The internet’s slut-shaming of the Magaluf girl shows nothing has changed

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When I was a kid (yeah, long time ago I know), it was always made obvious that if a girl’s had sex, she’s a slut, but if a boy has, he’s a legend. Now you would have thought that in ten or so years things have changed. Not so, if the recent media coverage of the Magaluf girl is anything to go by.

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the last week, you’ll have heard about a young woman who was videoed and shamed for performing oral sex on 24 men. I would usually link a source here, but many of them take the angle that the whole event was souly her fault. That she’s a slut. She’s not a slut. Silly? Perhaps. But it seems evident that she was actually extremely drunk and is a victim of exploitation.

Although now many media outlets have now leapt to defend the girl, at first no one seemed to blame the 24 men involved. When you have sex, or perform a sexual act with someone, that’s drunk, guess what buddy – it’s your fault too! It takes two to tango and having sex with someone that’s almost too drunk to know what’s going on means you’re taking advantage of them. But hey, when you’re a guy that’s not the case right? You’re total LADS instead.

I went on holiday to Tenerife when I was 18 years old with two other females friends. I didn’t really want to do an ‘under 24s’ holiday, so we didn’t. But we did go on a booze cruise. Now I had a hell of a lot of fun on this cruise, but there are a dark side to these activities. First of all, the booze was completely free. It’s cheap, horrible wine and beer. Plus it’s quite likely you’ve already pre-drinked at the bar while you were waiting for the group to assemble – I did. So within an hour, you’ve mixed your drinks and you’re pretty damn drunk.

The cruise I went on was run by two men. Halfway through the cruise they stopped the boat so we could jump off it into the ocean. It was an amazing experience, but the blokes were encouraging the girls to jump in topless. If they did, they’d win themselves a cocktail jug. Now, anyone who knows me would think, Laura wouldn’t do something like this. I’m happy to say, I didn’t, but I was very tempted. Not for the free drink, but because I was drunk and therefore wanted to be a bit daring. To put things into context I am a very sensible person who has never done something stupid when drunk, yet on this holiday I was thinking: ‘hmm, should I enter the wet t-shirt contest for a laugh?’ You get caught up in the atmosphere and I have never been so glad for the sensible part of my personality.

It’s all too easy for young girls to fall into the same trap I almost did and events companies like these take advantage of the dangerous situations they put these women in. Women are turned into sluts within just a few hours, and the boys get to sit back and enjoy it all. In fact, it’s so normal to sexualise girls on holiday, that when I was out clubbing with my friends, a random man and his friend thought it was okay to lift up the back of my dress so he could look at my pants. How violating. How humiliating. I was wearing a long dress that went below my knees too, not that should make a difference of course, but who knows what you may be thinking.

What happened on my holiday pales in comparison to what happens in Magaluf and other, similar resorts. Ever seen ‘Sun, sex and suspicious parents’? That shows further video evidence that young girls are encouraged to get naked, perform oral sex with random men (which is not only horrible, it’s incredibly dangerous) and simulate sex with them.

Going back to my original point, the attitude that boys are studs for sleeping around but girls who do the same are sluts still stands. The stereotype that men prefer sex more than woman (which is of course complete bullshit) still exists too, probably because women are shamed for enjoying sex, especially casual sex. It’s a shame that nothing has changed since I was a child. I can only hope that things change before I have kids.

Let’s talk about sex more, baby

Nymphomaniac - a four hour plus long epic about sex

Nymphomaniac – a four hour plus long epic about sex

I love sex. I don’t just mean the act itself, but everything about it. I love how it binds people together. Why people have it and how they have it. Like love, sex is a lot more complicated than it first appears, but whilst people love to talk about love, sex is an entirely different matter.

You’ve had probably heard of the controversial new film, Nymphomaniac, which  follows the life of a woman who claims she is addicted to sex. Now, apparently there is no thing as sex addiction, but personally I believe you can be addicted to anything. After all, for most people, sex is such an amazing experience. It’s not hard to see why someone would do almost anything to have it, to get that rush of endorphins. What really surprises me is when films like Nymphomaniac come out, they’re always seen as controversial. We see female nudity all the time and no one blinks an eye, but real erections on the big screen? *Gasp*.

Of course the real problem that many people have with Nymphomaniac is that it doesn’t really show sex in a good light. The sex she has isn’t loving or caring – the only type of sex that is considered normal. We teach our children that mummy and daddy have sex to make children and while I agree this is the correct thing to tell very young children. We should be more frank and honest with older children and even, ourselves.

