Katy Perry’s Christian mothers find her cherry pie hard to swallow

30 days ago

The innuendo-laden lyrics of the singers recent make, Bon Apptit, have left her devout mum and dad impression queasy

Katy Perry has revealed that she and her devout Christian parents have to agree to disagree over the lyrics to some of her sungs, including her innuendo-riddled recent reach Bon Apptit. In the video, Perry is served up as a dinner, with all the delicacy of a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ad from the 1990 s, until she rises up against her male oppressors and takes retaliation by pole-dancing in front of them.

The song uses a series of culinary metaphors to describe what is on Perrys menu. She claims to be a five-star Michelin who is spread like a buffet. Presumably she is not talking about the kind of buffet Lost in Showbiz grew up with in the north more prawn cocktail vol-au-vents and pineapple and cheese on cocktail sticks than the part of Perrys body that she calls the worlds best cherry pie. And that is to say nothing of the practicalities of serving a whole tart at a buffet, when every caterer knows that individual mini-pies are preferable. She taunted the release of the way in April by tweeting a recipe for the worlds best cherry pie and asking fans to cook it for her. What she entailed by cherry pie wasnt wholly clear until Bon Apptit was released afterwards, which in hindsight stimulates the stunt a little less appetising.

Bon Apptit.

The excitable acid-blond vocalist told the Australian radio prove Smallzys Surgery that, shockingly, her pastor parents did not inevitably approve of the internationally successful call to enjoy her cherry pie. We agree to disagree but still with loving space, she told Smallzy. We all come from different places you can have your faith system , nobody is telling you not to believe your beliefs but you can also come from a place of love.

It is not the first time Perry has discussed the clash between her line of work and her parents religious beliefs. She told Vogue that she was taken to picket Marilyn Manson and Madonna concerts when she was younger, and when she spoke at the Human Rights Campaign Gala earlier this year she described herself as a gospel-singing girl raised in youth camps that were pro-conversion camps. Having gone from picket lines to savor other dames cherry chapsticks, to offering her own cherry pie for intake, one thing is clear: if Perry ever offers you fruit, do check if its a metaphor first.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

WD-4 0 and microwaved tampons: secrets of food photography exposed

1 month, 17 days ago

Its the job of a food stylist to induce products look delicious on camera even if the makeover leaves the dinner inedible. Six stylists tell us their tricks

Behind most professional food photos is a stylist who tricks the spectator. These deceits range from a touch of lipstick to redden a strawberry, to milkshakes made from mashed potatoes. Its not that food stylists are liars and defrauds. Theyre simply in the business of improvisation.

Throughout the 10 hours it takes, on average, to complete a photo shoot, stylists are expected to solve any dedicated crisis on the spot. No tzatziki on set? Make do with the mayonnaise or whipped cream in the refrigerator. A client wants that turkey skin to seem a bit more red? Better have food coloring on hand.

When shooting, you cant stop and say: Hey, ugh, I forgot this, explains Denise Stillman, an Orange County-based food stylist whos been in the business for 26 years. You only have to make sure you[ bring enough materials on set to] covering all your basis and then[ ask yourself ], What else can go wrong?

But not everything is faked. The product the advertiser is trying to sell is often featured, explains Stillman. When, for example, she shoots an ad for Breyers, she shoots the real ice cream. But if shes styling Gay Lea Foods whipped cream, the ice cream it rests atop can be made of anything so long as it seems delicious.

Whether shooting a television commercial or print advertisement, a food stylists goal is often to emphasize food ingredients natural beauty.

Im like hair and makeup for food, says Charlotte Omnes, a stylist are stationed in New York. When you watch models walk down the runway, they dont look like that. But after they come out of makeup, youre like, Wow.

If you want your Instagram food photos to resemble Bon Appetit coverings, weve collected some pro tips-off that will help. Six food stylists served us their secrets on how to attain common dishes look ready for their close-ups.

Enchiladas: mashed potatoes give the appearance of bulk


For a tasty-looking enchilada, add mashed potato. Photograph: Photo by Rick Gayle. Food styling by Kim Krejca.

Mexican food is not the most photogenic. No one knows this better than Kim Krejca, a Phoenix-based stylist who works with a lot of south-western cuisine. Enchiladas with sauce hemorrhaging into the beans[ are] not very visually pleasant, she says. You have to modify that but still be true to the food.

To give the enchiladas the appearance of bulkiness( as considered above ), she stuffed them with instant mashed potatoes, a stylists go-to filling because they are easy to make and mold. Then Krejca added meat and veggies to the ends where the tortillas open up. To finish the dish, she used a hot handgun to build the cheese melts perfectly on top.

Tacos: cosmetic sponges keep the shells open


Tacos: try cosmetic sponges, glue, and WD-4 0. Photograph: Photo by Rick Gayle. Food styling by Kim Krejca.

In real life, tacos are a delicious mess. To stimulate them presentable on camera, Krejca glued two tortillas together and placed cosmetic sponges behind the meat to keep the shells open. For dark and juicy-looking beef, she painted the pieces with a brown sauce called Kitchen Bouquet, made of water and food coloring. Krejca then sprayed the fill with WD-4 0, her secret weapon to attain Mexican food glisten. Stillman uses red pepper in place of diced tomatoes for a more vibrant coloring and pours corn syrup on beans so they look moist and fresh.

Cereal: mens hair products and sunscreen make a perfect milk

Do you prefer your cereal dries or with hair cream? Photograph: Photo by Chris Elinchev at Small Pond Productions. Food styling by Tamara Kaufman.

This may ruin your craving, but the milk used in cereal photos is usually fake. Since the real stuff quickly constructs cornflakes seem soggy, food stylists have come up with alternatives. In this photo, Wisconsin-based Tamara Kaufman used Wildroot, a white hair cream for men with a sunscreen lotion-like consistency that many stylists covet. Krejca favor the old-school method of white glue, which photographs just like the real deal. When pros do use actual milk, its merely a very small amount. According to Michelle Rabin, a Toronto-based food stylist, you can place the most beautiful pieces of cereal in a bowl filled with vegetable shorten and cover it with a thin layer of milk. The abbreviating defies the liquid and it looks like the whole bowl is filled with knolls of cereal, she says. The pieces will stay fairly crisp for a long time.

Coffee: watered down soy sauce and gelatin give a smooth look


For a smooth-looking coffee, try water and gelatin. Photo: Photo by Beth Galton. Retouching by Ashlee Gray. Food styling by Charlotte Omnes.

Black coffee is hard to work with because of its oily sheen. In a latte or cappuccino, the foam will speedily evaporate. In this photo, Omnes used a combination of Kitchen Bouquet, water and gelatin to give the coffee a smooth seem. In a pinch, Rabin has used watered-down soy sauce and once had to improvise with cream and gravy browner on the situated of a popular Canadian brand. I see that billboard I worked on and Im like: Thats funny, because thats not a coffee, she says. Kaufman uses the real deal when possible, but adds fells of soapy water around the perimeter with an eyedropper to simulate fresh brew. The froth, stylists say, is often made from piped soap foam.

Turkey: it may be raw and bloody inside, but the skin looks good


Undercooked turkey is often featured in ads. Photograph: Photo by Marshall Troy. Prop styling by Grace Knott. Food styling by Charlotte Omnes.

Every home chef knows its hard to make a bird crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. Fortunately, food stylists only have to focus on aesthetics, which means they never fully cook one. It is important not to overcook them so the skin stays looking moist, plump and juicy, says Omnes. These are visual cues that build your mouth water when you look at it. New-York based stylist Brian Preston-Campbell says he often roasts five or six turkeys for a few hours each to get that perfect hero bird. Its still raw and kind of bloody inside, he says. Its kind of nasty but its about the end product in the photo.

In this shot, Omnes pinned down the turkey skin so it wouldnt tear in the oven. She lined the pan and stuffed the bird with a water-soaked paper towel so it would steam instead of turning crispy. To achieve that brown, glistening seem, she brushed the turkey with a mix of water, Kitchen Bouquet and dish soap.

