Feederism: A sadistic power complex or a harmless fetish?

The act of sex is simple, but the spectrum of what turns people on is complex and varied. For some people pleasure comes from being in a certain position or engaging in a certain type of foreplay, for others it is more to do with the visual. For feeders and gainers, pleasure comes from food and weight gain. ‘Ball bellies’ are the aim and they couldn’t care less about Western society’s slim ideals of beauty.

We live in a culture that largely discourages being overweight and praises dieting. This is why it is not unusual for women to feel a sense of freedom during pregnancy, as it is the one time in life where most people (minus internet trolls) don’t judge you for gaining weight. For gainers, it is more than just being able to eat whatever you like without judgment; being big is beautiful and eating makes them feel good. An anonymous gainer told the Telegraph that, even as a child, she had fantasies about inflating to the point where she could float away. She also spoke about stuffing pillows up her dress to look bigger and seeking out pregnant and plus size women in magazines and artwork.

The fetish known as feederism or gaining involves gainers/feedees who put on weight and feeders/encouragers who motivate them to reach their size goals. Their enjoyment comes from the journey to obtaining their target weight and not the weight itself. How to gain weight is often a hot topic on gaining dating sites. A common misconception is that it is centred on unhealthy eating practices and gaining to the point of immobility, but their joy comes from variety and balance. Their diet does not always consist of junk food and most gainers dip in and out of scene to maintain normal working lives. Ultimately, they just want to like what they see in the mirror when they are completely bare and vulnerable, which is something we all aim for.

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Another misconception is that it is all about dominance and power, when in fact ‘submissive gainers’ tend to only factor as a subgroup within the fetish. Submissive gainers allow the dominant to control how much they eat and how much weight they need to gain. Like other dom/sub relationships, this arrangement is based on trust and the submissive allowing the dominant to have the power. It is not forced. However, as this fetish has filtered into the porn industry, the power dynamics have become skewed and poor health is often encouraged for a bigger payday.

According to AlterNet, in the world of gaining being branded a ‘piggy’, gluttonous or lazy can be a turn on and the power of being a feeder can be alluring. Foreplay can include ‘bloating’, which involves consuming a large amount of food and drinks to expand your stomach or, if you don’t want to actually gain weight, water can be a good alternative. ‘Paddling’ is the art of putting cushions under your clothes to appear bigger and the act of ‘squashing’ your partner with your weight in front of an audience can be highly erotic. Another pastime is known as ‘inflation’, where air is forced into your body via your mouth or anus like a balloon to make your tummy swell.

Like everyone else, gainers and feeders just want to feel loved and accepted for the way they are. This is partly why niche dating sites and feederism-related social media hashtags are so popular, for their sense of community. Dating apps like Fantasy Feeder, Gaining Fetish, Dimensions, Grommr and Curvage connect like-minded people and allow them to share images, videos, recipes and fantasies. They also encourage debates about size politics. The sites take away the stigma of being overweight and allow people to feel safe enough to share their desires with people who will appreciate them. Lots of gaining videos have gone viral with positive commentary and related hashtags and FB groups are used by thousands. Anonymity is an important aspect of these websites, as it grants members the freedom to really be themselves.

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Fatima Parker, the President of the Size Acceptance Association believes that the fetish is “dangerous and exploitative”. She goes on to explain that “there is a difference between someone accepting you for who you are and someone trying to make you actively bigger.” She believes that people engage in these partnerships from a place of insecurity, which is taken advantage of. However, in some cultures being slim is associated with poverty and poor fertility. In some African communities, women are encouraged to thicken up before marriage to become more attractive to their husbands. It could be argued that some people indulge in this fetish because they don’t subscribe to the Western beauty narrative and don’t necessarily have a self-esteem problem.

For gainers, putting on weight is something to be celebrated and is the key to sexual satisfaction. Psychology Professor George Pranzarone, from Roanoke College Virginia, likens the fetish to morphophilia. This condition is defined as having a sexual interest in a partner who has a very different body to you. Basically, a feeder’s orgasms are dependent on their partner being a lot larger than they are. With the emergence of curvy celebrities like the Kardashians, Adele, Nicki Minaj and Meghan Trainor, it is officially cool to not be a size zero. Watching the number on the scale increase without consequence feels naughty and that adrenaline rush is all part of the fun.

For those who engage in the fetish due to insecurity, bullying and fat shaming is an everyday battle, especially with the current financial strain on the NHS. Obesity has been linked to diabetes, heart disease and cancer, but studies show that inactivity is a bigger problem than physical size. In extreme cases, being overweight can restrict your movement and destroy your quality of life to the point where you are completely dependent on other people. It is important to remain active and listen to your doctor if the fetish is starting to negatively affect your health. For those who are not used to getting positive attention, their new sex appeal can be addictive. This then becomes a vicious circle wherein their target weight continuously increases to meet the demands of their fans and their health serves as collateral damage.

