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Facing up to ‘The Sexy Lie’ we women are living every day

For those of you who haven’t yet heard about The Sexy Lie, and who haven’t seen this TEDxYouth San Diego talk on the topic of sexual objectification given by Caroline Heldman, the chair of the Politics department at Occidental College, I wanted to share this with you. All of you, male or female, but particularly the women, really ought to listen to this because it really changes the way you look at the world around you, and yourself, leaving you both empowered and depressed about the world at the same time.

Watch the video before reading on

I’m sure you’re thinking ‘Wow’, much like I was when I first watched the video. It really makes you face up to all those elements of the world we live, all those things like the Nuts magazine covers and the dolls houses right up to those blokes that leer at you on a night out and the way you make a point of dressing up. All those tiny things that seem insignificant because they have become part of our everyday lives and we have become so desensitised to the extreme sexuality we are faced with each day.

As a friend of mine said, it’s like being raised in a red room, pulled out of that red room, and asked to describe the colour red.

This is something I had not really thought of previously in these terms, of course I am aware of how extreme and sometimes shocking advertising can be to really jump out at us, but until I heard this speech, I don’t think I had really thought about the reason for this – that we have become immune to high sexualised images. The speaker gives a great example of this in the advert for pre-owned cars with the text ““You know you’re not her first, but do you really care?” The gasp from the audience said it all, I too was shocked to hear this lewd and disgusting way of advertising something so completely unrelated. And the fact that the number of adverts we are exposed to each day has increased so much is actually quite scary when you think of it in terms of the children who are equally exposed to such images. In such a hyper-sexualised society is it any wonder that children are growing up so fast and that complaints websites are needing to be set up?

Why are we experiencing this now? It can really be boiled down to technology. New technology has increased the sheer number of images that you are exposed to everyday. In the 70’s, we saw about 500 ads a day. Now, we see about 5,000 ads a day.

5474582092_700bffc739_oCaroline’s questions for defining sexual objectification are great and wheedling out those that might sometimes get away with it, such as the commodity or canvas ideas. But it is her explanation of the sex object vs sex subject that really interested me. I had never thought of the power struggle under those terms – I had always believed that the relationship between men and women is a power struggle but I liked to think that women often held the power by being desirable. But after listening to this talk I am left conflicted. I still think that choosing to be sexually objectified does give you a certain power – look at Kim Kardashian, she chose that lifestyle and has made it work for her and look at her success (whether we all want that kind of success is a different matter). However, Caroline is right that if you are sexually objectified by another, you lose your power because you are there to be acted upon by those who deemed you a sex object in the first place.

Even if you become the perfect object, the perfect sex object, you are perfectly subordinate because that position will always be acted on; so there’s not power in being a sex object when you think about it logically. Beyond that, this idea that sex sells, I like to challenge that directly because the fact is if sex sold, most women are heterosexual and we are sexual beings, so why wouldn’t we see half naked men everywhere in advertising.

I would like to propose that something else is being sold here. To men, they’re being sold this idea constantly that they are sexual subjects. They are in the driver’s seat. It makes them feel powerful to see images of objectified women everywhere.

As Caroline goes on to say, it is power that is being sold, and mainly to men. How sad that we live in a society where we have to constantly make men feel better about themselves by making ourselves into sex objects that have been airbrushed beyond recognition and, as she goes on to say, how sad that we are raising the next generations to do the same.

We raise our little boys to view their bodies as tools to master their environments. We raise our little girls to view their bodies as projects to constantly be improved. What if women started to view their bodies as tools to master their environment as tools to get you from one place to the next as these amazing vehicles for moving through the world in a new way?

6326161953_8b85f2d351_oShe finishes with a plea for the audience to imagine the following, and it’s astonishing to think how simple this world she imagines should be, but in reality how absurd it sounds. I’m glad to say I’m not the sort of girl who takes hours over hair and make-up, but I still cannot imagine a world where I didn’t feel like I needed to or wanted to to feel completely comfortable. How sad is that? As one of the more confident girls I know, I should be happy to walk around make-up free and I should not feel like the way I look will have an influence on the men around me. I like to think that I wear make-up because I like to and I dress up for nights out because I genuinely enjoy getting dolled up – and I think because I have had a boyfriend for so long this is less for the men around me than others – but is it just the result of a lifetime of conditioning from women’s magazines telling me I must be wearing an outfit that shows off my figure or lipstick that makes guys want to kiss me?

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this idea of imagining a different world. I’d like you to imagine a world where girls and women don’t spend an hour every morning putting on their make-up and doing their hair.

