Category Archives: celebrities

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.

IRISH MEN 1; PFAI 0

There is an internet truism — don’t read the comments. This is particularly true if the article in question is about rape. The necessity of avoiding the poisonous outpouring of anonymous asshats becomes all the more urgent if the victim could be cast as somehow at fault, by being drunk let’s say; or if the perpetrator is sympathetic, such as a young, attractive, successful sports star. But sometimes people surprise you.

It’s obvious that I am talking about Ched Evans, the former Sheffield United striker who was convicted of raping a drunk 19 year old woman at a hotel in 2011. He was convicted in April 2012 for 5 years but released this October. Evans maintains his innocence, and it seems a Stuart Gilhooly, and Irish solicitor agrees with him. Gilhooly wrote an article for the Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland arguing that Evans was innocent. The PFAI has since removed the article.

Gilhooly’s argument boils down to two somewhat contradictory statements. First off that the crime wasn’t that serious: “There was no violence and thankfully the victim has no recollection of it. This, I hasten to add, does not make it right, or anything close to it, but it is nonetheless a mitigating factor.”

Then Gilhooly suggested that the rape of drunk women is so common that it hardly counts as a crime at all: “If having sex with a drunk woman is rape then thousands of men are guilty of rape every day.”

Gilhooly appears to be arguing that having sex with a person too drunk to consent is wrong, but not that wrong since lots of men do it. Whether or not thousands of men are guilty of rape doesn’t mitigate Evans’ crime; if anything it highlights the flaws in the justice system. He also compared Evans to the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six, an insulting and specious argument since Evans was not a victim of police brutality or evidence tampering.

On the run-up to his conviction, articles about Evans tended to attract a huge amount of ire and victim-blaming. The woman at the centre of the case was named on Twitter; Sheffield United’s Connor Brown allegedly made offensive remarks about her; and hundreds of people seemed convinced that the victim had come forward since she was seeking fame and money.

Given all this, I was pleasantly surprise to see that the vast majority Irish internet commentators were not buying Gilhooly’s argument. I was even more delighted to note that while Gilhooly is prepared to see thousands of men as rapists, Irish men were rightly insulted by the implication. By far the majority of male commentators thought Gilhooly’s argument was “sick”, “appalling” and “disgusting” and many noted that he appeared not to understand the seriousness of rape.

Arguments like Gilhooly’s create a climate where it is difficult for victims — male or female — to come forward. Rape and sexual assault is depressingly common, but that doesn’t mean that rapists are. Most predators commit multiple assaults and continue to do so until they convicted. It is a crime that has a high rate of recidivism too, and those released back into society are very likely to reoffend.

Gilhooly suggests that Irish men don’t know the difference between having sex with a woman who has had a few drinks, and one who is too drunk to consent. They do. By suggesting that thousands of men have sex with blackout drunk women every day, he implies that most men have raped someone. They haven’t.

Renee Zellwegger, Monica Lewinsky: Stuck in the Past

On Tuesday morning my news feed was full of images of Renee Zellweger at the Women in Hollywood awards. A gasp of shock could be heard across cyberspace, and thousands of people went online to note that Zellweger looked completely different.

By Tuesday evening the conversation was starting to turn and op-eds began to appear arguing that Zellweger’s appearance was the result of our culture’s obsessions with youth and beauty, and that actresses who have made their name playing ingénues and rom-com heroines are expected to remain eternally youthful and castigated if they don’t or if their plastic surgery is too obvious. Exceptions may be made for character actresses like Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep or Melissa Leo, but being over 40 — and worse, looking it — has you assigned to the Hollywood scrap heap.

Now I am not going to argue that Hollywood is a meritocracy or that older actresses don’t have a hard time finding work. A 2013 study from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found that actresses received only 28 percent of all the speaking roles in Hollywood films in 2012 — a five year low. The film industry has a preference for young, beautiful faces, and today’s “sweetheart” becomes tomorrow’s non-entity. Meg Ryan, once the most bankable woman in Hollywood, has been conspicuous by her absence.

You could argue that actresses, like sports stars and models, have short careers and are richly rewarded for it. And you could also argue that many male stars who made their name as the “hot guy” in their twenties and early thirties are no longer being offered starring roles. You’d get no arguments here. But with Zellweger something different is afoot.

