My Time in London: A Review

In December of 2014, my mum and I travelled to Newcastle, England for a couple of weeks to visit family and friends. On our way back to Australia, we spent a few days in London, and it was an amazing experience.

We arrived in London on a Tuesday morning, and after having a shower and getting properly dressed at our hotel, we decided to spend the remainder of our afternoon exploring the Christmas Markets in Hyde Park. The markets were bustling with both locals and other tourists, and consisted of stalls, rides and attractions. The decorations were extremely festive, and it was extremely fulfilling to see everyone come together and celebrate the season in this way. My first day in London definitely set the bar high for the rest of my visit.
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This is a video blog of my first day in London, and my time exploring the Christmas Markets:

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On the second day of our visit, my mum asked me what I wanted to do, and of course I decided on seeing Buckingham Palace. Although we didn’t get a chance to see any of the royal family – I can’t imagine why – it was really extraordinary to be able to stand at the gates and see where they all live. For me, it was one of the highlights of the trip.
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After dropping into the Buckingham Palace gift shop and picking up some souvenirs – a Royal Buckingham Palace shot glass included – we made our way to Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately, it was forbidden to take photos or record videos inside the church, but it would have been difficult to properly capture the beauty of the place in a simple photograph. Witnessing the burial places and monuments for the previous Kings and Queens was very enlightening, and it was also interesting to see the exact spot where Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge were married. IMG_8900 IMG_8905IMG_8911

My mum and I were determined to see as many famous attractions and places as we could in the four days we were in London, and fitting everything into those four days was a little difficult at times – however, 100% worth the careful planning. Although it was excruciatingly cold for those of us who had gotten used to the typical Australian temperatures, the weather boasted clear skies and sun for the majority of our visit (except for the day we visited the Tower of London and the London Bridge, as seen below) allowing for beautiful photographs and an ease of transportation. 

i would highly recommend a trip to London for anyone with a love of travelling and the bustling of a big city. It is one of my favourite places I’ve ever visited, and I hope to return to London for another visit once I have completed my degree – hopefully for a lot longer than four days!

** All of the photographs and videos were taken and recorded by me.

5 Misogynistic Mentalities I Will NEVER Understand – Column

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Despite society’s progressive advancements, discriminatory and misogynistic mentalities are still very prevalent. Although these mentalities are slightly more subtle than they used to be, there are still certain social stigma and limitations for the actions of women.

1. Women are STILL earning less than men. Yes, it’s true. After years of fighting for equality, female employees are still earning a significant amount less than their male counterparts. In the USA, “Democrats have argued that wage disparities persist, and pulled out the oft-cited figure that women, on average, earn 77 percent to a man’s dollar.” How is this still happening?!

2. The attempts to make abortion illegal. People have their own reasons for needing an abortion, and although it definitely shouldn’t be used as a form of regular contraception, you need to do what’s best for everyone involved. If someone is not ready for a child – whether that be due to financial circumstances or the inability to properly care for a child at that point – they should not have to go through with it. If a person can’t afford a pregnancy, they DEFINITELY cannot afford a child.

3. Women are STILL blamed for being raped. NEWSFLASH: It does not matter what a women is wearing/how she looks – RAPE IS NEVER OKAY. No one is ‘asking’ to be violated in such a horrific manner. No one is ‘asking’ to be sexually assaulted. Rape victims should never be blamed for what they couldn’t control or couldn’t stop.

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4. Only men can ‘sleep around’. For some bizarre reason, casual sex and relationships only seem to be available to men, and this appears to be for a variety of reasons; women are perceived as ‘too emotional’ to handle casual relationships, whereas men are perceived to be more ‘laid back’ and ‘comfortable’ in those kinds of situations. Men are also praised for their ability to engage in casual sex, whereas women are chastised and portrayed as “sluts”.

