Tinder And Grindr. Waste Of Time.

I cannot get over how much the dating landscape in the 21st century seismically shifted.

When I was growing up, meeting someone for a relationship, was reasonably upfront. Give or take the odd, unexpected left turn. There was the at work option, or at a party, pub or bar. See. I’m so old fashioned and out of touch to be talking about this. Then along came Internet dating. I never had an issue with that. Never bothered me in the slightest. In fact I warmly embraced this development. It was such a perfectly, reasonable, rational not to mention respectful way to meet a potential partner. But now we have something completely different. I call them the devil’s children of Internet dating. Not that I am passing some kind of moral judgment here. I’m not. Far from it. I just have a lot of personal issues with Tinder and Grindr. And, it is not because they’re a couple of smartphone applications, used primarily by people to have casual sex. Actually, “casual” is way too nice a word. It’s because they live in a world where people and sex are disposable commodities. To be used and discarded, There’s no love, no deep connection, no personal investment of any kind to be found in Tinder and Grindr apart from the kind you get from self-gratification. But for some of us, maybe even many of us, these two apps have fundamentally changed the way we go about things relationship wise and not in a good way, in my view.

So I was quite interested and bemused to read a story with the headline: “ How Sex Is Killing The Live Music Scene Thanks To Tinder And Grindr.”

The story suggested that we forget breath-testing, lockouts, or downloading – Sex is killing live music, or at least the search for it is, on Tinder and Grindr.

That’s the provocative but serious claim, made by a music venue owner and live music booker, James Young, who says that more and more people prefer to “stare at their phones and swipe left or right ” rather than head out to a bar where they might meet somebody.  Sounds pretty sad to me.

“Grindr, the gay app, came out about two years before Tinder and has destroyed the gay hotspot [in Melbourne],” Young says. “That is a textbook, identifiable case. And here we are, two years later, with Tinder following in its footsteps”. He says young people are hanging about (probably at home) hunched over their phones instead of going out to bars and clubs.

It should be pointed out that music venues don’t simply exist for the sole purpose of enabling a romantic meeting between two people. Of course not says Young, but “bars are fragile businesses” and anything that affects even three or five percent of business on already thin margins can be hard to recover from. “And what we are talking about is 10 per cent loss of business and for some businesses, that’s their profit margin.”

Young, who owns and books music for three bars in Melbourne argues that “sex has always been a big part of rock ‘n’ roll but we’re not saying the sole purpose of venues is to pick up”. It is, however, a problem that carries a ripple effect because people used to meet – or hook up in the modern parlance – at venues where music was being played.

“If there are less people at the bars, that’s going to affect sales and there is also a parallel issue in the type of dates you go on,” Young says. “A Tinder date is a super casual date so ‘let’s meet at a cafe, let’s meet at the latest, chic pop-up restaurant’. He says first dates used to be at a rowdy live music event. Not anymore. But people don’t really talk to each other anymore. They hook up.

He says in Sydney you can add lockouts and earlier closing of bars to the Tinder-effect. Young also raises another fear, that “Netflix, Stan and binge TV series watching have become the new dating”, with the simplicity of an affordable entertaining option capped off by the fact that “you’re already on the couch”.

What a huge yawn. I prefer the personal meet and greet, the spark, the meeting of minds, the possibility of what might be and then discovering that it is, any day over any smartphone app. As far as I’m concerned Tinder can go up in flames and it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest. I know. So old fashioned.

Most Women Don’t Wash Every Day, What’s The Big Deal?

An interesting question was posed the other day. It went something like this: How keen are we to be clean? Clean as in hygienically clean as in washing our bodies. We still primp and pamper ourselves more than any of our ancestors. But quelle bloody horreur. The time for personal grooming is being squeezed out of our busy lives. It is being squeezed out as far as women are concerned but it’s probably equally true for men. What do I base this on? A survey, of course, conducted on more than two thousand women aged 18 to 50, by a British cosmetics company. Even if you don’t completely believe the findings they are nonetheless interesting and worthy of a discussion.

