Month: June 2014



Malia, Magaluf, Ayia Napa. Different names, same deal: complete and utter carnage. They are renowned hotspots for the young crazy kids to go and forget their troubles (and their names). Nobody goes there to take in the culture, visit a museum or sample the local cuisine. They go to get accosted by PR staff, get bad food and get four drinks, four shots and a fishbowl for five euro.

This year me and a couple of friends went to Malia with a common goal: get tanned and get trashed. Two of us had been to Magaluf the year before, so one would think we’d be pros by now. That we’d know all the pitfalls and be the “brains of the group”. Sadly, not so. The truth was that the second time around was much more ferocious, speaking for my own liver.

While the club scene in Belfast typically kicks off at around ten, it really only gets going in Malia at one o’clock in the morning. Streets transform from the fairly clean paths for quad bikes and hungover twentysomethings to the filthiest yellow brick road Dorothy never ventured on. Nearly everywhere you look, prepare to feel very uncomfortable as airbrushed billboards of women in bikinis vaguely resembling those on covers of video games will be advertising quad bikes and alcohol. There are televisions in the clubs playing either football or pornographic videos of women. Almost all your favourite childhood cartoons have been sexualised and put on a t-shirt (see: “Hello Titty”). After every horrible night, during your afternoon hangover, someone will come up and ask you, quite loudly, usually selling something, if you’re “READY TO PARTAY”. Plenty of groups of boys wearing LADS HOLIDAY shirts will look at you inappropriately and make you feel even more uncomfortable. Old men will grab you from the street, their cigarette burning your neck, and try to pull you into their club. Let loose on the vast expanse of drinking and debauchery, things were bound to get out of hand. And get out of hand they did, at least every night. But the alcohol wasn’t the biggest issue.

Malia, Magaluf and Ayia Napa alike are all well-known for their massive events, and this year didn’t disappoint; a pre-drinking party complete with games, competitions and (of course) cheap drinks was on the cards, and we complied to the debauchery with minimal fuss. But nothing really prepared me for what happened.

A competition arose where three girls and three guys had to get up on a platform and the girls had to slap the guys as hard as they could, right across the face. Encouraged partly by my friends but mostly by my own sense of fun and curiosity for the thrill of slapping a UniLad across his sunburnt bake, I ventured forth to the platform, where I barely got any sufficient slaps in before an English girl won the competition, possibly for nearly knocking someone unconscious with a fantastic slap.

I didn’t think anyone would bother me after it ended, but as I was passing by the bar a guy pulled me by the arm and told me his friend was desperate for a kiss. Looking at his (hardly lucid) friend, my intuition told me to ignore them. But for some reason, I kissed him lightly on the mouth. Then his friend told me to kiss him again, and I did, pulling away once I felt the dreaded Sambuca Tongue try and worm its way in. I ran away from the lads, and from whoever it was that allowed herself to obey a man’s orders despite her own intuition.

Later on, in typical sophisticated Malia fashion, there was a pole-dancing game in which two girls (but of course) had to out-dance each other. I watched in horror as one girl from Stoke proceeded to take off all her clothes until she was literally completely naked, swinging around the pole to the cheers of the (mostly male) crowd. I nearly cried as I saw a sexist cliche come to life; girls pressured to perform for the benefit of the male gaze, while perpetuating the sexist party island culture, with the clubs laughing all the way to the bank. It didn’t look like sexual liberation; it looked like the literal definition of female submission to the patriarchy. Of couse she won the competition by a landslide – that didn’t surprise me. Afterwards everyone got up on the poles and had a good time, including myself. I then expressed to my friend my disgust at what the girl had done, but moreso the competition provoking and encouraging it. The girl was seeking validation in the cheers of the male spectators; it was the ultimate example of the brainwashing powers of the patriarchy. But my friend retorted that I was doing the same thing by getting up on the pole myself. I shook away the reply indignantly – I was doing that for myself and for my own fun. But it rang in my mind.

…Was I?