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Feminism has opened the door for a number of rebellions against the Western ideal of beauty, including allowing your armpit hair to grow and #freethenipple. Gaining is another counter attack on the media’s prototype. However, gender roles are still at play within the gaining community, as female feeders are seen as a rare phenomenon and are largely underrepresented on the scene’s websites. The overwhelming media coverage of women being the submissive gainers has created the stereotype that women are normally the passive victims within this fetish, which again is untrue.

Anything taken to the extreme in a relationship can cause it to become dark and abusive. It is important to set boundaries and stick to them, in order to put your health first. With submissive gainers, an equal power balance is key and neither party should ever feel uncomfortable. It is easy to put on weight when you have someone spurring you on and taking over your everyday domestic responsibilities, but what happens if the relationship ends and you’re faced with independence again? As long as you are still able to take care of yourself and those around you in these circumstances then there’s no shame in weight gain, as long as it’s done in a healthy way. Curves are beautiful after all.

The Reality Of Freezing Your Eggs

As Posted On Simply Oloni

Recently tech companies Facebook and Apple added egg freezing to the list of health benefits available to their employees and with TV shows like New Girl and Being Mary Jane also bringing it to our attention, an increasing number of women are signing up blindly. It’s 2015, what woman doesn’t want a shot at ‘having it all’?

The problem with this superwoman ideal is that it’s unrealistic. US Glamour writer Debora Spar spoke about how the principles of feminism have been interpreted into a “route to personal perfection” and how this attitude has led to the harsh judgement of others and ourselves when things don’t go as planned.

Women have always been expected to bear children, but this pressure to provide biological babies is exposing women to health risks, whilst drastically reducing their bank balance. Not to mention the psychological trauma that occurs in the cases where treatment is ineffective. Since egg freezing was licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) ten years ago, 6,500 eggs have been stored in Britain and only 12 babies have been born, so the chances of disappointment are high.

So first of all let’s break down the procedure and the risks involved. After your initial consultation, you will experience a series of blood tests to test your fertility. Once approved, you will have to inject yourself with a potent dose of hormones twice a day for several weeks. Two weeks before the egg retrieval stage, you will be given medicine, regular ultrasound scans and blood tests to monitor the growth of your eggs.

Stage two occurs during your normal period of ovulation, which involves a 15-20min operation. During the procedure you will be put to sleep and the doctor will use fine needles to inject your ovaries and extract 10-15 eggs, which can cause cramping and bloating. In some cases a laparoscopy will be performed, where a small incision is made just below your navel to suction the eggs.

Two cycles of the first two stages are recommended for the best chances of conception, priced at £5,000 per cycle. Only cancer patients have the option of it being covered by the NHS. Stage three involves the process of ‘flash freezing’, legally your frozen eggs can be stored for up to ten years costing £200 a year. When you decide to go ahead with IVF to conceive a baby, the earlier ordeal of testing and self-administered hormone injections will resume to prepare your body for a baby.

The final stage occurs once your uterus has responded well to the hormones. Your eggs are then carefully thawed and injected with sperm through a procedure called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), which is usually around £2,000. Multiple rounds of IVF treatment are sometimes necessary to produce a healthy embryo before it is inserted into your womb for your pregnancy to continue as normal.

As with any medical procedure, there are possible complications. The biggest risk is Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS), which can cause a number of unpleasant side effects and in severe cases, death. 1 in 3 women will develop OHSS during the process of hormone injections, but a new British technique known as ‘Agonist Triggering’ lessens the risk. Doctors recommend freezing your eggs as early as possible for better results, as the chances of conception drop to 10% by the age of 40.

On the brighter side, freezing your eggs can feel empowering and take the edge off motherhood, as it buys you more time to get your life together. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, research shows that planned pregnancies normally make for an easier transition into parenthood. Despite perhaps outdated notions that the traditional nuclear family is best, single mothers can offer less conflict caused by incompatible two-parent households. Not all solo parents are a result of poor lifestyle choices.

But ladies if you are going to go the independent mother route; please don’t resort to stealing your man’s sperm or skipping contraception without him knowing, it never ends well. Sperm thief Liz Jones told the Daily Mail – “I thought it was my right, given that he was living with me and I had bought him many, many M&S ready meals” – but admitted that she was not thinking about his “reasonable desire to be allowed to grow up himself first.” Forcing fatherhood will not make him love you back; and it’s unfair to take advantage of the fact that the law requires him to then pay child support. He has a right to a future too.