Ice cream or whipped cream: abbreviate, corn syrup and frosting


Frosting plus icing sugar makes an impressive-looking ice cream. Photograph: Photo by Marshall Troy. Prop styling by Grace Knott. Food styling by Charlotte Omnes.

If ice cream were a human model, she would be a diva. The dessert is hard to mold, and if youre not styling in a refrigerated space, melts promptly. To avoid the headache, experts often turn to other ingredients. To create the ice cream on the left, Omnes mixed frosting with icing sugar( the cone on the right is the real bargain ), but the most common fake ice cream recipe is a combination of vegetable shortening, powdered sugar and corn syrup.

For other milky desserts, stylists have many hacks. For a dollop of whipped cream, Omnes use a non-dairy creamer that does not wilt or weep. Kaufman favor Barbasol shaving cream but notes: The woman who mistakenly tried a bite was not pleased. For milkshakes, Stillman employs sour cream because its thick and easy to swirl.

Drinks: that frosty glass? Its spray-on deodorant


If your beverage lacks the right sheen, only spray some deodorant on it. Photo: Alamy

Stylists dont waste real liquor unless the ad is for alcohol. To induce cocktails, Omnes mixes food coloring in water, a trick Kaufman also uses to create chardonnays from diluted Kitchen Bouquet. In truth, the liquid itself is the sideshow. The most important part about cocktails are the visual cues, says Omnes cues such as ice, fizz, bubbles and froth. They[ make the drink] appear refreshing.

For frozen beverages like margaritas and daiquiris, the pros rely on ice powder, bits of gelatin that look like crushed ice when mixed with liquid. They also use fake plastic or acrylic ice cubes, which dont melt under the hot camera illuminations and vaseline on the rim of margaritas. To create frost, Stillman coats a beer mug with spray-on deodorant and uses a mixture of Scotchguard and glycerin to make soft drink look icy cold with beads of condensation. What a fus it would be otherwise, says Stillman. This style, you can choose the level of wetness on the glass.

Steamy pasta: incense gives the appearance of steam

That moment when steam rises up from pasta like mist over a mountain is hard to capture naturally on camera. Kaufman hides a tin foil package of steam chips inside the pasta bowl and adds water to make vapor. To get the same effect, she has also illuminated incense and later removed the stick with Photoshop, while other tricks involve a attire steamer or cigarette smoke. By far the most interesting method is to microwave water-soaked tampons( cotton balls work as well) and bury them behind a dish. I have them in my kit just in case, says Kaufman. Regardless of the technique, she says steam should always be shot against a dark background.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Annette Bening:’ Women don’t have to do everything’

1 month, 18 days ago

She is the ultimate 21 st century female both on and off the screen. Eve Barlow fulfils Annette Bening in LA to talk about movies, motherhood and her search for meaning

At 11 am on a Friday morning, Studio City in Los Angeles is full of mums. Mums coming out of fingernail salons, mums falling dogs off at day care, mums picking up fresh bread. Outside one deli, a local mum with cropped hair slides in through the front doorway in a camel-coloured overcoat. She moves towards a back kiosk and, complaining of a slight cold, orders chicken noodle soup. She could be any mum, but shes the mum: Annette Bening.

She seems around the 1950 s diner. I love the booths, I love the ambiance, and she smiles, pointing at portraits of stacks of salt beef and rye, I love the pictures of the sandwiches. Its a surprise, perhaps, that such Hollywood royalty can sit at a booth in an unassuming deli without anyone bothering her.

For nearly 30 years, Bening a four-time Oscar nominee, a Bafta winner for American Beauty and twice a Golden Globe recipient( for Being Julia and The Kids Are All Right ) has been bending the notions of family. At the age of 58, her latest maternal portrait in 20 th Century Women is lauded as her most electric, searching and emotionally expansive yet.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

The magic number: how many people have you slept with?

1 month, 21 days ago

From a 40 -year-old virgin to a role-play devotee, real people disclose everything theyve learned between the sheets. Cautioning: adult content

You didnt go all the way unless you were stupid, because it would ruin your life

Jane, 81, three partners

My grandmother was a Victorian and wouldnt mention the lavatory. For her, sexuality would have been something a woman suffered rather than enjoyed.

Coming to London in 1955 was a revelation. My friend and I shared a flat with three chaps. This was unheard of at the time, but by gosh we had fun. There was a bath in the kitchen and, if you didnt want to miss the party, people could hand you a drink through the curtain.

But Id never go all the way. You couldnt enjoy sexuality to that extent, because youd be afraid of losing control. We had no contraception. You didnt go further unless you were stupid, because it would ruin your life. Even when you were married, you were holding back, in case you got pregnant again. That destroyed a lot of the pleasure for women. The greatest liberation was the contraceptive pill. That changed everyones attitude to sex.

I marriage at 24 and had two children, but I used to wish I could have sex just for the sake of it. Im divorced now and, a couple of years back, a male acquaintance asked, Are you still active? And I supposed, whats he on about? My arms and legs still run. I can walk about. Then I realised it was a euphemism for sexually active. When I told my grandson, he burst out chuckling. Hed have to be fairly damned gorgeous, but I dont guess I could now. A man of my age would expect me to cook his food. I cant be bothered with that.

I went on Grindr when I was 16, and I was frightened

Paul, 20, three partners

When I was really young, I imagined myself being with a woman, because that was the norm. Growing up and used to identify I was gay changed everything.

At my age, a lot of gay men are quite sleazy. Straight men are likely the same. People sleep around, and its not my scene, so finding a long-term partner can be difficult. I recollect going on Grindr when I was 16, and I was terrified because older humen started sending me photos. I was like: what are you doing? Youre 40. Is that OK? That 40 -year-old humen can approach 16 -year-olds?

Its very easy for lesbian men to find sex. If I wanted to have sex tonight, I could probably find someone, but I wouldnt feel the connection. I could go on Grindr, chat person up and invite them round, but I dont like the idea of inviting a stranger into my house.

I miss people actually talking to each other, instead of being online. You ensure 90 s Tv programmes where people go up to someone in a bar and say, Hi, can I get your number? And I think, that would never, ever happen these days.

Ive not been in that situation yet, but I think sex is likely best when youre in a relationship, because youre more comfy around one another. When you dont know person, you always think, Oh God, is this OK? Am I doing this right? Especially if theyre more experienced than you. Ive slept with guys whove had more experience and guys whove had less, and you can tell the difference, so I always wonder: can they tell that about me?

There are lots of things that are way more pleasurable than penetration

Matt, 28, more than 25 partners

The sex we see in the media is one-dimensional. Its nearly always penetrative, and that might be how you construct babies, but its not the best style to induce your partner climax. I had an illness when I was a child, which meant I lost one of my legs. Disabled people have a blessing in a manner that is, because they learn that there are lots of other things that you can do that are style more pleasurable.

I discovered that confidence is a trick when I was at university. Its a style of holding your head up and faking it, because women dont actually care how you seem. But I also realised that the best thing I could do was to learn how to induce women genuinely enjoy themselves. So much of sex education is not based on female pleasure at all. A lot of men have a narrative in their head about how sex should play out, which objective up prohibiting genuine experimentation. Some humen get intimidated by a woman who is sexually empowered or open because its not what they were taught was meant to happen.

Photograph: Liz McBurney

I insure sexuality as play. If you havent got many hangups, when youre in that room and you close the door, its a space to do what youre interested in. I think some humen are intimidated by sex playthings because they induce them feel like theyre not been enough, but its merely another set of tools with which we can give our partners pleasure.

Im at a stage in my life now where, because of my disability, Im not always be permitted to do things as much as I would like to. But my partner is disabled as well, and there is never any pressure. We flirt and tease one another every day. Weve constantly get that flame being lit, and the most important thing is to make sure it doesnt go out.