Four out of five women admit they don’t shower every day, and a third say they can go for three days without washing their body. The survey also found that almost two thirds can’t be bothered removing makeup before they go to bed, and one in eight own up to not brushing their teeth before they sleep.

When it comes to washing in the morning, only 21 per cent of females take the time to shower or have a bath every day, with 33 per cent admitting to leaving it as long as three days from wash to wash.

But to be fair, having a shower or a bath daily used to be a pastime only for the wealthy upper-class. Back in the days before we had convenient plumbing, almost no one would bathe every day.and almost everyone would have simply “freshened up with a quick wipe” in the morning and evening – which, according to that survey I mentioned is what 57% of women in 2015 are doing. It became, very much, a 20th-century routine to always include a daily bath. Later on, this morphed into taking a shower, by far the easiest way to wash off the dust, sweat and fatigue of a day’s hard work. This is what public baths were originally created for, when very few people had a bathroom; and we all know that coal miners had to wash before they would eat or sleep, as is true for those in the building trades today.

So where did this non-washing suddenly spring from? Eighty nine percent of those surveyed, blamed evening and morning tiredness for their lack of showering or bathing. I’m sure some people would be digusteded by this revelation. But is it disgust that is misplaced? Cleanliness maybe next to godliness but it is relative. Human bodies do not disintegrate if they are not washed for days even three or more days. So maybe we should be more forgiving of those who do not have the time or the energy for an evening or even morning grooming ritual. Maybe the time has come for us to acknowledge that most people lead busy,busy lives that get increasingly hectic as the day progresses. Many people have other things to do by 6pm, such as looking after children and cooking meals, worse still they haven’t even left work yet. Morning showers are more frequent, but not always possible in a family situation. I’m making a lot of excuses here. Just saying.

The curious finding in the survey is that parents, who don’t take an early evening bath, still regard it as an absolute ritual to bathe their children at 6pm every day. The why is because they are training their children in the habits of cleanliness, handed down directly from Victorian nurseries. But how effective are their efforts? How many parents find that their children’s grooming and tidying routines go on vacation immediately the children leave the surveillance of the parental home? The survey has an explanation for this. It may well be that the 63% who don’t bother removing make up or brush their teeth before bed, are young adults. They presumably have more important things to do with their time. But according to the experts ironically they will still, in all probability, train their offspring exactly as their parents trained them, because this is what humans do. It is how standards are maintained and passed on.

As one commentator pointed out, the really sad aspect of the survey is that even in the 21st century, personal grooming time is still a relative luxury, because we are still time-poor. We have almost completely lost sight of the extensive life-work balance that used to be the essence of the philosophy of Hygeia. Now I’m sure you all know about the philosophy of Hygeia. For those that don’t, Hygeia was the ancient Greek goddess of health. She gave her name to the philosophy of hygiene. The cult of Hygeia started in Athens in 600 BC, in connection with the cult of Athene, goddess of wisdom and purity. Statues of Athene and Hygeia stood at the entrance to the Athens Acropolis. Hygeia was a young goddess, daughter and chief attendant to Asklepios, the god of medicine. She was in charge of cleanliness and how to live a long life. She had two other medicinal sisters: Panacea (‘Cure-All’) and Iaso (‘Remedy’). The Romans named her Salus. In classical sculpture she was often shown holding or feeding a large snake, the symbol of medicine. Her other official symbol was a large water basin. Statues of Hygeia were erected in all the major healing centres in the temples of Asklepios. The cult of Hygeia was first spread about Greece in response to the bubonic plague, a disease symptomatic of poor hygiene.

In Greek ‘hygeia’ means ‘soundness’ or ‘wholeness’. Hygiene in medicine was about maintaining the ‘wholeness’ or ‘health’ of the body and keeping it fit. Hippocratic doctors formulated a philosophy of hygiene that covered almost every possible aspect of health – including mind, body and the environment. The influence of this philosophical thinking continued to impact on public health reforms during the past two centuries.

