The Importance Of Sex Education

As a young boy researching sex and finding anal bleaching and buttplugs, the Internet only led me down a more confusion-inducing phallic-shaped rabbit hole.

Having been taught in religious schools for the most part of my academic career, I’ve never actually been on the receiving end of a sex education lesson. Not only is this worrisome, as I’m now about to be 17 years old, it’s also eye-opening. Sex has often been a subject matter of taboo within Catholicism. The hush hush culture of it all has had its significant backlash and yet there continues to be an uncomfortably grimacing silence on it. This could lead to the question: How does one openly discuss sex without wanting to shrivel up into a ball of inflamed embarrassment?

Since abstinence has proven to not work, (when has denying a teenager something ever ensured they don’t do it?) the first steps would be to talk about contraception. I never so much got even a talk about condoms – how to use them, where to get them. Thank goodness for the Internet. But perhaps that’s where the issue stems. With so much information available to everyone, at all ages, at all times, people (adults) have begun to think the sharing of such information is redundant. Well, I can assure you that’s not the case. As a young boy researching sex and finding anal bleaching and buttplugs, the Internet only led me down a more confusion-inducing phallic-shaped rabbit hole. I’m pretty sure my parents were relying on the National Curriculum or the bravery of a fifteen-year-old with a concerning search history to ask them. Neither worked in their favour. Hence, the aforementioned Internet.

But is it perhaps possible to learn too much too fast? With no one controlling my information intake, I quickly became aware of lube, slut-shaming, polyamory, STDs, the spectrum of gender and sexuality, and a whole load of other sex+ related topics. Of course I’m still learning today, just recently I became aware of full-body orgasms, but the more I found out the more I was eager to learn. There was an odd epiphanial moment where I realised I needed to learn more about LGBTQ+ stuff and safe sex… which led me back into a 180 degree spin to the Internet, since that was my only real source.

I’m not discrediting the Internet as a good tool for learning, I owe it my full pseudo-sex education to this day. What I’m proposing is a wider conversation on sex, its stigma and everything we need to learn to be safe in contemporary society. More people are having premarital sex than waiting nowadays, but the standard of education is not meeting this changed norm. In the age of so much over-saturation of social media narcissism with perfect bodies and nude selfies, somehow sex ed. and health is still protested against being taught in schools. Here’s to the importance of better sex, safer sex and (in mine and many other LGBTQ+ people’s cases) queerer sex education where we can talk about these matters and not be forced to feel shameful. After all, knowledge is power and I’d much rather know about something before hand than have to find my way along down the road. *cough cough douching*

A Letter To My Former Best Friend

After seven years friends are said to become family. It’s been twelve.
But now, I’m not so sure.

My sweet,

For twelve years we have had the most complex of relationships. We were childhood rivals, sweethearts, frenemies. We shared ugly words, we touched tongues and lips, we made amicable chitchat. Adolescence hasn’t helped to unblur the distinctions of what category we fall under, to this day. It’s difficult to attempt to unspool the history that’s laid out between us – miles and miles of history carved by our past. That’s probably why it has taken me this long to write this. In the past I’ve sat down to ready pages and ready pens, only to stand up to unused pages and unused pens.

We’ve drifted. Grown apart. Gone separate ways. Let’s not sugar coat it. It’s the truth. And I hardly doubt you care much. You wouldn’t have let it happen if you did. But the same can be argued for me. The relationship was never on equal footing. I needed you more than you needed me. You relied on that imbalance of power to keep me around. Begging for your attention, your time.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom before he showed up. And I really only have myself to blame for inviting him into our lives. The deal was made and I held up my end. Like I expected you to. But you didn’t because you couldn’t. It’s not in you to be selfless. That may be harsh but it’s what this past decade has taught me. There was a prize awaiting you when I completed my end of our bargain. Him. I talked to him for you but you didn’t do the same for me. And once he was as infatuated with you as I had been, the oscillation into madness burned quicker and brighter than a Roman candle.