I’d like you to imagine a world where women are valued for what they say and what they do rather than the way they look.

I would like you to imagine a world where instead of spending time on dress and appearance, we actually directed our energies to dealing with serious problems like human trafficking, sexualized violence, homophobia, poverty, hunger.

I have to add that while I do feel that I am valued for what I say and my input at work, I genuinely think that my looks played a part in the reason I was hired by the initially male-heavy staff. I have no huge problem with this because I have more than proved my worth in the job and have used this to my advantage in this situation, but what if appearance was the reason someone didn’t get the job in favour of someone who was better looking but less talented? This is when sexual objectification becomes a problem, especially if it leads to inappropriate comments or behaviour. Caroline is right, there are far more important issues out there that warrant our attention than having the latest shoes or achieving that perfect liquid eye-liner technique. As she lists above, these are just some of the important issues that we should be tackling.

You might want to check out this article about how being a woman restricts your freedom across the globe.

I’d love to know your thoughts on the talk by Caroline and on my opinions on the subject – share them in a comment below!


Wilkinson – Songs that are putting a smile on my face

I’ve shared some of his songs on here before now, but couldn’t resist with this one. I am absolutely in love with Wilkinson and the use of powerful vocals in his music. I adored his last release of Afterglow – particularly the lyrics and the video which I thought were really beautiful and such a realistic portrayal of a young couple. Despite being released later on, this song perfectly summed up my summer of nights out, dancing and festivals with good friends, and of course my boyfriend. The song was so beautiful and simple, but amazing for the dance floor. I’ve actually just looked up the name of the singer on the track – Becky Hill – who also features on Rudimental’s Powerless track – another beauty. She has such an amazing voice and apparently was a semi-finalist on The Voice. Amazingly, she has actually featured on quite a few other great tracks that I also love without me even realising – alongside Rudimental, Paolo Nutini and Alex Clare. I’d say she’s one to watch!

This latest track, Too Close, is another gem and I really can’t get enough of it – it’s constantly being played in my car, along with Clean Bandit’s Rather Be. Another stunning vocal and it really makes me want to dance – it makes me think of summer days back at Hideout Festival in Croatia and all the summer fun that is yet to come. I love music that does that to you. I’m desperate to go and see Wilkinson live now – having caught Clean Bandit supporting Basement Jaxx in December – amazing performance and right before they made it big! I’ve just spotted Wilkinson are playing Cambridge Junction next month so I may have to see if I can get along to see them. I wish they would play Norwich instead though, it is a much better venue for dance music gigs, while Cambridge is better for more acoustic performers.

Who are you listening to on repeat at the moment? And what are your favourite live music venues?


Neknomination: Taking the negatives and spinning the positive

The other night on Twitter, I was expressing my outrage and disgust over this stupid fad – Neknomination. I was astonished to hear about it all and to realise that so many people, and so many that I know, were taking part and thinking they were clever or ‘total lads’ for taking part. Really? Even laying aside the fact that people have died as a result of this stupid binge drinking – when has necking a pint of spirits ever been cool? I’ve been to university, I’ve partied hard, but even at 18 I never thought that chugging a pint of whiskey was something I wanted to do or that it would be worth it for some kind of ‘status’.

I find it sad that we live in a society where adults, who I believed were intelligent individuals who would not be interested in something like this, are necking pints of spirits and nominating others to do the same. Peer pressure? It’s just embarrassing and at least some of the people I have seen taking part should know better.

So, when bitching about it on Twitter (and being met with a similar response from other Tweeters), I was shocked to receive a tweet telling me to watch one of the videos associated with this – with promises it would change my view of the whole stupid fad. I was sceptical but watched it anyway, and thank goodness I did! Watch the video at the top and you’ll understand why it brought a tear to my eye. I was just so astonished that someone had been motivated and wise enough to take the fame and the name of something so negative and to turn it into an incredible positive by using it to raise awareness of a social problem and how we can help to fix it.

It’s things like this that really help to change your view of the world, and hopefully this video will work to shame the losers out there who have taken part in this stupid challenge while doing some good elsewhere. Kudos to the guy who made this video and to the message he sent by doing so.

Have you guys spotted any other amazing videos that have renewed your faith in mankind and that might bring a tear to my eye? Please share the links below!


Bad Santa’s and parental cover-ups

So I happened to come across this hilarious ‘drunk Santa’ video on YouTube and just had to share it with you guys. Seriously laughing out loud, especially the bit when the police discover Rudolph and the bit where Santa is body-popping – reminiscent of Will Ferrell.

