MALIA 2014: PARTY ISLAND CULTURE, AND HOW EVEN THE MOST DETERMINED FEMINISTS CAN GET SUCKED IN

malia

Malia, Magaluf, Ayia Napa. Different names, same deal: complete and utter carnage. They are renowned hotspots for the young crazy kids to go and forget their troubles (and their names). Nobody goes there to take in the culture, visit a museum or sample the local cuisine. They go to get accosted by PR staff, get bad food and get four drinks, four shots and a fishbowl for five euro.

This year me and a couple of friends went to Malia with a common goal: get tanned and get trashed. Two of us had been to Magaluf the year before, so one would think we’d be pros by now. That we’d know all the pitfalls and be the “brains of the group”. Sadly, not so. The truth was that the second time around was much more ferocious, speaking for my own liver.

While the club scene in Belfast typically kicks off at around ten, it really only gets going in Malia at one o’clock in the morning. Streets transform from the fairly clean paths for quad bikes and hungover twentysomethings to the filthiest yellow brick road Dorothy never ventured on. Nearly everywhere you look, prepare to feel very uncomfortable as airbrushed billboards of women in bikinis vaguely resembling those on covers of video games will be advertising quad bikes and alcohol. There are televisions in the clubs playing either football or pornographic videos of women. Almost all your favourite childhood cartoons have been sexualised and put on a t-shirt (see: “Hello Titty”). After every horrible night, during your afternoon hangover, someone will come up and ask you, quite loudly, usually selling something, if you’re “READY TO PARTAY”. Plenty of groups of boys wearing LADS HOLIDAY shirts will look at you inappropriately and make you feel even more uncomfortable. Old men will grab you from the street, their cigarette burning your neck, and try to pull you into their club. Let loose on the vast expanse of drinking and debauchery, things were bound to get out of hand. And get out of hand they did, at least every night. But the alcohol wasn’t the biggest issue.

Malia, Magaluf and Ayia Napa alike are all well-known for their massive events, and this year didn’t disappoint; a pre-drinking party complete with games, competitions and (of course) cheap drinks was on the cards, and we complied to the debauchery with minimal fuss. But nothing really prepared me for what happened.

A competition arose where three girls and three guys had to get up on a platform and the girls had to slap the guys as hard as they could, right across the face. Encouraged partly by my friends but mostly by my own sense of fun and curiosity for the thrill of slapping a UniLad across his sunburnt bake, I ventured forth to the platform, where I barely got any sufficient slaps in before an English girl won the competition, possibly for nearly knocking someone unconscious with a fantastic slap.

I didn’t think anyone would bother me after it ended, but as I was passing by the bar a guy pulled me by the arm and told me his friend was desperate for a kiss. Looking at his (hardly lucid) friend, my intuition told me to ignore them. But for some reason, I kissed him lightly on the mouth. Then his friend told me to kiss him again, and I did, pulling away once I felt the dreaded Sambuca Tongue try and worm its way in. I ran away from the lads, and from whoever it was that allowed herself to obey a man’s orders despite her own intuition.

Later on, in typical sophisticated Malia fashion, there was a pole-dancing game in which two girls (but of course) had to out-dance each other. I watched in horror as one girl from Stoke proceeded to take off all her clothes until she was literally completely naked, swinging around the pole to the cheers of the (mostly male) crowd. I nearly cried as I saw a sexist cliche come to life; girls pressured to perform for the benefit of the male gaze, while perpetuating the sexist party island culture, with the clubs laughing all the way to the bank. It didn’t look like sexual liberation; it looked like the literal definition of female submission to the patriarchy. Of couse she won the competition by a landslide – that didn’t surprise me. Afterwards everyone got up on the poles and had a good time, including myself. I then expressed to my friend my disgust at what the girl had done, but moreso the competition provoking and encouraging it. The girl was seeking validation in the cheers of the male spectators; it was the ultimate example of the brainwashing powers of the patriarchy. But my friend retorted that I was doing the same thing by getting up on the pole myself. I shook away the reply indignantly – I was doing that for myself and for my own fun. But it rang in my mind.

