Male Genitals – A Fashion Statement?

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Men have always been fond and rather proud of their ‘family jewels’. Let’s face it however (just between us girls), having genitals which literally dangle in the way of certain physical pursuits like running, bending, horse-riding, and during medieval times, sword-fighting, is not really practical, not to mention comfortable. This is why, mostly during the Renaissance, society saw the rise of that most prominent and masculine of apparels – the codpiece.

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A codpiece is a pouch or covering flap of material which was attached to and covered the genital or scrotum areas. It was generally worn by males as early as during the Greek classical era, however it is during the  15th and 16th centuries that codpieces reached their ‘peak’, in that the fashion was to further pad and emphasize the importance of a man’s codpiece (talk about advertising the size of one’s ‘assets’), rather than concealing them for modesty’s sake. This trend most probably began with the shortening of men’s doublets (hip-length fitted jacket-like garments worn in Europe by men over their shirts). When hemlines rose and hoses (thin tight-fitting tights or breeches) became longer and open at the front, this resulted in under-dressed genitals, which further stressed the importance of the codpiece as a triangular piece of fabric covering the gap.

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Codpieces were generally made of linen and either stitched or held closed with laces or buttons. Victoria Miller, a researcher and student at Cambridge University who is studying the history of the codpiece as part of her PhD, related to The Guardian newspaper that the codpiece first ‘came into fashion as something really modest, a triangular piece of fabric. In the first couple of decades of the 16th century it started to be stuffed. Then it got to epic proportions, some more phallic, some more testicular or ovoid in shape… Men always agonised about their masculinity – and especially the question of size’.

So basically, the codpiece was the male rendition of a stuffed push-up bra.

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Those concerned with public morals started to be worried about the issue. In 1555 a Bishop in Frankfurt became notorious for publishing a pamphlet criticizing the codpiece in that he berated the fact that ‘young fellows have their cod-pieces in front puffed out by the flames and rags of Hell so that the Devil can sit and look out in all directions, causing scandal and creating a bad example’, bemoaning the ‘poor, giddy, innocent girls [who] are seduced and enticed’ (quoted from: http://www.fashionintime.org/history-mens-undergarments-part-1/). Interesting description!

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During the time of Queen Elizabeth (1533 – 1603) the codpiece started to become smaller and smaller, until fashions totally changed and its use was abandoned.

Or were they?

What about those contemporary artists and singers who, as a fashion statement, have chosen to strut around in leather or even gem-encrusted codpieces on stage? It is well known that during the glam-rock era of the 70s and 80s notorious personages like Jethro Tull, Rob Halford (of the band Judas Priest), Axl Rose (Guns N’ Roses) and even David Bowie (check out his 80s movie ‘The Labyrinth’) sported prominent codpieces.

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Have you watched any periodical dramas on T.V recently? How about ‘The Borgias’, ‘The Tudors’, or ‘Wolf Hall’? What about all those BBC historical adaptations? Noticed anything popping out of those skinny tight-fitting tights and leather pants?

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How about the colourful costumes of all our favourite comic-book heroes? Superman, Batman, Robin – now those are some famous guys who REALLY put the spotlight on their prominent masculinity, don’t they?

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What do you think, should codpieces come back into mainstream fashion?

—- A version of this article was published on Eve online magazine here – http://www.eve.com.mt/2015/07/23/male-genitals-a-fashion-statement/

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What is so ‘shameful’ about being a Single Parent?

The wise say ‘You can lead a horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink’. This could also roughly translate to ‘Society can try to pressure couples with a baby on the way to make a go for it ‘for the baby’s sake’, but if the couple are not good together and not meant to be, they will eventually part ways all the same’. Lengthier, but true.

I see it again and again, two people who would otherwise not continue dating past the third month, try to force themselves into continuing something against their will, heart and mind, just because one of them ‘got’ pregnant. Apart from the fact that it only takes only tiny little contraceptive to prevent this, WHY oh WHY cannot family, friends, and long-nosed push-over’s the world over realize that no matter how much you try to manipulate, stress, and bully someone into doing what is, according to you that is, ‘morally and socially acceptable’, this will not work, unless the two people in question are actually really in love in the first place? In which case, they would continue the relationship naturally, take the baby in their stride (though admittedly, this is not an easy thing to do even when a pregnancy is planned), and evolve as a healthy and normal couple without needing anyone’s pressure or solicitations.

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The worst case scenario is when the two people try to convince themselves that they actually do feel something more than a passing fancy, or a falling-in-lust period, something permanent – since the child is obviously permanent too. You’d think this would be better, as the two would actually be trying to go along – however what this leads to is usually a prolonged period of agony. Sometimes years pass by, the child starts to grow into a sentient being, and soon realizes that something at home is just not right. His parents are different from his friends’. They are not loving towards each other, hardly touch, hardly even speak civilly. In fact, when one is in a room, the other is most often to be found at the other end of the house, if s/he is at home at all. And this takes place if they both, or singly, have not decided to have one or more extra-marital affairs, which is still yet another kettle of fish. Most people seem to believe that all this takes place ‘for the sake of the child’ – really? Do you think a child growing up in this atmosphere of tense unhappiness would be happy himself/herself?

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Others are worried about social benefits, knowing there to be breaches and cases of fraud where people maintain that a child’s father is ‘unkown’, simply to gain a percentage of society’s hard earned cash. Yes, unfortunately it has been known for there to be people who took advantage of the social benefits offered, however does this make it right to put everyone into the same basket? Apart from that, the issue at hand concerns those couples who are forced into a relationship after the beginning of a pregnancy, not those who do not claim parentage.