When I was in my 30 s, my partner and I set up a role-play group

Christopher, 64, about 50 partners

I had BDSM interests from the age of eight, and a very full fantasy life in my head, but I didnt have sex until I was in my early 20 s, with another virgin. I took to it like a duck to water. I remember trying to establish with my doctor why my back was so messed up when I was at university, and realising Id built love 22 hours over the weekend with my first girlfriend. If I did it 22 times a year now, Id be lucky.

I am hetero-flexible. I respond sexually to girls, transvestites and transsexuals, as long as theyre garmented as girls. As soon as they put on men clothes, its not working for me.

I detected this back in 1987. I was in my 30 s when my live-in partner and I set up a role-play group. This was pre-internet, so we set an advert in a publication, and a lot of people joined, including trans girls. Its always been my attitude to be accepting of people.

In the end, its the cuddle and the spooning that are important. Sex is great, and Ive had one-night stands, but its empty as an experience. I opt the sex I have now to be part of a relationship, although nobody gets me exclusively any more.

Im on holiday with three girls at the moment. One is a former fan, one is current and one will be a fan in the future. We all know that. Nothing will happen behind anyones back, but neither does anyone have to know the full details. So thats what Im doing now, and I dont know what it constructs me, but I am instead enjoying it.

If I have an orgasm, I use it as time to focus on what I want to achieve, professionally or personally

Hattie, 41, five to 10 partners

Even if youre not in the mood for it, I think its good to have sex regularly, because it gets you out of a funk. It doesnt have to be a marathon. Theres a pressure around having great sex all the time, and get the doll out or doing the massage, but quickies can be great, too.

I have a little ritual around sex. If I have an orgasm, I use it as time to focus on what I want to achieve, professionally or personally, because its an empowering position to be in. Youre relaxed and positive, so putting out that vibe is a way of doing something with that energy.

My first teenage tries at sexuality were not promising. My confidence was low. I didnt have much of a drive and it all seemed a little bit painful and not a lot of fun. I didnt feel feminine and sensual in my 20 s at all. That came afterwards for me. I feel much more able to express myself now than I did when I was younger.

I think theres a tendency to put pressure on our partners to be everything: emotional and physical subsistence, great sexuality: its too much, particularly when children come along. Thats when my relationship broke down with my daughters dad.

My current relationship is genuinely positive. One thing I have learned is to maintain my privacy and not tell my partner everything. Not that Im being deceitful, but having bounds whether thats physical space or not oversharing is a good thing, because there needs to be a little bit of mystery there, too.

My most freeing experiences are usually around BDSM, inducing yourself with wax play, bondage, being blindfolded or spanked. Its that balance between being submissive and a feminist that I love. Its really nice to have person take control for a little while. It doesnt mean they take control in the rest of our life together. At the end of the working day, its merely an act.

Photograph: Liz McBurney for the Guardian

Ive had a few flings with girls, and detected Im probably not a lesbian

Samantha, 39, 20 to 40 partners

My mum was quite sexually aware and sassy. That was a positive influence. I wasnt made to think sexuality was bad or shameful, “its just” part of life. My parents kept it fresh. I received a pouch of naughty clothes in their wardrobe once, and I could never look at them the same route after that. They never let the trigger disappear. Even though there was a lot of screaming and slamming doorways, everyone elses mothers got divorced except mine.

There is the stuff Id instead forget( the dates where youre not that into it but end up drunkenly sleeping with them anyway ), but the things you think youll regret, you dont. Ive had a few flings with daughters. I learned Im likely not a lesbian, but I detected a lot about myself in the process.

Ive been with my partner for 10 years now. Its not the same as the early days, when you cant keep your hands off one another. We work at preserving the intimacy and excitement, because you dont want to get to the point where you know your partners next move, but we are still attracted to each other. I appreciate the fact that weve not done everything and there are adventures still to be had.

I still suppose Im the best person on earth for dedicating myself an orgasm; I guess men would say that, too. Girls need to get their boulders off in whatever way works best for them. Its important not to subsume your desires and needs for someone elses, because sexuality is so much better when a woman is genuinely enjoying herself.

The internet allowed me to be a lot more upfront about my intentions

Tom, 49, more than 100 partners

Even though a lot of guys talk lavishly about sexuality, I dont guess a lot of them care about it as much as they make out. Ive been having sex for 33 years, and it has always been of upmost importance.

I aimed up getting my first girlfriend pregnant when I was 17 and marriage her, so for the first six years I was having sex with only person or persons. After we divorced, I began to sleep with more girls. There was no internet back then, so it was asking for girls numbers in saloon. But I was an early user once the internet get started. It allowed me to be a lot more upfront about my intentions.

In my 20 s and 30 s, there was a clash between my need to experimentation and the recommend to be in a relationship. If I gratified someone I was very sexually into, Id mistake that for real feelings, dive in and it would all go wrong. It started to feel quite corrosive.

Ive been in a comparatively open relationship for the last eight years. Were together, but we can play with other people if we want to. Theres no lying involved, and that completely changes the dynamic. In past relationships, Id had affairs that felt like a big secret, but not now. Any participation is with my partners knowledge, and Im upfront about that with the women I meet. For some, that attains it instantly less appealing. Ive been in genuinely passionate flirtings that fizzle out the moment they realise Im not cheating.

My sex drive has started to diminish, but its a bit of a relief. I often is considered that if I was celibate, Id be a millionaire, because the time Ive expended pursuing women could have been spent on my career.

For two days after I sleep with someone, I dont trust my feelings. I call it the sexuality haze

Sadie, 25, undisclosed

This year has been my big sex awakening. My friends take the piss out of me: Sadies got that look in her eye. Watch out, men! At the same day, I have an old-fashioned shame thing when it comes to approaching men. I dont like that, but I think its quite emblematic of where women and men are at. No ones really sure what femininity means any more, and men dont know what masculinity stands for, either.

I was destroyed after my breakup and went online to remember how to interact with guys. Wed been together three years, and theres something wonderful about having sex encounters with people you really dont know, but its stressful as well. Online dating leaves a road of digital events to agonise over, depending on how emotionally vulnerable you feel. Like: Hes on Facebook now, so why isnt he getting back to me? Its a horror. And the very nature of the swipe interface on Tinder constructs the whole thing feel so disposable.

The only way Ive managed to deal with it is to set a framework in place you have to be able to protect yourself. Im methodical and rational about it now. I heard somewhere that women are predisposed to develop strong emotional ties with the person or persons they have sex with, especially if its great sexuality, so for two days after I sleep with someone, I actively dont trust my impressions. I call it being in the sexuality haze.

My allergy to relationships has passed now. Its been a year since we split. Im not as hungry as I was for new experiences. My ex had a looking that merely certain boys are capable of devoting: its about love, and who you are, and wanting you because of that, and thats really hot. I want to fall in love with a really sexy human who loves me. Is that too much to ask?

Photograph: Liz McBurney

Theres a simple sense of playfulness that get lost in adult sexuality

Sarah, 57, more than 1,000 partners

I had a breakdown at 13. I had a difficult household background and ended up in a psychotherapists office and then hospital. There was a lot of acting out and I lost my virginity shortly afterwards. I was interested in sexuality, but I had no appreciation of myself and I got a reputation for being easy without actually understanding how that had happened. I developed cravings, and as soon as my education was over, I left home. I fell into the gay women freeing movement, and for the next 25 years I identified as a lesbian.

As my addictions took over, I ended up in the sex business, and on my 30 th birthday I observed myself in rehab, having been charged with solicitation. I was so full of traumatic, undigested sexual experiences from the street; if I ever had a sexual feeling, Id shut it down.

Then, 10 years ago, I had a moment of clarity that I wanted to explore my sexuality with humen again. Being a lesbian had felt like part of who I was, so it was strange to grapple with the idea that it wasnt really true any more. One of the things I love about sex with women is that it can be so endless and full of possibilities. It doesnt have a clear start or a finish. But lesbian sexuality can at times feel labour-intensive in a way that sexuality with men doesnt.

