Culture, Just blogging, Lifestyle

Watching Hot Girls Wanted

Thanks to binge-watching clips on youtube, I discovered the trailer for the documentary Hot Girls Wanted. Lucky for me, there was a free Netflix trial coming my way, later and so I got to watch it quite soon after the release date. I have to add that it took my a little while before I actually dared to watch it – I was expecting something like Requiem of A Dream, which – as I vividly remember –  was everything but easy to watch. And so, before finally watching the documentary on the very last day of the trial , I kept asking myself if I was ready to see some maybe disturbing content, potentially making me wanna puke. To my great relief, it’s a very well done documentary and co far, I’ve recommended it to everybody I talked to about it.

I was positively surprised about how it was made visually. I guess that, because of the subject, I expected the content to be more explicit and right in your face than it actually is. I’m glad I was wrong and that the documentary is easily accessible, even for a sissy like me.

The French journal Le Figaro describes the documentary as shocking. I wouldn’t use such a strong word. As a guy in the documentray says, porn has become mainstream and boundaries seem to be much lower than they probably used to be 30 years ago. It seems that the common acceptance of it has grown. And therefore, it’s not surprising to me at all that people want to profit from that, producers as well as young girls who think that tehy’re just going to make quick money. Besides, Hot Girls Wanted doesn’t denounce the existence of porn, it rather analyses it, showing different point of views. Instead of relying on the possible shock effect the subject entails, I think the documentary is more about encouraging people to get a wider understanding of the topic and to be critical.

So far, I didn’t have an opinion on porn. I thought if people wanted to make tapes of them or others banging, why not, it doesn’t really affect me. But I start to realize that the impact of porn on society is much bigger than I would have guessed. Before watching Hot Girls Wanted, I had no idea that stuff like torture porn existed. I also wasn’t aware that abuse is very present, to the extent that it’s practically become mainstream. The thought of it makes me feel nauseated and it’s impossible for me to understand how the idea of torture/ abuse / rape can be sexy to somebody supposedly normal. And yet, abuse porn gets around 16 million hits per month and some of the most popular sites even include the mention in their domains.

One could argue that that’s just how porn is, and that hard core niche stuff exists, and that people are acting. But honest question here, has anyone ever considered porn stars as serious actors/actresses? I also doubt that it’s easy to constantly remind oneself that nothing in porn is real and that everybody who’s watching can make that difference.

What worries me are the very weird misconceptions which keep popping up. Just think of how E.L. James glorifies an abusive relationship, and people love it, despite the fact that it’s incredibly poorly written. The wonderfully backward, gender streotype promoting magazine Cosmopolitan France also surprised me: published in the July issue, one article about how to be as sexy as can be in summer actually crept me out. In one paragraph it suggested that when having a picnic, a woman who accidentally cut herself is sexier if the cut bleeds, even sexier if some blood dripped on some carrots, and sexy as hell if she licked the blood from the carrots while staring in the eyes of a man of her choosing. Yeeahhhh…. everybody knows that mutilation always is a big turn-on, as well as blood sucking is. Get some Bella and Edward vibes in your bedroom, ahem, dungeon. Weird that Ozzy Osbourne hasn’t been elected Sexiest Man Alive after he bit off that poor bat’s head.

But even without those rather drastic examples, it’s become evident to me more than once that porn clearly influences our society and the way people interact. All it needs is one click on Instagram in order to see a photo collection of women’s arses (or, to use the correct term which has been invented for that purpose: belfies), under- and sideboobs, and lots and lots of suggestive images.

As for my personal experience, I feel like there’s not much romance going on any more. In a time where everyone can easily find a fuck buddy on Tinder, there’s no need to wait politely and patiently for a third date until getting it on. There were times when I thought of a guy as a real gentleman if he didn’t ask me if I was into anal play on the first date. Or that guy who, not long after I just met him, kept telling me how much he dreamt of face fucking me. When I told him that we didn’t have exactly the same fantasies, he just said “Fine.” and it was the last time I ever heard from him again. I admit that some of my dating choices were obviously very poor. But the actual point I intend to make with those examples is that seemingly, being able to openly talk about sex isn’t that easy sometimes. Instead, in some cases, it’s nothing but a consumed image which is spit out again, sometimes very noisily.

At school, they took sex education very seriously. From a biological point of view, everything had been explained in detail. What we never talked about in class was intimacy and how relationships (are supposed to) work. Another topic that never came up: consent. Although it’s essential. – I also never really talked to my parents about that. And I think, but that’s just a guess, that it’s the same for quite a few of my peers as well as for teens and twens today.

