Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sex In The City
By Michael

The girls are taking tennis lessons
three nights a week while we're here.
Neither had ever held a racket
before, but it's fun to watch
the steady improvement.
On Friday’s morning VHF cruisers’ net, a guy in his sixties chimed in at the appropriate time to announce he was looking for something—I forget what that was. But this humor-challenged sailor then added that he also hoped to find—I’m paraphrasing—a concubine who can’t say no.


Now, some may generously label the joke sophomoric, maybe even not fault the guy, allowing him to be a bit dim ahead of his first cup of coffee. But other cruisers found it offensive and one gal in her late twenties made it a point to say so. She was on the radio in a heartbeat to denounce what we all heard.

Plain and simple, she said she was offended, saying that words have meaning and she didn’t appreciate this attempt at humor. She was assertive, direct, and polite. Before signing off, she labeled the joke, “close to rape humor.”


Now, I’ve got a sense of humor (very dry and often juvenile), but I know that humor demands context. I know that not only is expressing a need for a, “concubine who can’t say no,” not funny, but that it falls obscenely flat in the context of an open mic broadcasting to a very diverse group of mostly strangers. (Heck, in addition to my 10-year-old daughter, seventy-year-old solo circumnavigator Jeanne Socrates was here.)

When we were here in La Paz two years ago, there was enmity on the VHF. I found myself embarrassed for my fellow grown-ups—many of them small and petty behind microphones that emboldened them. Though we haven’t yet experienced that same radio behavior in these past several weeks, the net was terminated the other day when old feuds erupted in churlish comments and clicking (depressing the mic transmit button to interrupt a speaker).

This is just one of dozens of
beautiful sculptures on the
La Paz malecon.
It turns out this young vagabond, the bold harbinger of the coming generation who spoke up upon hearing humor that offended her, is a professional and a change agent. She taught sex education in middle schools and has extensive experience as a crisis counselor helping women in need. She announced her bio at the start of her own net that she began this morning, on sex education. She talked clearly about definitions, tolerance, and differences. She solicited questions and responses—it wasn’t all love that came her way. But she remained as poised, polite, and confident as I hope my daughters are someday.

La Paz, Mexico is a polarizing cruising city. I love La Paz, a lot of cruisers love La Paz. A lot of cruisers hate La Paz, many love to hate La Paz. There may be no other place like La Paz. The population of cruisers here is large, spread across seven marinas and an anchorage of more than 100 boats. Given this number, and the fact that so many of these folks have stayed aboard here for so long (years), more than a community has formed, there’s a culture, intimate and familiar among long-time La Paz cruisers. And like any relatively small sample, this culture can be seen as a microcosm of larger populations.

That’s how I like to look at it.

Now, some may accuse this young cruiser of being too sensitive (some have), an overactive member of the politically correct countries north of Mexico that many of these La Paz cruisers fled 10 years ago.

But I prefer to see change before my eyes, humanity civilizing—common decency emerging on VHF radios around La Paz.


Yes it is.

1 comment:

  1. Jim had to hold me back one year when a nasty man cussed out a child on the radio. Cussed-out-a-child! But I learned not to criticize others publicly on the radio when a woman who piped up when she was offended by a tasteless political joke had her dinghy painter cut one night. It is too bad that some people choose to ignore good radio etiquette - or heck - good manners altogether! If I teach anything to our children - I hope it is to have good manners - on the radio and everywhere else.


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