I decided to start an erotic massage practise for men, and Ive became aware that Im much better at devoting pleasure than receiving it. Its erotic for me. Its a pleasure to give pleasure. Im moved and sometimes saddened by how much loneliness and longing I find in my naked men, but I also find a lot of what I call libidinal elation a simple sense of playfulness that I think get lost in adult sexuality as people struggle to hold partnerships together. That kind of play requires vulnerability, and an enormous currency in any relationship.

I was a 40 -year-old virgin when we marriage. I never sowed my wild oats

Terry, 67, one partner

Right from the start, I was sensitive and a little bit of a nerd. I recollect my mothers friends commenting that I looked like a little professor, and I was. At 26, the pressure and stress were getting to me. I tried online dating bureaux with no success. I was simply not equipped to get along with women. I spiralled into alcoholism and eventual recovery.

I met my spouse towards the end of my heavy-drinking period, and we pretty much clicked instantaneously. Our marriage has lasted 25 years, and its been solid throughout; we get on well and love each other deep. But weve had our challenges over the years with sex. I was a 40 -year-old virgin when we marriage and shed had sexuality only once before: at 21, consensual but traumatic, at a party.

She had been imbued with the idea of a womans duty or Lie back and think of England. Sex was invariably initiated by me and, at around 46, my wifes interest waned. The menopause came and ran, her libido dropped away and our sexual encounters stopped. We are physically affectionate and greatly attached, but I miss sex and that moment of communion. I masturbate most days, mainly to the kind of internet porn that demonstrates real couples or homemade stuff, but I miss body contact.

Photograph: Liz McBurney for the Guardian

I have developed a yearning for what is highly improbable: that I can take up with a young woman for casual pleasure without commitment. I have discussed this with my wife, who has not expressed aggression to the idea; she said she just wouldnt want to know the details. The last thing I want is to hurt her. Many of my friends confess to me the infidelities that theyve kept secret, and I simply cant comprehend such a thing. It would be agony. But I never sowed my wild oats, you watch, and I regret that. Is it too late to make up for that somehow?

I remember driving across township to have sex with a stranger

Jonathan, 50, 40 partners

Im definitely a one-to-one guy. Im not into sleeping around. For me, a big part of sexuality is getting to know someone. The more you feel that sense of commitment, that locking in of trust, the more playful and expressive you are able to be.

Im not in a relationship at the moment, but I can remember periods when Ive had to stop the car to have sex with a girlfriend on the way to Brighton, and its firm commitment that has enabled me to be mischievous and expressive like that.

The truly great moments? The first time is up there, because it felt significant and I felt really loved. I was 17. If there is such a thing as a top 10, Id include those moments in a relationship when you wake up in the night impression horny and have to have sex. Also, I recollect chatting to someone online when the internet was still a novelty and driving across town to have sex. I didnt well known and I didnt assure her again, but it was thrilling.

There have been all sorts of times, in tents or up mountains, but great sex has always been when Im in tune with person. I dont find uncertainty thrilling; I find it a pain in the arse.

I had a very experienced lover. I wasnt in love: he was just the facilitator of my fantasies

Rachel, 55, a few hundred partners

Generally, I feel a little bit flat. The ups and downs you get when you have periods are all gone. But its not as if Im thinking, I wish Id had more group sexuality or I wish Id shagged 100 more people. Because I did more in 10 years than most people have done in their entire lives.

I think there is a surge of hormones in your early 40 s perhaps your body is trying to fulfil its destiny because I felt up for it all the time. I was divorced, Id had my children and I was involved with a man who was a very experienced lover. I would tell him what was going through my head and he would make it happen. I wasnt committed to him, I wasnt in love. It was just: You are the facilitator of my fantasies. I wouldnt even know what was happening half the time, because there were so many different sensations going on in my body. It was quite spiritual, in a weird sort of way.

Women in their 40 s are dangerous. Theyre nuts. The great thing is that you have the mental capacity to switch off all the drama that you had in your 20 s Does he love me? Does he not love me? In your 40 s, youre like, I definitely do not love him but, by God, hes a good shag.

I think, for women, desire happens in the brain. This is something I am constantly telling my current partner. Weve been together three years and he doesnt get it. It amazes me that no matter how intelligent guys are, they simply do not appears to get that if you dont do certain things, youre not going to come. I think there must be a lot of women who fake it, because how else have men come to the conclusion theyre all so amazing?

The intellect is an erogenous zone. It doesnt have to be intercourse

Angela, 61, one partner

I have been married for 38 years and my husband is the only sexual partner Ive had. For the last 10 years, our marriage had lacked intimacy. It wasnt that we were unhappy, it just happened as it does to lots of people: intimacy, failure to communicate, the omnipresence of children.

Just over a year ago, when I was feeling particularly sad and frustrated about this, my husband reached out to me in bed. I think he simply touched me. It was as simple as that, but it was as if a floodgate had opened. It was like a thin wall had been there, so thin you could put your thumb through it, and thats all it took for someone to break it. Theres been no looking back since then, and sex is a wonderful part of our lives now.

Im sure it was exciting and lovely when we were younger, but I think it was probably more goal-oriented, and it isnt now thats a huge difference. Now its more about is available on the moment. The whole body can be an erogenous zone. The intellect is an erogenous zone. It doesnt have to be intercourse. Thats a tiny part of it for us. This is the greatest day of my life, sexually. Everything feels very heightened and real.

My husband said he didnt know how interested in sexuality I was, and he delights in it now. And because Ive become more open and able to express myself, he has as well. You guess, why didnt I say this a long time ago? Because it wasnt hard in the end. But theres no judgment or impression of disapproval or shock or anything. Its all just wonderful.

Whats your number? Tell us about your experiences anonymously.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

White Saviour Barbie’s world of orphanage selfies and charity startups

1 month, 23 days ago

A spoof Instagram account is parodying millennial voluntourism and gap yahs

Name : White Saviour Barbie. Age : 20. Appearance : The very model of western millennial egalitarianism.

Is that a compliment? No, definitely not. Barbie Savior is an Instagram account that satirises the messiah complex of affluent westerners who spend time travelling in the developing world.

Im nothing like that . Really? But didnt you once expend an afternoon helping out in a rural Guatemalan orphanage during your gap year?

Yes, but And didnt you spend the entire afternoon dismis the staff and taking selfies with the children?

Yes, but And dont those selfies now exist exclusively as a method to convince people that you are nicer than you are, mostly so that they will sleep with you?

Rats, busted . Its OK. We have all done it. White Saviour Barbie merely glistens a light on that a little. In fact, the creators started the account after realising that they were guilty of imitating her behaviour. So what does White Saviour Barbie do ? She basically exemplifies the obnoxiously self-serving They have nothing, but theyre so happy attitude of many western travellers. For example, the caption under a photo of Barbie hugging a black Barbie is: Orphans take the BEST pictures! So. Cute. #whatsyournameagain #orphans.

From Barbie Savior Instagram account.

Is there more ? A fortnight ago, she started a charity called Harness the Tears, because: Ever since Ive been here, Ive been crying almost 90% of the time. I realised how wasteful that was as there is such a need for water here! Given the fact that Ive always wanted to be a CEO and Im already 20 years old, I figured it was time to get moving!

This all voices a lot like the Sociality Barbie Instagram account from last year. Truth be told, it is. Poor Barbie is quickly becoming the ship by which white millennials chronicle their own self-loathing.

What could possibly be next ? Barbie Already Nostalgic for 2011 Student Disco? Barbie Blaming Her Dire Financial Outlook on Baby Boomers by Tweeting a Sad Emoji on Her 750 Smartphone? What about Barbie Silently Furious at the Condescension of an Apparently Ageing Media ? Yes, OK, point taken.