On another note, I’m firmly thinking of all things festive after putting up my Christmas tree, starting my advent calendar, visiting the Winter Wonderland and starting my Christmas shopping this week. All of this, and the video, made me start thinking about Christmas as a child and trying to remember how it was spent. One memory that always sticks in my mind, despite happening when I was very young, is when I spotted Santa walking down the road late at night. I was so excited and have proceeded to tell people about it each year to keep the story alive.

But let’s be honest, Santa would not have been walking down my street at that particular time (he would have waited until we all went to bed!), so it was probably just a drunk random person dressed as Santa making his way home from the pub. What I love about this story is the fact that my parents kept the mystery alive for me, instead of telling me it was a drunk making his way home, they made sure that I firmly believed it was Santa and that he would shortly be followed by his reindeer. My parents, especially my mum, have always been the type to put their all into the festive period – keeping secret presents, hand-making advent calendars, leaving straw and bits of chewed up carrot by the tree of Christmas Day and all the rest. I am so grateful for the way they raised my sister and I to really enjoy the magic and the tradition of Christmas even more than all the presents.

I can genuinely say that although it is nice to get presents, my favourite parts of Christmas are things like the festive morning walk around Hunstanton to watch the charity swimmers plunge into the sea, or heading to Sandringham to watch the Royals leave church. I love watching people’s faces light up when they open the gifts that I spent so long choosing, and I love to lay the table with all the Christmassy bits. I have my parents to thank for making me love all the different parts of Christmas by keeping the magic alive and making me believe for as long as they did. Make sure to do the same for your children, as I will with mine, and you will raise youngsters with real values instead of the ones that ask for iPads, iPods, iPhones and all the rest.


Natty Beatts – Come Outside

A few weeks ago I wrote an article for the newspaper about a Norwich-based singer/rapper who had filmed her latest music video at Ringstead with a Hunstanton-based production team. Well the finished product has now been released and here it is. I’ll be honest, I’m not overwhelmed by the quality of the music video or the concept and personally expected more from it, but I love the song and Natty Beatt’s voice.

The article doesn’t focus much on Natty partly because I couldn’t get hold of her before we went to press and partly because she was based in Norwich, which is outside our patch. But, looking into her via Facebook, Twitter etc, she is a very interesting person. She’s a rapper and singer, who has helped create a rap battle competition that runs in the city, she also models, will be starring in a Great Yarmouth pantomime, works as a body coach and does other health related work. A busy girl! But sure seems like lots of fun from her posts.

Nice to write about and find some home-grown talent that actually caters for my type of music. So many of the Norfolk acts that I come across have more of a folky/rock sound, which is nice, but personally I prefer something I can dance to with a drum and bass edge.

What do you think of the song?


‘When you and I were forever wild’ – The beauty of The Great Gatsby

On Friday I decided to treat myself to a copy of The Great Gatsby on DVD to watch that night. Having seen it at the cinema, I was wholly impressed by the quality of the film, cast, production and soundtrack – all incredible and I would expect nothing less from Baz Luhrmann. Although we saw it in 3D at the cinema, we watched it on our huge TV at home and it still had the same incredible effect. The songs gave me goosebumps and the words, cleverly constructed into the storyline by F Scott Fitzgerald all those years ago, gave me shivers.

After studying the book at school and university, I cannot help but look at the film and book in terms of the class differences and the commentary on society. The line that still gets me every time is said by Daisy, played by Carey Mulligan, when she says:

“I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”

The implication of this line in relation to the treatment of women and the objectification of women, by women themselves, is horrifying and the characters resigned to it, preferring to live out the fantasy than face or fight the truth.

This is the first adaptation of a novel to the screen where I believe that justice has been done to a great novel. With others over the years there were always bits missing or parts were not presented in the way I felt they should have been – for example, The Time Traveller’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger, was a particular disappointment. However, Gatsby was a magnificent representation of the roaring twenties that are pictured from reading the book, the flamboyance of the characters, the parties, the clothes and the music is perfectly executed on screen. The soundtrack brings the film bang up to date, while enhancing each scene – whoever put together the soundtrack and matched it to the scenes did an amazing job.

The actors chosen for each role were perfect, Carey Mulligan was exactly as I had imagined Daisy to be, Leonardo DiCaprio perfectly embodied the character of Gatsby and I loved Tobey Maguire’s dry and detached commentary of what was happening around him. My favourite scenes of the film had to be the party scenes, the day where Gatsby and Daisy are reunited and finally the scene in the hotel room that sparks the final demise of each character. Finally, my favourite part of the whole film has to be Lana Del Ray’s version of Young and Beautiful, a song that pierces my heart each time I hear it and brings a tear to my eye. Not usually a huge fan of Del Ray, I often find her music a bit heavy going and samey, but this track is stunning and flawless. Her voice is truly beautiful and the song perfectly matches the mood of the film, it shows the shades of darkness of the characters mixed with the light and hope shared by them for the future.