…Was I?

I’m the kind of feminist who believes sexual liberation should not be shut down or restrained. That dancing “provocatively” is not anti-feminist or performing for the patriarchy, as long as you’re doing it to please yourself. The idea that feminists should have to wear straight sharp suits and a poker face to be taken seriously seems sexist in itself, as if a naked woman deserves less respect than a fully-clothed, reserved woman.

It brings to mind the feminist perspectives on the profession of pole dancing and stripping. On one hand, women taking their clothes off for men for money seems to be the epitome of sexism in society – but in arguing this, are we not victimising these women and in speaking for them, are we taking away their voice and thus being anti-feminist ourselves? Many argue that strippers enjoy stripping – but why? Is it because they feel genuinely free, being sexually liberated on a pole, exposing their body unashamedly, going against the oft-conservative restrains society seems to place almost exclusively on women? Or are they feeling that way because the patriarchy tells them that the approving male gaze is the only one that matters; and their minds are not nearly as important as their bodies? On a wider scale, what message does it send? That women should not be ashamed of their naked form or being sexually confident, or that the only time a woman is important and centre-stage is when she is naked and sexual?

Burlesque and stripping are different for many reasons – one of them being that strippers seem to have a sadness and a desperation about them that burlesque dancers don’t. This is because strippers rarely have the privilege to choose to take their clothes off for money – without attempting to speak for this group, it would appear that it is a last resort. Burlesque dancers do it for fun, for theatre.

So who am I, exactly, to emulate this profession when I am by no means in a desperate economic condition? I’m lucky enough to live in a nice house, with a nice family and go to a nice university where I get a nice education. I don’t need to be dancing on a pole, nor should I be. Whether I intend to or not, I perpetuate the degradation of women in society with all the privilege of a woman who doesn’t need to. My mother works, nose to the grindstone, every day, in order to be taken seriously by a world of male misogynists who frequently treat her differently because of her sex. Stripping on a pole with my friends is hardly completely to blame for this, but it doesn’t help. You can say I’m taking it too seriously and that it’s only a bit of banter, but that’s just an excuse that men use to make women feel bad about not participating in these things.

We do it all under the guise and the false assurance that it it’s just a bit of banter.

The entire culture in Malia pressures girls to do the most, to kiss the boys they don’t want to kiss and take off the clothes they may not want to take off so they can win the competition; cleverly disguising it as “craic” or “fun”. Even as my instincts told me not to, I surrendered to it, to the false form of validation that it brought me, and it all left me thinking what kind of feminist is this? I kissed the boy, I grinded on the boy, all with a twist in my stomach telling me that this was not what I wanted. Instead of feeling empowered, I felt uncomfortable. Not because I was doing something sexual because I wanted to, but because I didn’t want to, but did it anyway, because that’s what the fun girls do. That’s what the cool girls do. The girls who don’t? They’re no fun.

Needless to say, it’ll be my last party holiday.

If there’s one thing I learnt from my holiday, should you not get run over by a scrawny teen boy on a quad bike, it’s to trust your own instincts, and not to measure yourself by anyone’s yardstick but your own. You need to take care of yourself before anyone else, because it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, a veritable black hole of depravity that will suck you in, chew you up and spit you back out. You want to kiss the boy? Great! You want to kiss the girl? Do it! But make sure you’re not doing it for anyone other than yourself.

