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PROSTITUTION: LEGAL VS. ILLEGAL THE UNIVERSITY TIMES MAGAZINE |
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FEATURES HOME AND AWAY BY PAUL BEHAN We interview prostitutes working in Ireland and Nevada, contrasting the legal and illegal sex industries.
IRISH REPUBLICAN VOICE
NEITHER HERE NOR THERE
BY JANE FALLON GRIFFEN
BY JEAN CURRAN
We investigate the new republican group which rose to fame by blocking O’Connell bridge last month.
A photo collection depicting the experiences of a group of Malawian students in Ireland.
EDITORIAL If you were in Dublin city centre this time last week, you would have noticed an extraordinarily large garda presence. For some reason, they expected a disruptive and possibly violent protest. It appeared that feelings of disengagement and isolation from the political sphere that had been brewing for years had come to a head in a few small but vocal groups. Nothing of note happened on the day, but the rhetoric in the lead up to the budget was enough to frighten the state into putting huge numbers of police on the streets. In this issue, we have a piece on Irish Republican Voice (IRV), one of the groups that contributed greatly to this anticipation. Isolation appears to be a major cause of discontent with the members of IRV. They are disillusioned with the government, but also with the media and the republican groups that they broke away from. Isolation is in fact a running theme throughout this issue. In our feature on prostitution, it becomes clear that the criminalisation and stigmatisation of the sex industry pushes people who want to engage with those around them to the margins of society. Our photo collection depicts the lives of Malawian students in Ireland who feel they have failed to integrate.
In both public and private spheres, isolation can has highly negative consequences. Students didn’t show up to the USI demo on the first of October because they felt disengaged from the student movement. They failed to see how it directly affected them. In terms of mental health — which is especially pertinent this week — feelings of isolation is a huge cause of depression among young people. If we can learn one thing from the material in this issue, it is to engage with what is going on around us. This could mean anything from talking to someone who has been a bit too quiet recently, to getting involved in politics or protests. No matter how small the action, a gesture of reaching out rarely goes unappreciated.
James Bennett Editor email@example.com THE UNIVERSITY TIMES MAGAZINE |
CONTRIBUTORS EDITOR CREATIVE DIRECTOR DEPUTY/MUSIC EDITOR ONLINE EDITOR FILM EDITOR FASHION EDITOR
James Bennett Edmund Heaphy Eoin Hennessy Clementine Yost Jack O’Kennedy Elizabeth Brauders
William Murphy // Jane Fallon Griffin // Jean Curran
Paul Behan // Jane Fallon Griffin // Jack Gibson // Aisling Ennis // Danielle Courtney // Lucy Mulvaney // Kat Clinch // Rachel Wakefield // Joseph Murray // Rory McNab // Jack Gibson
CASTING CHRISTIAN GREY
THE POWER OF BLAGGING
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Home and Away PAUL BEHAN COMPARES THE SITUATION OF TWO PROSTITUTES WORKING ILLEGALLY IN IRELAND TO NEVADA’S LEGAL BROTHELS.
Grand Canal at night by William Murphy.
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his is a piece about prostitution, or rather more accurately, a piece about prostitutes. This is also a piece in two halves, the first looking at the lives and experiences of sex workers in Ireland and the second looking at the legal experience in Nevada. I don’t offer any moral justification for prostitution or against it. This is simply me talking to five people because I want to learn more about the life of a sex worker. We live in a country where prostitution is an industry in the dark. I am writing this because I’d like to shed a little light on that industry. This piece conveys the subjective experiences of those interviewed. It is not a statement of message or of fact.
Ireland It started with an email. If you’ve ever just started driving you’ll understand the feeling, as you slowly start to crawl forward, that sits in the pit of your stomach: ‘I have no idea what I’m doing and I think we’re all going to die.’ That’s the feeling I got preparing for this article. His name is Irish Bradley and his website highly suggested that he was a prostitute. My cold call email was an awkward mess of apologetic intrigue. Wracked with anxiety, I hit send. And he replied. Bradley definitely did not want to be in my article but he started to help me on my way. He gave me a name to chase. He didn’t need a reason not to be included but his reasons were good. It’s the nature of “the industry” as we called it. It’s his work, and his safety depends on privacy. We kept talking. Bits and pieces, flashes of him, seemed to fall out as if by accident. Bradley definitely didn’t want to be in my article
WORKING IN THE INDUSTRY HAS GIVEN
of Prostitute Y. I guess I viewed prostitution as selling yourself as opposed to selling a service. Bradley paints a different picture. There’s control but he has it. There are limits and there are rules. Staying clean, staying safe and staying in control all seem to facets of a bigger idea: selfworth. Bradley values himself in a way media portrayals of prostitution don’t depict. It isn’t about desperation and risk; it’s as much a gratification of his desires as the clients. His desires to travel, to be wanted, to be fed and to have money are swapped for the fulfillment of their sexual desires. His desire to be desired is met with theirs. Sweet Rachel, my second port of call, tells a similar tale. Growing up in Romania, she didn’t have the opportunities we have. Things were hard. Prostitution made things easier. She can do other work and get by, but frankly, she doesn’t want to. Rachel is fiery, there’s a hard edge to her voice and she speaks with passion. She’s blunt. Her voice smashes through your head like a hammer. She’s on the edge of anger, ready to fight. Rachel sounds very much like she knows what she’d like to tell me before I’ve asked a single question. As one would expect, Rachel keeps control as well. Her voice surges with pride when she tells me she’s honest. Honesty piques my interest and she explains. She doesn’t lie to men, she won’t tell the fat man he’s thin or the old man he’s young. Rachel is cheeky and she won’t stay quiet for any client. She has a personality and she forces them to see it. They aren’t allowed forget. It makes her confident and happy that these men want her and remember her. She’ll never pretend to remember them. An hour with Rachel isn’t an hour with a blank slate or some girl from your fantasy, it’s an hour with every inch of her. The money makes her feel powerful too. She has a life she “could never have had.” She delivers this phrase with a very definite “never.” Her voice goes warm, almost honeyed, when we discuss her car. A good car is more than just a car. It’s an instant symbol of your success in the world, a baseball bat sized entry in the “who’s dick is bigger” competition of life. Rachel drives a 2.7l sports car and it’s quite the package.
ME A LOT MORE SELF-
So far the picture’s a bit too rosy. Both accept this. “Mentally demanding client” is a key phrase used here by Bradley. They accept it happens and that it’s bad but neither will spend too long on it. I can only guess as to whether it’s not that big of an issue or if it’s the kind of issue they can’t talk about. In both cases they hit back my volley with a positive. When Rachel or Bradley have a rough day they give themselves a day off or a week off or a month off. This freedom gives them a sense of luck. They get something ordinary people can’t: control over their own lives and schedules that very few people have. They’re self-employed in what they describe as an extremely lucrative market. I don’t know if I buy this. When Bradley says “mentally demanding” my mind conjures something much worse. It seems like they’re glossing over something but that said they know what they’re feeling and I don’t. It’s arrogant for me to assume but I can’t help it. This pushes my mind towards our next topic.
