Douglas Davis says that George W. Bush’s drive for global democracy may hand the Hashemite kingdom over to Hamas If unintended consequences are the progeny of political activism, then the fate of King Abdullah of Jordan is a lesson to us all. The West’s best friend in the Arab world is now the region’s most vulnerable monarch.
It was, after all, America’s war against Saddam Hussein that produced Abu Musab al-Zarkawi, al-Qa’eda’s main man in Iraq and a sworn enemy of the Hashemite throne in his native Jordan.
‘Designer babies’ is headline shorthand for a weird new world of genetic enhancement. Thanks to several generations of science-fiction imagery, it evokes an unnatural and evil world of blond, staring, probably homicidal children, which scares ordinary people.
Headlines create a cartoon world that subverts understanding and wisdom, but there is some truth in them. Human ‘enhancement’ is now being pursued in many ways, through life extension, psychoactive drugs like Ritalin and Prozac, information technology and, most obviously, through control of reproduction.
Several years ago, in another lifetime it seems, I played a porn star. In fact I played the Pornstar, in a fairly successful little two-hand play called The Dyke and the Pornstar. The piece gained a deserved reputation for being daring, risqué, even provocative. It was described by one critic as being ‘artfully performed, and sexy as hell’ and it was nominated for something called a UK Freedom Award.
Why do middle-class mums go to the gym for pole-dancing classes? Because, says Ariel Levy, they have been conned by kitschy, slutty ‘raunch culture’ Some version of a sexy, scantily clad temptress has been around through the ages, and there has always been a demand for smut. But whereas this was once a guilty pleasure on the margins — on the almost entirely male margins — now, strippers, porn stars and Playboy bunnies have gone mainstream, writing bestsellers, starring in reality television shows, living a life we’re all encouraged to emulate.
Miles Douglas on the jealousy, ageism and sexual intrigue of gay men’s lives A few months ago I persuaded one of my oldest and best gay friends to invite his lively, articulate heterosexual neighbours to dinner. The meal was, as I had expected, a great success. Conversation was amusing, flowed naturally along with the wine, and covered an impressive range of subjects. Like any good dinner party, it left a warm afterglow.
One of America’s most celebrated ‘sexologists’ tells Harry Mount that there are some problems she will not advise onNew York
‘I tell them about pressure, foreplay ...I introduce them to a vibrator but I tell them never to get too used to it. The penis can never duplicate the vibrations of a vibrator.’
At 77, Dr Ruth Westheimer has still got the old magic. It remains as odd as ever to be taught orgasm lessons by a 4ft 6in grandmother who speaks with the seductive rolling ‘r’s and the guttural ‘achs’ of Marlene Dietrich.
It was John Major who came a cropper while trying to restore the nation’s moral values: his ‘back to basics’ campaign was mocked to death before it had really got started. Yet Mr Major’s attempt to influence the nation’s morals was nothing compared with that of Tony Blair, who has overseen a Sexual Offences Act, a law against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, the introduction of civil partnerships for gay couples, and a gambling Bill.