One by one he replaced the people in your life. Your acquaintances, your family members, your friends. Me. I shed tears in your room, worried it would happen months before it became serious, and you still allowed him to envelop your life. Of course I lashed out. He had stolen away the one person I always wanted to be around. Your time was now his time and I confused jealousy over you with romantic feelings for him and I destroyed one of the most special moments in your life. For that, I’m sorry. I’m also deeply sorry for trying to steal him away from you. In front of you, behind your back, anytime and anyplace I could try. But he never wavered. And I’m glad. Because you’re happy. Happier now than you ever were with me. I can’t continue to stand in the way of that. Realising it, I stopped. I tried to just be his friend and continue to be your best friend. But it was so clear to me, as it had been with everyone else in your life, that no one would stand in the way of you two. Who was I to try?

What I didn’t expect was for you to let me go without a fight. You reached out once, twice, and that was it. A friendship spanning a decade and two years in the dirt. But I guess it’s clear how much I put into the relationship. You still have my clothes, my presents, my memories. I’m not sure what I have left of you, or what I even want from you anymore. Friendship? I have friends I can truly count on now. One call and they’re here for me. I’m not sure I ever even had you like you had me. I suppose only time, as it continues to carve out our future, will tell what happens to us. To you. And to me.

SONY Drops Dr. Luke As Legal Battle With Kesha Continues

#FreeKesha

It appears that Mr. Gottwald is no longer the CEO of Kemosabe Records, the subsidiary of Sony that released Kesha’s two studio albums. The Hollywood Reporter has stated new court documents have surfaced, reading “Lukasz Gottwald is no longer the CEO of Kemosabe Records and does not have authority to act on its behalf.”

It’s been three years since Kesha has accused Dr. Luke, real name Lukasz Gottwald, of physically, mentally and sexually abusing her over the course of ten years. The official lawsuit stated, “Dr. Luke abused Ms. Sebert in order to destroy her self-confidence, self-image, and self-worth so that he could maintain complete control over her life and career.”

In February 2016, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich denied Kesha’s request for preliminary injunction to release her from her contract with Kemosabe Records. Ms. Kornreich is married to Ed Kornreich, a lawyer who is a partner in the legal firm Proskauer Rose who represent Sony. The judge said the contract was “heavily negotiated and typical for the industry”. The verdict spurred the #FreeKesha online trending movement, with stars Adele and Lady Gaga publicly supporting Kesha. Taylor Swift even donated a large sum to aid in the legal battle.

Kesha said, “This case has never been about a renegotiation of my record contract — it was never about getting a bigger, or a better, deal. This is about being free from my abuser. I would be willing to work with Sony if they do the right thing and break all ties that bind me to my abuser.”

After continuing to dismiss all of Kesha’s abuse claims, the judge refused to amend the original case in March of this year and it’s unclear what will happen in the ongoing case with all the counter-claims and appeals that have occured. Sony has, in addition, deleted the Dr. Luke page on their website and further distanced themselves from the accused abuser. While this action is long-awaited on Sony’s part, it could in fact hurt Kesha’s cause. No longer having Sony as a go-between makes it more difficult for the singer and it also gives merit to the defamation claims Dr. Luke has issued citing Kesha’s allegations against him as hurting his career.

Kesha has said Dr. Luke has retained a “suffocating control” over her life, including body-shaming revealed through emails and his insistence on making her image solely a party girl for her brand. “To this day, I’ve never released a single that’s a true ballad, and I feel like those are the songs that balance out the perception of you, because you can be a fun girl. You can go and have a crazy night out, but you also, as a human being, have vulnerable emotions. You have love.” She has reportedly recorded over 70 new songs since the lawsuit, unable to release them, but hopes to do so sometime this year.

#FreeKesha.

A Letter To My First Ex-Boyfriend

I wrote him my first love letter and a week after he broke up with me,
my first hate letter.

My Sweet,

I hope you choke when you tell your next squeeze how much you love his smile, his way with words and his perfect cock. Picking at my scabs until you left them bleeding and gaping wide open in the scorching sun, you lied to me. Something about you disillusioned me. Your net was cast and I was trapped in the squirming enclosure of your wretched spell.

Pouring out these spiteful words now has made me realise how awful you were to me. Truly, truly fucking awful. You made me believe I was something valuable, a diamond in the rough that sparked more than just your casual interest. Thus, you wandered out of your introverted shell and dared to go to the lapping waters that brought us together. I wasted no time leaping across the sand into your arms, but not once did you clue me in to your hesitance. You let me be blind and misguided.

