Press Media Watch Europe Gender The World Inequality

British tabloids’ objectification of women is a step back from gender equality in the UK

In 2019, the UK’s upskirting law made it a criminal offense to take an image or video under someone’s clothing. In the same year, Wales made menstrual products available for free in hospitals and schools, and Northern Ireland finally legalized abortion. Over the last few years, there have been countless wins for gender equality in the UK and Ireland. However, women are far from being equal yet – especially if British tabloids continue to objectify women’s bodies in their newspapers.  

Unlike broadsheet newspapers that provide reliable news stories, tabloids run on celebrity gossip, sex scandals, and conspiracy theories. Yet despite being known for reporting stories that are factually inaccurate, The Sun, The Daily Mail, and The Daily Mirror – all tabloid newspapers – were the most read newspapers in the UK last year.

I’ve spent the pandemic working in my local supermarket, a job which on the morning shift, requires me to put the day’s newspapers out onto the shelves. I try my best not to look at the front page of the tabloids – a 6 a.m. start is hard enough without seeing them hurl abuse at Meghan Markle, and use Brexit propaganda as a way to pedal the UK’s vaccine roll-out – but the other day, my curiosity got the better of me. I took a copy of The Sun, one of the country’s most popular tabloid newspapers, and opened it behind the till. I knew what I would find inside, but I was still shocked when I found it.

Three pages in and there was already a bikini shot of Walking Dead star, Lauren Cohan, blown up in HD, as she ‘spoils readers rotten in her latest photoshoot’; the fact that Cohan was returning to the show’s 11th and final series was buried among the detailed description of her ‘toned torso’ and mention of ‘those fans who think she’s drop-dead gorgeous.’

The Sun page 3 feature with Lauren Cohan
[Image description: The Sun page 3 feature with Lauren Cohan.] The Sun

The fight against Page 3 girls – the tabloid tradition of publishing an image of a topless woman on their third page – has been going on for over four decades. For a 23-year-old like me, this regular soft-core porn feature has been around for as long as I can remember. It took countless campaigns for this feature to finally be stopped in 2015 after 45 years of printing new explicit photos of women’s bodies every single day. 

However, as I saw in the copy of the newspaper I was reading, this ban has a loophole: women in bikinis. As long as their breasts are covered, tabloids can continue to objectify the female body and sell copies of the newspaper by printing suggestive photos. The “women in bikinis loophole” lets tabloids continue to treat women as commodities, and sell their bodies as a form of entertainment.

The “women in bikinis loophole” lets tabloids continue to treat women as commodities, and sell their bodies as a form of entertainment. 

Another way that tabloids are getting around this ban, is by having women write the articles that include these photos. On page twelve of the same newspaper I had picked up that morning, there was a double-page spread of nine female celebrities in bikinis – including a nude photo of the woman who wrote the article herself.

The angle of the piece was celebrating the bodies of the over 50’s, while also attempting to take down the ‘polyfilla-ed twenty-something wannabes’ at the same time.

A double-page spread written by female writer in The Sun that pits women against each other.
[Image description: A double-page spread written by a female writer in The Sun that pits women against each other.] The Sun

At first glance, a piece like this written by a woman to celebrate women’s bodies might seem like a form of female empowerment – a clever way for women to turn this degrading tradition on its head in the fight for gender equality, and release suggestive photos on their own terms as an attempt to control their own narrative. But by posting these photos in a tabloid that for over four decades has used female bodies to sell stories, a spread like this is just another way for men to continue to sensationalize and objectify the female form, marketing it instead as a new form of feminism.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that the piece was celebrating the bodies of women over 50 – something that should be done – by tearing down the younger generation of women below them – something that definitely shouldn’t. If your brand of feminism focuses on bringing other women down, then I’m sorry, but it isn’t really feminism at all.

On a similar note, in all nine photos on this page, the women pictured had what many would consider an ideal body type; likewise, there were only two women of color on the whole double-page spread. Again, if your view of feminism doesn’t include women of all ethnicities, women of all shapes and sizes, and trans women, then you can never truly say that you’re fighting for the rights of all women.  