One girl in the documentary stated that she never had sex in real life, but only when she did porn. I find this statement particularily strange. And of course, although this very particular example surely isn’t a common case, I still conjecture that watching what’s a sheer performance for the camera has an impact on the viewers private life, and that comparisons are made in a place where they don’t belong. That being said, I think it’s reassuring, there are initiatives which try to fight that, as for example the website makelovenotporn.com, created by Cindy Gallop. The “Know It” section is quite funny.

For a quick summary of Hot Girls Wanted, the Vice interview with Rashida Jones is pretty good. And for some statistics, you can check out the Forbes article about porn and the internet, or this website, or why not the documentary.

For more posts, go to www.jlouisewinter.com.

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Culture, Lifestyle

Changes

And it’s Sunday again. It came so suddenly. The last couple of days just flew by. Maybe the last week seemed to pass by so fast because I mostly stuck to my daily routine, consisting of working out, my job and my blog. And seeing friends, of course. Recently, one of my friends came back from a few months travel and so we have been hanging out to catch up. She told me about all the amazing countries she visited, the awesome people she’d met and that she actually didn’t want to come back to Paris. (As a matter of fact, she’s only staying two weeks before flying back to Australia.) She said that people here would probably still have the same jobs, still live in the same place, still have the same troubles in their relationships. Well, although things might not be as boring as that, I do see her point.

After having had a drunk night out yesterday, I went for a walk this afternoon. Looking at the remaining Christmas decoration in the streets, seeing people getting rid of their Christmas tree which finally started to shed it’s needles, I suddenly became oddly aware of how transient everything is and that at the same time, nothing changes. One year just went by and I hardly noticed it. Sure, there have been quite some changes, I realized it as soon I was writing a long letter to someone I haven’t seen since 2013. It might be the fact that I’m turning 25 this year and that I’m about to have a quarter century crisis, but today made me questioning how much I have achieved in life so far.

On Sundays, people take their kids to the park or go see the grandparents, twenty-somethings go home to have lunch with their families, students who came to Paris for their studies are spending the last day of the weekend at home in the suburbs before taking the train back to the city. On Sundays, people take a break from the usual, everyday’s rush. They take the time to go for a stroll or for visiting a museum. On Sundays, everything seems to pause.

Sundays used to make me feel restless and I’m just slowly learning to appreciate them as a day which I can absolutely dedicate to myself. But sometimes, looking at the other park visitors makes me having second thoughts about my life. I awkwardly notice that my mum had already had me when she had the same age. After finishing her studies with successfully, she had found a stable job which gave her enough security and already founded a family. By that time, she was totally independent from her parents.

As for me, I dropped out of university, I don’t have any degree. I worked in the food service industry for a couple of years before getting a better paid job in an e-commerce enterprise. But I surely couldn’t provide for an imaginary kid, I couldn’t even get a cat. The last time I asked my mum to help me out financially is not that long ago and I also still live with my flatmate, which is great, but nevertheless, I think sharing a flat is something that you should only do for a certain period of time. As always, there are also exceptions, of course. But thinking of the people in their mid-thirties I’ve met and who still shared a flat, I know that I definitely do not want to make this my lifestyle.

In the 19th century men were considered as men as soon as they were able to grow a beard or go to war. Women got married at the age of 20 to 22 and often became mothers shortly afterwards.

I remember how weird I found it when the boys I went to school with suddenly started talking about doing their military service. And the girl who was the first one of our year to get married surely surprised me. So what makes us become adults, nowadays? When is the moment that we’re able to say “Now, my life is settled”?

Taking into account how fast our society changes and that there are so many more possibilities and career choices than 200 or even 20 years ago, it’s normal that finding oneself and being able to build one’s independent future has become a much longer process.

The good thing is that I won’t be able to do crazy things like buying a sports car until I figure out my next professional and personal steps. I can save that for my midlife-crisis. Maybe I will have my driver’s licence by then.

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Culture

About fanfiction

Last week, one of my friends asked me to write a short text for her website. She wanted it to be some kind of fanfiction about the impressionist writer Rainer Maria Rilke. Well, she didn’t actually employ the word “fanfiction”, but she wanted me to invent a story about why the writer had spent a part of his life in Paris, mentioning, that it hadn’t necessarily need to be true – so basically fanfiction.

It’s very funny how things happen in life. Only a couple of days before, I had read an article about students being much more into literature than their teachers would have expected. They invent alternative story-endings, or add some funny details to their beloved book or movie characters lives, letting them experience great adventures and unexpected relationships. Although the author of the original book might not be too happy about the fan’s rich and wild imagination, I think that fanfiction is a very interesting and delightful way of interpreting a story. And in some cases, it even gives space to new productions, like Snow White as a horror movie. Well, this is more of a reinterpretation than fanfiction, but I think that it’s pretty close, though.

