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What rules if any for having sex as a divorced mum?

It might have more obstacles than it used to, but sex is still very much permitted.

It might have more obstacles than it used to, but sex is still very much permitted. 

So you’re a single parent and you’d quite like to have sex, please. Specifically, you’re a single mother, and you know the rules for single fathers are, like the rules for men in general, different and more advantageous. But this is not about men. It’s about you, the single mother. Where do you exist on the socio-sexual spectrum? Perhaps somewhere between nun, eunuch and self-pollinating flower?

It’s not that single mothers are not sexually alluring. You are a woman, after all, and therefore desirable. It’s just that the logistics are not in your favour. As well as taking a village to raise a child, it is also far easier to do it with two incomes, so as a single mother – already paid less than your male colleagues at the best of times – you’ll be both cash-poor and time-poor. That means skint and running ragged. Add to this the scapegoating of single mothers by the patriarchy – because everything from male crime statistics to the recession is your fault – and you may not be feeling too sexy, even if you had any energy or cash left over from working and parenting unaided, seven days a week.

But hey, you’re a woman, right? And women, despite what you’ve read, like sex as much as the next man. Plus, it was women who invented multitasking, so maybe it’s time to get back in the pool.

You and your kids’ dad are no longer together. Rumour has it that there are lots of available people out there also looking for sex, love and relationships. All you have to do is connect with one you like who likes you back. What could be easier? Apart from maybe finding a needle in a haystack during a blackout?

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Welcome to the psychological warfare that is online dating. If you are 23, hot, and like to par-tay all night long, you will be inundated. If you are 43, and more Ikea than Ibiza, perhaps not so much, except by people who wear golf jumpers and enjoy bridge and a bit of light opera.

This is not to put anyone off online dating. It’s the best way to meet people, unless you are a 23-year-old clubber, but gird your loins in preparation, single mother. You will encounter a bewildering cross-section of dating humanity, from those who are dead keen then vanish as though abducted by aliens, to those who seem to need a psychiatrist rather than an online subscription, via all the fantasists who turn up 10 years older, 40 kilograms heavier and a foot shorter than advertised. Take none of it personally. It is all par for the course.

But having waded through the slug-infested dating pool, you may finally encounter someone you like who also likes you (the ratio seems to be that the older you are, and the more kids you have, the longer this process takes).

You’ve hit it off, and start dating exclusively. You have dinner, see a film, go for walks, visit galleries, all the usual datey stuff. And as you are both adults, you will sooner or later want to be adults together. Nakedly. And here begins the minefield.

Even if he doesn’t have kids himself, it’s still complicated. Where do you go to become intimate, to get to know each other in privacy and have some uninterrupted adult time? His place? Fine if you can get child care, which is usually pricey and means you have to schedule your intimacy time the way you schedule the dentist. Not very sexy. And as a single parent rather than a co-parent, can you ever truly turn your phone off?

So. Your place? Even if the kids are with their other parent (if they have one, that is), or with friends or family, the psychological clang of bringing a lover home for the first time can feel a bit weird. Even if your house is empty, it is still the house where you live with your kids (and possibly your pets/lodger/au pair/granny/foreign students). Can you navigate the overlap between family life and your re-emerging private life?

Here’s some free advice: have a tidy-up beforehand. You don’t want to be getting cosy on the sofa with your five-year-old’s toy trucks in your peripheral vision. Really, you don’t.

Coitus interruptus takes on a whole new perspective when it comes to single mothers and sex. From getting a phone call from the babysitter to tell you that little Johnny has a fever just as things are also heating up at your new chap’s place, to having your kids bang on the bedroom door because they are psychic and know that right now you are desperate for some privacy, be prepared for a plethora of interruptions.

If Mr Loverman reacts badly, he’s not a keeper; if he’s human, he’ll understand. Humour is essential throughout. And it’s not just your kids who will interrupt. If he has kids, they may prove equally tricky. I’ve had dinner cancelled at the last moment because of a teenage daughter throwing a tantrum; his, not mine. She didn’t want to share her dad with anyone. You absolutely cannot compete, nor should you even try.

“Friends and family come first in terms of practicalities,” says University of Sussex sociologist Charlotte Morris. A single mother herself, Morris’s PhD research is titled “Unsettled Scripts: Intimacy Narratives of Heterosexual Single Mothers”. She has interviewed dozens of women, and their stories all have one thing in common: balancing single motherhood with a lively private life is not for the faint-hearted.

“Most of the women I spoke with wanted to repartner, and got into internet dating,” she says. “But it turned out to be more complicated for many reasons: men who didn’t want commitment, who didn’t want to make room in their lives for children, or some who even thought the women were after their money. Other women who had been in long-term relationships found their new single status an opportunity to have fun, to experiment, to try different ways of being with other people.

“Some had ‘f… buddy’ relationships because it was easier: there were no strings attached, and it removed complication. Some tried same-sex relationships, and one woman realised after 20 years of marriage that she was gay. Other women loved the opportunity of pursuing sexual pleasure, and getting away from the motherhood identity, while others struggled and felt guilty.”

This guilt, she said, centred around the dual identities of woman and mother. Do fathers ever struggle with this kind of sexual guilt? None that I have ever heard of, ever, in my whole life. Not even slightly. Which is why many single mothers are fussy about who they connect with; not just to protect their children from any potential unpleasantness, but because maturity and experience may have made us pickier.

“The more professional end of the women I interviewed had less need for a man,” says Morris. “They were emotionally fulfilled by their kids, and economically independent, so meeting a man was really just for pleasure. This was a very positive finding, the enjoyment of the single life, especially when you consider the Bridget Jones phenomenon.” (That being single is not v good.)

The most important thing to come out of this research, Morris says, is that “as a woman, you are allowed to have a good time”. Which may sound obvious, but see “guilt, feelings of”, above. If your kids are a bit older, single-mother sex becomes a different kind of minefield. “My defining image of single-parent sex is sneaking someone into the house so that they don’t bump into your kids, just as teenagers would try to sneak people past their parents,” says Morris.

Which is probably why it’s not a great idea to bring a sex partner home if your kids are also home. Two reasons: it’s very hard to swing from the chandeliers when there are family members nearby, and also, while you may be very comfortable with no-strings sex, that’s because you are experienced and emotionally mature. Your kids may interpret things differently, although this is not to say that you take a vow of celibacy. Rather, acknowledge to them that you are as red-blooded as they are.

And what if your no-strings thing goes on to develop strings? When do you introduce your new man to your kids? When they have left home themselves? Never? Of course not. Just don’t make a big thing of it. Be neutral, relaxed, un-jittery. Don’t, whatever you do, smooch with him in front of them. It will give them the dry heaves. And don’t spring him on them: “Hey kids, this is X, we’re in love!” Ease him in gently.

Even if your kids have a healthy reaction to him, this may not be the case with his kids to you. They may hate you on sight, simply because you are not their mum. Remember, children’s culture is littered with wicked stepmothers. There’s little point in trying to ingratiate yourself with your lover’s kids; providing they are reasonably well adjusted, they will get used to you. Eventually.