Now I love a good opinion piece with a feminist slant on popular culture, but Zellweger, who is now in her mid-40s, doesn’t look younger — she looks different. There is no getting away from the physical evidence that her face, eyes and cheekbones seem to have radically altered.

Zellwegger has, predictably enough, denied using plastic surgery, claiming her new face is the result of ageing and of being at peace with herself. Whatever the truth, like Mickey Rourke, she appears to have morphed into an almost different person entirely. There’s no getting away from that. But whether or not we, the movie going public, have a right to nitpick over a star’s face and body and subject it to critique is another matter. But in this case, the public outrage, or confusion, surrounding Zellweger is understandable.

While Zellweger was hogging the headlines for all the wrong reasons, you may have missed the news the Monica Lewinsky has reinvented herself as a public speaker tackling cyberbullying. If anyone can relate to what it is like to be the target of ire for millions of strangers, it’s Lewinsky.

The public outrage that still surrounds Lewinsky is a whole lot less forgivable, particularly twenty years after the fact.

Predictably enough, under the articles I read, the content of Lewinsky’s speech was glossed over in favour of jokes about cigars, blow jobs and stained dresses mixed in with comments on Lewinsky’s looks. Like Zellweger, many suspect that she has had plastic surgery because at 41 years old, Lewinsky is presumed to looked “better” than she did at 22 years old.

Has Lewinsky had plastic surgery? Possibly. I don’t know. I’m not sure it matters except that if she has, it is probably a reaction to the sustained abuse she has received over the years. One of the ugliest aspects of the scandal was the constant stream of bile calling Lewinsky ugly and overweight.

The comments proved Lewinsky’s point — in the age of social media, there is no escaping the cyberbullies. Not that you’re likely to have forgotten it, but what exactly was Lewinsky’s great crime? Nearly twenty years ago, she gave someone a few blow jobs — that’s it, but Lewinsky has become such a whipping girl and figure of ridicule that huge amounts of people immediately react to her with derision or anger.

Piers Morgan — himself no stranger to social media flame wars — blamed Lewinsky of the her own downfall and summed up what many people were thinking.

“If you’re a 22-year-old intern working at the White House and you embark on an affair with your married President, then most people would probably say the shame-ometer probably starts right there and then.”

Yes, Bill Clinton was definitely married, but if you believe in the sanctity of marriage vows then it was up to him to keep them. Lewinsky wasn’t breaking any solemn promises of sexual fidelity — Clinton was. Besides which, Lewinsky was just 22 years old, and Bill Clinton was the most powerful man in the world, and a well-known rogue in the mould of JFK to boot. That a young woman was dazzled by his Southern charm, good looks, and most particularly, his position, is complete understandable.

Despite the huge coverage the scandal received many people think that Lewinsky broke the story herself, which is factually incorrect. She was betrayed by her colleague Linda Tripp who taped their conversations about the affair, and gave the evidence to Kenneth Starr, who then kicked off the presidential impeachment nonsense.

There was no way Lewinsky could have predicted what came after. Most people who have affairs with married men or women do so in secret, and they certainly don’t expect to become the target of the world’s media or a political witch hunt. Unlike someone like Rebecca Loos, Lewinsky initially tried to distance herself from the affair and went into hiding. She gave a rare interview to Time magazine in 1999 hoping to rehabilitate her image, but she has turned down several offers, and millions of dollars, to write a book about her indiscretion. While Clinton has gone on to be a respected elder statesman and beloved public speaker, Lewinsky has spent the past twenty years trying to dodge the scandal but no-one is prepared to let her forget it. From her Vanity Fair piece on shaming earlier this year, it seems she has decided to embrace the scandal and turn it into a cautionary tale about cyberbulling and slut shaming.

Although very different women with very different public personas, Zellwegger and Lewinsky make an interesting comparison. While Zellweger cannot escape the star image we have of her as the fresh faced chubby cheeked twenty something of Empire Records and Jerry Maguire, Lewinsky cannot escape the image of the fresh faced chubby cheeked twenty something intern in a stained blue dress.

Why won’t we allow them to grow up?

John Grisham thinks viewing child porn is fine – as long as it’s not boys…

John Grisham, the best-selling author of legal thrillers The Firm and The Pelican Brief, took on the American judicial system in a recent interview. Grisham argues that American prisons are full of people who shouldn’t be there, such as black teenagers on minor drug offences, white collar fraudsters like Martha Stewart and “sixty year old white men” who look at child porn.

