Given Perspective’s monthly press cycle, as editors we’re painfully aware of how stories we plan to cover can become overshadowed by more urgent events. It has never been truer than with this issue, following the horrifying human tragedy caused by both the brutal 7 October attack by Hamas on Israel and the shocking, ongoing Israeli bombardment of Gaza.
When we started, our idea was to look at “consent” in all its multi-shaded complexity. In the light of #MeToo, the screening of a new Jimmy Savile TV drama, and serial allegations against Russell Brand, we believe it remains an apt and important topic, and the thoughtful essay from FT writer Rebecca Newman, which is our cover story, has done it considerable justice. The theme is continued in Rowan’s interview with Lysette Anthony, the former Hollyoaks actress and high-profile victim of Harvey Weinstein. And Milli Hill’s thought-provoking article on the rights of women during childbirth reminds us that this subject extends beyond the boundaries of sexual relations.
At the same time, we couldn’t ignore other shocking and distressing events. The savage assault by Hamas on Israeli civilians, which left 1,400 dead and over 200 held hostage, has been met by an even bloodier retaliation by Israel. As we go to print as many as 6,000 people in Gaza have been killed, nearly half of them children. That these atrocities are being visited on those already struggling to survive in a densely populated area without adequate power, clean water or sewerage, only adds to the suffering. It’s all too easy to believe, as some predict, that the current violence might presage a much broader conflict.
While it’s difficult as yet to view this calamity with any real sense of perspective, the special report filed just before we went to press by writer and broadcaster Lipika Pelham, sent from the ground in Israel (a country she knows intimately) after speaking to civilians caught up on both sides of the conflict, is, we think, the most piercing reportage we’ve ever run. We also wanted to take a deeper look at the historical roots of this latest violence, so turned to filmmaker Gillian Mosley, who released Tinderbox in 2022, a documentary that outlines her own gradual awareness of the story she’d been told by her Rabbinical elders. Meanwhile, Nicholas Blincoe – author of More Noble Than War: a History of Football in Israel and Palestine – has written a personal piece about living in Israel while married to a Palestinian, and the potential unifying power of football. And Sam Fowles looks at the powerful vested interests of leaders who are the only beneficiaries of this and other wars, which, as Peter highlights in Soapbox, affect a quarter of humanity.
Since it’s been a grim, dark and polarised month for many of us, we felt it was time to breathe new life into the old hippie rallying call to Make Love Not War. To that end, two diverting and highly intelligent articles bring the topic of sex up to date. Psychotherapist Anouchka Grose looks at the queer scene and examines its greatest taboo (falling in love with a straight person, since you ask), while author Stephanie Theobald leaves her Joshua Tree cave (no, really) and attends a lesbian orgy in California.
As ever, we close the issue with Rowan having the last word. This time around, it’s the ancient but nonetheless timely advice, “don’t let the bed bugs bite”. Or, put another way, as the long nights of winter begin to close in, let’s not allow this latest French invasion to put us off indulging our (un)guilty pleasures between the sheets.
Rowan Pelling and Peter Phelps