Do say: Check your privilege, White Saviour Barbie.

Dont say: And dont get me started on you, Masculine Hegemony Mr Potato Head.

From Barbie Saviour Harness the Tears.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Inner-city living builds for healthier, happier people, study determines

2 months, 6 days ago

Residents of higher-density areas are more active, more socially engaged and less obese than people who live in the sprawl of suburbia

Contrary to popular belief, busy city centres beat suburban living when it is necessary to human wellbeing, as socialising and walking make for happier, healthier people, according to a new report.

Downtown residents- packed together in tight row houses or apartment blocks- become active and socially engaged than people who live in the sprawl of suburbia, according to a report that aims to challenge popular beliefs about city life.

Its authors said their findings should encourage legislators to promote the benefits of built-up city living.

” If we can persuade policy makers that this is a public health possibility, we can construct well-designed communities, and in the long term you have made a big difference in the area of health outcomes ,” its co-author Chinmoy Sarkar told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

” With evidence, we can scheme multi-functional, attractive neighborhoods that promote physical activity, promote social interaction, and shield from negatives such as pollution and impression unsafe .”

The examine- by Oxford University and the University of Hong Kong( UHK)- showed that in 22 British cities people living in built-up residential area had lower levels of obesity and exercised more than residents in scattered, suburban homes.

” As cities get more and more compact, they become more walkable. In denser residential areas they are better designed and most attractive destinations. We are less dependent on our automobiles and use public transport more ,” he said.

Sarkar, assistant prof at UHK, said policies and planning needed to catch up with the data, rather than relying on urban myths about what attains cities work.

The study showed that areas of suburban sprawl with about 18 homes per hectare- such as poorly designed neighborhoods near motorways, where driving is the only option- had the greatest rates of obesity and lowest rates of exercise.

Suburban areas with few homes- often privileged communities with big gardens and open spaces- were healthier than this but lagged behind the most densely populated areas in inner cities.

Walking constructed the biggest change, said Sarkar, and social interaction and physical activity flourished best in compact communities.

The analyse compared more than 400,000 residents of cities- including London, Glasgow, and Cardiff- and procured the best health came in areas with more than 32 homes per hectare, the average density for new building in Britain.

This level, typical of developments of standalone semi-detached suburban homes, is less than a one-quarter of the density of Georgian terraces of London’s desirable Islington and Notting Hill neighbourhoods.

Sarkar called into question British policies- such as statutes to curtail suburban homes from dividing their plots and filling in more homes in gardens- which have sought to preserve suburbia’s open and emptier spaces.

In January the government announced it would construct 17 new towns and villages across the countryside in a bid to ease a chronic housing shortage. But Sarkar said policy makers should think again before building on green fields.

Despite spiralling home costs and government targets to build a million homes by 2020, Britain’s restrictive scheming system has prevented high-density, urban planning due to fears that it would lead to high-rise, low-quality blocks of flats, according to a government paper released in February.

London remains one of Europe’s most sparsely populated major cities, with less than half the density of Madrid, Barcelona and Paris, and below the level of Milan, Berlin and Rome.

The paper recommended local authorities to reverse their long-standing opposition to built-up residential areas by highlighting London’s mansion blocks and terraced streets, all of which promote a strong sense of neighbourhood.

On Wednesday the prime minister, Theresa May, said the government would give PS2bn( US $2.6 bn) to local government authorities to build 25,000 homes for rental in the social housing sector, which urgently requires new properties.

The the administration has invest a further PS10bn in a strategy that aims to boost home ownership by helping people buy a new-build home with only a small deposit.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

India court bans Islamic instant divorce in huge win for women’s rights

3 months, 3 days ago

Controversial practice of triple talaq, which permits humen to dissolve weddings instantly, declared unconstitutional

An Islamic practice permitting humen to instantly divorce their wives has been proclaimed unconstitutional by India’s supreme court after decades of campaigning by women’s groups and victims.

The” triple talaq” has allowed Muslim men to dissolve weddings by pronouncing the word “divorce” three times.

The supreme court in Delhi took up the issue last year in response to a petition from seven victims and women’s groups. A majority of the bench proclaimed on Wednesday that triple talaq was ” not integral to religious practice and violates constitutional morality “.

Campaigners hailed the supreme court’s 3-2 decision as a huge victory for India’s 90 million Muslim women.

” It’s a very happy day for us. It’s an historical day ,” said Zakia Soman, the co-founder of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan( BMMA ), an activist group that was party to the legal battle.

” We, the Muslim women, are entitled to justice from the courts as well as the legislature .”

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, also welcomed the verdict 😛 TAGEND

Narendra Modi (@ narendramodi)

Judgment of the Hon’ble SC on Triple Talaq is historic. It awards equality to Muslim women and is a powerful measure for women empowerment.

August 22, 2017

A national survey conducted in 2015 by the BMMA saw roughly 1 in 11 Muslim females were survivors of triple talaq, the vast majority receiving no alimony or compensation.

Clerics had also started recognising instant divorces where the word “talaq” had been texted or emailed.

Arshiya Ismail did not even hear her husband utter the words. She told the Guardian last year:” One day, suddenly, he told me he had given me talaq. He said:’ I gave it to you four days earlier .'”

She has spent the past six years trying to have the Islamic divorce overturned so that she can leave her husband under India’s more progressive secular statutes, which entitles her to one-third of his salary to subsistence herself and their child.

” It’s wonderful news, I’m so emotional about it ,” Ismail said on Tuesday.” Basically my wedding still stands as per the supreme court. I was hoping for it but I still had my doubts .”

Triple talaq has been criticised even among hardline Muslim schools and was already banned in Pakistan, Bangladesh and across much of the Islamic world.

It persisted in India because the country’s Muslim, Hindu and Christian communities are permitted to follow religion law in personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and adoption.

Progressive Muslim women’s groups say Islamic religious authorities- uniformly male- have been resistant to give up men’s power to instantly leave their wives.

India’s Muslim community is also generally poorer and less educated than others, which activists say has built it harder for women to mount legal and social campaigns against the practice.

Islamic leaders have also warned that meddling with Muslim personal statutes may watch them one day dismantled altogether, in favour of a uniform civil code they are afraid would be Hindu-inflected and ride roughshod over their beliefs.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, whose party have all along pushed for a uniform civil code, had backed the petitioners in the case.

Each of the five supreme court judges belonged to one of India’s main faiths- Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism. The majority opinion said it was ” manifestly arbitrary” to allow a spouse to” break down[ a] wedding whimsically and capriciously “.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, a peak body of Islamic organisations, had said it considered triple talaq but argued against the supreme court interfering in religious law.

Nonetheless, Kamal Faruqui, a member of the board, said he considered the decision as a victory.

” It upholds the rights of Muslims and other minorities to follow their own personal laws ,” he said.

” There are just a few voices in the country that wanted to bring in a uniform civil code for all religious faiths, but the supreme court magistrates said a few weeks ago that they would look only at triple talaq , not at other customs. So Muslim personal statute has been protected by the ruling .”

Noor Jehan, another member of the BMMA, said she had celebrated the verdict in her office with sweets and soft drinks, but would begin lobbying for a more progressive Islamic divorce law.

” It is a historic victory for Muslim women, something we have been working for for 10 years ,” she said.” It is going to give immense relief to females but we need to pass a law soon. Our organisation has already prepared a draft law which we will send to the government .”

Additional reporting by Amrit Dhillon

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: ‘Can people please stop telling me feminism is hot? ‘

3 months, 10 days ago

The novelist has been accused of making equality mainstream: isnt that the phase? Plus an excerpt from her new Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was in Lagos last summer, teaching a writing workshop as part of an annual schedule that considers her period divided between Nigeria and the US. For much of the year, Adichie lives in a town 30 minutes west of Baltimore, where her Nigerian-American spouse runs as a medic and the 39 -year-old writes in the quiet of a suburban home. When Adichie is in Nigeria, where her parents and extended family still live, she has a house in the vast city she considers with the complicated love and condescension of the part-time expat.