His views seems to be largely based on the conviction of an old friend who was jailed for looking at child porn.

“His drinking was out of control, and he went to a website. It was labelled ‘sixteen year old wannabee hookers or something like that’. And it said ’16-year-old girls’. So he went there… He shouldn’t ’a done it. It was stupid, but it wasn’t 10-year-old boys.”

First off, you are extremely unlikely to accidentally stumble upon child pornography. Porn producers are very, very careful about the age of performers; hosting services and search engines automatically scour the web looking for anything dodgy and most child porn is hidden in the deep web.*

Secondly, why are sixteen year old girls seen as less problematic than ten year old boys? They may be teenagers, on the brink of adulthood, and legally allowed to have sex with other teenagers (in most American states as well as here) but they are still very young girls who cannot legally consent to perform in porn. Therefore it is impossible to know under what conditions the images or films were produced, or if coercion or force were part of the equation.

Finally, Grisham seems to think that child porn is a victimless crime, since the person viewing it did not touch anyone. He overlooks the fact that the child in the image was hurt, and anyone who views child porn creates the market for more and more of it to be produced – which means more and more children are harmed.

Grisham argues that people who look at child porn are not pedophiles. That may be true in the sense that anyone viewing child porn may never have touched a child, nor have any intention of doing so. But it is hard to square that with the fact that when most people search for porn, we search for the scenarios, images and people that we find sexually exciting, not the ones that leave us cold. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t leave a child alone in the company of someone whose porn preferences were for children.

You could certainly make a case that the US government is far too fond of locking up its citizens, particularly young African American men – and since Grisham is a lawyer as well as an author, he would have been in an ideal place to open up the conversation since he is on the road promoting his new book Gray Mountain. Unfortunately, his bizarre views on child porn are sure to make any nuanced discussion impossible as well as dodge his new novel. What a pity.

*It is possible some images of underage people were part of the “Snappening” – an unauthorised release of stored Snapchat photos.

Hackergate: Is it a sex crime?

Jennifer Lawrence recently spoke out about celebrity hackergate. In an interview with Vanity Fair, the actress called the release of her private naked images a “sexual violation” and said that, “It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime.”

Lawrence makes an interesting point. On the one hand, technology has given us new ways to interact sexually with one another. Whether you send a nude image, engage in long-distance sex play over Skype or make a porn at home, we all recognise that this behaviour is sexual. Therefore, the theft and distribution of sexual images could be seen as a sexual violation. On the other hand, you could argue that seeing this as a sex crime does a disservice to victims of sexual assault. After all, Lawrence’s images – not her body – were the target.

Just after Lawrence’s interview became public, trolls defaced her Wikipedia page, replacing her picture with one of the stolen naked images. Luckily Wikipedia caught that and the page was returned to normal within 20 minutes. Someone, it seems, was not happy about being called out on their behaviour.

What do you think: is stealing, distributing and using someone’s sexual images a sexual violation or just a privacy violation?

Emma Watson threatened with nude release by 4chan MRAs

Emma Watson dared (dared!) to give a very mild speech about feminism and how rigid gender roles define both men and women at the UN recently and has been threatened by 4chan users with having nude photos released as punishment. Let’s have a look at some sample quotes from 4chan users enraged by her speech: It is real and going to happen this weekend. That feminist bitch Emma is going to show the world she is as much of a whore as any woman. she is a delicate flower and it is time for her fans to see her in full bloom, unlike your shitty cow tit attention whore there she makes stupid feminist speeches at UN, and now her nudes will be online, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH Lovely. For comparison, let’s look at what Watson said that got the neckbeards enraged:

I was appointed six months ago and the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. For the record, feminism by definition is: “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”

Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too. We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence.

It is possible it may be a hoax, but even if so, the message is clear: if you talk about gender equality you will be punished. In an interview with Hot Press, Laura Bates of the Everyday Sexism project told me of the numerous threats she had received, including violent threats targeting her wedding. For more examples see: Anita Sarkeesian, Caroline Criado-Perez, and Amanda Hess to name a few.

EDITED TO ADD: It seems the leak may have been a stunt from Rantic Marketing aimed at discrediting 4chan (or at least their users). 4chan is of course not averse to hosting hacked private nude pics, and many women who speak out about gender equality are rewarded with death and rape threats, having their address made public and other sensitive information doxxed. If this is indeed a stunt, it is easy to see why it was so believable.