CONFIDENCE THAN I HAD BEFOREHAND. but I knew if I asked him again he’d answer me. I don’t know what this says about me but I hit send again. “Does working in the industry make you feel unsafe or unhappy or less?” I didn’t really know what to expect from Bradley. I don’t know any sex workers so my mind can’t even make some sweeping generalisation, as is human nature. All I have in my head is that woman, from TV: scantily clad, angry, uneducated, brash and vulnerable. I know it won’t be true but it’s all have to work from. Bradley gives me a lot more: “Working in the industry has given me a lot more selfconfidence than I had beforehand.” That was first time I got this idea from a sex worker, the idea of empowerment, but it certainly wasn’t the last. Over the course of three interviews with three sex workers I’ve gotten empowerment a lot. I struggled with that at first. I had my own idea of what the transaction was. I had thought of commodification: Customer X buys some kind of ownership
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Prostitution in Ireland is dangerous. This is fairly uncontroversial. Prostitutes are forced to work alone or else face charges of running a brothel. They feel alienated from the law because they work outside it. Illegality it seems attracts further illegality. As a matter of course, clients abuse sex workers. A Colorado study for the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests prostitutes are roughly 18 times more like to be murdered than otherwise simi-
lar groups of women. It’s not really real in my head until Rachel tells me a story. There’s an app for smart phones that filters clients. If someone is violent with a sex worker then they put the violent customer’s number into the app and when they ring someone using the app it’ll flash a warning. It’s an exercise in sex workers protecting each other. Unfortunately, it does not always work. Like many prostitutes in Ireland Rachel works alone out of her apartment. She’d like to work in a pair so she has someone there to talk to, to help keep her safe but she says it’d attract too much Garda attention. Rachel gets a call. It’s just another guy, any guy. She directs him to outside her apartment block and tells him to ring her when he’s there. So he’s standing outside and he’s ringing her phone. She’s about to buzz him in but something flashes across the screen of her phone. The app has come alive. Rachel very nearly put herself in a very dangerous situation. She turns off her phone and her lights. She stays away from the window and she cries because she’s alone and scared. I can only imagine that moment and I really
Grand Canal Square at night by William Murphy. don’t care to. Rachel tells me that rape, brutal violence and theft are a massive problem with prostitution in Ireland. Sex workers are especially vulnerable because they’re afraid. They’re afraid of reporting crime because they could be arrested, socially ostracised or simply ignored. Bradley tells it rather differently; “Safety wise the risks are a lot higher than in other jobs obviously, but people always compare the risks with office work etc … If you were to compare the job to a police officer or door security on a busy nightclub then you couldn’t say that the risk was as bad as what they could be faced with on a daily bases. Police/security/mountain rescue have procedures and protocol in place for when things go wrong, people working in the escorting/prostitution industry are no exception.” Bradley can handle himself: “These kinda things are always best nipped in the bud. At the first sign of trouble I let the client know where they stand.” He’s had one incident he describes as “dangerous” but his
choice of words is suggestive. He’s “only” had one, which suggests you would expect more. He attributes this to being male. He’ll accept that there’s danger of violence, and disease, but he thinks it’s manageable. Bradley had a mentor and he learned the ropes of how to stay safe. “After I found out they were involved I asked a few questions and then did some work shadowing I guess you could call it.” It’s a business to Bradley and he takes it very seriously. Staying safe and staying clean is the only way to survive. What my interviewees seem to be angling at is simple: the law as it stands creates this danger, or at least, a change in the law could alleviate these dangers. This led me to sociologist, Dr. Teresa Whitaker, one of Ireland’s leading sociologists and a National Advisory Committee on Drugs & Alcohol expert on drug use and sex work. Her research is focused on risk assessment and reduction. Violence, drug use, blood borne viruses, and imprisonment are the key risks faced by sex workers in Ireland. Sex workers however are not a homogenous group; there
are different stratified populations who face extremely different circumstances. Drug use pertains more to street sex workers. Dr. Whitaker identifies them as the most vulnerable and desperate class of sex workers. She tells me the best example of good practice in dealing with sex workers is Queensland where they take a human rights based approach, sex workers are entitled to all the same protections in their work as any other citizens. Dr. Whitaker quite strongly doubts that criminalization and stigmatization of prostitution will improve anyone’s situation. The focus of Dr. Whitakers work is improving the situation as it stands. Prostitution is the world’s oldest profession and it shows no signs of disappearing. One study referenced by Dr. Whitaker suggests 6% of Irish men have paid for sex, obviously an exact figure is impossible but if that is even close to being accurate then that means over 250,000 men in this country have paid for sex. “They are a group historically that have always been
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stigmatized, the only way to deal with that stigma is to give them dignity and respect. Possibly there will always be some stigma.” That’s how her point is framed. When the prostitute is criminalized she is forced out of society and when the punter is we are given the picture of the temptress. She tells me the stigma with sex work very often comes from women looking down on women, from the inherited view of prostitutes as dirty fallen women. Dr. Whitaker describes the five stages of prejudice to me. First we call people names, second we distance ourselves from them socially, third we talk about them and how they’re a problem, then comes random violence and finally institutionalized oppression. To my mind this fits in with the progression of sex work over time. We call them whores. They’re not just women, but whores. You don’t know any whores, you’re not friends with any, they are a different social sphere to you your family and everyone you know. Whores are a problem we discuss, they are portrayed monochromatically in media and comparison to one is the upmost insult. Clients can scare whores, rape whores and beat whores without going to prison. Then as time progressed we banned them. Our laws, our churches, our schools and parents told us they were bad, dirty, sinful. We are a society with a prejudice against sex workers. One could take the stance that this is justified morally but discussion of that is quite irrelevant for the purposes of this article.This prejudice then leads to social isolation. Rachel and Bradley describe having this secret life, hiding it from people. It hampers healthy relationships and normal social interactions. Rachel says she doesn’t really have friends outside the industry and Bradley keeps the knowledge to close friends and family. Dr. Whitaker does state however that the idea of sex workers being unable to maintain healthy relationships is an “abolitionist myth” although all of the interviews suggest it is more difficult due to social pressure to conform. What Dr. Whitaker describes is the climate these men and women work in Ireland. We’re presented with a reasonable case of risk, prejudice and social alienation. Is this a sound case for legalization of solicitation? I’d like to offer you a balanced yes and no but my interviews were an overwhelming yes. Currently we operate a system of harm reduction services and exiting services but these are tied. Rachel speaks of frustration at Ruhama telling her she doesn’t want to be a prostitute and then her telling them she does and them telling her she’s confused. Dr. Whitaker talks about a “give up your oul sins” attitude to help but this isn’t solving the problem. Drug support and other exiting support are wonderful endeavors, if people want to exit the industry. What’s lacking is provision for those who don’t. They are real people. Some people seem to want to work as prostitutes. Rachel and Bradley do. Dr. Whitaker takes a stance of respecting the agency of people who buy and sell sex. It exists and there are no signs of it seeking to exist. Bradley wants to see the industry regulated, Bradley knows people working in the sex industry today who have HIV and there’s nothing we can do about it. He argues that a regulated industry is safer for everyone and agencies could help protect more vulnerable workers such as young girls. Bradley wants to open his own agency some day. Rachel doesn’t want people to treat her differently; she wants her job just to be her job. She wants to have people around her who can protect her. Rachel wants to be a prostitute, a safe prostitute. I started this article to paint a picture. I don’t know if prostitution is moral, immoral or amoral, but I know it’s neither black nor white. The picture I have isn’t an answer; it’s a struggle, a mess. The way we treat prostitutes
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in Ireland, whether they should be working in that field or not, is disgusting. They are a disenfranchised facet of society, an out group and whatever we do in the future they deserve to be brought back in. That’s what I saw, see what you will.
Nevada Surreal is the most apt word in the English language for this situation. It’s like walking into a scene instead of a room. I’m in a corridor in the Westin hotel, a very nice hotel, and I knock on a door. A beautiful blond woman opens the door and leads me in to bright, opulent room. Her name is Caressa Kisses and she is a prostitute. There’s an older man waiting for me inside. He has a real presence. His name is Dennis Hof and he’s perhaps the world’s most famous pimp. He’s been profiled by the New Yorker, been a guest on high profile talk shows like The Howard Stern Show, Dr. Phil, and Tyra Banks and had several HBO documentaries made about him. I’ve never interviewed a celebrity before, nor have I ever strolled up to a pimp’s hotel room. He’s not seedy and greasy or a thug, the only two cultural stereotypes of pimps we have. He’s a smiley, friendly man who wouldn’t shock you if he said he owned a shop or a restaurant as opposed to a brothel. We sit in a tight little circle and we begin to talk. They
ing in surgical nursing. This is generally the point where the true-life-made-for-TV-movie cuts off but the story didn’t end there. She went to prostitution initially because she was under crippling financial pressure but she went back because, she says, it made her proud. Caressa earned a half million dollars last year and she sent two kids through the American university system with no loans. She was able to give her children and her siblings more than just what they needed. She’s positively beaming as she speaks. Dennis tells me a job is about money and, though noble, nursing can’t compare. At this stage though, it’s more than money. Caressa already has plenty of money. I try to relate it to the Irish experience, the risk and danger. Caressa tells me you can’t compare the experiences but I’m struggling to take that at face value. I can certainly imagine it being less dangerous but they must have incidents? He tells me out flat he hasn’t had a serious incident for 21 years. Hof walks me through the procedure: the building is secure behind electronic gates and security checks, there are guards and cameras and drunken men are sent home. The girls have safety in numbers. There are alarm buttons all along the walls and they don’t push them when there’s an issue. They push them when they even get the slightest hint of an issue. A push of that little red button mobilizes the ranch. Every working girl, every bar tender, security guard and client hear the thundering roar of a location and on that sound every single person rushes immediately for that room. A herd of stiletto wielding warriors and confused patrons slams through the door. The incident never goes beyond the touch of a button.
THE BASIC PLATFORM OF HIS ARGUMENT IS THAT ONCE REGULATED, THE SEX INDUSTRY OFFERS AN ALTERNATIVE TO ILLEGAL, TRAFFICKED GIRLS.
banter back and forth playfully. They’ve bought me a bottle of champagne and he’s telling me about the piece in the New Yorker about him. “It’s easy when you have a good foundation”, that’s how Caressa explains how she began. Her situation was not ideal. Both of her parents died extremely young, leaving her siblings to provide for and no support system. Added to that was two children of her own at a young age and a desire for education. Her looks offered her a way of making money to provide for her family and her aspirations. It makes sense. My mind immediately starts humming away “What would you do” by City High. It’s a familiar picture. So the next step is to build up enough money and leave, right? Well Caressa has actually already done that. She is a fully qualified nurse with specialist train-
I ask about disease. The girls are tested weekly. They only have sex with a condom and are trained to do a so-called doubleDC (a double dick check). They clean the clients first and in doing that they check for lesions, redness or cuts. If they see anything the transaction stops. They use an alcohol soaked wipe so if there are hard to see skin abnormalities the alcohol will cause sharp pain. If they react the transaction stops. They rub a little and inspect the pre-ejaculate of clients for signs of disease. If the fluid is cloudy the transaction is halted in its tracks and if it’s clear then it proceeds. Dennis tells me proudly they’ve never had a girl catch HIV, AIDS or any serious life threatening STI. It’s an impressive claim for a career spanning decades.