One woman I know had her pot of face cream refilled with hair removal cream by a resentful teenage stepdaughter; what was worse than the resulting burns on her face was the fact that her boyfriend, the kid’s dad, pretended it hadn’t happened rather than confront the issue. Never force a parent to take sides; the child will always win. Would you ever consider a partner who tried to come between you and your children? Of course you wouldn’t.

But it’s not an either/or. Being a single mother does not mean you have to let go of your sexual self. Far from it. In her book Mating in Captivity, psychotherapist Esther Perel discusses how to maintain sexual heat in long-term relationships by carving out boundried erotic space; as a single parent, you have to do the same.

Make space, make time. As a mother, you are constantly thinking of your kids; to be the best mother you can be, put your own needs in front as well. Being sexually fulfilled will make you a better parent than being a martyred or overly self-sacrificing one. If you don’t know how to go about getting sexual fulfilled, ask someone who does. That’s what girlfriends are for.

Also, by maintaining what sociologist Catherine Hakim terms your “erotic capital” – that is, looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally – you will feel as good as you possibly can, and that is what you will transmit.

Ignore the naysayers, whether they are in the media or in your vicinity. Forget lazy, misogynistic terms on either end of the lazy, misogynistic term spectrum – from MILF and cougar to frumpy and mumsy – and instead get out there and live your life. Mother, lover, worker, the lot. We are all of these and more.

Source: The Irish Independent

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Henry Sapiecha

Indian student drags drunk attacker to police by his hair

An Indian student has been hailed as a heroine for standing up to a man molesting her at a train station in the middle of the day, and dragging him by the hair to the police – while dozens of people did nothing to help.

Pradnya Mandhare, 20, was travelling home after a day of classes at Sathaye College, in the Mumbai suburb of Vile Parle, when she was approached by an obviously drunken man.

“This visibly drunk person came to me and touched me inappropriately,” she said. “When I tried to avoid him, he grabbed me. I was shocked for a couple of seconds, but then I started hitting him with my bag.

Pradnya Mandhare has dragged a drunk man by his hair to the police station after he allegedly attacked her.

Pradnya Mandhare has dragged a drunk man by his hair to the police station after he allegedly attacked her. Photo: Facebook

“He was trying to hit me, but I could overpower him because he was stinking of alcohol and I could make out that he was drunk.”

Kandivli station was crowded with people, but Miss Mandhare’s fellow travellers did not move to help her.

“No one came forward to help,” said the media student. “People stopped to stare, but no one bothered to even ask what was going on.

“Since the man was filthy, I found it difficult to even touch him. I caught him by his hair and dragged him to the government railway police.”

She said that hauling him to the police was difficult, but still no one came to her aid.

“Dragging him by the hair and walking was tough, because he was trying to escape and I was afraid he would attack me.

“He kept telling me not to drag him along and that he would come with me on his own, but I did not let go. I finally managed to hand him over to the police.”

She told a local newspaper that most women are scared of approaching the police, because filing a complaint is a lengthy process and the police, she said, can be “uncooperative”.

A policeman from the Borivli GRP said: “We have arrested the accused, Chavan (25), who is a drug addict and was also drunk when the incident took place. We conducted a medical test of the accused and he will be produced in court. We are verifying whether he has a previous criminal record.”

And Miss Mandhare said that other women should not be afraid to come forward and denounce such attacks.

“Every woman should fight back in such cases and they should not keep quiet. I am grateful that the police also helped me and arrested the accused. I also asked the police officers to teach the accused a lesson so that he would not dare to molest a woman ever again.

“Parents of girls also think that going to a police station would tarnish their daughter’s reputation.

“But, women should raise their voice and teach such people a lesson. Women are not objects for anyone to touch at will.”

The Telegraph, London

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Henry Sapiecha

WORLD WOMEN ON SHOW..100 years of Iranian beauty in one video

Beautiful Persian Girls Mahtab Keramati photo

Women’s clothing, makeup and hairstyles have long reflected social change around the world. This viral video, created by Cut.com and starring Iranian-American model Sabrina Sarajy, takes us on a visual tour through women’s changing roles and rights during the region’s turbulent history.

The time lapse compresses 100 years of beauty and fashion trends in less than one and a half minutes. We start at 1910, when Sabrina wears a white hijab, no makeup and a drawn-on monobrow – tweezers, plucking and threading were not an option back then. The immense feeling of powerlessness, from living in an oppressive environment, is reflected in her sombre expression.

Things begin to look up in the 1920s. The Iranian women’s movement gained traction and women were hopeful for more rights and freedom. They wore hijabs, but in brighter, bolder colours with more of their hair peeking out from underneath.

When Reza Shah Pahlavi came into power in the 1930s, he banned chadors and hijabs, as he believed the headscarf was suppressing women. Cut to Sabrina ditching the veil for a jaunty hat and a face full of makeup. The country began to open up and embrace global trends, from the finger-curls and shaped eyebrows of the 1920s, to the beehive of the 1960s and Charlies Angels-esque ‘do of the 1970s. They were influenced by the iconic styles in Britain and America, wearing heavy cat-eye makeup and bright pink lippy.

Yet everything changed in the 1980s. When the Iranian revolution broke out in 1979, the status of women regressed. A lot of the rights they’d been granted were withdrawn and women were routinely imprisoned for violations of Iran’s strict dress code. As a result, 1980s is eerily reminiscent of the 1910s, where the model wears a downcast expression and obediently tucks her hair beneath a black headscarf.

Since this time, women have struggled to regain lost rights and win a larger role in society. The Iranian Green Revolution in 2009 marked this ongoing battle for greater human and civil rights, reflected in her defiant expression, the war paint across her cheeks and a bright green headscarf with the front strands of her hair hanging loose around her face. Yes, the hijab remains, but it’s more relaxed this time.

Since going live, the reaction on YouTube has been overwhelming positive. “I wanted to ask for an Iranian version but never imagined you guys would do this,” one user commented. “As a Persian, I approve of this so hard. Glad I subscribed,” states another.

Of course, the whole experience of Iranian women cannot be summed up in a series of hairstyles, but it’s a thoughtful reflection on how politics in Iran has significantly influenced the appearance and role of women in society. As Vox points out, fashion’s always has been highly political, seen “initially as a public way of enforcing secular political values, and then as a public way of enforcing religious ones”. Look underneath the hair and makeup and you have women who are hopeful for change, choices and freedom.

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Henry Sapiecha

Masa Vukotic murder: Travelling alone isn’t women’s biggest safety risk

Local residents congregate near where Masa Vukotic was killed.

Local residents congregate near where Masa Vukotic was killed.

Photo: Meredith O’Shea

On Tuesday evening at around 6:50pm, a man approached and stabbed to death Masa Vukotic while she was out walking in the Koonung Creek Linear Reserve. The 17- year-old Canturbury Secondary School student was found shortly after the attack at the base of a footbridge in the reserve. A man has since surrendered himself to police in connection with the murder.

