A Look At the Tele

Alice Purnell


Issue 5
February 1999


Paddington Green

This is what is now called a docu-soap. In it there are several characters, including a Post-op woman, once TS. She works as a prostitute and in the past has raised the funds for private GRS. She looks and sounds fine, but is not satisfied with her facial appearance although she is entirely natural being herself. She needs a few gin-and-tonics and some of her beloved classical music before she can go out to get her clients to earn as she puts it "my money". Oddly the same blokes who abused her when she was a boy are the types who pay her for her services. She is still on the game to pay her fines and to pay for facial plastic surgery in a private clinic. She couldn't wait for the N.H.S. to help her resolve her problems, so has done all this using what she has got. She hates being a prostitute, which she has been for five years, and loves to play her piano. In an odd way she exemplifies how the system has failed woman like her and many TS women in particular. She is so natural and is obviously larger than life, we can only wish her well.

This type of documentary is in some ways voyeuristic. It helps destroy some myths and is about "real people", not that I know anyone who isn't a real person. The danger is that the general public may come to imagine all "trannies" have to be and wish to be in the sex industry. It seems odd that victims of abuse paradoxically sometimes adopt this course of action in order to survive and in some way revenge themselves on the abusers. She is an intelligent woman and believes that she might get aifferent career once she has had her face done. She has survived one trap by her own resources, let us hope that now she has an agent she will find it possible to make a better life for herself. What she does is dangerous and some punters can be very violent, apart from the risks of aids and other health risks, and the very great damage she probably suffers to her self-esteem. However she is a survivor and we wish her well. She has done a great deal to improve public understanding about how trapped some people feel by the system, one which she has beaten.

Battle of the Sexes.

A Darwinian view of life on earth, which was beautifully filmed, and looks at the different strategies for reproduction and keeping those selfish genes going. It is clear that the strategies for survival demonstrate that sexual reproduction encompasses so many variations: from the male "mother" seahorse giving birth to his young from his breeding pouch, to the hermaphrodite snails each trying to impregnate the other and the sex-changing fish. Competition may mean that either males or females or both may develop behaviours, displays, sexual dimorphism, different strength or size, some even impersonate the opposite sex to get mated. Nature has had four and a half billion years on earth to create this great diversity. Oddly humans are much less dimorphic than many other species. In nature in some species, males battle for females; in others females chose males; some species are faithful for life; others mate as often as possible with as many as possible. Some species get others to do all the work, others are both diligent parents, some females are good mothers and do all the rearing, whilst some males do all the rearing. Some fight to the death to mate, others only display avoiding injury to each other, whilst others form pods, packs or herds and co-operate with each other. This programme is useful because it shows that in the natural world reproduction is by several methods, parthenogenesis, cloning, or sexual. It can be between a male and a female or between hermaphrodites, that sex is not fixed and that there are a myriad of strategies for individual, genetic and racial survival. Our own species with its large brain is only just becoming aware how diverse and wonderful nature is. Perhaps we might eventually accept that an imagination and a personal identity is bound to allow for variations in the gender, sexual and physical beings as part of that natural world. Polarities are a better way to view things than opposites. Thinking of gender or sex in terms of light; Black is not opposite to white, white consists of all the colours in the visible spectrum, and between black and white all those colours exist, then there is the invisible spectrum.

Chat Shows.

There are so many now, with perhaps the mother of all voyeuristic exercises being the Jerry Springer Show. The worst part is his incredible patronising moralising speech at the end of each session in which he preaches tolerance having just thrown people who are well over the top on drugs, on having their five minutes of fame on tele, most of whom seem to be amazing in bearing their souls before millions, and as bizarre, inept and inarticulate as possible. This show and others like it have replaced the Roman amphitheatre, where peoples lives and emotions are loudly expressed to the lowest common denominator. This is cheap television programming at its worst. It is also regrettably slightly compelling. What is really unbelievable is that I actually watched a show to the bitter end. I felt distanced from the participants, audience and especially the presenter. As we are "culturally" absorbed by the Americans I can only yearn for Joan Bakewell and real investigative programmes which promote understanding and a rather more refined way of seeing the world. But perhaps I am also guilty of the "them and us" syndrome, with the Yanks as "them".

Web page copyright GENDYS Network. Text copyright of the author. Last amended 23.01.04