Motherhood is a beautiful experience, whether you become a mum naturally, through IVF or adoption. Women CAN have it all, but the definition of what ‘all’ means depends on your expectations. Life is a marathon not a race, so don’t put yourself at risk caving from the pressure. Live life at your own pace and if you decide that freezing your eggs is the best option for you, then I wish you all the luck in the world.

If you do find yourself pregnant, here are some of the delightful experiences you may go through.

A Woman’s Sexual Exploits ‘Ain’t None Of Ya Business’: Word to Salt N’ Pepa

Society loves to police female sexuality and it is super unhealthy.

Feminist author Chimamanda Adichie mentioned in her infamous TED Talks speech that “we teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.” Young girls are continually bombarded with the message that their number of sexual partners should remain low if they want to be taken seriously as a girlfriend or potential wife. Young men are praised for taking virginities and being the player that can juggle multiple women at once. Marriage for females is seen as the ultimate goal, but for men it is something to be avoided for as long as possible, as it means the end of their promiscuous freedom. Something here doesn’t add up.

Refreshingly, the new wave of female comedienne voices in television and film have begun to chip away at that horrible double standard in their work. Films like ‘What’s Your Number’ and ‘Train Wreck’ have broached the topics of female promiscuity and being taken seriously by men when they play them at their own game. Despite both protagonists being party girls that use men for sex, the message is that they are still human beings who deserve a forever love with someone who respects them. Simple, right?

Relationship guide books like Steve Harvey’s ‘Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man’ suggest that women should hold out on having sex for a while in order to be seen as relationship potential and not something casual. Steve promotes the idea of the ‘90 Day Rule’ wherein the woman makes a conscious decision to wait 90 days after the first date to sleep with the man, in order to decipher his intentions and for him to get to know her outside of the bedroom. Although sex is an important part of healthy adult relationships, should it really hold this much weight in terms of whether this person could be your happy ever after? Why are men not told to hold out for the same reason?

There seems to be this assumption that men are these feral creatures who are only capable of thinking with their dicks when it comes to the opposite sex, which is ridiculously patronising. This assumption is dangerous because it leads to excuses for deviant behavior and the victim blame culture when it comes to rape. Newsflash, men are fully capable of self-control and reading the signs for consent. For 2016, let’s put the focus on our chemistry with each other and mutual respect, rather than how soon we’ve chosen to have sex with each other, and we may just find ‘the one’ a whole lot sooner.

This leads me to the topic of the dreaded friend zone, which comes after a one-sided decision from the uninterested party to have a purely platonic relationship without the inter-sheet action. For men this seems to be a gut-wrenching blow to their ego, but it actually shouldn’t be seen as a negative thing at all. Having a friend of the opposite gender means you have inside information on how the other side thinks and you get that companionship you miss when you’re single. Win win. Sex isn’t a luxury given to everybody, which is exactly how you want your future wives to behave, apparently. Embrace it.

2015 was the year when slut shaming came into the forefront of discussion. Slut shaming is defined as: “an unfortunate phenomenon in which people degrade or mock a woman because she enjoys having sex, has sex a lot, or may even just be rumored to participate in sexual activity.” Celebrities like Amber Rose and Blac Chyna sparked controversy when they arrived in cat suits covered in derogatory terms used to describe women who fit this definition to the MTV Video Music Awards. Their goal being to reclassify the words into something positive and to reclaim the power these words had coming from misogynists and rapists alike.

This publicity stunt followed Amber Rose’s marketing for her own ‘Slut Walk,’ which was inspired by the international demonstrations of feminists who came before her. The protest originated in Toronto, Canada, in response to the viewpoint of the justice system that victims of rape were ‘asking for it’ if they were dressed in a certain way. Her marketing of this event and provocative Instagram posts sparked heated opposition from people bringing her parenting skills into question. Apparently you cannot be sexually liberated and a mother at the same time, go figure. Men don’t have this dilemma when they enter fatherhood.

All of this outrage and these comments on how a woman should behave show how far the feminist movement still has to go in order to achieve gender equality. Why the desperate need for control over how many guys a woman has been with? All of this negativity is affecting the minds of younger generations and sending mixed messages for young vulnerable girls. You are condemned for being a “prude” or a virgin and then for being a “slut” once you are sexually active. You’re teaching these girls that their only value is based on their “body count” instead of what their minds are capable of achieving.

Men, this year let’s leave the judgement of women for their sexual history in the past and pay more attention to the content of their character when deciding on whether they would make a good life partner or not. Women let’s leave the guilt and stigmas surrounding sex in 2015 and focus on being healthy and happy in our relationships. Own your sexual prowess and stay protected at all times. True love is for everyone, not just the sexually inexperienced.