5. The over-sexualisation of the female body. There’s no doubt that the media definitely takes advantage of the current sexualised mentality surrounding the female anatomy, and it’s not difficult to locate an advertisement that thrives off of this sexualisation. The brand American Apparel is particularly known for an emphasis on sexualisation:

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I mean, is this really necessary?! I’m sure there’s a way to advertise the garments without the exposure of a woman’s backside. For the women who enjoy sexualising their bodies, go right ahead! It’s your body, and it’s your choice. However, the constant string of media advertisements portraying women as mere sex objects are continuing to be especially harmful in the perception of women as a whole.
It is clear from these mentalities that humankind still has a long way to go in regards to total equality, and we can only hope that society one day reaches that point.

Social Stigma and the Transgender Community

According to AVERT, “In the first stage of coming out, generally a person begins to feel ‘different’ to other people of the same sex. Sometimes they recognise that they are not very interested in people of the opposite sex, but more often they feel they are not really interested in things which are supposed to be appropriate for their sex.” A few weeks ago, Bruce Jenner decided (now known as Caitlyn Jenner) to release herself from the burden of secrecy, and announce her real self to the world; she is transgender, and now identifying as a woman. There has been a large foundation of support for Caitlyn, and people all over the world are commending her for his bravery. This is an amazing thing – however, there is still a very prominent social stigma of coming out as transgender, as well as various implications. According to Douglas Schrock, Lori Reid and Emily Boyd (2005, pp. 317), “Bodies may be our friends or enemies, a source of pain or pleasure, a place of liberation or domination, but they are also the material with which we experience and create gender.” Gender stereotypes have been etched into society since the dawn of time, and although society has become much more accepting of those breaking the stereotypes, a social stigma is still very evident. Many individuals are working to abolish the stigma around identifying with a gender other than a person’s biological one, but despite society’s increasing levels of acceptance, this ideology is still proving quite difficult to grasp for various other individuals. Transgender representation in the media is also an issue that impacts severely on society’s perception of the transgender community;

“Media has a history of telling the world a story that transgender people are always victims or villains, instead of true depictions that show the transgender community as citizens worthy of equality and respect.” – GLADD President Herndon Graddick | GLAAD.org

In regards to transgender characters, GLAAD.org states that out of the 102 television episodes they documented, “…54% of those were categorized as containing negative representations at the time of their airing.  An additional 35% were categorized at ranging from “problematic” to “good,” while only 12% were considered groundbreaking, fair and accurate…” This is a huge problem for the transgender community, as many individuals’ perceptions are influenced by the media on a daily basis, whether they realize it or not. Therefore, inaccurate and unfair representations of transgender individuals, whether it be in TV, film or literature, can have serious consequences within the community, contributing to the negative implications of transgender people “coming out”. In Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer, he spoke about not wanting to disappoint those around him, and this is a common fear of transgender individuals. Gender roles present the implementation of expectations upon an individual, and when a person feels as if they are going against these expectations, it is not uncommon for them to fear they are disappointing the people around them, such as their family and friends.

“People look at me differently. They see you as this macho male, but my heart and my soul and everything that I do in life it is part of me, that female side is part of me. That’s who I am. I was not genetically born that way. … As of now I have all the male parts and all that kind of stuff so in a lot of ways we’re different, but we still identify as female. And that’s very hard for Bruce Jenner today. Why? I don’t want to disappoint people.” – Caitlyn Jenner | Huffington Post

