Published On: Sun, Apr 8th, 2018

Cover up: here come the new Victorians

Chris Morvanby Chris Morvan

For decades the tourism world has been pandering to the lowest common denominator, accepting the money of anyone who can afford to visit them and putting up with the behavior of the mindless, boorish element. After all, which bar owner would rather have an empty room than one filled with a heaving, raucous crowd having their idea of a good time?

Places such as Ibiza, once a sleepy Mediterranean island, long ago sold their soul to disco music and sex on the beach, both in the cocktail of the that name and in the holiday pastime that gave rise to it.

The mantra of the 21st century hedonists is “What happens in ***** stays in *****”, and it’s not just the boys driving the idea. In the UK, something known as the ‘ladette’ culture developed, in which girls abandoned any notion that they might be the civilising sex, the one that acted as a moral police force.

The urge to be outrageous took over respectable, intelligent females and turned them into rowdy, binge-drinking… what’s the word? Harridans? No, harridans are too strict. Banshees? The girls would probably like to be called that, even if it really implies impending doom. Viragos? Getting closer. But none of the formal words quite conveys the foul-mouthed, vodka-swilling, chlamidia-bearing horror of the ladette in full flight, far from home and released from the shackles of normality.

Of course, ladies, that description applies to the young men too, but that is traditional – you could almost say it’s what nature intended. I’m the man, so leave it to me to be tough, violent, obnoxious. I’ll get the tattoos and piercings and STIs. You go and have a shower with some special gel that’s formulated to be gentle. Do your hair and put your makeup on, and we’ll go out on the town. And at the end of the night, if I’m not in jail, when we get behind closed doors you can show me what a beast you are.

But no, not anymore. Sexual equality and equal opportunities create the general feeling that gender, like age, is just something stipulated in your passport. It means, to some, reserving the right to be as vile, as antisocial as anyone else.

Perhaps the most civilized sector of society is now the gay world, or at least the visible, public-demonstrating, club-going part of it. With rare exceptions, you don’t have to fear for your safety or hang onto your wallet when confronted by a group of gay revelers.

Of course, I’m talking about parts of the world where acceptance is high. I know you don’t have homosexuals in the Caribbean. Or, as someone once told me on another island, “There are no gay men here during the daytime.”

While many of the party-animal heterosexual majority are decent people who just like getting loud and lascivious when they’re on vacation, they are dragged along by the real morons, closer and closer to the edge of real trouble.

But in some places things are changing. In Palma, Mallorca, once the most clichéd of cheap, garish holiday destinations for the UK and Europe, laws are now in place to raise standards of public decency. One message is: wear what you like on the beach but get covered up when you go to the shops.

A female journalist with the Sunday Times in London once wrote about suddenly becoming aware, while on holiday, that she was standing in a supermarket queue, naked but for a thong and two triangles of fabric on her breasts.

After all, most men secretly enjoy the sight of a scantily clad girl in public – unless she’s their daughter.

It’s hard to talk about this kind of thing without being thought of as a reactionary killjoy who lives in the past. And as someone who has sons in their 20s, I have the biased idea that they are nice people.

One of the parent’s chief sources of information about their kids is Facebook. Some of the young ones think of it as a private club, where they can claim or confess almost anything, safe in the knowledge that it won’t go any further. So if you are fortunate enough to have had a friend-request accepted by your offspring, you keep your head down and observe.

Young people have always rebelled against authority and convention.  In 1969, few parents would have been pleased to see their little angels smoking weed, stripping off clothes and cavorting in the mud at the Woodstock festival, the flagship event of the peace-and-love generation. All you can do is watch and pray, or perhaps try not to watch but pray anyway.

Is Mallorca the birthplace of the second Victorian era? Will Sint Maarten girls soon be covering their rear cleavage and the boys resisting the urge to show the world their underwear? Or are they simply good citizens using less of the earth’s precious resources?