Dear Richard Stellar

I wasn’t raped by Bill Cosby.

And because I’m not a desperate columnist looking for a blog that will attract some attention, I don’t need to use, “I was raped by Bill Cosby,” as a lede.

This is a short but direct response to The Wrap and their guest “columnist” Richard Stellar.

To be clear, the first part of your blog is terrible, but you bring up one somewhat arguable point: the lynch mob.

Except, that in cases where handfuls of women are coming forward with the same story of how a powerful man drugged and sexually assaulted them spanning decades, it’s hard not to take their word seriously.

Here’s the thing, not so Stellar, when you get into victim blaming and coming forward about rape and how they should have done it earlier, it makes you look more like an ignoramus then an intellectual or an advocate for anyone.

Referring to Bill Cosby, an alleged rapist, as Cos also makes you sound juvenile and petty.

You talk about the concept of justice, how the media makes Bill Cosby sound guilty before he’s actually gone before a court?

Geez, this all sounds really familiar.

Not sure if you’ve heard about a guy named Jian Ghomeshi, but when his sexual assault allegations came out, people had the same response as you.

As a public figure who many loved and were influenced by, how could he be guilty of these things? We should let him speak before we condemned him, thousands cried.

The women, the battered victims who may have been feeling ashamed, scared, and anxious, were blamed for trying to stir up controversy for this C-level celebrity.

Those women who came forward were so incredibly brave that we talked for weeks about making it safer for women to come forward when they were attacked.

Now just imagine you’re dealing with one of the most beloved comedians of all time.

Add on that some of these women were assaulted during his hay-day, when he was the goofy, infamous sweater sporting hero dad of family television.

Would you have come forward?

Would you have submitted yourself to the scrutiny of the entire world?

Would you have wanted to take on America’s most beloved fictional dad?

I can answer that for you: You probably wouldn’t have because your first thought would be, who would believe me.

Halfway through your blog, you turn from an egomaniacal, naïve, privileged individual into a misogynistic spiteful monster.

How dare you accuse these women of trying to get ahead in life?

One of the most recent victims was a dentist; what did she have to gain from admitting she was sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby.

She wasn’t filing a lawsuit, she wasn’t pressing charges. She just wanted to be heard and to feel like we had heard her.

Many women in these situations just want to be heard. I know because I was that woman.

It took me five years to tell someone I was sexually harassed for an entire year in high school and I wasn’t looking for anything in return.

No, I just wanted to tell someone and for them to maybe give me a hug and say, “I believe you. I’m sorry no one was there. You’re not alone.”

Because these women are not alone. These stories will continue to break and it’s writers like you that make us not want to tell people what’s happened to us.

I was terrified of telling my friends about a bunch of stupid 16-year-old boys in high school. I cannot imagine the fear that went through these women’s minds after being raped by Bill Cosby and not being able to tell anyone.

For you to imply that they are lying or exaggerating the truth to get ahead is physically sickening.

 How dare you try to tell women when they can and can’t speak about being attacked.

Who are you try to tell women that you feel sorry for them while making lewd jokes about being drugged and raped in a tent?

How dare you try to get on top of this story with a disgusting guest blog post.

If anyone is sociopathically trying to get ahead in life by jumping on the coattail of this news, it’s you.

And for you to pretend otherwise making it about advocating, is the truly disturbing part. 

Jennifer Lawrence: A sister in arms 

“She should have known those photos were going to end up online.”

“It’s her fault for taking the photos in the first place.”

“What an idiot. Oh well, at least she looks good.”

The reaction to Jennifer Lawrence’s leaked photos has been deeply saddening at best, with various men and, most confusedly, different women relinquishing their spiteful opinion of the situation on Twitter and forums like Reddit and 4Chan.

Yet again, humanity has taken the chance to pitch their idea of morality to the rest of the world by pulling from the horrendous incident that has without a doubt left Lawrence, and the other celebrities scared and vulnerable.

Yet again, we’re seeing men and women placing the blame on the victim instead of angrily raising their pitchforks and chasing down the true monsters behind this entire incident.

Yet again, women have to poke their heads out into the binary landscape and bravely declare that rape culture does exist and we have to unfortunately weather its storm once again.

Let’s set the record straight for those poor, sad individuals who are still confounded by the exciting and vehemently controversial world of sexuality.

Women are entitled to being sexual beings. Women are entitled to date and engage sexually with whomever they see fit. Women are entitled to talk passionately about their sexual desires without the fear of being harassed, assaulted, or raped.