But despite the fact that the fault for this alleged murder remains with the perpetrator alone, the tendency for public discussion to muse on the behaviour of victims has reared its ugly head once more. In an interview with ABC radio yesterday, Detective Inspector Mick Hughes advised people – “particularly females” – to avoid being alone in parks because of a need to “remain vigilant”. Inspector Hughes later qualified this statement by claiming he meant for women (sorry, “females”) to walk together, evidently as a means of safeguarding themselves against the violent actions of dangerous men. He said, “But if you’re by yourself you need to be aware of your circumstances and take reasonable precautions. I think it’s a travesty that we have to do that, we should be able to walk anywhere at any time, but reality says that we can’t.”

I would tell you how insulting it is to be reminded of what “reality” is by a male authority figure, but if you’re a woman reading this then you’re probably already pounding your head in frustration. The fact is, Vukotic walked this route regularly and Tuesday night was no different. Indeed, all over the country, women walk and run and cycle through parks and manage to emerge unscathed from the experience. Nor are the “reasonable precautions” Inspector Hughes refers to mysteries to us – they are the boring, unconsciously held ticks and twitches that underpin how we have learned to navigate our way through a world that considers our autonomy and rights as human beings to be an unnecessary afterthought.

Masa Vukotic.

Masa Vukotic. Photo: Facebook

Much as family recipes are passed down through generations, so too are the tools women have crafted to defend themselves in a hostile environment. We know how to carry our keys in such a way that they might function as a weapon while walking to our cars or front doors. We indulge in real or fake conversations on our phone in the hopes that the flimsy connection might ward off potential predators. Some of us smoke, having once heard that the sight of it reduces the projected impression of vulnerability.

Women do these things, and still we are attacked, beaten, raped. Murdered.

What further precautions must we take? Perhaps we could fuse girls together when they become old enough to venture outside by themselves, ensuring they’re always ‘in company’ and thus never able to succumb to the stupidity of imagining they might be entitled to spend a single moment just existing without worrying about how others might respond to that. Maybe we should pass a law that says women can only travel outside the home when accompanied by a male relative. Would it make sense to just accept defeat from the outset, and ban women from leaving their homes altogether?

But then, that doesn’t work either. Because for the majority of girls and women, the biggest risk to their safety lies inside these supposed sanctuaries. For these women, the protective shield of a four walled home with locks on its doors isn’t a safe harbour for them but for their attackers. Does it matter less when it happens behind closed curtains, between people who have developed some kind of intimacy? Or does it just make it easier for the outside world to ignore it?

I think we all know the answer to that.

No, despite all this hand-wringing and concerned instruction, women are very well-versed in the things that pose a risk to our safety. Or rather, the one thing that poses the biggest risk.

Men.

This is the actual reality of the world that we live in, but apparently we’re not allowed to talk about it because it’s unfair and cruel and misandrist and mean. Don’t we know that the MAJORITY of men are good and decent people? How DARE we besmirch their names and reputations by discussing the demonstrable, evidence supported problem of male violence and its protracted, deliberate impact on women!

Instead, we must behave as if these ‘risks’ are unknown and unconnected – as if it is parks or dark streets or alleyways themselves that are killing women, as if danger simply falls out of the sky and snuffs out their lives, like a cartoon anvil or a piano or a house brought down in a tornado to land on a witch trespassing on land that was never hers to begin with.

For too long, women have been sold the lie that the world does not really belong to us. That we are merely guests, here on the provisional invitation of men who expect us to behave ourselves, speak when we’re spoken to and provide all the comforts and charm of a deferential dinner companion indebted somehow to the goodwill of the host. Our time as the docile, malleable maidens responsible for absorbing the impact of men’s choices ends right now.

Because here’s some “reality” for Inspector Hughes, and anyone inclined to agree with his advice, however well intentioned it might have been. Until we substantially address the toxicity of patriarchy, women will always be subjected to the aggression and hostility of men who are left to their own devices by a society unwilling to look at those patterns of male behaviour which lead to gendered violence. The repetition of history has demonstrated that if we want to decrease the risk of gendered violence used against women, we won’t do it by continuing to challenge and police women’s behaviour.

We can do it simply by changing men’s behaviour. That’s the reality. So let’s get started.

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Henry Sapiecha

Homeless women tell their own stories in a documentary ‘How I Got Over’ by Danielle Henderson

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Marginalized women are far too often not in control of their own story, but the strong, talented women in Nicole Boxer’s new documentary How I Got Over have turned their lives into art. The intense, gripping movie focuses on how 15 formerly homeless women create a play for a performance at the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Boxer, who produced The Invisible War and the upcoming The Hunting Ground, produced and directed the film. She told Women and Hollywood:

The women of N Street Village are survivors of the 50-year “War on Poverty”, and their traumatic tales can inform our humanity about what is so beautiful — but what is equally heartbreaking — about this particular American experience. I fell in love with the characters in my film because, as much as they resisted at first, they became incredible truth-tellers, master story-tellers, and the keepers of history. I learned so much about the city I had lived in for years, but clearly only on the periphery. These women knew the city, its politics, its real secrets — and lead us to a common humanity, a common shared community. They point out for us the cruelty of the system of incarceration that keeps many locked up and unable to heal from past trauma. We all share the desire for a better life for our families, even though we make mistakes.

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Henry Sapiecha

New feminist Thor is selling way more comic books than the old Thor by Danielle Henderson

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When Marvel introduced the newly rebooted Thor comic book last October, some fans were bothered by the fact that Thor is now a woman. “Bothered” is an understatement—the comments ran the entire length of the field between the goalposts of sexist and misogynist while deeply entrenched fans failed to wrap their heads around the fact that in a made-up universe you can do whatever you want, which includes changing the race and sex of long-standing characters.

While the audience breakdown is not available and there’s no way to know if the new Thor is bringing in more female readers, it is clear that she’s outselling the last series by A LOT. The first four new Thor books are currently selling more copies than the last four Thor books from 2012 by close to 20,000 copies per month, not including digital copies.

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Henry Sapiecha

Marketers need to catch up with what women want

The portrayal of women in advertising should come down to an economic debate, meaning brands can’t afford not talk to women in the way they want to be spoken to, according to director of specialist women’s marketing agency, VenusComms, Bec Brideson.

Brideson’s comments come one year on the launch of Getty’s Lean In collection, a curation of images aimed at portraying realistic and powerful images of women. In that time the collection has been licensed in more than 65 countries and includes more than 4500 images.

Brideson said the launch of the collection has been an important change in the industry and said agencies which aren’t using them are doing a “disservice” to their clients.

“It’s basically down to economic debate: women are outspending and making decisions, and marketers have not caught up with that,” Brideson said.

“We should be communicating with women, the world’s largest economic segment, the way they want to be communicated with.

“I definitely see the Lean In collection as progress and that’s why I latched onto it. I was actually aware of the collection as soon as it hit Getty,” Brideson said.

She said the images were integral to a recent campaign the agency created by Australian super fund CareSuper. She said that until finding the Getty collection, the agency struggled to find aspirational images of women in retirement or in the workplace, instead finding most of the images were very passive.

“This is why CareSuper started working with us in the first place. They thought there was just such a lack of communications in the finance world that resonated with women, that they were always depicted in secondary role,” Brideson said

“Here we were trying to get women to take control of their financial futures but women were never being shown in control.”

But Brideson said in some of the more gender neural marketplaces, VenusComms has had to work harder to educate clients on the way women respond to different images.