For more on this topic of female sexuality check out one of my earlier posts: The Female Commodity.

For more gems on sex and relationships look no further than the music industry and its visual aids.

If you do find yourself with child after all of this guilt-free sex take a look at what hopefully won’t be in store for you over the next 9 months.

The Female Commodity

Is a woman’s worth solely about the number of men that have been between her legs? Judging by how many conversations that are had on social media about ‘body count’ and the way the sex trafficking business is still booming around the world, you would think so. But I’ll let you in on a little secret; we’re human just like you.

It starts with the representation of women in the media. Physical appearance is deemed an integral part of our careers. We have to do it all and look good simultaneously or we’re dubbed lazy and frumpy. No one likes a frumpy chick. Television anchors have to be young and conventionally attractive to appeal to a wider audience, whereas male anchors are allowed to be old, as it signifies their wisdom and status as a successful member of society. No one wants to watch an old lady, by then we only qualify to be grandmothers and homemakers.

This crosses over into business in general, an opinionated and ambitious woman is labelled a bitch or ‘hard to handle’; whereas an opinionated, ambitious man is a catch. Take Meryl Streep’s character ‘Miranda Priestly’ in the film ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, the title tells it all, a successful independent woman? Naturally, she has to be the devil. We must look good and be amiable to gain any sort of respect in the workplace. Achieve greatness in silence to avoid intimidating the men, and yet they’re supposed to be the strong ones. Showing emotion in the workplace is seen as a weakness and laughed off as being a symptom of PMS.

In the year 2015, women are still being discriminated against by employers for being pregnant, as they don’t want to pay out for maternity leave and paternity leave requests are not taken seriously. If anything men are praised for their contributions to raising children, like that responsibility is only done as a favour to women. This ‘women are the nurturers and men are the breadwinners’ belief starts from infancy with the toys children are given based on their gender. Apparently, a boy deciding to play with a pram and doll is a laughable offence, but these little boys grow up to be fathers.

It’s not just looks and amiability that are important for a woman in modern society; she has to be sexy too. This single quality is way more important than her intellect and character, hence why everything we see now is basically porn. Sex sells and money makes the world go round. The advertising industry bombards us with sexually suggestive images of women on a daily basis; from film posters to detergent ads. Strong, frumpy females are never the protagonist in the film, female superheroes are seen as the lame ones and even in serious narratives the woman’s main aim is usually to get the guy of her dreams.

If looks, subservience and sex appeal rule supreme when it comes to femininity, it’s no wonder that we are seen as something for men to use, rather than respect. Our worth lies in our purity and virginity; which is why virgins sell for a lot more on the black market and why men are so hung up on the amount of sexual partners we have experienced. Crimes that affect women, like rape, child marriage and prostitution, are not taken seriously by our criminal justice system because men are taught from an early age that our only value is in the kitchen and to satisfy their need for sex. Victims hold the burden of proof and are made to feel like it is their fault, instead of men being held responsible for their cruel behaviour.

We are becoming desensitized to the suffering of women so much so that when prostitutes or strippers are abused or killed, the perpetrators are shown more sympathy and are given light sentences. Ipswich murderer Steve Wright felt it was ok to murder five sex workers back in the early millennium and Paralympian Oscar Pistorius was released from prison within a year after murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013. I dare say it would have been a different result if the roles were reversed.

This is a global issue. In the Middle East, female protesters are being sexually assaulted, as a way to silence them, instil fear and undermine their agenda. The Taliban have been vocal in their condemnation of educating women and would rather they stay ignorant and stuck in their roles of domesticity. In New York City a woman cannot walk down the street without being cat called and men don’t take well to rejection. Gang culture tends to recruit women to serve as sex slaves for their men and honey traps for their victims. Oriental women are fetishized for their stereotype of thoroughly catering to their men.

This brings me to the inspiration behind this article, the film ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’. A Geisha is defined as “a Japanese hostess trained to entertain men with conversation, dance, and song.” Not to be confused with “Yugos” who are Japanese sex workers. Geisha “go through intense training, learning only the traditional Japanese arts. Geisha are very respectable women in Japan’s society and would never routinely indulge in relationships with different men.” This idea that respectability comes from monogamy irks me.

The film taught me that Geisha women dedicate their entire lives to serving men and forgo their own needs, as their needs are deemed unimportant. In the film, despite the Geisha being the protagonist of the story, the narrative concluded only once the man came back to save her. His affection for her being validation for all she had gone through. This unsettled me because so many women around the world are taught that their needs come second to their male counterparts. Just imagine how different the world would be if women were seen as equally important by men and, mostly importantly, themselves. We are people, not products for your pleasure, remember that.