Humans are sexual beings, and yet men have never faced the proverbial jury whenever they engage in an act society deems inappropriate, morally wrong, or “unlady like.”

Are women supposed to suppress their desires to have a passionate relationship with a man or another women in order to not face vicious discriminatory words or actions from complete strangers?

We shouldn’t have to, and we won’t be stifled because a group of lonely, archaic men are apparently seeking out new and highly illegal ways to “shame” us.

Precarious acts like this latest attack add gasoline to the fire, increase conversation and engagement within those conversations about the misogynistic attitudes women must combat almost daily.

What gives men the right to assume they have ownership over a woman’s body, both physically and mentally?

What gives men the right to assume they know how woman should act, both sexually and in every day situations?

What gives men the right to tell my friends and I what’s acceptable to wear, how much make up is appropriate, or even what beauty is?

My friends and I are sexual beings. We enjoy talking about sex and we enjoy having sex with our partner’s.

We are proud of our femininity and we respect ourselves even while facing comments like, “You’re such a slut, you’re used up, no one’s going to want to have to marry you.”

Which, for what it’s worth, was a comment a close friend of mine received from what she thought was a loving partner at one point.

I’m sick of having to think about how I’m going to be perceived for enjoying a normal and healthy sex life in front of the eyes of a potential partner, or if I’m going to be slut shamed by his friends, both male and female.

I’m sick of having to watch the light in my friend’s eyes, a vibrant and beautiful human being, lose their glimmer because of an offhanded comment made by some self-righteous man in a bar one night.

I’m tired of having to hide or tone down the sexual side of me because it’s not appropriate and unwarranted in a “proper woman.”

I am a feminist, a beautiful, empowering word that has become a battleground for misogynists to come out and attack.

I am proud of being a woman and I am a happy, sexual being.

I am entitled to a healthy and active sex life just like any male counterpart without the fear of being seen as dirty, trash, or a whore in the eyes of society.

I am entitled to the same respect many of the men reading this get from their friends when they talk about their sex lives.

I am entitled to privacy, an important piece of a sexual life that was brutally stolen from Jennifer Lawrence and many of the other women on the list circulating the web.

We are entitled to have ongoing conversations about this topic without the fear of being reprimanded or attacked online.

We need to keep this conversation going, and talk to young men about how women should be treated before the cycle repeats itself.

We should be talking to young women, letting them know they should hold their head high and embrace whatever makes them feel beautiful, riding high on the feeling and never letting a man take that away.

We are women, and we are beautiful, intelligent, ambitious, amazing people who keep getting attacked for not fitting an image dictated to us.

What happened to Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t a salacious leak, and it’s not something we should be actively seeking out.

It was a sexual attack, a violation of an intimate moment.

I am disgusted, but I am not surprised by the response to the photo.

“She should have known those photos were going to end up online.”

“It’s her fault for taking the photos in the first place.”

“What an idiot. Oh well, at least she looks good.”

I am sick of having to defend myself as a woman for having sex, and I will fight for my ability to do so without persecution until the mentality of the general public changes.

What happened to Jennifer Lawrence could have happened to almost anyone.

It’s time we stop looking at her as a celebrity and start looking at her as a young woman who’s just had her entire life thrown upside down and violated in one of the most despicable ways.

We are better than this as humans, we can do better, and the feminists the internet seems to fear, berate, and degrade at any corner will not stop talking about this issue until we are actively doing better.

Let’s talk about this issue, and let’s become better.

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From Buster to Brother, a look at Paul Walker


Paul Walker won’t be remembered as one of the most brilliant actors of our time, but he will remain one of the most loved.

It feels surreal to be writing this ode, this homage, this eulogy to an actor I was certain was going to be around for at least thirty more years or so.  It’s devastating to know that when I take my seat next year to watch the latest Fast and Furious instalment, he may only be around for a part of it.

And truly, that’s how I’ll remember him. As Brian O’Connor, the exuberant kid detective turned member of the Toretto racing clan. His character, almost eerily similar to how others described him, always toted a vibrant smile, full of the charismatic energy that made millions love him.

So maybe Walker didn’t win any Oscars, but he won all of our respect and love.

Walker proved through his work that although a complete gearhead, he was as versatile as any actor.

Running Scared, a 2006 thriller where Walker played the lead, was a brilliant film apart of a genre unlike most others he took part in. A true gritty crime, psychological thriller, the movie didn’t gain as much recognition as the Fast and Furious franchise, easily his most popular series of films to date.