This is a key selling point for Hof. He explains to me his theory of consumer choice. The juxtaposition of illegal and legal prostitution in the market reduces the key harms of illegal prostitution because people will choose the legal option. Disease free, legally regulated and licensed has its merits. One of Hof’s ranches last year had 30,000 customers and theoretically at least one can logically deduce that this somewhat decreased the number of people using illegal prostitutes. Thus there were less people put in risk of sexual diseases and violent crime. Caressa tells me she’s lost friends “to the streets” and they’ve ended up in the gutter or dead. She’s quiet for a moment. She remembers. I ask if prostitutes in a legal environment face the same social ostracism. Hof tells me they’re moving the industry “from guilt and shame to glamour and fame.” There’s certainly an element of hostility in society but not enough to
Dennis Hof’s Moonlite BunnyRanch brothel in Nevada cause Caressa any real difficulty. Unlike many Irish sex workers she has a completely ordinary life outside the industry, she doesn’t feel the need to hide her job nor does she apprehend it. The girls have partners and husbands and kids and friends. Prostitution doesn’t decide whether they can engage with society or not. The girls have each other and that really helps on the low days. They aren’t alone. A lot of girls at the Bunny Ranch don’t do publicity but Caressa does. She wants to inspire women. She wants them to know that if they want to follow her down this road less travelled then there’s nothing wrong with that want, there’s nothing wrong with them. Caressa speaks with conviction. She speaks as if she’s addressing a crowd or staring that uncertain girl in the eye. This is all key to what Caressa calls the “Dennis Hof Vision.” It amounts to providing a safe, healthy, adult environment for the release of sexual urges. Caressa tells me that she and the bunnies are the first line of defense for America’s housewives. She tells me that sometimes a marriage reaches a point where it’s a friendship and not a romance. There’s an irreplaceable love but a missing element. She gives men that missing piece. She says it’s not like I’d imagine. The term she uses to describe herself is caregiver. She sends men home to their wives without that frustration that causes problems at home. They don’t want to break up marriages and Caressa really think she helps people be happier together. For her, a lot of wives make first contact. A lot of wives know it happens and a lot know her. We grow up with the idea of monogamy as an ideal, a moral truth. But for Caressa’s clients the truth is found somewhere else. They love a different way. Caressa doesn’t do “quickies.” In the illegal world there’s no relationship between client and worker. Caressa is a companion to her clients. Hof calls it the “girlfriend experience”. The ranch sells this experience to single men,
married men, widowers, women and couples. Caressa has a lot of couples. She says the biggest part of her job is talking, tweeting, texting, holding hands and creating that moment of intimacy. Clients feel wanted and cared for. Caressa remembers their names and looks them in the eye. Caressa wants to know what her clients need from her. It’s sharing yourself with someone. “I can get to know you. We can know we’re compatible.” The choice isn’t just one way, if someone isn’t right for Caressa she points them in the direction of another girl. She calls it matchmaking and she enjoys it. She says it over and over again, a mantra, a badge of pride: “I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to.” For Hof, legal prostitution gives back to society. We talk about the economy and tax and things like that. His watch, a jewel encrusted behemoth, suggests there’s certainly a market there. That isn’t really what he wants to talk about though. Dennis and I have a long discussion about sex trafficking. It’s something he could talk about all day. His voice is pregnant with disgust. He’s angry. He’s angry at the Irish government. The basic platform of his argument is that once regulated, the sex industry offers an alternative to illegal, trafficked girls. Moreover, the failure to offer sends a message to those traffickers. They are for the most part ignored. Our machinations against human trafficking have been slow coming and he says failure to accept is implicit approval. It’s even gone so far that the Council of Europe has chastised us. Politicians won’t address the issue and are thus exacerbating the issue. We come back to illegality breeding illegality. This industry of crime is intermingled with drugs, weapons and murder. We have failed to police it and we’re ignoring it politically. What Hof suggests is his consumer alternative. We protect migrant women by reducing the demand for their exploitation. He takes out his iPad and finds an
escort website. He narrows the criteria to Southside inner city Dublin where we are: 337 results. Girls from every nation on the planet appear. Girls around the corner, across the road, by garda stations and government buildings, even a girl in the apartment complex my boyfriend lives in. Hof tells me these are the trafficked girls. They probably didn’t get a work visa for this. They don’t charge very much money, their English isn’t very good and they can’t name the next street over. We get the idea here of inevitable prostitution, an undefeatable industry, the oldest profession in the world. I can’t refute this or confirm it. I don’t know how. The interview winds up but we don’t stop talking. They’re warm and friendly and we chat.They’re playful and affectionate with each other. I step out of the bubble and walk out of the hotel. The relationship between them puzzles me. It’s not real, or at least, not real in the sense I’ve always known real to mean. I don’t know if I can adjust my own narrow definitions of real but I think this interview has at least made me try. That’s not how I can love but I think it’s a type of love. I accept this article doesn’t capture more than this one story and you could very well believe they’re lying or stretching the truth, but as they sat before me I didn’t. I know there are probably people with vastly different experiences who I wasn’t able to talk to and I know I can’t read minds but in that moment it felt like the truth, their truth. If you’re interested in learning more about the Dennis Hof’s work visit www.bunnyranch.com. If you’re interested in learning more about sex work in Ireland visit www.sexworkersallianceireland.org for a decriminalizing stance or www.turnofftheredlight.ie for an abolitionist stance (one I didn’t get to cover and certainly an argument worth hearing). Many thanks to Dennis Hof, Caressa Kisses, Dr. Teresa Whitaker, “Irish Bradley”, “Sweet Rachel” and Aifric Ni Chriodain.
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Irish Republican Voice Jane Fallon Griffin investigates the new anti-austerity republican group that made headlines recently with its traffic-stopping protests. When Dáil Éireann reconvened following the Summer recess on Wednesday the 19th of September, the reception it received was anything but welcoming. Around 500 protesters jostled with Gardaí outside the Kildare street gates, demonstrating their dissatisfaction with government policy, namely in relation to austerity measures. As the day progressed violence broke out among demonstrators and the Gardaí with the latter resorting to the use of batons and pepper spray as a means of crowd control. The ripples of dissatisfaction were also felt by some 3,000 commuters as they attempted to navigate their way home through traffic diversions caused by a sit in on O’Connell Bridge. Clearly distinguishable among the throng of the anti-austerity protesters were emerald green flags with gold lettering advertising “The Irish Republican Voice” (IRV). If this name seem familiar to many of you, it is not surprising. The group’s posters have decorated Dublin lampposts over the past few months. White A4 sheets with the slogan “Join Irish Republican Voice” flanked by images of Jim Larkin and Bobby Sands and accompanied by a mobile phone number have become a regular sight on many students’ commute to college. It was not the mass circulation of these posters out that captured my interest, but rather the informality of the tone and the information displayed. Therefore, when the flags of the Irish Republican Voice surfaced outside the Dáil that day I found myself wondering if the group amounted to more than their advertising techniques suggested.