I am of course not saying that women who share suggestive photos of themselves aren’t real feminists – I understand how empowering this way of creating your own narrative is, and its a great way to encourage female body positivity – but I’ve seen first hand the people who buy these papers, and I’m certain that the first thing they think of when they see these photos isn’t female empowerment or the country’s fight for gender equality.

In a post Me Too era, British tabloids cultivate a misogynistic culture, letting it grow and fester while the rest of the country works hard to scrub it clean; these newspapers provide some of the last remaining drabs of blatant female objectification in print. It doesn’t come as a surprise then, that in a 2012 YouGov survey about the attitudes toward Page 3 girls, 48% of men overall were in favor of keeping the sexist feature – in comparison to just 17% of women.

By British tabloids continuing to print suggestive photos like these, the female body will never be seen as anything but a commodity used to sell stories. It doesn’t matter how hard we fight for gender equality in the UK, if the tradition of page three girls continues to exist in some way, shape, or form, this goal will forever remain out of reach. 


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History Poetry Forgotten History Lost in History

You probably don’t know about Hettie Jones, a crusading Beat poet

You’ve heard of a Jack Kerouac, but have you ever heard of a Hettie Jones?

The Beat Literary Movement of the 1950s is coined for its explicit subject matter and bohemian lifestyle. Americans in the 1950’s lived in largely suburban towns and felt threatened by things like communism. Men went to work in suits and women stayed home to cook, clean, and tend to the children.

The rebel, beatnik, group of authors that made up the Beat Generation were iconoclastic. Much of their work explored and influenced American culture and politics in the post-war era. They experimented with form and structure while writing about sex, drugs, and religion. Traditional literary houses rejected them and looked down on them as a group as being defiant, untalented, and unprofessional. 

I think that their being unconventional was the whole point, though.

They were the antithesis of mainstream American life.

They wanted to publish anything that was deemed inappropriate by society. These people were tired of the routine, and frankly, felt beaten down by the conservative lifestyle that they were stuck in. They were highly controversial in that they were the antithesis of mainstream American life and writing. Many of their works of poetry and prose focused on shifts of consciousness and escaping “squareness.” The stereotype around the Beats is that they were not in favor of what they considered to be straight jobs. Instead, they lived together, packed into small and dirty apartments, sold drugs, had sex with each other, and committed crimes. They are also known for exploring homosexuality, which was a highly taboo topic in 1950’s America.

Though they set many precedents together, the Beats still succumbed to the blatant sexism of the time. Most, if not all, of the women involved in the Beat literary movement were overshadowed by their male counterparts for no particular reason other than gender. These women were just as intelligent and qualified to question society as the beatnik men who have become well-known poets and activists.

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One of the most iconic, and downplayed, female poets of that time who deserves righted acknowledgment is Hettie Jones. 

Hettie Jones published 23 books- and yet, we forgot her

Hettie Jones is most known for her marriage to the famous Beat Poet Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones). Few people know that Hettie helped run Totem Press, one of the more important beat publishers, along with her husband. She went on to publish about 23 books, one being a memoir of her time spent with Amiri and the rest of the Beats titled, How I Became Hettie Jones (1990). She has also written for many prestigious journals, lectured writing across America, and began the literary magazine “Yugen.”

Hettie is one of my favorite poets, so I think that her writing deserved to be at the forefront of the Beat movement, right there with the boys who got so much praise for their work. 

Hettie’s writing is rooted in practical idealism. She left her family home in Long Island to go to college and to fully discover herself. When she graduated in 1955, she never turned back, and moved to New York City. She met Amiri while working at The Record Changer, a jazz magazine. He was a young, black poet with just as much intelligence and intensity as Hettie. They quickly fell in love and moved in together. They would go to poetry readings at cafes and bohemian bars, where they met many of the other Beat poets.

Hettie deserved to be at the forefront of the Beat movement.

When the pair founded their own magazine, they published the writings of many of the iconic beat players who could not find a home for their writing in the traditional sphere. Hettie was in charge of editing the works that were to be published in the magazine. It was here that she honed her craft and found power in the refined writing that makes her work stand out from the rest. 

By 1960, Hettie and Amiri had two children, were married, and lived in New York City. Being a biracial family, though, countless bigoted remarks were directed towards them regardless of the Beat scene. Hettie was on the receiving end of most of these cold stares and was able to see the world through the eyes of her husband and children. This affected her incredibly and eventually became a recurring theme in her writing.  

