Features

Is any kind of sex still taboo in literature?

8 March 2014

9:00 AM

8 March 2014

9:00 AM

The first gay marriage will be conducted this Easter, and those who still object to the idea find themselves in a minority. The majority, according to polls, can’t see what all the fuss is about.

How far we have travelled in a relatively short period of time. Until 1967, the punishment for homosexuality was a year in prison, or chemical castration, which was the option taken by Alan Turing, the Bletchley Park codebreaker. At least he has now been posthumously pardoned, so that’s OK.

Extreme though attitudes to homosexuality have been in the past, I don’t think that, as a subject, it ever had the status of a taboo, not properly. Consider the way that, long before the new spirit of tolerance emerged, novelists were able to write about it without censure. Explorations ranged from the subtle, such as Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, to the overt, such as E.M. Forster’s Maurice and James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. And such has been its prevalence in more recent years — thanks to the likes of Edmund White, Alan Hollinghurst and Colm Tóibín — that it can now be considered a popular genre.

I would go further and say that it has become a safe subject for literature, almost as tame as heterosexual sex. With the exception of Fifty Shades of Grey, a not very literary novel about bondage and sadomasochism, heterosexual sex doesn’t even register on the cultural radar any more, other than as something to be mocked at the Bad Sex Awards. Forget Lady Chatterley’s Lover, even Updike’s Couples or Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint wouldn’t get noticed if they were published today. In the age of online pornography, there’s nothing to say about polymorphous couplings that hasn’t been said already, nothing remarkable, nothing shocking.


Social attitudes do ebb and flow, of course. Could Lolita (1955) be published for the first time today? I doubt it. The publishers would be surrounded by torch-carrying mobs calling for Nabokov and other ‘paediatricians’ to be lynched. But I can’t see novels dealing with consensual ‘vanilla’ sex, be it heterosexual or homosexual, ever having the power to shock again.

Certain other sexual acts remain taboo no matter what else is going on in society. Take bestiality, necrophilia and, perhaps the biggest no-no of them all, incest. In 1967, there was a limit to the then new concept of tolerance about sex between consenting adults. Even though the Wolfenden Report took its inspiration from John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty — and his contention that the law ought not concern itself with ‘private immorality’ — it was agreed that incest should remain a criminal offence. ‘The general feeling of history and society on that matter is that it ought not to be tolerated,’ Sir John Wolfenden declared.

There have, nevertheless, been attempts to tackle the subject of incest in literature. Well, a couple, with a gap of two and a half thousand years in between. There’s the mother and son relationship in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, and there is the sister-and-brother affair in Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden.

Other than those, it is only through the odd memoir that the subject has found expression. Very odd in some cases. In Love Affair (2010), Leslie Kenton described her sexual relationship with her father as intoxicating. ‘Breaking the taboo of incest had breached the boundaries of acceptable reality,’ she wrote, ‘forcing us to journey into unknown territory. We turned our backs on the rules and regulations of the world. Sometimes we faced each other with the kind of raw presence soldiers in trenches must experience as, together, they face the enemy’s assault.’

This chimes with Freud’s definition of a taboo as being something that can be fascinating and repellent at the same time. The frisson of fascination comes in the private space, he believed, whereas the repulsion belongs in the public. If that definition once applied to homosexuality, it does so no longer.

Curiously, one of the recurring arguments that have been used by opponents of gay marriage has been to ask: Where will it all end? Norman Tebbit has gone so far as to imagine a world in which he might be allowed to marry his own son. This might seem bizarre as a tactic but actually, if you think about it, it is quite clever. He is out to undermine the idea that homosexuality is a normal form of sexual expression. How? By associating it in the public imagination with incest. Such is the power and danger of that particular taboo.

Nigel Farndale’s new novel, The Road Between Us, is about forbidden love. It is published in paperback this month.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10


Show comments
  • Kitty MLB

    This was not a taboo subject for the ancient Greeks who spent a lot of
    time regarding the topics of love and desire, such as Homer speaking of
    Odysseus and Penelope. Yet all of this is from a male perspective.
    Certain details in regards to sexual relationships in marriage were
    not often discussed in literature but that was not the case with prostitution
    and ‘ affairs’ with both male and female which were written about quite often.
    Especially homosexual love, usually in regards to the older man ( early 30’s)
    and younger youth ( not older then 18) even the Gods such as Zeus loved
    another male , so its fine to write about such love-we have the writings about Achilles and Patroclus.
    Shakespeare was far more discreet, in regards to sexual relationships
    I am minded of the following such as Lago to Brabantio:
    ” I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the moor are making a
    beast with two backs”-
    and then we have the fair youth sonnets, sensual words in regards to same sex
    love.