Fellow feminists read musician Espa’s thoughts on gender inequality here.

Author Chimamanda Adichie also speaks about #Feminism in her book ‘Americanah’, read my review here.

M&M Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Dear Chimamanda,

I was first introduced to your work, with a lot of the rest of the world, when Queen Bey referenced your speech in her track ‘Flawless’. Since then I have gone on to watch a lot of your TED Talks speeches online, I’ve watched Half of a Yellow Sun starring Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor and now I have also read your book Americanah. I am thoroughly inspired.

In this digital age, where social media influences more people than the news, it is frustrating when important movements like feminism are misinterpreted into something negative. Your work is helping to re-educate women and men everywhere and for that I am truly grateful. I love how your speeches about gender equality are reflected in your multifaceted fictional characters and how you depict Africa in such an honest way. Your descriptions of Nigeria in Americanah made me homesick for Sierra Leone, in a way that no other fictional story has.

The story is based on two high school sweethearts and told across three continents and many years of absence from each other. It analyses race relations in England, Nigeria and America and examines the experience of an African person in those countries. It covers all the niche topics that people generally don’t talk about when it comes to race and differing attitudes and customs. Having spent time in each of these countries, I could relate to a lot of the points raised.

It also opened my eyes to some of the constraints and reasoning behind immigration to the Western world. The media would have you believing that every immigrant leaves their country because they perceive the West as better and aren’t comfortable in their homeland. The reasons for immigration are really complex, sometimes the West appeals because of the attitudes of the people you grew up around who see America and England through rose-tinted glasses. Sometimes it is seen as a sign of status or a way to bring new knowledge to your community. Sometimes it is for love or just simply a new start. Not everyone wants to leach off the government and not everyone sees the third world as inferior.

Your words are a big part of the growing TINA (This Is New Africa) movement, which aims to change outdated and often negative perceptions of Africa. You tackle both the untold gems of African culture and the not-so-secret ugly underbelly. You also juxtapose traditional Nigeria and new Nigeria, detailing all the changes that have taken place in between. Your descriptions have helped me to understand a lot about modern Nigerian culture and the way things are done there.

I love the fluidity of the chapters and how the book was structured to reflect the personal growth of the characters, in relation to how their relationship has matured and the reasons for their growing separation. The main characters Ifemelu and Obinze were represented as realistically flawed, but deeply in love with each other. However, their open minded attitudes served as a severe contrast to some of the other supporting characters in the book, who represent more traditional views.

I was enamoured with Obinze; his intelligence, his views on women and marriage and his clear feelings for Ifemelu. Their bond was real and based on way more than the superficial, which most relationships seem to stem from these days. He loved her for her mind and spirit, that kind of love is unconditional. He respected strong women and despised pretence for status and gossip, having been raised by an educated, independent woman. African men usually have a reputation for wanting submissive wives who take on traditional domestic roles and I am so happy that he defied that stereotype, because it is untrue for a lot of men.

I noticed that in both Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun, the matriarch roles were filled by women who gave sensible advice that went against the outdated notions of the 1950s. These women raised topics of self-love, protected sex and staying true to yourself even when you fall in love. They are great role models for any young girls reading these amazing texts. Sadly, these lessons are usually downplayed in favour of the ability to cater to your man and being a ‘good’ wife by fulfilling your duties in the bedroom and kitchen.

The protagonist Ifemelu was an outspoken naturalista who moved to the States to further her education and ended up educating the masses through the use of her blog entitled: ‘Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black’. Her blog served as a series of uncomfortable racial observations and enabled her to gain a fellowship at the prestigious Princeton University. However, Obinze’s experience of life in the West was less sweet, with him being deported from London for attempting to engage in a sham marriage for a visa.

I commend you for using mainly African names for the characters and celebrating their meanings as beautiful. A lot of African children growing up in the Western world seem embarrassed by their names, as they are deemed ‘unusual’ and impossible to pronounce by their Western teachers and friends alike. The terms ‘Freshie’ and ‘Aff’ are usually tossed around meant as a jokey insult, but no one wants to feel different during puberty. Young people don’t realise that being different is something to be proud of and having a name with deep origins actually makes you more interesting than the average person.

We need more academics and free thinkers from Africa to tell their unique stories and share their perceptions of being African around the world. Don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd and contradict precedent. The world needs to see the hidden treasures of the original continent and its people to better understand the ways in which we can improve our globe and interactions with each other. The potential for improvement is astounding. Grab your copy now!

