Ah, the Obscenity Trial.
I am clearly in the mood for a little social commentary, laid up as I am on the chaise longue with naught but a very large pile of Hotel Chocolat Christmas goodies and box sets of quasi-lesbian tomboy anime to amuse me (poor me, however shall I cope?)
Having been brought up to relative speed at last evening's munch and read through the very thoughtful points raised by Obscenity Lawyer here, I don't want to add to the legal wranglings, it's not my forte. So, instead I offer up a little commentary on what is being discussed in the public sphere and my own thoughts. This will doubtless contain a scattering of scatological references to anal fisting because at heart I find the whole thing funny in a dreadful peep through your fingertips mortification sort of way.
First up, some historical and linguistic warm ups - it's very important to prepare the subject, and ensure they are primed for expansion. "Obscene", from the Latin obscenus or Greek ob skene. The Latin comes with a host of crunchy references including ill-omened, genitalia and lewd person, I am especially taken with the idea of bad luck or bad fortune, given the facts surrounding the case itself and the potential worries over repercussions amongst the BDSM community that a conviction would hold. Greek references take us to the world of staged performances whereby depictions of extreme emotion were considered unseemly and therefore done off-stage (hence ob skene). There's a lovely article here on the pleasures of staged violence. The idea of the obscene being that which is unseen or unknown first hand lends another interesting slant to everything going on in the courtroom. The audience of judiciary and jurors are not kinky, to them, this is another country, and consequently they are having an entire lexicon of BDSM explained to them. That's a lot to take in, as it were.
Moving forward slowly, and with carefully lubed up fingers, the word "obscenity" has its first uses in the middle of the C16, where it loses some of that nuance and becomes properly filthy. A word to mean foul or loathsome or, interestingly, profane as in "religious obscenities", something sacrilegious, this coming from a world where morality was the rule of God. These days, the term is more likely to be found in the realms of the legal, supposedly secular field, though the backdrop of unholy terminology remains, especially regarding ideas of "corruption". The challenge is with language, which is why I wanted to start with words. Words make law. This is particularly true for perverts in the wake of the so-called "Extreme Pornography" laws (Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008) which also created problems of definitions around the word "extreme". But to get back to "obscene" the full definition on wikipedia here, instantly gets us bang up to date, as well as bang up to our knuckles, into the quandary of morals, social mores, taboos and what is generally considered normal.
Together, these two points neatly illustrates the entire problem. It's a problem of perspective. I, for example, consider anal fisting to be normal, I have first hand (I'm sorry, I just can't help making the puns) knowledge of the practice, am aware of the risks, the pleasures and the practice. It does not scare me, I enjoy doing it. I have seen the greatest orgasm ever generated through anal penetration by a strap on bigger than my arm.
Now, normal is not the same thing as everyday or easy. That orgasm took time and was certainly special. But many difficult, special things are thought of as normal. Boxing is normal, and that takes a lot of training with risk of injury. But people seem fine with men getting fists to the face. Fisting takes time and patience. It is a very intimate activity for all those involved, and very involving it is too. It is something to be be savoured and enjoyed, like a splendid meal or a fabulous bottle of champagne (Marilyn Monroe's enema liquid of choice, if rumour is to be believed and Captain indicates it certainly works).
Most of the people around the Obscenity Trial, barring the defence and their witnesses, appear not to consider this normal. Or indeed have much of an inkling of the wider world of sex or kinky sex. Which to me indicates a difficulty in the idea of being tried by ones peers. Those who do not know, or who have not seen will not understand, not wholly, not completely. This is me trying my very best to not be condescending or misjudge the intelligence or capacity of those who have not experienced or witnessed these things but more and more I am realising what little people know or understand of BDSM. We exist, off-stage, ill-omened and filthy, as stereotyped monsters and will continue to do so for some time yet, it seems.