When Amiri became tightly involved with the Black Power movement, he was criticized for having a white wife. They divorced in 1968. Hettie thrived on her own though and made a living with her children while teaching and editing. Her separation from her husband also gave Hettie an outlet to speak up and finally publish works of her own. She has been quoted to say, “Without a him in the house, there was more space/time for her, and I tried to redefine the way a woman might use it.” 

To this day, Hettie’s writing is compassionate. She writes about her own experiences in a compelling manner while weaving in the issues that she cares about. Currently, Hettie lives in New York City, and is a writer and lecturer. In addition, she runs a writing workshop at the New York State Correctional Facility for Women where she recently published a volume of writing by incarcerated women.

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Movies Pop Culture

Legendary Bollywood actor Om Puri passed away, but nobody’s talking about it

A major Bollywood star passed away recently and his legacy ought to live on beyond the universe of Indian cinema alone.

Om Puri, India’s first crossover actor, maintains a legacy that dates back to the 70s with breakthrough films from the 80s. Though he maintains countless hit roles and is an icon in South Asia, he contributed some of the best he had to offer to western cinema too.

In an age where news travels fast and far, it is no surprise that we hear about the passing of iconic celebrities repeatedly. The increase in news accessibility makes it seem as if the world has been losing more stars, and maybe that is the case. In either case, the acknowledgement of all celebrities that have given a piece of themselves to contribute to global pop culture is important.

Which is why I wonder why there was not more coverage on Om Puri from Western outlets.

Like many digital writers, I understand how vital it is to cover stories on popular topics. That is all the more reason to add international stars to the list of artists we ought to remember. If a topic is not locally popular yet, it’s still a big deal to another audience.

I could give you a long amazing list of Om Puri’s Bollywood accomplishments, but for now I’ll remind you of his Western contributions. Many of his western films were hybrid projects, depicting the lives of immigrants, and the relationships between Westerners and South Asians. His “East is East” series was a hit, along with “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” and, of course, “The One-Hundred Foot Journey.” Furthermore, he offered his talents to “Ghandi,” “The Jungle Book,” and “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

Om Puri

Puri set the stage as a cross-over actor long before stars such as Quantico actress, Priyanka Chopra, made their appearances. By far, the entrance of Bollywood actors onto the western and Hollywood stages has fared well.

Furthermore, Puri crossed into the Pakistani film industry, a diplomatic move from an Indian actor. One of his latest works reflects his wide-spread wings: “Actor in Law.” Puri even had a voice in the recent film industry boycotts that reflected a strain on Pakistani-Indian relations. Pakistan recently lifted a ban on the airing of Indian films, and recent attacks in Kashmir have introduced tensions towards Pakistani actors in the Bollywood industry. Puri’s comments, which were against the ban on Pakistani actors, put him in a controversial spotlight. However, much of the controversy must have came from commentary he made that could come across unpatriotic for Indians. Furthermore, the mystery surrounding his cause of death remains cloudy.

Foreign influences in film industries bring innovative and refreshing characteristics. Yet, there is little credit given to cross-over actors.

Om Puri

At the end of the day, the lack of coverage I see on Puri’s passing makes me wonder why news outlets shy away from stepping outside the box to report on subjects like cross-over stars. Because of the talent that I have seen other industries contribute to Hollywood, I wonder if I will see more comprehensive coverage in the future.

The Tempest Radio Mixes Audio + Visual

THE OTHER SIDE OF POP: Challenge Your Expectations

As a former piano player, someone who has accompanied a singer, and a choral singer, I’ve noticed over time that if there’s a vocalist in a song, the listener’s ear tends to be drawn immediately to the vocalist. Which is actually super unfair to the instrumentalists, who are often crazy talented, and have practiced just as much, if not more, than the singers.

There are also stereotypes against some instruments (cello, violin) that they are only classical instruments which are stuck with the songs would never make the top 40. The reality is that’s totally not the case, and ingenuity might surprise you.

So in honor of challenging expectations, here are nine songs that don’t feature a word, but will go straight to the top of your “to put on repeat” list. Many of these artists also have other amazing covers, so check out their work.