And you still don’t know me. You didn’t bother getting to know me, disinterested in pushing past your romanticised concept of obtaining a boyfriend; owning someone and their complete undivided attention. Until you got bored. You scratched at my skin and tugged at my flesh but you did not dare cradle my bones. You created a deception, a falsehood of trust and reliability and tenderness that you decided had expired long ago.

I hate you for making me believe I could be your first.

Not once did you even for the utmost split of split seconds consider me your first love. I was your first kiss. That was it. Bashfully, you told me you didn’t want to think about sleeping with anyone but me: I wish that could have been the truth. I quake to my very core thinking you will compare this heap of ashes to your romantic forthcomings, and just the mere suggestion of anyone else tasting the skin I tasted makes me boil with rage. Why do I still want someone who doesn’t want me?

It wasn’t working. More time to yourself. Spending too much time on your phone and not reading or going out as often on as many walks alone. Getting too close to someone so quickly. Not ready. Awkward and uncomfortable.

You let me believe so many things that now have fruitlessly wilted. And the worst of all is that I miss you, I still want you and not being with you shreds my insides like a starved lion shreds a carcass. Tendons slit and nerves askew! You’ve carved me up and laid me out for dinner, pretty boy, now I hope you choke on my mutilated bones.

Sweet/Vicious: A Show Directly Criticising Rape Culture In American Colleges

Jules: I know how to do things most people don’t. There is stuff happening out there and no one is doing anything about it. People are just getting away with awful things. I’m trying to make some of that right.

Ophelia: That’s the plot of Batman.

Having already axed female-led comedies Loosely Exactly Nicole and Mary + Jane, it seems as if the crime-fighting duo of Ophelia and Jules is next. Jennifer Kaytin Robinson’s Sweet/Vicious is the kind of earnest portrayal of rape culture in colleges that deserves a second season. However, due to ratings and MTV (understandably) wanting to make maximum profit from their scripted series it looks as if that might not be the case. Teen Wolf, one of MTV’s biggest scripted successes, is finishing its last season this year and The Shannara Chronicles and Scream have both been renewed for a respective second and third season. But if there might be a place for Sweet/Vicious on the network for a sophomore run, here’s why you should watch it.

The series chronicles Jules, a sorority girl who is raped one drunken night by her best friend’s boyfriend. In realising that if she reports the sexual assault it won’t be taken seriously, she takes matters into her own hands as a vigilante. Ophelia, a weed enthusiast and hacker, crosses paths with her and the two begin an unlikely comradeship. The show tackles rape culture on American campuses, sexual assault committed by females (although not female-on-male rape or male-on-male rape) and dealing with being a survivor. Jules feels alive when she becomes the duo vigilante team Sweet/Vicious with Ophelia, but otherwise feels empty since her traumatic experience.

It’s an honest, unflinching portrayal of something that has scarcely been shown on a mainstream network like MTV. While it acknowledges that the law may not always be on the victim’s side, due to victim-blaming and, in Jules’ case, an athlete committing the crime – it does encourage seeking help. Group therapy didn’t work for Jules but it certainly helps a lot of victims to be able to talk about their experiences in a comfortable space without stigmatising the topic.

One critic described the show as “Arrow” meets “Geek”. Sweet/Vicious features a bisexual lead character, a WOC as the head of a sorority and men who understand and comfort . It does not hate on men or use sexual assault as an insensitive plotline to accumulate attention. The scripts are embedded with humour and heart, blended seamlessly by the chemistry of the lead actresses Eliza Bennett and Taylor Dearden. There’s a certain satisfaction in watching their takedowns when justice has been denied by bigotry and the finale brings me back to watching Emily VanCamp on Revenge. If Sweet/Vicious manages to convince MTV to have a second run, I hope Jules and Ophelia come back with bigger, badder and better takedowns. There’s definitely strong potential for the series to deliver an equally- if not even grander – captivating season.

Fantastic Beasts II – Dumbledore & Grindelwald

J.K. Rowling stated, “I would like to say because this is obviously a five-part story, there’s lots to unpack in that relationship.”

With Jude Law being cast as Dumbledore in the sequel to Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them, fans have already begun to speculate about the character’s relationship with Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald. J.K. Rowling revealed the headmaster’s sexual orientation in 2009, saying, ” I always thought of Dumbledore as gay. Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was. To an extent, do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent? But, he met someone as brilliant as he was, and rather like Bellatrix he was very drawn to this brilliant person, and horribly, terribly let down by him.”