    • Liz

      That’s the problem, all of the sexual art, sculpture, literature, music was produced by males and males from the cultural and social elites. They had a tendency to glamourise and sanitise their exploitative practices towards mistresses, wives, prostitutes, rape victims, the young. The swived serving wenches of Elizabethan poetry were voiceless in society, the smiling naked women in paintings were prostitutes who had to undergo the casting couch, the geishas entwined with octopi in Japanese watercolours were comfort women, the women in kinky poses with goats in Roman sculptures were non-citizens and slaves confined to brothels and harems, the one-dimensional characters in Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian novels were figments. It’s given us a distorted and biased benchmark for today’s efforts.

      • tjamesjones

        yes all that glamorous rape, those were the days.

        • Liz

          The Rape of Lucrece.

          • tjamesjones

            Glamorises rape? Do you really think so? I find that hard to believe.

      • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

        Which is of course why Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 is one of his best. He strips away all the nonsense and says he loves her as a person, not an object.

      • Richard

        Velasquez’ s Venus has the most beautiful derriere in Christendom. I adore, I adore, I adore.
        And what about the hubby butchering Clytemenestra?

        • Kitty MLB

          Lest we forget the women of Lemnos
          who Aphrodite made murder their men because
          she was in a bad mood.
          Also Tantalus &Sisphus.
          Never mind statues of Venus when there
          is the fountain of Neptune in Florence.

        • Fergus Pickering

          He had it coming.he really did.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Robert Graves was of the opinion that a woman wrote the Odyssey. I can’t remember what his argument was. Samuel Butler also thought a woman wrote the Odyssey. Butler was gay. Graves was not.

      I think the youth was usually a bit younger than that. What those Greeks thought of as natural we say is criminal, or at least our law does.

      • Kitty MLB

        O,The mystery and intrigue of literature you do not get that with
        dead science.
        Was Shakespeare a transsexual? did he wear a ruff to hide surgery
        on the adam’s apple ?
        Also cannot remember too much about Graves, apart from his
        idea that the author of the Odyssey was a Greek princess ( I think)
        who told her story buried within the epic tale.
        I am far more minded towards the gay chap Butler ( although he was wrong, but interesting observations)
        Butler said the Odyssey was far too easy, simple and straightforward for the understanding of scholars, if it were harder to understand, then it would have been understood quicker– Superb !!!
        Finally ( thank God, he says)
        You are very right, those boys were much younger then 18,
        I believe they became involved with these older men at the time of puberty- It may not have been sexual though.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Judging from the pictures on the vases it was sexual all right.

          • Kitty MLB

            Alright then. I was telling a teeny weeny little
            white lie to protect the already tarnished reputations
            of a few dead Roman’s .
            I know of these vases and they are not the type you would
            give to your granny containing flowers ( well some of us wouldn’t ) and I suggest no one visits the cave art hidden
            away from sensitive tourists in Rome, there are images
            there that would make the toes curl.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Extraordinary as it may seem, Socrates lacked our fine moral sense about such things. Ah well, that’s progress, isn’t it. . .

          • David

            God, I love reading comments by British people. Even your conservatives are more intelligent than ours. I may disagree with them, but at least they give me a good laugh.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Glad to oblige. What is this even, pray?

          • Kitty MLB

            I trust others know far more then I do, yet may I humbly
            defend Socrates.
            That brilliant politician Alcibiades and others
            asserted that Socrates pretended to be erotically attracted to
            young males and was completely ignorant to their pursuit
            of him. He lived within moderation, was wise and had no
            interest in bodily concerns.
            Morality changes with time, circumstances and the environment we live in ( yet I would hope everyone protects
            the young and vulnerable)
            We with our fine moral sense about such things have
            both intellectual and moral superiority and indeed that
            is progress, I assume.

      • Craig King

        Pederasty was a name for a real activity. We keep on pretending that this proclivity doesn’t really exist, but it does.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Of course it does. And how many heterosexual men would pass up the chance to have sex with a beautiful fourteen-year-old girl?

