Reclaiming Space and how to deal with the Creepy Old Man at the bar


If only it were always this easy. Credit: Matt Groaning, or something

They say that there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. Ho ho ho, he he he, what a lark. The saying clearly came about before women won the right to give their opinion, because for the second sex there is of course a third certainty: creepy old men.

The creepy old man’s origins are little-known, like Ska music or lenseless glasses (both are now presumed to have risen from the embers of hell). The first image of the creepy old man was etched on tablets in Egypt at around 3100 BC. Indeed, before Anthony swept Cleopatra out of her milk bath into his arms, the creepy old man sidled up to her in a dingy pub and asked her where she got her earrings, because they really accentuated her rack.

Most women have at least one horror story about unwanted, unwarranted male attention in the form of a creep. The word “creepy” is imperative to describing this archetype. This is not an intriguing, mysterious quiet don across the bar you’re trying to telepathically compel to offer to buy you a drink. This is quite a different animal altogether. He (and make no mistake, when you’re a woman, it is always a man who creeps up) manifests himself in numerous ways. Many experiences are different. But in my own experience, the progression of creepiness is thus:

  1. The Sidle: For there is not a move so slimy, so sweaty, so slick with ill intent and cheap aftershave than the sidle of the Creepy Old Man. Call it survival instinct; a woman senses his approach with a chill down her spine, then a hand on the small of her back. “What’re ye drinkin’?” The entire movement is scored by Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King.
  2. Best Friend Charade: The Creepy Old Man is not stupid: he knows that you know what he’s doing. So he wraps his performance in a thin veneer of faux-friendship, puts his arm around you and makes out like you’re just two pals, having a laugh. His hand is too low; his breath is unbearable; you cannot understand a word he says so you just smile wanly, wishing you were anywhere else. The Creepy Old Man also puts this charade on for onlookers, possible saviours – But for some reason you have to stay – waiting for a friend, watching live music, wanting to enjoy your night. But you soon find that was a fruitless endeavour.
  3. Showman: He feels your patience waning, you keep telling him to leave you alone and he needs to impress. So logically, he becomes the joke of the room, pulling “hilarious” dance moves while you and everyone else pretends not to notice and looks anywhere other than his figure, desperately gyrating out of time to the music as an attempt to stir something in you.
  4. Sad Drunk: The end of the night, the end of your patience. You’re leaving? So soon? he slurs, as you pay your tab and grip your mobile in your pocket. He stretches out his arms, presumably for an embrace, but you’re not a colossal idiot, so you swerve past him in a series of impressive serpentine motions, towards the door, which at the moment looks like the pearly gates of heaven, that beautiful green exit sign, a path to freedom, to a beautiful emancipation.

Oftentimes, recounting the tale will result in reactions of hilarity – people will respond to the story like it’s a madcap rollercoaster tale straight out of a Carry On. Sometimes it is – sometimes the encounter makes no impression other than a two-minute interlude to your night.

But more often than not there are dark, sinister undertones to the Creepy Old Man. There is a reason why he is called the Creepy Old Man, not the Endearing Auld Scamp or the Mischievous Chancer. Sometimes he isn’t even that old; sometimes he’s the same age, but make no mistake: still just as creepy.

It’s been said before, but women have historically been raised to be polite, most especially in the face of unwanted male attention. We have been taught to react with manners, even when the man in question clearly has none. We have been told to feel flattered; as if the idea that a man should be attracted to us is some kind of great unexpected honour that we must be appropriately grateful for, no matter how inappropriate the advances are. We must treat him like a lost dog – be kind, be understanding, be careful.

There are grave issues with this idea: not only the fact that politely declining advances almost never works in swatting away this particular insect, but that it contributes to skewing a woman’s perception of her own autonomy. It suggests that women should not feel entitled to their own space. That we owe it to the Creepy Old Man to be mannerly, to be grateful. That we do not deserve to have a conversation with a friend uninterrupted. That we should deal with the situation as if it’s a compliment.

