The rapper's magnum opus turned 10 years old over the weekend.
It's almost eerie how accurately Kanye West predicted his own fate when he uttered the words "I miss the old Kanye" on 2016's The Life of Pablo.
In my head, and likely in the memories of many others, there are two Kanyes: a then and a now. Both are cocky, self-important, certifiable jerks, but then, he at least still felt a marginal need to continue proving himself.
Now, he's so immeasurably detached from reality that it's a little hard to take anything he does or creates seriously—at this point, I find it difficult to even care. I don't want to explicitly cite a certain presidential election and its aftermath as the dividing line between the Kanye of then and now in my conscience, but...yeah, Kanye rubbing elbows with Trump was pretty much the last straw for me.
In their blowout last night, he fell back on the same pattern: confront, manipulate to gain power (occasionally lying), and then backtrack to save face.
It's a general truth that a majority of the Bachelor Franchise's contestants are Christian.
There have been virgin contestants, a born-again virgin Bachelor, and then a straight-up virgin Bachelor. Yet, over the past two decades, the show has refrained from airing discussions of touchy topics like religion or sex. Participants on the show have disclosed that many deep conversations regarding such matters go unaired.
Then, last season, one contestant, Caelynn Miller-Keyes, disclosed her sexual assault to the Bachelor, Colton Underwood. The heart-stopping moment became a revelatory scene in reality television. Viewers everywhere could hear, relate, and connect to the moving story. Powerful moments like those are more common now that participants are breaking away from the show's traditional boundaries, storylines, and rules. In turn, production has begun to re-shape the show; while the series has become more sex positive, religion has remained a taboo subject—until last night.
Throughout this season, Bachelor Nation has witnessed an emotional abuser remain on their TVs for far too long—even by the standards of reality TV, it's been alarming. Luke P.'s concerning behavior, from aggression to excessive lying, has prompted viewers to question, "What in the hell are we not seeing?" Hannah Brown and Luke P. have had a connection that viewers cannot not wrap their heads around, but it turns out that viewers were missing half the story. While Luke P. has stirred the pot by repeatedly disrespecting Hannah and his fellow contestants, viewers have questioned if an inexplicable spiritual connection has been drawing the two together.
Finally, the other half of the story was unveiled during Fantasy Suite week. After the two made-out during their day touring Santorini, Luke P. began their dinner by gaslighting Hannah:
"I am very confident that we're on the same page with our morals, and I just want to hear it from your mouth. I've heard people proclaim their faith, but yet they've said things like, 'I'm excited for Fantasy Suites. I want to explore this relationship on a sexually intimate level, and that's what I'm looking forward to.' And to me, that's like whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa excuse me? What? There's something I'm missing here. Like I don't believe that's something you should be doing, and I just want to make sure that you're not going to be sexually intimate with the other relationships here. Like, I totally have all the trust in the world for you, but at the same time I just want to make sure we're on the same page. Like, if you told me you're going to have sex or you had sex with one or multiple of these guys, I would be wanting to go home 100 percent."
Hannah Sends Luke P Home After Fantasy Suite Warning! | The Bachelorette US www.youtube.com
If delivered differently and with more tact, his concerns could've been reasonable. Instead, he began by aligning the other contestants against him and weaponizing his connection with Hannah to make assumptions about how she should act. Then, he backtracked by asserting that he had faith in her and finally threatened their relationship if she didn't live up to his standards. The loaded speech demonstrates his continued pattern of emotional manipulation. When Hannah disagreed with what he said, he continued to backtrack by claiming that he would work with her through anything, even a "slip-up." Similarly, earlier in the season, he informed Hannah that he would stick by her even if she made a "boneheaded mistake."
Time and time again, Luke P. has utilized gaslighting as a way to maintain control in his relationship with Hannah. Whenever he's felt confident in their relationship, he's directly addressed his concerns with Hannah, but when he's felt their relationship was in jeopardy, he's used manipulation tactics to assert what he wants out of the relationship. However, whenever he's "slipped up," the responsibility hasn't fallen on him because he's protested that he was just "misunderstood"—after lying straight to Hannah's face.
Overall, every time Luke P. has been in the wrong, he's asserted his needs, manipulated the truth, and then backtracked whenever Hannah responded poorly. In their blowout last night, he fell back on the same pattern: confront, manipulate to gain power (occasionally lying), and then backtrack to save face.
Whatever good Hannah saw in Luke P. prior to Fantasy Suite week has been washed away. When Luke P. tried to wield religion against Hannah to shame her, she called him out on it. The Bachelorette proved that she had her Biblical receipts, retorting, "You know the story in the Bible when the woman was called out for adultery, and she was stoned in the village, and Jesus said, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. You're holding your stone up at me and asking me what I've done."
Unfortunately, gaslighting in the Christian community isn't anything new. Too many self-righteous believers still condemn, shame, and utilize their beliefs to shame sinners and preach a narrow way of life. Hannah aptly addressed Luke P.'s hypocrisy by informing him, "Sex might be a sin out of marriage, but pride is a sin too." She continued, "It's like you're holding other people to a standard that you don't even live by."