I’m the kind of feminist who believes sexual liberation should not be shut down or restrained. That dancing “provocatively” is not anti-feminist or performing for the patriarchy, as long as you’re doing it to please yourself. The idea that feminists should have to wear straight sharp suits and a poker face to be taken seriously seems sexist in itself, as if a naked woman deserves less respect than a fully-clothed, reserved woman.

It brings to mind the feminist perspectives on the profession of pole dancing and stripping. On one hand, women taking their clothes off for men for money seems to be the epitome of sexism in society – but in arguing this, are we not victimising these women and in speaking for them, are we taking away their voice and thus being anti-feminist ourselves? Many argue that strippers enjoy stripping – but why? Is it because they feel genuinely free, being sexually liberated on a pole, exposing their body unashamedly, going against the oft-conservative restrains society seems to place almost exclusively on women? Or are they feeling that way because the patriarchy tells them that the approving male gaze is the only one that matters; and their minds are not nearly as important as their bodies? On a wider scale, what message does it send? That women should not be ashamed of their naked form or being sexually confident, or that the only time a woman is important and centre-stage is when she is naked and sexual?

Burlesque and stripping are different for many reasons – one of them being that strippers seem to have a sadness and a desperation about them that burlesque dancers don’t. This is because strippers rarely have the privilege to choose to take their clothes off for money – without attempting to speak for this group, it would appear that it is a last resort. Burlesque dancers do it for fun, for theatre.

So who am I, exactly, to emulate this profession when I am by no means in a desperate economic condition? I’m lucky enough to live in a nice house, with a nice family and go to a nice university where I get a nice education. I don’t need to be dancing on a pole, nor should I be. Whether I intend to or not, I perpetuate the degradation of women in society with all the privilege of a woman who doesn’t need to. My mother works, nose to the grindstone, every day, in order to be taken seriously by a world of male misogynists who frequently treat her differently because of her sex. Stripping on a pole with my friends is hardly completely to blame for this, but it doesn’t help. You can say I’m taking it too seriously and that it’s only a bit of banter, but that’s just an excuse that men use to make women feel bad about not participating in these things.

We do it all under the guise and the false assurance that it it’s just a bit of banter.

The entire culture in Malia pressures girls to do the most, to kiss the boys they don’t want to kiss and take off the clothes they may not want to take off so they can win the competition; cleverly disguising it as “craic” or “fun”. Even as my instincts told me not to, I surrendered to it, to the false form of validation that it brought me, and it all left me thinking what kind of feminist is this?

Needless to say, it’ll be my last party holiday.

If there’s one thing I learnt from my holiday, should you not get run over by a scrawny teen boy on a quad bike, it’s to trust your own instincts, and not to measure yourself by anyone’s yardstick but your own. You need to take care of yourself before anyone else, because it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, a veritable black hole of depravity that will suck you in, chew you up and spit you back out. You want to kiss the boy? Great! You want to kiss the girl? Do it! But make sure you’re not doing it for anyone other than yourself.


Rihanna’s Diamond-Studded Ass isn’t the Problem; This Society of Slut-Shamers Is

Unless you’re a hermit or had a family thing going on this week, you’ll have heard/seen/talked about Rihanna at the CFDA Awards held in the United States on Monday. While everyone else at the ceremony dressed according to the Inoffensive Non-controversial Beigeness dress code, Rihanna arrived as a Barbadian goddess draped completely in diamonds, top to bottom, along with a gorgeous diamond headdress. Beautiful as ever, she lived up to her name as a fashion icon by surpassing all expectations (once again) and going for the biggest statement she could think of (as ever). The second I laid eyes on the look I fell in love with it. Girl, ya look good I thought in sisterly solidarity.

But there’s always a party pooper.

Following her appearance on the red carpet, there appeared a hive of naysayers and pearl-clutchers to crow, “Won’t someone think of the children?!” While many found the look dramatic, decadent and fashion-forward, there were several stick-in-the-muds who found it necessary to voice that they feared for the sanctity of childhood and innocence of youth. There are bombs going off in Afghanistan and the US president is doing very little about it, but sure, let’s focus on the female popstar showing some skin.