1. Wide Awake || Taylor Davis

The melody of this song and the catchy riffs in the background really draw me into this song. Davis created her own backing for this track, and then played multiple tracks of violin over it. It all blends seamlessly. It’s catchy, upbeat and light.

2. Stitches || Nicholas Lee

Nicholas D. Yee Facebook
Nicholas D. Yee Facebook

If Davis was light and upbeat, Lee starts his song slow and soulful, letting the low tones of the cello sing with a light background beat and a simple baseline. Really it’s the catchiness of the melody itself and the rhythm and the simplicity of the piece that draw you in.

3. 7 Years || Brooklyn Duo

Brooklyn Duo Facebook
Brooklyn Duo Facebook

This cello piano duo has set out to conquer all sorts of popular songs. The cellist and pianist are both equally talented, with the cello singing out like the “voice.” What’s more, the couple is married in real life. Music goals and relationship goals, guys.

4. Begin Again || The Piano Guys

The Piano Guys Facebook

You wouldn’t expect a pair of Mormon dads to be quite so popular or upbeat, but this duo defies all expectations, making this song relentlessly moving from the very start. Once again, the skill of the musicians is amazing, and I love the way that the cello and piano switch off for the role of the melody throughout the song.

5. All of the Stars || teeteetow1

In many of the songs the piano has taken a background role, just serving as the accompaniment. Not so in this piece, where the solo pianist shines. This piece starts off soft and sweet, with a crystal clear melody and then builds into something more powerful for the chorus.

6. Bastille || Bryson Andres

Bryson Andres Facebook
Bryson Andres Facebook

Two words: violin loop. Oh, three: ingenious violin loop. Seriously, you may not recognize the melody of this song right away, as the violinist builds up the loops right in front of you, but it’s fascinating to listen to it all come together. Sometimes my favorite is picking what I recognize out of the beginning. And when the melody you know comes in it’s clear and high energy and an all-around delightful romp.

7. My Favorite Things || John Coltrane


My only jazz song on the list, and by far the longest song. Also, arguably the original song is not as pop as some of the others, but come on, everyone knows “My Favorite Things”, right? What’s fascinating here is how the artist improvises on a familiar theme, but always comes back to it soon enough that we never lose sight of the melody. Also, can we talk technical skill?

8. Viva la Vida || 2CELLOS

2CELLOS website

Another duo, this one a cello-cello duo. The two men make the instruments sing out all over their range, while capturing the catchy rhythms in increasingly complex ways, letting the song gradually build. Plus the cellists are easy on the eyes, if you’re into guys.

9. Rather Be || D Sharp

D Sharp Facebook
D Sharp Facebook

This violinist puts on a simple backing track, and then adds a track or two of his own on top, starting with the melody of this catchy rhythmic tune, but eventually improvising on the melody in fascinating ways. What’s more, he sets it up as a violin duel between himself and himself, driving the tune into more and more complex iterations.


Because we love you, we compiled all of these songs on one playlist. We hope you enjoy!

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Music Pop Culture

Kim Kardashian exposing Taylor Swift’s petty lies was the highlight of summer 2016

I knew I’d end up writing about Taylor Swift this summer. I just assumed I’d finally find an angle on Hiddleswift (true love? publicity stunt? most boring couple alive?), but this is so much better! Kim Kardashian finally strikes a blow against Taylor Swift’s sweetheart image, driving a stake forged by Snapchat through the heart of Taylor’s #squadgoals-dance-like-no-one-is-watching empire and flooding her pretty pop star palace with both snake and rat (emojis). I haven’t been as glued to my Twitter feed since Lemonade dropped, running to participate in the Twittersphere’s collective dragging of Taylor Swift. It was delightfully preoccupying, the most fun I’ve had following social media beef since the halcyon days of high school.

Once upon a time I wrote about Kanye West’s odd obsession with Taylor Swift, and I haven’t changed my mind. He’s obsessed with her the same way she’s obsessed with him, the same way they’re both obsessed with the fateful 2009 VMA Awards where this whole saga began with Beyonce not receiving the award for Best Female Video (the best things always begin and/or end in Beyonce). Kanye West is still trash, as is the “Famous” lyric “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous.” But we knew that already.