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A few weeks later, the group’s name featured in lunchtime conversation once more, this time for staging a protest outside The Little Museum of Dublin on St. Stephen’s Green. The group had been spotted standing outside the building protesting for reasons that weren’t quite clear. Having failed to find a website for the group, I eventually stumbled upon their Facebook page under the title of “IrishRepubli Can Voice Dublin.” The page explained that the protest was “demanded” as “The minister for slashing social welfare payments, Joan Burton & the austerity-loving general secretary of SIPTU, Jack O’ Connor” were speaking about the 1913 lockout. This highlighted what appeared to be the general confusion in relation to the group. Did they want to continue the work of people like Bobby Sands and achieve a united Ireland, or to demonstrate against the current government? Although I remained sceptical having read the somewhat unprofessional posters, when I dialled the mobile number a representative of the movement did indeed pick up and answer my questions. He explained that the group was founded four months ago by a group of people largely composed of past members of Sinn Féin and the dissident splinter group of Sinn Féin, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement (32CSM). Once a committee in Sinn Féin, 32CSM removed themselves from the association claiming that the issue of sovereignty was no longer being adequately addressed by the party . The spokesman for IRV explained that many of the group’s current fol-
lowers had become disenchanted with the aims of Sinn Féin and 32CSM for what they perceived to be its failure to tackle the current problem facing the Irish people: austerity. The Irish constitution was not being upheld, he explained, as it called for all Irish people to be equal and such was not the case under the current government. Furthermore he explained that the group felt that democracy no longer exists in Ireland, especially following the reaction of guards towards protesters at the Dail opening demonstration. The IRV member that I spoke to described the Guard’s treatment as being “heavy-handed” and uncalled for, suggesting that they reacted out of fear that all groups present would unite against the government. He was adamant that his group did not initiate the violence nor were they a terrorist group as suggested in certain media reports, but rather were left with no alternative but violent retaliation when faced with the methods of the Gardaí. The sense of the group being somewhat disorganized returned after I asked them about their structure.Although they have participated in demonstrations, distributed flyers, and are actively seeking members, the group have yet to elect a leadership. The spokesman assured me that once their numbers increased an Ard Fheis would be held and a president and vice president elected by members from branches all over the island. While he informed me that membership was still quite low, he would not dis-
close how many active members the group currently has. However, he did say that they would have a branch in each of the 32 counties, although he admitted that so far branches have only been established in Carlow, Belfast and Dublin. The group’s aims span a wide spectrum, from reclaiming the six Northern counties to targeting bullying. The images on their Facebook page mirror this with slogans ranging from “Reclaim the Irish nation destroy British occupation” to “I.R.V says bullying is for losers”. They appear to see themselves as a group to alleviate any grievances that the Irish people may have. IRV assured me that they would join any protest into which they were invited but would hijack none.Although they appeared to applaud peaceful protest in the south, when I brought up the Good Friday Agreement their idea of what constituted an appropriate response varied. In the case of the north the representative explained, the six counties are being “occupied” and that in taking back what is rightfully Ireland’s they will support an “armed struggle”. Although I mentioned the results of the border poll which showed that the majority of those living in the six counties wished to remain under the control of the U.K, the I.R.V rejected this saying that those who conducted the poll controlled the results and therefore it could not represent the people’s wish. Furthermore they stressed that even recognising the border poll or the Good Friday agreement was to recognise Britain as having authority in the north, something they were not willing to do. Finally, before I hung up, they reminded me that the name Irish Republican voice came from the idea of giving people a voice and that is why they appear at demonstrations, to support the Irish people. In relation to those of us Irish who have been branded ‘generation emigration’ he urged us to “stay and fight” promising that “times will get better” emphasising that leaving al-
lows the government to win and cements the “just get on with it” attitude of the populace. Before the call ended he stressed that all was required to bring an end to this government was for the masses to take to the streets for 24 hours and so as I hung up I was already excited to see how their budget day protest would unfold. The protest was due to begin on O’Connell street at 9:00am and the group had issued statements calling on “all the people of Ireland to come to Dublin” declaring that they would “defend the state with the sound of defiance”. I arrived at the G.P.O at five to nine ready to witness “the revolution that’s now underway.” Instead I encountered swarms of gardaí. There was a van of riot police and several unmarked cars carrying even more members of an Garda Síochana donning their neon yellow jackets. The gardaí and I had prepared ourselves for something big, something big which did not seem to be forthcoming. I passed the morning walking up and down O’Connell Street. Given that the street is only five hundred metres long I was certain that there was no chance of escaping the wrath of IRV’s protest. After an hour and twenty minutes a guard told me there was a group under the statue of O’Connell. I soon saw the emerald and gold flags, although they were not accompanied by the vast crowd I was expecting. To be honest the guard was being generous in referring to them as a group of protesters! Three men and a woman stood under a sign that said “We are peaceful protesters not criminals” carrying three I.R.V flags and a tri colour, while a fifth man stood on front of them and informed me when I asked that this was the protest. Noticing that I seemed doubtful, he added that he hoped more would show up later. One of the flag bearers echoed this, assuring me that it would all go down outside the Dáil. In anticipation of the announcement of the budget at half-past two, I arrived at Kildare
Street at a quarter-past. There was no sign of IRV. I headed back to O’Connell street looking for them and while I found yet more gardaí and vans of riot police, still there was no sign of the group. I decided to return to Kildare street to see the protest and there I discovered a small band of no more than fifteen people under a large green IRV banner. Other groups were also present including Sinn Féin and various anti-austerity groups. However, the overall turnout was decidedly poor. With the images on the news of the last protest to the forefront of my mind I prepared myself to see the IRV in action. Two hours after the budget was announced there was still little happening among the demonstrators. Most stood around talking. Some people appeared to be having a picnic. One man began to address the crowd. The I.R.V began to wrap up their posters and lay them aside as the man continued speaking. During his speech he personally distanced himself from IRV, saying he had nothing to do with them and later jeering them for putting away their posters prematurely. The solidarity of the revolution appeared to be disintegrating before my eyes. The notion of the rising profile of Irish Republican Voice is legitimate in terms of its reoccurrence as a topic of casual conversation, although it appears somewhat fictional in its physical presence as an effective pressure group. Furthermore, in the aftermath of what has been largely deemed a more tolerable budget than those of recent years, it is also questionable whether there is a demand for this brand of all-encompassing republicanism. Nevertheless, it is unwise to disregard any ideologically determined pressure group, or to fail to consider outside the boundaries of narrow media caricatures. While the I.R.V may have retired its banners in relation to Budget 2014 it is most likely that its green and gold flags will rise again in Dublin in the near future.
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Neither Here Nor There by Jean Curran
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To see the full collection, visit www.www.jeancurran.com Jean Curran is a Dublin-based photographer. Her work has taken her on assignment to Africa, Haiti and throughout Europe. Jean’s work has been published both nationally and internationally, most notably in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She has exhibited alongside other artists in Belfast, London and China and has had a solo show of her work in The Joinery Gallery, Dublin. Jean’s interests as a photographer lie in exploring the space between reality and representation. Her work is generally a cathartic and intuitive process, which is constantly developing and strengthening as her curiosities and explorations become resolved.
This collection is centered on a group of young Malawian students who all moved to Dublin to attend college. The body of work explores themes of isolation and misplacement that the group experienced while trying to adjust to a culture and society so different from there own. As time passed, the group began to dissipate and each individual struggled to find a sense of security and trust within their lives on the north side of Dublin city. They each began to revert into themselves, becoming more and more disengaged from the present as they sought out the familiar in the unfamiliar and longed for the sanctuary of home.
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MUSIC Anticipation builds for Reflektor
JACK GIBSON Ever since late 2004 when the opening pulsating strings, haunting arpeggiated piano and stirring electric guitar of Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) were first heard, the world has been enthralled with Arcade Fire. That year marked the release of their debut album Funeral and the beginning of a career which hasn’t ceased rolling or gaining momentum almost a decade later.
Wenu Wenu When it comes to crossover artists, there is no one quite like Omar Souleyman. The Syrian musician is rumoured to have released over 500 live albums, with the vast majority of them being recorded at weddings and later given to the bride and groom. It was through this enormous output of music that Souleyman was discovered by American label, Sublime Frequencies. Since being signed in 2006, Souleyman has released 5 jawdroppingly good records winning him fans like Björk, Damon Albarn and Caribou. For Souleyman’s sixth album, Wenu Wenu, he has enlisted the help of electronic music legend, Kieren Hebden aka Four Tet. Hebden both produced and mixed the album over a period of three months in New York and London. That’s not to say that Hebden’s influence is overly apparent on the album, in fact the opposite is the case. Hebden’s production is subtle, leaving Souleyman to lather the tracks with his trademark rhythms. Wenu Wenu is a collection of favourites, traditional songs and a couple of new tunes that flows like a dream. Souleyman sings in dabke style based on a popular wedding dance of the same name. This style means that one finds it hard to sit still when listening to Wenu Wenu. The title track on the album is a seven-minute masterpiece showcasing the skills of Souleyman, Hebden and Souleyman’s piano player Rizan Sa’id. Its careening synths mixed with Four Tet’s dance floor influences
make it a truly unforgettable song. Other tracks like “Ya Yumma” and “Mawal Jamar”, showcase Sa’id’s masterful piano playing.The samples of bouzouki, rebab and strings in “Khattaba” also demonstrate just how perfect the combination of Souleyman and Hebden is. The danceability of the album is backed up by Souleyman’s bold musical presence. One can imagine the man himself recording these tracks with a keffiyeh on his head and cigarette in his mouth. It’s virtually impossible to poke holes in Wenu Wenu. It almost seems too good to be judged. However, language barriers and my ignorance of Syrian music could also be the reason for this. It must also be noted that Souleyman makes wedding music, and if Irish wedding music is anything to go by, we could be listening to the cheesiest of Syrian compositions. Nonetheless, Wenu Wenu definitely feels like the perfect beginners guide to Syrian music and is intoxicating and uplifting in equal measure.
Although Billy Ray Cyrus may be ashamed of absolutely everything his daughter has put her name to, he can rest easy knowing that something good can come from her atrocities. In this case, 16-year-old Floridian producer, Kaelin Ellis, has saved the day with a dazzling hiphop version of Wrecking Ball.
