The persistent problem of street harassment

The first time I was harassed on the street I was 12 years old. At this age, I was short, skinny and flat as a pancake, wearing my school uniform and playing a makeshift game of hopscotch on the pavement as I walked home from the bus stop.

It was about 2pm when a man in a car pulled up beside me and offered me a lift. When I refused, he told me, “I want to rape you.”

At 12 years old I finally realised that my parents were right — the world is not a safe place.

I couldn’t list the full variety of street harassments I have experienced over the years, but here’s a flavour. There have been catcalls and men sidling up behind me to whisper suggestions in my ear. There have been threats, insults and gropes — on the street, on the bus, at the train station. I don’t know how many times I have been followed by someone in his car. On one miserable wet afternoon I was waiting for a bus. On the opposite side of the road, a man held a pink umbrella in one hand, and his dick in the other, jerking off at me in public. The worst part? I knew him — he was a student in my psychology class.

Over the years I have hidden in apartment complexes and strangers’ gardens, run in the opposite direction to the traffic, and asked the police to give me a lift home. I have paid for taxis instead of taking the NiteLink. I take longer routes to avoid empty streets. I am careful, and no matter how breezy my manner, I am always watching, watching, watching…

Despite all this I don’t hate men. I know it is only a handful of men who do these things, and blaming half the world for the bad behaviour of the few is unwarranted and unfair.

Sexual harassment on the street is persistent and demoralising. One moment you’re walking along, listening to your iPod and looking forward to meeting your friends for a gig or a drink, and then the next thing you know, there’s a hand on your arse. As you react, a group of lads begins to laugh. They weren’t trying to hurt you, they were just having a laugh — and harassing women isn’t seen as a big deal. Boys will be boys!

In today’s Irish Times, journalist Una Mullally writes about street harassment. “Men need to call out unacceptable behaviour by their friends,” she argues — a fairly uncontroversial statement I would have thought. If the comments are anything to go by, it seems I was wrong.

Here’s a few: “This illustrates one of the fundamental errors of thought associated with feminism, which is that men form a collective the members of which share responsibility for each other’s actions. Men do not form any kind of collective in this sense. The misdeeds of another man have absolutely nothing to do with me as a man.”

“Holding me responsible for the actions of ‘some other man’ I’ve never even met or probably never will is an absurd proposition. Una. You’re completely deluded when it comes to understanding men.”

In one sense, the writers are correct. Men are not a collective. But as Edmund Burke said: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Let me give you an example. Last year, my neighbour’s 13 year old daughter was groped on the bus. Another neighbour, who recognised both the girl and the man grabbing her shouted at the harasser stop. He let the bus driver know what had happened and the driver called the Gardai, and went off-route to the Garda station. Nobody on the bus minded the delay, and everyone cheered when the groper was taken away by the police. The best thing about this was that was made clear to the 13 year old girl that this was not her fault. According to her mother, the collective outpouring of support by the other passengers means she is not scared to take the bus, even though her harasser was released without charge.

No-one is suggesting that any one man is to blame for the actions of others. Nor does anyone expect you to put yourself in harm’s way — violent altercations happen to men on the street all too often. But calling out your friends’ bad behaviour is not the same thing as being responsible for it, and helping someone being harassed if you can makes the world that little bit better for all of us.

Nor do I think anyone is saying that only men engage in this kind of behaviour either. All my boyfriends and most of my male friends have been the victims of unwanted touching and groping in pubs and nightclubs. I know plenty of men who keep a wide berth of hen parties because large groups of drunken women are just as likely to misbehave as men. This is equally wrong.

So can we make a deal? If your friend grabs a woman or a man, harasses her or him, makes a joke about raping someone as they walk by, let’s agree not to let it slide – even if we seem like a someone who can’t take a joke. Sure, we don’t have to, but it would certainly help if we did.


MRA Repellent

Once upon a time, a lady of a certain age fell down the rabbit hole and landed not in Wonderland, but in the “manosphere.” Like Wonderland, the manosphere is a topsy turvy world where all you know to be true has been turned upside down and inside out. It is a place inhabited by the dregs of humanity — a loose collection of basement dwellers, racists, homophobes, men’s rights activists, and the worst practitioners of pick up artistry.

Men’s rights activists or MRAs are not actually activists in any real sense of the word. They don’t campaign on issues affecting men such as the high rates of male suicide, rights for unmarried fathers or the way mainstream culture narrowly defines masculinity. Instead they spend their time on the internet complaining about the duplicity of women, particularly Western women.

In MRA lore women in developed countries are seen as ungrateful sluts and parasites who spend their twenties riding the “cock carousel” of “alpha males” before finding a poor chump to marry, and later divorce, depriving him of all his worldly goods. Ideally they’d like to turn the world back into the 1950s, which is seen as a mythical golden era of manly white men and Stepford Wives. Failing that, they’ll settle for a “foreign” women, ideally Asian, which they believe are all docile creatures who’ll treat them as special snowflakes.

A slightly more extreme version is a group styled “Men Going Their Own Way” who are male separatists and want nothing to do with women at all. Unfortunately MGTOW types don’t actually go their own way to enjoy manly pursuits such as bear wrestling or beard tending — they too spend their time on the interwebs whinging about women.

MRA pick up artists are the scariest of the bunch, presided over by a blogger called Roosh V. Roosh sees himself as an international playboy specialising in seducing women around the world and a guru to help other men do the same. Unlike the fairly innocuous, and often sensible, advice dispensed by Neil Strauss in Rules Of The Game, Roosh and his cohorts don’t believe in taking no for an answer, some of which comes dangerously close to advising rape. Roosh does not believe you should rape, not because it is wrong, but because it may hurt your penis, give you an STI, result in a jail sentence or child support payments, and finding a slut is just easier. “Why rape when girls are giving it up so easily these days?” he asks.

You’ll want to give these dudes a miss. In fact, you probably don’t want to breathe the same air as them. Luckily you can deflect them using one of these ten techniques, all of which are guaranteed to repel an MRA like a vampire confronted with garlic.

Cut your hair short

This, I’ll admit, is a drastic measure but absolutely 100 percent foolproof. MRAs regard short hair on women as an almost personal affront. You know those dudes that proclaimed via Twitter that they would no longer bang the luminously beautiful Jennifer Lawrence once she cut her hair? Yup, we’re dealing with them. MRAs believe the only reason any woman would ever cut her hair is to make herself unattractive to men, and thus she must be a crazy, emotionally damaged bitch.

Wear flat shoes

Flat shoes are indisputable evidence that you are a lesbian, and generally a man-hating, feminazi to boot (see what I did there?). Flat shoes also make it much easier to run away from an MRA should you accidentally find yourself in the company of one.

Be the wrong kind of slut

MRAs have a love/hate attitude towards “sluts” — desiring them and disliking them in equal measure. Two dates is the maximum amount of time an MRA is prepared to spend in female company without getting laid, and generally only if they get a blow job on the first date unless you are particularly beautiful, wear heels and cook for them. If you are over eighteen and have had more than one sexual partner, you are a slut; however if you are over eighteen and have one or no sexual partners you are frigid daddy’s little princess with entitlement issues.

However much they may desire “sluts”, MRAs don’t like to be reminded that you have had sex with other men — possibly because they won’t stack up well in comparison. Therefore if you make it clear that you are not interested in bedding down with him, but that you’ve enjoyed making sweet sweet love in the past, the MRA will brand you as the wrong kind of slut. He may look at you with fear and loathing, but he’ll leave you alone.

Get a cat

Cats = spinsterhood. Fact! MRAs are allergic to cats — psychologically if not physically. By getting a cat a woman proclaims that she has missed her chance to fulfil her destiny as a wife and mother and has settled into a life of cheap wine, hairy legs and Sex And The City re-runs. The more cats you have the safer you are from MRAs. If you don’t have a cat, always wear a cat accessory. A cat necklace or print will suggest a fondness for furry felines, which an MRA will see as a warning beacon to steer clear of you.

Go to College

Arts degrees are seen as a waste of time, while women in science, engineering or IT are regarded as incompetents hired by firms that want to seem progressive. Some MRAs have argued that women shouldn’t be allowed into third level education as it makes them argumentative, feminist and slutty.

Have ambitions

MRAs hate women with ambitions or who earn their own money as this is unfeminine. Conversely MRAs also hate stay-at-home mothers, who are seen as parasitically leeching off men’s labours as they pop out an interminable number of children.


Lots. MRAs believe women are irredeemably stupid and have nothing of value to say. A woman’s conversation is therefore nothing more than the vapid wittering of an imbecile, which is bad, unless it is the strident rant of a belligerent bitch, which is worse.

Turn Thirty

At thirty a woman’s sexual market value falls off the cliff. Once you hit the big three-o, you are barely worth the trouble as a “cum dump.” Some MRAs think twenty-five is the cut-off point, and the even more extreme versions think that women should be getting themselves wifed between thirteen and twenty-one because it’s all downhill from there. If need be lie about your age and mention cats.

