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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2702

Embracing Selective Victorian Values – an inevitable social urge

victorian_eraHemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

At present, a young Englishman is being treated in hospital for serious burns, after his holiday in a Greek island has gone terribly wrong: a Greek lass had plucked up her courage to set the young man’s genitals on fire while accusing him of fondling parts of her anatomy in the middle of a drunken spree; the boy denies any wrongdoing while claiming to be a victim of a random crazy attack; the young Greek woman, on the other hand, became an instant heroine in Greece – only in the media, though, as she is charged with causing grievous bodily harm in Greek courts; the attention paid to they young Englishman in the British press is fairly mixed – not very sympathetic – as he has been picked on, somewhat unfairly, to personify the bad behaviour of some young British tourists abroad.

Attacks by women on men’s genitals are often vindictive, not self-defence, in nature. For instance, the blatant betrayal by a lover could invite the wrath of a woman to act in a manner to deprive a man of his manhood – simply for not behaving in a manly manner. The tendency transcends culture, be it in the Indian Sub continent, America or Europe.

It later emerged that the young Greek woman in question had not been sober either, before embarking on the macabre mission. Therefore, the rights and wrongs of the case will only come out under the full glare of publicity in a court room, once the boy makes a full recovery in a British hospital.

The incident raises many questions both at home and abroad as far as the conduct of the Brits while abroad. It is a fact that some British tourists can cause troubles in favourite holiday destinations when they are fully drunk and a big group stays together at a given space-time frame. On the other hand, the British tourists are not the only ones who could behave badly when fully drunk. The British tourists attract the enviable headlines as they stay as large groups and alcohol fuelled actions – or reactions to actions – slowly become cumulative until it reaches a menacing level. Other tourists, individuals or small groups, may do the same with less intensity and then pay a corresponding price for misdeeds before vanishing off the radar – but not attracting big headlines.

Most of the young Brits, who go abroad in seeking fun, are nice folks: amiable, down-to-earth, caring and easy-going. So, it is clear what transform these sensible creatures into a species that the rest of the world doesn’t want to see – consumption of alcohol in ludicrously crazy quantities.

It is amazing the way the bar owners, who make the quick buck, shun the guillotine of social guilt while cashing in on the vulnerability of the young British hot heads. Since most of the former may themselves are parents, they could easily exercise restraint on their getting-rich-quickly ambition at the expense of volatile young men and women.

The incident reignited the debate in Britain about hazy concept of social responsibility. Some blame it on social ills while others bring the failings of parents or guardians under spotlight. Traditional parents, in turn, blame the tendency on exponential growth of liberal attitudes that drives the modern-day youth in pursuit of the illusive goal of ‘independence’; the culture of binge drinking, whether at home or abroad, they say, is just a symptom of a very big cause. This camp has more members than any other who are keen on debating the issue.

Both traditionalist and liberals now believe that things have gone too far in liberal direction, as the victimization makes no distinction between the two. As a last resort, there are growing calls to emulate the Victorian model – at least, partially – to reverse the trend before it reaches the tipping-point.

Victorian values that were associated with the reign of Queen Victoria (between 1837 -1901) were looked down on in the past as snobbish and old-fashioned to the core while conveniently ignoring the moral thread that ran through it – the society as a whole is responsible for its very ills. Some historians and die-hard republicans try to make the era synonymous with imperialism, child labour and even prostitution. However, the steps taken to address the very issues – that had been existing for centuries - at that time, hardly catch the attention, as certain sections are obsessed with the portrayal of old being bad.

The effects of binge drinking are glaringly obvious whereas the causes are not. The fact that the English youth who almost sacrificed his genitals on the altar of adventurism, has not earned enough merits to reach stardom as his tormentor did in Greece, is an eye-opener for the fun-loving youths in general. The British public, despite its modern and tolerant outlook, have traditionalist instincts at heart and the trait is not something to mess with by wearing the gown of sentiments. When modern strategies fail to rectify the existing social problems, they have a right at least to dream of returning to an era where hard-work, mannerism, dress-code and many more on the same wavelength were considered as virtues.

- Asian Tribune -

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