Their sound is, at the risk of falling into lazy journalism, indescribable. Often a paradox of the most harmonious, mellifluous music one can imagine but created from the most jarring of sources, Arcade Fire effortlessly construct their albums with tightly constructed, supremely intense tracks matched against more subdued and melancholic songs.Themes in their music are as broad and conflicting as they are mind-boggling, be they ponderings on youth and spirituality, bitter laments, triumphant anthems or simply reflections on wandering through snow. Truly, their abilities know few bounds and fans of the epicurean music-makers appetites have been whetted once more with the highly publicised arrival of the new albums debut single. Reflektor is a seven-minute spell cast by the production of LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, conjuring up some seriously powerful, brassy and dark disco-pop. With collaborations from the likes of the aforementioned Murphy, and vocals donated from the band’s own self-professed deity Bowie, Reflektor is shaping up to be the most exciting release of 2013.
WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball (Kaelin Ellis Remix)
Cut to late 2013, in the wake of a curious lacuna, Arcade Fire have taken over every single music blog with the news and promise of their forthcoming album Reflektor, due for release at the end of the month. The follow up to the 2010 grammy-award winning The Suburbs, a masterful concept record which took the band to new places melodically and conceptually, their eagerly awaited third album has many excited at the prospect of a further evolution in their music.
Redinho – Searching
DeBarge – I Like It
One of the standout tracks of Summer 2013, we’re trying to entice the sun back with Redinho’s feel-good hit. Redinho will also be playing live this Thursday at Junior Spesh as part of the Beatyard Festival. Known for his ridiculous use of equipment and all-out funky live performances, this is one not to be missed.
A fantastic track released in 1982 by brothers Randy, Bunny and El DeBarge. The second single from the album All This Love; the song was the first big success for the group. While it has been covered and sampled hundreds of times over the past 30 years, nothing can quite beat the original.
Promotion of the album is now in full swing. Worldwide chalk-graffiti billboard ads, promo-slots on SNL and teaser-vids depicting masses of Haitians in celebration have all been employed to spread the word. Most tantalising of all is the 22-minute-long Roman Coppola-directed Here Comes The Night Time. A video debuting three more tracks, dropping some Calypso beats, a bit of moody Undertonesy angst and showcasing their most famous fans including Bono, James Franco and a bitchy, Spanish speaking Michael Cera. Arcade Fire’s first two releases got people talking and at the very least they’ve managed to do that again, here’s hoping it lives up to its promise. Reflektor is due for release on October 29th.
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How Juke Crossed the Pond EOIN HENNESSY
DJ Rahsad Chicago has always been known for its astounding musical heritage.The city pioneered the likes of Blues and Jazz after the effects of the “Great Migration”, a policy of the US Government in the early twentieth century that forced the relocation of six-million African Americans from rural Southern United States to the urban Northeast, Midwest, and West. This process meant that Chicago became a hub for young black musicians to express their creativity and spawned artists such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Nat King Cole. The city’s musical ability has remained consistent ever since, with Chicago also pioneering punk, pop rock and hip-hop in the 80s and 90s. In recent years, Europe has caught wind of another Chicagoan phenomenon, Juke. Juke, or Chicago Footwork as is it often called, is a super fast paced form of electronic music full of claps, snares and lyrics about personal indulgence. Originating in the 90s, the genre’s roots stem from the south and west sides of Chicago. With the city already having such a strongly developed Electronic scene through labels like Trax and artists like Larry Heard and Robert Owens, it made perfect sense for Chicago to develop is own sound. Early 90s Chicago saw the rise of Ghetto House music, a genre made in response to the chilled-out House coming out of both Chicago and Detroit. The result was a high BPM spin-off of house pioneered by DJ Deeon and DJ Funk. Rather than the genre taking off in clubs, as is usually the case, it took hold in local car parks, school gyms and rec centres. Most club promoters were afraid of putting on Ghetto House nights due its association with gang culture and drug abuse. Because of this, the genre became confined to a small scene of beat makers, dancers and MCs. Small parties would be held in local parks where people would try and dance to this new genre of Ghetto House. It
was at these gatherings that teenagers developed the energetic steps known as footwork; a lightning quick blend of Chicago stepper’s moves, hip-hop’s up-rocking and 90’s rave dancing.The idea, as with all music, was to move your feet in time with the song, but with BPMs upwards of 160, this was no small task. Competition for the dance floor was also fierce. Many dancers would just violently push others out of the way in order to get the floor. Crews were formed as competition continued to heat up. The idea became about not only how quickly you moved your feet, but also how much you got in your opponent’s face. This ruthless element of the culture spawned a new type of music similar to Ghetto House but more raw. Darker sounds were needed in order to get across the heated competition that took place at early Ghetto House parties. The late 90s brought about a new generation of Ghetto House producers and a new term for the music was born. Although many claims have been made about the source of the word Juke, most believe that it originated with DJ Puncho and Gant-Man. “We were at this high-school party…[when] we heard these girls say, ‘This party is juking’” says Gant-Man. Because of that sentence Gant-Man and Puncho then incorporated the word Juke into a string of mixtapes in the late 90s along with Puncho’s biggest hit “Juke It”. Thus a new genre began. However, despite tracing its roots back to 1998, Europe has only seen the emergence of Juke as a genre over the past 4 years or so. Aside from the Footwork dancers in Missy Elliott’s “Lose Control” video and Dude N Nem’s minor 2007 hit “Watch My Feet”, Juke remained relatively low key in Europe up until very recently. It was not until 2010 that Juke began to take off in the UK and Ireland. This was all thanks to Addison Groove’s infectious hit “Footcrab”. Tony Williams, as he is also known, heard Juke through various
mixtapes he’d found while scanning the internet. Once he had discovered it he immediately went about trying to imitate its sounds. Despite being 138 BPM (Juke is normally over 160), all the elements of Footwork were there, lots of 808s, intense snare and a repetitive vocal screaming “footcrab” on repeat. The song went down a treat in most UK clubs and was then later released on vinyl-only label, Swamp81. Although the track was made by an English artist, Williams still paid respects to the original Chicago figureheads. “Footcrab” introduced the music of Chicago to London club goers to great effect. Shortly after, a compilation album was made by English label Planet Mu. The album was made up of 25 different Juke tracks all made by Chicago artists. Godfathers of the scene like Traxman, RP Boo, DJ Spinn and DJ Rashad were finally heard by the European masses. Almost in retaliation to “Footcrab”, the album Bangs & Works showcased the genre in its natural habitat. A sequel to the album was also made, displaying more of Chicago’s homegrown talents. Smaller artists including the likes DJ Elmoe, DJ Manny and many more, were able to reach music lovers despite being almost 6,000 kilometers away. Recent years have seen other UK labels release Footwork records. Only last week, DJ Rashad’s first solo album got released on Kode9’s Hyperdub label. Despite coming from a background of car park raves and basements dance competitions, Chicago Footwork was able to infiltrate the European electronic music scene. While not all of the artists from the original culture have made it across the pond, enough have to make a significant impact on club society. DJ Spinn and Rashad tour regularly around Europe while Traxman makes occasional appearances in a select few cities. The fast paced dances moves have now been attempted across the globe and it’s only a matter of time before Juke reaches mainstream success.
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fashion The Right to Remain Fashionable Aisling Ennis he world of fashion may appear as an entirely foreign domain of eccentricity, creativity and originality in comparison to the bleak and complex activities of the legal world. However, there are certain, very important moments when these two realms cross paths, thus presenting us with what has acquired the blanket term ‘fashion law’. Unfortunately, fashion law does not provide sanctions for those who deem it acceptable to combine socks with sandals or mix their reds and pinks, despite the need for such a doctrine. The laws of fashion are concerned with the protection of the core value of the world of fashion: originality. The clatter of signature red-soled heels and the fastening of the classic Burberry trench are frequent features of many legal arenas across the globe when a dispute in the ‘monde de la mode’ is underway. Many a judge has had his nostrils aroused by the alluring scent of Chanel No.5 while presiding over proceedings involving a range
of legal issues, most notably those involving trademark disputes especially with the growing problem of counterfeit products. The only way in which a major fashion label or independent designer can safeguard their creations is to obtain trademark protection. The most notable case of trademark infringement to date is of course the ‘Battle of the red sole’ which waged between Louboutin and YSL in April of 2011. This lengthy battle saw the red lacquered sole of every Christian Louboutin creation fortified against any future attack as the court ruled that the red sole when contrasted with a different colour shoe is exclusive to the creations of the house of Louboutin. However, YSL were did not leave disheartened, the court ruling permitted that their monochromatic red shoes were safely outside the boundary of this trademark. The importance of the legal world’s services and facilities
to that of the world of fashion is encapsulated in this case. The uniqueness and originality of the Louboutin brand is needless to say the lacquered red sole, therefore, when this is threatened, so is the originality of the brand. It is significant times like these that the unity of fashion and law confer a special legitimacy on certain icons of the ‘fashion world’. To wear a Louboutin heel is now not a mere matter of sporting a beautiful creation on your foot, instead it transforms you from an ordinary style lover to an advocate for the principles of fashion. With every step you advance the rights of fashion labels across the world. Despite the glamour and bright lights of the fashion world, lurking in the shadows are the many hurdles that labels have to overcome to survive in today’s competitive market. And the law is increaslingly becoming the mechanism by which remedies are found.