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Chanel Linlithgow

Linlithgow is getting ready to host Chanel’s annual  Metier d’Arts fashion show. An event which aims to showcase the art of small  suppliers who create specialist pieces for the fashion house. Continue reading

An Alien Invasion Would Be Welcome Right Now…

It’s true…

So where are we in 2012? War in Israel and Palestine; civil war in Syria; war in Afghanistan; civil war in many African countries; political war between the USA and Iran; Economic turmoil in Europe; poverty across the world; divisions in religion, sexuality, race, gender, class and even geographic location! Yes, it is undeniable that right now, the world we share has seen better days. I think the last good one might have been a quiet, warm Sunday afternoon in Ancient Greece where, after a tough week of thinking and being all round clever folk, they thought they’d have a rest. Before some epic war broke out on the Monday…

Einstein. He was a clever cookie. He said that (and rightly so) as long as there was men, there would be wars. So with that logic, if women inhabited the Earth, there wouldn’t be wars – but they are still human so there would have to be some sort of conflict – my wager being a lot of judging and eye-rolling. Like Mean Girls on a Global scale (yes I have seen the film, not out of choice).

So there is no getting away from it, we as a species, need to have something to direct our (apparently) oceans of hate towards. Usually target number one for us is our fellow man. And give credit where credit is due, some of our predecessors have worked damned hard to find a convincing argument to hate a mildly different group of people. For instance, racism is a rather unimaginative kind of hate. It’s too delightfully easy for white people to hate everyone but themselves, which I suppose, is a fair reflection on the perpetrators: simple hate for simple people. Whether it be the Classic, hating Black people or the new trend of hating those sneaky lil’ mexicans crossing the border, western (American) white people have got the race thing down to a tee. Across the pond however, we’ve moved passed the stage of racism. It’s not as much of a challenge and can be too blatant for our subtle and deceitful minds. No, we venture down the ‘hating people who look like us’ route. Now the conflict is not over skin colour, but none other than money! Yes class-warfare is practically Britain’s thing! From the proletariat constantly assuming that the middle are a bunch of unsavoury snobs to the upper classes viewing those below as infected inconveniences; plagues on society with their violence and drinking and “not-working-hard-enough-attitude” – I mean some only have 3 jobs!

The mac-daddy of all conflict however, is religion. Religion is more divisive than a hot knife through butter. Since the invention of the word ‘God’ man has fought, killed and more often than not died for the faith that he holds in his heart and mind. Whether it be “My God is better than your God” or “Don’t say that about my God”, the premise for Religious Warfare (<sort of a beautiful oxymoron that, I think) has shaped human history and crafted our society that we know today. Christianity vs. Judaism; Judaism vs Islam; Christianity vs. Islam; Atheists vs…everyone it would seem . Then there are the fantastic, inter-religious wars that we have all come to know and love. Catholic vs Protestant; Sunni vs Shia; Hasidic vs. Reform Jew…The list goes on and on and on.

Therefore, what would be wonderful, what would (however temporary) cease the insanity between mankind, would be for everyone, to have a common enemy. A bullseye for everyone to aim their hate at just for a wee while, for us to realise that there are more important things in life than killing anyone who doesn’t land in the same pigeon-hole you did. For a while, I (however naively) believed that climate change was the answer. Finally! Something that threatens the entire Earth! Surely something as gravely serious as that would jolt everyone into action in effort to save the place that we LIVE IN. But no – for some, the evidence just isn’t sufficient enough to make them believe that, if we keep going the way we are, we could bring the world into a new Ice Age. Politicians keep mentioning that we should vote by thinking of the lives our children and grandchildren will live as a result of our actions. Clearly some people’s response to that was “Hey, kids love snow! I’ll stick with my 5mpg car.”

So the only logical solution to solve the problems of mankind that I am left with, is the hope that one day, maybe soon if we’re lucky, we are invaded by unfriendly Aliens. The monstrous threat of a species intent on our collective demise is the only plausible scenario that we would finally rally together as human beings, not as individual factions and fight for our survival on this Planet. Only then, after producing some sort of Marvel Super-Hero team from thin-air, would we recognise that our differences should not be what define us, but the fact that at the end of the day, everyone, no matter who they are on this Planet, all strive for that one same thing…

That warm, quiet Sunday afternoon in Greece, where there is nothing but tranquility, sunshine, the company of loved ones and a warm bed to go to after a long day of doing nothing.