Proclaim your feminism

Worse than sluts, and even worse than women over 30 with cats, short hair and a pair of Doc Martens, the feminist reigns supreme in the MRA pantheon of evils. MRAs believe Western society has been highjacked by a coven of left-wing feminazis plotting to destroy traditional masculinity which will eventually lead to the collapse of civilisation as we know it. Feminists are seen as a malevolent hate group compromised of “fat chicks”, baby-killers and lesbians who, given the barest opportunity, will destroy a man’s life with a false rape allegation.

You don’t need to be familiar with the intricacies of feminist theory to scare an MRA. Simply stating that men and women have equal value will brand you as the worst kind of fire-breathing harridan and the MRA will disappear in a puff of indignant rage.

If in doubt, go nuclear

If there is one thing MRAs hate almost as much as women, it’s “beta” males. Beta males, also contemptuously known as manginas or white knights are regular dudes who like getting laid but treat women with respect — they are genuinely nice guys. You can stop an MRA in his tracks — and cause him temporary impotence — by telling him he is “nice.”

A word of warning: lots of perfectly lovely men dislike being told they are nice as well. “Nice” is to compliments what beige is to colours so don’t use it indiscriminately. The N-bomb should be a last option and only used if all else has failed.

Whether you are a man or a woman, straight or gay, the best recipe for a happy life is to avoid the numpties and asshats  of either sex, and by using these simple techniques, a vagina-having, sex-enjoying, men-fancying single person can enjoy the delights of the cock carousel without having to talk to MRA troglodytes, which will be better for your sanity, if not your safety. Good luck ladies!


No Hymen, No Diamond. No Problem!


If there is one thing the internet has taught us, is that there are lots and lots of strange people in the world — strange people with access to broadband. There are folks who genuinely believe David Icke’s idea that the world is controlled by lizard overlords; Obama birthers and conspiracy nuts of all kinds; women without fiancés, or even boyfriends, who’ve already planned every detail of their weddings; Macklemore fans; thousands of aggressive trolls; and then there are the MRAs.

I’ve written about MRAs before, but if you’ve managed to remain in blissful ignorance of them until now, I’ll give you a brief primer. MRAs or Men’s Rights Activists, are not activists in any real sense. There are definitely men’s issues that need addressing and highlighting, such as the high rates of male suicide, prostate cancer, male victims of rape and sexual assault, or the narrow definition of “acceptable masculinity” found in our culture. MRAs don’t care about these things. Instead their whole schtick is that women are evil harridans who will happily ruin a man’s life on a wet Wednesday afternoon because they’ve got nothing better to do.

MRAs believe that the average woman, particularly in the West, spend her youth riding the “cock carousel” then marrying some poor beta male when her looks begin to fade. She’ll then deprive him of all his worldly goods, either by divorcing him for no reason whatsoever, or by pumping out multiple children, as if women were not truly human and can impregnate themselves without a mate, like snakes.

MRAs come in all kinds of flavours. There’s male separatists or Men Going Their Own Way who supposedly want nothing to do with women, yet spend much of their time talking about the fairer sex. There’s deadbeat dad Paul Elam who campaigns against child support and who allegedly ditched his wife after she was raped, ignored his daughter for years, and lived off his girlfriend while creating his site A Voice For Men, in which his claims that women just love to drain the financial resources of men. Then there’s Roosh V and his Return of Kings crowd who are supposedly all rugged alpha men who spend their lives knee deep in pussy and in fear of false rape accusations, while advocating to make rape legal if it happens in a man’s home.

Some MRA sites are so preposterous you’re not sure whether or not they are serious or engaging in high level trolling. A case in point is Dick Masterson (ho ho) and his Men Are Better Than Women page — sample reasons: men have illegible handwriting, and men wear watches. And finally, the latest group, No Hymen, No Diamond.

No Hymen, No Diamond is a new Facebook group . The group has over a thousand fans. Here’s a recent post: “The average American woman is an attention whore constantly posting selfies, cheating on her boyfriend or husband, rationalizing her promiscuous behavior with her other slutty friends who do the exact same thing, has no goals or ambitions, has no personality, has no sense of morality or responsibility to behave properly, and has her head stuck up her ass.” Charming!

The group advocates virginity for women, but plenty of premarital sex for men. It also suggests you can check the virginity of your new bride by aggressively inserting two fingers into her vagina — which not only won’t tell you anything useful, but is essentially rape.