Thankfully, modern feminism has championed the power of the middle finger. Nineties feminism had its problems, but post-punk feminist bands such as Bikini Kill and Le Tigre were loud and proud about women reclaiming their space. Bikini Kill’s infamous “Girls to the Front” line pointed out the unfair treatment of women in public spaces, especially live music venues. Nowadays, women have spoken out about their experiences of sexual harassment – or even just unwanted attention – on social media, in part thanks to Laura Bates, founder of Everyday Sexism. It’s being discussed openly in a public forum. But it still persists in public places today, most likely at your local pub.

It can feel like it’s been a long battle with a hard punch still to be swung. But for now, we can swing the fist of feminism in our own life, the next time we get that chill down our spine, the next time we notice the first signs of the Creepy Old Man rearing their ugly head. In my experience, there’s only one method that’s proven 100% successful. Look him square in the eye. You’re the black panther, he’s the witless warthog. Then say it, clear-cut and unflinching, right there and then:

“Fuck off.”


Useful links:




Grooming In Public



Lately I’ve been musing that one of the less rewarding parts of “growing up” (look at me all grown-up, with my inverted commas) is learning social grace. Learning to assimilate oneself with the common people.

Oftentimes this means learning to conceal or eradicate one’s personal quirks. How sad that we have to un-learn things that we did while we were at our most carefree. For example, when I was younger, in my more innocent days, I would wear the weirdest, most out-there outfits I could put together just so that I was standing out from the crowd. People stared and whispered, but I cared not a jot. My theory was that people’s opinions shouldn’t affect how we behave.The idea that it should, made no sense to me. On some level, it still makes no sense to me. Why should we let petty judgement affect how we act?

In terms of social behaviour, what makes sense is never usually the point. We seem to adhere to a set of rules that go unquestioned. They are rarely mused upon because they seem insignificant, but consider the fact that these rules impact our everyday lives and yet they are followed without criticism?

One aspect of this is public grooming.

(I hope I didn’t make any typos there.)

Today I found myself with an empty can of deodorant. So while running various other errands, I picked up a can of deodorant at Boots. But a question: where to spray? I wanted to do it right then and there in the middle of Prince’s Street; I could smell myself after I rode my bike into the city centre and the scent wasnot an attractive one. So I would have preferred to fix the problem as soon as possible. What was stopping me? Social grace. I eventually cycled across the town and did it in the uni bathrooms. But what would have been so wrong about doing it then and there? Does it make others uncomfortable to see others in a state of…indignity? Is it undignified to deodorise oneself? Does it spoil my mysterious allure? Applying lipstick, brushing your hair, plucking your eyebrows – these all reside on a scale of what is and isn’t considered acceptable to do in a public space.

Is it a sort-of sexist thing too? Calm down, guys, just exploring a thought. Women generally have more gender-specific grooming options than men. Would we think twice about a man stopping in the street to use some anti-persiprant? Perhaps society would like to think women wake up in the morning with neat hair, neat eyebrows and all the while smelling good, despite running for the 8:30 bus, only for the driver to drive on despite you rapping you sweaty palms on the door?

The feminine mystique is a myth. Whether you groom every detail of your form or just stick to spraying on a bit of Sure when you wake up, few of us get up without considering ourselves. So why can’t we let anyone else in on the secret? The guy beside you on the 8:45 bus (I was 15 minutes late, thanks for asking) probably did something like you did this morning, whether it was plucking a stray chin hair or running a hand through his highlights, it was something. So stop being so bashful, blow away the smoke and whip out the mirrors to check your blush – and let it be from Benefit’s Dallas powder, not embarrassment.