[bctt tweet=”Thanks to Kim Kardashian we have our answer!” username=”wearethetempest”]

About Taylor we had only suspected, squinting at her Stepford “squad” and side-eyeing her own song lyrics (and her dancing), typing out snappy tweets after she attempted to come for Nicki Minaj last year and decisively branding her “women should support women” feminism as pathetic. But there was no definitive proof of the depths of Taylor Swift. Was she a well-meaning but still awkward as hell pop star who really just wanted everyone to be her best friend? Was she just super annoying white feminist but still generally okay I guess? Or was she just playing everyone with her gangly and wholesome glamour?

Thanks to Kim Kardashian we have our answer!

After months of Kim and Kanye insisting Taylor knew about Kanye’s trash lyric, months of Taylor Swift claiming the opposite, Kim dropped (on National Snake Day!) a series of Snapchat videos proving Taylor’s prior knowledge. There’s Taylor with her (patronizing) appreciation of Kanye’s calling to run this by her first. She laughs at the certainty that the public will think he’s throwing shade and promises to show up on the Grammy red carpet with the knowledge that she was in on this all along. Just like Kim and Kanye said. Just like Taylor denied.

Is this blow a fatal one? Is the ever powerful Kim Kardashian the iceberg to Taylor Swift’s Titanic? It’s unlikely, but Taylor’s floating aimlessly in freezing waters, Selena Gomez and Chloe Grace Moretz have simply drowned, and it’s so much fun!

[bctt tweet=”Taylor’s floating aimlessly, Selena Gomez and Chloe Grace Moretz have simply drowned, and it’s so much fun!” username=”wearethetempest”]

With a few clips, Kim Kardashian guts Taylor’s uber-condescending and always unbelievable claims of friendship and unity by showcasing her fawning fakeness. While I will defend Taylor Swift when she’s bearing the brunt of sexism and misogyny (with the added disclaimer that not even the near-perfection of 1989 can make me fuck with her after what she pulled with Nicki), this is not a time for defending Taylor Swift. Get with the winning team, and don’t listen to the Selena Gomezes and Chloe Grace Moretzes who tell you to focus on something that MATTERS!!1!1!

No this isn’t the slow but determined death spiral known as Election 2016. It’s not Black Lives Matter or anything else so important that it is absolutely depressing. This is Taylor Swift, self-proclaimed champion of women, beacon of white feminism, unapologetic basher of Katy Perry, Camilla Belle, girls in short skirts, and reams of ex-boyfriends she never called for approval. Confirming the widespread skepticism about Taylor’s intentions, this is pure pop culture gold.

[bctt tweet=”Confirming the widespread skepticism about Taylor’s intentions, this is pure pop culture gold.” username=”wearethetempest”]

This has all the trappings of prime celebrity frivolity: Kim Kardashian peppering her Twitter with shady comments about Taylor, Taylor breaking her silence to release an asinine statement on Instagram, Selena Gomez and Chloe Grace Moretz playing themselves in failed attempts at defending their squad leader, Khloe Kardashian tainting the fun as she attempts to get in on the dragging. In a summer loaded with bad and worse news, of course we’re rolling in the generally unimportant but no less entertaining downfall of Taylor Swift.

After the recording (almost vomit-inducing in how set Taylor and Kanye are in pretending they actually like each other), Taylor would go on to claim, “Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single ‘Famous’ on her Twitter account. She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, “I made that bitch famous.’” Then Taylor’s Grammy acceptance speech would feature a reminder to young women that men would try to take credit for their success.

[bctt tweet=”I knew I’d end up writing about Taylor Swift this summer.” username=”wearethetempest”]

But the clapback she attempted had nothing to do with her earlier statement. She really tried, but as that one time with Nicki showed us, Taylor Swift doesn’t know how to clapback. She doesn’t even have the benefit of having a Hillary Clinton social media intern to help (think “Delete your account” not “like your abuela”). So her resulting statement is a futile display of her own breathless victimhood, rewriting a story she’d already doctored months ago but now in the face of video evidence:

That moment when Kanye West secretly records your phone call, then Kim posts it on the Internet.

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

“I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative”, Taylor writes after the narrative she tried to write has gone up in a plume of smoke. Taylor decrying Kim Kardashian’s “character assassination” – the same Taylor Swift who built her career assassinating the character of every ex-boyfriend and romantic rival she’s ever had – is the kind of hilarious hypocrisy you don’t find anywhere else. And despite Kanye West having no trouble assassinating his own character, Taylor wasn’t doing him any favors when she pretended she’d been caught off guard.