Like this review? Check out my review of ‘Calling Me Home‘ by Julie Kibler.

A good book always inspires me and makes me see the world a little differently, take a look at my countdown of other books and movies that have had the same effect.

What Your Musical Taste Says About You

They say that in life you should make a point of finding your ‘tribe,’ people who share your values and interests that you can be yourself with, in order to grow into the person you were meant to be. I am a firm believer in the saying that ‘everything happens for a reason’, so I do not believe that your tribe materializes by coincidence. Some cross your path to help you in your career, some teach you tough lessons; some offer a shoulder to lean on and some serve as a happy distraction.

Music, for me, can occasionally be as magical a force as love; so it is no surprise that a passion for music is high on my list of attractive attributes when meeting new people.  How indicative is a person’s musical taste of their character and compatibility with you? How can music help to guide you as an adolescent into the informed, opinionated adult you are today? Can your choice of playlist indicate mental issues that you didn’t realise were a problem? Stay tuned.

Researchers North and Hargreaves found that musical taste functions as a ‘badge’ people use to judge others and express their individuality simultaneously. Although your musical palette offers similarities to your peers’, people make a point of finding artists and tracks that are more niche in order to claim ownership and a deeper knowledge of the genre than their friends. This separate musical identity is something that comes with maturity, in stark contrast to the need children have to fit in.

Pop music for some is a sign of conformity to the mainstream and, in some cases, an indication of someone who is not comfortable thinking for themselves. Despite the effort modern pop music has made to broach controversial topics and speak out on the big issues, if you follow the crowd you lose street cred in the eyes of academics, rebellious teens and inquisitive 20 somethings alike. The messages are deemed over-simplified and ‘cheesy’, therefore it is a genre that many people associate with childhood and grow out of.

As a child, pop music is an integral part of your socialisation at school. You feel like you are part of something when you collect all the merchandise, memorise the lyrics and experience the concerts. In the 1990’s, when I was growing up, pop music was generally PG rated in terms of lyrical content. The hooks expressed ‘girl power’ and messages about love and friendship. These days everything might as well be X-rated, even the Disney Channel stars are half naked and behaving in questionable ways. Therefore most of the new generation is alienated from the experience of live music, as they can no longer relate to it, and this to me is so very tragic.

Content regulation before the watershed seems to be a thing of the past on the radio, internet and TV. Unfortunately, whether musicians like it or not they are role models to the new generation and their words can encourage premature sexualisation and even drug abuse in some cases. Although, on the flip side, lyrics can also help a confused adolescent find their way in the world and give them a sense of solidarity in their time of need. For instance, I remember listening to pop rock and identifying with that feeling of being an outcast, which they spoke about so frequently and it made me feel more positive about my own situation. Hip hop songs also gave me that escape from the interests of my parents and teachers, allowing me to explore topics usually kept hidden from me.

Scholars Rentfrow and Gosling carried out studies to analyse the effect music has on compatibility and found that blues, jazz, classical and folk music lovers were more liberal and open-minded. The Daily Mail went a step further and claimed that heavy metal fans were found to be more rebellious with a strong sense of social awareness. So people with similar beliefs tend to gravitate towards fans of these genres.

Musical therapist, Jennifer Buchanan, observed that people who tend to listen to music from a particular time in their lives seem to have unresolved issues related to their past that they need to address in order to move on and grow. Having negative association with certain songs that remind you of troubled times is unhealthy for your mental state and the tracks need to be avoided until the issue is dealt with, as they may cause you to stay trapped in that emotion. She advises substituting them with ‘happy playlists’ that remind you of better experiences.

As I have mentioned previously, music is a powerful stimulant for memories and for this reason Jennifer has found that her dying patients find solace in their ‘musical journey’. The songs that trigger happy memories and conjure up images of you at different stages in your life can help patients find the inner peace they are waiting for before death and give the world something to remember them by. At the end of the day, no one wants to be forgotten and your musical taste is part of your identity and mark on the world. Embrace your taste and the people that reflect it and enjoy your little slice of magic.

Did you enjoy this piece? Read more about the impact music can have on your health here.

Musical compatibility may be an important attribute for your romantic relationships, but take a look at some of the other ways music has helped us in our love lives here.

10 Lessons Music Videos Taught Us About Sex & Relationships

Music is the modern-day educator of the youth when schools fall short of their duty to spread knowledge about social issues. As the media and the world in general has decided to go sex mad, naturally, music is also there to teach you about the dynamics of sex and relationships. Here are a few of the lessons contemporary videos have touched on…

1 Love is universal

Slide 1

(This is 2015. Discrimination should have ended a long time ago, duh!)