          • Kitty MLB

            You are both right, but if this fourteen-year-old girl looked
            young for her age then only the predatory. Those who have fathered a daughter ( who are quite different to those who have fathered son) would say never.
            Forgetting morality, you used the word ” With ” as being about
            two people instead of it being about one person and for just a few moments. This innocent young creature would not have the maturity to know that though her sensuality,sexuality and femininity that she was always in control, although I am not too sure that’s the right word-but I am sure one is able to catch my drift.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Indeed I catch your drift, Kitty. I would not have sex with a fourteen-year-old-girl (or indeed a boy) – and I can assure you they are all queuing up, jostling for position – because I think it is wrong, not because it might not be a nice thing to do. Robbing a bank would be a nice thing to do but it would be wrong. Similarly, beating Tony Blair to death with a dead fish … you catch MY drift.

          • Kitty MLB

            I have not the foggiest of ideas of why you are slaying me with your sword Fergus and just to let you know that I am utterly mortified
            that you can believe that I think you to be someone with such little integrity and values, you have daughters as does my husband and I know both you chaps would rather slit your throats then turn into perverts, regardless of them queuing up for you both. what in Gods name did you think I was implying?
            I mentioned the young girl metaphorically speaking,
            you are a well educated man and should have realised but apologies if you did not understand, English is not my first
            language and I never explain myself very well.
            I offend people far too often and happen to be useless
            at debating, its been a pleasure making you acquaintance
            and others also- farewell.

          • Fergus Pickering

            No, no, Kitty, you must not leave. Few people here are as well educated or as well read as you are. I was not arguing with you but rather continuing your thought..

          • Kitty MLB

            Should explain myself better, words are mighty & complex things. My turn of phrase can often be confusing, indecipherable jumble and what you called ” a heaping mouthful babe” a very perceptive comment
            from someone who clearly ate all his greens and carrots as a little boy.
            Everyone should strive to be enlightened by the wit and wisdom of Socrates and ignore ancient Greek propaganda
            as they should Tudor propaganda about the much maligned
            Richard III ( I blame Shakespeare) who remains are buried in a car park in Leicester. I understand the Plantagenets Alliance
            have written to the Secretary of State for Culture- I should
            think so too- a national scandal !!!!!

  • Maybe he’s just trying to make a point about marriage, Nigel: that WHO you marry is crucial to the definition of marriage. I think he’s correct.

    I don’t like representations of secks at all, so for me it’s all ‘taboo’. Hint, don’t depict, is my feeling. It’s undignified but fab when it’s you in subjective experience. Objectively viewed, it’s just undignified, for the most part. I also think there’s much distinction, from the viewer’s p.o.v., between simulated and actual. Someone sent me a music video with a highly suggestive clip in it that came from who-knows-where, and I don’t know whether it was ‘just’ acting and from my moral standpoint I don’t care, really. The clip wants us to imagine sex happening. Whether it actually is or not is irrelevant to the reaction it’s trying to provoke — and I don’t want to be provoked in that fashion.

    • Kitty MLB

      I believe you are spiked because you
      are a rabble rouser, I can see you as one of those
      suffragette ladies bashing policemen 🙂
      Try using a different word such as copulating-
      Is that a word, I wonder.

  • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

    Forster’s ‘Maurice’ wasn’t published until after his death in 1971. While in my view a beautiful book, it was written with a *spoiler alert* happy ending precisely because of the literary trope that homosexuals die tragically in fiction.

    Second, ‘Death in Venice’ is also beautiful, but the widowed protagonist’s obsession with a 14 year old boy isn’t really a discourse on homosexual relations. It’s not even about sex at all.

    Homosexual relations will always be seen as a bit more risqué because they’re unusual, and humans are fascinated by the unusual.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Where does it say that Tadzio is fourteen? I must have missed that. He seems about twelve.

      • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

        I have this memory of him being 14 but he may be younger. It might be a line from ‘The habit of art’ now I come to think of it.

        • Fergus Pickering

          The Polish boy Mann saw in Venice who struck him as very beautiful was actually ten, but perhaps he was tall for his age.

  • Noa

    “He is out to undermine the idea that homosexuality is a normal form of
    sexual expression. How? By associating it in the public imagination with
    incest. Such is the power and danger of that particular taboo…”

    But Nigel Farndale has not refuted what he calls a “taboo”. Lord Tebbit’s point is clear and straight forward. civilised societies have never, until now, equated the licentious pleasures of homosexuality with the familial and dynastic responsibilities of marriage.