[bctt tweet=”Taylor decrying Kim Kardashian’s ‘character assassination’ is the kind of hilarious hypocrisy you don’t find anywhere else.” username=”wearethetempest”]

And what misogyny was Taylor cautioning against exactly? She says she didn’t know about “that bitch” until the song was released, but she considered the line about Kanye sleeping with her to be “a compliment kind of.” She was even cool with his claim to her fame, she and Kanye are practically braiding each other’s hair while she says, “It doesn’t matter if I sold 7 million of that album before you did that. You didn’t know who I was before that.” While “that bitch” is a fair thing to be pissed about, her issue all those months ago was less about Kanye’s profanity and more about him making her. But according to this, she didn’t feel that way until later.

[bctt tweet=”I don’t know, but it’s hysterical. More please.” username=”wearethetempest”]

So why lie?

Did Taylor underestimate public ire to the lyric and decide that going along would be inappropriate for America’s Sweetheart? Was she trying to maintain the narrative of her perky pop stardom being downtrodden and abused by the Kardashian-West coalition (“she cannot understand why Kanye West, and now Kim Kardashian, won’t leave her alone”)? Was she just trying to exclude herself from the narrative (that she’s “never asked to be a part of”) by singing the condescending “Innocent” and showing off flowers from Kanye and tailoring her Grammys speech to this situation?

I don’t know, but it’s hysterical. More please.


Music Pop Culture

Kanye’s obsession with Amber Rose and Taylor Swift is getting old

The most talked about image of Kanye West’s new music video “Famous” emulates Vincent Desiderio’s “Sleep”. It depicts the aftermath of what we can only assume to be one super awkward orgy (or just a super awkward, nude group rest). Kanye joins George W. Bush, Anna Wintour, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian, Ray J, Amber Rose, Caitlyn Jenner and Bill Cosby – or at least wax figures of them – in a giant bed. Kanye said “Famous” isn’t dissing or supporting anyone. It’s a “comment on fame.”

Sure, whatever. It’s a better representation of 2016 Kanye, whose powerful musical ability has become inextricable, and threatens to be overshadowed by, his odd off-record antics. “Famous” (available exclusively on Tidal) seeks to bring these two things together, highlighting a host of Kanye’s past controversies via a collection of nude wax figures.

Kanye throws back to instances like his infamous declaration that Bush “doesn’t care about black people,” like when he tweeted Cosby’s innocence or when Wintour put her foot in her mouth. Exceptions to this rule of controversy include Rihanna and her abusive ex-boyfriend Chris Brown. Both have collaborated with Kanye and haven’t had any public issues with him. Rihanna joins the naked wax figure roster presumably because she’s featured on the track, and Chris Brown because….well, maybe because of the outrage of the two being placed side by side. Other odd inclusions are Caitlyn Jenner, who’s cool with Kanye as far as we know, and Ray J, whose sex tape with Kim has more to do with her than Kanye. But it’s Amber Rose and Taylor Swift who are the most memorable when it comes to Kanye Kontroversy – and who have publicly tussled with him more than once. While their links to Kanye are completely different – one of them dated him, the other was literally upstaged by him – Kanye perceives them the same: women whose fame was made possible by his attention.

Kanye literally says so of Taylor in “Famous” with, “I feel like me and Taylor may still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous.” Cue Taylor’s offense, Kanye declaring he got her approval, Taylor saying otherwise, Kim chiming in, and Kanye making it all better by putting a naked Wax!Taylor Swift asleep next to him – in a video for the song that caused her offense in the first place. Of course, this all began at the 2009 VMA’s, when Kanye infamously crashed Taylor’s acceptance speech. Afterward Kanye was apologetic, and Taylor recorded the patronizing but forgiving “Innocent.” As she put out three successful albums, won more awards (that she’s accepted with uninterrupted speeches), and was photographed smiling with Kanye, it looked like the incident had faded into a still-amusing but ultimately squashed Kontroversy.

Then there was “Famous.”

