How about auctioning your virginity?

The name Catarina Migliori has been everywhere in the media recently as she has stirred the world with her decision to auction her virginity. The 20-year-old Brazilian student decided to take part in the documentary held by “Virgins Wanted” where she would document her journey of auctioning her virginity online. The winner was a 53-year-old Japanese businessman that goes by the name “Natsu” and bid a remarkable US$780,000. Many agree that what Catarina is doing is prostitution but according to her interview with “The Daily Mail” she believes: “If you only do it once in your life then you are not a prostitute, just like if you take one amazing photograph it does not automatically make you a photographer.” If that train of thought is indeed true, then if you only kill someone once, you are not a murdered.

According to the Oxford Dictionary prostitution is defined as “the practice or occupation of engaging in sexual activity with someone for payment.” Going with this definition, what Catarina is doing is undeniably prostitution. However, why does prostitution have such a negative, immoral connotations?

She has attracted a lot of abuse on various social media platforms. Along with many demeaning fake pages claiming to be her; on twitter people have been calling her “disgusting” (@michaellennon), judging her actions saying things like, “I bet her parents are very proud of their successful daughter” (@pinsip) and being overall derogatory.

While most people have been looking at Catarina with ill repute eyes and judging her behavior, the media is swamped with examples of money or material items being exchanged for sex and they do not get nearly as much criticism. The creator of Playboy, Hugh Hefner is notoriously known for always being surrounded by beautiful, young women. He refers to them as his “girlfriends” but they get weekly allowances and presents in exchange to have sex with Hefner and take part in orgy parties in the mansion. Several of his ex-girlfriends have written books sharing their experiences inside the Playboy mansion. They would also be invited to celebrity events and enjoyed the temporary fame that came along with being his “girlfriend”. Yet, despite their behavior, they receive great acceptance from the public. Kendra Wilkinson, one of Hefner’s most famous ex-girlfriend often receives tweets claiming she is their “role model” (@GlenCoco_4Real), “I love you, you are my idol”(@AmandaWhalon).

The image most people associate with the word prostitute is of a “cheap” woman on a street corner. The word received such negative connotation after it has been associated with so many women being sexually exploited, sex slavery and “pimping”. However, there are many conscious, smart woman that are happy to have sex in exchange for money and many men that are willing to participate in that exchange; so what is wrong with that?

Catarina is a young middle class girl that does not necessarily need the money for survival purposes. She claims she is going to use some of the money to help her community and the bidder is willing to pay the highest price. You can look at it as a trade of one sort.

We got to keep in mind the current dangers of prostitution; however if prostitution were to be legalized then some of these dangers could be eradicated. With the legalization of prostitution, prostitutes would be forced to use condoms, they would be subjected to regular STI and drug tests; the fail of either of these tests would result on a penalty of some sort. They would consequently receive benefits from the government and have to pay tax. The legalization would get rid of the criminalized image that has been linked with prostitutes and leaves them vulnerable to abuse from society.

If prostitution is engaging on sexual behavior for financial/material gain, then if a man buys dinner or drinks for a girl with the presumption he is going to have sex and the outcome is correct, is it prostitution? If someone’s job is solely based on manual labor and they put themselves in danger of a physical injury on a day-to-day basis, like footballers or mine workers, is it not just like prostitution?

While some people are open with their decision to opt for prostitution as a way of life others see it as degrading, unacceptable behavior. Religious beliefs play a big role in influencing people’s opinions on the subject of prostitution and that is clear on social media websites. On twitter, @abreo, shares his view on the sacredness of the body and how unholy prostitution is as it keeps a woman from marriage and building a family.

When controversial issues arise, like Catarina’s, social media platforms are the medium most people use to shares their opinions due to its easy access and wide-ranging sharing abilities. As to whether you think what Catarina Migliori is doing is acceptable or if prostitution should be legalized, that is up to you; but why not take advantage of the great social media technologies and share your views with the rest of the world?

Aline Siekierski (@AlineSieks)

Advertisements

The REAL Halloween

A lot of the traditions from the olden days have evolved and created this new modernized version of Halloween. But has this modernization abandoned too many of the Halloween roots creating something totally new?

Also known as All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween is an ancient holiday that is believed to have originated in the early middle ages. You can actually trace its roots with the Irish pagan festival known as Samhain, which was celebrated with feasting, sacrifices, bonfires and homage to the dead.

It is safe to say we have abandoned most of the roots of Halloween, partly because some of them are nowadays illegal (like sacrifice) but we have actually forgotten the essence of what this date is all about.

In the Medieval Era, the bonfires made on Halloween symbolized the struggle of souls lost in the purgatory and the trick or treat tradition originated as people would go from door to door offering prayers for the dead in exchange of “soul cakes”.

The costume aspect of Halloween actually originated from Christmas parades, so in theory, dressing up has nothing to do with Halloween; but funnily enough it seems to be the only way people know how to celebrate Halloween nowadays.

Aline Siekierski (@alinesieks)

Don’t believe everything you see…

Dior’s recent mascara ad featuring superstar Natalie Portman got banned by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) after being deemed to contain too much retouching and transmit a deceiving message.

    

It is believed that their rival, L’oreal filled a complain accusing the brand of using too much photoshop to elongate and enhance the actress’ natural eyelashes conveying a false message of the product to the consumers.

The development of technology benefits the majority, including large brands, as it gives them the ability to magnify their qualities and conceal their flaws. That is particularly obvious in ads for beauty products.