While reading the article, I was already thinking about what I would do to the characters of Harry Potter. And since the book is so incredibly detailed, I found it quite hard to imagine anything which still would make sense to the book, but be totally new to the story. Also, I’m respecting my childhood heroes way too much to imagine them in a threesome or anything of this kind. (According to the article, people’s imagination is endless and touches all areas.) And so I came to the conclusion, that I would probably never write anything which can be categorized as fanfiction. Despite of all that, I surprisingly did, just a few days later, on the request of my friend. And it was fun! And since I had to do some research as well, like finding out more about Rilke’s biography, learning more about historic and cultural events which were important at that time, I actually upgraded my general knowledge.

And le voilà the text I finally wrote:

The Story of a Youth to Discover Paris

“Why Paris of all cities? That’s a good question.

It mostly was thanks to my friend Auguste Rodin, who had had a big influence on me taking this decision, after all, it was him who had offered me the position as his secretary. I could never have rejected such an offer, particularly as I have always been a great admirer of his artwork. And of course, Paris is a very scenic city, considerably more charming than London, which seems to be a little too gloomy for my taste. And considering that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle probably found the inspiration for The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in current events, then I’m feeling a little uneasy about England. Besides, the weather there seems to dampen one’s mood and to make one miserable. I  do not want to deny at all that the English culture has its appeal and that it produced quite a few great and brilliant authors and artists, let’s just name Charles Dickens or William Turner. But it seems as if Paris was more pleasant after all.

I find it especially interesting that the Russian culture, which has always aroused my enthusiasm, has been following the French example. Who knows, if my friend hadn’t made this offer, I maybe would have traveled to Russia first. I think it’s a fascinating country.

Paris isn’t any less splendid, of course. Art and beauty are always celebrated there, even in everyday’s life. Just think of Parisian fashion! This makes me think of how impassioned my mother used to talk about French couture. From my very early age, she tried to share her love for French fashion with me. I suppose, and Sigmund Freud would certainly agree, that the enchantment my mother felt for the French style has left its mark on me in a manner that it explains my curiosity for Paris. Besides, I’m convinced that there’s almost no other city which could be more suitable for an artist. Magnificent beauty always surrounds you, everything is incredibly picturesque. Not to mention the remarkable architecture. And the gardens! They’re just a true paradise. If you have ever been to the Jardin du Luxembourg or the Jardin des Plantes, you know what I’m talking about. It’s almost impossible not to find any inspiration in those places and not to be impressed by Paris.”

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Culture, Paris

Today’s attack on Charlie Hebdo

Maybe the biggest news in France today was the terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Since the news quickly spread, I’m pretty sure many of you heard about it. Personally, I saw the report on the TV this morning and later today, my attention was brought to it by friends who went to show their support for the magazine this evening at Place de la République. I’m positively surprised how fast and to what a big extent people reacted to this attack. In contrast to that, I’m sadly not very surprised at all that the attack took place, simply because the magazine has a history of stirring up controversy and also because there has been an incident in the past. Of course, nothing justifies terror and any kind of violence, no matter of which possible reason is unacceptable. But I do understand that certain publications might be considered as offensive or even insulting. And so I cannot help wondering about how we would react to an article or a caricature which obviously made fun of the beliefs, customs and cultural traditions which are enshrined in our society. (Hopefully not with a terror attack, that’s for sure!) Also, I am convinced that people should be able to make comments, express their opinion as well as criticism without having to be afraid of being persecuted in any way or being attacked, neither verbally, nor physically. Still, how far should you go when speaking your mind? That’s a question almost impossible to answer and there surely is no rule to apply. Maybe, today’s tragedy could have been avoided under different circumstances. And maybe, a better cultural understanding could have helped with that. Now, this said, I will go and read some Utopian novel.

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Culture, Lifestyle

New year, new beginning

Even though I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions – I think people should try to be the best version of themselves throughout the whole year and also make resolutions at any moment it becomes necessary – I actually do have some resolutions for this year.

The first one, which I’ve already started working on since November, are getting fitter, physically and also mentally. Having struggled with eating disorders for the past ten years, I’m becoming aware of the results of the horrible things I did to my body. I’m also noticing how my former lifestyle is affecting my health and how it might affect me in the future. Therefore, I started taking care of myself, which includes working out regularily, eating healthier, drinking less alcohol and sleeping more (and much better without the usual glas, glasses or sometimes masses of wine I used to have).