Just as odd as Kanye’s rising obsession with recalling this Taylor Swift business, is his equally odd fixation on Amber Rose. Six years ago she appeared regularly with Kanye on red carpets, but they broke up after two years.

Since then, Amber’s had a four year relationship and a child with Wiz Khalifa, written How to be A Bad Bitch, advocated for the end of slut-shaming and become an actress and model. She has a life and a career that have nothing to do with Kanye, but this hasn’t stopped him from dragging her whenever possible. He said he needed to take “30 showers” after their split to be suitable for Kim, and in the same interview said, “If Kim had dated me when I first wanted to be with her, there would be no Amber Rose.”

Yes, Kanye made Amber Rose, a hypothesis he ran with during an unnecessary Twitter argument with Wiz where he slammed Amber for being a stripper and “trapping” Wiz by getting pregnant. Oh, and he also claimed that Wiz and Amber’s kid wouldn’t exist if not for him. Because Wiz was only into Amber because Kanye dated her first.

Kanye’s immense ego is well known, and it’s convinced him he’s the root of two women’s current and future success. Now he raps about Taylor Swift owing him sex because he “made her famous” while simultaneously resenting Amber’s rising star now that they’re no longer sleeping together. But Amber and Taylor progress, reaping the rewards of his attention, while he can’t even benefit from his own art. Kanye’s been vocal about the opportunities he’s missing out on, ambitions he’s struggling to achieve, and he’s pleaded for help to change that. Amber and Taylor? Not so much. Whether Kanye’s career is struggling or not (the attention being paid to “Famous,” including my writing this, proves he’s far from a has-been), it only matters that Kanye believes it is.


So far Kanye’s music hasn’t helped him, his fashion line hasn’t helped him, but maybe the “walking performance art” of his life (and his Twitter and his interviews) will do the job. If he reminds everyone that it was his touch that blessed Amber and Taylor and transformed them into the women they are (ugh) will he finally get the recognition he deserves? If he drags them down far enough will his blessings be returned to him? If he says more outlandish and offensive things, groups naked public figures together in a nude tableau, will he finally reach the heights he knows he can? 

Maybe, maybe not.

All that’s certain is that Amber and Taylor don’t need Kanye. On the contrary, it seems more likely he needs them. After all they aren’t the ones who revived talk of their controversies with naked wax figures are they?

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Books Pop Culture

Make a point to read these 5 banned books

Banned Books Week is a movement  aimed to celebrate the freedom to read books that have been banned or challenged in academia. You may or may not be surprised that the list includes classics that many hold near and dear.

Interestingly enough, quite a few of these frequently challenged books are written by minorities. Here are 5 incredibly famous books by minority women that have made the list.

1. Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi

persepolis  temp_file20141028-16184-16inif6

Marjane Satrapi is an Iranian-born French graphic novelist. She was born and raised in Iran and experienced many of the socialist and communist movements prior and following the Iranian Revolution. Her graphic novel, Perspolis, is banned for having a “political viewpoint.”

It’s also cited for being “politically, racially, and socially offensive.” Psh.

2. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison


African-American novelist, Nobel-Prize winner, and Pulitzer-prize winner. Toni Morrison is definitely a triple-threat. So is, apparently, her novel. The Bluest Eye delves into racism in America during the Great Depression. It’s frequently challenged for containing “containing controversial issues.”

3. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros

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Sandra Cisneros is an American author of Mexican descent. Her book, The House on Mango Street, is widely read in literature classes (I read it myself as a sophomore in high school). It was banned in Arizona for allegedly promoting an overthrow of the government.

Um, no. The major themes in the book include struggling with identity, friendship, and loneliness. So…normal stuff that everyone deals with.

4. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor

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Mildred D. Taylor is an African-American woman with a Newbury Medal under her belt. Her novel, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry tells a raw tale of racial segregation in the Deep South. It’s one of the most frequently challenged novels of the 21st century, with the primary reason being offensive language.

The main character, a punchy nine-year-old girl, doesn’t hold back her tongue. Honestly, though, the language is simply a part of American history.

5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

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The late but dearly beloved Maya Angelou’s autobiography has been named by TIME Magazine as one of the best and most influential books of all time. Angelou has won countless awards, one of them being the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

How did such a popular book land on the banned list?

It seems that exploring identity, racism, and literacy is simply too much for the public to handle.