Its an ambivalence with which many Nigerians regard her, too; last year, the workshop ended in a question-and-answer session, during which a young man rose to ask the famous novelist a question. I used to love you, she recalls him saying. Ive read all your volumes. But since you started this whole feminism thing, and since you started to talk about this gay thing, Im simply not sure about you any more. How do you intend to keep the love of people like me?

Adichie and I are in a coffee shop near her home in the Baltimore suburbs. We have met before, a few years ago, when her third novel Americanah was published, a book that examines what it is to be a Nigerian woman living in the US, and that went on to win a National Book Critics Circle award. A plenty has happened since then. Half Of A Yellow Sun, Adichies second and most well known novel, about the Biafran war, has been built into a film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton. Her essay, We Should All Be Feminists, accommodated from her 2013 TEDx talk, has remained on the bestseller listings, particularly in Sweden, where in 2015 it was distributed to every 16 -year-old high-school student in the land. The talk was sampled by Beyonc in her ballad Flawless. Adichie has become the face of Boots No7 makeup. And she has had a baby, a daughter , now 15 months old.

Adichie is still somewhat in the blast zone , not entirely caught up on sleep, but has published a short book, Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions, an extended version of a letter to a friend who, after having her own baby girl, asked Adichies advice on how to raise her to be feminist. I have had twin girls myself since our last meeting, so I am curious about her approach , not least because one of my two-year-olds currently identifies as Bob the Builder and the other as Penelope Pitstop. I would like to equip them to be themselves, while defying whatever projections might be foisted upon them. We depict each other baby photos and smile. Welcome to the world of anxiety, Adichie says.

The success of We Should All Be Feminists has attained Adichie as prominent for her feminism as for her novels, to the extent that now I get invited to every damned feminist thing in countries around the world. She has always been an agony aunt of sorts, the unpaid therapist for my family and friends, but having the feminist label attached has changed things, and not only among her intimates. I was opened to a certain level of enmity that I hadnt experienced before as a novelist and public figure.

This is partly why she has written the new volume, to reclaim the word feminism from its abusers and misusers, a category within which she would include certain other progressives, and to lay down in plain, elegant English her beliefs about child-raising.

Dear Ijeawele is, in some way, a very basic situated of appeals; to be careful with speech( never say because you are a girl ), avoid gendered dolls, foster read, dont treat marriage as an accomplishment, reject likability. Her chore is not to induce herself likable, her job must therefore be her full self, she writes in reference to her friends daughter, a selection Adichie has come to elevate almost above any other.

That day in Lagos last summertime, her friends were furious at the cheek of the young mans topic, but she instead liked his courage and franknes in asking it. She replied in the same spirit. Keep your love, Adichie said. Because, sadly, while I love to be loved, I will not accept your love if it comes with these conditions.

Having a newborn has built Adichie believe differently about her own parents, especially her mother. Grace Adichie, who had six “childrens and” worked her way up from being a university administrator to the registrar, taught her daughter to love manner as well as volumes, and was a very cool mum whom she idolised as small children. Nonetheless, and in the manner of most snotty young adults, young Chimamanda went through a phase of being very superior to her mom. Now, the novelist looks at her daughter and gulps.

Adichie recently came across her own kindergarten reports. My father keeps them all. You know what the educator wrote? She is brilliant, but she refuses to do any run when shes rile. I was five years old. She laughs. I couldnt believe it. My husband couldnt believe it. I must have been an riling child.

Its not as if she comes from a family of revolutionaries. My mothers are not like that. Theyre conventional, reasonable, responsible, good, kind people. Im the crazy. But their love and subsistence made that crazy thrive.

Unlike Adichie, who was raised exclusively in Nigeria, her daughter will be raised in two cultures and subject to somewhat diverging social expectations. Already, Adichie says with a laugh, friends and relatives from home are concerned that her mothering is insufficiently stern.

A friend was just visiting and she said to me, Your parenting is not very Nigerian. In Nigeria and, I suppose, in many cultures you control children. And I feel like, my daughter is 15 months, she doesnt have a sense of consequences. And I enjoy watching her. So she tears a page of a volume? Whatever. She hurls my shoes down. So? Its fun. I love that shes quite strong-willed. The joke between Adichie and her husband whom, to her intense aggravation, their daughter looks much more like is that her character cleaves to the maternal side. He says to me, Well, at least we know where she got her personality from. Shes quite fierce.

In the new book, Adichies advice is not just to provide children with alternatives to empower boys and girls to understand there is no single style to be but also to understand that the only universal in this world is difference. In terms of the evolution of feminism, these are not new lessons, but that is rather Adichies phase. She is not writing for other feminist writers, and demonstrates some annoyance at what she sees as the solipsism of much feminist debate.

That morning, on the way to see her, I had read a review of a new volume by Jessa Crispin, entitled Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto, a criticism of everything that is wrong with feminism today. If one can get over the eye-rolling aspect of volumes by feminists decrying the feminism of other feminists for degrading the word feminist by being insufficiently feminist, the book does raise questions about where 1 should be focusing ones efforts.

Fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni wears Adichies Dior T-shirt during Paris fashion week, January 2017. Photograph: Edward Berthelot/ Getty Images

The proposition is that feminism has become so mainstream as to be an empty marketing tool, a mere motto on a container or a T-shirt. Without being named, Adichie is implicated in this critique, given that last year she collaborated with Christian Dior on a T-shirt bearing the line We Should All Be Feminists; depending on ones view, this is either a perfect example of pointless sloganeering or a brilliant piece of preaching to the unconverted.

Im already irritated, Adichie says. This idea of feminism as a party to which merely a select few people get to come: this is why so many girls, particularly women of colour, feel alienated from mainstream western academic feminism. Because, dont we want it to be mainstream? For me, feminism is a movement for which the end goal is to make itself no longer needed. I suppose academic feminism is interesting in that it can give a language to things, but Im not terribly interested in debating words. I want people marriages to change for the better. I want females to walk into job interviews and be treated the same way as somebody who has a penis.

Still, one can see a theoretical obscenity about the Dior collaboration: the words of a movement that should be concerned with helping low-income females, used to promote and make money for a wealthy company. On the other hand: what is the damage?

Yes: whats the damage? Adichie says. I would even argue about the theoretically obscene. Theres a kind of self-righteousness to the ultra-left that is hard for me to stomach. Its approach to poverty can sometimes border on condescension. I often think that people who write a lot about poverty need to go and spend more time with poor people. I think about Nigerian women who can hardly afford anything but who love fashion. They have no fund, but they work it.

Adichie mentions a TV soap opera that used to run in Nigeria called The Rich Also Cry, a terrible drama series, she says, that was very popular. But sometimes I think about that title. So, the creative director of Christian Dior is patently a woman of some privilege. But does it then mean that she doesnt have gender-based problems in their own lives? Because she does. Does it mean she doesnt have this magnificent rage about gender injustice? Because she does. Wanting to utilize that slogan was it going to make the world a better place? No. But I think theres a level of consciousness-raising and a level of subversion that I like.

She doesnt believe it was a cynical marketing ploy? No. Sorry. Feminism is not that hot. I can tell you I would sell more volumes in Nigeria if I stopped and said Im no longer a feminist. I would have a stronger following, I would make more money. So when people say, Oh, feminisms a marketing gambit, it makes me laugh.

The bigger issue here is one of scope. Adichies irritation with aspects of what she supposes of as professional feminism is that it runs counter to her ideas as a novelist: that people contain multitudes. She is a brilliant novelist and a serious thinker, and she is also someone who constructs no apology for her own trivial interests. Life doesnt always follow ideology, she says. You might believe in certain things and life gets in and things just become messy. You know? I think thats the space that fiction, and having a bit more of an imaginative approach, builds. And that the feminist speaking circuit doesnt really make room for.

