving politicians doesn’t interest me much. Relations between the sexes does.
One of my song lyrics contains the theory that pornography could go the same way as slavery, and our distant descendants may think us monsters for normalising it. I don’t really believe that, but I read a lot by ‘sex-negative’ feminists. In an interview, self-described ‘reactionary feminist’ Mary Harrington has argued that “a measure of sexual repression is necessary in order not to become completely desensitized to erotic stimuli.”
I recently revisited Herman Hesse’s debut novel Peter Camenzind. Having gone to an all-boys’ school and having no sisters, I could very much relate to the early passage: ‘I have always honoured the female sex as a strange and mysterious race superior to the male by virtue of its inherent beauty and singleness of being’.
If I had been alive three-hundred years ago, I may not have owned slaves, or traded slaves, but I would presumably have been in some way complicit in the trade. And I view modern social problems like systemic sexism in a similar manner. A minuscule percentage of people are serious offenders, but everybody is on the spectrum when it comes to being part of the problem.
I have read a lot of feminists who are ideologically opposed to the sex industry, including Julie Bindel, Jo Bartosch, and newly published Mia Döring. I have also read a lot by those on the opposite side of the debate, including Maggie McNeill, Laura Agustin, Camille Paglia and Brooke Magnanti.
Ultimately, I agree with a quote from another novel I recently re-read, Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto: ‘Ideologies (like feminism) create levelling forms of oppression that are generally worse than the despotisms against which they rebelled’. That is, trying to crack down on something just because it is morally dubious is a slippery and unappealing slope.