As a young adult I never really spoke about sex with my friends. I was only when I got to university that this became a widely talked about subject, and you know what? I loved it. Finally I had met people as open as me, who were happy to talk frankly about something that is, in the end, completely natural.

In fact it’s generally considered okay for men to openly talk about sex or in particular, masturbation, but not so much if you’re a woman. I have never really understood this. Indeed society tells us that men have bigger sex drives or even enjoy sex more than women, but we all know this simply isn’t true. Men masturbate and so do women, it’s just not talked about as widely – or even shown as much (unless it’s in porn for another man’s pleasure).

Fifty Shades of Grey - not the best erotica in the world, but it was a huge hit

Fifty Shades of Grey – not the best erotica in the world, but it was a huge hit

The whole world seemed to go mad when Fifty Shades of Grey rocketed to number one in the book charts and became such a huge hit with all kinds of women. Young women were reading it and older women were reading it. It almost reignited this whole revolution that women love sex too and it became acceptable, normal even, to see a girl reading erotica on the train to work. A huge number of similar books tried to profit off this popularity, but to me it is a shame that this trend didn’t seem to last for very long. Weirdly, I never did read Fifty Shades of Grey, because the sections I saw were so poorly written and too full of innuendo. See. Not only can we not talk about sex, we can’t write about it either.

There was some good news announced today that teenage pregnancy rates have declined to the lowest level seen in 40 years. Of course there is still a lot more to be done on the issue and I believe the main problem is a lack of sex education. I received okay sex education in school, but I have heard too many stories from people who had no sex education at all, or the lessons they had were very poor and taught them next to nothing. My mother is the person to praise for mine. She got books out from the library, she rented tapes and most importantly, she wasn’t afraid to talk about it. She always made it clear that I could come to her for advice, no matter how embarrassing. Whilst I haven’t always shared everything with my mum, I share an awful lot with her, probably a lot more than other people do with their parents. I think that willing to talk to someone about something that is potentially embarrassing shows that person that you trust them and love them. They may not come to you for sexual advice (I didn’t), but they’ll come to you for emotional advice, which is arguably a lot more important.

It has already been proven that better sex education leads to lower teenage pregnancy rates, but it’s possible that being more open about sex could lead to other benefits too. For example, a couple of the men I know have told me they turned to porn to learn about sex. This is potentially dangerous. Whilst I am all for porn, as it can have many benefits as well as disadvantages, it is one of the worst ways to teach young people about sex – for obvious reasons. If we were happier to talk about sex casually, children wouldn’t feel the need to turn to the internet for guidance. They may still turn to porn for entertainment, but at least they would be able to put things into context. When/if I have children, I will tackle the subject of porn when the time is right. It’s only a matter of time until they or their friends discover it exists, so surely it is best to educate them beforehand than to leave them confused.

I can only hope that the next few generations will be happier to talk about the things we get up to in the middle of the night, morning and afternoon. Sex isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s a natural instinct and one of our basic needs (see Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). Not to mention there’s a whole number of health benefits – it’s great for your body and your mental health. Even if you’re not currently having sex, masturbation can be incredibly good for you too. Of course not everyone wants to hear what you got up to last night with your girlfriend, but the next time someone bravely comes to you advice, open up and share a little. It’s only sex, wonderful sex, after all.

Why I am really sick of narcissistic celebrities

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As a journalist I spend most of my day searching the internet for news stories. Despite the fact not one of the sites I write for is celebrity news orientated, almost every one of my searches brings up stories such as ‘Look at Kim Kardashian’s perfect arse’, ‘Miley Cyrus got naked on the internet again’ or something equally as hideous. It seems that not a day goes by without me seeing a story related to a celebrities own obsession with themselves and because we all lap it up, it rubs off on us.

Selfie was the word of the year last year and no wonder – so many young girls and boys are choosing to post themselves all over the internet. Half naked or otherwise. Everyone wants to be a celebrity. We all seek more Twitter, Pinterest or Tumblr followers for some sort of validation that we’re cool, funny, intelligent or simply just attractive. It’s a culture that is slowly getting worse. We are already made to feel that we are imperfect. Just the other day I saw an article on the DailyFail asking – ‘Should you be worried about your thrut?’ (the idea that your bum and thigh merge into one). Quite simply, no, but sadly because we’re told to, we will be.