There is much in the new volume about doubled standards, including those governing the images of motherhood and fatherhood. I think we need to stop giving men cookies for doing what they should do, she says, and goes on to explain that her husband, who needs less sleep than her, tends to get up in the night to tend to the baby. On the one hand, I realise that my husband is unusual; on the other, I feel resentful when hes overpraised by my family and friends. Hes like Jesus.

He probably senses shes about to go off the deep end, I indicate, and Adichie smiles to acknowledge how impossible she is. I did all the physical work to produce her! Theres something basically wrong with the way weve constructed what it means to be female in the world.

Photograph: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

This is something she writes about in a lovely passage of the new book about hair. As a child, Adichie and her sisters and every other girl she knew were routinely tortured with a metal comb to subdue their hair, something her brethren were spared. Im glad I wrote that, Adichie says. We had just come back from Lagos and my sister, God blesses her, had already had a talk with me about my daughters hair. She said, You need to do anything about it. With my family, theres an eye-roll and a here-we-go-again with her, and she said to me, Do you want me to send you a decide of combs? And I was like, No, thank you. And I know its going to keep pas. But , no, Im not going to conform in that style. Im not going to have my child go across pain because society expects a certain neatness. It happened to me, its not going to happen to her. And Im ready to have all the battles I need to have.

The original letter on which Dear Ijeawele is based has been shared on Facebook, and while Adichie was in Lagos, a woman whod read it approached her in a store and said, Heres my daughter, look at her hair. She had very loose cornrows that were not neat according to Nigerians. And she said, You inspired that. My daughter is happier, Im happier. And do you know, it was the highlighting of my month.

This is not just a question of image. It is also about time. Women have less day than men, in almost every arena, because their responsibilities to look or act a certain style are more onerous.

It is one of Adichies bugbears that as someone who loves style, she is by default not taken seriously. When Boots approached her to be the face of its No7 makeup range, she said yes, because she thought it might be fun; in the end, she says, it became vaguely alarming. I have no sadness, but you wake up one day and think, what the hell have I done? There were too many of these scenes everywhere. Her phase, however, is that its not that Im a feminist and made a strategic choice to speak about makeup and manner. Its that I was raised by Grace Adichie in a culture in which you care about how you look. Its a part of me I once concealed, because I felt that I had to to be serious. Now, Im only being who I am.

Recently, Adichies identity has been tested under new ways. I wonder if she is less has an impact on President Trump than an American, on the basis that she is less invested in the American story. Quite the contrary, she says. Because theres a part of me that needs a country I can think of as being one that largely works. Which is not a luxury that Nigeria can have. She laughs.

Someone said to me, Now that this is happening in the US, do “youre thinking about” moving back to Nigeria? And I believed , no, because its not any better there. I admire America. I dont think of myself as American Im not. So its not mine. But I admire it, and so theres a sense that this thing I built in my head, its been destroyed.

There is also, she says, something familiar about it all. American republic has never been tested. You might have disagreed ideologically with George W Bush, but he still kind of followed the rules. Here, it feels like Nigeria. It genuinely does. Its that feeling of political uncertainty that Im very familiar with, but not a impression I like. Its ugly. But even worse, because America is so powerful, and so much at the centre of the world, these things have consequences for everyone. Nigeria doesnt have that kind of reaching, so our problems remain our problems.

In January, Adichie and her husband joined the Womens March in DC. It was fleeting, and symbolic, she says, but it “ve given me” the smallest slice of hope. There are all of these people who seem to realise that America has changed by electing an unhinged person. On the other hand, theres a part of me thats very sceptical of too much sentimentality. I hope it translates into people organising and going out to vote.

Long before talking here penetrating the filter bubble, Adichie instinctively subscribed to rightwing blogs and newsletters. She was an early watcher of Fox News, until it became too unhinged and ridiculous. But she has carried on, because Im interested in ideological concerns and how people differ, and how we should build a society. Whats a welfare country? People who have less, are we responsible for them? I think we are. And I think I can make a selfish occurrence, which is apparently what appeals to people on the right. People on the left say we should do it because we should be kind. And people on the right think, Excuse me? But if you say to them, If these people dont get healthcare, they will go to the ER and your tax dollars will pay for it, suddenly they sit up.

Adichie with her husband, Ivara Esege. Photo: DDAA/ ZOB/ Daniel Deme/ WENN

As a result of her reading, rightwing ideology is not something I think is evil, she says. Some. A bit. But, in general, I dont. I have friends who are good, kind people who are on the right. But Donald Trump is an exception. Its not an objection to a conservative, because I dont even think hes a conservative. My objection is an objection to chaos. Each time I turn on the news, Im holding my breath.

Trumps erosion of speech is one of the most frightening things about him, but even progressives, Adichie says, can be sloppy on this front. In response to her new book, a reporter emailed her the question: Why not humanism?( instead of feminism ). To which, she says, I thought, what part of the fucking volume did this person not read?

Its like the people who go around saying All Lives Matter, I say, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Right, which I find deeply offensive and very dishonest. Because we have to name something in order to fix it, which is why I insist on the word feminist or feminism.

This, she says, in spite of the fact that many of her friends, particularly black females, resist that word, because the history of feminism has been very white and has assumed girls meant white girls. Political debate in this country still does that. Theyll say, Women voted for … and then, Black people voted for … And I guess: Im black and a woman, so where do I fit in here?

As a result, Many of my friends who are not white will say, Im an intersectional feminist, or Im a womanist. And I have trouble with that word, because it has undertones of femininity as this mystical goddess-mother thing, which stimulates me uncomfortable. So we need a word. And my hope is we use feminism often enough that it starts to lose all the stigma and becomes this inclusive, diverse thing.

This is her goal and her defense, although she still doesnt find why she requires one. Her understanding of feminism is intertwined with her understanding that we all want to be more than one thing. And anyway, she repeats, Can people please stop telling me that feminism is hot? Because its not. Adichie looks excellently vexed. Honestly.

Beware feminism lite: an excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichies letter-turned-book, Dear Ijeawele

Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by it. You dont even have to love your job; you can simply love the confidence and self-fulfilment that come with doing and earning. Please reject the idea that motherhood and work are mutually exclusive. Our mothers worked full-time while we were growing up, and we turned out well at least you did; the jury is still out on me.

In these coming weeks of early motherhood, be kind to yourself. Ask for help. Expect to be helped. There is no such thing as a Superwoman. Parenting is about practise and love.

Give yourself room to fail. A new mom does not necessarily know how to pacify a crying newborn. Read volumes, seem things up on the internet, ask older parents, or just use trial and error. But, above all, take time for yourself. Nurture your own needs.

I have no interest in the debate about females doing it all, because it is a debate that assumes that caregiving and domestic work are singularly female domains, an idea that I strongly reject. Domestic run and caregiving should be gender-neutral, and we should be asking not whether a woman can do it all, but how best to support parents in their dual responsibilities at work and at home.

Photograph: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

Beware the danger of what I call Feminism Lite; the idea of conditional female equality. Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in the full equality of men and women, or you do not.

Teach your daughter to question speech. A friend of mine says she will never call her daughter princess. The word is loaded with hypothesis, of a girls delicacy, of the prince who will come to save her. This friend favor angel and superstar. So decide the things you will not told me to your child. You know that Igbo joke, are applied to pester girls who are being childish What are you doing? Dont you know you are old enough to find a spouse? I used to say that often. But now I choose not to. I say, You are old enough to find a job. Because I do not believe that marriage is something we should teach young girls to aspire to.

Try not to use words like misogyny and patriarchy. We feminists can sometimes be too jargony. Teach her that if you criticise X in women but do not criticise X in humen, you do not have a problem with X, “youve got a problem” with women. For X please insert words like fury, ambition, loudness, stubbornness, coldness, ruthlessness.