Faith is meant to spread love and light. Like Hannah said, "I know that I have God in my heart, so I know that everything I do and who I am is light. I am light. Do I make mistakes? I'm not Jesus." Her commentary shed light on the stark contrast between more progressive, inclusive Christians who have embraced the modern world and others who stick to their outdated, hypocritical agendas (like those who are pro-life but don't care about keeping children in cages).
For the formerly apolitical show to air their conversation is a sign that the genre of "reality" TV is still expanding its social consciousness; in particular, it displays that the Bachelor Franchise has solid potential (even after 17 years) to spark new conversations and highlight important narratives. Unfortunately, as portrayed in the previews for next week, the producers seem to allow Luke P. to come back, undoubtedly to exasperate Hannah and continue the toxic drama that is Luke P.'s existence.
ABC's production seems to take a positive step forward by airing their candid conversation, but they still kept around an emotional abuser and then brought him back to let him try to manipulate his way back into Hannah's heart. At least Hannah Brown finally gained clarity and found her way out of a controlling relationship (for now). Hopefully, like other leads who have been forced to endure harmful, disruptive, racist, and misogynistic contestants, Hannah can come out on top, with continued love and respect for herself and her relationship with God.
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That fleshy bit of tissue is more mythical than Sisyphus' rock (although many men have blamed both for their feelings of deep-seated failure).
Everyone is a virgin. Or nobody is. Whatever: "Virginity is a social construct." Miley Cyrus says so.
The 26-year-old pop singer recently released a red latex-filled music video for "Mother's Daughter," the latest single off her EP She Is Coming. Cyrus has proven to the world that despite marrying Liam Hemsworth, she hasn't settled down, still appreciates hot women, and she's still freaky. The trippy, provocative music video, conceptualized by the singer and directed by Alexandre Moors, includes blocks of text with messages fit for a 13-year-old's wannabe-edgy Tumblr post, like "Sin Is in Your Eyes," "Not an Object, "I Am Free," and the one Cyrus recently shared on her Instagram account, "Virginity Is a Social Construct." The ensuing debate within her comment section clarifies that we, as a society, have no idea what "virginity" actually is.
First of all, because the United States has an 86% literacy rate but a population in which 50% of adults can't read above an eighth grade level—people didn't read the message that closely. The singer's two posts with the screen grab quickly received over 11,000 comments. Many assumed for some reason that it was criticizing those who abstained from sex and "shaming" virgins, while others contested the idea that virginity was anything other than hard science.
What's painfully clear from this heated interaction over a venial celebrity post is that a serious problem with sex education (and basic knowledge about the human body) exists in the U.S. Aside from the fact that we're only just now realizing that abstinence-only sex-ed doesn't work, we have a tradition of teaching teenagers outright incorrect and unrealistic information. As Laura Lindbergh, research scientist on reproductive health, noted in her study on adolescent health and sexual behavior, "We fail our young people when we don't provide them with complete and medically accurate information."
Now, despite the perception of nonstop connectedness on social media, dating apps, and hook up culture, it's an empirical fact that millennials are losing their virginity later in life than previous generations, embarking on fewer dates, marrying at a later age, and, in general, having much, much less sex. It's no wonder, what with their rampant intimacy and trust issues (you know, as a result of inheriting a world of fractured politics, heightened social isolation and anxiety, and a planet that will dissolve under their feet while they pay more and make less money to fund efforts to reverse the irreversible damage).
So while "millennials in their early 20s aren't having sex, and are more than twice as likely to be sexually inactive than the previous generation," what does this mean for the outdated notions of virginity?
The history of virginity and its surrounding stigma involving "purity" and moral high ground is, of course, groundless. But as a form of social currency that values untouched women as exchangeable commodities, the idea is mainly rooted in religion. Oddly, no one's sure where the idea that virginity mattered originally came from, with earliest written records signaling it held great social value but with no clear explanation as to why. From ancient Greeks evaluating young girls' nipple shapes to the medieval practice of checking newlywed's bedsheets for blood to verify a consummated marriage (thereby legitimizing the dowry), desirable virgin women could gain their families wealth and higher social status. Then there's hundreds of years of Christian theocracy and worship of the Virgin Mary to increase the premium on virginity as a symbol of "successful patriarchy as a whole."
Today, too many still defer to the outdated belief that female virginity is defined as having an intact hymen. One of Cyrus's invested commenters posted, "What? That's like saying puberty or menstration [sic] is a social contract. They're physical things, they involve physical changes." Aside from the obvious fact that this definition dismisses sex between non-female bodies and non-penetrative sex (which carries just as many risks of contracting STDS and so is just as valid and significant), let's talk about hymens.
That fleshy bit of tissue is more mythical than Sisyphus' rock (although many men have blamed both for their feelings of deep-seated failure). In reality, "having a hymen and being a virgin are not the same thing. Some people are born with hymens that are naturally open. And many other activities besides sex can stretch your hymen. So you can't tell if someone has had sex by the way their hymen looks or feels."