Sadly, not everyone is aware that what is on a picture might not necessarily be real which causes them to have unrealistic expectations and goals. Such actions might have really negative impacts on people with low self esteem and make them feel like they got “tricked” into buying something.

Thankfully, organizations like the ASA are there to provide the public with verification that the ads that are circulating are accurate. However, hundreds of ads are being produced everyday so there is only so much they can keep track off.

The message to be aware of is that companies are using technologies to enhance their products and to be skeptic, because after all you are spending your hard working money on it so do research on it before hand and read reviews so you do not end up with the disappointing feeling of regret, like I am sure a lot of people did experience after purchasing Dior’s mascara and were expecting luscious, long lashes and all they got were average ones.

Aline Siekierski (@alinesieks)

How receptive are Brazilians feeling towards the World Cup 2014 and the Olympics in 2016?

In the short period of one week the seven-meter high brazilian mascot located in Brasilia has been stabbed twice.

In the next few years Brazil will be hosting two of the biggest sporting events, the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.

A recent article from The Guardian (click here to read it) claims that those actions are just portrayals of vandalism and violence that Brazil is very known for, however, could there be more behind it?

Perhaps it is an indication of how Brazilians are not as receptive as the British, who just recently hosted the London 2012 Olympics and instead of spending money on building stadiums that will be most likely be abandoned after  the competitions as well as knowing that Brazil has not got the infrastructure to provide a safe experience the government should invest the money on things that are more worth while like creating an education system that is actually decent and a health care system that people can rely on.

Aline Siekierski (twitter:@alinesieks)

Is human behavior increasingly getting labeled as a mental disorder?

This is my first post and I am quite excited to talk about the book I read this week. The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson is a New York Times bestseller that uncovers the hidden world of psychopaths and mental illnesses.

 

Ronson is a Welsh journalist that is most famously known for his investigative works and pieces on conspiracy theories. In The Psychopath Test, Ronson’s random examination of a mystery package opens his eyes to the endless world of psychiatry, psychopaths and infinite mental illnesses. Having always been interest in the human mind, especially the ones that are not “wired properly”, I was delighted to get my hands on this book. The high point of this book is Ronson study of the PCL-R (Psychopathy Checklist Revised), this is a rating scale that assesses your level of psychopathy. You can actually look up the checklist online and test your “psychopathy level” by clickinghere. I scored a 5 which is a safe score, but had I scored 30 or higher it would mean I was most likely a psychopath. I personally find the use of a scale of any sort to identify a mental illness very unscientific. I respect that the various researchers that compiled this list did it with a good intention but while reading The Psychopath Test we see how this list is often misused by not only ordinary people but doctors.

Throughout his book, Ronson uses a variety of examples to illustrate his points including a very interesting one of a man called Tony. Tony scammed his way into a mental hospital while trying to get away from prison. While he was effectively convincing in faking a “mental illness”, he was never able to convince the doctors of his sanity. Which made me think, it is a lot easier to convince someone that you are insane than it is to convince someone that you are sane. How do you even convince someone you are sane? On his quest to find out more about Tony, Ronson learns from the doctors that Tony was actually diagnosed as a psychopath.

What makes this book great and different in my opinion is how Ronson turns a gloomy, disturbing subject into something light and humorous. The fact that he is a British journalist made this novel not only an enjoyable read but also academically relevant because he would make some analysis of the media industry that were very insightful. One of his points that resonated with me was how the media is always seeking madness, but it has got to be the right kind of level of madness. Not enough madness is not interesting, and if there is too much madness then people cannot relate. He interviews a lady that worked in the production of “The Jeremy Kyle Show” and she bluntly tells that the best guest they would have in the show would be the mad ones. They particularly liked the ones on drugs because it made them “mad enough to be enterntaining”. As horrible as it sounds, that is the sad reality. Normalcy does not sell.

Ronson’s conclusion after his journey through madness is that we need to have a balanced approach of mental illness. We cannot go around trying to “spot and diagnose” everyone we see nor classify every single idiocrasy we witness as a mental illness.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that is interest in the subject of the human mind and mental illness, like psychopathy. Although, beware that he does not always have positive things to say about psychiatrist but I think his overall tone in the book is relatively balanced.

Aline Siekierski (twitter:@alinesieks)

Ever thought of sharing your deepest, darkest secrets with the rest of the world?

Let me introduce you to postsecret.com. PostSecret is a blog where you mail your secrets and each week a selection of secrets is posted on the website. You get everything from people admitting to have done drugs to others sharing their dreams, fears and fantasies. You may be thinking “Why in the world would someone share their deepest, darkest, most embarrassing secrets with millions of people; and the answer is simple: You get remain anonymous.

There is something incredibly invigorating about reading about other people’s secrets. It may very well have to do with the fact that humans have this innate curiosity and the mysteriousness of secrets awakens this natural desire. It could also perhaps be related with the fact that we all have secrets and reading about other people’s secrets gives us a sense that “we are not alone” as you often finds someone that has similar feelings as you.

Over the years the website has grown so much that they have published several books as well as going around the world sharing inspiring stories, messages and lots of secrets (including ones that have been banned from the books).

I would really recommend you take two minutes after you read this post and go to postsecret.com. Every Sunday they update the blog with new secrets and who knows… I might one day submit my secret but you will never know which one is mine…

Here are my favorite PostSecrets that I have selected over the years, they either have a message that I can relate with, find it inspiring, or I just find it funny and peculiar.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.