Kelly Brook: Serial Abuser

If you’ve been reading the US media for the past few weeks, you’re sure to have seen the shitstorm around the American football player Ray Rice, who was caught on an elevator camera punching his then-fiancee, now wife, Janay Palmer. In case you missed it Rice hit Palmer so hard she passed out and Rice’s team, the Baltimore Ravens, suspended him for two games.

The Baltimore Ravens’ response to the incident is not surprising given that Rice is a star player and brings in a lot of money – but after a media and public outcry, Rice was fired by the team and indefinitely suspended by the NFL. Some commentators argued that Palmer married Rice after the incident, which they took as evidence that she didn’t mind been punched in the face by her partner, while others took the view that one’s personal and professional lives are separate, and it is not up to your employer to police your behaviour outside of work. However, by and large, most people were disgusted by the incident and the slap on the wrist Rice initially received. That’s as it should be – so why aren’t more people up in arms about Kelly Brooks’ admission that she has punched two of her previous partners, Jason Statham and Danny Cipriani?

You could argue that when talking about domestic abuse, size counts. Certainly Brook is no match physically for Statham or Cipriani, just as Rice significantly outmatches Palmer in terms of size and strength. In one sense this is a perfectly valid argument: a punch or kick that causes permanent damage or breaks bones or leaves marks behind is a worse thing to experience than a slap that doesn’t.

The 2005 National Crime Council and ESRI research into the domestic abuse in Ireland found that 1 in 7 women in Ireland compared to 1 in 17 men experience severe domestic violence. Chances are you know an abuser, and a victim, if not more than one of each. According to this survey, women are twice likely to be injured as a result of domestic abuse; more likely to experience serious injuries; more likely to require medical attention as a result of abuse.

But domestic violence isn’t only about the physical abuse, but the emotional toll too.

Western culture (at least the English speaking part) prefers to pretend domestic violence only happens infrequently or that the perpetrators are almost always uneducated men from low income backgrounds. This is not the case. Abuse happens across the socio-economic spectrum, and abusers can be male or female, gay or straight. We particularly have a blind spot when it comes to female on male violence, treating it – or the victim – as a joke.

The fact that Brook felt free to publicly admit to her violent behaviour speaks volumes about how we treat male victims of female domestic abuse. Brook did not expect to be castigated for her behaviour. Instead she’s been making a meal ticket out of it. In interviews over the past few days, Brook has engaged in victim-blaming: “I started to think all these men are absolutely spineless” and “I’ve wasted so much time with stupid boys and doing stupid things.” When TV host Phillip Schofield called her on her violent behaviour, Brook suggested that the men were to blame: “I’m not going to do that in the future, I’m just going to pick more wisely in the men I be with.”

Sure, Statham and Cipriani are both bigger and stronger than Kelly Brook, but that’s not really the point. The point is that nobody, no matter what your size, deserves to be their partner’s punching bag. Cipriani has admitted to cheating on Brook, but that doesn’t excuse her behaviour either. Why has Brook been largely given a pass? Is it because she is a woman, and an incredibly attractive one at that? I suspect it is – and that’s not nearly good enough.

 

 

 

 

Iggy Azalea ex flogging sex tape

I’m writing about the celebrity nudes hacker scandal in the next issue of HP, and hot on the heels of that, TMZ has reported that Iggy Azalea’s ex-boyfriend is shopping around a sex tape featuring her. Azalea originally denied making a sex tape, but now her legal team have hinted that it might exist, but if so, the home movie was taken “without her knowledge or consent.” If this is true, then her ex is a piece of human excrement…

Adding to the skeeviness of the entire thing, it seems it may have been taken when she was under 18. In that case, it qualifies as child porn and her ex could find himself facing charges instead of a big, fat payday.

Sex at the XMas Party

JENNA’S BACK

Jenna Jameson quit the adult entertainment industry in a blaze of glory in 2008. She was the world’s most famous porn star with a number of top-grossing adult films, a best-selling novel, and a website that racked in millions. Five years after pledging that she would never return to porn and that she’d “rather live under a bridge”, Jameson has returned to work as a cam girl. Now a mother of two, with a string of financial and legal troubles, including complaints of domestic violence and drunk driving, it seems Jameson’s life after porn was not the happily-ever-after she’d hoped.