Why Lana Del Rey is the female narrative we’ve all been waiting for


When I was young, and even to this day, my favourite book was Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. After nicking it off my older brother, I found myself devouring it over the course of a month. I would have finished it sooner, had I not been enjoying it so much and wanting to stretch it out for as long as possible. There was something about the bitter, self-contradictory narrative that resonated with me to a level no other novel had before. The desire for closeness to another human being without sexual activity, yet desire for sexual closeness without wanting to be sexual at all was my entire teenage existence. I had never come across anyone in real life who felt this way; but even though Holden Caulfield was fictional, I saw him as a real person who I could relate to when my peers didn’t measure up. To this day, every other novel has paled in comparison.

But as a girl growing up with these emotions, it often irked me that there were rarely any stories were girls were this complicated. There were few coming-of-age stories for girls that I could relate to. Most of them were concerned with teenage pregnancies and mean girls, and were written in a soapy, flimsy fashion. These girls usually had a crowd of friends they talked to endlessly about the boys they liked. I was unmoved; the boys I was surrounded by didn’t compel me-they were immature and sex-obsessed. There were no stories of disillusionment with adults and society, at least to my knowledge.

Of course, it was only in my twenties that I discovered The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, which was almost the female equivalent of Catcher. But even then, it seems to me that the stories we are told about men are complex and ask existentialist questions that are difficult for most of us to answer-whereas stories we are told about women are usually answered in 30-minute intervals in some tawdry sitcom or unrealistic drama.

So it is that we start to look for a complex female narrative; someone who speaks to us in a way we can relate to. Where not everything is always sunshine and roses and cupcakes with vanilla frosting.

Enter Lana Del Rey. With an aesthetic that drums up images of 90s rap legends and 60s pinup girls simutaneously, she evokes a brazen sexuality with a glow of deep sadness. Her image may suggest sexuality and conformity, but look longer and you’ll see that she doesn’t intend her image for the male gaze; and if it does capture them, she’s not interested. Famous for her refusal to pander to the media, she eschews the peppy demeanour of your Perrys and Swifts in favour of a darkness that we rarely see in our female pop musicians. She sings that you’re her daddy, but she also hates your guts. She sings about feeling deeply depressed and not knowing why; rebelling without a cause and kissing men who’ll never truly know her. Hers is a story we rarely hear-she’s destructive and wild and drives down the highway with abandon. But while critics applauded Kerouac for his run-on sentences and nonsensical acid-fuelled narrative, they revile Del Rey’s own Beatnik beats, insisting her lyrics are foamy, substance-less fluff. Because while men have complex souls of which we may never know the true depth, apparently women exist as shallow pools to be carelessly walked through for the convenience of men.

Many may criticize Del Rey’s lyrics as being mostly concerned with men as the basis for her existence. One can see why-it’s true that most of her lyrics plead for men to love her, to notice her, to be both kind and cruel-but it’s this tragic narrative that makes her all the more compelling. I’m all for female independence and girl-power anthems, but I’m also for exposure of the darker depths of women’s psyche. If that happens to be a longing for her man to love her, so be it. It’s delivered with a thoughtfulness and moroseness that is lacking in most female musicians’ discography. She writes rhythmic poetry in place of catchy hooks. Her self-aware sonnet “Fucked My Way Up To The Top” is a nod to press speculation about her. She refuses to censor.

There are more female singers out there are doing something different in music-Lorde, Ladyhawke and Robyn to name a few-but there is something cathartic about Del Rey’s mournful musings on love and life. She creates her own story of tragedy, all without being a big old phony.

The boys, the girls, they all like Carmen
She gives them butterflies, bats her cartoon eyes
She laughs like God, her mind’s like a diamond
Audio tune lies, she’s still shining
Like lightning, ohh, white lightning

-Lana Del Rey, Carmen



Pretty Hurts: Is Makeup Highlighting Our Power , or Just Concealing the Ugly Truth

