Saturday, 30 October 2010
I found this video by the Young Turks today, and found it hilarious... it started with them mispronouncing 'Puttenham' and went down hill from there.
Being English I can speak with some authority on pronunciation of place names, so for the benefit of Americans and the occasional Canadian, any place name ending with 'ham', the 'h' is silent, and the proceeding vowel is often swallowed. So Tottenham would be pronounced 'Totnam". And 'Shire' is pronounced 'sha' when part of a place name. So Gloucestershire is pronounced 'Glostesha'. See, it's easy.
For the record, I'm sure we fully understand when Americans get this wrong, but fuck, does it make us cringe hearing you struggling with it.
Dogging and the like, I am not such an authority on, but I'll share what local knowledge I have.
I really first became aware of dogging from an employee of mine, he is very young and he and his mates like to drive to dogging spots and wind up the doggers. That's his story and he's sticking to it for the time being. Although I must say, considering they only turn up and flash their headlights and stuff, he seems to have done an amazing amount of research and has an extensive knowledge of the subject!
From what I understand, lots of men turn up at these places hoping to watch people have sex, and possibly join in. Of course, the whole business rather depends on there being a woman on the scene. Essentially this is a voyeur/exhibitionist thing with some swinging thrown in for good measure.
By my understanding, the term 'dogging' dates back to the 1930s and has it's origins in our seaside towns. Voyeurs would take a dog leash and pretend to be walking a dog while actually spying on courting couples making out in the sand dunes.
One can only assume that eventually a voyeur is going to find an exhibitionist... or is it more likely that exhibitionists are going to find voyeurs? After all, I'm pretty sure most men have a fairly wide voyeuristic streak, but either way, I'm pretty sure the dogging thing has been a subculture for a very long time. What has changed is that since the 1930s, more of us have access to motor transport meaning we can more easily get to the local lover's lane, and the internet means people of a like mind can meet each other.
From what I gather though, this is a mainly heterosexual pursuit, the homosexuals engage in 'cruising' which is something different. Although we have been 'fairly' tolerant of homosexuality for quite a while, it was none-the-less illegal. And while the police may have turned a blind eye, there were very few gay bars for men to meet each other. So they instead turned to 'cottaging' in public lavatories. As long term relationships were difficult, especially as many homosexual men did what was expected of them and got married and had children, men would just visit for casual sex... and of course, sex with strangers has it's own allure.
I must say at this point that I'm not very PC, I admit it, but I'm not judgemental either. I am just calling it the way I see it, or repeating what I have heard. So if anybody wants to accuse me of reinforcing false stereotypes of gay men being promiscuous, then go right ahead and make that argument. I'd love to hear it.
So, I can only guess that since public lavatories are generally closed at night, or not provided at all, the poor homosexual community has to do without them sometimes (although at my local park, they used to use these bus-shelter type things that were around the edge of the tennis courts.) Anyway, I'm alluding to the practice of 'cruising', where gay men go to parks and lay-bys for the purpose of meeting people for casual sex.
So, Cenk's comments about the origins of dogging being a result of homosexual persecution are not exactly accurate. It certainly has nothing to do with what is going on now days...
I have two more points to cover, firstly is the part about homosexuals doing it during the day, and heterosexuals doing at night. From what I heard, doggers hate the gay cruisers and it's not unknown for them to chase them off. The reason seems to be that there are two conflicting sets of interests. The doggers are mainly voyeurs with a few exhibitionists, so they have their jollies right there. They just want to be left alone to get on with it, they don't want, and certainly don't need any additional excitement from the risk of being seen, discovered or of the police turning up. They are generally discreet (although it may be a relative term in this context).
Meanwhile, there are homosexual cruisers who like the risk factor, and I suppose, the more you do it, the bigger risks you take. There also seems to be a tradition among some of marking the spot, leaving used condoms and other paraphernalia.
The grievance from the doggers is that the cruisers litter up the place with porn, used condoms and even used needles. And that they are far too blatant, allowing themselves to be seen by passers by and even children. This all leads to the locals making complaints and police making extra patrols.
Yes I know, it's not black and white. I'm sure that not all doggers are otherwise respectable, environmentally aware, middle class Guardian readers. I'm sure there are those that also take drugs, leave litter, flash at passers by and are generally scum bags. Likewise, I'm certain that there are homosexuals that enjoy cruising and yet are completely responsible. Just as there are homosexuals that find the idea of cruising repulsive... I'm not just trying to pigeon-hole anybody, I'm just reporting what I have heard.
The second point I'd like to cover is the idea that the older generation are more tolerant than those that are younger. I can't say I'm in the least surprised! As one old lady once told me, "Your generation think you invented sex, but we were at it like rabbits when we were teenagers".
I like talking to old people, and every once in a while one of them will like to shock you wit a saucy story. Which takes us back to those courting couples in the sand dunes. When I was a teenager, we had house parties, or I could get a room for £20. With my fathers generation, it was the back seat of a MkI Ford Cortina. But back in the 1950s and before that, they'd take a rug and a picnic and have a fumble in the bushes. Heavy petting I believe they used to call it.
So yes, it has been going on a long time. And it is everywhere. When I first heard about it I looked up a dogging site and discovered there were three dogging sites that I drove past on my way home. There was another 400 yrds from where I live, and the car park of the woods where I take my family for a walk every Sunday morning is well known for it in the early hours of the morning. But I have to say, as interesting as all this is, I'm not in the least tempted.