But then everyone would want to live in Greece then there would be a war for the land.

 

Just as a wee post-script again, cheers if you did actually make it through that blog and I do appreciate it if you read it. I realise that the general tone of my posts is a bit grim but I promise that my next one will be something a bit more light-hearted and trivial like a possible movie review or something.

As long as it’s not Twilight. It’s awful.

Rebecca Black Vs. Nicole Westbrook for Worst Music Video Ever

Picture this; a teenaged girl with pin straight hair and a face painted with makeup belts out obvious facts in a singsong voice using a turkey leg as a microphone. Her hymn is projected towards a table of her peers and a middle aged black man who happens to be wearing a turkey costume. Seems ridiculous you say? I completely agree, however this exact scenario may be the next viral sensation on YouTube.

Nicole Westbrook, 12, in her debut hit “It’s Thanksgiving.”

The popular American holiday Thanksgiving is the topic of the music video in Nicole Westbrook’s “It’s Thanksgiving.” The 12 year old Californian singer has released her debut hit which is now available for purchase on iTunes. The official music video, which was uploaded to YouTube on November 7th, has already accumulated nearly 10 million views and counting, proving it to be a good candidate for the next viral video.

Many YouTube users have compared the song and video to Rebecca Black’s viral hit “Friday,” which makes complete sense considering both young girls have acquired their fame as a result of the Nigerian musician and music producer, Patrice Wilson. Founder of ARK Music Factory and Pato Music World, Wilson is notorious for finding young artists and providing them with low-cost entry to the pop market. Black and Westbrook are just two of the many young girls and boys that have been submitted to Wilson’s mainstream aspirant musical wrath. Others include; D’lannie, Will Craig, Hannah Rose, Abby Victor and more. With each child featuring an equally cheesy ballad, Wilson has been criticized of taking advantage of rich children and their parents, but denies these claims.

Remember “Friday,” the highly repetitive yet undoubtedly catchy pop tune that went viral on March 11th, 2011? The original music video was released by Rebecca Black on February 2011, gaining only a thousand views until a month later when Tosh.0 and Michael J. Nelson both brought attention to it, calling it “the worst video ever made,” via Twitter. By June 15th, 2011, the video had gained a whopping 166 million views and 3.2 million dislikes, making it the 22nd most watched YouTube video of all time. On June 16th, it was taken down by the request of Rebecca Black herself in response to news that ARK Music Factory had begun charging users to view the clip. However, three months later the video was re-uploaded and currently claims an additional 43 million views.

Rebecca Black, 13, in her hit “Friday”

With lyrics rejoicing “It’s Friday, Friday/ Gotta’ get down on Friday/ Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend,” Black takes us through her morning routine and then is accompanied by her teenaged pals of which are apparently very excited for the weekend. Later in the video, after you’ve spent several minutes doubting the ages of her friends who surely cannot be old enough to drive, Patrice Wilson himself joins in the excitement to supply the rap verse.

Similarly, Westbrook’s debut hit walks us through the anticipation of a “good time,” whilst demonstrating the steps to preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, touching on the excitement of surrounding holidays as well. Both songs follow a familiar style both lyrically and musically. Singing in the familiar auto-tuned voice that Wilson imposes on all of his artists, Westbrook calls out “Oh oh oh it’s Thanksgiving. We we we we are gonna have a good time.” Just as in “Friday”, Wilson makes an appearance, this time as a Thanksgiving guest at the front door dressed in a…turkey costume. The holiday mascot hangs around for the rest of the video and enjoys dinner with Westbrook and her underage friends, singing a few lines of the song and dancing in the living room. In contrast with “Friday,” Wilson doesn’t do the rapping in this video; instead, Nicole herself drops a verse for the table, using a turkey leg as a microphone. Let’s keep in mind that her parents, or any adult besides Patrice for that matter, are nowhere in sight.