Me and make-up haven’t always got along. When I was around 11 years old and in my faux-punk black everything phase, I rejected it as an activity only a “girly-girl” (the horror) would partake in. Fast-forward two years, and I had discovered the witchy, beautifully raccoon-like visage that too-light foundation and black kohl on my lower eye rim could offer. Fast forward three more years, and I was wearing tinted moisturiser and mascara sporadically, when I could be bothered in those slovenly school mornings. There was ventures into green eyeshadow, shaky liquid liner, and most regrettably, foundation as “natural-look” lipstick (thank the MAC gods I have since discovered Creme D’Nude). In my final years at school I had found my best eyeshadow colours, my favourite way to shape my eyes with liquid liner, and how to apply mascara without contracting self-induced conjunctivitis. But I balanced those days of wearing makeup with many days of a bare face. This is because I always seemed to have two different feminists on either of my shoulders – one who said that makeup was empowering, and one who said I was betraying myself and compromising my feminist ideals by pandering to the instructions of the patriarchy, to cover up supposed imperfections which they had deemed unacceptable. I have always been torn between what it really means to wear makeup.

There seems to be much conflict in the feminist community about this topic. Makeup falls under the category of external beauty, which, as we all know, is a topic feminism has covered very well. Photoshop used in fashion magazines has been widely criticised as creating an unreachable beauty standard for women. Diversity within the fashion world is better than ever, but that’s not saying much, as it still largely consists of UK size 4 white women under 25. So logically, the topic of makeup has also been critiqued and questioned. However, it was mostly the second wave feminists who began this critique and who were its loudest critics. They believed that makeup sent the message that a woman’s appearance was insufficient without cosmetic assistance, that their natural features weren’t good enough on their own. Meanwhile, men were free to be as old, ugly and spotty as they liked, because their superficial appearance was not what they were valued for. But then, the early 1990’s saw a shift in this opinion. Third wave feminism birthed “Lipstick Feminism”, introducing a brand of feminism which saw makeup as an empowering tool to be celebrated, largely using it to make themselves look even less like the ideal object of the male gaze, with loud red lipstick and garish black eyeliner, eschewing the powdery-pink, sugary-sweet makeup trends of the ’90s with a counterculture of “Riot Grrrls.” They were deliberately misusing makeup to counter the dictation of the patriarchy.

But was it a true victory?

Many feminists have covered the subject of female beauty ideals extensively-most prominently has been Naomi Wolf, whose fantastic feminist tome “The Beauty Myth” dealt with the impossible standards set by men via advertising and the media. She writes, “A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.” Her argument is that dictation of the female appearance is used to hinder women’s advancement in the world. “Bang on, Wolfy!” I thought as I read. Then, after a beat and a Victory Bite of a panini, I thought to myself, “Oh…” as I glanced down at my bulging makeup bag.

But I’m not necessarily conforming to any beauty ideal by painting on navy-blue eyeliner and dabbing on a dark berry lipstick just to look a little rad, am I? After all, David Bowie did it and though he had male privilege in truly choosing to do it, he looked pretty damn cool. He used makeup as self-expression, so why can’t we? It can’t be anti-feminist just to want to look a bit like David Bowie.

These days, in the era of “Fourth Wave Feminism” (or “Tumblr Feminism” as I like to call it), there is a strong argument for makeup as being synonymous with empowerment. Blog articles, think pieces and popular Tumblr posts alike have all supported the idea that wearing makeup doesn’t mean surrendering to the patriarchal agenda, “because we’re not wearing it for men. We’re wearing it for ourselves.”

Here lies my quibble. Are we really wearing it for ourselves? And if we are, does that mean it’s not conforming to the beauty ideal? Most beauty companies are still largely owned by men, and in those big advertising agencies, it is men who are deciding how to sell you products you don’t actually need. Does buying into it all not still mean that we’re deeming ourselves insufficient in our natural state?

This type of feminism is also the kind that irks me with how liberal and tolerant it is in terms of what women do. They argue the idea that feminism dictating what it is right for women to do with their bodies is counter-productive and sexist in itself.  However, I would counter that if we don’t challenge the rhyme and reason of our actions, then aren’t we letting ourselves off with an awful lot? Part of being a feminist is self-examination. As products of a patriarchal society, we often do sexist things every day without thinking. We often stab ourselves in our own proverbial backs without thinking, because we have been conditioned not to think about these things. Cutting ourselves a bit of slack when we do these things is good, because we, as feminists, are bound to mess up at some point. But completely absolving ourselves of responsibility for our actions just because we are products of the machine is self-victimising and proffers a very light, easy, fat-free kind of feminism I’m not interested in consuming.

