My Father, who was born in 1933, said to me recently, that during his life he had seen so many inventions that had now become everyday utilities. The radio was the decade before his time, but FM was patented in 1933. Television began broadcasting in 1936 but poorer families such as his weren’t able to see it from the luxury of their own home till decades later. Computers started to emerge during the 1960s, and then in the 1990s the internet and mobile technologies. We are at the frontier of extraordinary technological developments, of which we have little clue of what its short, let alone, long-term impact will be. Whilst such communications have opened up a great deal of fantastic opportunities, at the same time there are many horrors (e.g. live killings by terrorist groups).
If you are below the age of 18, you won’t remember a time when people’s lives were private. It is now a given that at the click of a button, you can know what almost anyone in the world is up to. Facebook in particular is a black hole of personal information and can be used for peer pressure or cyber bullying. I fear this has put a greater pressure on young people than any other generation in history.
One of the more dark sides of this use of the internet is grooming and sexual exploitation of young people, especially girls. The NSPCC highlights the ways in which grooming take place online: “Groomers can use social media sites, instant messaging apps including teen dating apps, or online gaming platforms to connect with a young person or child. They can spend time learning about a young person’s interests from their online profiles and then use this knowledge to help them build up a relationship. It’s easy for groomers to hide their identity online – they may pretend to be a child and then chat and become ‘friends’ with children they are targeting.”
Yomi Sode’s poem ‘The Rainbow Club’ highlights the end point of this type of child sexual exploitation. As Yomi explains:
“Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is an issue within the borough that I work in. Young people engage in one to ones, giving examples of what (for the most part) they consider to be harmless fun but in its greater context, they are being exploited. The Rainbow Club is an example of this. It’s to raise awareness as well as creating discussions as to how best support young people in flagging up when they are put in these predicaments at present and in the future.”
This poem is a tough and disturbing read, and that is exactly what poetry should be.
Yomi Sode balances the fine line between Nigerian and British cultures, which can be humorous, loving, self-reflective and uncomfortable. He is a member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen and has just been selected for phase 3 of The Complete Works mentoring programme, following in illustrious footsteps including Mona’s (phase 2) and Karen’s (phase 1) – watch this space! http://www.iamgreeds.com/
The Rainbow Club
Kí Ọbìnrin to atorìn, ka wo eni tí o ma lomi leyìn esee ju ara won lo – Competition between people reveals who is stronger.
Their Lolita hearts are not prepared
for the smoke or vodka. Each burn tugs
a tolerance soon ignored for the sake
of cool. they wear different colours
on lips, plump and ready. lips
they press together then wipe the smudge,
their skirts short as patience. Shivering as if
the warmth they seek reside in their homes.
he calls them by their rainbow colour – red and orange
and pink and green. not by names their mothers’
gave them. maybe to avoid feeling that this could be
his daughter or sister.
they stand in line. he is sat, trousers below his knees
watching this shadow approach him like a myth,
shaping into a physical being.
red giggles as she walks, each strut
insinuates sex, each curved hip holds air
and let’s go. she stares him down, prying
his pupils for a weakness because
an erect man awaiting service means
he’s vulnerable. she bends, hovering over
a pre-ejaculated cock, opening her mouth,
going deeper until it lightly taps
the back of her throat, the aim is to reach the base
of his manhood but she can only go so far.
when Red reaches her limit,
she marks her personal best with her lips
and stands upright. The other girls applaud.
next it’s Orange, followed by Pink, swapping spit,
Blue, Violet, Yellow
leaving him, trousers down staring
at the ring of colours
red and orange and pink and green,