In the past, YouTube users have incessantly proven to be drawn to the eccentric and unusual, especially in music videos as illustrated by PSY’s latest hit “Gangnam Style,” which recently went viral with nearly 775 million views. Forbes, business magazine, stated that “Friday’s” success “demonstrated the power of social media, especially in creating overnight sensations.” “It’s Thanksgiving” has shown to be no exception to that rule, continuing to gain attention and popularity each day.

However not all attention is good, and just like Black, Westwood has already received a majority of dislikes on her video. Yet she seems to be dealing with the negative response to her music better than Black who was devastated by the harsh criticism of the public. With almost 152 thousand dislikes, the young singer told MTV, “I know there’s some negative comments, some positive comments but all in all I haven’t really paid much attention to it.” The video has already been covered, parodied, remixed, and turned into a cartoon. Nevertheless, Thanksgiving is soon approaching, and as it passes, the relevance of the hit may pass as well. If it does…well, that will be one thing to be thankful for.

 

Not Bad, Barack

As the United States of America’s presidential election came to an end, after two years of campaigning, the internet swelled with tweets, status, memes, and jokes about the two main candidates. A few weeks before the election, on sites such as memebase and reddit, jokes and picture ‘memes’ started to pop up in most cases favouring Barack Obama over Mitt Romney or just making fun of the election all together. Obama has been used in memes since he became president, four years ago. A cartoon rendition of him with the large red caption ‘Not Bad’ is used on many ‘memes’ and has made him a favourite amongst social media users.

Obama himself uses the popular site Twitter to reach out to his demographic. His popularity on the site was shown straight after he won the election , when he tweeted a picture of himself and his wife, Michelle. The tweet became the most retweeted post in the history of the site, after being retweeted over half a million times. Other politicians on Twitter are usually very rigid and considered by many young people as ‘boring’. Obama’s relaxed Tweets, such as his gratification tweet to his voters, ”This happened because of you. Thank you.”, are considered by many as more relateable

After the election there were almost half a million posts every minute about him, this truly shows that the rest of the world was behind Obama, and unlike other politicians, he has mastered the right way to use the internet. Not Bad.

Frankenstorm Sandy: Winds of Ignorance reach record high speeds

The return of Irene’s neglected little sister has sparked mass, undiluted gullibility to spatter over social media like, well.. urine in a hurricane. Coupled with the sincere hashtag of #PrayForNYC, hurriedly photoshopped and archived pictures reminiscent of “The Day After Tomorrow” are being uploaded onto Facebook and Twitter in a struggle to post the most striking and moving image. Not to downplay the storm itself – which came to a close mid-way through this week – leaving a steep death toll of over 100 and $60 billion in damages and reparations in its wake. Whilst certainly disastrous, Sandy’s infamy has been inflated so much by the viral spread of these fake pictures that it has become a major contender for the Earth’s major super-villain spot, currently indisputably held by Jimmy Savile.

A truly awe-inspiring, powerful showcase of Adobe Photoshop, combining a photo of the New York harbor with a 2004 shot taken by Mike Hollingshead.

#PrayForNYC #StatueOfLibertyRIP

Well that’s much less exciting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The thought was there, and with the influx of these pictures it did – in a slightly misinformative manner – manage to get a staggering amount of people interested in Sandy around the world. However, as people strove to post the most striking and shocking picture in relation to the hurricane, they were simply just trying too hard. The real images – especially the ones taken in the aftermath – are the most incredible.

 

Joseph Leader, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Vice President and Chief Maintenance Officer, takes a look at the worst natural disaster to strike the transit system in its 108 year history.

A ying-yang effect of burnt houses and unburned at Breezy Point, Queens after it was devastated by Sandy on Oct 31st. (© Reuters/Adrees Latif)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Right-click > View Image for enlarged original picture.)