Why not come out and say it? Single-parenthood, for many, seems to be a shameful smut on the family name, which is why most people simply tell their son/daughter to ‘shut up and take responsibility’. This does not mean ‘pay for your son’s upkeep and schooling and take care of him/her emotionally’, but ‘sacrifice your entire life making yourself and others believe that you love a partner whom you actually wouldn’t spend more than a few minutes with, precluding any chance of happiness with anyone else’. Is this fair? Is this practical? Is this tolerant, understanding and loving? Of course not, and yet, being subconsciously afraid of the stigma, people still do it. Probably I will have to start looking over my shoulder after this article is published – maybe someone will even proclaim that I’m a henchman (or in this case, henchwoman) of endless debaucheries and fornication. Simply put, this is how I see it.

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What on earth is wrong with being a single parent? Both parents could have contact with their child, without the need of forcing themselves into enduring years and years of wasted life ‘shared’ with someone who’s less important to them than their favourite pair of socks! There is nothing wrong with a single parent enjoying a healthy relationship with his/her child. Does anyone tell off widowers/widows who take care of their children alone after a loss? No! Everyone considers them to be heroes for being so brave, strong and efficient and tackling the upbringing of a child on their own. So, why isn’t the same measure used for ALL single parents? The issue, once more, has got to do with the sex-taboo prevalent in many societies. Why let an issue which is present mostly due to lack of sexual education and awareness cloud our judgement and influence the life of many people so negatively?

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We tiptoe around it, trying not to look, trying not to acknowledge this mentality which, unfortunately, is still here in this day and age. Isn’t it time we looked straight at it and tackled it heads-on?

—- A version of this blog article was published on the online magazine EVE here – http://www.eve.com.mt/2015/07/21/what-is-so-shameful-about-being-a-single-parent/

Where was I?

Allo?!… Allo?!… YES I’M STILL ALIVE!

Truly, I haven’t written anything on my blog in such a long time, and I am kind of ashamed of myself. The usual story applies – I was too busy! Ah but, you ask me, too busy doing what?

Well first of all, after me and my other half bought the town house (or maisonette actually), we started the job of refurbishing it. True – it was supposed to be ‘finished’ in Real Estate jargon – meaning that there were ‘perfectly good’ walls, a roof, a kitchen (which I must admit, is swell), and two bathrooms, and we could just move in with our furniture in a jiffy. Well, guess what? It actually wasn’t.

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First of all we had an electrician check out all the kaboodle. Needless to say, we found LOTS of stuff that needed doing and changing. Even had to dig into the walls in some places. Secondly, we got a plumber and checked out all of that too – after a while we realized that almost every piece of plumbing we would come into contact with on a daily basis, needed to be fixed too. The shower nozzle and the flushing in the main bathroom had to be changed, the ones in the ensuite had to be changed as well, as did a couple of taps. Last, but not least, last week the kitchen sink got blocked. When we changed the pipe and poured down some sink-clearing acid, this fell through the pipe, threatening to spill everywhere and corrode furniture. We managed to clean it, but for now we cannot use the kitchen sink at all, since the plumber is currently abroad… achhh it never ends.

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Electricity and plumbing aside, we hired an Irish guy to paint the whole house, because quite simply, it was terrible. Not only were the walls not sanded and so quite rough, but the people who lived there before us were, apparently, colourblind. Would you believe that each room in the house was painted a different colour? Each room represented a colour of the rainbow, I KID YOU NOT!

So, the stairs leading to the main entrance were blue, the living room was dark green, the kitchen was light green, the main bedroom was red, the second bedroom was pink, the third one was purple, the main corridor was a weird salmon colour, and the washroom on the roof was orange!!! It took us almost three weeks to get the darn colours out!!! Of course, we did not do the painting ourselves, since we have no experience in the field and while an experienced painter took 3 weeks, we’d probably have spent 3 months trying to figure it out… and it was difficult for the painter too! Some colours, like the orange, just wouldn’t come out! He had to paint the same washroom 6 times for it to disappear!!!

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In the meantime, although we were not the ones painting the place, we took time off from work, and when we actually did go to work, ferried ourselves straight to the new home afterwards. We already have some furniture (not to mention all my books) there, as well as a new 55″ T.V set already installed, and to be honest, though the painter seemed like a nice sort, we did not want to leave him alone with the stuff. Mostly though, we realize that certain workers/mice tend to take long ‘breaks’ when the cat is away… so, better safe than sorry.

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To cut a long (very long) story short, the paint-job is now finally done. We also ordered a lot of furniture, the main bedroom, and the parquet flooring, which should be delivered next week. Let’s see how that goes.

The most stress-inducing issue of them all however, is the Maltese mentality. Why? Because every time one needs some kind of works done, or some kind of service, even though one is offering money, one has to literally chase said manufacturer/furniture store/woodworker all over the place. You call him a million times  only for him to tell you to go talk to him in person, then when you actually do, he either tells you he does not provide that kind of work, or that he needs to come to your place to verify the measurements for a simple quotation. Later, he forgets he had an appointment and does not come, so you call him again. And again. When he finally comes, he’s late, takes the measurements, and tells you he will ‘let you know’ about the quote later. A couple of weeks go by and nothing. You send emails and call some more. Until finally he calls you back and tells you the store is on shut down for the summer months… OH FOR FU**’S SAKE! And this is not an isolated incident – it’s EVERYBODY!!

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How the hell can I not be irritated? So many setbacks just because people do not want to earn money and do their actual job!

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Anyways, yes – this is what I have been doing and where I have been. There is much work to do yet, but we are, very slowly, getting there. I had hoped we’d move in before leaving for our ten-day holiday to Wales in September, however at this point, I doubt it very much…

Still, I believe all of this will be worthwhile in the end. Our ‘Castle’ will be just the way we want it – a refuge, a haven, a dream-house – I can’t wait!

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