Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: It's Not Sex, and It's Not Education

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  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    However, getting restaurants to stop squirting that disgusting dark brown stuff over their dessert creations can be difficult.

    Does it actually taste disgusting to you, or are you too off-put to touch it in the first place? I had a bunch of unfortunate-association-based food squicks as a kid, but I've pretty much overcome them all, largely because they were common enough foods that I didn't really have a choice.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to BenWilson,

    So this has been a family tradition, handed from father to son, to associate chocolate with poo?

    Well one very good reason for me to not have children is my incredible temptation to mess with their brains ... because you can. So no, not a family tradition.

    I should note that my aversion to chocolate makes my reading of Max's wonderful metaphor really interesting.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    I think of the religious objection to contraception to be more or less like the police's objection to radar detectors - it's a practice that lets you escape the consequences of what they really have a problem with, ie either sex or speeding. If people don't have to worry about disease or pregnancy, what's to stop them shagging whoever they like and bypassing our nice handy set of rules about who gets to shag. And if you get to set the rules about who gets to do one of the more fun things humans can do, you have a lot of social power.

    I think if an HIV vaccine is ever invented, it's bound to set off a new religious anti-vaccine movement. Gardasil's already getting a taste of that treatment.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Well one very good reason for me to not have children is my incredible temptation to mess with their brains … because you can.

    God. It'd be so tempting. I don't know how anyone resists, really.

    (Well, they don't, which is why I spent really far too much of my childhood thinking my father's eyebrows were made of tiger skin and that you could be caught out in cricket if the ball bounced once but the fielder caught it with one hand.)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Does it actually taste disgusting to you, or are you too off-put to touch it in the first place? I had a bunch of unfortunate-association-based food squicks as a kid, but I’ve pretty much overcome them all, largely because they were common enough foods that I didn’t really have a choice.

    It's the smell that throws me. And since smell is such a hard-wired sense it's a difficult one to break - even though I know it's completely based in conditioning.

    It also means that while chocolate bars etc are disgusting, even white chocolate which has no cocoa, things like Mexican Mole are delicious, and Milo is just fine.

    I'm sure if I had the motivation I could break the association but it really doesn't limit my food very much at all.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to B Jones,

    Gardasil’s already getting a taste of that treatment.

    I always thought that sounded like a mouthwash.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    I think my point was that pleasure came waaaay after the genome need to reproduce. If we have not developed our sexual pleasure via evolutionary means...then.....how? And anyway. "none of the above" talk (and I mean talk, not purr or chirp) about it quite the way we do.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Gardasil’s already getting a taste of that treatment.

    I always thought that sounded like a mouthwash.

    I always think it sounds like Teamocil®

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    God. It'd be so tempting. I don't know how anyone resists, really.

    "ninety-eight, ninety-nine, glockenspeil..."

    I'm sure if I had the motivation I could break the association but it really doesn't limit my food very much at all.

    See, now I have to sternly remind myself to resist the temptation to take Bart in hand and try to help him recover the joys of chocolate, maybe introduce him to a few that smell and taste strongly of ginger or chili or curry (not kidding)... And I am reminding myself that it's okay to not like chocolate, for any reason, and we can always find other things to eat.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Well one very good reason for me to not have children is my incredible temptation to mess with their brains ... because you can.

    http://xkcd.com/573/

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    God. It'd be so tempting. I don't know how anyone resists, really.

    Yes, it's easy to see why telling bullshit to kids is so compelling - because it works. Mine sleep like clockwork. Literally. There is a monkey clock in their room, with eyes that close and open on setting and ringing of the alarm. I told Marcus that people sleep when the monkey's eyes are closed, and they don't get out of bed until the eyes open. He sticks with that, and consequently never learns of its utter falsehood.

    I try to use truth now, though, he's 5 and can handle some explanations. I demonstrated why you wear a seatbelt with one of his teddy bears and the judicious application of heavy braking. Seeing it crash into the dashboard made the point, he repeats it as a mantra now as he puts the belt on. When he went to bed on Monday, he asked why the sun was still on. I did my best to explain daylight savings - that the day was getting longer, but we still had to go to bed when the monkey closes his eyes at 7pm. Mixture of lie and truth.

    But sometimes truth just can't really be told. The answer to "why can't I turn the TV on and off" is really "because it annoys me and might break the TV, which would also annoy me". Instead it's "because I said so". I don't want to let him know what would annoy me, because when he wants to annoy me, he will know exactly what to do. And "why do I have to eat up my pasta?" is far too nuanced for a child to understand - "because getting in a habit of eating food you are given at the table, and at no other time will develop a pleasant family environment, during which pleasure will be associated with company, and you will learn to communicate. You are unlikely to choke on your food without someone noticing, and you won't drop it on the furniture".

    Then again, I'm not so sure. Actually answering the "but why" questions honestly is a really good exercise in checking out whether you really do have good reasons, and them learning this process is a very powerful skill. He's systematically checking out so many corners of habit and ritual.