I am someone that does not usually worry about their weight or what they eat, but recently silly thoughts have been entering my head. I worry that I might be gaining weight (which I’m pretty sure I’m not) or that I am too unhealthy. Whilst the latter might be a good thing to be concerned about, I would quite like to go back to feeling relaxed about my figure instead of being so obsessive. I am also pretty sure I am not alone in this notion either.

Back to my original point – will this celebrity obsession ever end? I suspect not. It does, however, seem to be getting worse. These days, an article featuring images of a celebrity on holiday or taking a cheeky naked selfie of themselves will get more views than anything else. The whole reason why people like the Kardashian’s are even famous is because of the mindless people that obsess over them.

I don’t care which millionaire is currently on holiday with their sexy boyfriend, showing off their perfect bikini body and well-practised pout. Sadly, far too many people do care and will constantly question themselves as to why they don’t look like that.

Here’s the answer: You don’t have a personal trainer, stylist or make-up artist. Now can we please stop praising people’s bodies that they have achieved using money, please?

Beyond: Two Souls Review – Why I loved my trip into the Beyond

The critics haven’t treated Beyond: Two Souls very kindly and to be honest, I have no idea why. Beyond made me cry more than any other video game ever has and possibly more than most films have too. I’m a pretty emotional person, so it’s not hard for a film or TV show to make me cry. However when it comes to video games, it’s a different story. Very few video games can make me cry. Sure they can shock me, wow me and emotionally move me but for a game to make me (or anyone, really) cry, it’s really got to do something special.

Well Beyond does just that. Right from the start you’re sucked into the story of Jodie Holmes, a girl who was born with a connection to an entity beyond this realm. Jodie is trying to remember what happened to her and therefore the story is told in chronological disorder. One minute you’re Jodie as a child, the next, you’re her as an adult. Aiden, the spirit she’s connected to, is always there. Scenes also differ widely in length, some are only ten or fifteen minutes long, others go on for over an hour so; there’s a nice variety.

It may seem like a strange way to order a game but it works just as well as Pulp Fiction did for Quentin Tarantino. After all, it’s your job to put the pieces together and figure out who you (Jodie) are and who, or what, Aiden is.

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What really makes Beyond such an emotional experience is the great writing, acting and technology involved. The story is an unusual one, as it essentially about the supernatural, things that don’t really exist. Death is an interesting subject though and Beyond explores the many different forms and meanings of death. Somehow, David Cage has managed to write a very believable story about ghosts and another world without making it seem ridiculous or silly. Personally, the only time I found the writing to jar was when a very minor character said “It’s like an evil spirit has been sent here to punish us for our sins!” Yeah, that’s an awful line.

However the main actors all perform brilliantly, Ellen Page is typically great in everything she does but Beyond could arguably be one of her best roles. Right from her first line of speech you feel like you’re with Jodie and there’s no doubt that many female gamers will be able to relate to the many horrible things that Jodie has to go through. She isn’t written as a “tortured” character though, something which is refreshing for the industry. Jodie is about as real as female characters get. Willem Dafoe, the other big star, is equally engaging as the scientist trying to understand Jodie’s ability. The relationship the two build is truly warming and it’s great to see that develop as the game goes on.

Technically wise, it’s amazing. The PS3 is at the end of its life cycle and Beyond shows just how far the PS3 has come over a relatively short period of time. I can only imagine how great Cage’s games look when the PS4 has its swan-song. Of course with something so high-tech, there’s always going to be some niggles. For example the character models are near perfect, but props often look a bit flat and fake. When you think that a sponge or sandwich is motion-captured from just cardboard in real life it’s not really surprising and luckily it isn’t too distracting.

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The controls have changed a lot since Heavy Rain, instead of QTEs, Beyond uses a simplified system. Basically, when you’re engaged in a fight or are running for your life, you need to flick the right stick in the appropriate direction in order to perform the action successfully. The screen doesn’t tell you which direction you should go in, instead the game goes into slo-mo mode and you only have a set amount of time to react. Most of the time missing the odd command won’t make too much of a difference but at other times one miss can completely change the scenes outcome – so you’ll definitely be on your toes.

The controls definitely feel more natural than Heavy Rain’s did and personally I think it’s an improvement. However as you’re left to make your own decisions on which direction you should go it, judging the movement can be tough so it’s not always easy to get it right and you might end up messing up a situation you hadn’t intended to. This can be a little frustrating at times but it adds a challenge to the game which Heavy Rain often lacked, so it’s a positive change.