There are lots of misconceptions about virginity and the hymen. First off there is no reliable way of testing whether or not someone is a virgin. The hymen may or may not be present in a woman who never had penetrative sex. It can be torn riding a bike or horse or using tampons, and it can still be intact in a woman who has had multiple sexual partners. The hymen doesn’t cover the entire vaginal canal — if it did, young women would not be able to menstruate — but is a stretchy membrane. The reason some women bleed during their first sexual experience is more likely to be nerves and inadequate lubrication instead of the hymen tearing. What’s more, if someone has never has good old P-in-V sex, but has had plenty of oral or anal sex, can he or she really claim to be a virgin? Nope!

In some ways, the No Hymen No Diamond chaps are doing the rest of us a favour. If these men are holding out for a grown up woman who is not only a virgin, but an attractive, kind, decent human being who wants to marry a man who spends his time on the internet bitching about “sluts”, well they’ll be waiting a long time. No women with any self-respect wants to be with a man who disregards her personality, intelligence, achievements, education, sense of humour, life experiences, and all the many things that make up a complete person, but sees her value — or lack thereof — as wrapped up in a tiny, immaterial membrane of skin.

No self-respecting woman wants to be with a man who is completely stupid either, and since their sign actually reads: No Hymen, No No Diamonds, there’s an excellent chance these guys are not the sharpest tools in the shed.

Here’s another sample post:

“According to a source close to the White House, Donald J. Trump loves our page too! He loves it so much in fact, that when he is elected as president he is considering a $500 tax break for every like or share you deliver to #NoHymenNoDiamond’s fan-page! Talk about Making America Great Again – One like at a time!”

Hmmm… I don’t think so. Posts like these, which are so divorced from reality they have surely got to be satire, makes me think that No Hymen, No Diamond is a troll page. At least I hope so. But even if it is, the people following the page may well take it seriously. It would make me angry if it wasn’t so sad.

Are hot women more likely to be straight? Doubtful…

A study recently presented to the American Sociological Association has argued that “hot” women are more likely to be straight than bisexual or gay. If that has made you do a double take, you’re not alone.

The study, conducted by Dr. Elizabeth Aura McClintock of the University of Notre Dame, tracked 5,018 women and 4,191 men from 1994 onwards and checked in with them at ages 16, 22 and 28 to ask what their self-reported sexual identity was.

Dr McClintock found that women were more likely to report being sexually fluid, and were more than three times as likely to change their sexual identity between the ages of 22 and 28.

So far, so normal — other studies have found that women are more likely to experiment with same-sex attraction, and are more willing to admit to it even if their sexual experiences have been exclusively heterosexual.

The McClintock study gets into a minefield once it tried to align physical attractiveness with sexual identity. McClintock claims that women who were attractive were more likely to be straight, but that there was no link between a man’s looks and his sexual identity.

The study suggests that women who are not attractive may feel less pressure to conform to heterosexual norms and therefore are freer to explore same-sex attractions. There are a number of problems with this conclusion. Let’s have a look at them.

First off, there is no objective standard for who is hot, and who is not. What one person finds attractive another may not. Chris Hemsworth was voted sexiest man alive last November, but nope, I don’t see it — and I love men with long blond hair. In this study, it was the researchers who decided which participants qualified as physically attractive or not, but the cliché puts it, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Secondly, beauty standards vary across time and culture. For example, the actresses Lucy Liu, Bai Ling, and Ming-Na Wen are all regarded as attractive in the West, but apparently the average Chinese person would disagree.

Thirdly, what is regarded as attractive in women is what straight men find attractive. A woman with long hair and wearing a dress is more likely to seen as attractive than a woman with a buzz cut wearing combats — by straight men. Plenty of lesbians would disagree.

Fourthly, women from conservative or religious backgrounds are more likely to accept gender roles as natural instead of cultural. They are therefore more likely to adhere to conventional standards of proper femininity in their self-presentation. They are also more likely to repress their experiences of same sex attraction and self report as heterosexual. That’s because in conservative social circles there are greater costs associated with defying gender roles and or being anything less than 100 percent straight.

Finally, beauty is often as much the result of effort as it is of good genes. Yes, there are features and physical characteristics that are generally regarded as attractive, and these can cross many different cultures, but while some of these are innate, a huge amount of them are the result of grooming.

Hair can be grown, styled, coloured; teeth can be straightened and whitened; diet and exercise can give your a fitter body; a dermatologist and a good skin care routine can make a helluva difference to your skin; and lipstick and a decent bra and give the impression of fuller lips and fuller breasts. Sure, genes and age means there are limitations as to what can be achieved, but most women can look better if they have the time, inclination and money to do so.

This is important — only heterosexual women have the inclination to make themselves attractive to men. So yes, heterosexual woman are more likely to adhere to cultural beauty norms. The more attractive to men you are, the more men you have to choose from.

