Credit: JanaK, social media

No, it’s not normal to display this photo in a library near children

There was a time, not too long ago, when decent people would have agreed on a few things, basically universally: Manchester United are a better side than Liverpool. The next election will probably be fought between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Bad weather in February is just bad weather, and doesn’t always need a fancy storm name from the met office. And so on.

We’d also, hopefully, have agreed that libraries used by children are no place for sexualised photos of grown men’s bare backsides. But that was before some of the population became painfully enlightened, and the rest of us were cast aside as old-fashioned bigots. Here is the latest effort at “inclusivity” from the Blanchardstown Library:

With respect to the tweeter above, who brought this matter to public attention, she is wrong in one aspect of it: This is not “porn”.

Pornography is material intended to stimulate sexual arousal in the viewer. This, by contrast, is just a photograph of some activist’s pasty bottom – designed to send a message about sexual liberation, and sexual availability, sure, but not likely to have either women, or gay men, rushing for an ice bath to cool themselves down.

It is also, objectively, a strange photograph to use if you want to celebrate gay pride. Pride, after all, is a message about inclusion: The idea (a perfectly correct idea) that in all respects other than who they are sexually attracted to, gay people are just normal people like you and I, and that it is wrong to hate them, or abuse them, or think of them as different.

It is difficult to reconcile this message with the image of somebody’s pasty bum surrounded by feather boa trousers because, well, most people do not dress like that. Or behave like that. Including the overwhelming preponderance of gay men.

As ever, then, it’s worth asking why this photograph was chosen. A big reason, this writer suspects, is to provoke exactly the kind of reaction we see above. There is, after all, little point in being progressive and enlightened if everybody is progressive and enlightened: You need, on a basic psychological level, some troglodytes to compare yourself against. The idea that some (to their eyes) straight-suited, probably religious mammy might see the photo and reach for the smelling salts is a core part of the reason for including it in a library display in the first place.

As with most things like this, the impulse here is not necessarily to corrupt young children. If that happens, well, it’s a side effect. The main purpose here is, as ever with the modern progressive, cultural domination. It’s the age-old impulse to pee against a lamp post. This is our space, not yours, and our morals, not yours, reign here.

And of course, it works. There are a great many more people than the lady above who are deeply discomfited by this kind of thing, except that unlike her, they know better than to speak out, because most people lack the natural diplomatic skill to express their opposition to a photo of a bare arse in their children’s library without worrying that they might sound, you know, homophobic.

But here’s the thing: This is not normal behaviour. It would not be normal behaviour in any other context. In fact, we can be reasonably sure that a disembodied photograph of a shapely female bottom, surrounded by inviting feather boa trousers, would provoke absolute howls of outrage from the very people who will insist you are a prude for objecting to this. You can almost feel the hashtag everydaysexism rants from here, can’t you? You can hear the tut tutting on Claire Byrne, and, if you close your eyes, you can read Roisin Ingle’s Irish Times article about how this casual objectification of women in an environment for children shows that Ireland still has a very, very, very, very long way to go to achieve equality. 1,400 retweets, 18,000 likes.

The double standard here is not even conscious, because the truth of the matter is that the safety and wellbeing of children does not even really register as a matter of thought when it comes to putting up posters like this. The over-riding concern for our progressive friends is the satisfaction that the poster exists, and that another public space has been claimed as a progressive haven – a safe space, if you will. The secondary purpose is to ferret out objectors, and backward people, and others who are not as enlightened.

We have no real need to put up with it. Because while some things change – Manchester United, painful as this is to type, are no longer a better side than Liverpool – other things stay the same. And it remains obscene and disgusting to present baring your arse like a present for the willing in a public street, and worse again to present that as normal, even proud, behaviour to children in a library.

It also, frankly, presents Pride in a bad light. Pride is supposed to be a family day out, after all. A celebration of our gay brothers and sisters, and an acknowledgement of their humanity, normality, and decency. But normal people, gay or straight, do not walk around dressed like this at family events. Few of us, in fact, walk around like that at any time at all. It is not unreasonable to think that as many children are horrified by that kind of sight as they are accepting of it.

Anyway, this little article won’t change anything, unfortunately. There is a great effort underway to try and make you feel like a bigot if you object to this kind of thing. That effort is not likely to stop. The important thing is that as many people as possible become aware of the effort, and find the courage to call it out for the demented, offensive, and, frankly, disgusting nonsense that it is. You’re not a progressive if you want photos like this on display in a library. You’re just a bit of a weirdo.

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