She said that while the Getty collection has helped, the indsutry needs to move the same portrayal of women into other areas including TV, cinema and online communications.

“Things are changing on a macro social level and I think there is probably 5% to 10% of marketers who get it. I think there is a bus coming called “talk to women the way that they want to be talked to’ and there aren’t a lot of people who know how to get on that bus,” Brideson said.

“I think we need to show women in all stage and phases and walks of life; as they actually are, not an old world cliché of what they were from the 50s and 60s.”

“The more we show women reflecting what their ideals are today, the better everyone is going to be, and more importantly for marketers, the more their brands are going to resonate.”

If you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at adnews@yaffa.com.au

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Henry Sapiecha

Selling & buying Sex In Heaven Full HD 1080p, Amazing Video Documentary

Published on 24 May 2014
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Hope in Heaven (2005) Mila works at Heaven, a little bar on blowjob alley in Angeles City, the Philippines; once the site of the United States Clark Air Force Base, now one of the busiest and sleaziest sex tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. She lives in tremendous hope that someday, some foreigner will rescue her and take her to America. This heartfelt, poignant documentary sheds light on a difficult subject matter which is sensitively narrated by Kiefer Sutherland.

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Henry Sapiecha

THE LEFTOVER WOMEN IN CHINA VIDEO REPORT

It is said that if you are a Chinese woman and over 25years & unmarried you are branded as a ‘leftover’ woman

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Henry Sapiecha

TIBET WOMEN COME OF AGE WITH A PAGEANT TO SHOW OFF THEIR WARES IN THIS VIDEO

Miss Tibet: A beauty pageant and a political act, Tibetan women’s moment in the limelight.

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Watch tibet woman pageant below:-

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Henry Sapiecha

 

Who Cheat More? Men or Women?

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Who cheats more? Men or women? The surprising (or not so surprising) answer is men! The next question is why? Here are some of the main reasons that men cheat on women.

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While we all know that men are naturally “hunters”, if you will, of the opposite sex, that is no excuse to not be able to control their actions, especially when it comes to staying loyal to their partners or spouses. It is basically a lack of discipline that men have.

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A study shows that a lot of men love having variety when it comes to anything in their lives. As a result, some men even apply this need to women in their lives, resulting in cheating on their partners or wives. Again, just because you desire a little variety in your life does not give you a good excuse to cheat.

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While women tend to use food or sweets to make them feel better when they are going through a rough time, men tend to use sex for that. If a man doesn’t feel like he is getting this at home, he will sometimes find it elsewhere. The best solution for both men and women having problems is to talk to one another, not turn to other things and people.

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You are who your friends are! The statement is true. The majority of men who cheat on their partners or wives have close friends who have done the same to their wives. You eventually become who you hang out with.

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Yes, in a sense, this is true. Love and sex are not always the same thing, but when it comes to a true relationship or a marriage, they should be. Sex should come as a result of deep love for one another. Many men try to justify the fact that love and sex are different, so they can definitely have sex with other women and still be in love with their partners or wives. NOT true.

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If you are a woman and you think your man is cheating, you may be wondering what you can do to help the situation. Although divorce seems to be a popular option today, it is definitely not a good option. You should do whatever you can to make the marriage work.

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The best way to solve any issue is to communicate. Communicate in a healthy and mature way though. Shouting at your partner is not going to solve anything and will only make matters worse. Discuss the issue openly and calmly and try to get to the root of the problem.

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Unless you have 100% proof that he is cheating, don’t jump to conclusions. If he says he is not, then you must believe him. You need to know for sure before you do anything crazy!

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If love stays at the top of your marriage or relationship, you will have nothing to worry about. Listen to what your partner is saying and always communicate. If you feel there is a problem in the relationship, talk about it with your partner. Don’t open up to other men or women.

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Henry Sapiecha

 

 

What a forty-year-old feminist looks like

"It's time to stop playing into this woman-hating, ageist society that scorns women for doing what comes naturally," writes Ruby Hamad.

“It’s time to stop playing into this woman-hating, ageist society that scorns women for doing what comes naturally,” writes Ruby Hamad. Photo: Stocksy

Many years ago, when I was immersed in the agony of deciding whether or not to run away from home, I asked myself, “Imagine how you will feel about this when you’re forty. Do you want to look back and wish you’d gone the other way?”

The truth is, back then “40” was the most abstract of concepts. Like most young people before and after me, I didn’t really believe I would ever actually be that old.

And yet, here I am.

Ruby Hamad.

My younger self assumed that people who were 60 or 72, or indeed, 40, just accepted their ages; in the same way I thought I would never actually get old, I also felt that older people were never really young.

But now, looking at those two digits, side by side on my computer screen, I feel they have nothing to do with me. Perhaps this is partly because I always get mistaken for someone much younger. I have seen jaws literally drop open when I tell their owners I was born in 1975.

You don’t look 40!

But what is 40 supposed to look like? Are there a certain number of wrinkles around the eyes and lines about the mouth we’re meant to get when the date clicks to this fateful number that separates “older” women from their more relevant counterparts?

Nora Ephron named her book I Feel Bad About My Neck in reference to these visible signs, namely the lines that accrue around women’s necks somewhere in their early 40s. That title alone reveals how deeply we socialise women to hate themselves, to fear the process of ageing.

It is a toxic brew. Take one part idolisation of youth and one part infantalisation of women and you create a poisonous cultural concoction that sees women at their supposed peak somewhere between 17 and 22, where, in Britney parlance, they are not girls but not yet really women.

So women do everything in their power to stymie time’s relentless march: the botox, the facelifts, the shading. And no, feminists are not immune. Vocal, active, dyed-in-the-wool women’s liberationists worry about getting old because of how poorly society treats older women.

It’s not without warrant, this paranoia. Centuries of western folklore have depicted older women as wizened hags whose outer appearance is the physical manifestation of an inner ugliness. That supposedly “feminist” reimagining of Snow White from a few years ago climaxed when Charlize Theron’s gorgeously youthful Queen Ravenna transforms into a hideously wrinkled witch before our duly horrified eyes.

Talk about not being able to win; everyone ages but only terrible women get old.

Naturally, it irks me, this undue emphasis put on women’s appearance and the ruthless mocking of women for either showing their age or trying not to show it. And yet, I still feel a flush of gratitude and a misplaced sense of pride every time I’m told I look much younger.

Given the nature of my work, this makes me feel more than a little guilty. I’ve dedicated many column inches to challenging the obsession with women’s looks and youth, but I’m nevertheless susceptible to its spell. I feel flattered and sometimes, when Gen Y’s in their early 30s and even younger assume I’m part of their generation, even relieved.

Why relieved? Because it means they must still see me as relevant.

For this reason, I have been guilty of not always correcting people’s impressions. I have never lied about my age, I’ve just sometimes refrained from volunteering the information.

In my writing, for example, references to my upbringing have been couched in vague terms like “growing up in the ’80s” and being a “teenager in the ’90s.” Well yes, I was a teenager in the ’90s but only for the first half of it.

While I don’t feel bad about my neck (yet), what I do feel bad about is the impact ageing will have on my career. And then I feel bad about feeling bad, like I am letting myself and other women down by not publicly embracing the process.