    A hard one to answer, very much on topic for this thread, was "why can't I play with my penis". I had to think about it, and then modify it. "You can't play with it in front of people". Why? "Because I said so". Too hard to answer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Ross Mason,

    If we have not developed our sexual pleasure via evolutionary means...then.....how?

    Things can develop through evolutionary means without necessarily having an evolutionary purpose. Side-effects, accidents, and physiological workarounds all play their role. Certainly a lot of aspects of sex have no obvious selective pressure accounting for them.

    It's true that sexual pleasure in some form almost certainly evolved to facilitate increased reproduction, but we're the only species that knows that. All the others know is that it feels good. Saying they have sex primarily to reproduce attributes way too much cognition and foresight to them, and to evolution. It's inherently backwards-looking. Animals that have enough sex reproduce; why they have sex is sort of beside the point. They don't have to "know", in any way, that sex produces offspring for the process to work.

    (I'm presuming there's no good evidence of other sentient species making the sex->babies link, but primate and cetacean cognition isn't my thing (I'm probably not even using "sentient" correctly there.) Anyone?)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Max Rose, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I have two older brothers. My father who loved his chocolate noted that as my brothers grew older he got less chocolate. So when I came along my father took action and convinced his two year old son that chocolate was made from poos.

    It took me a while to work out whether you were speaking metaphorically or not. But it does strike me that so much chocual repression is associated with our forefathers not wanting to share their chocolate, and thus teaching everyone that either chocolate is yucky or it's wrong to share chocolate.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2011 • 83 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Iwonder if Bart would like chili chocolate, given he likes moles? (yep, I know they can have wide range of other ingredients.)

    To say I LOVE chili chocolate is something of an understatement...and chocolate-ginger cant be prised out of my tentacles...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Islander,

    To say I LOVE chili chocolate is something of an understatement...

    Yay, we have something in common! I'm a total sucker for Schoc's chili and lime chocolate.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Max Rose, in reply to Islander,

    Well, at least one of our ape relations finds evident intense pleasure in sex of all kinds...Pan paniscus, the bonobo (aka gracile or pygmy chimpanzee.

    One of the arguments in Sex at Dawn is that humans are much more similar to the free-bonking bonobos than to other great apes, and together with other evidence the authors reach the conclusion that for most of human history monogamy has been far from the norm. I have my reservations about some aspects of the book, but overall it's a really intriguing (and potentially transformative) read.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2011 • 83 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to BenWilson,

    . He sticks with that, and consequently never learns of its utter falsehood

    Ben--I think you must be a great father. I had my daughter believing, for some years, that Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson were the same person. But that seems rather mean now.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2557 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    A hard one to answer, very much on topic for this thread, was "why can't I play with my penis". I had to think about it, and then modify it. "You can't play with it in front of people". Why? "Because I said so". Too hard to answer.

    We found that pretty straightforward: it is fine and healthy for you to play with your penis. But that is a personal thing you do in the privacy of your room.

    We didn't get any pesky "but why?" questions, though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Max Rose,

    It took me a while to work out whether you were speaking metaphorically or not.

    That occurred to me and it marks just how wonderfully your metaphor was written.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    We found that pretty straightforward: it is fine and healthy for you to play with your penis. But that is a personal thing you do in the privacy of your room.

    One thing you notice growing up in a nudist club is that boys from the time they came walk will wander around holding their penis. Not so much playing with it, holding. Like a security blanket.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    One thing you notice growing up in a nudist club is that boys from the time they came walk will wander around holding their penis. Not so much playing with it, holding. Like a security blanket.

    Evolution put it an easy arm's reach away for a reason, right?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to James Butler,

    Evolution put it an easy arm's reach away for a reason, right?

    Easier to protect like that.

    it is fine and healthy for you to play with your penis. But that is a personal thing you do in the privacy of your room.

    I think I mentally rehearsed about 5 ways of saying it that wouldn't come out as "you shouldn't do it at all". In the end, I actually got to wondering if I needed to be in the bathroom during his bath anyway, I make them shallow so he's perfectly safe, and he's not prone to trying to stand up anyway. So I'm fading it out, leaving the room most of the time. He's welcome to play with it in there if he wants to, but he has to stop if there are others around. It's a pretty natural place to do it, and touching it came up from washing generally. You have to learn to wash your genitals somehow, I guess.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    I had my daughter believing, for some years, that Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson were the same person. But that seems rather mean now.

    Heh. Pure fun, that one. The one's I'm most undecided about are the various fantasy people, like the tooth fairy, and Santa. Also, bogeymen and pixies in the garden are ones I've heard parents use to manipulate their kids. Not to mention Jesus....

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    One thing you notice growing up in a nudist club is that boys from the time they came walk will wander around holding their penis.

    Your typo is literally killing me. That is all.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to recordari,

    Your typo is literally killing me. That is all.

    Literally?! You want we should call you a Wham!bulance?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

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