Straight and gay women look for mates in different contexts, and therefore they use different physical cues to attract sexual partners. If you are not attracted to men, you have little or no motivation to be “pretty” in the ways men like. If anything, you may choose to present yourself in a manner which is off putting to straight men, but attractive to other women. As this clip from the wonderful Cameron Esposito explains, her look — masculine clothes. side mullet — are purposely chosen not to attract men but women.

The conclusion of the study — that less physically attractive women are less likely to be able to snag a man and therefore gravitate towards women — is not only insulting, it’s bad science.

Are all men potential rapists? No.


Prostitution should be legal to stop men turning into hormone-fuelled rapists. That’s not my opinion, but Dr Catherine Hakim’s. Hakim is a “social scientist” — using the term loosely — who argues that the sex industry could reduce sex crimes because men want sex more often than women.

“The male demand for sexual activity is going to manifest itself in some way or another and decriminalising prostitution would make it easier for men to go to prostitutes,” she told Pat Kenny on Newstalk.

There are a couple of things we need to discuss here, but to begin let’s deal with Hakim’s outrageous assertion that the average man will turn to rape if he doesn’t get enough sex.

First off, and most importantly, it’s not true. Not even a little bit. But she is not the first one to suggest it. You may remember the SlutWalk movement from a few years ago. This was sparked by Constable Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto Police officer, who argued that if women wanted to prevent themselves getting raped then they should “avoid dressing like sluts.” Hakim and Sanguinetti both see male sexuality as dangerous, uncontrollable and prone to violence. But if sexual frustration, or short skirts, turned generally decent men into sexual predators, then a whole lot more men would be rapists.

Here’s the important thing to remember: rape is common; rapists are not.

An 2002 American study found that only 6 percent of men in the US have committed rape. However most rapists have multiple victims and will continue raping until they are caught and jailed. Unfortunately very few are. In the US, 98 percent never spend any time in jail.The States has a population of over 320 million people. If roughly half of the country is male, then that 6 percent translates into approximately 9,600,000 rapists.

Unfortunately we don’t have figures for Ireland and so I am forced to extrapolate from international data, which is definitely less than ideal as the cultural context makes a huge difference. But bearing this in mind, in 2013 the UN published a study on sexual violence which surveyed over 10,000 men in Asia. Nearly half of the rapists they interviewed had multiple victims. Interestingly enough, these rapists would agree with Hakim — The UN study found that rapists justified their behaviour by claiming that men can’t help themselves and that because of that, they are entitled to women’s bodies.

The idea that men are slaves to their hormones and think with their dicks is not a new one — but it is not very old either. In the Middle Ages it was generally believed that women had insatiable sexual appetites, which made them akin to animals, while men were more cerebral and less prone to carnal thoughts. At some point this changed. Social historians have traced the flipping of this script to the influences of Victorian ‘idealism’ in England and evangelical Protestantism in the United States during the 19th century. By arguing that women were not that sexual after all, women could claim some sort of moral and intellectual equality with men.

Hakim argues that men are twice as interested in sex as women and that this is true across all ages and cultures. She sees this as biological, instead of cultural. However, it is impossible to divorce culture from our sexual attitudes. People in liberal cultures are more likely to have liberal attitudes to sex; people in conservative countries generally hold conservative attitudes to sex. The way we think about sex influences our sexual behaviour. It also influences what we are prepared to admit to researchers.

A 2013 study found that men and women routinely lie to researchers about their sexual behaviour, even in anonymous studies. When they are hooked up to a lie detector, men report fewer partners and women more. Since Western culture tells men they ought to be studs, and tells women we shouldn’t be “sluts” we tend to lie, to ourselves and others, that our sexual behaviour is in line with dominant cultural attitudes. If men are more interested in sex, well, that’s because Western culture “allows” them to be. This is true of much of the world, especially when you consider that the English speaking world, and Europe, are generally more sexually liberal than the Middle and Far East and much of Africa.

Let’s talk a bit about Hakim. Essentially she is Katie Hopkins with a vaguely academic twist — prone to making controversial claims, which she tries to justify with references to academic research. You could say her views on men are downright misandrist, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But Hakim has about as much respect for women too.

You might have heard of Hakim when her book Honey Money was released in 2011. In it Hakim claimed that women should use their “erotic capital” to snag a rich man while young, and because of that, women would be better off going to the gym than college. Hakim listed all kinds of studies to back up her assertion that this was in a woman’s best interest — and she argued that most women would prefer being a trophy wife to having a career. Hakim doesn’t do any original research herself and she was criticised for her sloppy understanding of statistics, for misinterpreting scholarly research, for a poorly argued and contradictory theory and for misrepresenting her affiliation with the London School of Economics. In other words, you’d want to take anything she says with a large dose of salt.

