Friday, November 13, 2009

The Amazing Legend Of The Extremaduran Masturbation Workshops

As an example of how inaccurate news spreads rapidly across the Internet you could hardly do better than choose the reporting of a sexual education campaign launched by the youth department of the regional government in Extremadura. Because the name of the campaign is "El placer está en tus manos" and because masturbation is one of the many topics covered in the campaign it has now become more or less an established fact for many of those reporting on the issue that Extremadura is offering practical workshops on how to masturbate. This "bulo" started by some of the most notoriously inaccurate media in Spain has even spread to some of the foreign press.

The reality is very different and anyone who understands Spanish can read the document published by the campaign for themselves. This document seems to me to contain a sensible and straightforward exploration of many issues affecting sexuality. Naturally, those who believe above all else in the parental right to deprive their children of any sex education will no doubt be appalled by the content. The mere fact that it recognises the existence of homosexuality and contraception is in itself enough to enrage such people; hence the manipulation and distortion of its contents in some of the press.

One of the most bizarre aspects of the press coverage has been the emphasis placed on Extremadura being one of the poorest regions in the country. As if sex education should only be available for those areas with money to spend. The cost of the campaign is a hardly staggering €14000. Add up the cost to health and social services of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases and it won't take long to realise that this campaign will pay for itself even if only a tiny percentage of its target audience take it seriously. Obviously "Extremadura saves money through sensible sex education for young people" is unlikely to ever make it as a headline in the national or international press.

We'll probably now be hearing for years about the great legend of the Extremaduran masturbation workshops. It reminds me of the myths that still circulate in the UK about how the European Union is attempting to systematically extinguish all distinctive aspects of British culture. Many of them started life as tabloid inventions but they continue to live on for ever in the popular imagination.

9 comments:

Andrew said...

If your readers haven't picked this one up - a right wing organisation has issued a denuncio against the Extramadurans - the name of the organisation .'Manos Libre'
How?

Andrew said...

Sorry Mamos Limpio!!!

Graeme said...

Or Manos Limpias if you prefer ;)

Colin said...

Graham,

Nothing to do with this subject but a serious enquiry, as I know you will have the answer . . .

Is it Aguirre or Gallardon who is responsible for the road-building program in Madrid, which some will laud and some vilify?

Ta.

Graeme said...

Well I guess it's a mixture Colin. Aguirre and the national government outside of Madrid city limits - depending on the road and the formerly protected area which is going to be trashed by it. Gallardón when it comes to digging them up or burying them inside the city.

ejh said...

I did cynically wonder, while travelling on the M50 last week, why it was that it goes through the nice urbanización to the west of the city in a tunnel, but not the less affluent areas to the south. Presumably for sound engineering reasons.

John (no name) said...

Thank you Graeme, I saw this story first in the Spanish rightwing press, then in the rest of the Spanish press, the in the international press, including the Guardian. It had all the hallmarks of a story that had been deliberately misinterpreted and distorted, but I could not find the counterbalancing arguments. The desire for a good "you couldn't make it up" (even though they did) tabloid style tale of bureaucratic idiocy and "progressiveness" was just too delicious for the journalistic community.

Andrew said...

OK Graeme I can't type or spell (in Spanish and English)

Troy said...

Well it looks like Extremadura finally exists, but for this!?

Why is it that the 'richer' regions you mention are happy to eat the Jamon and tomatoes produced in these fine lands, not to mention smoke the tobacco...yet when we try to raise our heads a bit...just a bit. BOOM!

Down dear serfs!

Christ, it's Tierra Sin Pan all over again!

The worst part though is that even the local PP is getting on board!? They are being ALMOST as ridiculous as the local church, who somewhat freudianly alluded to the whole affair using the metaphor of rockets...

En fin