The truth is, I turned 40 last month and it scares me. Not because I hate getting older in itself or because I am more cognisant of my own mortality. And it’s certainly not because I don’t like the way the years and the experiences they brought with them have shaped me and altered my perception of the world. I didn’t identify as a feminist until my early-thirties, became a professional writer in my mid-thirties, and embarked on my first mature, long-term relationship in my latethirties. I would not want to deny my 20-year-old self any of these future experiences.

No, I am afraid that my opinions may soon be considered unimportant. And for someone who makes her living out of publicly expressing her opinions, that is a terrifying prospect.

My fears amplified when Germaine Greer made her comments on Monday’s Q&A, about feminism being primarily focused on women of reproductive age, which I still am but not for much longer. Reproductive rights is an issue that has long been central to my feminism; will young women soon no longer care what I have to say about that?

Out of fear, I let people make their assumptions and allowed myself to pass for someone much younger. But to keep doing this willingly is, I fear, a betrayal.

Sure, it may superficially benefit me to be mistaken for a younger woman, but this doesn’t help women in general, or even help me when we get right down to it.

It’s time to stop playing into this woman-hating, ageist society that scorns women for doing what comes naturally. Rather than guiltily “pass” as someone young, I will challenge our conceptions of how older women (which I assume I am now?) should look and act.

Although some will praise me for this, I still fear negative reactions because I know humans are not the rational actors they think they are. For all the western obsession with “reason”, if all those psychology studies tell us anything it is this: what humans think they think and what they really think are often two diametrically opposite things.

Employers may think they are equal opportunity, but they often gravitate to the white male candidate. White liberals may swear they are not racist, but many subconsciously assume light-skinned people are more intelligent than dark-skinned people.

And I may get some compliments on this story but, deep down, will readers think I’m passed it?

Time to hit publish and find out.

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Henry Sapiecha

This video shows what beauty looks like in 37 different countries

A portrait taken outside the Labrang monastery, in Xiahe, China.

A portrait taken outside the Labrang monastery, in Xiahe, China. Photo: Mihaela Noroc

As much as the ladymags and Victoria’s Secret would have you believe it, not everyone’s definition of beauty is skinny and blonde with big eyes, a narrow nose and a wide smile. Though the mainstream media tends to promote a fairly homogenous look, ‘pretty’ differs wildly depending on where you are in the world.

This video examines this notion. We live in a world populated by folks from different countries and of various ethnicities, all with vastly different ideas of what it means to be beautiful.

Created by 30-year-old photographer Mihaela Noroc, the video features portraits of women from 37 countries around the world.  The multi-year photographic project saw her travel from her native Bucharest up to the Arctic, thence through Russia and China to Japan, and later through Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, Chile, Colombia, Peru and even the Amazon Rainforest.

Noroc went in search of “natural and authentic faces” without makeup and discovered most of her subjects via social media and on the street. To bring her into contact with as many people as possible, she couch-surfed and always travelled over land.

There are certainly standouts in the series, from the otherworldly beauty posed in a former mosque with light streaming in through stained-glass windows in Iran to the Tibetan woman at the monastery in Xiahe, China, with her ruddy, wind-chapped cheeks. Referring to the latter, Noroc told Forbes, “I think she was quite surprised when I told her that she was beautiful, and I think that that surprise is what shows in her face. You know, what I have learned? People don’t think that they are beautiful. But they are.”

The Atlas of Beauty is a work in progress that Noroc is funding herself and via crowdsourcing. Once she’s raised more money, she hopes to bring more ages and diversity into the project. A whole compendium of her portraits lives on her Tumblr.

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Henry Sapiecha

Video & article show how Nicole Kidman brings glamour to Etihad brand campaign

Movie star Nicole Kidman is the face of Etihad Airways in a new global brand campaign by M&C Saatchi Sydney.

The ‘Flying Reimagined’ campaign stars Kidman aboard Etihad’s new flagship Airbus A380, enjoying service offerings including The Lobby, and relaxing in its three-room private living space, The Residence.

The television commercial for the campaign was shot on the aircraft and in a number of global locations including various landmarks in Abu Dhabi. It also includes a digital created scene of Kidman inside the soon-to-be opened Lourve Abu Dhanbi and inside the Strahov Library in Prague.

The concept for the new campaign was created by M&C Saatchi Australia, part of Etihad Airways’ global creative agency, M&C Saatchi.
Tom McFarlane, founding creative director at M&C Saatchi Australia said: “On the completion of a campaign I’m often asked what inspired me.

“The answers are many and varied, but in this case the inspiration came directly from the product itself. Who could not be inspired by the sheer elegance, style, and dare I say it, reimagining of this remarkable aircraft? Hopefully, all of which we have captured perfectly in this campaign.”

The campaign includes 60 second and 30 second edits of the film, with still versions of the campagin appearing in print, digital and outdoor channels.

London-based production company Thomas and Thomas produced the television commercial while the brand story was directed by husband and wife directorial team Anthony Atanasio and Valerie Martinez. An accompanying soundtrack was commissioned by the airline and composed by creative director and composer of Sydney-based audio design company, Song Zu, Ramesh Sathiah.

Etihad Airways chief commercial officer Peter Baumgatner said: “Nicole Kidman, as a globally respected artist, was the perfect voice and face for our story, and embodies worldly sophistication, intelligence, originality, and elegance – values which form the foundations of the Etihad brand.”

“Etihad Airways is constantly pushing boundaries, taking inspiration from the world to provide a superlative in-flight experience for our guests. This new campaign has succeeded brilliantly in bringing our unique brand and service ethos to life on film, in print and on digital channels.

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Henry Sapiecha

Looking sharp: what to wear for work

What’s your approach to work wear? Do you go all out to impress your boss – or do you throw on any old thing that comes to hand?

What we wear affects how we are perceived by those who hold the keys to our career success. But that doesn’t mean you need to dress like a corporate lawyer – unless that’s where you work. It’s about tuning in to your company’s dress code and values. Now add a little personal flair to show that you’ve got confidence, and you’re sharp and ready for work.

1. What to avoid

First thing you should figure out is what not to wear. This will vary, depending on where you work. But there are some common elements that pop up in dress codes nearly everywhere. These include flip flops, thongs, or jandals – whatever you might call them, they don’t belong at work. Avoid anything sheer or body-con. And you know the rule about wearing leggings as pants – that applies in all areas of life!

Some workplaces go with the rule that if you would wear it to the beach, the gym, or to bed, it doesn’t belong at work. Maybe you could add the club to that list, and you’ve got it covered. Pretty simple!

2. Find your personal style

If the way you dress at work shows a strong sense of personal style, you will be perceived as more confident, competent and in control. That’s a good thing. But don’t confuse your out-of-work style choices with work wear. Choose an outfit that aligns with your company’s vision and values, then add your twist with a pop of colour or tiny details like excellent shoes. This applies as much for men as for women.

3. Be a chameleon

As our workplaces become more flexible, and more of us choose to telecommute at least some of the time, what we wear must become more flexible too. You can spend most of your day hard at work behind a bank of screens, wearing something comfortable. But when you meet with a client or pitch for a new piece of work, you still need to look sharp. Design a wardrobe that can be easily dressed up while still retaining an element of cool. This can be as simple as keeping a blazer and a knockout pair of shoes at the office. That way you can look put-together, in control, and sharp as a knife at a moment’s notice.