Student Grunge Danielle Courtney For current Trinity undergrads, the nineties were spent watching Barney and eating jelly tots. We had no major style guide, and usually rocked up to the playground in an eclectic and sometimes insanely dodgy attire. Jumpers were scratchy, scrunchies a necessity of life, and red velvet dungarees were repeatedly forced on us by our tyrannical mothers. Unfortunately the photographic evidence of which lives on, usually for the purpose of mortifying us at twenty-first birthday parties. Now one of the staples of nineties fashion, Grunge, has made a return. Jean Paul Gaultier told Vogue in 1993 that “grunge is how we dress when we have no money.” If there was ever a style mantra that students could hang on to, it’s this one. After a night out, it is the natural choice for those students who are too hung over to be primped and polished at nine in the morning, and too broke to afford new tights.
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The 2013 autumn/winter catwalks were awash with rebellious and gothic styles. Trends in the same sphere as Grunge, such as Punk, Minimalism and Monochrome were integral to the fall catwalks. The trend’s re-emergence was marketed as Luxe Grunge, with the traditionally ladylike Yves Saint Laurent chopping ball gowns and layering them under knitted cardigans and biker jackets, along with netted tights. On the high street the grunge influence can be seen from Forever 21 to Topshop. Baggy tailoring and tartan prints are erywhere. Zara have really encapsulated the trend with a fresh and modern take. A check mini skirt which has the air of a gossip girl uniform has a black lining poking out an inch below the trim which transforms it from preppy to grunge. The new Rihanna for River Island collection is like flicking through the pop star’s own grunge-centric wardrobe and her limited collection with Mac draws attention to the
Grunge staples of dark kohled eyes and dark stained lips. On campus, both male and female Trinity students have really embraced this androgynous trend. Perhaps this is due to the simplicity of the pieces, it’s somewhat minimalist and more practical than many other trends. Acid wash denim is being worn by most, particularly as jackets and jeans with rolled up ends. The simple but eye catching red tartan scarf has also been a popular choice. This year many girls have opted for even bolder lip colors, rich shades of plum and burgundy standing especially. The low maintenance aesthetic and high street presence has no doubt allowed this trend to become popular among Trinity students. The budget friendly aspect is an essential part of the Grunge aesthetic. It definitely has the potential to hold its place at the top of the fashion pyramid for some time to come.
IS CULTURAL APPROPRIATION IN FASHION WRONG?
BY LUCY MULVANEY
On the 4th of December 2012, Karlie Kloss swept down the Victoria Secrets runway, engulfed in a flurry of crimson feathers cascading from the sacred symbol of power and courage that was perched upon her freshly curled auburn locks. A Native American headdress is a sacred icon of spirituality, treasured by the tribes of North America. It dates from thousands of years before Joseph LaMoth decided to put pen to paper and design lady’s knickers. How then, can such a blatant display of cultural appropriation be permitted in the hallowed halls of Bryant Park during fashion week? How can shops such as Urban Outfitters, Paul Frank and Abercrombie & Fitch present ancient cultures as mere commodities, to be wrapped up and sold to gaggles of white middle class trend-starved hipsters? The tragic answer is: it’s “hip” to do so. From Nicholas K to Topshop, buyers have been flashing the plastic with reckless abandon in response to the long-standing “native” trend. However to call mass produced clothing “Native” or “tribal” greatly depreciates the culture of whichever group the clothing was inspired by. Therefore, what the fashion industry conveys is “it doesn’t matter which native or tribal group this tacky tee was inspired by, it’s just not Caucasian inspired”. The 500 + tribes of North America, each boasting their own unique history, culture, language and traditions have therefore been compressed into one mangled stereotype: the buckskin- clad, tomahawk wielding, feather-headdresswearing Indian. The most common argument in favour of cultural appropriation would be that of the “who cares” variety. Who cares if a drunken hipster gets Pocahontas tattooed on his chest? Who cares if Selena Gomez chooses to prance around in traditional Hindu attire? My response to this is simple; cultural appropriation cannot be divorced from the prevalent issues of institutional racism and discrimination. In the context of fashion, it is still a white dominated industry benefiting from picking and choosing from different cultures to then make fashionable for white middle class buyers. Sub-cultures of class or race, nationality or religion should not just be something white people can try on as a novelty. You cannot play dress-up with the reality of other people’s lives or what they consider sacred. Before you consider wearing an item of someone else’s culture ask yourself first, ‘If I saw the original wearer of this fashion wearing it would I acknowledge that it is not just made fashionable and thus acceptable when a white middle class woman wears it?’ The second question is ‘Am I sure that I am not merely appropriating a stereotype of a culture I know little about ?’ Very rarely in recent fashions has the answer to these questions been yes. An entire culture should never be reduced to mere “inspiration” for fashion. Perhaps when people can answer yes to these questions and choose to recognize indigenous populations as complex, intelligent, diverse people, there will be an end to the reductive stereotypes cluttering the fashion, film and music worlds. But until then the cultural appropriation in fashion is largely a reductive and disrespectful exploitation of symbols of great import to other cultures.
BY KAT CLINCH
The first time I heard the term ‘cultural appropriation’ it was in reference to scantily clad photos of hip girls in Indian headdresses on Tumblr. I immediately thought the very idea of accusing someone of damaging or offending a culture by wearing certain things was ridiculous.
Every aspect of our lives these days is permeated by other cultures. Traveller culture is dominating reality TV. Asian cuisine is one of the most popular meal choices in Ireland. Spanish music is increasingly popular and language learning is rising ever higher. Why should clothing be an exception? When we cook a stir fry do we feel we are belittling someone’s culture? When an Irish teenager learns Spanish guitar are they stealing from another countries rich heritage? What about the thousands of Americans who drape themselves in Irish flags and raise a Guinness on Paddy’s day? The fact is we are not stealing, we are not offending, we are simply appreciating! In this modern multiethnic, multi-cultural world, how can we draw a line under what things are ok to borrow from other cultures and what things are not? Fashion has for years borrowed from other countries. Soviet Russians experimented with the American diner culture of the 50s, hippies the world over have borrowed from Indian cultures, and the traditional style of ancient Greece has featured on countless catwalks. Last year, cross patterns dominated the high street-from jumpers to socks! As a non-Christian, was I appropriating a culture that was not mine to wear if I bought a cross patterned dress? I can’t understand why wearing a bindi is any more of a cultural thievery than people wearing American or British flag patterned clothing. Why is wearing a headdress offensive to Native American culture yet a Mohican haircut is an acceptable appropriation? These days, people don’t even realise what culture is borrowed and what is just part of the eclectic mix that makes up a modern bohemian society. Dreadlocks have been spotted more and more often around Dublin but I know very few people who have the ethnic ‘right’ to wear them. Stretched ears and lips and bridge piercings are all borrowed from traditional tribal cultures of Africa yet I see far more Irish teens sporting these than Claddagh rings or Celtic jewellery? Don’t even get me started on the tartan revolution that is sweeping the nation! I am a multi-cultural, modern woman. I have had traditional Indian henna tattoos, I have worn traditional African dress, I have had a Mohican. I am also ethnically Irish. To me it seems incredibly clear that all fashion is just a rebirth of older styles, patterns and shapes. It is a revamping of other people’s ideas and indeed cultures. If we were all to stick only to our own cultures we would all just be dressed as cultural stereotypes. I believe that anything worn in the spirit of beauty, culture and appreciation cannot be considered offensive. It is only if it was worn in mocking, irony or deliberate disrespect that I would change my mind. Today we live in a much more accepting society. You can dress how you feel happy and comfortable. I can wear a Spanish poncho or an Indian bindi. I can have dreadlocks. I can wear over-knee socks like a Japanese manga character or an Aztec print dress, and most people wouldn’t even notice that I was wearing other cultures. I have never been offended to see Irish culture worn and appreciated by a non-Irish person. My Scottish mother is delighted to see my brother wear a kilt and it makes her feel at home when she sees tartan on the high street. If anything, seeing my ethnic culture appropriated makes me feel proud! It makes me see the beauty of my own culture all the clearer for other people’s appreciation of it. I can’t help but feel that all cultures have a beauty that deserves to be appreciated and that cultural appropriation is fashion’s way of celebrating it. Cultural appropriation is far from a fashion crime. In fact, it is an integral part of how fashion has developed since it started out. When we borrow an item, a pattern, an idea, or an ideology from another culture, it is not out of disrespect but out of appreciation. That is why I cannot see cultural appropriation as an offensive act.