I suppose my point is what I probably always knew deep down: that by concealing “flaws” that all humans have and that men do not feel the need to cover up, we are falling privy to the pressures of the beauty ideal. I should hold myself accountable for these missteps. Yet I also believe there’s no harm in painting on a dramatic eye or lip because it is really quite a lot of fun to do, and who am I to be the feminist killjoy?*

Confession: I quite like being the feminist killjoy.



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. 

A rich Hollywood actress is here to define feminism for you, aren’t you lucky?


Another day, another imbecile.

Divergent star and resident celebrity nature chick Shailene Woodley has recently come out as anti-feminist. Such revolutionary thought! Perhaps she is deterred because of the current lack of intersectionality within feminism, worrying that it only serves straight white middle-class women while ignoring women in minorities? Nay, she defies feminism because “I love men.” Eh?

“No[I’m not a feminist] because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance. With myself, I’m very in touch with my masculine side. And I’m 50 percent feminine and 50 percent masculine, same as I think a lot of us are. And I think that is important to note. And also I think that if men went down and women rose to power, that wouldn’t work either.. We have to have a fine balance.” [TIME magazine 2014]

You are so smart, Shailene Woodley. Allow me to worship you from the dirty ground I reside in because I am not worthy. You really get feminism! You may have just won the internet! Nay, the world! Congratu-

Oh wait. That ain’t right.

What we have here is another basic misconception of a basic fucking concept. It’s okay, it happens often. Except it’s not okay. One would assume that before giving an opinion on anything, you would at least look up the dictionary definition of it.


The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.

You’d think that was pretty clear that feminism is for equality of the sexes, not rising above the opposite sex? Maybe we’re looking at the wrong dictionary. Maybe we should look at the Patriarchy’s Dictionary.


A bunch of man-hating arsonists who hate men and babies and want to control all the things and chop off all the men’s dicks and then eat them for supper

Ahhhh, so that’s where she went wrong.

It’s depressing in this day and age, when feminism seems to have re-emerged in popular culture and discussed more than ever, that people still consume the drivel that the patriarchy drives home to the public in order to maintain their power. When women are making giant steps to improve the lives of other women, campaigning for equal rights, for a woman’s right to her own body, for the rights of underprivileged women, there still remains the portion of citizens who are victim to the drivel fed to them by the men who seek to perpetuate the male silhouette in positions of power. I would genuinely prefer someone who knows what feminism is refusing the label of a feminist over someone rejecting the term when they clearly do not understand it at all.

Woodley is not alone in the anti-feminist camp: Famed ear infection Katy Perry recently refused the title under the claim that “I’m not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women.” Yeah, no same. I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t eat meat. I’m not sexist, but all men are shite. I’m not a fish, but I do breathe through gills. I’m not a nymphomaniac, but – okay, you get the point.

Recently, quite interestingly, Perry retracted her previous comments on feminism, claiming she was afraid of the word feminism because she didn’t know what it meant. “But now I do. It just means that I love myself as a female and I love men.”

Not quite.

Really, what should I expect from the idols of tweenage girls who are under a general obligation not to express anything that would constitute a Coherent Opinion? Unfortunately, these are the biggest influences of the Next Generation (depressingly enough) so I have certain expectations for them to have some semblance of a worthy viewpoint.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not one who believes that women have more of an obligation than men to advocate the feminist movement. All humans are responsible for the progression of society in all respects. But it is so sad when women essentially shoot themselves in the foot by playing into the hands of a sexist societal norm, falling victim to brainwashing of the powers-that-be. Nothing makes me want to throw myself off a cliff more than when someone says “I’m a humanist, not a feminist.” Okay, let’s play that game where we  pretend that humanist isn’t a synonym for feminist. Let’s play it for five seconds and then get back to real life. Where feminism, in actuality, is the radical idea that women are human beings, and deserve to be treated as such.



