Tag Archives: Paul Sheehan
So the Sheehan article I wrote about in my last post: ready to discuss it a little more calmly now.
I really do hate trying to write about my problems with writers like Sheehan, it seems to take forever to untangle their warped logic, and all the problems with it.
My first problem is the opening paragraph. The article is ostensibly about a new movie and a new book in which two women describe their adolescent/preadolescent sexuality. Sheehan takes a complex subject and opens with a paragraph written like a teaser for a porn mag article.
She’s young, she’s had orgasms, she has lots, she’s hot, she’s made out with a boy and stripped off for an adult male. PHWOAR!!!
He then dismisses objections to the movie as stemming from “the oppressive sensibilities of the cultural thought police”. FFS. I’m no advocate of censorship, but I fail to see how concern with a movie depicting the sexuality of a 13 year old (at least the way he’s depicted it) is by necessity an ‘oppressive sensibility’ . But since I know nothing of the movie, nor of the objections (of which I’m sure a great many were ludicrous) I had better move on.
So Sheehan moves onto coverage of the Henson debates. Nothing very enlightening in that section.
I can’t help feeling, having read more of Sheehan’s articles (in particular his notion that Islamic men are terrible to their women, whereas over here we live in a Feminist Paradise, where white women gleefully ignore the plight of their oppressed sisters, which he dutifully spanks us for, while simultaneously doing jack shit over himself) that he’s enjoying slipping in that her father who beat her was Middle Eastern.
He then goes on to Diablo Cody’s memoir describing her teenage desire to be eroticised, to be displayed and desired, to play into the porn ‘slut’ image and all its power.Rather than stop and engage with this and why it might be he bounces on in order to prove that this is all fairly normal since chicks actually masturbate (OMG) and often, when they do, the fantasize about taking up the roles assigned to them and being a stripper/sex worker.
It scares me, this. A woman describing her own experiences of her adolescent sexuality is one thing. I imagine that there is an acknowlegement of the power/fear dynamic, of the complexities, the pressures, the confusion, the heady sense of worlds opening up and closing.Regardless of whether there is or there isn’t, these women are telling their own stories, making their own points, using their own voices.
But an adult male utilising the bare bones outlines of these two stories to prop up his article is gross and disturbing. Whatever their sexuality is, it is not his, even when the stories are of sharing their sexuality with others at a young age. Not having seen the movie or read the book I can’t comment too far, except that he reduces both women’s stories to bullet points to back up claims (though what those claims are is, as ever, unclear).
He’s not a psychologist, not a sociologist, not a literature/film expert, not someone who knows these women, he’s an old white dude who thinks he knows everything and can bang on about how people should live USING these real life experiences of others, of young, emerging women, to make a point (though what point is unclear, however it seems to be roughly, stop stressing about sexualising the kids you rampant thought cops, and wow, because two women wrote stories, and I read a survey I can assert that women ARE deviant, and girls ARE horny and hot for adult cock way early, porn is on the right track, W00T, but oh the kids after all, bad single mums, perverts are cool).
Then he really seems to fall off the deep end a bit. The stuff about the internet is all over the place, and falls into the old binary logic of either/or: EITHER the net is a paradise for perverts, OR it’s a mirror of our society. Hmm. Both perchance and many other things as well?
Maybe instead of just trotting out the facts that a stack of kids get their info on sex from online porn as underscoring allegations of perversity and sexual activity, we could look at whether these kids go look it up because the info they get is inadequate? Or because their folks are too embarrassed to discuss it explicitly? Or because they’re fascinated by the lure it holds for others and wanna see what the fuss is about? I’m no fan of the messages about gender that porn sends, but as usual it’s a little more complex than Sheehan makes it sound.
Also? He goes from the fact that the book and the movie draw out the fact that there is massive public demand for the images of as he so charmingly and unnecessarily describes it “the “barely legal” horny teenage girl” (Conveniently ignoring the equally high demand for the NOT legal teenage girl) STRAIGHT into girls are becoming more knowing earlier thanks to the internet. Is it just me or did he slip from ‘ it’s well known that men get off on an idea of having sex with an extremely young girl’ seamlessly into ‘kids are sexually knowledgeable’ as if the latter is as serious as the former, or indeed as if the latter feeds the former?
Knowledge is power, not a problem.If we arm our kids with proper information and knowledge about sex and bodies then they don’t need to go to the net for their research. They may still out of curiosity, and you know…that happens. I hate the ideas about gender and sex they may absorb while there, I hate the lessens about life they learn (that people will fantasize about all manner of fucked up shit), but again, knowledge is power. If they explore the net with knowledge about their bodies, with knowledge about sex, with knowledge about the fact that there are people who prey on youth, with the knowledge they can discuss with you whatever they see – well then the net is a lot less scary. So to equate knowledge with a flag that a kid is ‘too sexual for their own good’ or is now fair game in the hunt for sex? WRONG.
The problem is not that kids are knowledgeable, the problem is adults are desiring sex with people not yet adults, and massive numbers of porn sites are catering to this quick as you please. The problem is that we have such fucked up ideas about sexuality and ‘innocence/sexuality’ that men feel entitled to the bodies not just of women, but of girls.
The problem is that there is incredible *power* given to the images of teen/pre-teen bodies when pornified, and that kids absorb these ideas and it’s confusing/empowering/scary/heady all at once to discover you’re in possession of a body which holds *power* as a sexual object, as a site of desire. I say *power* because the “power” doesn’t appear to be *given* to the bodies, to the individuals, it’s just a powerful image in terms of the number of hits it can get a website/the power it holds over the phallus (which demanded it in the first place). Whatever power it contains for the agent it’s always limited, always already dying: it’s a temporal power by definition. Its power lies in the fact that no-one can develop their notion of their sexuality *outside* of its pressure. Ugh.