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FILM Giant are nothing short of astonishing, giving the ghostly, otherworldly and haunting urban countryside with its pylons a rare and brilliant beauty. Comparisons between Clio Barnard and Ken Loach have been made and it is easy to see why. The portrait of the heart-wrenching friendship between Arbor and Swifty and the depiction of their difficult lives recalls the equally hopeless and soul-shattering life of Billy Casper (David Bradley) in Kes (1969). Barnard gives the social realism drama a fresh breath of air with this poignant and tragic fable.
of the American navy, subtly reveals that the pair have more in common than either may have initially realised.
Captain Phillips is by no means perfect. The opening moments of the film in which Phillips and his wife discuss the always unpredictable and often harsh world their children are growing up in are clumsily juxtaposed with scenes from Muse’s Somali village where vicious thugs force unwilling men into piracy. However, misguided geopolitical commentary aside, Greengrass’ film is a brilliantly executed piece of cinema which eschews brouhaha American militarism for an emotionally draining finale in which there really are no clear cut winners.
By dramatising real life events and making them incredibly cinematic (Bloody Sunday, United 93) and infusing fictional stories with jarring realism (The Bourne series), director Paul Greengrass has carved out a career as one of Britain’s most exciting directors. His eighth feature film, Captain Phillips, is one of the former, telling the true story of an American freighter, the Maersk Alabama, which was hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia in 2009. Greengrass’ signature documentary style is in full effect here, with the camera hovering behind Phillips (Tom Hanks) and his crew — never intrusive or staged — as a patient observer. Later on as the pirates clamber on to the ship, it rushes after the action, always half a step behind, lending to the guerrilla quality of the film. After the aimless misstep that was Green Zone, it’s great to see that that The Bourne Ultimatum director hasn’t forgotten how to stage astonishing action sequences. The lengthy chase between the Alabama and the pirate’s skiffs, the bravura boarding scene and a long, tense game of cat and mouse below deck are all truly white-knuckle moments in an opening half that rarely stops for breath. Whilst Captain Phillips is technically brilliant, it’s the film’s nuanced and understated performances that keep what becomes a huge story involving U.S. navy destroyers and SEAL teams grounded on a more human level. The titular captain Hanks gives his best performance in years, channelling his long-established everyman persona into a pragmatic figure of procedure who somehow remains the calm centre of a very violent storm. Such is his professionalism and rational nature throughout that a late (but well-earned) emotional breakdown blindsides us. As sublime as Hanks is, he’s matched point for point by newcomer Barkhad Abdi as pirate captain Muse. Aided by his slight frame and penetrating gaze, Abdi underplays the role brilliantly, radiating a far more dangerous energy than his louder and larger crew. Later on, as the film moves from the cavernous hull of the Alabama to the sweaty confines of a cramped lifeboat, the interplay between the two captains, now surrounded by the full force
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The Selfish Giant
Rachel Wakefield Influenced by Oscar Wilde’s story of the same name, Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant is a moving tale of friendship between two boys, Arbor and Swifty in an underprivileged Yorkshire town. Each coming from difficult family circumstances, they struggle to fit in at school and to find direction in their lives. Arbor’s aggression and troublemaking leads to his expulsion, along with Swifty, his easily led friend. They discover that they can make money selling copper and other metals to the local scrap dealer, the vicious and greedy Kitten (Sean Gilder) who has no scruples about the stolen metals he buys and sells. They begin to rent his horse and cart and salvage and steal pieces of metal from all over town. The performances from Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas, who play Arbor and Swifty, are compelling and harsh and their friendship is depicted with total honesty. Their performances bring to life the heartbreaking quality of life for outsiders and poverty-stricken families in Yorkshire. A wedge starts to grow between the two friends when Kitten starts to favour Swifty who has a natural affinity with horses, wishing to make him a jockey in the horse-and-cart drag races that he runs. Arbor becomes increasingly temperamental and his actions send them both on a downward spiral. The shots of the industrialised countryside in The Selfish
Making its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, In Fear is an independent horror film from seasoned TV director Jeremy Lovering. It follows Tom and Lucy, a newlyformed couple, on their way to meet their friends at a music festival in Ireland. Rather than driving directly to the event however, Tom cheekily suggests that they take a detour and spend the night in an idyllic hotel in the secluded countryside. Their romantic getaway soon descends into terror and chaos as they get lost on the way and find themselves targeted by a mysterious figure in the woods. Sound familiar? In Fear begins promisingly. The first half of the film piles on the tension, keeping the danger ambiguous and exploiting that primal fear of the unknown. Unfortunately, it starts to unravel the moment the nature of the villain is revealed. The plot’s twists and turns are lazy and predictable and fans of the genre will find no surprises here. The characters make mistake after mistake and it becomes increasingly difficult to sympathize with them due to their stupidity. For example, when they are lost in a maze of country roads, Tom’s brilliant solution is to neck some whiskey, as if driving under the influence of alcohol will somehow improve his navigational skills. Lucy and Tom are seemingly devoid of all logic and reason and as such it’s difficult to emotionally invest in their survival, when they themselves don’t seem to care about it. There is something to be said for the direction however. Jeremy Lovering makes impressive use of minimal locations and lighting, stripping the horror genre down to its very essence with his small cast. Most of the action takes place in a single car, which compliments the film’s overall feeling of claustrophobia. Even when the characters do leave their vehicle, they become seemingly engulfed by the surrounding forest, adding to that sense of confinement. Lovering had his actors work without a script and despite their often infuriating decisions, this improvisational style adds a layer of realism to the performances, as the actors genuinely didn’t know whether their characters would live or die. The casting is perhaps In Fear’s saving grace as the actors truly carry the film, especially relative newcomer, Alice Englert. Overall, In Fear does deliver some effective scares but they’re undermined by the fact that we’ve seen them all before. Even with a short runtime of eighty-four minutes, the film drags on significantly and fails to deliver a satisfying ending to reward the audience’s patience. Though its minimalist, indie style is aesthetically pleasing, it’s simply not enough to disguise the film’s lack of substance.
Casting Christian Grey Like it or not, E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey series is a literary phenomenon, having now sold upwards of 70 million copies. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the popular BDSM-themed novels will soon be adapted into feature films. What is alarming is the difficulty that director Sam Taylor-Johnson is having with the search for her leading man. Last week, Pacific Rim and Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunman dropped out of the production, leaving Dakota Johnson’s Anastasia Steele without a dominant. We decided to put together a list of who we’d like to see take on the role of the sadist with the “smouldering grey eyes”.
With the popularity and sex symbol status he’s garnered since taking on the role of the vampire Eric in the hit HBO series True Blood, Skarsgard is the odds on favourite. Also, Fifty Shades of Grey began life as a Twilight fan fiction series which surely can’t hurt his chances.
Sir Alex Ferguson
A young up and comer who cut his teeth playing teenage spy Alex Rider in the forgettable Stormbreaker before exploding into the mainstream in 2012’s Magic Mike, Pettyfer’s mix of charm and darkness would be well suited to the role of Christian. The fact that he supposedly has the words “thank you” tattooed above his penis (in case he forgets to say it) means he’s probably unfortunately a bit too nice for the part.
What’s that? You’re looking for a man haunted by his past who nurses a constant, dark desire for control? Who better than a premier league football manager? A devil who’s been in a league of his own for more than twenty five years, the former Manchester United gaffer is a less obvious choice, but hear me out. If he can successfully marshal the egos of a dressing room full of overpaid prima donnas then he most certainly can handle the role of ChristianGrey. I rest my case.
Alexander Graham Bell
He invented the telephone for Christ’s sake! Therefore he (probably) invented phone sex. The man’s a sexual pioneer with a killer beard. What more could you want?
Alexander III of Macedon
By the age of thirty he’d built one of the largest empires of the ancient world and had bedded countless men and women across the globe. He’s also got the looks, the charisma and the mommy issues required to pull off playing the tortured bondage fan. They didn’t call him “Alexander the Great” for nothing.
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to see Michael Fassbender!’ the security guard looked at us disdainfully and said, ‘you guys here to get a car? Go right on through.’ I don’t care whether he thought we were chauffeurs, valet attendants or just looking to do some sophisticated dogging, the outcome was the same: the IFTA committee should really look into tightening their security and, more importantly, the suits had got us in!