19 year old Elijah Burton came out as transgender because pretending to be someone he wasn’t was resulting in depression, and eventually he decided he couldn’t take anymore of it. “At first I felt dreadful because my mum who I came out to first wasn’t very accepting of it,” Elijah explains. “She cried and told me she felt like her kid had died and there was a stranger living in her house, so that really hurt.” Without the acceptance of his mum, Elijah’s depression worsened, and then his mum realized that “if she didn’t do anything about it she might not have a kid at all.” Elijah claims that once his mum began to become more accepting of his decision, it felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off of his shoulders. The opinions of others is also of common concern amongst those who come out as transgender. Elijah says, “My main concerns were my parents and family not accepting it. I didn’t think I would have any friends and I was really scared for my safety. The only time people really hear about transgender people is when people have bashed and killed them, so I was just really scared about that happening to me.” Unfortunately, differences usually attract criticism, and it is not uncommon for those who are gay, bisexual or transgender to experience severe bullying. Michele A. Paludi discusses the bullying and victimization towards LGBT youths, stating (2011, pp.6),”…when a White person tells a person of colour that he or she is being paranoid and that racism doesn’t exist anymore, the person of colour’s racial reality is challenged and dismissed. Similarly, when someone tells LGBT people to “get over it” or to “not be so sensitive”, a message is communicated that there is something wrong with them, instead of acknowledging the heterosexism and discrimination that exists.” Therefore, the fear of being victimized for being different than their peers contributes to a transgender individual’s overall fear of coming out, and as a result, this could further impact on their overall wellbeing and mental health. Although society is progressively becoming more and more accepting, there is still a prevalent social stigma around coming out as transgender, making it difficult for many individuals to explore their own sexuality and identity. Many youths are still experiencing severe bullying, which in turn can result in depression and suicide. Although many transgender public figures, such as Bruce Jenner and Laverne Cox, are attempting to explain to society what it truly means to be transgender and show that it does not lessen a person’s worth, society still has a way to go in becoming completely accepting of the different identities and sexualities within itself.

References

Paludi, M.A. 31st October 2011. The Psychology of Teen Violence and Victimization. Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=tueOcNrTzMYC&oi=fnd&pg=PA3&dq=transgender+and+bullying&ots=1zcY_zoKOr&sig=wz3F2mzEi36_9KnHEtRL82efSK0#v=onepage&q=transgender%20and%20bullying&f=false

Schrock, D., Reid, L. & Boyd, E. June 2005. ‘Transsexuals’ embodiment of womanhood’ in Gender & Society. Vol. 19. No. 3 pp. 317-335 http://gas.sagepub.com/content/19/3/317.full.pdf+html

‘Pitch Perfect 2’: A Review

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   Pitch Perfect 2 touched down on Australian shores on the 7th of May, bringing the promotion of sisterhood, female empowerment and acapella along in its wings. The Barden Bellas are back, and audiences all over the globe have gathered to witness the next stage of their acapella success, eager to escape into a world of music, friendship and hilarity.

With any solution there must initially be a problem, and the storyline of Elizabeth Banks’s Pitch Perfect 2 is no different, as the film begins with a wardrobe malfunction at Lincoln Center involving the character, Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), and the malfunction evolves into a media scandal resulting in the Barden Bellas being banned from competing and auditioning in the USA. However, there is a loophole, and the Bellas set out to both gain back their status and win the acapella world championships – which no team from the US has ever won before.

Despite the prominent focus on acapella and the Bellas’ right to perform, there is also an underlying theme throughout the film of ‘moving on’; Beca (Anne Kendrick) attends an internship at a music production company and Chloe (Brittany Snow) is desperate to keep the Bellas together due to her fear of graduating and creating a life outside of her acapella group.

The script is clever and the lines are very quick-witted, with the broad selection of musical numbers really accentuating the light-heartedness of the film in the best way. The characters are extremely relatable to their audiences, and although there is a shift in some of the characters’ roles in comparison to the original film, the audience does not leave feeling as though they have missed out. The film’s easy humour allows it to reach people of all ages, and it is the perfect film for a laugh without having to think too much about what’s happening.

Despite the many good points of the film, the plot did feel slightly repetitive of the first film at times. The need for the Bellas to prove themselves and the testing of their friendships are evident in both the first and second film, and I do believe that the film may have been a little more enticing had it followed another sequence of events or plotline. There were also a couple of instances in which the humour was a little too easy or ‘overused’, and I was left feeling slight second-hand embarrassment rather than particularly humoured.

Overall, the film was hilarious and enjoyable, and I would recommend making time to see it on the big screen. The music will have you dancing in your seat, and Fat Amy’s inappropriate comments will almost have you crying with laughter. A blockbuster movie featuring a range of various music genres and ages does not come around very often these days, and with all aspects of the film considered, I’m definitely praying for a third installment.