But in this movie, there was a different side to Walker most audiences weren’t even aware existed. He was still passionate, full of spark, and controlled the screen, but he was also cold and calculated. For me, it was the moment that Walker stopped being Brian O’Connor and was just Paul Walker, an incredible actor I thoroughly enjoyed watching.

Much like Varsity Blues, Meet the Deedles, and Into the Blue, Walker elegantly moved from genre to genre, bringing his endearing smile and enigmatic self everywhere he went. He was one of those rare actors who you watched on screen, mesmerized, and convinced yourself he would have been a really cool guy to get drinks with, or discuss the latest hockey game with over burgers.

He was the type of actor you rooted for both on screen and off screen. I still remember the first time I watched the original Fast and Furious movie. I didn’t know just how important the series would become in my life, I just remember being absolutely enthralled from beginning to end.

The series took on quite a bit of hate, from both critics and audiences. Some called it juvenile, some called it mediocre, and some just flat out called it trash. But as time went on, and Walker became one of the true stars, opinions seemed to change. The chemistry between Walker and co-star Vin Diesel (Dominic Toretto) was undeniable, and the two helped a struggling series become one of the biggest action franchises in the world.

There’s a part of me, although I’ve seen most of Walker’s work, which will always still see him as that buster, Brian O’Connor.

The street racing aficionado turned juvenile delinquent turned undercover cop was much more than just a character in a movie. For me, Brian O’Connor embodied so much more than that.

Brian O’Connor didn’t know what he wanted. He didn’t know if he wanted to be a cop, an “honourable” member of society, or if he wanted to be a part of this miscreant family he had been assigned to basically disassemble. A theme, I truly believe, many of us have had to face at one time or another in our lives. Do we want to take the straight and narrow path, eventually build up that pension plan, get married, and work till we die, or did we want to follow our hearts and do something, be a part of something, we truly believed in?

Brian O’Connor wanted to be a part of a collective, a family, when he didn’t have one of his own. He found that in a core group of friends who would have his back no matter what. At the end of the day, that’s what we all want. Whether it be a biological family or one knitted by friends, we all want that Sunday BBQ and laughs that Brian O’Connor eventually found.

So yes, Brian O’Connor was always much more than a character to me. I truly believe if it weren’t for Paul Walker and his confidence in his ability to play the always questioning, seemingly never confident Brian O’Connor, I wouldn’t have had the same connection with him that I do now.

I boast about the Fast and Furious franchise whenever I get a chance to talk about it. I boast about Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, defending their part in pop culture’s ever changing landscape.

In the first Fast and Furious, when the group of street racers must split following the arrival of practically an entire police force, there’s a scene where Brian trails back amidst all the chaos to pick up Dom. When they arrive back at the Toretto compound, where a post-race party is already in full swing, Dom gets into an argument with Vince, his closest friend, who asks him why Brian “the Buster” O’Connor was at the party.

“The buster brought me back.” The buster had his back, and throughout the entire series, the buster put himself in danger before anyone else.

We will always have your back. Just like Dominic Toretto made you a part of his family, it felt like you made us a part of yours. We love you, we miss you, and we will never forget you.

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Gawker was wrong to expose Redditor.


The latest controversy surrounding the popular social networking forum Reddit has people gawking in disbelief.

When Adrien Chen, a writer for the online tabloid rag Gawker, released the identity behind one of Reddit’s most powerful and influential users, utter anarchy was the direct result.

ViolentAcrez was known in the Reddit community for publishing posts under the morally questionable subreddit of, “Not Safe For Work,” more commonly referred to as /r/NSFW. The man who hid behind the odd pseudonym was just one of many Internet trolls using Reddit as a back alley to post grotesque and sexually indecent photographs.

Perhaps what ViolentAcrez was best known for, however, was his vast contribution to threads which would post “creeper” photos of young women all around the city of Toronto. While the majority of the population was disturbed upon learning about the existence of this particular thread, Redditor moderators weren’t in the least bit surprised.

This is where everything begins to fall to pieces.

Not only did Chen release the identity behind ViolentAcrez, he did so in a way that was nothing short of a personal attack.

I am a Redditor, uploading content daily for both my internship and for personal use. While I don’t post anything crude or violent, I believe strongly in the anonymity clause Redditors tacitly all agree to.

While it was never stated on the website that you can’t use your real identity, a preference for anonymity has grown surreptitiously among subscribers and posters alike. I find this allows for a closer, and more intimate, conversation to occur between complete strangers.

Without the fear of people learning who you are, you can post ideologies and start debates you might not be able to in your actual life.