As I am sure you’re aware, Amnesty International has recently been debating the merits of decriminalising the global sex industry and has said that the right to sell sex is a human right. This has set off a firestorm of opinions. Many sex workers and advocates praised Amnesty for this stance; others, including former sex workers, academics, advocates and even Hollywood stars condemned the proposal as one which will empower pimps and exploiters instead of the men and women in the sex industry.

There are many arguments to support the legalisation of the sex industry; and many arguments against it, but that’s a topic for a different column. However you feel about legalising sex work, claiming that it will prevent rape is nonsense. For one thing, even in countries where prostitution is illegal, it is not hard to find sex workers. What’s more, except in the handful of countries where buying sex is illegal, it is the sex worker, not the client, who is at the mercy of the law. By and large across the world men have access to prostitutes if they want them.

Rape is rarely about sexual need, desire or pleasure. It’s about power, control and sexual entitlement. The UN study found that more than 70 percent of the rapists they interviewed claimed they raped because they were entitled to women’s bodies; 40 percent said they were angry or wanted to punish the woman; and around half of them said they did not feel guilty about their actions.

Whatever benefits or disadvantages there are to legalising prostitution, it is not going to have any effect on rape. In fact sex workers are at a greater risk of rape than other women. It is estimated that they have a 45 to 75 percent chance of being a victim of sexual violence at some point.

Hakim, like Katie Hopkins, has become rich and famous by making contentious statements. They both love the glare of media attention and will do, or say, anything to make sure we give it to them. I wish I didn’t have to give her any. But unlike Hopkins, Hakim claims to be an authority and expert. Her latest assertions are false, dangerous, and hugely insulting to men. Ignoring her is not really an option.

Kim, Kanye and that Glastonbury Flag

By now you’ve probably heard about the Kim Kardashian flag that was waved by an audience member during Kanye West’s Glastonbury set. The flag, featuring a blowjob scene from Kim’s leaked sex tape, caused quite a reaction on Twitter. The tweets fell broadly into two opposing camps: One, that this was a vile and misogynist act; or two, that Kim, who made her name by revealing her body is a fair target.

It is true to say that Kardashian has traded on her body, looks and sexual appeal – and parlayed that into a sizeable fortune. It is also true to say that the sex tape helped cement her celebrity status. But none of that means she deserves to be mocked and shamed twelve years after the fact for giving her then-boyfriend a blowjob.

You could argue that Kardashian made the sex tape chasing fame; however given that the tape was made in 2003 but only made public in 2007, it seems unlikely. She did sign a distribution deal with porn giants Vivid Entertainment for $5 million, but by that stage the tape was already available on the internet. Not many people would walk away from a huge payout, particularly when it would have been impossible to scrub the online evidence.

Kim Kardashian is not the first woman to gain fame because of a sex tape or sex scandal — and she probably won’t be the last. There’s two possible responses to finding yourself in the middle of a scandal storm: capitalise on it, like Kardashian and Paris Hilton have done; or disappear to live the quiet life, as Monica Lewinsky unsuccessfully tried to do.

The first seems to be the most successful strategy. Kardashian and Hilton remained in the public eye, and at this stage they known for more than just their sex tapes. Lewinsky tried to avoid the press for nearly two decades, and so she remained, in most people’s eyes, the young intern in the blue dress who blew the Commander-in-Chief. Since nobody would let Lewinsky forget it, she decided to take matter into her own hands and is now and advocate for preventing bullying and online shaming.

I’m not a fan of Kardashian, and as talented as Kanye is, his extreme self-regard is a little hard to take. His Glastonbury gig was controversial from the outset. Over 130,000 people signed a petition to have him removed from the bill. No doubt plenty of attendees were unhappy that he was the star attraction, but so what? It’s a festival — there are lots of other things to do.

But no matter how I feel about reality television stars and self-important rappers I still recognise bullying and slut shaming when I see it. There are plenty of sexualised images of Kardashian available. Using any one of these would have been fine as Kardashian had consented to having them taken and published. Using an image from a leaked sex tape, something that Kardashian has repeatedly said that she is embarrassed about, was an attempt to heckle Kanye by slut-shaming Kim. It was a cheap shot.