As for the upcoming sequel to Fantastic Beasts, when asked about the same topic, she stated, “I would like to say because this is obviously a five-part story, there’s lots to unpack in that relationship.” Nothing is set in stone yet, but as a fan of Harry Potter and its American spin-off it would be more poignant and more logical to make Dumbledore’s relationship with the pureblood supremacist Grindelwald explicit. No more hiding behind sub-text or suggestions, if the character was written gay make him explicitly, undeniably gay in the film. I see no reason to avoid what could potentially be an extreme driving plotpoint of the film.

Dumbledore has always been somewhat of a mystery, unearthing and exploring more of his youth would give fans a chance to better understand him – and what forces him to become the man he does later on. A toxic relationship like Dumbledore’s and Grindelwald’s is far more interesting and far more developmental to their respective characters than the countless cookie-cutter heterosexual relationships seen on-screen before. Not to mention exploring LGBTQ+ themes in the wizarding world that have otherwise been left untouched, or as an afterthought for J.K. Rowling to answer in a Q&A after the series has ended.

3 Underrated Artists That Deserve Mainstream Stardom In 2017

What do Stephen Wrabel, Grace Sewell and Brandon Skeie have in common?
They’re all talented – but underrated.

Wrabel

Stephen Wrabel, nixing his first name and being professionally known as Wrabel, began by writing songs for the likes of Ellie Goulding and Adam Lambert. Afrojack remixed Wrabel’s song “Ten Feet Tall” from his E.P. Sideways and featured it on his own album. The Afrojack song reached international success, being played over 72 million times on YouTube while the original version hit just over 1 million views on WrabelVEVO. The account has just over 25, 000 subscribers. His single “11 Blocks” was heavily praised and promoted by Kesha, a friend of Wrabel’s, and is a haunting song reminiscent of Adele’s early music on the connection between past lovers and moving on. Wrabel’s latest hit, “Bloodstain”, adds a more electro beat over the chorus of his soulful singing but it’s the chilling lyrics that drew me in. The music video aired earlier this month. Heartbreak seems to be Wrabel’s forte, drawing upon simplistic tones to get across the raw passion and emotion he’s experienced in his past relationships with men.

Grace

Best known for her cover of Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Know Me” featuring G-Eazy, Grace Sewell is an Australian singer with so much more to offer than a one-hit-wonder cover. Like Wrabel, she is professionally known by a single name (her first) and like Wrabel her VEVO YouTube account has a criminally low number of subs. The Aussie singer’s debut album, FMA – Forgive My Attitude – features some of the bluesest, jazziest stuff since Amy Winehouse (who is actually one of her biggest inspirations, and you can really tell!). The singles off the album so far have been “Boyfriend Jeans” and “Hell Of A Girl” – songs that, while great, unfortunately don’t show-off her smokey vocals as much as, say “Church on Sunday” or “Hope You Understand” could. The singles also seem to typecast her in an off-brand to suit her seemingly FMA demeanour but there’s so many more layers behind her emotionally exposed songs that would be better off with their own music videos and promotion. From her Instagram @iamgrace, her latest project is a slow and sultry collab on DJ Cassidy’s song “Honor” with Lil Yachty.

Brandon Skeie

YouTuber who started with covers, Brandon Skeie’s singles “So Bad” and “No More Love Songs” are probably some of my favourite songs. Their attempt at unravelling the complexity of the toxic relationships Skeie has gone through not only fascinate me, they overwhelm me. Skeie’s music is simultaneously similar and different to current pop music; he somehow manages to make his sound individualistic in such an over-saturated genre that leaves his voice ringing in your ear. His powerful vocal range further emphasises the vulnerability of his lyrics. His cover of Adele’s “Hello” is his most watched video, landing him an interview with Huffington Post, but while his original songs don’t lack the quality of his covers they do lack the views. Recently, Skeie has been less active on his channel. His most recent publication was a duet dedicated to the victims of the Pulse mass shooting on Eli Lieb’s channel, and while he has been active on his Instagram there hasn’t really been news on his status with singing/songwriting. Hopefully, as there’s a post of him with Sabrina Carpenter, there’s some new projects in the works featuring his honeyed voice that finally lands him in a major media spotlight.