THE POWER OF BLAGGING RORY MCNAB INVESTIGATES THE POWER OF THE SUIT Our clothes play a massive role in how we are perceived by others. If a man brazenly struts into a steam engine museum dressed as an erotic Genghis Khan, he will rightly attract scornful judgement from both the other steam museum connoisseurs, and ultimately, one can only hope, from a jury. We choose our clothes in an attempt to overtly express our idealised image of ourselves. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, the clothes we wear inform expectations about our tastes, our personalities, and our social status. It is therefore remarkably easy to manipulate these expectations to our own advantage. ‘Why would you want to manipulate people’s expectations for your own gain you devious manipulative pervert, what kind of sociopath are you!?’ Well, let me answer those questions in reverse order. Firstly, a bad one, and secondly, for fun. If you dress like you belong somewhere people will assume that you are supposed to be there and that you know what you are doing. For instance if you’re dressed as a deep-sea diver and attend a church fete various authorities will be notified. However, if you were instead to lurk around rock-pools, nobody would bat an eye-lid. They may think you’re being a bit overly-cautious near such a laughably small volume of water, but their eye-lids will remain completely unbatted, unless you accidentally splash salt water in their eyes and they try to blink it out. It was the at the 2012 IFTAs (Irish Film and Television Awards) that I realised how easy it is to gain admittance to a supposedly exclusive event, simply by dressing and acting as if you are supposed to be there. The IFTAs 2012, ah yes, that much lauded evening of decadence and debauchery. Some of the cream, and a distressingly large amount of the curd, of Irish cinema and television, garbed in their finest suits and dresses, disembarked their respective modes of transport. These vehicles ranged between anything from a limousine for the cast of Love/Hate, to Pat Kenny, who arrived in his customarily ostentatious fashion, astride a chariot drawn by shirtless Turkish blacksmiths. It is hard to believe that below all this raucous celebrity-based hoopla, in the car park deep within the bowels of the International Conference Centre, my friend and I, suit-clad, were committing what can only be described as one of the mildest security breaches the world has ever seen. (Incidentally, if like the ICC, your bowels in any way resemble a car park, imme-
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diately consult a physician, or at least start charging an hourly parking fee). Before I go on I should perhaps point out the reasons that my friends and I had decided to dust off our suits and attempt to sneak into the IFTAs. By ‘reasons’ I do of course mean ‘reason,’ and by ‘reason’ I could only be talking about Irish-German man sensation, Michael Fassbender. His Fassbenderness was nominated in the Best Actor category for his portrayal of a sex-addict in the movie Shame, and we were keen to meet him in the flesh. Anybody who’s seen the movie will know that he has a lot of that to offer (penis joke). His lovable smile coupled with the fact that he looks like either a sexy shark or a rugged yet charming Austrian goat-herder, meant that we had to meet him. Assured that he was going to be attending, the next logical step was to break out our suits then break into the IFTAs. Naturally. Before attempting to work our way into the ceremony through the car park, we had initially hoped that by the power of the suit, we would have been able to just brazenly strut down the red carpet. We hoped that should security confront us, we would merely have to point at our outfits and they would bow and let us through. Unfortunately when we did timidly shuffle up to the edge of the red-carpet, we were greeted not by hordes of clamouring paparazzi but by angry bouncers, who resembled walruses wearing ear-pieces and stab-vests. Our resolve instantly crumbled once they demanded to see our tickets for the event. When they threatened us with their tusks we immediately scuttled off into the night. It was then that we decided our only hope of getting into the IFTAs and meeting the world’s sexiest shark-man hybrid was by sneaking in through the near-unguarded underground car park. Having collected ourselves and making sure our suits were in order, we descended into the car park of the ICC ready to work our way up through the building and make our grand entrance. We were immediately confronted by another security guard. Yet this one bore no intimidating resemblance to any large marine mammals. As we were about to make one last half-hearted gesture towards our suits and say ‘Can you not see I’m wearing a cummerbund, I demand
Having floundered around pretending to look for our imaginary cars we soon found ourselves in what could only be described as an elevator. As the doors of the elevator opened, we emerged into the atrium of the ICC during an interval in the IFTAs. The room looked as if a television had just been sick into it; there were all manner of Irish celebrities walking about. The whole spectrum was covered. From the people who you’re not sure if you’ve seen on television or just get your bus every day, all the way up to the vaguely recognisable (and Ryan Tubridy). Joking aside though, to suddenly be thrust into such a situation is bewildering. Immediately across from us we saw Brenda Fricker talking to some people. Saoirse Ronan was standing near a potted fern. Beautiful, talented Saoirse Ronan. Perhaps I would get talking to her, I thought, and we’d fall in love and she’d agree to pay for the requisite plastic surgery to make my face fall within her accepted level of attractiveness! Most importantly though, Michael Fassbender was there, in the same room that we were in. I was giddy with excitement, literally anything could happen. The world was my oyster, how would I react? Well, being allergic to shellfish, I reacted by running to the bathroom to do an IFTA poo. When I emerged back out into the atrium, I was ready for many things. Primarily to apologise to the cleaning staff and to promise to pay for the damage, which frankly would’ve made even Bobby Sands blush. I was not however, ready to be greeted by a faceful of handsome Michael Fassbender who was standing right in front of the bathroom door. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the experience, dear reader, of meeting one of your man-crushes having just gone to the bathroom. For some reason you feel a tremendous sense of guilt and shame. What you’ve done eats away at your mind as you stand there, like the buried heart beneath the floorboards in The Telltale Heart. Flabbergasted by my stroke of good luck, I immediately, in my customary erudite and socially competent manner, accidentally dropped the dozen or so mini-soaps I’d thieved from the bathroom, then jabbed a trembling finger in the direction of his person and stammered ‘Michael Fassbender’. He smiled and tentatively shook my hand as if it were an IED and he a beleaguered bomb disposal operative. ‘Don’t worry, my hand’s not a bomb!’ I quipped. Not having been privy to my train of thought Michael naturally enough looked horrified. ‘Look, it’s just a hand, like yours. Can our hands be friends?’ If I didn’t act quickly, it would only be a matter of time before Michael Fassbender begins to think I’m some sort of Mark Chapman-esque, horror-fan. Even despite the suit. ‘I know!’ I thought, ‘I’ll offer him a mini-soap, all wholesome relationships begin with the exchange of a complimentary mini-soap.’ I grabbed a mini-soap off the floor and wafting it at him said ‘here, have a mini-soap, actually, you should probably take two. I’ve seen Shame and there’s a lot of you to wash, eh?’ (Second penis joke). As I was being escorted from the premises by the walrus security men, shouting ‘But Michael, I’ve never even read The Catcher in the Rye,’ I realised that it wasn’t just the IFTAs a suit could get you into. Or not even just suits; an assured manner coupled with a high-vis jacket and clipboard presents enough of an authoritative front that could pave the way to me embarrassing myself in exclusive venues across the country. This could just be the beginning of something …
AN(OTHER) OPEN LETTER TO MILEY CYRUS Jack Gibson
Dear Miley, I hope I find you well and that your asthma has been somewhat alleviated. Ya eejit, you should have known better than to be hanging out on construction sites, whether you feel compelled to sing power ballads in the nip or not. Anyway, I couldn’t help but notice you’ve been frequenting my newsfeed rather a lot recently and often in conjunction with no other than my fellow countrywoman and all-round Mná Na hEireann Uimhir a hAon (sorry Robinson) Sinead O’Connor. I understand she contacted you recently and, well, in the nature of diplomacy, I thought I ought to let you know who exactly you’re dealing with, before you say something you might regret. In that respect, I hope this letter doesn’t reach you too late. Whether chasing her lone tear with many of your own while watching the seminal video on youtube for the umpteenth time or jarredly laughing while a HibernoHoly Mary coos “Ah Jaysus, Howerya Francie” in The Butcher Boy, one thing is for certain: first encounters with Sinead O’Connor always leave an impression. I’m sure you’ve learned this from that rather public correspondence that the two of you have engaged in.
ers, rather like yourself. You’re well aware of this I know, what with having cited her as such an integral influence recently in Rolling Stone, a claim which I’m sure goes beyond the fact that she too sported short hair and also possesses tear ducts. I’m sure what you were trying to say was how inspiring you found the fact that she wrote and produced her whole first album The Cobra and The Snake at the tender age of 20 and all while 7 months pregnant. Another thing about Sinead is, although we don’t often appreciate it at the time and don’t like the sound of what she’s saying, she has a habit of hitting the nail on the tabooed head. Sure, in 1992 it really was somewhat of a faux-pas to shred an image of the Pope on SNL while performing a haunting a cappella rendition of Bob Marley’s War. However, her sentiment regarding making the Vatican answerable for covering up the atrocities committed against young children really resonates with people massively now. Similarly, though at the time unmerited, her deeming U2s music as “bombastic” has to some extent proven true over the last decade. There’s something eerie and portentous about her, something otherworldly and most certainly something not to be messed with.
ALTHOUGH WE DON’T OFTEN APPRECIATE IT AT THE TIME, O’CONNOR HAS A HABIT OF HITTING THE NAIL ON THE TABOOED HEAD
She’s no shrinking violet, a trailblazer really, and never one to back down. One could almost say she really paved the way for many young female musicians and sing-
I’d ask you, as a pal, not to say anything untoward to her, although you may be tempted. First, she’s had a tough time recently and has publicly suffered poor mental health, something which is no laughing matter . Secondly, her letter to you really was quite reasoned and balanced, granted rather unusually so. More remarkably, her tone was caring, even maternal. Don’t spit it back in her face, she’s just looking out for you. Anyway, I hope you’ll consider what I’ve had to say. Now, take it easy sweetie, stay away from that Molly girl you were talking about. She seems like a bad influence. And although I’ll admit I didn’t know they were indigenous to LA, if you see wolves, run. Yours, Jack
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