You can also switch to Aiden (almost) whenever you want by pressing triangle. You can then float through walls and interact with certain people and objects, depending on the situation. You can’t travel too far away from Jodie though because you’re connected. Controlling Aiden can be a bit of a pain, especially if trying to travel up or down, as it’s easy to find yourself a bit lost which isn’t ideal if you’re trying to do something quickly. It’s also quite difficult to heal people or to remember memories using Aiden, because you have to push and hold both sticks on a certain highlighted area for a set period of time. 

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Beyond isn’t perfect but it’s pretty damn close. I haven’t felt more connected to any other virtual character as I have Jodie and I genuinely cared about what happened to the other characters. As the reviews have proven, Beyond is a polarising experience, with some gamers just not “getting” it. I feel sorry for those people because they are losing out on an incredible one-of-a-kind experience which is bound to change the way you think about video games forever.

If you have a PS3 and don’t play Beyond – you’re missing out. See you on the other side.

9/10

What are 4K TVs and why would you want one?

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This 4K TV produced the best sound I’ve ever heard

If you’re confused about what 4K TVs are and why they are relevant in today’s world then read on. 

I was recently invited to come and visit Sony’s headquarters in the UK where I got a chance to look and play with their latest tech. The most innovative and interesting tech is coming from their TVs and boy, is the world of television about to change.

TV tech has stayed around the same for a good number of years now but exciting changes are finally coming. 4K means there’s four times as many pixels as there is in a full HD TV, that’s over 8 million pixels. It’s a huge difference picture wise which obviously, you can only realise when you see it for yourself. But to give you an idea – I stood in front of an 84″ Sony 4K TV and I couldn’t pick out the pixels. You could comfortably stand (or sit) at no more than two feet away and the picture still looked amazing. 

4K also adds a huge amount of depth. Even though the 84″ 4K TV we were shown, worth £25,000, also has 3D built in, Sony said that 3D was the gimmick and 4K was the real next big thing. I agree, and I’m sure that most people who do own a 3D TV would say that they barely use that function. With a 4K image you feel as if you’re looking into the TV, instead of having things come out at you, which is probably what most people would prefer. 

Now it’s all well and good saying how nice the picture looks in 4K but what use would you have for such a TV when blu-rays and games aren’t in 4K yet? Well 4K TVs can up-scale current blu-ray discs to almost 4K quality. To prove how well this works we were shown an 84″ 1080p Sharp TV and a Sony 4K TV of the same size. Both TVs played a blu-ray disc from the exact same blu-ray player (the signal was being split between the two) and it was clear the up-scaling really did work. This was also noticeable in images, when the same photo of a Japanese newspaper page was shown on the two TVs, you could clearly read the text on the 4K TV whereas the words were just a blur on the 1080p TV. 

The best TV we were shown was a 55″ 4K TV with speakers on either side of screen. This seemed like a downside at first because it made the TV very wide and the speakers sort of draw your eyes away from the screen. When we were demoed how the sound sounded though, we were blown away. It’s something you have to hear for yourself but it sounded better than most surround sound systems, let alone better than any TV. This incredible sound was thanks to something called Magnetic Fluid which was developed by NASA as it’s super conductive. Sony are currently the only brand using it in their speakers, it’s already available in some of their surround sound systems. Magnetic Fluid also allows Sony to make the speakers smaller, which is why they’ve managed to get three speakers on either side of the TV frame. It’s not everyone’s taste look wise, but the sound is so mind-blowing, it’s worth it. Plus this TV was in it’s early stage, the model we saw was hand-built and isn’t the final product.

Sony are working on making 4K TVs more accessible to the general public, with their new range coming out in July this year. It’s unclear how much they will cost (or how much their competitors will charge) but 4K is definitely the future. It may take a while for the rest of technology to catch up, for example 3 minutes worth of 4K video (uncompressed) is 300GB! But the fact that 4K up-scaling can make such a huge difference to your blu-rays and photos, means it’s worth getting one now, if you can afford it.

Are we brought up to see men in a negative light?

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Does anyone remember the phrase from their childhood: “Don’t trust boys. They’re only after one thing”? I certainly do and it’s likely it’s affected me my whole life, I just haven’t realised up until now.