But with the passage of time and the Industrial revolution, hygiene became confined to the idle rich. They had the time because everyone else was too buy working to live. But reforms in working-hour legislation gave us a minimum of 10, then eight, working hours per day; then Saturday afternoons off; then Saturday mornings off; and finally the half-days that shops used to have on Wednesdays or Thursdays to allow workers time off for playing sport. All of these gains were painful and hard fought for and won from employers, but they’ve gradually been eroded by the pace of modern living. As one commentator observed, working hours have increased, under the same advanced capitalism that demands excellent personal grooming but spares us little time in which to perform it. Personal hygiene is now squeezed into our five-day working week, in an average office day which now ends (for both men and women) at 6-7pm rather than 4-5pm – if they are lucky.

As in the past, Saturday is still often the only day that allows time to get a haircut, or (these days) a pedicure, manicure, or a massage. You can get time off for the doctor or a dental emergency, but not the hairdresser, the yoga class, or for playing sport. So what does this all mean? Is it all just one giant excuse for being incredibly lazy and unhygienic? Or maybe we just don’t have time to be clean, at least not every day. The French don’t seem to have any hang ups about this. I’m sure it was Napoleon, who in a letter to Josephine, wrote, I will be home in a week. Don’t wash. That’s definitely pretty dirty.

What Do Women Want When It Comes To Sperm Donors? Not What You Think

What do women want? Now there’s a question worth answering. Not by me. But if, by some miracle, I was, ever able to accurately answer that question, as opposed to providing what I think might be the right answer, then I would be exceptional indeed.

Now before anyone jumps to conclusions, I don’t even come close to having an answer. I’m not even going to try. But some researchers in Australia have. Especially in relation to what women are looking for in the prospective father of their chid. And what researchers discovered might surprise you. It surprised me.

A study of online sperm markets shows women value more than just money when it comes to choosing a father for their children. Queensland University of Technology behavioural economists, Stephen Whyte and Benno Torgler conducted a survey of 70 women who were shopping for sperm donors via the web, instead of traditional fertility and IVF clinics.

Ok. But let’s just pause the narrative for a moment. Why would women be shopping for sperm donors on the Internet instead of the traditional methods and means? In Australia the answer is because of dwindling anonymity for sperm donors. In fact, around 95 per cent of the sperm donations are sourced from overseas, the vast majority coming from the sperm export powerhouse, the United States. One of the dwindling few Australian men willing to donate said his decision to donate sperm was influenced by the inability to conceive with his wife and the lengthy process of adoption. “I knew the trouble some couples go through to conceive and just how emotionally draining it can be – that feeling of helplessness at times,” he said. “I was happy to help other families overcome these challenges in any way I could.” But he is very much the exception. Unfortunately, most Australian men remain extremely hesitant to donate sperm because they fear they might be identified by their potential offspring at some future time. The shortage of sperm donors is an issue across the entire country. IVF Australia spokesman Professor Michael Chapman said the shortage continues to force many to turn to the United States for a steady supply of sperm. He said imported sperm was being used to alleviate waiting lists and shortages. “In New South Wales the waiting time for donor sperm for married couples is two to three months, while single women often have to wait six months,” he said. The discrepancy is due to some donors specifying that their sperm is only to be used by couples wanting to conceive a child. City Fertility’s chief executive Adnan Catakovic said his national organisation imports between 50 and 200 sperm donations from the US each year. Melbourne Law School Professor Loane Skene said the right of children to identify their genetic parents. once they become adults, has undoubtedly reduced the number of sperm donors in Australia. “Although the child can find out who their parent is once they turn 18, there are no legal rights associated between them – a genetic father can’t be made to financially support the child,” she said. So are donor children interested in meeting their genetic father? The answer probably lies somewhere in between. Donor children are often not interested in meeting their fathers but want to know that their genetic father is a person and not just a number . The law in Australia is very clear about separating parenting rights from donor rights.