    The recent artificial equalisation of inter-anal and inter-crural intercourse, and the abolition of the legal requirement for the consummation of marriage in order to avoid grotesque legal absurdity, means that any marriage is now based ultimately on sentience. And ultimately, why should that be a requirement for both parties?

    As marriage has been promulgated beyond its original sensible purpose it has also become devalued. Why should a mother and son not marry for companionship? Why should a spinster or widow not marry her great dane or siamese cat for the same reason? Why are these taboos?

    Mr Farndale’s argument fails, becuase if homosexual marriage is no longer a taboo, nor is anything else.

    . hing else. Other an unnecessary logical absurdity, redundant to a moralistic society.

    • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

      And again, marriage was changed by heterosexual couples when they determined it was about love, rather than “familial and dynastic responsibilities”. It was changed when women became equals, not chattel. It was changed when we as a society decided that the rules about monogamy also applied to men, and yes sleeping with prostitutes did count as breaking them. And it was changed, fundamentally in the 1990s in England when it was decided that marriage did not grant perpetual sexual access to the other partner regardless of their consent, abolishing the notion of ‘conjugal rights’.

      If this is a ‘slippery slope’ it’s one we’ve been on for a long while.

      As for the usual equivocations, find me a Great Dane that can sign a legal contract and we’ll have a discussion.

      • Noa

        You fail to acknowledge, as ‘progressives’ always do, that a father and mother have a love and a moral responsibility for their children, which simply transcends the sterile and narcissistic emotions of homosexual relationships.
        Call them what you want, but homosexual relationships can never equate to marriage.

        • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

          I’m not a “progressive” I’m a socialist, so don’t really give a damn what “progressives” always do.

          The ability to procreate is not a prerequisite for a marriage contract. Infertile couples, whether by age, illness or choice, have always been able to wed.

          Lastly, adoptive parents love their children as much as any donor of genetic material. And since same-sex couples are more likely to adopt older children, those of different ethnic groups, and those with disabilities, than their heterosexual peers, it seems they very much live up to their “love and moral responsibilities”.

          • Kitty MLB

            Sometimes you hear of adopted children
            say their relationship with parents change
            when a ‘birth’ child comes along as blood
            is thicker then water.
            Sometimes people never actually bond
            with their children, some mistreat their
            children and at the same time gay couples
            are frowned upon for adopting children.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Yeah. Silly ain’t it.

          • Noa

            The individual and the family unit are the enemy of socialialism, which considers them subservient to the state and wishes to destroy them. The promulgation of same sex marriage is clearly a useful tool for this purpose.

            Your assertion that adopted children are loved equally by their foster parents is entirely subjective, unsubstantiated and premised on the falsehood that state brokered relationships are equal to the ties of blood and family.

            Rather than facilitate divorce a broken society and emotionally damaged children the government should promote and reinforce hetrosexuual marriage and relationships. Not consign the children of failed ones into the care of homosexual couples for spurious reasons of socialist ideology.

          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            Your personal opinions on political theory do not constitute facts. I’m sorry to break this to you.

            The fundamental building block of human society is not the nuclear family, a post-war American import fashionable among the middle classes. Rather it is the tribe, a group of individuals united by kinship, but also by various social bonds of which marriage is one. However there have been many others throughout history; adoption, fealty to a chief, blood brotherhood, or guild initiation, all of which are about allowing the propagation of the tribe, and which usually acquire some mystical trappings.

            Marriage has survived, when many others have faded, because it has continue to evolve as society itself has done so. This is one further iteration.

            All of which has nothing to do with children. Children are not the “natural outcome” of marriage. As an entirely human construct how could they be? Children are the natural of eggs being fertilised by sperm (however that is done)

          • Noa

            I regret to inform you that your personal views on children, their parents, the familiy and its role in society only constitute your opinions, received or otherwise.
            You may consider homosexual marriage to be ‘evolutionary’. The inescapable logic of biology determines it to be precisely the opposite-a regressive and sterile dead end.

          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            The “inescapable logic of biology” is what means straight couples keep having gay babies in the first place, is what sees homosexuality throughout the animal kingdom, and is what would allow the entire human population to be homosexual as long as turkey basters continue to exist.

            I’m sorry, you can’t recruit nature to support your bigotry on this one.

          • Noa

            “..is what would allow the entire human population to be homosexual…”
            Truly remarkable idiocy of the first order.

            I’m sorry you can’t recruit either logic or facts to substantiate your hetrophobic bigotry.

            Further dialogue or consideration of your views will clearly be unproductive, like your own lineal reproduction, and is discontinued.

          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            I am happy to have challenged your views to the degree you feel compelled to withdraw and reflect.

            Oh and, btw, I’m a sperm donor, and I’m 6’3″, so I’ll probably end up having more biological kids than you.

            Ave atque vale, comrade!

          • Noa

            I have no intention of reflecting further on your views. We are completely opposed and I am content to leave you to in your biological and ideological black hole.
            Your arguments are based on your narcissism, as is your onanism, which exemplifies perfectly the consequence of seeking pleasure without any sense of responsibility or morality.
            .

          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            I thought you’d been discontinued. Did you get a reprieve?

            The height is because that’s the main determinant most women look for, so it ups the odds of me being picked.

            And if you’d actually read the Bible you’d know Onan’s sin was failing to sire a child with his dead brother’s wife to continue his brither’s name. Which kind of clashes with your whole conceptualisation of ‘traditional marriage’. You should try opening the book instead of bashing it once in a while.

            I’ll be helping an infertile couple have a child, by giving something that costs very little to me but would mean the world to them. How is that anything but an act of compassion?

            And the genes will carry on, which is all natural selection asks of me. Again, you can’t recruit biology to buttress your bigotry. Best try the Bible again, you might have more luck.

          • Noa

            Compassion? Really?
            You are not an anonymous donor.
            And your motives may display the altruism you claim, or self interest, or something rather darker.
            Regardless of which, genes replicated, you will not be the legal parent of any child conceived, or receive its unconditional love, trust of affection as its father.
            Whether you consider that to be a grievous loss is something which I do not believe you can yet determine, maybe not until the regrets of the death bed…
            Notwithstanding, your particular case, of contemporary values and perceived morality, is a subject of interest for an author, or biographer, which is, after this diversion you have created to yourself, the purpose of my original post.
            I might even take up the challenges and contradictions you provide myself.

          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            You said homosexuality was a biological dead end. I’ve demonstrated it is not.

            You said that mere state sanctioned parenthood was not worth anything, yet now I’ve got you vaulting the importance of legal fatherhood.

            You were chucking the Bible around, and I’ve shown you were theologically in error.

            And most of all, despite saying repeatedly you would quit the field, and me even wishing you farewell, you’ve kept returning.

            Honestly comrade, I’m flattered you wish to keep dashing yourself against my particular rock. I must warn you however I’m currently spoken for.

          • Noa

            I rather thought you had dismissed yourself, biologically speaking at least.
            And I always reserve the right to defend myself from incorrect assumptions and lies:You’re not my type. Indeed overall, you’re an unappealing character; vain, arrogant…
            Is it your profession to be a socialist I wonder, that makes you the tolerant anti-religious bigot you fail to recognise in yuorself? (Another ungrouded assumption there, that I’m a Christian and there freely available to insult), or does your socialism justify your amorality and irresponsibilty,

            How good is your latin really, I wonder? A quip from Catullus is no demonstration of learning.
            And you have, without doubt, much to learn about the consequences of your actions in life.

          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            Amo amas amat, amamus amatis amant.

          • Noa
          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            Well I certainly see why I’m not your type now! How is Skegness this time of year?

          • Noa

            Ha! Let me know!

          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            What, are you having to leave the area after your little run in with the law? I do hope you find your dog a good new home, though I’m sure it breaks your heart to part.

          • Daniel Maris

            An interesting debate. My view is that I haven’t heard any justification for the extension of marriage to gay couples beyond it being an expression of love and a matter of personal fulfilment, especially given gay couples already have all the legal privileges of marriage through civil partnerships. But if it is a matter of love and personal fulfilment there is simply no bulwark against polygamy. What is your argument for marriage not being polygamous or do you actually support polygamous marriage?

            I think there may be an argument for allowing gay couples who adopt to marry.

            I don’t think we should risk losing our understanding that marriage in our culture is about monogamous procreation – because that is a sure foundation for a just society. Polygamy produces very dysfunctional societies.

          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            I would say the fact that polygamy already exists in various states and those states are amongst the most opposed to same sex marriage demonstrates that these ideas are not on a continuum.