I love the line of the song, towards the end, that goes:

“He’s my sun, he makes me shine like diamonds.”

It just captures the feelings shared between Daisy and Gatsby so beautifully, a feeling I know well, that one look from the one you love can set you alight and bring you to life. Stunning all around. I love this film and I love the fact that this film has made by boyfriend, who has never really like Luhrmann’s films, think again.

Only problem is that I need to win the lottery in order to fulfil my wish of hiring a mansion or stately home to hold a fabulous twenties-themed Gatsby party with everyone I know. I want to have everyone dressed up in gorgeous flapper dresses, feathers and beads. Everyone would be swing dancing all over the place with my friends from Swing Patrol and the music would be big band and lively. Plenty of cocktails and sparkle everywhere. It really would be the party to end all parties, but how on earth I would put this on – why knows without the funds!

Who else has seen The Great Gatsby that has read the novel? What did you think of it?



Thank god Lily Allen is back to represent young women

She has always been such an inspiring woman, unafraid to speak her mind and commentate on issues such as the objectifying of women, sexuality and gender roles in a way that is accessible to young women and that attracts the right kind of attention. I’ve really missed her contribution to the music scene in recent years, but the release of Hard Out Here and her performance on this year’s John Lewis advert proves she is back with a bang and here to stay.

I hope her parody of ‘musicians’ , and I use the term loosely, such as Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke is a sign of more social comment to come on the treatment of women and the way that women themselves are increasing this sexualisation and behaviour in music videos. It’s about time that someone actually made a statement with their music, especially since Lady Gaga seems to have lost her way. So Lily, here’s to you! And plenty more of the good stuff.

Any other Lily Allen fans out there?



Don’t worry ’cause the night is young

I absolutely love this music video. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about relationships, how they are perceived by those within the couple and those outside. It astonishes me how many people out there think they have any right to comment on other couples when they know nothing about their personal circumstances or why they do the things they do. Luckily I myself have not really experienced this, but others I know have been subjected to it and I think that is very sad.

I loved this song before I even saw the video because it has that perfect combination of amazing vocals and powerful bass, but when I saw the video I realised that it is so well thought out. I love the video because it is such an accurate short film about what it is like to be in a relationship for the long-term. It is packed full of highs and lows, with lovely stuff in-between, but it is a damn struggle sometimes and it is refreshing to see someone depict both sides to a relationship in proportion and realistically for my age group. Too many views of couples my age is about them settling down, buying a house and getting married or having children – this is ridiculous! People need to live a little, realise there is time for all that later and to go out and be 23.


‘I’m a child of sun and the stars I love’

On a bit of a music hype this week and this song is absolutely beautiful. It’s haunting but hopeful lyrics give me goosebumps and I can just imagine how incredible it would sound live in an open-air venue or at a festival. Powerful. It really suits my melancholy mood this week. I don’t know why I’m feeling like this, not down as such, but have been thinking a lot this week and making some decisions about the future..

I love the lyrics so much, here they are.. enjoy xx

Come down love
Berlin in the cold
All that fighting, all that snow

Sober nights
and byron on my mind
Tell me I’m not going home
and I’ll stop waiting by the phone

Bedroom floor
and silence in my blood
Sorry love I’m running home
I’m a child of sun and the stars I love


Thinking about next season’s festivals is giving me chills

I had such an amazing summer this year and before the dust has really settled from all those festivals, I am already going full speed ahead with plans for next season. The main festival my friends, boyfriend and I are hoping to get tickets for is Tomorrowland in Belgium – an electronic rave of epic proportions! The stages alone are immense and I am so excited at the prospect of being part of the crowds of thousands I witnessed on videos of the last few years at the festival. Watching this video gives me chills!

I’m also hoping that my status as Editor of This Festival Feeling will give me the freedom to claim free tickets to some of the following – WeAreFstvl, Secret Garden Party (if we don’t get tickets for Tomorrowland), Bestival, Shambala, Boomtown Fair and any others that come my way. I hope to make it to at least two on this list if nothing else!

Last year I went to Hideout Festival in Croatia which was billed as one of the biggest of the year with some of the most sought-after tickets – I’m curious to know which festival will be the same this year…

What festivals is everyone else looking to go to next year?