In 2002 two completely different videos made a statement through their use of same-sex couples kissing centre-screen. Christina Aguilera’s ‘Beautiful’ and t.A.T.u’s ‘All The Things She Said’ videos forced the topic of homosexuality into the conversation and into the living rooms of young people and homophobes alike. The videos subconsciously planted a seed of hope in the minds of those confused adolescents struggling with their own sexual identity and allowed them to also gain the courage to come out to their loved ones. These videos were part of the process that led to gay marriage being legalised in the UK last year.

In a manner just as groundbreaking, Michael Jackson’s video for ‘Black Or White’ in 1991 also normalised the concept of equality; as it forced racist people to accept that interracial relationships were going to become the norm on their television screens and in their neighbourhoods. Increased ethnic representation in music videos has also helped to both dispel negative racial stereotypes and introduce people to new cultures, which has lead to more uneasy parents being comfortable with whoever their child brings home to date. However, simultaneously these same stereotypes are also being enforced in the media in a negative way and are widening the gap between races. Hence the long-lasting structural racism protestors in Ferguson are currently fighting against.

2 Know your worth and don’t be pressured into sex until you’re ready

 Slide 2

(Be the girl he falls in love with, not the one-night stand he forgets)

2006 saw the release of Ludacris’ ‘Runaway Love’ and Lyfe Jennings’ ‘S.E.X.’ videos, which both broached the topic of underage sex and virginity. They both left viewers with the firm message that young females hold all the power and shouldn’t be pressured into situations they are not emotionally mature enough to handle yet. As Lyfe Jennings put it “you’re worth waiting for”, so ladies take control and do what feels right for you.

The danger with the music videos of this generation, in particular rap and EDM videos, is that hyper-sexualisation of women is the norm and young girls see this and aspire to it believing that that is the best way to get a guy’s attention. This message could be the difference between a teenage girl holding out for someone special to lose her virginity to and a girl losing her dignity at a party; acting out of character for the attention of boys who see her virginity as a conquest.

3 Being referred to as a “ho” or “bitch” is never a good look, mutual respect is key

Slide 3

(Intelligence, confidence and ambition are sexy traits ladies take note!)

As condescending and silly as DJ Khaled’s video for ‘Hold You Down’ was last year, the message to celebrate intelligent, loyal and independent women is one that the younger generation should embrace. But as the delivery proved, male musicians still have a way to go before they understand the true impact that images of men throwing money at women (literally in Khaled’s case) can have on the younger generation.

Note to any young men reading this: attempting to re-enact how Khaled spoke to that woman in the video will probably get you slapped in real life.

Earlier this year the rapper Wale spoke out on the objectification of women in the media and consciously chose to feature a positive female role model in his music video for ‘The Body’; who, for the record, was fully dressed. In an exclusive blog post Wale comments that: “These days, we spend so much time focusing on ‘that assssss,’ we forget how much of love’s chemistry is contingent to a beautiful face and genuine personality.”

4 Cheaters deserve to be dumped because the next one WILL treat you better if you let them

 Slide 4

(The 80/20 rule in full effect)

Growing up I got the impression from TV that infidelity in relationships was typical and that it just resulted in some anger-induced throwing, dramatic door slams and crying into a tub of Ben & Jerry’s. The reality is that being cheated on is a traumatic experience, and where your emotions are concerned it is never as simple as the relationship being over and you instantly hating the guilty party. This can be confusing and a lot of people make the mistake of trying to repair the relationship.

Music videos, a lot of the time, tend to encourage this habit of returning to toxic relationships and labelling it “romantic” to the beat of an R&B love song. Thankfully there have been a couple of female empowerment anthems that have bucked this trend, including Letoya Luckett feat Ludacris’ video for ‘Regret.’ The 2009 visual showed the innocent party embracing the split and finding someone more worthy of her heart, a much better message. 

5 Contrary to what rap videos allude; being too aggressive will not win her heart guys

Slide 5

(Let’s all leave rape culture in 2014)

Contrary to the pandemonium that ensued post 50 Shades, most women don’t enjoy being controlled or sexually assaulted in public. The women that do enjoy it rough in sack are also very aware of the power they have as part of a dominant/submissive type arrangement. Therefore, the overwhelming images of scantily clad women being smacked on the ass and ordered to shake it for cash can be extremely damaging to young boys consuming these images, uninformed of the truth, throughout their adolescence.

Not to go totally Germaine Greer on your asses; but women are more than just sexual play things and aggression is never the right route to that all-important skill of communication. Domestic abuse is currently an escalating issue among young couples in the UK. According to Homicide Statistics (1998), every three days in England and Wales a woman is killed by a current or former partner. Given this shocking statistic, maybe Rihanna should have been less fond of Eminem’s lies in the 2010 emotive video.