Frigid or Slut: The University Clichés


“Oh yeah, [random girl’s name] is up for it. She’s already f***ed five guys here already. Easier than Sunday morning.”

“I fancy [random girl’s name].”

“Nah mate. Hasn’t banged anyone as far as I know. Total prude.”

Ah, university. A time of great change – evolving from the person you were when you were leaving high school to the person you aspire to be, from the caterpillar to the chrysalis to the butterfly you always knew yourself to become. From fledgling to falcon, from puppy to hound.

But enough trite transformation metaphors. There’s a problem in university culture, and its name is Misogyny.

Since I arrived at university in September I’ve noticed something disturbing- misogyny’s new form of expression. While I was under the impression that humans were complicated, layered beings with personalities and loves and hates and intricate psychological irregularities and basically homosepians in all their confused, complicated glory, it would seem that I was gravely mistaken. After eavesdropping on the conversations of students in my proximity I have gleaned the consensus that people can be summed up in a sentence or an offensive nickname.

It is entirely obvious that there is a double standard between men and women when it comes to their sex lives. Men are expected to behave like a rampant sex monkey when they arrive at university, and their behaviour is accepted as them just “being a lad” (CUE MEGALOLZ). Yet when women dare to enjoy sex and have it often-with more than one partner- they are labeled a “slut”. This trend has spread like wildfire, and I see it every day. I know plenty of people who like having casual relationships with men and don’t want to be weighed down with a serious situation. There’s no problem with it. But there is a problem with the double standard for men and women in regards to their sex life. Take this sample conversation I listened to while at a flat party:

“She’s at it again. She’ll get an STD if she’s not careful.”

“Doesn’t she have any shame whatsoever? Doesn’t she have any self-respect?”

“He’s clearly using her for sex.”

“I heard she’s had sex with ten people since she got here.”

“F**k sake. What a slut.”

So if a girl is promiscuous she’s a slut. Got it. What if she doesn’t have sex at all – not because of any religous reasons, but because of personal reasons? Turns out the grass is not always greener.

“She hasn’t had sex with literally anybody. Frigid.”

“Is she a lesbian?”

“Probably. She won’t even meet anyone in a club.”

“What’s she doing with a skirt that short then?”

“Fucking tease, probably.”

*Cue laughter*

The charms of the UniLad. It really is enlightening.

But it’s not just men who do it. Women are just as likely to do it. But it isn’t totally the fault of these people – it’s society that has conditioned to be judgmental and perpetuate the prude/slut stereotypes.

So to sum it up, if you happen to have a vagina, you’re damned if you do and you’re screwed if you don’t. Never mind the obvious fact that women are people with thoughts and feelings and desires and motives. If they’re having sex they’re getting shamed for it. If they’re not having sex they’re a lesbian, or they’re just too uptight to let someone use them as a human wank flannel. It disregards women as human beings and perpetuates the unhealthy  virgin/whore stereotypes that society (and of course, The Daily Mail) dictates. Both men and women have been brainwashed to think that people can be put into the “virgin” or “slut” category, when the truth is far more complicated – that women and men are humans, and cannot be whittled down to simple labels and groups. It disrespects the individuals and disrespects humanity.

Of course not everybody adheres to this culture. Many men and women are open-minded, thoughtful individuals who are respectful of a woman’s right to her own body. But that needs to be the norm, not the exception.

I propose a radical revolutionised way of treating each other – acceptance, tolerance and lack of judgement on anybody’s way of living their life. Accept the truth that nothing is as simple as it seems, or as society would have us believe, and refrain from subscription to the disgusting culture that has permeated the otherwise exciting world of university.

In other words, do whatever (and whomever) you like, and let others do the same.

Please share your views with me via the comments or Twitter @superhans180