The real trauma that residents in New York, New Jersey and most notably the Caribbean nations of Jamaica, Cuba and the still-recovering Haiti is destroyed homes, loss of life, complete lack of power for over 8 million homes, high flooding in all areas affected, and the reparations to be made after the third most economically damaging storm in history – not sharks swimming around the streets and the Statue of Liberty being subject to fake atomic looking clouds.

If you are one of the people who passed on one of these fake images – do not seek repentance. We’ve all done it. Photoshop is a crafty minx, and with a true master behind the reins, anything can be believable. Unless I photoshopped a picture of the hurricane on the offset of Edinburgh castle of course, in which case you would all scoff and provide it with the caption of “A lovely summer’s eve.”

If Scotland was America…

So, Hurricane Sandy. A Superstorm; the “Frankenstorm”.  Without doubt a force of nature to be reckoned with. America is used to such things: Katrina, Mount St.Helen’s, San Fransisco – they, as a Nation, know the drill.

Scotland however, not so much. The way we dealt with the last two winters stand testament to that. Granted, the Scottish people don’t piss their pants at the first sight of snow in the same way that our Southern cousins do but we are still partial to a wee moan about how cold it is or how the bloody gritter hasn’t been yet.

There is one trait however that I believe that we, as a nation, hold high over everyone else on the planet and that is our glorious ability to make light of literally any situation that is slapped in front of us, regardless of how dire the condition could be. Scotland is full of funny people. It is in our nature; our blood. Hence why when – for the first time in 30 years –  we are struck by what can be considered a small hurricane, do we officially name it? With a name that is statistically chosen to demand the greatest respect for the serious situation? No, the job was clearly given to Tam wae the good patter. And now history shall forever refer to that storm as…Hurricane Bawbag. Sort of poetically beautiful in a way isn’t it? Personally I love the idea of it being 100 years down the line, and on some version of BBC Scotland News where Jackie Bird is probably still inexplicably presenting, there will be a segment like “This Day in History” where they open the Facebook archive posts of everyone talking about the damage cause by Hurricane Bawbag.

And it is just this sort of sense of humour that is lacking from so many things in the world. Namely, like I said, in people across the pond in America. I genuinely believe that if we inhabited a chaotic world where Hurricanes, Tornado’s, Earthquakes and Volcanoes existed, we wouldn’t view them as forces of destruction beyond imagination, more inconvenient niggles that would disrupt us every now and then. Would we view them with respect? Hell no! Just imagine, rather than one freak occurence of a Hurricane, we would have whole seasons. Whole seasons of reports of storms named after human genitals. Tornado Alley (the area in the South and Mid-West of America that was named most likely to have Tornadoes each) year I imagine would be renamed the “Windy Tunnel” or something along those line. I would leave it to my fellow Jock to coin a phrase that would be both succinct and hilarious.

The point of this blog is less of a comment on how Americans should be trying to think of more jokes during events that I know demand an incredible amount of seriousness; more an endorsement of the Scottish people. Yes, the stereotype painted of us is not particularly a positive one: heavy, drinkers, smokers, fighters, swearers…heavy people in literal terms also; that we are a miserable bunch whose personality reflects the climate they are subjugated to year round… The list goes on.

However, speaking from an observational point of view, I think that we, as a people, are one of the friendliest, most inviting, most generally positive countries in the world. As expressed by our dearest Zimbabwean member, Arnold Bhebhe. We are not necessarily optimistic (lets not push it). But our collective psyche is one more of a jovial realism. In other words: we know our weather is crap, we know we will NEVER win the World Cup and we know that our ‘storms’ are a bit limp wristed too but at the end of the day, after 6 pints down the road with our friends, insulting each other and paradoxically becoming closer in the process…
We just don’t gee a f**k!

A miraculous survivor…