Mum told me a story about when she was a child, She grew up in a religious family who followed the Salvation Army. It was her Dad who was the religious one, and one of her five brothers played in the local Salvo Band.
It was the 1930s and 40s.
There were few cars on the road, and not as many houses or people.
Cattle would be followed by men on horseback along Geelong Road, You could see all the way to Footscray from our house… the only one with a phone, People would frequently come to our house just to use the phone, for something important like calling a doctor, our phone number was composed of only four digits.
Mums Dad forbade Mum to wear makeup, read comics or go to the movies, Certain radio plays were also off the menu.
Other kids made fun of my Mother, who couldn’t do the things that the others did, because of religious moralising.
On Mondays the schoolkids would talk about the latest movie they’d been to, maybe the one with Shirley Temple, Mum would try to get by nodding her head, pretending she’d seen certain scenes.
But sometimes she found herself at the homes of friends and would indulge in reading their comics, and as she grew, she’d dare to put on a little lipstick, and then a little eyeshadow… she wondered why I was so rebellious, I know where I got it from.
She sometimes got to see the odd film though, including old monster movies which frightened her out of her wits, but if she had the chance to go to a movie, she would’ve been unlikely to turn it down.
Later when she found her boyfriend, she rode on the back of his motorbike, and she loved it.
When I was at school, we were taught that television would rot the brain, but I don’t think it rotted mine, do you?
I watched a lot of docos, especially nature programs, and I loved Julius Sumner Millers science program. Yes there were cartoons which I loved too, and other light entertainment, but I loved the things that stimulated my mind… I don’t think television did me any harm.
While at high-school I became friends with two brothers, whose family didn’t believe in television and wanted their kids to read. They actually threw their television away.
The effect was such that they had very little to talk about, they never went anywhere and there was no internet of course, at least not like it is now. so they were completely cut off from interacting socially.
Mum had decided that I had to go out, and so we’d frequently go to restaurants in the dandenong ranges, she wanted me to be a gentleman and I think that I came out ok.
These two boys didn’t have this, they were from a poor family who simply couldn’t afford it, and because they hadn’t seen society in action as I had, they were stunted and lost when it came to speaking, in fact they were quite bizarre. The oldest was into UFO magazines and believed every story that was written on each page… in summer, when it was 40c or a bit over 100f, he’d come to school, with a jumper on, a jacket, and another jacket over that, with every button done up to the absolute top… including buttons which were only there for design.
He developed very strange ideas and became obsessed with atomic weapons.
His brother was shy, and had a childish sense of humour, which he, even at this age, hasn’t entirely dropped.
But unlike his brother, is friendly and kind, and even though his personal growth was stunted, he’s trying to break free of it and has impressed me with his changing ideas.
During the time that my hormones started doing their thing, I desperately wanted to know more, but found that although diagrams of the uterus would be drawn on the board and spoken of in detail, there was little said about the male body “It’s too simple” said a teacher, when I picked up the courage to ask… sex education was all about the woman, a mans body was taboo… perhaps I’d be thought a homosexual if I asked about how the male body functioned… oh, too late… But I didn’t have a bloody uterus, what good was learning about that, to me?
Ejaculation was spoken of in the weakest way, apparently sperm came out of the penis and swam towards the egg in the uterus.
I’d look at my penis and wonder how the sperm came out, perhaps I had to concentrate extra hard, or there was some magic thing inside the vagina which sucked it out, how did I know?
I couldn’t ask my parents about sex, and even if dad could have got past his shyness, he really didn’t know much either.
When information is withheld, all it does is muddy the waters and make life more difficult, it hinders and is hurtful.
It held me back, but I strove hard to find out whatever I could, and I found that the internet was very helpful.
The porn, like it or not, was something I had to see… so much better to watch a man enter a woman, or another man, than watch a tribe of natives dance around a fire in a film and still not know much.
If only I’d had access to that porn when I was fourteen, a lot of questions would have been answered and I think life would have been better.
Not all that long ago, a friend bought me a fleshlight, and I thought that it was so wonderful that I felt that the government should buy one for every boy on his sixteenth birthday. I know that I would have been immensely grateful.
The internet, in general, has answered a great many questions that television and even a library could not.
People who are unfortunate enough to be subjected to the restriction of information grow like a bonsai tree, pruned, kept from harm and fussed over, but they can never reach the great heights they were meant for.
Remember this if you think an internet filter is a good idea.