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Henry Sapiecha

W0MEN ASTRONAUTS WORLD WIDE MAP SHOWS HERE WHO HAS WHO IN FEMALE SPACE NUMBERS

Female Astronauts by Country

So you wanted to know which world country has the most women astronauts. Here you have it warts & all

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Henry Sapiecha

Women to take on men in mining

Women to take on men in mining

The Queensland Government in Australia is offering $20,000 to encourage more women into the mining industry.

The traditionally male-dominated mining sector is set for a gender shake up after the Queensland Government announced a scholarship program for women who study and go on to work in the industry.

State Minister for Education, Training and Employment John-Paul Langbroek announced 500 scholarships of up to $20,000 were on offer.

The scholarships will help women looking to study in the areas of agricultural science, architecture, engineering, geological science, building services and information technology, The Bulletin reported.

With women still representing less than half of the overall workforce in the mining industry, the money on offer is set to encourage women to take on their male counterparts.

Increasing the amount of female workers has long been identified by businesses and the Government as an important strategy in tackling the skills shortage.

CEO of Brumby Resources Alison Morley told Australian Mining in May that it’s up to people in the industry, men and women, to work towards changing the perception of women working in any capacity in the industry.

“It’s about giving women the opportunity to sell themselves more, to put themselves up for promotion. To skill up and go for it.”

Langbroek said the move will boost the number of females working in the sector.

“This is a great opportunity to boost female participation in traditionally male-dominated industries and train more skilled workers for the areas that need them most,” he said.

Scholarships for study are available from Certificate IV through to postgraduate levels.

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Henry Sapiecha

FMG female executive takes out Mentor of the Year award

FMG executive takes out Mentor of the Year award

Executive director of strategy and finance at Brookfield Multiplex, Sharon Warburton has won the Mentor of the Year award at the NAB Women Agenda Leadership Awards.

Warburton was recognised for her work mentoring young men and women in mining, with more than 50 people lucky enough to call her their personal mentor.

She is also the founder of the online mentoring website www.steelheels.com.au, a site dedicated to increasing the self-confidence of professional working women.

On top of this, Warbruton is a Non-Executive Director at Fortescue Metals Group, a Board member for numerous Not for Profit organisations and a single parent.

In 2014, Warburton was named the Western Australian Telstra Business Woman of the Year.

Warburton has had a long career in the mining industry. At just 25, she was promoted to run the finance function at Hamersley Iron, which these days is Rio Tinto Iron Ore. From there, Warburton went to work in Rio’s London headquarters.

In 2002, Warburton was made the Group General Manager- Strategy and Operations at Multiplex, a position she held for six years.

She then spent two years as the Chief Planning and Strategy Officer at ALDAR Properties before gaining her current role at Brookfield Multiplex.

Warburton has previously said her management style is team focused rather than individually focused.

“I look to empower people and give them as much autonomy as they like,” Warburton said.

“I was given a lot of opportunities very early in my career so, as a leader, I like to give young people a lot of opportunity but provide the support networks they need.

“I’m looking for a culture that’s driven around honesty, respect, trust and care; that measures and celebrates success, has some fun in the process and one that is comfortable with change.”

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Henry Sapiecha

Miners win Chief Executive Women scholarships

​Miners win Chief Executive Women scholarships

Three WA female miners have been awarded executive education scholarships by Chief Executive women.

Alison Morley, a project generation and geological services manager from Iluka Resources, Roy Hill’s commercial director Claire Negus, and Kate Holling, a drill and blast superintendent from BHP, have been awarded the scholarships.

The top scholarship prize of $38 000 in education support was awarded to Cecile Wake, the vice president- commercial at QGC.

The funding has allowed Wake to attend the two week executive development program at the Wharton School, at the University of Pennsylvania.

Commenting on her win, Wake said “the opportunities that CEW creates for women are transformational, both for the recipients and for the pipeline of female leadership talent in Australia”.

“The Wharton EDP was truly one of the most challenging, affirming and engaging experiences of my life. I aspire to lead a major resources company one day – to influence and shape the outcomes of the business and communities in which I work. So I was hungry for this opportunity to learn from world-class thought leaders at Wharton and to accelerate my leadership journey.”

A member of CEW’s governing council, Diane Smith-Gardener, said she is “delighted WA women in resources continue to secure the highly sought after CEW scholarships”.

“This speaks to the potential for emerging diversity in the sector which, while a long time coming, will do a great deal to ensure productivity gains and improve the innovation profile.”

CEW president Christine Christian congratulated all the winners.

“Helping women to achieve their potential as leaders is the mission of Chief Executive Women and the focus of all our fundraising efforts. Not all women are born leaders, but many leaders are born women. CEW will continue to identify them and support them,” Christian said

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Henry Sapiecha

Watchdog upholds complaint against “woman bondage” ad in shopping centre

The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) has upheld a complaint against lingerie shop Honey Birdette for showing a “bondage picture” of a “larger than life” woman.

The poster, in the shop window of Honey Birdette, showed a woman in a black bra and briefs with matching black handcuffs. The caption on the poster reads “Under lock and key … view the short film series at HoneyBridette.com”.

It continued: “These images are huge and one of the pictures had a woman in underwear with handcuffs on that were chained together.

“It is clearly a bondage picture. Who deems what is appropriate for children to see?”

While the ASB board dismissed complaints that the advertisement presented violence, it upheld the complaint on the grounds of treating sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity.

“The board noted that the display of the image in the store window means it is visible to a broad audience, which would include children, and considered that, overall, the depiction of a woman in a sexualised pose wearing PVC/leather-look lingerie and handcuffs does not treat the issue of sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant broad audience which would include children,” the ASB said.

Honey Birdette has been the subject of several complaints over the past few months, all of which have been dismissed. A complaint made in November last year compared one of its advertisements to “the kind of picture that would be on a porn magazine cover,” adding that “my children are subjected to it now”.

In its current ruling the ASB noted: “the board considered that this advertisement was more sexualised than previous advertisements.”

In response, Honey Birdette said the image had been removed to make way for its new campaign.

“Please be assured that we put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that it is not offensive whilst also representative of our brand,” Honey Birdette said.

“I hope this helps you understand that to market and advertise lingerie, a certain level of skin needs to be exposed, however we do this in a way that empowers women rather than demeans them.”

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Henry Sapiecha

Hot Female Stars x 11 before/after & now pics

WHEN YOU’RE HOT YOU’RE HOT BUT WHEN YOU’RE NOT YOU’RE NOT

In Hollywood, it’s incredibly important to age gracefully. Sometimes, the pressure to look a certain way can be overwhelming. For this reason, many celebrities – young and old – turn to plastic surgery or drastic weight loss to maintain their good looks. Unfortunately, those methods don’t always work and the celebrities end up looking worse than when they started. Here are 11 female celebrities who used to be hot but, unfortunately, aren’t anymore:

CHECK OUT THESE CURRENT PHOTOS OF EARLIER HOT BABES

1. Tara Reid

s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

Tara partied her way from a reality television beauty to a scary looking C-List actress. Her California looks somehow melted away through a haze of drugs and drastic weight loss, leave her looking dreary and drawn.