Do you remember how we laughed and laughed at an abysmally written piece about me some years ago? The novelist had accused me of being angry, as though being angry were something to be ashamed of. Of course I am angry. I am angry about racism. I am angry about sexism. But I lately came to the realisation that I am angrier about sexism than I am about racism. Because in my rage about sexism, I often feel lonely. Because I love, and live among, many people who easily recognise race injustice but not gender injustice.

Teach your daughter to topic men who can have empathy for women only if they consider them as relational rather than as individual equal humen. Men who, when discussing rape, will say something like, If it were my daughter or wife or sister. Yet such humen do not need to imagine a male victim of crime as two brothers or son in order to feel empathy.

Teach her, too, to question the idea of women as a special species. I once heard an American politician, in his bid to show his support for women, speak of how women should be adored and championed a sentiment that is all too common. Tell her that girls dont need to be championed and venerated; they just need to be treated as equal human beings.

This is a condensed and edited extract from Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, published on Tuesday by Fourth estate at 10. To order a copy for 8.50, go to bookshop.theguardian.com

This article was amended on 4 March 2017. It originally referred to Lagos as Nigerias capital. This has now been corrected .

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I’m American and devastated. Why did we vote for Trump? | Mariella Frostrup

3 months, 14 days ago

One woman, frightened by her countrys results of the election, insures no chink of sunlight. Remember the millions, like you, trying to construct the world a better place, says Mariella Frostrup

The dilemma I am American; born, created and still living in New York City and I am, without exaggeration, devastated. I feel my country, in electing Donald Trump, has just been resulted down the road to extermination and mayhem. My disgrace, embarrassment, fear, rage, and sadness are unrelenting. I witnessed 9/11 from my school window as a adolescent, so I will never think of the US as a place of unending harmony or prosperity, but I cannot believe that so many people would allow this to happen.

I knocked on doorways, encouraged people to vote and donated money, but had I known the reality, I would have done much more. I know people in other countries are equally shocked, but do you have any wisdom to share? I would also like to tell those abroad that many of us here find this tragic and deep embarrassing( no one I know feels differently to me although I realise that is part of their own problems ).

Mariella replies My heart goes out to you. Many of us remain mortified by our nations recent political choices. We both live in countries that have experienced political shocks of a seismic nature in the past year and you are certainly not alone in your hopelessnes and embarrassment. That said, you cant take responsibility for the choices a nation makes any more than you can for a partner.

The best we can hope for is to try to understand why such selections were made and let that inform future dialogue. On the summer day we voted to leave the EU, plenty of us in the UK were as devastated as you are now, but period has encouraged a degree of sagacity. Pulling up the drawbridge to the UK has provided a salutary lesson to those on both sides, and neither seemed to be in step with voters. Believing youre the one in the right is no alternative to appreciating the concerns of others , no matter how alien their beliefs might feel.

Its a lesson as true in politics as it is in our personal lives. Being so convinced of the righteousness of your beliefs that you block your ears to opposing ideas is certainly not constructive. Never has the liberal left looked more out of step with the populist tune and I speak as a paid-up member of that fraternity. My belief and hope is that the referendum and election outcomes in both the UK and US respectively will animate us all out of our apathetic stupor. Weve been treading water for too long. Like partners in an unhappy marriage we needed things to hit rock bottom to force us out of our hapless ways.

The world as we know it has to change. It feels as though the divide between rich and poor hasnt been so pronounced since the Middle Ages. Along with our determination to claim whatever meagre bit of clay we consider our birthright, were becoming increasingly useless at the life skills essential to survival. My shameful Tv secret is that Im an Im a Celebrity viewer, a programme that are typically confirms my hypothesi that evolution is in retreat. Your future chairperson would have made a perfect contestant. I suspect you know how to light a fire, clean your socks and whip up a meal from basic ingredients, but that basic skill set is gradually attaining you part of a minority in the developed world.

Its a dangerous state of affairs. No wonder the proponents of dread are taking over. As a species we are scared witless and feel increasingly helpless about where we are heading. But instead of fuelling us to care better for our planet and its dwellers weve been wringing our hands and staring out the window.

Again, as in a relationship, its all too easy to identify where things are wrong and harder, but more constructive to identify where were getting it right. Our tally in attaining the world a better place is something we dont often add up. Instead our daily diet of failing is delivered through every media outlet, our excesses and brutalities writ big to capture the popular imagination. So its hard not to despair.

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How to talk to strangers: a guidebook to bridging what divides us

4 months, 7 days ago

The more we do to interact with people who arent like us, the better off well be in the face of hatred that has become so visible thanks to Donald Trump

We seem to have lost the capacity to live with our differences in peace. The complex lines that divide us are now exposed, and they run deeper than we believed from what we see as the most pressing issues facing the country, to our values, to our understanding of race, gender and liberty. In her concession speech, Hillary Clinton herself find: We are a far more divided society than we realized.

In the Seattle Times, Nicholas Confessore and Nick Corasanti described the electorate as unprecedentedly segregated socially and geographically: About half of Americans now live near people more politically like them than not, whether in conservative rural townships or sprawling liberal cities. Few Trump advocates report having close friends voting for Mrs Clinton. Many Clinton advocates are more likely to see Trump voters on television than in person.

Republicans and Democrats have always been on opposite sides of political and social fencings. Whats new, what might feel insurmountable, is the degree of difference. The gap has widened very quickly over the past two decades. Weve arrived at perhaps the most difficult moment in recent history: approximately half the electorate have voted into the presidency of the United States an openly bigoted, racist, xenophobic, sexist, sexual predator. Divisiveness exemplified in an authoritarian leader.

In the face of pervasive, violent hatred that has become so visible and so normalized, people are struggling with “what were doing”, how to take action.

Republican and Democrat have always been on opposite sides of political and social fencings. Whats new is the degree of change. Photo: Julia Rothman

I want to suggest that many actions we can take is likely to be local: talking to the strangers we intersect routes with on the streets and sidewalks, in cafes and parks, stores and eateries. And the more we do this in places that require us to interact with people who arent like us, the very best.

People who arent like you and who you dont know exist for you only as categories. Abstractions. People who are different than you who you meet in physical space and talk with not at are individuals. The more we can have contact with people who arent like us, the more “weve been” challenged, invited, required to see them as humen, as specific people with a context. Hate breeds on seeing people as categories and abstractions.

When I say contact, I mean contact in person. Researchers at MIT found that our interactions in physical space with peers have a much more significant effect on our beliefs and sentiments than any other relationships, and more than our online lives. Physical interactions, researcher Alex Pentland wrote in Nautilus, are much better at changing sentiments than digital media and offer a greater opportunity of reaching consensus.

Our interactions in physical space with peers have a much more significant effect on our beliefs and opinions than any other relationships. Photograph: Julia Rothman

Sociologists, policymakers and urban planners have long analyse and supported an idea called the contact hypothesis, which, at its most fundamental, says that increased positive contact with people who arent like you decreases racism. Researchers recently turned their attention to the negative interactions catalogued in contact hypothesis analyses and found that a significant factor had been overlooked. A negative interaction carries far more emotional weight than a positive one and tends to increase racism. It takes so much goodness between people to overcome negative experiences.

Nothing about what is going on right now supports the idea that anyone should devote anyone else the benefit of the doubt, and I dont advocate empathizing with tormentors and racists. But every time I nod or say hello to a stranger in the past few days and they return it, I know some human decency remains.

In our smallest positive interactions with strangers in passing, we experience something called fleeting intimacy. Thats a brief encounter that devotes us a momentary feeling of connectedness, of belonging. I think we need to start using our interactions with strangers to make what Ill call fleeting alliances . We need to do the things that make for mutual acknowledgement of our fundamental humanity the smiles and hellos and brief dialogues in which we recognize a stranger as a person. We also need to recognize a new dimension to these moments. We can show each other we are not filled with hate. We can show we are allies and we will protect each other.

Kio Stark is the author of When Strangers Meet .

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