Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Uncertainty about how to behave towards other sex

WHEN it was all going on, when everything was all hanging out, in the swinging Sixties I was serving in the armed forces in the Far East for nearly the whole decade. I missed it all! Part of me is sorry. Free love must have been enormous fun! Much of me though is glad. I prefer the timeless standards in which I was brought up.

What essentially were those standards? They were based on good manners and a general belief in the doctrines of the Christian Church.

The former required one to treat everybody with politeness, courtesy, polish and grace. To that grace was added a special treatment, call it gallantry, towards women which presumably now would breach the rules on the equality of the sexes!

The latter standard included a teaching that copulation between a man and a woman was something to take place only within marriage. Of course that rule was broken frequently and cheerfully but nevertheless its validity was acknowledged. Standards brought with them certainty and security.

The coming of the contraceptive pill, the social emancipation of women, the disappearance of social distinctions, the rejection of formal Christian religious belief and observance and modern, uninhibited communications has changed all that. Add an obsession with sex and a craze for digging up the past and we are faced with a confused and uncertain society.

How on earth should we deal with instances of sexual harassment and abuse? The outcry and fuss, fanned by the press and the media and muddled by the doctrine of political correctness, is becoming ludicrous.

Perhaps the teachings of the past are relevant. To those of general good manners and a firm faith let me add another: one does not seduce, or allow oneself to be seduced by, one’s employees or employers, one’s pupils and students or teachers or one’s patients or doctors — or indeed anybody for whom one is responsible or towards whom one is in a position of trust or authority.

Reading, and listening to, the reports of instances for which individuals are presently being pilloried I get the impression that time after time that rule has been disregarded.

If men did not make advances to women and if women did nor respond to them the human race would have died out long ago. That is raw nature at work.

But if men and women observed the rule of keeping professional and personal relationships distinct, treating each other always with courtesy, there ought not to be a problem.

There is another factor too. There are times when an activity is so damaging that it needs to be exposed. The modern habit though of telling tales and of encouraging people to do so I find nauseating.

Indeed the world has changed since I was young and attitudes now are different. I do wish though that people would behave more courteously and responsibly towards each other when making advances and would stop creating such a public fuss when they do not.

I suppose that society will work it all out in the end but this present period of undignified uncertainty is tedious.

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