Anyway, lets get back on to the topic we began discussing at the very start. And that is the research that suggests women value more than just money when it comes to choosing a prospective father for their children. One of the behavioural economists, Stephen Whyte, responsible for conducting the survey of 70 women shopping for sperm donors online said the results were totally unexpected. “We’re interested in cognitive, psychological or emotional factors that are involved when people make decisions,” Whyte said. “Probably the biggest economic decision you’ll make in your life is your choice of partner, and having any subsequent offspring.” But the women surveyed were motivated not by money or career when considering a prospective father. He said women using online sperm markets provided a unique opportunity for a study of this type, because it took the issue of “parental investment” – the amount of time a potential partner would invest in the child’s growth and welfare – out of the equation. “This is an opportunity for women to go out and choose a donor that fits their aesthetic, the purely physical characteristics that they’re after,” he said. “But the study actually shows the most important things to women when they choose a donor in this online market are behavioural traits, like kindness, openness and reliability.” Whyte said those were traits taught by parents, arguably making them unimportant when it came to choosing a donor, but women still rated them as most important. He said the study also showed women didn’t value men with a high-profile or high-earning careers as much as popular wisdom might suggest. “They’re putting behavioural traits at the top, physical aspects like eye colour and hair colour next, then, at the bottom, the least important things are income and occupation,” Whyte said. “It’s a step away from the evolutionary psychology argument that women favour resources or indication of resources in a partner, to help them bear the heavy burden in having kids.” The world-first research will be published in the Journal of Bioeconomics, but Whyte said it wasn’t the end of the story. “These sorts of sperm sharing websites have only been around for about five years, and what’s going to be interesting is will that change, and will more women seek to use these services?,” he said. “It will be interesting to do a larger study into the why – are they going to those services to get better contact than at current fertility or IVF clinics?”

He also said work would be done in examining the male side of the equation. “When we did the survey we collected both women participating, and men donating, but we’re still in the process of finishing the paper on the men,” he said. In fact the findings in relation to men could be just as crucial as women. Men forgo any right to anonymity when the donate sperm online. And that is what interests scientists like Stephen Whyte.  “But it’s the same thing… why are men happy to participate in this online sperm marketplace, when a regular donation at a clinic is completely anonymous? “ It’s a change in the way the human race is mating.”

You could say that again.

Did You Know It’s Hot To Stare

Sometimes I have been known to write about sex. It could be because I am a depraved and dirty old man who likes to get his jollies off writing something salacious. Or (the real reason) sex is a natural part of life and anything that is going to make it better for everyone is worth talking about.

For example, did you know that more eye contact improves your sex life? I read a clever line the other day on the topic. When it comes to love and sex, the eyes have it. But how we eye one another off these days, is not so good. In fact, if the truth was known it is nonexistent. We seem to have lost the art of creating a lasting impression because we have become too scared to stare. We don’t look at each other anymore.

I mean, do you make a point of establishing and holding eye contact when you flirt? How often do you make eye contact with your significant other? Most importantly, how often do you make eye contact when you are doing the business? The answer is probably rarely, if at all.

Speaking of probables. On the balance of probabilities those who are looking for love are exercising their pupils far more than those already partnered up. In other words, if you are already spoken for, the look of love doesn’t involve much looking anymore. There could be a multitude of reasons for this. But I am suggesting just one. We don’t have time for the look of love because we are too busy looking at other stuff. Like smart phones, tablets, computer screens and porn. Yes porn. It’s instantly available and you are carrying its downloadable potential on portable devices every day.

A columnist took on this issue the other day. She suggested we stop mooning around (her words) at these “mirrors of self reflection” and start “turning back to the proverbial soul windows of the people we are actually with.”

She went on to suggest a mighty good reason for doing so. Recent research suggests we are having sex less often. This research says it’s because, thanks to the internet, we are having sex under the shadow of a new form of performance anxiety which, as the theory goes, owes its existence to the newly found, easily accessible, porn industry.

I certainly don’t want this to sound judgmental. This theory could be true or not but whatever you might think you’d have to admit it’s pretty interesting. The theory says that thanks to the porn industry and cheaper, faster, internet speeds, we’re now really familiar with how people look when they are having sex. We know how to perform when we’re having sex, what faces to make, what positions to adopt, what sounds to make and the list goes on.

But there is a downside. While we are looking at these people banging their bits together we might also notice that rarely are they looking at each other. In fact the eyes have it when it comes to the only contact not being made. Of course it could be argued they don’t have to. We are talking flesh not feelings. Why waste time with a loving gaze, when all eyes are on the money shot figuratively and metaphorically speaking?