Thinking about it, I have always been surprised men have emotions. It may sound strange or you may understand exactly where I’m coming from but let me explain. When listening to love songs sung and written by men, I used to find myself thinking “do men really think like that? Wow.” Or now when I see a man cry, I treat as a big deal, whereas a woman crying isn’t, because they cry all the time. I’m shocked and almost, can’t believe it. After all, we’re brought up with the notion that men are after one thing, who could have thought they could love another human being so much? When bringing up boys, it’s not unusual to skip all the emotional stuff – when they fall over, you tell them not to cry, get up and be strong whereas a girl is comforted, hugged and kissed. It’s true that girls are often more emotional than boys, a lot of this is down to hormones, so women are known to fluctuate in mood quite rapidly which men, often, do not understand. Men aren’t brought up to understand women’s emotions or menstrual cycles (which mess with our emotions quite a bit) so it’s no wonder they spend most of their lives confused about women. At the same time, girls are brought up with the idea that men are dangerous, want to force you into sex and that they’re generally bad news.

While this may be true of some teenage boys and some men, it’s not true for the majority and it seems hugely unfair for both sexes. What if inciting such beliefs led to the self-fulfilling prophecy? For those who aren’t familiar with that term, the self-fulfilling prophecy is when you tell someone they are “X” so much, they actually end up becoming it because of you. For example, if you are taught in school you’re going to fail no matter what, it can actually lead to you failing. Boys are supposed to be obsessed with sex, that’s what we teach them, so is it any wonder some turn sour? We are also taught that only boys are obsessed with sex during their teen years, not true – or else how would so many teenage pregnancies occur? We cannot possibly believe that every single girl was forced into it. No, due to those fluctuating hormones I mentioned before, girls can be just as sex obsessed (or rather, curious) as boys – they’re just not as vocal about it because they’re not allowed to be for fear of being seen as sluts.

I realise I’ve gone off on a tangent but my point is I feel as if we’re brought up to see boys and men in a negative light. Men don’t help themselves either, I’ve lost count of the amount of men who’ve judged another man’s actions on the basis of “that’s what men are like”, as if one gender follows the exact same emotional path set out before them. What I have found is that in fact, one man is very different from the next (funny that!) and that any man who says he can tell you what another man’s motivations are is a liar. But because of what men say about men, I don’t know what to believe sometimes, my boyfriend tells me things that lots of men (and women) would say is a down right lie. Now I don’t know if these things are lies or not, and unless I invent a machine that allows me to read others minds, I will never truly know. The fact that I doubt someone, just souly due to what others day is “true of all men” is sad though and I don’t think we should be brought up like this. 

Do you agree? Is it a similar case for what men learn about women? Please let me know as I’d be fascinated to learn more.

Tarantino is reflecting how we all feel about film violence

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By now I’m sure you’ve all seen that interview with director Quentin Tarantino in which he loses his cool and refuses to answer questions regarding the relation (or lack of) of film violence to real life violence. Whether you’re a fan or not and whether you thought he went overboard with his reaction or you sympathise with him, I think we can all agree on one thing – he’s simply reflecting our own frustrations.

Whenever there’s a national tragedy, films and video games are blamed and currently because of Sandy Hook, instead of people tackling the real issues – mental health and gun control (like Tarantino has stated on numerous occasions), it’s being blamed on entertainment. Let’s look at the evidence: there has never been any proof that violent cinema or video games causes or contributes to real life violent behaviour and yet it’s the first thing many journalists, parents and gun enthusiasts blame. America also has the highest amount of school shootings and yet they don’t blame their guns or healthcare system, they blame entertainment. Video games and violent films are watched worldwide, the rest of the world (for the most part) do not have anywhere near as many problems with violence as America does.

Tarantino has been making violent films for 20 years and over those twenty years he’s been asked the same questions time and time again. Many interviewers even try to push some sort of blame onto him, like his violent films are what has caused Sandy Hook – despite there being no link whatsoever. He simply says that firstly, it’s insulting to the people who have died in these shootings to spend time on the news talking about movies instead of how tragic the situation is. Secondly, he says that when there was violence in Shakespeare’s time, the playwrights were blamed. Both of these points are true and I don’t think you can blame Tarantino for not wanting to play along with journalists who sit there and simply point the finger. 

Ask yourself this, what was blamed for violence before books, films and video games? Nothing. Human nature has violent aspects, it’s like blaming rape on porn – rape has always been around and unfortunately it always will be but we can take steps to prevent it and help the victims. It’s the same situation with gun crime and in fact, there’s was a study in a 2009 paper in the Quarterly Journal of Economics which showed that violent films actually help reduce crime and not increase it. Sometimes, we just need to live out our fantasies so we don’t do them in real life.