Wednesday, July 08, 2015

City of Sin: London And Its Vices

I finished Catharine Arnold's City of Sin: London and its Vices this morning.  Great book.  I was less interested in the more modern vices such as the Profumo Affair and Belle de Jour, and much more interested in the bulk of the book about the period between the Romans and the Victorian era.

If there's one lesson to come away with, other than learning what chucking is and that you should stay out of Gropecunt lane unless you know why you're there, it's that all the vagaries and varieties and novelty of craziness of sex never go away no matter what laws are passed and no matter how society and government change how they feel about certain acts.  Homosexuality, transexuality, prostitution: it all flourished in London for 2000 years in all its incarnations.  The only change was in whether people hid what they did, or wore their prick (or cunt, as the Brits don't mind saying a bit more frequently than u.s.) on their sleeve.

Arnold has some real sympathy for how working women (and she distinguishes them from those who don't have any other option or are children, although The Guardian believes she doesn't stress the unfortunate side sufficiently) and gay men are punished by popular opinion and politics, often for reasons that are later proven to be specious or nonexistent and are simply useful as electoral or religious talking points.  It was a topic of conversation in the convertible on the way to lunch today when I noted that John Oliver said there were 700,000 individuals in some sort of gender crossing in the U.S. at the moment.  They didn't come out of nowhere when Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn.  They are always there, always struggling against society and government and religion to be comfortable in their transgenderism.

I'm looking forward to the other two books in Catharine's trilogy on London dealing with crime and madness.

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