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2. Madonna

s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

Madonna, the reigning goddess of pop, has not aged gracefully. She went from blonde bombshell to just really old in a very short space of time, largely because of — again — plastic surgery. Madge should’ve taken the normal route and stayed with her original face because everyone loved it, and it would no doubt have looked much better than it does now.

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3. Donatella Versace

Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

The queen of the fashion world made the horrible mistake of trying to be more beautiful than her models — with catastrophic results. Donatella, as her name suggests, was once a blonde beauty. Once the plastic surgeries and alleged drug use began to take their toll, Donatella became almost unrecognizable.

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4. Meg Ryan 

Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

For much of the 90s, America’s sweetheart was actress Meg Ryan. Starring in the decade’s most popular romantic comedies like Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally, she charmed the world with her blonde locks and adorable face. Age and plastic surgery, unfortunately, couldn’t keep Meg’s spell on America. Her face and body wilted, and although it would be a stretch to say Meg Ryan is ugly, she’s definitely not the beauty she was.

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5. Kelly Lebrock 

Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

Kelly Lebrock was part of the Girl Next Door club of young, beautiful actresses. With charming good looks and her bright personality, she landed many coveted roles. Unfortunately, the dreaded curse of weight gain hit, and Lebrock ballooned to more than 200 pounds. She joined and fell off the celebrity weight loss wagon, but it was much too late for her.

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6. Lindsay Lohan 

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Lindsay Lohan was the teen idol of the early 2000s. Her youthful good looks and wholesome image from popular movies like The Parent Trap and Mean Girls cemented her fame. Lindsay took a wrong turn somewhere in her late teens, joining the many child stars whose lives have been derailed by drug and alcohol abuse. She lost drastic, unhealthy amounts of weight, and her skin began to become papery and sagged. The perky, “good girl” idol was no more after her stints in rehab and run-ins with the law.

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7. Lil Kim 

Charles Edwards / Shutterstock.com

Lil Kim was the hottest MC in the game. She was leagues ahead of other female rappers of her time, and her lyricist skills were praised in and out of the industry. Even hotter than her raps was her body. Lil Kim hid nothing — quite literally. As the years went by, however, Kim began to take drastic measures to preserve her appearance… which was a terrible idea. Her plastic surgeon wrecked Kim’s looks and possibly her music career.

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8. Heidi Montag

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Resident Queen Bee of The Hills, Heidi Montag was gorgeous. She was the symbol of the rich, beautiful girl lifestyle and proudly flaunted it. Once her reality show The Hills ended, Heidi began to undertake what many called a “Barbie doll transformation.” She had dozens of surgeries over the course of a couple years, and the result wasn’t so much a Barbie doll transformation as it was a Frankenstein transformation.

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9. Jenna Jameson

DFree / Shutterstock.com

The name Jenna Jameson is synonymous with hot porn. It was well known in the early 2000s that any porn worth watching had to have Jenna Jameson in it. She had a body to die for and a flawless face. After Jameson retired, her looks appeared to take the same route as her career. She became almost skeletally thin, her skin saggy and battered.

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10. Janice Dickinson 

Janice Dickinson was the model of perfection – literally. She was splashed on magazine covers and ad campaigns all over the world, truly epitomizing the term supermodel. Unfortunately, mere mortal aging wasn’t enough for Janice. She underwent several extreme plastic surgery procedures that inflated her lips like old tires and sagged the rest of her face.

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11. Kirstie Alley 

carrie-nelson / Shutterstock.com

Kirstie Alley was one of the most enviable babes of the 80s and early nineties. Her perfectly feathered hair and body were to the envy of millions of women. Somewhere along the lines, something went wrong. Kirstie Alley has been back and forth on the celebrity weight loss and weight gain scale, at one point weighing in at nearly 250 pounds. Her weight battles have been very public, with Alley becoming spokeswoman for several weight loss products.

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COMPLIMENTS OF FAME10

Henry Sapiecha

Journalist shuts down interview after islamic isis ‘scholar’ man says it’s beneath him to be interviewed on video by a woman

SCHOLAR OF WHAT.?? ISLAMIC JIHADIST ISIS TRASH TALKING DOWN TO WOMEN..!!

May “In this studio, I run the show” be your catchphrase today.

Lebanese TV host Rima Karaki was joined on her news program by London-based scholar Hani Al Seba’i to discuss the recent wave of Christians joining ISIS.

As the conversation – with time running out – got sidetracked into historical detail, Karaki tried to steer Al Seba’i back to the topic at hand.

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Henry Sapiecha

SEX DISCRIMINATION EMPLOYMENT LETTER from 1939 shows workplace sexism

It was a few weeks before the Second World War broke out and across the Atlantic Josephine Calavetta was working at a photography studio in New York.

The 22-year-old was impressing her superiors with her skill and work ethic and asked to be transferred to a different studio- Studio #60- in Brooklyn.

She was denied the opportunity. While the vice-president of Grant Photo Corporation admitted he “would be only too glad” for her to take up the position because they knew she was up to the job, he could not allow it “due to the fact that we have to have a man manager in New York City”.

Her story was published on Women You Should Know as part of Women’s History Month.

One of Josephine’s jobs at the studio was to colourblack and white portraits.

“At that time, hand-colouring was a prestigious job, involving meticulous work that required immense skill. Josephine would apply watercolours, coloured oils, crayons or pastels, over a black and white image’s surface using brushes, her fingers, or cotton swabs.”

A year after the initial rejection, the company received a letter from a client, Mrs Kimball, praising Calavetta’s work.

In his reply, the vice-president agreed with Mrs Kimball’s assessment, noting “we have difficulty in discovering girls deserving promotions”.

Calavetta left the company in 1941 and married Antonio Maneri “who did, in fact, have the utmost admiration and respect for the incredible woman she was”.

At 94-years-old, the remarkable women graduated Valedictorian of her class at the assisted living home she lived at until passing away in 2012.

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Henry Sapiecha

Women, please stop marrying yourselves girls…

Calling all single ladies!

Calling all single ladies!

Calling all single ladies! Are you tired of society’s stigma surrounding your relationship status? Want a way to stick it to the haters? Well, this hot new trend is for you! It’s called marrying yourself and it’s come to the fore recently, most likely because it’s seen as a feminist act. There was one in Taiwan. Then one in the UK, followed by a small number in the US.

Reading about the public ritual of self-love takes me back to my early twenties. A time when my attendance at weddings was so prolific it felt like a part time job. It seemed like every second week there was a new destination, another day to take off work, a new bridal registry to navigate. I never had a ‘plus one’ – no takers, only heartbreakers – so the pressure to ‘scrub up well’ with the hope of graduating from the ‘singles table’ at these #LifeEvents was immense. After roughly 2 years of bride and groom bonanzas I made a promise to anyone who would listen: I would marry myself.

“Oh haha! Great joke, Nat!’