But are we truly missing out?

Maybe.

Good sex is about good connection. Connected sex isn’t sex at all. It’s called love. And isn’t love making what we need more of because it is truly satisfying? And it certainly doesn’t happen if at no point are you looking into the face of someone, if you’ll pardon the pun, that your connected to.

That columnist, who I mentioned, points out  that only when you’ve felt the rush of connectivity from looking into the proverbial soul-windows of your partner, will you know the sheer bliss of soul-rocking sex. It’s probably overstating it a tad. But it has the ring of truth. She says the power of a stare shared between two soul mates is stunning. It shines with a new brilliance once that gaze has been raised, and met. That’s where the understanding and the joy and the truth comes from. That’s where good sex – and a good relationship – begins.

She says it takes courage to make and maintain eye contact, especially when it comes to the risky, run of romance. But reward comes with effort and fortune favours the brave. So it might pay to do what scares us sometimes, even if that scary thing is as simple as looking into the eyes of the person you’re talking to, whispering to, or undressing.

I’ll shut up now.

A Woman’s Work Is Never Done. So Get Your Husband To Help.

Being a woman and a mother must be a tough gig these days. I say this from the point of view of an outsider looking in. These women are juggling relationships, careers and family, all at the same time.

Being a man is still a position of privilege. They earn more. Get promoted faster and higher. Even if they have a family they still get to focus on their career with everything else pretty much on the backburner or to put it more accurately hand passed to their other half.

Maybe it comes from the male DNA that says a man can only do one thing at a time. Let’s face it. You rarely see the words men and multi-tasking in the same sentence except if you happen to be talking about a ménage a trois.

Whereas women have to cope with always doing more than one thing all the time like moving forward with their career while at the same time caring for children.

I have always begrudgingly admired how women are so good at sharing and supporting one another. Social media is tailor made for them. And now they are using it to empower themselves and each other by creating websites and pages on Facebook for job opportunities, tips on flexible working hours, support as well as advice on how to balance job demands with family life.

And these sites are not only creating opportunities for women who want to work from home, they are educating employers on the advantages of hiring flexible workers.

If employers are smart they will realize stay-at-home women have experience and talent, and would otherwise be in senior corporate roles if they were not raising a family. Salary is not as important to them as flexible working hours. These women have a track record for loyalty, maturity and possessing a great work ethic. The hours they want to work may not be 9-5 but they will get the job done without supervision.

And as more and more of these opportunities are taken up, stay-at-home Mums are relishing the chance to spend time with their children and have a career.

Change is on its way, but as satirical writer, Kathy Lette reminded one and all in a recent opinion piece we still have a long way to go baby.

The sad reality is that a women’s work is never done and certainly not by a man. Female life expectancy is falling and women are showing signs of increased stress levels with high blood pressure, heart attacks and alopecia because they literally have too much to do.

A British survey found that women do 11 hours 30 minutes of housework per week, twice as much as men. They also do most of the dreary household chores like washing the floors, cleaning the toilet, vacuuming and the ironing. That age- old claim that the closest a man ever gets to housework, is to give a room a sweeping glance might be true after-all. The reality is most workingwomen work all day then they come home to cook dinner, help the children with their homework, stack the dishwasher, put out the rubbish and sort the washing. By the end of the night the only fantasy occupying her thoughts is a good night’s sleep. She certainly isn’t in the mood for love, as most husbands will testify.

But Kathy Lette did present one solution that,to me, seemed to make a lot of sense. Offering sexual rewards in return for doing the chores. She says offering a ‘sensual incentive’ would have men doing the vacuuming so thoroughly they would suck the skirting boards off the wall.

And as it turns out that might not be the only incentive.

As Ms Lette quite correctly points out, it is scientifically proven that no woman ever killed her husband or partner while he was vacuuming the house, cleaning the bath or moping the floors.

Be Very Ashamed

There are times when I feel ashamed to be an Australian. Today is one of those days.

A health report was released. It’s a survey of the community attitudes of 17 and half thousand people. Some of the answers that were given I personally find grossly offensive. Here’s an example. A large proportion of people in the survey were prepared to justify the actions of rapists and men who inflict domestic violence on women and then shift all of the blame to the victim.