Really, we should thank Miley for highlighting that virginity is just as messy, disruptive, emotionally fraught, and hilarious as sex is, with her thousands of commenters running the gamut from sex positivity to virgin shaming to religious zealotry. So remember: never shame what other people choose to do with their bodies, read like a 9th grader, and always use protection (because even hand stuff can get dicey).
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Have you heard? The Jonas Brothers like sex now.
The Jonas Brothers' upcoming "Happiness Begins" tour is a nostalgic flash of early 2000s pop music, Disney Channel's golden age, and trendy purity rings that successfully marketed sex to tweens by constantly reminding them not to have sex.
Nick Jonas recently shared his discomfort at the time, telling The Guardian, "What's discouraging about that chapter of our life is that at 13 or 14 my sex life was being discussed. It was very tough to digest it in real time, trying to understand what it was going to mean to me, and what I wanted my choices to be while having the media speaking about a 13-year-old's sex life. I don't know if it would fly in this day and age. Very strange." Undoubtedly it was strange; for a while in the 2000s we treated the topic of sex like a minefield that would detonate if we spoke of its reality. Thankfully, we seem to have gone from praising Disney Channel stars' manufactured wholesomeness to embracing frank depictions of puberty in all its disgusting glory.
From Big Mouth and Pen15 to Eighth Grade, media's depictions of teens figuring out sex, masturbation, and sexuality have taken full 180 turns from the shame-based silence and push for abstinence that dominated the 90s and 2000s. In reality, "The Rise and Fall of the Pop Star Purity Ring" was the result of a generally conservative political climate and brilliant marketing. Specifically, the sinking record company Walt Disney Records found their saving grace in marketing their stars' virginities as standout additions to the lust-addled pop music scene. The Muse noted, "The real reason puritanical sex ed managed to infiltrate Top 40 radio for a bizarre moment in the aughts had less to do with the actual personal beliefs of its stars and far more to do with the conservative political climate that helped create them."
Indeed, Nick Jonas, now 27 years old, has described his family as "incredibly religious" and recounts "a person in [their] church who at one point demanded that all the kids in the youth group put these purity rings on and make this commitment. So without a full understanding of what we were stepping into, we all made this commitment."
Additionally, while the Jonas brothers, famously lauded and mocked for their purity rings, believed in the token sentiment, no young teen wants the public to fixate on their sex life. "It was such a strange thing to a lot of people to wear these purity rings, especially as young men in a pop boy band," Nick added. "But I think when I'm looking back on it, although it was challenging to live with that, to be seen and have that attached to our name was very tough."
In fact, between 2007 and 2008 the use of the word "virginity" in news, blogs, and magazines saw a huge spike in popularity. Politically, there were powerful conservatives pushing abstinence and fostering a "purity panic" to maintain their influence over policies. Sara Moslener, professor of religion at and author of Virgin Nation, noted, "The purity movement was about conservative evangelicals keeping access to political power. And it was young people, sexually pure young people, who could best make that case." Consequently, abstinence-based sex education programs in schools flourished in the '90s, including organizations like Silver Ring Thing, which received over $1 million in federal funding thanks to President George W. Bush's 2001 Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) program.
But how does that lead us to Big Mouth's celebrated depictions of awkward early sexual encounters, manifested onscreen as a lascivious hormone monster and menacing shame wizard? Well, studies prove across the board that abstinence-only education doesn't work. They're "not just unrealistic, but it leaves our young people without the information and skills that they need," one researcher concluded. We fail our young people when we don't provide them with complete and medically accurate information."
Big Mouth: Hormone MonsterGiphy
Big Mouth: Shame WizardNetflix
Also, the Jonas Brothers and other Disney darlings who launched purity rings to popularity, like Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, and Demi Lovato, have all grown up. Some have gotten married. They have all had sex (a fact they've confirmed in what were probably not awkward interviews at all). Nick Jonas has reflected that the purity ring trend had the positive effect of showing him why sex shouldn't be taboo. He said, "I think it was a good thing. It gave me a really good perspective, to whereas now my main thing is about being OK with who I am as a man and the choices I've made, and I think everyone should have a good and solid conversation with either their parents or loved ones about sex and about what they want to do with their life, because it shouldn't be taboo. It's a big part of who we are and what makes us human, and if we can't address these things head on, then I think that it can really be challenging."
Today's buzzwords focus on inclusion and self-acceptance through body positivity and LGBTQ+ awareness, which are pieces of a cultural attitude towards sex positivity and away from shame-based abstinence. Sure, there's a risk of producing over-sexed media that could influence teens' behavior, but history shows that making sex taboo through abstinence-only programs have not reduced rates of teen pregnancy or STDs, so what's the danger? Media will always influence teens' behavior, no matter what. So, from showing that all genders experience crude changes to their hormones to depicting fumbling sexual experiments, series like Big Mouth and Pen15 show that sexual awakenings are awkward, uncomfortable, and embarrassing. The point is to subvert the history of shame surrounding sex talk, rather than obfuscating the fact with silence and using chastity as a brand. After all, it's 2019; haven't you heard—The Jonas Brothers like sex now.
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