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Fifty Shades of Grey
- Ridicule and 'Po-faced' Reactions

On 29 July 2014 The BBC Radio 4 Presenter of the Today programme sneeringly described as "po-faced" those who dislike the pornographic novel Fifty Shades of Grey, which is due to come out as a film in 2015. There is great danger in sneering words.

I remember the same word, 'po-faced', and other similar derogatory words, being used against anyone who questioned the move in the 1970s towards sexual promiscuity and the increasing sexualisation of society. Having been 'liberated' sexually in the 1960s, we pushed the boundaries back further and further during the 1970s. Was not anyone who questioned this sneered at, both in private and in public?

Thus, almost nobody dared question this in public and those who did were not listened to. So debate was stifled - proper reasoned debate about what was going on - and the issue was never properly aired.

The UK's national media colluded with this. Did it not spread the attitude of sneering at anyone who questioned the wisdom of pushing back the sexual boundaries? A few specialist publications, such as in religious circles, might have made a few noises, but the wider public was not reading them. So, even if someone did want to question the boundary-pushing, there was almost no public-wide medium where their questions could be aired.

Was not boundary-pushing everywhere? Was not pushing against sexual boundaries deemed a Good Thing To Do? Was not the Paedophile Information Exchange, who advocated pushing the boundaries back of sexual acts with children, were supported by the Council for Civil Liberties? Was not the numeric Age of Consent to sexual activity one such boundary that had to be pushed back?

Did we not expect celebrities of the time to be sexually 'liberated'? Did we not convince each other "Anything done in private is OK"? Is this not part of the reason why people like Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris engaged in sexual practices with young people in private?

Because debate had been stifled, those who did not like what they were doing had to keep silent. After all, who were we, the 'po-faced' ones, to judge those whom the media celebrated?

Forty years later, in the 2010s, celebrities like Jimmy Saville, Rolf Harris and many others are now being castigated for what they did: sexual activity with the under-aged. Those who are still alive are being put in prison. The national media in the UK are now screaming against them. But are these not the same national media who once sneered 'po-faced' to encourage and provoke them to push back sexual boundaries? Are the media not being hypocritical in turning against those whom they once provoked into these acts?

It was not reason that prevailed to push back the boundaries, but ridicule and sneering scorn. To ridicule dislike for Fifty Shades of Grey as "po-faced" - is that not as dangerous as what we did in the 1970s? Should there not be proper debate about it, rather than sneering? What will the next generation be suffering in forty years' time?

Should not BBC Radio 4 Presenters of apparently-neutral news programmes know better? Should not we all take responsibility in our use of sneering and ridicule? Are we today not responsible for the future?

But of course, this entire article is "po-faced" - so you should ignore it!


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About This Page

Offered to God as on-going work, this page is designed to stimulate discussion on various topics, as part of Professor Andrew Basden's pages that open up various things from one of the Christian perspectives. Contact details.

Copyright (c) Andrew Basden at all the dates below.

Created: 29 July 2014. Last updated: