Objectify Yourself — Why Straight Young Men Crave Gay Adulation

attitude6I’ve penned an essay in the February edi­tion of Out magazine — with a David Gandy cover — about why straight young men won’t leave me alone:

The way straight young men chase and hustle gay atten­tion today rep­res­ents a major, mil­len­nial shift in atti­tudes. Part of the reason that men offer­ing them­selves as sex objects were frowned upon in the past was that they could be objec­ti­fied by any­one — includ­ing people with pen­ises. They were queered by the pen­et­rat­ing queer gaze.

Now they beg and plead for it. They instinct­ively know that male objec­ti­fic­a­tion is about enjoy­ing and cel­eb­rat­ing male passiv­ity, even — and espe­cially — if you’re straight. So get­ting the gays proves not only your hot­ness, and cool­ness, but also your meta­phys­ical ver­sat­il­ity. It proves that you are a proper, fully fledged, all-singing, all-dancing sex object.

Read the essay here.

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Confessions of a Front Seat Driver

HyacinthBy Mark Simpson

Some people are more pro­act­ive pas­sen­gers than oth­ers. Hyacinth Bucket in the clas­sic sit-com Keeping Up Appearances takes what we might call a ‘hands on’ approach to being driven.

Mind the sheep, dear!’

They’re in the FIELD!’

Richard, I don’t appre­ci­ate your tone.’

Minding the sheep.’

We all laugh at the snob­bish battle axe’s incess­ant and insist­ent back­seat driv­ing. Not least because it is meant to be hor­ribly sym­bolic of her mar­riage to Richard. He may sit in the driver’s seat, but it’s def­in­itely his pas­sen­ger who does the driv­ing. In a nice big hat.

Every driver hates a back­seat driver. Until you’re a pas­sen­ger your­self. According to a 2011 sur­vey, 92% of motor­ists admit to being back­seat drivers themselves.

This how­ever didn’t stop 51% of them get­ting angry behind the wheel as a res­ult of advice from pas­sen­gers, or the same num­ber claim­ing it was the biggest dis­trac­tion for drivers. While 14% even claimed they were involved in an acci­dent or near miss as a res­ult of being told to blow their horn in a more refined way, dear, or some such.

The offi­cial advice from car safety experts is not to dis­tract or frus­trate the driver with back­seat driv­ing. They say it could be dan­ger­ous – both to your safety and to your rela­tion­ships: part­ners are ranked by motor­ists as the worst back seat drivers. I sup­pose no one likes being cri­ti­cised by their part­ner, par­tic­u­larly if being mar­ried to them has made you won­der if weeks in trac­tion in the General Hospital might be a nice break.

But what pre­cisely is a back seat driver though? Well, accord­ing to Wikipedia, it is ‘a pas­sen­ger who is not con­trolling the vehicle but who excess­ively com­ments on the driver’s actions and decisions in an attempt to con­trol the vehicle.’

Which con­firms what I have always known: I’m not a back­seat driver.

You see, I never excess­ively com­ment. There are so many things I could say, but I stoic­ally bite my lip instead. Granted, there are still plenty of things that I do say, but they are always kept to the abso­lute min­imum — and always thought­fully designed to impart only the most per­tin­ent pearls of my pre­cious driv­ing wis­dom to the per­son for­tu­nate enough to find them­selves at the wheel in my presence.

Besides, I don’t sit in the back. I prefer to sit up front, where I can see much more clearly what mis­takes the driver is mak­ing, such as driv­ing too close to the vehicle in front – and then too far away – and what haz­ards he or she has failed to anti­cip­ate, such as the decept­ively harm­less pen­sioner stood at the bus stop, lean­ing on a walk­ing stick, who could sud­denly and with no warn­ing what­so­ever sprint into the road. (And by the way, it needs to be men­tioned that sheep in fields can jump hedges.)

Sitting up front also means you can more eas­ily com­mu­nic­ate with the driver, some­times using non-verbal sig­nals, such as sharp intakes of breath, grabbing arm-rests or anxiously check­ing and re-checking the seat belt. Even though I’m not actu­ally Catholic, I usu­ally carry Rosary beads with me as I find count­ing them loudly and cross­ing myself can be quite salutary.

And of course, if all else fails, there’s always stamp­ing on an ima­gin­ary brake pedal with a look of wide-eyed abject ter­ror on your sheet-white face.

I also do my best to help the driver by lean­ing for­wards at junc­tions and shout­ing ‘YOURE ALL RIGHT THIS SIDE!’. Or ‘YOU CAN GET A BUS THROUGH THERE MATE!’ When I’m not fid­dling with the ste­reo and the air-con con­trols. I invari­ably find that people haven’t set these at their optimum levels – and are tuned in to the wrong radio sta­tions. I don’t expect any thanks for these little con­sid­er­a­tions. Which is just as well as none ever comes.

OK, so per­haps I’m just ever so slightly con­trolling. But hon­estly, have you seen the way other people drive? It’s not my fault that I’m a bet­ter driver than them and it would be just plain dis­hon­est of me to pre­tend oth­er­wise. Not to men­tion selfish – how are they going to get bet­ter if I don’t tell them they should use the gears to brake more?

You wouldn’t believe how down­right ungrate­ful and rude people can be some­times. Unfortunately, not all drivers are as open to advice as Hyacinth’s hus­band. I’ve been yelled at just for sug­gest­ing that their screen wash isn’t as effect­ive as the brand I use. And that their wiper blades need replacing.

But when that hap­pens I just tell them that they shouldn’t talk to pas­sen­gers and con­cen­trate on the road instead. And adjust my hat.

Off Their Trolleys — The Hobbesian Horror of the Supermarket Car Park

By Mark Simpson

There’s a place where drivers lose all reason and all human­ity. A place where not only the Highway Code but the European Convention on Human Rights appar­ently no longer applies. A Hobbesian world at the edges of civil­iz­a­tion, where ped­es­tri­ans are mere squidgy pin balls to be flipped between car bump­ers, where any­thing goes and noth­ing is off limits.

Except stay­ing longer than two hours.

I’m talk­ing of course about the super­mar­ket car park. We’ve all been there. And we’re all going back. Even though we really, really don’t want to.

According to the AA acci­dents in car parks are the most com­mon single cat­egory of car insur­ance claims. A crack­ing 20% of all claims – equi­val­ent to six mil­lion – are for dam­age caused there, and most of these are for super­mar­ket car parks. Though the true fig­ure is prob­ably even higher since many people, mind­ful of their excess or of los­ing their No Claims Bonus, don’t bother claim­ing for minor dam­age unless it can be proven to have been caused by someone else.

But good luck with that, since accord­ing to other research at least a fifth of drivers hit­ting another car in a car park would just drive off if they thought that no one would notice.

It’s true that many super­mar­ket car parks func­tion as meet­ing places for young tear­aways with souped-up hot hatches throb­bing men­acingly with bass tubes. However, although noisy, these guys are usu­ally rel­at­ively well-behaved – per­haps because an expens­ively lowered sus­pen­sion tends to make you more care­ful. The ones you really want to watch out for are the 4x4s with ‘Baby on board’ stick­ers in the back win­dow. The main reason people buy 4x4s isn’t ‘safety’ of course – but just so they can speed over speed bumps. And pos­sibly people.

Many drivers instead of slow­ing down, actu­ally accel­er­ate off the Queen’s Highway into super­mar­kets. For them, super­mar­ket car parks seem to be a cross between a track day and the dodgems – WHEEE!!! What’s more, they’re FREE!!! The fact that there will of course be other vehicles mov­ing very slowly, or sta­tion­ary – or revers­ing out of park­ing bays – only seems to add to their urgent need to get to the wine aisle ASAP and spend half an hour or so look­ing for a dis­coun­ted wine that looks dead posh.

Supermarket car parks are also pave­ments, since people have to get to and from their cars – and load them up with their shop­ping before leav­ing. Which should give one pause. I mean, you might have thought that even the most reck­less of drivers would be inclined to take more care here, if only because by defin­i­tion they are about to become ped­es­tri­ans nego­ti­at­ing the Death Race 2000 car park them­selves. But only if you’d never actu­ally used a super­mar­ket car park.

Things are so bad, so red in tooth and claw in super­mar­ket car parks, that local by-laws really should require all super­mar­ket trol­leys to be equipped with defibrillators.

Don’t let it be said though that super­mar­kets don’t bring the exotic into all our lives. You don’t have to travel to the Continent to see people driv­ing on the other side of the road – just go to Tesco, Asda or Sainsburys. And in the Italo-French style, junc­tions in super­mar­ket car parks have been dis­pensed with – or rather, the mean­ing of a dot­ted double line across the car­riage­way changed to: ‘DON’T LOOK YOU LOSER! JUST ACCELERATE!!’.

All in all, it’s prob­ably just as well that some­thing used in the con­struc­tion of super­mar­ket car parks com­pletely dis­ables indic­at­ors.

Another fun past-time seems to be open­ing your car door without con­sid­er­a­tion to the one parked next to you, leav­ing an indelible memento of your intim­ate incon­sid­er­a­tion on their paint­work. You might try avoid­ing this by park­ing in the farthest corner of the park­ing area, sur­roun­ded by legions of empty bays. So far away that you actu­ally have to take a bus to get to the entrance. But this never ever works.

Someone will always take the trouble to ignore the acres of empty spaces and drive out of their way to keep your lonely car com­pany by park­ing right next to you – and then din­ging you. Quite often, as an added gift, you will find your­self wedged in by two 4x4s and have to turn your­self into Elastoman to get into your (doubled dinged) vehicle.

And if, by some Biblical mir­acle, some inef­fable stroke of luck, you man­age to avoid all these ter­ri­fy­ing haz­ards presen­ted by other drivers when doing your weekly shop, still you will not I’m afraid escape unscathed. You will return to your car with your unex­pec­ted items in the bag­ging area and find that you have been rammed by a rogue shop­ping trolley.

Probably one thought­lessly dis­carded by Thomas Hobbes.

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Incompletely Combusted — How Diesel Didn’t Save the World

By Mark Simpson

Can hate be good?’

This was the ques­tion posed ten years ago in an anim­ated ad that was as impossible to avoid as the products of incom­pletely com­bus­ted fuel in built-up areas. It began with noisy, dirty diesel engines fly­ing over a pretty, super-saturated green coun­tryside which rebelled against them.

Hate some­thing, change some­thing’ chor­uses the soundtrack, and a flock of shiny, newly-designed, silent, clean – and green – diesel engines arrive from Japan and the coun­tryside greets them in joy­ful rap­tures. Diesels have saved the world!

Grrr’ as the promo was called, was tre­mend­ously pop­u­lar. It won sev­eral awards, includ­ing Adweek’s ‘com­mer­cial of the dec­ade’. More the point it also suc­ceeded in boost­ing the sales of diesel engine Honda Accords from a mere 518 units in 2003 to a gag­ging 21,766 in 2004.

Now, I’m sure that Honda’s newly-designed diesel engines were rather bet­ter than the ones that went before, but the basic premise of the ad and more par­tic­u­larly of gov­ern­ment and EU policy since the early Noughties that diesel rep­res­ents a ‘green’ fuel that we should all embrace, was total organic fer­til­izer.

But embraced it we have. A dec­ade on and half of all UK car sales are now diesel, the total on our roads rising from 1.6M in 2004 to 11M of the clat­ter­ing things today. With the res­ult that London is one of the most pol­luted cit­ies on earth (again). Stung into action by whop­ping EU fines for being so filthy, its mayor Boris Johnson recently announced a £10 sur­charge start­ing in 2020 for dies­els enter­ing the cap­ital. Ever the pop­u­list, he also offered sup­port to The Sun’s cam­paign to ‘com­pensate’ diesel own­ers for scrap­ping their cars. Diesel own­ers who have been in effect sub­sid­ised by pet­rol drivers for the past dec­ade or so through a VED based on CO2 emissions.

London is unlikely to be alone in spurn­ing diesel. By the end of the dec­ade 18 cit­ies across UK are expec­ted to fail to meet EU clean air tar­gets for NOx, or nitro­gen oxide, thanks to ‘green diesel’.

Hate some­thing? Diesel engines emit ten times as many fine par­tic­u­lates as pet­rol engines and up to twice as much NOx. Particulates dam­age the lungs when inhaled and can cause per­man­ent stunt­ing of children’s lung growth. NOx pol­lu­tion is linked to 7,000 deaths p/a. Last year the UN’s WHO declared that diesel caused lung can­cer and was as ser­i­ous a risk as pass­ive smoking. Research estim­ates that diesel-related health prob­lems cost the NHS more than ten times as much as com­par­able prob­lems caused by pet­rol fumes.

Cheery car­toon stuff indeed. Ironically, the anim­ated diesel uto­pia ad of 2004 showed a rural set­ting, where diesel engine pol­lu­tion is min­imal. It’s actu­ally in densely-populated urban areas with high volumes of traffic – i.e. where most people in the world now live – that the real prob­lem lies.

The compression-ignition engine, to give it its tech­nical name, was ori­gin­ally designed by Rudolf Diesel 1897 to replace sta­tion­ary steam engines – and was inten­ded to run on coal dust. It is, to be sure, an engin­eer­ing mar­vel. Lacking a car­bur­et­tor or spark plugs, instead the high com­pres­sion of the air in the cyl­in­der heats and ignites the heavy, paraffin-like fuel when it’s injec­ted. The higher com­pres­sion ratio of the diesel engine com­bined with the higher dens­ity of diesel fuel means that mod­ern diesel engines have an impress­ive 20–40% MPG advant­age over petrol.

Which is the reason why they were touted as ‘green’ when com­batting global warm­ing became the head­line envir­on­mental issue. Because of their greater effi­ciency they pro­duce less CO2 per mile than pet­rol engines. Theoretically, by switch­ing to diesel we would be help­ing to save the planet from man-made cli­mate change. But you don’t have to be a cli­mate change sceptic/denier to con­sider this a very the­or­et­ical, per­haps almost meta­phys­ical concept, given all the other variables.

And there’s noth­ing the­or­et­ical or, alas, meta­phys­ical about the impact of the other things that dies­els emit in much greater abund­ance than pet­rol engines. It’s in the very nature of a ‘coal dust’ diesel engine that it will be ‘dirtier’ because the fuel is not fully-combusted.

Shockingly, it’s pre­cisely for this reason that European stand­ards for diesel exhaust have not been as strict as for pet­rol engines. It’s also increas­ingly clear that much-touted mod­ern tech­no­lo­gies to con­trol diesel pol­lu­tion don’t work very well in the real world, as opposed to the labor­at­ory – or car­toon com­mer­cials. A 2011 gov­ern­ment test to meas­ure emis­sions from vehicles in every­day use found that while pet­rol emis­sions had improved by 96%, emis­sions of NOx from dies­els have not decreased for the past 15–20 years.

Remember those other vari­ables I men­tioned? Well it turns out that the soot or car­bon that dies­els emit may be second only to CO2 in climate-warming. And 70% of car­bon emis­sions in Europe, North America and Latin America are from diesels.

Full dis­clos­ure: I’ve always hated dies­els. I used to live atop London’s highest hill. A keen cyc­list I would usu­ally find myself gasp­ing behind a diesel belch­ing stinky soot straight down my sporty throat. As I type this prob­ably a zil­lion par­tic­u­lates are embed­ded deep in my lungs, fizz­ing away and hasten­ing the day I develop cell abnormalities.

Can hate be good? I don’t know. But schaden­freude at the fate of smug dies­els can be bloody brilliant.

(Originally appeared on LeasePlan 10/9/14)

The Sexiest Man Alive is a Super Spornosexual With Big Bis & Huge Hammer

People Mag have crowned the Australian actor Chris Hemsworth as this year’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’.

Hemsworth was an early — and eye-poppingly rapid — adop­ter of sporno­sexu­al­ity. If the mont­age below grabbed from the inter­web is to be believed, Chris made the trans­form­a­tion from svelte soap opera met­ro­sexual to hench Hollywood sporno­sexual in just a year.

The cre­at­ine he was tak­ing must have had, er, super powers.

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How The Prostate Came Out of the Closet

Mark Simpson snaps on the latex gloves and gives men’s pro­states a thor­ough examination

(Originally appeared in a shorter, more taste­ful form in The Daily Telegraph, 12 Nov 2014)

Movember’ is upon us again, and so are the ironic and per­haps not so ironic upper lip pubes, remind­ing us of the very import­ant, very worthy – and until Movember, very over­looked – issue of pro­state can­cer, a dis­ease which affects 42,000 men each year, and kills 11,000.

But this is per­haps also a good time to remem­ber that pro­states don’t just get can­cer – and they’re not just for November, or for pro­du­cing an alkaline secre­tion which helps sus­tain ejac­u­lated sperm in the vagina. They can also give a great deal of year-round pleas­ure. Mind blow­ing, leg-shaking, eye-rolling, neighbour-panicking pleasure.

While the very exist­ence of the female G-spot remains a mat­ter of hot debate, the male G-spot is mighty real. Situated just below a chap’s urin­ary blad­der, wrapped around the urethra, the pro­state is a walnut-sized but­ton con­veni­ently placed about a finger’s length from the anal open­ing – proof pos­it­ive of ‘intel­li­gent design’.

And more and more are being reached reg­u­larly – not just by med­ical prac­ti­tion­ers look­ing for ‘enlarge­ment’. The 21st cen­tury is shap­ing up to be the cen­tury of the prostate.

Reach’ it and you – and pos­sibly your bed­room walls – will be left in no doubt as to its exist­ence. As Seann Scott William dis­covered in the col­lege com­edy ‘Road Trip’ – released in 2000, around the time Movember was just get­ting bristly – when his arrog­ant frat-boy char­ac­ter ‘EL’ attempts to make a sperm dona­tion, and is ‘helped out’ by a slightly sad­istic, latex-gloved female nurse.

That was awe­some!’ he says, dazed-amazed after­wards. And by the film’s end he’s instruct­ing his girl­friend to ‘use three fin­gers’. Probably pro­vok­ing many a young man’s interest in his own prostate.

2000 was cer­tainly a busy year for that tick­lish gland. In ‘Me, Myself & Irene’ another com­edy released later the same year, Jim Carrey plays a split per­son­al­ity Jekyll and Hyde char­ac­ter – the obnox­ious ego­ist half also turns out to enjoy anal inser­tion: this time in the form of an eye-wateringly XXL dildo dur­ing a night of pas­sion with Renee Zellwegger.

Yes the male anal­ity on dis­play in these Millennium movies was largely at the expense of the males con­cerned of course, but because the men being pro­stat­ic­ally pleas­ured were straight, both movies effect­ively told their audi­ences that in the new cen­tury men enjoy­ing their rears being played with was not spe­cific­ally ‘gay’. Just ridicu­lously intense.

Which seems to have been all the per­mis­sion that straight men needed. A dec­ade or so on from its Hollywood ‘out­ing’, that hitherto hid­den gland def­in­itely has no sexual ori­ent­a­tion – and little or no shame. ‘I’m going to stick my whole thumb up your ass this even­ing’ says a newly-engaged women fairly ran­domly to her lucky boy­friend in the TV drama ‘Fargo’.

Prostate mas­sagers’ of all shapes and baff­ling sizes (vibrat­ing and non-vibrating) fill the pages of online sex toy stores. Men’s mags such as Esquire and Men’s Health inter­rupt their guides to the mys­ter­ies of the female body to give advice on how to get your girl­friend to mas­sage your pro­state just right while giv­ing you a blow job. Entire books are devoted to the sub­ject, prom­ising you ‘The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure’.

And a giant green butt plug was inflated in Paris last month – the city that in another epoch was fam­ous for Mr Eiffel’s phal­lic Gallic tower.

Not want­ing to be, ahem, behind the curve, Harvard University is now offer­ing sem­inars on anal sex titled: ‘What’s What in the Butt: Anal Sex 101’, where you can learn ‘anal ana­tomy and the poten­tial for pleas­ure for all genders!’

The back bot­tom is the new front bot­tom – as a peek at straight online porn will con­firm. It’s pos­sibly not without sig­ni­fic­ance that the ori­fice that straight men seem most inter­ested in women these days is one they share them­selves. After all ‘anal sex’ is a highly revers­ible concept.

This was graph­ic­ally and nois­ily demon­strated in the leaked vid of the pro foot­baller a few years back which appeared to show him being ‘scored’ by an ex female part­ner with a ‘strap on’. The tabs talked then of course about how ‘bizarre’ and ‘kinky’ his private past-time was – but as with William’s ‘Road Trip’, his loud enjoy­ment of it will have just made many foot­ball fans won­der what they’ve been miss­ing by always play­ing up front instead of at the rear.

Certainly the pos­sib­il­ity of male passiv­ity is advert­ised every­where you look now. After all sporno­sexu­al­ity, hard-core, body-centred, second gen­er­a­tion met­ro­sexu­al­ity, is as much about the lunge-sculpted ass as it is the tits and abs. Straight Essex boy Dan Osborne kindly offered the read­ers of gay mag Attitude his naked muscle butt recently in a gen­er­ous double-page spread – with the strap line ‘Sex is fun. Be safe and enjoy it.’

Dan offers his bum (safely) to Attitude readers. 'Enjoy!'
Dan offers his bum (safely) to Attitude read­ers. ‘Enjoy!’

Posh boys are also at it. The male row­ers of Warwick University have just released their latest nude char­ity cal­en­dar, aimed at women and gay men, and ‘fight­ing homo­pho­bia in sports’ – rammed with plenty of arse shots (because there’s no penis in their nude cal­en­dar, they’re all bot­tom). In these pro­static times the male der­rière has been thor­oughly sexu­al­ised. Mostly by the men attached to one. Or as one of the row­ers puts it in their pro­mo­tional video: ‘Regardless of gender or sexu­al­ity we are invit­ing you into that moment with us.’

Some stick-in-the-muds will of course har­rumph that male anal play and passiv­ity is ‘unnat­ural’ and ‘sod­om­it­ical’. To which I always reply: If God hadn’t inten­ded men to try anal play he wouldn’t have given them pro­state glands. Unless he just wanted to really mess with their heads.

And He – or naughty, naughty She – gave them to all men, whatever their sexual ori­ent­a­tion and whatever their sexual hang-ups. Your pro­state gland doesn’t care whether you’re straight, gay, bi or homo­phobic – just whether or not it’s loved.

But then, that quaint old homo­phobic ral­ly­ing cry ‘Backs against the wall lads!’ was always a bit of a giveaway. Ever so slightly hint­ing that if ‘the lads’ didn’t press their rears against some­thing solid they wouldn’t be able to res­ist impal­ing them­selves on the ‘poof’.

Yes, of course, des­pite some of the pro­stat­itc pro­pa­ganda – includ­ing this art­icle – not all men enjoy their pro­states being mas­saged. Whether they are straight or gay. But the out­ing of the pro­state gland as a poten­tial organ of (pass­ive) male pleas­ure – of male ver­sat­il­ity – regard­less of sexu­al­ity frees gay and bisexual men from the very heavy bur­den of rep­res­ent­ing all male anal pleas­ure. And straight men from hav­ing to be full-time ‘studs’.

So next time you see a Village People mous­tache in November, remem­ber that the pro­state is a gland men should be proud of. And in touch with. One way or another.