Gay men and women can talk openly about issues they face. Victims of incest and rape can tell their stories to educate others without the fear of being judged.

Similarly, stand-up comedians can post jokes and not have to worry about their reputations being slaughtered.

I understand this can also backfire with people like ViolentAcrez who use the anonymity to publish trashy, trolling items, but I don’t think we can allow one person to ruin this gift for the rest of the world. If we did, the Internet would cease to exist as we know it today.

I will say, however, that I applaud Chen on what can only be described as a superb piece of investigative journalism. He merely took all the information he gathered and posted an appalling feature which attacked a man, and in doing so, the website which hosted him.

Last year, I wrote a piece in which I interviewed two hackers; one was a member of the illegal protest anarchist hacking group, Anonymous. While these two men allowed me to interview them and share their secrets with the world, they only did so because of the immense caution and trust I put into it. While I explained to both that I would need to give their real names to my fact checker, I solemnly promised I would write nothing that could potentially expose their real identity.

I harbour a deep love for investigative journalism. The Internet, as a whole, is a medium where the only type of journalism that can exist is of the investigative kind.

We must, as a journalistic society, show the utmost respect toward our subjects, to allow real conversation to flow, and authentic stories to be created.

ViolentAcrez eventually lost his job, and is now trying to rebuild a tarnished reputation. Reddit has banned users for posting links to Gawker, posts about Gawker, or stories which, in any conceivable way, are linked to Gawker.

I have decided not to use Violent-Acrez real name in this piece, because I am not willing to sink to Adrien Chen’s level. He could have written the story and provided a pseudonym, publishing one of the best stories about Reddit ever seen. Instead, he violently attacked another human being and used the power of journalism for evil instead of the good it was intended for.

Uncle Ben Parker had it right all those years ago when he told Peter, the future Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility.” I agree with Ben, and I hope any other journalist reading this, agrees with him too.

 

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Apple phones it in with its latest iPhone model.


An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but it’ll keep your bank account tipping into the red zone.

Critics, journalists, and tech fanatics everywhere were disappointed with Apple’s last news teleconference, which took place Sept. 12 to tout the new iPhone 5. From the unreliable new maps being installed to a lack of innovation throughout the upgraded model, the entire launch was deemed an ordeal.

So why have iPhone 5 sales topped two million units in the past week? Why has this been the most successful phone that Apple has ever launched? Why have people begun lining up for the newest release from the biggest name in electronics four days before it’s even available for release?

The answer is simple: the legion of self proclaimed, “Apple fan boys.” John “Macintosh” Sayed was one of the first people to start lining up outside of the glass Apple store in Ney York City, according to a piece posted on Digital Trends. Sayed said he had been waiting in line since Sept. 16 and wasn’t planning on leaving any time soon.

As time passes and the release date for the iPhone 5 nears, more and more fan boys and fan girls have joined the line, bracing against rain and extreme sun to get their hands on the latest, and most expensive, phone on the market. Running for $700 as a basic model on a no-fixed term contract, it’s almost wiser to stick with the older iPhone 4S for about a sixth of the price.

The legions of Apple fans have not come out of nowhere. Magazines have been created to embrace Apple culture and provide knowledge most mainstream news media don’t carry.  The marketing behind the Apple products, something Steve Jobs was passionate about, has created the legion of fans. These are people who will buy an Apple product simply because it is an Apple product.

It’s also not the only industry that has this kind of following and phenomena surrounding it – it’s just the most expensive. The athletic apparel and shoe company, Nike, has created a fan base that can almost rival that of Apple. Like death and taxes, the unveiling of new Nike Air Jordans draw people who will line up around blocks to get hands on a pair. Are these the best shoes on the market for athletics? Probably not. According to nicekicks.com, a website which grades the newest sneakers on the market, the 2011 pair of Air Jordans are not very durable and don’t have the necessary amount of traction for when players are on the court.

Yet, these shoes continue to be the most talked about athletic sneakers every year, garnering thousands upon thousands of fans all over the world. Much like the iPhone 5, it’s the hype surrounding the shoes that ignites curiosity among people to find out why these products are so talked about.

This is the problem surrounding the iPhone 5 hype. The phone is not the best on the market. In fact, Samsung has even launched a new controversial campaign showcasing exactly why their phone is the best phone on the market. With phones like the Nokia Lumia 920 and the new Sony Xperia coming out within a month, people are pooling their money to purchase the newest iPhone 5, when quite frankly, the financially and technologically wiser decision would be to go with one of the aforementioned devices.

Don’t get caught in the media hype; think critically and be handsomely rewarded.