Kim Kardashian gave her boyfriend a blowjob — big deal. The flag’s creator went to the effort of finding Kim’s sex tape, taking a screenshot of a blowjob, cleaning up the image for large format printing, paid to have it printed as a flag, packed it along with their tent, beer and socks, carried it from their car to the campsite, and waved it around. That’s a whole lot of effort for a misogynistic joke. I think it is pretty damn obvious who is the idiot here.



Yesterday evening as I was walking home a man followed me.

On the bus I noticed him staring at me, and when I got off, he did too. As I crossed the road, I realised he was behind me and that we were going in the same direction, up the same quiet dark street. I hung back on the busier main road corner and fiddled with my handbag. A couple stopped to ask me for directions. After about five minutes — plenty of time to create distance between us —I continued on my way. As I reached the next corner, there he was — standing in the shadows beside a hedge. I turned and fled back down to the main road.

I realise there is a possibility — even a probability — that I over-reacted. There are a hundred and one innocent explanations for his behaviour. Perhaps he had not been staring at me on the bus, but had been thinking of something else while looking at me. Maybe he wasn’t waiting for me on a dark corner. He could have been lost. He may have been delayed because he stopped to answer his phone or remove a stone from his shoe. Maybe he was a creep, or maybe he was just an “accidental creep” — a person who doesn’t realise that their actions are unnerving to others.

Every woman I know has a scary story. I have plenty — I’ve been followed on several occasions; grabbed unexpectedly by strangers; had insults and threats shouted at me from cars; and had an encounter with a knife-wielding would-be attacker who followed me into a public bathroom. When I walk by myself, especially after dark in quiet areas, I am constantly alert to danger. After your first bad experience — and if you are a woman you’ll almost certainly have more than one — you learn to be cautious. I realise that men are not immune to random attack either, but the threat of sexual violence is not an ever present fear for most guys.

Most men don’t realise the state of semi-paranoia that is the lot of many women when we walk down quiet dark streets alone. Because of this, men sometimes behave in perfectly innocent ways that terrify us. The accidental creep is not someone with bad intentions, but someone who is oblivious to the effects of their actions. If that’s you, I’d like to make you aware of the little things you could do so that you don’t accidentally creep someone out. These are not rules — you are not obliged to follow them — they are merely suggestions.

If you find yourself behind a woman walking down a quiet dark street, please keep a reasonable distance. Most women get a little freaked out hearing footsteps rapidly approaching from behind. Yes, I realise you are probably in a rush to get home, but a few extra minutes won’t make a huge difference.

If possible, cross over to the other side. I’m always grateful when a man does that because it means he is sensitive enough to be aware of his actions and is clearly indicating that he is not a threat.

Let’s say you are walking down a street; a woman is walking in the opposite direction on the other side. You need to cross over. Fine. But please don’t cross over walking towards us. It looks like you are coming for us, even though you’re just aiming for the corner.

One evening I was in the dog park. It had been a raining all day and the park was empty. Then a man arrived. He asked if my dog was dangerous. I said no. He then walked up towards me, held his hands out towards my face and told me I was pretty. Now, by themselves each of these remarks are innocent. In combination — especially with his actions — they seemed like he was wondering if he would get bitten if he touched me. A minute later, a second woman with a dog arrived so I distanced myself, told her what had happened, and we stuck together for the duration of our time in the park. I’ve spoken to plenty of men in the park, and I don’t think you should never talk to a woman in quiet areas, but flirting is a bad idea here.

There may be occasions when you accidentally frighten a woman and you realise she is looking at you as if you are a potential rapist. To the average guy, this is insulting. I know that, but please don’t get offended or angry. This will only make the situation worse. Don’t try to explain either. The best thing to do is excuse yourself and walk away.

Most men are perfectly harmless — I know that, you know that, everyone knows that. What women don’t know is whether or not any particular man is a threat or not. We also know that statistically speaking, a woman is far more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone she knows. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t worry about “stranger danger” — we do. It is not pleasant to be regarded as a threat; but I’m pretty sure being on that side of the equation is better than the heart-stop fear of feeling threatened. Please be aware of that. Use your judgement — and a little consideration. Trust me, it’ll be appreciated.

Creepy Songs!

If you follow American politics then you’ll know that former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee — a fire-breathing, gun-toting, god-fearing, right-wing Republican — took issue with Beyonce in his latest book, God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, calling her music “obnoxious and toxic mental poison.”

Funnily enough, Huckabee had nothing negative to say about his friend and fellow Republican Ted Nugent. I guess Nugent’s cheery little ditty “Jailbait”, about sexually abusing a 13 year old girl is just good ole family values, or something.