One in five people surveyed say they believe a woman who is raped while affected by drugs or alcohol is partly responsible for what occurred. One in five people believe this. Can you believe it?

Forty percent of people surveyed say quite often women who report they’ve been raped led the man on and later had regrets about it.

Get this. Sixteen percent of the people surveyed say women who say no to an unwelcome advance really mean yes. Apparently women don’t have a mind of their own. I don’t think so.

If you think this is an aberration or just catching people on a bad day, consider this. The last time a survey like this was done was in 2013. At that time the number of people who thought that rape was the result of men not being able to control their need for sex was four. That number has now risen to 10.

When it comes to domestic violence, attitudes don’t get any better. Sixty percent of Australians surveyed say the main cause of domestic violence is men not being able to control their anger.

Prepare to be shocked. Almost a quarter say they believe domestic violence can be excused if the attacker can’t control their anger or regrets it. This is just unacceptable and wrong.

One senior policeman responding to the survey said it was disappointing that people still felt the need to justify violence. What he means is there should be no circumstances where violence against women is understandable or acceptable.

Clearly in this country we need to have some hard conversations and some banging of heads. Attitudes need to change and misogynistic behaviour condemned.

All of this is deeply worrying but there is one other revelation from this survey that I find the most troubling. Young people, particularly young men are more likely to have violent attitudes to women that will either justify, excuse, trivialise or shift the blame for their actions. It makes me wonder what life lessons they are getting at home and at school. Whatever they are being taught clearly doesn’t include the concept of respect.

The head of the health group, which commissioned the survey, spoke wisely when she said any culture that excuses rape and violence is one that allows it to happen. Violence is by choice not by instinct and it is never excusable. Amen to that.

Bring Us Some Men

There’s a remote village in southeast Brazil about 500 km from Rio De Janeiro called Noiva do Cordeiro. It sits in a valley called Belo Vale, which literally translates as beautiful Valley and it’s a place that lives up to its name. The village has groves with row upon row of thick skinned and sweet tangerines, banana plants and trees covered with bright yellow flowers.

But if you go to Noiva do Codeiro the landscape is not the only view to catch your eye. There are also its inhabitants. To be more specific, I’m talking about the village women. But that is also Noiva do Codeiro’s curse as much as it is a blessing.

Apparently this area is famous in Brazil for producing more women than men. But right now too many of them are single and looking for love and there just aren’t enough men around to go round if you get my meaning. And the women of Noiva do Codeiro are determined to do something about it. They’ve launched a nationwide and an international appeal for eligible men to come to their village.

As one of the young village women explained: The only men that single girls meet in the village are either married or a relative. Everyone is a cousin. She says: we all dream of falling in love and getting married. But that is not to say they need a man. They don’t. The village women do very well and are quite happy the way they are. They manage the village finances, they work the fields, they run the show in the absence of men. In fact what makes the place so special is the sense of community that exists here. People work together, and because they work so hard it makes them want to look out for one another. The village has a saying: Life is good because we are always with friends.

Now at this point you might be wondering why there is such a lopsided gender balance. It has to do with Noiva do Codeiro’s history. The village was first settled in the late 19th century. Its founder was a woman called Maria Senhorinha de Lima who arrived after she was accused of adultery and exiled from her church and home in 1891. That stigma has never left the place. The villagers say it has meant that Novia do Codeiro has been isolated because of prejudice and they have also been fighting a campaign to ensure that the authorities don’t continue to ignore the community.

Clearly, there are men who live in Noiva do Codeiro but they spend the week away working either as miners or in the nearest big city. The village women acknowledge they are an unusual group in rural Brazil. But the times they are a changing in Brazil. The country has a female President. A woman heads up the country’s oil company and women make up more than a quarter of the senior management of Brazil’s leading companies.

This latest publicity has helped to spread Noiva do Codeiro’s notoriety far and wide. The place has a history of male visitors falling for the inhabitants of the village. And that is what the women of Noiva do Codeiro are hoping for. It is now on the tourist trail for some French travellers. If only the village women could speak French.