My oath, it was. The destination would be a remote part of Australia – reached only via seaplane. No church, no Chuppah, just a full length mirror, one that I would maintain piercing eye-contact with while reciting my vows. The ceremony would climax with a poem that had the word ‘climax’ in it. At the reception guests would have to wear orange – the colour of self-confidence – and each give a speech on why I was the perfect person for me.
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Friends and family laughed good-naturedly at my idea – they were too polite to speak the truth: I was bitter. I felt left out of an overblown ritual I had no respect for anyway. I thought that I’d never have a functional relationship, much less a wedding, (spoiler alert – I never did. I eloped).

So rather than accept the privilege of celebrating these heart-warming ceremonies or choosing not to be defined by a single day, I instead became consumed by it. I accused brides of self-indulgence and yet here I was, full of it myself. What Lena Dunham once wrote of her college years, ‘I hate myself … I cover up this hatred with a kind of aggressive self-acceptance’, could easily have applied to my situation.

So to the women marrying themselves, (and it’s always a woman, funny about that), I want to say, ‘Sister, I know you. You think you’re making a statement about empowerment? Pulling a Carrie Bradshaw with her shoes? Don’t you remember what Audre Lorde said?

‘For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.’

I totally get how marriage has evolved from its original functions, that being the trading of one (virginal) woman in exchange for resources, the confinement of sex and the production of children. But some hallmarks of the ritual remain: the engagement ring, the father walking his daughter down the aisle, the white dress – all of it rooted in a less than classy idea of ‘woman as property’.

Of course, many of these crass traditions become diluted in the face of love. But if, as a self-professed powerful lady, you’re determined to mimic the basic tenets of this tradition, can you really lay claim to liberation? Weddings are a rite that women have been co-opted into aspiring to so that they may gain credence within society. Oh but she’s celebrating herself! Because weddings are about love! No, relationships are about love. Weddings are about symbolism of love and stage fright – and increasingly about pomp. True, we all have a relationship with ourselves. But must we borrow the worst parts of a patriarchal system to prove it?

Grace Gelder tried to find love for six years before deciding to marry herself. But if her ‘process’ – from proposal to ceremony – was truly ’empowering’ as Gelder said, why did it happen after she gave up on dating? Can’t she date and still marry herself? Even Chen Wei-yih, who married herself five years ago, conceded that societal pressure played a large factor in her decision.

Yasmin Eleby took a vow that if she hadn’t found ‘the one’ by forty she’d marry herself. In a statement on her Facebook page, she wrote, ‘Don’t be afraid to take risks’. But what role can bravery play if you’ve already given yourself a conservative cut-off age? Wouldn’t it be braver to discard the script altogether and celebrate yourself in a way that has nothing to do with being coupled or single?

As with so many questions about life, one need only look to Beyonce. The superstar has found infinite ways to celebrate herself across a range of platforms. Indeed, her most recent incarnation, the celebration of herself as a sex-positive feminist, has only added to her iconic status.

Rituals imbue our lives with meaning and reverence. But love – whether for another or oneself – is found not in grand gestures so much as old fashioned consistency. And real love, to quote the most over-used bible verse at weddings, ‘does not boast’. So if these women have to put on a show to trumpet their own esteem, may I gingerly suggest, as someone who has been there, that what these ladies are really feeling deep down is not love and self-acceptance, but something approaching its opposite.

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Henry Sapiecha

Male sexual entitlement is killing off women

Ben Moynihan was found guilty of stabbing three women.

Ben Moynihan was found guilty of stabbing three women.

Far too many men grow up thinking they are owed sex. That if they drive the right car, frequent the right clubs, say the right (“nice”) things, women will obligingly remove their clothes and grant them access to their bodies.

Cracked‘s David Wong nails the culture that encourages men to believe women owe them sex:

“We were told this by every movie, TV show, novel, comic book, video game and song we encountered. When the Karate Kid wins the tournament, his prize is a trophy and Elisabeth Shue. Neo saves the world and is awarded Trinity. Marty McFly gets his dream girl, John McClane gets his ex-wife back, Keanu “Speed” Reeves gets Sandra Bullock … Hell, at the end of An Officer and a Gentleman, Richard Gere walks into the lady’s workplace and just carries her out like he’s picking up a suit at the dry cleaner.”

When women veer off-script and refuse, the consequences can be tragic. This is where I get frustrated with those who refuse to take seriously the importance and impact of pop culture. Why is it so hard to accept that the media we consume helps to both construct our world and shape our perception of it?

But male entitlement is on open display in the real world also. It’s in the way women are told to smile by complete strangers, it’s in the catcalling, the harassment, the shockingly public incidents of molestation.

It’s in the irrational hatred directed at overweight women, as if being fat is a personal affront to men, and in the way society either looks the other way or vilifies women who dare to speak out. Our society abets male entitlement even as it denies its existence.

Entitlement. Rejection. Revenge. No matter how often the pattern repeats, the violence that ensues continues to be treated in isolation, as if existing in a void rather than in a culture that still glorifies an outdated view of masculinity and male sexuality.

We wring our hands searching for an explanation, even when the answer is staring us in the face– this violence is a result of men thinking they are entitled to access women’s bodies and, in the cases of domestic violence, to control women.

In just the last few days, I have come across two superficially different cases that, on closer inspection, follow this familiar pattern.

Last month in the UK, 17-year-old Ben Moynihan was found guilty of stabbing three women. Fortunately, all three survived. His motive? Moynihan told police that “all women need to die” because they were too “fussy.”

He gives further evidence in his diary, “I was planning to murder mainly women as an act of revenge because of the life they gave me, I’m still a virgin at 17.”

In other words, women wouldn’t give him the sex he thought was his right. So he tried to kill three of them. Where have we heard this before?

Unlike Moynihan, who didn’t know his victims, former US Coast Guard Adrian Loya knew his victims all too well. In a pre-planned attack, Loya entered the home of married couple Lisa and Anna Trubnikova and shot them both.

And his motive? He had been stationed with Lisa and Ann years earlier during their time in the Alaskan coast guard. He pursued Lisa who repeatedly rejected him. Even moving across the country to Cape Cod in Massachusetts could not save her from his unwanted advances. The Boston Globe reports:

“After the couple moved to the Cape, he continued to pursue her romantically,  although she showed no interest, relatives said. “He became obsessed,” one family member, who asked not to be identified, said. “He was fixated on her”.”

He thought he was entitled to her. She rejected him. As revenge, he shot her and her wife. Lisa did not survive.

We have to acknowledge this pattern. There is something in our culture (hint: it has something to do with our fetishisation of domineering masculinity) that gives rise to men who feel that violent rage is an appropriate response to women who take control of their sexuality.

Yes, women can be violent too. But they do not, in large numbers, try to kill men just because they rejected them. Men are not killed by their female intimate partners at anything approaching the rate of one per week in Australia and two per week in the UK. There is no corresponding global pattern of female violence against men. It simply does not exist.

Again, this is not an attack on men but a plea for an end to the way society idolises masculinity as a source of power.

It is a call for an end to a stunted view of female sexuality that downplays women’s pleasure, positioning them as little more than instruments for male gratification.

Incidents of male violence against women are not aberrations. They are not unexplainable, and most importantly, they are not unpreventable.

The culture of male entitlement is real and it is killing women. How many more have to be harmed before we admit it?