And since body and mind go hand in hand when it comes to your well-being, I also decided that I would challenge my brain more. At first, I started with the idea of simply increasing my IQ and trained myself by doing some IQ test preparation on my phone everytime I was taking public transports. In the meanwhile, I was thinking about how I could also become more creative. I have to admit that I kind of feel ashamed when people find out that I once started writing a blog, when I’m now totally lacking of inspiration and commitment. So I’m now planning on writing for at least half an hour a day – about anything, regardless of how it it could affect potential readers. (I’ve read that becoming adults, we lose the spontaneity that kids have. Kids just start drawing, writing, being creative without minding how their work will be perceived. As adults, we first of all think about the result we try to achieve, and sometimes get frustrated with our creative attempts, which of course, turn out to not be that creative in the end. So in order to escape this vicious circle, I’m trying to stop overthinking. I can still do that when it finally comes to publishing what I’ve written.) I hope in that way, I will be able to collect some ideas which are worth working with. That being said, I’ve no clue which direction this blog will take. There will certainly be less posts about fashion (there are so many talented people who are alreday doing a great job by writing about fashion). Instead, I will probably share more of my personal thoughts, concerns, opinions. Or to say it in a different way, I will use the blog for its initial purpose.

A few weeks ago, I read an article on the website of The Guardian. It was an critique on a modern artist whose name I forgot. (It also doesn’t matter in is case.) What really striked me in this article was the critivc asking if the artist had ever thought about what she actually wanted to express and in which way her art should affect the recipient. Apparently, she just went from painting to publishing, staying in the childish approach of not thinking about what kind of an impact her art could have. In any case, I thought that the question of purpose was a relevant one. And even though some people might say that art should have no purpose, I never shared this opinion. Also, I sometimes get the impression that modern artists don’t seem to care very much about how their art is received or if it’s accessible. But that’s another chapter. What I initially wanted to express with this rather huge parenthesis is, that even though I’ve given some thought to the possible reactions of potential readers and to the question if I could make an impact with my texts (probably not), I have no answer to that at all. And so I’m satisfied that a blog isn’t a piece of art.

Anyway, I hope I will succeed in sticking to my New Year’s resolutions and maybe, some interesting texts will come out.

Happy New Year!

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Culture, Fashion

Le parfum du voyage

Une impression de mes vacances qui m’a accompagné dans presque tous mes voyages, c’est un parfum particulier. Je ne peux même pas citer le nom ou la marque de ce parfum, mais je suppose qu’il s’agit d’un des grands classiques comme Dior ou Chanel. C’est un parfum très élégant, assez prononcé quand même. Il est parfait pour les grandes dames, et je l’associe toujours aux actrices fabuleuses des années 50 ou bien aux personnages féminins dans les films de Woody Allen. C’est un parfum qui inspire la mondanité, l’extravagance et l’allure. Mais surtout, c’est un parfum incroyablement féminin.
Je me souviens du jour quand j’ai senti cette odeur délicieuse pour la toute première fois. Je passais mes vacances d’été quelque part à la côte méditerranée et je passais des heures à lire les magazines qui trainaient au lobby de l’hôtel. J’avais peut-être treize ans, et c’était à cet âge-là que je découvrais le monde fascinant des magazines de mode, Vogue en particulier.
Le premier exemplaire du magazine mythique que je tenais entre mes mains avait beau être tout abîmé, avec des milliers des graines de sable entre ses pages, je l’adorais. Et pendant les deux semaines qui suivaient, je le reprenais régulièrement juste pour le feuilleter et ingurgiter même le moindre détail de cet univers magnifique qui venait de s’ouvrir à moi.
Quant à son contenu, cette édition n’était même pas extraordinaire. Mais ce qui la rendait tellement fascinante pour moi, ce qui m’attirait autant, c’était l’empreinte de ce parfum remarquable que sa lectrice précédente lui avait donnée. Je l’imaginais d’être une femme extraordinaire qui avait la finesse d’une ballerine, l’élégance de Grace Kelly, l’allure de Sophia Loren et l’esprit de Deborah Kerr. J’imaginais une femme accomplie, féminine, intelligente, audacieuse. Et je voulais être comme elle. Plus, je voulais devenir cette femme.
Ce numéro de Vogue, je l’ai gardé pendant des années, même que ce parfum qui donnait de la vie à ses pages brillantes n’était plus qu’une trace à deviner.
Depuis, en plus d’avoir un souvenir d’été qui m’accompagnera lors de tous mes voyages, je n’ai jamais perdu le goût pour les belles choses.

PS: I wrote this post in French because it seems natural to me, since France is the native country of great perfums and also of fashion and big designers. But very soon, this post will be available in English, too.

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