What’s bothering me here is that there’s all this stuff to discuss and it just slips away as he marches to his own beat – there is power in the notion of becoming a public figure of sexual objectification. It is thrilling as a teenager.
However I’m pretty sure both Cody’s book and Towelhead the movie would delve with an eye for the complexity of this situation, an attempt to explore the power/fear, the connections to larger issues, both of the protagonists of the stories, and to society at large.
Sheehan takes the two stories and some stats on fantasy and porn use and tells us really not very much at all. He seems to condone the image of the ‘horny teenage girl’ as a valid focus of sexual desire, then lament the lapsing of societal standards. He slips into ‘a generation ago’ stuff, and then, HUH? We’re at the end and he’s run out of space, and where it seemed to just be a ‘neutral observation’ it’s now a problem, but STOP!
It’s not the problem of the dudes wanking over kids, or the porn sites catering to them, or that stuff luring kids in or the ideas that sets up for men that just cos a girl is sexually curious, it’s ok for them to sleep with her – oh no. The problem is debt, and capitalism, and simultaneously (??) two income families and single parent households (way to have a bet each way Paul) and a coursening public domain. Yours is a strange, strange mind Paul Sheehan.
Apologies, this is a ten minute rant, I adapted it from a cranky-pants email, and there are a billion other points to be made about this fuckwit, but this will have to do:
So after a recent conversation I found this article by Paul Sheehan (I’m loathe to link to it causing the guy more hits, but I’m unsure about the rules re referencing in posts so I’m going to have to I guess).
Anyway, it’s delightful isn’t it? What shits me is that despite the fact he’s full of shit his indignance sounds so convincing in its self righteousness that it is easy to be swept along with it.
As usual he starts off with a assertion which sounds sensational and then doesn’t back it up. What exactly does a rape trial have to do with an overly litigious society? How does a girl’s poor treatment by the legal system in a rape trial go to proving the pointlessness of the Human Rights Commission? It would seem to prove the opposite.
As for intrusion and compulsion he didn’t object to that under a Howard Government – he didn’t oppose the NT intervention for instance, and I reckon given his rhetoric about ‘entitlement’ etc he’d be fine with the government “compelling” people to work for the dole/for sole parenting payments etc.
His stuff about “Innocent Boy” is sensationalism. While I am dubious over the guys innocence, no one can know from a newspaper opinion piece what happened, what was considered, what was relevant. I don’t know the facts (no-one does, he conveniently leaves them out) but in the slippage between ‘an innocent boy’ (the lawyers words) to Innocent Boy, Sheehan’s moniker, he asserts his factual guilt, mocks the solicitor, puts words in his mouth and insinuates that if you have committed a crime once before that somehow the courts should be able to put you away this time even if you did not do it. Again, not making any judgements on the facts here, I would have to read the case, read the book and put a lot more thought into it – Sheehan’s piece of shit articles are not enough to base an opinion of anything on, let alone something this serious. I am NOT defending boys accused of rape, far from it (though I’m sure Sheehan would try to paint it that way) – I’m just pointing out that Sheehan is not discussing facts of the case, and is using rhetoric to make insinuations, and I think his motives for doing so are suspect.
He’s no feminist (in fact he’s spent many an hour spewing venom over feminist idiocy and self interest), he’s no rights activist (the *point* if there is one in this article is how “nebulous” human rights are, how idiotic are campaigners for human rights, how “idealogical” the whole concept it…he ends up doing exactly what he accuses HREOC et al of doing – he doesn’t care about the outcome, instead he is using the pain of a young girl to advance his “point”. What point? The case actually has very little to do with “litigiousness”, “compulsion” etc, and everything to do with the need for outside forces to agitate for rights and equity under the law. I wonder how this girl who is agitating for law reform would feel about him using her story to advocate against reform, against tribunals dedicated to reform and human rights?
He whinges about the lack of reform, and mentions a tribunal to which the appalling behaviour of lawyers cross examining rape victims has been reported. But then he mocks the idea of reform, mocks tribunals, mocks and derides any body such as HREOC and the Anti Discrimination Board who MIGHT ACTUALLY HELP this girl and others in her situation and has the hide to mock THESE bodies for not caring at all about outcome, only the burden of accusation. Pot? Kettle? Black????
The balls with which he asserts (with NOTHING to back it up) the Human Rights Commissioner ‘s “waxen stupidity” in daring to suggest a Bill of Rights might not go astray in this country. Sheehan’s professional conclusion (based apparently on something he pulled out of his arse and declined to share with us) is that
It appears never to have occurred to him that in so doing he would
be confirming the deeply ideological nature of the Human Rights
and Equal Opportunity Commission, a fundamentally parasitic
and punitive institution.
Yes, Sheehan, I am sure that the Human Rights Commissioner is precisely that stupid that he just “overlooked” the implications of his proposal. That being what? That the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission is concerned with Human Rights? And Equal Opportunity? Well! I never!!
It’s just too stupid and irritating to continue with. He is cranky that the “vexatious, the dogmatic, the axe-grinders and grudge-holders” according to him “exploit the nebulous area of “human rights” to cause pain through process”. Vague and nebulous? Causing pain? Vexatious? Dogmatic? Axe grinders and grudge holders? Again I say POT. KETTLE. BLACK!!!
Paul Sheehan, you are hereby nominated for this week’s Friday Fuckwit. A pox on your house.