One of the most hilarious reactions came from Andrea Peyser of the New York Post, bleating that she looked like a “poorly put-together streetwalker” (I don’t know how many streetwalkers can afford to drape themselves in Swarovski crystals, but whatever, logic clearly isn’t your strong point) and how “female modesty and decency have been on the decline for years.” So true! Why, just the other day I saw a young girl display her bare ankles in public, like a common whore!

Peyser goes on to decry how female celebrities such as Miley Cyrus have joined in on this provocateur parade by “twerking indecently against singer Robin Thicke, then a married man of 36”, never questioning why a married man of 36 was grinding on a girl 16 years younger than him. I’m no Miley fan, but the double standard of expression of sexuality here is disgusting.

Oh, quelle horreur! She displayed her nipples! She displayed her breasts, these things that also give babies life! Disgusting! Lock her in a tower and throw away thon key!

The bright side of this admittedly horrific representation of our overly-conservative, slut-shaming, patriarchal society is that the object of the controversy remains completely undeterred. Rihanna has remained unapologetic about her outfit, even joining in on the joke by changing her Twitter display picture to a Peter Griffin parody of her dress. She responded to a question on her provocative dress on the red carpet at the awards with “Do my tits bother you? They’re covered in Swarovski crystals, girl.” After a fan tweeted a Maya Angelou (R.I.P.) quote in relation to her dress, Rihanna clearly resonated with the comparison by retweeting the quote “Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise that I dance like I’ve got diamonds at the meeting of my thighs?” Damn straight.

The constant censorship of the female body is nothing new, and it would seem that there will always be people trying to tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies, disguising their judgement and dictation as “concern for children” and “in the name of preserving the sanctity of society.” Fuck off. Target the rape culture, the subtle sexism, the media’s consistent oxymoronic objectification of women in men’s magazines and simultaneous shaming of those who dare to show flesh in public and on their own terms, because that’s what’s polluting the minds of society’s youth. Stop taking the moral high ground when it comes to the “offensive nature” of the naked female form, and start taking issue with what is really going to harm your children. Because I guarantee you it’s not Rihanna’s nipples,

“The Failure of Feminism”: One Idiot’s Opinion

Facebook is full of a lot of meaningless shit. Cat memes, sexual innuendos, embarrassing photos of nights out, club promotions, competitions that nobody ever wins. It can be a great source of communication and news distribution, as well as a platform for sharing unsigned music. 

But it is also a breeding ground for idiots. 

While I agree wholeheartedly that everyone has the right to their own opinion, when that opinion is unresearched, unstructured and weakly supported, it warrants mocking. One page worthy of that mocking is “The Failure of Feminism”, a page dedicated to the theory that feminism is meaningless; that sexism does not exist and is simply women victimizing themselves in society in pursuit of a “power trip”. You can’t make this stuff up:

One sect in their community is A Voice for Men: A Men’s Right’s Activists group decrying the mistreatment of men by “angry feminists” and how they have experienced “threats of violence”, to the point where they raised $25, 000 to provide security and protection. Failure of Feminism’s author notes “when you take into account how much money is raised consistently to protect women from men, why would this be something to be laughed at?”  Yes, yes I do.

They pass the whole point of feminism so entirely it’s difficult to decipher whether or not they possess the ability of critical thought. “Feminists should be happy with what they have got, it is much more than women in Islamic countries.” An oft-waved baton proffered by anti-feminists is that we should count ourselves “lucky” because things aren’t as bad as they are in the Middle East. this tool is used to squash the voices of feminists and make them feel bad for protesting against the inequalities in their individual societies, which will obviously differ from each other. 

They dictate that women are victimising themselves in society when it is the patriarchal society itself that does it.

The entire horrorshow of the page speaks for itself- the creators of this page exaggerate and spin news stories to support their corrupt ideology, after they’ve looked up a couple of words on Wikipedia and declared themselves experts on these issues. Unworthy of much time and attention other than to be aware that there is this kind of ignorance in society.