SEX AT THE XMAS PARTY

A third of Irish people have had sex with a co-worker during their annual Christmas bash. That’s according to a survey by the website, GiftsDirect – so not very scientific. But if you are hankering after the hot marketing dude or lovely lady in the IT department, it’s good to know that your Christmas dreams may come true… attentions is fond of completing online surveys.

COERCED SEX IN THE UK

This is truly troubling. The UK’s National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) has found that one in ten women living in Britain has been coerced into sex against her will. Forty percent of those were with a current or former partner, and 83 percent of incidents involved a perpetrator who was known to the victim. The average age of the victim was just 18 years old. Wendy Macdowall, the lead Natsal author, has argued that the issue needs to be addressed at an early age and that coercion had become “normalised… with rape at the extreme end of the spectrum.” The Natsal study also found that one in 71 men have experienced coerced sex as well.

SEXTON’S MISCELLANY:  YOUR FANTASIES COME TO LIFE

If you’ve ever wished you could find a porn fi lm that fulfilled your particular fantasy, help is at hand. Erika Lust is an author and filmmaker as well as a four time winner of the Feminist Porn Awards and her new project, XConfessions, turns real life fantasies into beautifully shot short erotic films. To take part, log onto xconfessions.com and submit your fantasy. Make it an interesting one though – Lust has received several hundred and has promised that each month she’ll choose her two favourites to get the filmic treatment.

Beware of Horny Ladies

BEWARE OF HORNY LADIES

A ‘female Viagra’ is due to be released in 2015. The drug, called Lybrido (ho ho), has passed stage-II clinical trials and should be approved by America’s FDA within a year. The problem with Lybrido appears to be that it actually works, which has lead to questions about the advisability of it – horny ladies being a huge problem apparently. Andrew Goldstein, a scientist with Emotional Brain, the manufacturer of Lybrido, has claimed that “a fear of creating the sexually aggressive woman” stalled the process. A New York Times report claimed that Emotional Brain was concerned that the FDA would reject the drug out of concern that it would lead to “female excesses, crazed binges of infidelity, societal splintering.” Hmm… Sexually active women – ruining a society near you soon. Hopefully.

 

BEWARE OF HORNY  IRISH PEOPLE

In a second news story that got my blood boiling, and not in a good way, an article on a popular New Zealand website has essentially accused Irish folks of being riddled with sexually transmitted diseases. The article claims that rates of chlamydia have increased, as has the number of Irish people attending a sexual health clinic in Christchurch. The article quoted a doctor who claimed that Kiwi women had higher STI rates than in other countries and that many of them “found the Irish accent alluring.” Unsurprisingly the article has angered Irish people living in New Zealand. You could draw a completely different conclusion from these facts if you wished – namely that Irish men have been infected by locals, and are at least smart enough to deal with the problem (even if they weren’t smart enough to wear condoms initially). The author defended the article claiming that statistics for other nationalities were not yet available. Dear oh dear…

SEXTON’S MISCELLANY : WEB BONDAGE JUNKIES

Bondage Junkies offers original amateur bondage photos and films, but despite the amateur status the quality is really good. The site is new and currently has over seven hundred downloadable photos, and a total of 155 minutes of downloadable movie files. The site has a transparent preview so you can see exactly what you are getting before you download. The site costs $19.95 for a single month’s access or $15.95 for a monthly subscription. See bondagejunkies.com for details.

 

WEDDING NIGHT BLUES

More than half of newly weds don’t have sex on their wedding night. That is according to a survey of 2,000 British people, which found that 52 percent of just hitched couples skip wedding night sex. The majority of the couples surveyed (72 percent) said that sex on the wedding night was not the big deal it once was. As most couples have consummated the relationship long before wedding bells peal, that’s hardly surprising. The biggest factor for lack of sex was a squiffy groom who either couldn’t or couldn’t be bothered. For shame!

 

Here are the top ten reasons newly weds didn’t bed:

1. The groom was too drunk (24%)

2. The bride was too tired and fell asleep (16%)

3. The bride was too drunk (13%)

4. Had to look after our children (11%)

5. We had an argument before wedding reception ended (9%)

6. Needed to leave for our honeymoon (9%)

7. Stayed up all night partying/celebrating with guests (7%)

8. The groom was too tired and fell asleep (4%)

9. Neither of us felt like having sex (4%)

10. Other (3%) – I hate to think what this could cover.