This got me thinking about songs that are actually pretty creepy, especially the fact that there are so many of them. Some of these are obvious such as The Police’s stalker anthem, “Every Breath You Take”, Rod Stewart’s female sexual predator “Maggie May” and Robin Thicke’s rapey “Blurred Lines.”

Now songs can be creepy, but you can still enjoy them — so I’m not saying these songs are bad, or that the artists are spewing “toxic mental poison” but the lyrics, they do give you pause for thought.

Bruce Springsteen — “I’m On Fire”
A song that’s heavy on the stench of ‘creepy uncle’. What were you thinking, Bruce?

Hey little girl, is your daddy home?
Did he go away and leave you all alone?
I got a bad desire, I’m on fire

Blondie — “One Way Or Another”
A tune in which Debbie Harry turns all crazy Fatal Attraction…

One way or another I’m gonna find ya
I’m gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha

One day, maybe next week
I’m gonna meetcha, I’m gonna meetcha, I’ll meetcha
I will drive past your house
And if the lights are all down
I’ll see who’s around

Robyn — “Dancing On My Own”
More stalking!

I’m in the corner, watching you kiss her, ohh
I’m right over here, why can’t you see me, ohh
I’m giving it my all, but I’m not the girl you’re taking home, ooo
I keep dancing on my own
I keep dancing on my own

Maroon 5 — “Animals”
In case you miss the message, the video features Adam Levine stalking a woman (his wife, Benhati Prinsloo), taking photos of her while she sleeps and covering her body with animal blood. So romantic!

Baby, I’m preying on you tonight
Hunt you down eat you alive

Alt J — “Breezeblocks”
Nothing like murdering your love to keep her close…

She may contain the urge to run away
But hold her down with soggy clothes and breezeblocks
Germolene, disinfect the scene
My love, my love, love, love

If you’d like to chip in with your suggestions, fire away!

This year’s Sexpo to be held in London

I can’t see Sexpo coming to Ireland any time soon, but this year’s exhibition is being held in London, which is just a hop, skip and an uncomfortable Ryanair flight away.

Sexpo is the world’s largest sexual health and lifestyle exhibition, and the 2015 event is being held at the London Olympia from 13 to 15 November. Granted, that is ages away, but if you were interested in attending, early bird tickets with a 30% discount are now available.

Saving money on the ticket is an excellent idea so you’ll have more to spend at the exhibition itself… I’m a fan of exciting new toys and some of the world’s most innovative adult retailers will be showcasing their newest, shiniest products. There will also be live entertainment, catwalk shows and a variety of performances plus a chance to meet adult stars, glamour models, and erotic authors.

There is also an educational aspect to the exhibit with a wide range of classes, seminars and workshops on a variety of sex related topics. Best of all, these are included in the ticket price! Nice!

For more information and tickets, see

Would you pay someone for cuddles?

The USA’s first “cuddle café” has opened in Portland, Oregon. Cuddle Up To Me is the brainchild of “professional cuddler” (eh?) Samantha Hess, who claims to have thought of the idea when she was at a low point and wanted someone to cuddle without any ulterior motives.

While it is a first for the USA, the idea is not wholly original. Japan’s first cuddle café opened in 2012. As you can imagine, the idea attracted a lot of press — but also a lot of customers. But perhaps that’s not so surprising — in the past few years, we’ve been treated to a number of reports suggesting that Japan’s younger generation has all but given up on sex. The government is worried about the declining birthrate, and Japan’s Institute of Population and Social Security found that a whopping 90% of young women believe that staying single is preferable to getting married.

If this lack of interest in sex, romance and relationships is as bad as it is reported to be, it is hardly any wonder that cuddles are hard to come by.

However, the same cannot be said for the States. Despite panic about the negative affects of “hook up culture” most young people have sex within the contexts of relationships ( Although marriage rates have been declining in the US, half of all adults — defined as over 16 years old — are married. If you’re in a relationship that is fairly stable and happy, cuddles are part of the deal.

Given this, you wouldn’t think there would be a massive call for professional cuddling in the States. Nevertheless, Hess claims to have received up to ten thousand emails a week from people looking to hire her services. At $60 (about €50) for an hour, it is not exactly cheap either.

There are many reasons why people pay for sex, but paying for cuddles seems odd to me. I am a fan of cuddles, but while you don’t need a relationship to have satisfying sex, cuddling with someone that you don’t care about — and who doesn’t return your affection — seems pointless.

What do you think? Would you pay someone for cuddles, or can you imagine a scenario where hiring a professional cuddler would be a good idea? Personally, I think you’d be better off getting a pet than paying someone for cuddles. It may not be quite the same thing, but at least the affection would be genuine.