Thursday, 23 July 2015

On Fathers4Justice

In war there are many factors which determine who is victorious; the lie of the land, the weather, the availability of food, water, equipment and arms, generalship and tactics, and the number of men. But one factor, above all, stands above these: unity. Give me 1,000 men who will stand with their shields locked together, facing down death until the bitter end, and I will win a battle against 100,000 fearful and divided men. The most important command that a man can ever hear is thus: hold the line.

I do not say that every man of my 1,000 will survive - some will fall and must be left behind. But while faith and courage and resolve hold true, whilst each man is prepared to give his all for the others, the line will hold, and the battle will be won.

Hold the line, and I will hold it with you.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

On Marriage and Ashley Madison

It's been in the news recently that Ashley Madison, a dating website which facilitates extramarital relationships, has been hacked, and that the hackers are threatening to publish their entire database, effectively naming and shaming the users of the site. This throws up an interesting philosophical point: do the users deserve to be punished?

At this point, it's necessary for me to declare an interest: I have personal experience of adultery which has caused me considerable emotional distress. I am also a Christian, so some people might think my views on such a subject to be outdated, even though I'm fairly liberal-minded. However, for the sake of argument, I will rationalise as best as I can, and try to put forward both sides of the argument.

Several have put it to me on Twitter, not the least of them the (in)famous Old Holborn, that they do not deserve such treatment. That their rights to privacy as an individual trump everything else, that they ought to have total freedom of agency and it is no business of anyone else's what they do in their spare time, or who they do it with. That ultimately, no one else has the right to blackmail another with their self-imposed morality. This is reinforced by the fact that the hack is illegal, and publishing the information would be a breach of data protection laws - most likely in several countries due to the international nature of the website.

I agree with this statement. People do have rights of privacy, and ultimately it is up to them what they do with other people in their spare time. The hack is illegal, and the conduct of the hackers is effectively blackmail - shut down the website or we'll name and shame.

Now, it's often said that anything that comes before the word 'but' in a statement is effectively rendered irrelevant. I phrase I disagree with, as it tends to paint everything in black and white and reduce nuanced position to artificial soundbites.



These people are married. Ashley Madison specialises in facilitating affairs between married people. And that is where I have to draw the line.

So? You might say. What difference does that make? They're still individuals with their own choices. True, but they are individuals who have voluntarily entered into an agreement with someone else - an agreement which is very specific on the obligations it places on both parties, and limits people's freedom of choice and action.

Wedding ceremonies vary according to religion (or lack of it), but the general gist is the same: the parties to the marriage take vows, effectively making a promise to the other. For the sake of argument, I've lifted excerpts from the Church of England website, but you get the general idea.

[Name], will you take [Name] to be your husband/wife? Will you love [them], comfort [them], honour and protect [them], and, forsaking all others, be faithful to [them] as long as you both shall live?

I do.

And then later:

I, [Name], take you, [Name], to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold  from this day forward;  for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.

And again:

[Name], I give you this ring as a sign of our marriage. With my body I honour you, all that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you.

The emphasis is the author's own.

But there were have it: a promise to stay with that other person, to share everything with them, and to be faithful to them, no matter the circumstances, until death. That is what marriage is: a promise of exclusivity, taken in the greatest solemnity and seriousness. It is not something that should be lightly cast aside, just because you're feeling a bit horny on a Friday night.

So, this being the case, does the notion that a married person is still an individual with free agency hold? They are still an individual, but their agency - their ability to make free choices - is limited by the undertaking they have given. They have sworn to put their spouse first and foremost in all decisions. Shagging someone else is a straightforward repudiation of that promise. They're free to do it, in the same way that I am free to promise to build you a house and then scarper with the money. But you'd be a fool if you didn't expect to suffer some consequences as a result of that dishonesty.

Now, I'm not an idiot, nor am I naive. I understand that relationships fail, and marriages are not exempt from that. Some marriages, without any person being to blame, will not work out - people can fall out of love just as quickly as they fall in love. However, I do not see that as an excuse to commit adultery. There are proper, mature and decent ways of resolving this. Get a divorce, or at the very least separate before you start seeing someone else. But going behind their back with someone else's spouse, potentially fucking up their marriage... I cannot see any moral justification for that.

So my position on the Ashley Madison users is this: they shouldn't have been hacked, they shouldn't have their details published. But if they are, and they suffer the consequences of their actions, I won't have much sympathy for them, and they should have thought about it before they decided to break the most solemn promise they've ever given.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Gender-Neutral Sports? Don't Be Ridiculous

The latest nonsense being spouted from the feminist lobby is the idea of gender-neutral sports. This is basically the idea that we should end the sex segregation in sports based on the feminist idea that men and women are equal in all respects, the only differences being reproductive and cosmetic.

Except that this is complete bullshit. Men and women have manifest and significant differences, which have a direct impact on their physical prowess.

Bone Structure
Men tend to have longer and larger bones compared to women, which provides a significant mechanical advantage. This can be illustrated by trying to open or close a door from the hinge side. The closer the application of force is to the fulcrum, the greater the force needs to be to provide the same effect. This works in reverse as well - the greater the distance from the fulcrum, the greater the effect created by the application of force. So, for example, if you consider a man throwing a discus, the fulcrum is his elbow joint. His forearm will tend to be longer than a woman's, and therefore assuming the same application of force, his hand will be moving faster. Therefore the discus will be moving faster, therefore it will go further, simply because his arm is longer.

The larger bone structure of men also confers another advantage - bigger bones can hold bigger muscles. Muscle size is directly proportionate to the level of force that can be applied to a situation. So men not only have a mechanical advantage in having bigger frames, but those bigger frames also allow them to have bigger muscles. As well as simple muscle size, men also tend to have denser muscle tissue. Both factors generally produce a significant increase in strength. They can apply more force to a larger mechanical frame, generally producing superior results in sports which involve throwing, running, jumping, kicking or punching.

Women have wider pelvises and therefore a lower centre of gravity than men, which gives them better balance. With women's muscles being smaller, but crucially less dense than men's, they tend to have greater flexibility. This gives women an advantage in sports such as gymnastics.

Cardiovascular Performance
All muscles are powered by the cardiovascular system - the blood vessels which pump oxygenated blood into the muscles. Men, having bigger bodies, tend to have bigger lungs (allowing them to inhale more oxygen), bigger blood vessels (allowing them to carry greater quantities of blood) and bigger hearts (allowing them to move greater quantities of oxygenated blood faster). They also tend to have higher levels of haemoglobin in their blood. This means that they can get more oxygen into their blood and get it to their muscles faster than women.

Body Fat
Men also tend to have lower body fat than women. Women's higher body fat is necessary from a reproductive point of view, but from an athletic point of view is effectively redundant, and therefore dead weight. This gives men significant advantages in speed and acceleration. Short distance running and swimming are therefore more likely to have male outperformance.

However, higher levels of body fat are useful to women - they provide additional reserves and give women higher endurance than men. As a consequence, women are less likely to reach extreme exhaustion in ultra-long races, which can make up for their lower speed and acceleration.

As discussed earlier, men have thicker bones and denser muscle tissue. They also tend to have tougher ligaments. The combination of these factors also makes men less prone to injury, and also reduces the impact that such injuries have on performance. This gives men significant advantages in combat sports, such as boxing, judo and wrestling.

Put simply, this notion that we're all the same on the inside, and this feminist idea of casting gender as purely a social construct, is nonsense. Gender is not a social construct - it as a biological fact of life. Men and women, certainly from an athletic point of view, have significant differences, which generally give men an advantage. This is borne out by Olympic and World records - men's results and outcomes tend to be 10% higher than women's for most sports. This has been consistent for nearly 40 years. There are some sports where women are able to compete on the same terms as men, or even have an advantage, but they are relatively few.

Sex segregation exists in sport for a very good reason - that it is manifestly unfair to compare women's sporting achievements directly to men's, because they are generally operating with a 10% physical disadvantage. Men tend to be better than women at sports.