6 It is ok to cry your eyes out over a guy ladies, but don’t spend too long dwelling on someone who doesn’t see your value

 Slide 6

(Make like a phoenix and rise from the ashes) 

Music has been a source of comfort to us all over the years and a shoulder to cry on during hard times. Especially when it comes to relationships, personal experience in heartbreak is a hot commodity for singers; just ask Mary J Blige or Taylor Swift. A heartfelt lyric can have amazingly healing qualities when it is relatable; all of a sudden your experiences are put into perspective and you realise that you are not alone.

Over the years there has been a wave of videos proving that no matter how much it hurts, life goes on and you will be fine. Toni Braxton feat Trey Songz’ ‘Yesterday’ video in 2009 and Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ video in 2011 are a couple of my personal favourites. 

7 Most people do not look like the models in music videos and that’s OK

Slide 7

(There is beauty in everyone; you just have to look for it)

After seeing certain YouTube videos on the process of editing for advert campaigns and how different the final product is from the look of the original model, I feel like this should be compulsory viewing in every school. No one looks like the models in magazines, not even the models. Porn star bodies are hard to come by naturally too FYI. So stop beating yourself up for being flawed, perfect is boring and unobtainable.

Last year’s ‘Make Her Say’ video from Estelle was a breath of fresh air compared to most sex-related video concepts. There was not a photo-shopped body in sight. It featured a focus group of couples from all ends of the spectrum racially, sexually and body type wise. They were all asked questions about their sex lives and then proceeded to act out their bedroom moves. If you can’t already tell, I am a big fan of inclusivity and I wish the video had been given more exposure. Big thumbs up to Estelle.

8 Embrace your inner freak in the bedroom. Relationship sex doesn’t have to be boring

Slide 8 

(A trusting environment is key to try out all the things your brain has already fantasised about)

If Destiny’s Child taught us anything it was to cater to your man and Miss Kelly and Beyonce have continued to bring that message forward with videos like ‘Motivation’ (2011) and ‘Partition’ (2013). A healthy sex life can add the pizazz your relationship needs to stay fresh and exciting. Plus it can be a free workout with back-to-back orgasms to boot, what’s better than that?

Bashment as a genre has always been pretty sexual, ‘Hot Fuk’ anyone? Yet, in addition to setting the X-rated tone for the evening, it can also serve as a great self-esteem boost. Dancing to bashment can make you feel like you have the sex appeal of Scarlett Johansson and ready to take on the world. As tragic as it is that looks play such a huge role in self-confidence, everyone wants to feel desired and dancing suggestively to a little Vybz Kartel in your bedroom before a big night can do just that.

9 Expand your social circles to find love

Slide 9

(Having different tastes can make for a more interesting conversation)

In 2006 a study published in Psychological Science by Peter Rentfrow and Sam Gosling found that college students used musical taste more than every other topic combined to generate an idea of a new friend/partner’s interests and values to make a judgement on compatibility. As the emergence of lyrical artists singing about social issues has become more apparent in recent years, musical taste is more telling than ever of a person’s belief system.

People naturally gravitate towards those with shared interests and values, but perhaps having an eclectic group of friends is more beneficial to individual growth. Take a page out of Tinchy Stryder’s book and expand your social circle, it could teach you new lessons you never thought existed. Tinchy’s unlikely bromance with the Chuckle Brothers isn’t a rare occurrence in the celeb world; Chris Brown and Elton John are known to get on famously.

10 When all goes wrong in your love life, a good support system is essential

Slide 10

(Friends are the family members you choose for yourself)

On the topic of friendship, never underestimate the power of a strong support system when your relationship isn’t all that Disney predicted. This goes for men and women, never be afraid to ask for a fresh perspective from your close circle, it may just save your relationship. I’m sure that most women have faced the same brutal wake-up-call conversation from their girls when their man showed his true uncomplimentary colours, as depicted in 2004’s ‘Girl’ video from Destiny’s Child.

However, there is such a thing as too much when it comes to relationship advice, at the end of the day trust your intuition and personal knowledge of the situation (like Dame Dash said don’t become a “Chatty Patty”). Good friends are always there through thick and thin, so cherish them.

Music can have an extremely powerful influence on people in many ways, another of these is health. Check out the 10 ways music can boost your mental/physical health:

https://megansaad.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/ten-ways-music-can-boost-your-overall-health/

If you are currently looking for that special someone, dating can be a scary prospect. Here are some handy tips on what NOT to do:

https://megansaad.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/first-date-what-not-to-do/