            If people want to make an argument for legislation around polygamy/polyandry then they can have at it. It’s not something I have particularly strong feelings about.

            My argument is that ‘monogamous procreation’, while it may at one point have been the idea of marriage, has not been for quite some time.

          • Kitty MLB

            He says he would be picked because he’s
            tall, maybe in years gone by for breeding
            you know, the tallest, most muscular. Etc
            I wonder if this paragon of virtue asks
            for payment for his seed.

          • Noa

            Why would a woman choose him as a donor? Whether she accepts that his sexual preference is genetic or by choice there is a greater probability that her child will have similar sexual preferences, threatening her own reproductive line.

          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            Actually a University of Padua study found that the women in families with gay men tended to have more children. So if the women has a girl her ‘reproductive line’ might very well be improved.

          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            You don’t get paid. It’s a donation, like giving blood or bone marrow.

          • Richard

            The extended family used to be the strongest social bond in the East-End. It still is some in some communities although the cockneys were never that big on incest/cousin marriage/forced marriage and honour killings.

          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            All those kids crammed in a two-up, two-down until their early twenties? You think nothing ever happened between relatives I’d say you’re being a little naive.

          • Richard

            True, but it was never and never could be sanctioned. Unlike cousin marriage which is having a catastrophic effect on Muslim communities and is costing us a fortune to boot.

      • Tom M

        Sorry your wandering off the point. You are now discussing the sexual practices and rules applicable to the (conventional) married couple and how these have changed over time not which sex the couple are.
        I’ve been down the posts made by yourself and Noa and come to the conclusion that I agree with him.
        For my twopence worth I always thought my parents views on sex and marriage were old fashioned. I never thought they were wrong and I never would have sought a change in the law to back up my arguments either. That this has been done sticks in my craw.

        • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

          You opposed the change in the law that meant that husbands could no longer force their wives to have sex against their will?

          • Tom M

            As I said you wandered off the point. The general discussion was centred upon homosexuality and my response to you and Noa’s debate is above.
            If you wish to discuss the other topics you wandered off into then I’m happy to do so (and we would probably be in agreement) but if you stick to the point for the moment we can conclude on that first.

  • Liz

    Really the cannon of sexual art is depictions of sexual abuse viewed through the lens and the PR of the abuser.

    Don’t believe the half smiles. If women had been allowed to join the art academies in order to study, to travel and gain audiences to ply their trade, to hire the models, the galleries wouldn’t be stuffed full of playful-looking nudes, damsels, nymphs and nymphos; you’d see the altogether darker expression that must have really played on their subjects’ and models’ faces.

    • Noa

      ‘cannon of sexual art’? Is that one bang or two?

      • Liz

        No that’s me using an ipad with auto correct and long ago losing any attachment I might have had to correct spelling or even word usage.

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    Ultimately, it’s up to each of us to communicate the basics of responsibility, liberty, and prosperity: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0094KY878

  • Crumbs

    I understood Lord Tebbit to be making the point that if marriage was no longer about providing a legal framework for bringing up the next generation, and wasn’t even necessarily a sexual relationship (consummation being meaningless), then it was merely a way of providing legal protection for two people sharing a household. So why should all households not enjoy such protection? Why shouldn’t people who are not in a sexual relationship (indeed cannot legally be in a sexual relationship) also enjoy the advantages of ‘marriage’?

    • Exactly. And I’d love to know how this ‘majority’ Nigel speaks of was discovered, and what the people really think in the privacy and candour of their own minds. When he says the ‘majority’ (how many exactly is that?) ‘can’t see what all the fuss is about’, one has to ask whether they’re allowed to. Britain strikes me as a highly conformist society in many ways, particularly when it comes to questions of preserving long-held notions about fundamental institutions such as marriage. And in these questions, it’s the ‘progressives’ that have the upper hand and the power to silence the rest.

      There is a reason for ‘all the fuss’, and the majority knows what it is. But they were defeated by legal rulings throughout the Anglosphere, and they’ve adopted the resigned attitude that if you can’t beat ’em, no choice but to join ’em.

    • StephanieJCW

      “I understood Lord Tebbit to be making the point that if marriage was no longer about providing a legal framework for bringing up the next generation,”

      There is no requirement to want or have children, in order to marry so I am not sure marriage can be said to provide any such legal framework. Parental rights and obligations are readily obtained outside or marriage.

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