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Issue 20, 2018

Issue 20, Vol 81: CW: Tits & Bits

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News

  • Sexing up the Hub: Condoms, Clits & Suzy Cato

  • STIs: Don’t Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

  • The Lifts Are Always One Step Ahead

  • Proposal Made for University Super Group

  • Updates on Kylie Jenner’s Baby

  • The Party Line

  • There is Radioactivity on Campus, But it’s No Big Deal

  • Eye on Exec: 2% Fee Rise Proposed

  • Task Force Apointed to Save the World From Boring PowerPoints

  • Political Round Up

  • It Takes Two to Hīkoi

  • Queer Coverage: Local, National, and International LGBTQIA+ News

  • List of NZ University Cuts Made in 2018

  • VUW Stops Issuing Degrees; “Exceptional Pride” Deemed Sufficient

  • Features

  • Dirty Porn, Clean Morals

    CW: discussion of pornography, underage sex, BDSM, assault As I lay in bed with the lights dimmed, my phone on incognito mode, a vibrator in my hand, and a video playing on my screen entitled “Bound teen in fishnets teased with vibrator, fingered, denied orgasm”, I can’t help but feel a strange mixture of arousal […]

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  • Check On It

    When it comes to sex, pretty much all of us have heard the word consent thrown around a lot in the last five years or so. But, due to inadequate and abstinence-focused NZ sex education (#eyeroll), all we may have picked up about it is that it’s a “thing” and that it’s probably important. But […]

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  • Herpes: You’ve Probably Got it. But That’s Okay

    CW: gross descriptions *Names and identifying details have been changed for privacy. After ending an intense two-year relationship late last year, being on Tinder and drinking a bottle of wine a night became the usual. Not because I was looking for a rebound or trying to fill a void, but because I was FINALLY single. […]

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  • Dirty Porn, Clean Morals

    CW: discussion of pornography, underage sex, BDSM, assault As I lay in bed with the lights dimmed, my phone on incognito mode, a vibrator in my hand, and a video playing on my screen entitled “Bound teen in fishnets teased with vibrator, fingered, denied orgasm”, I can’t help but feel a strange mixture of arousal […]

    by

  • Check On It

    When it comes to sex, pretty much all of us have heard the word consent thrown around a lot in the last five years or so. But, due to inadequate and abstinence-focused NZ sex education (#eyeroll), all we may have picked up about it is that it’s a “thing” and that it’s probably important. But […]

    by

  • Herpes: You’ve Probably Got it. But That’s Okay

    CW: gross descriptions *Names and identifying details have been changed for privacy. After ending an intense two-year relationship late last year, being on Tinder and drinking a bottle of wine a night became the usual. Not because I was looking for a rebound or trying to fill a void, but because I was FINALLY single. […]

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  • Arts and Science

  • A (Selective and By No-Means all-Encompassing) Look at Neo-Soul

    Given the theme in Salient this week, I thought it would be prudent to look back at some of the seminal releases from a genre that encapsulates physicality, romance, sensuality, swagger, and charisma. Neo-soul is a genre I gravitate towards when listening to music, or discovering artists from years ago, and I think it dominates much of the music industry today.
    It’s difficult to put a starting point on neo-soul, as it really evolved out of the end of the classic soul music tradition in the 1980s. To me, “neo-soul” seems like an umbrella term to describe a musical movement in which hip-hop characteristics (the boom-bap beat, sparse production) and more alternative R&B traits that are explored more thoroughly than in the soul era preceding it. I think subject matter plays a role in the classification of this genre too, as artists often consider more conscious lyrical approaches, including (but not limited to) gender, sex, and racial politics. I think neo-soul is often associated with sex — the artists I talk about below attest to that in one way or another — but I think there’s much more to the style of music than that. I’d suggest that sensuality is a platform for these artists to delve into other facets of life. While, from a musical perspective, it’s impossible to separate this music from sensuality and physicality, that’s only one string to this genre’s bow.
    Perhaps, and rather fittingly, one could consider Prince to be the in between point regarding the transition from soul to neo-soul, as groove-laden songs began to dominate his discography — the sonic experimentation and back-beat grooves are present as early as Purple Rain, but this is particularly evident on a record like Sign O’ The Times from a sonic perspective. The 90s are really where the genre took off, and the canon formed as such.
    D’Angelo has contributed three perfect albums to the neo-soul world — Brown Sugar (1995), Voodoo (2000) and Black Messiah (2014). Voodoo, in particular, propelled a new style of funk and soul into mainstream and critical audiences, as well as an evident embrace of sensuality, and the relation between that and groove-laden beats and backings.
    As far as critical acclaim goes, this is one of the rare occasions I agree with Pitchfork, who gave Voodoo a 10/10 rating, while similarly lofty ratings came from All About Jazz, USA Today, and more. Largely, the praise rewarded the compositional style and the vocal performances. As far as selecting a particular track, “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” is particularly legendary as far as sensuality and body positivity goes. Lyrically, “Untitled” is about as forward as a lyricist can be in terms of their pursuit for a sensual experience. The laid-back grooves, driven home by Questlove’s (The Roots) pocket drumming lay a platform for D’Angelo’s godly vocal performance. Couple this with the music video, and you’ve got a pretty classic, and particularly, er, physical, example of some early 2000s neo-soul. The rest of Voodoo is unbelievable as well, so I’d recommend giving that a jam if you haven’t already. Black Messiah attests to my earlier comments regarding the expansion of lyrical material to include political matters, and draws from a similarly groove-heavy sonic palette to act as a platform for D’Angelo’s political expression. “Really Love” and “The Charade” are magic.
    In today’s musical world, acts like Anderson .Paak, fka Twigs, and The Internet all carry the torch as far as making music that is brave, features prominent grooves, oozes sensuality, and acts as a platform for lyrical pursuits of political or personal topics. That’s the bread-and-butter of neo-soul; a multi-faceted, all-purpose genre for any kind of mood.

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  • A Love Song

    Whenever I have a small wound, maybe a pin prick or a scab that I’ve peeled off too soon, I watch the blood blossom, slightly delayed, out of it. I press on the wound firmly, until the skin around it goes white, then release my finger and enjoy the redness flooding back into my flesh. I like witnessing my body’s processes like this, an enormous collage of pores and veins and follicles. I think about these processes a lot during my encounter with Laura Duffy’s Garden of Purity, open your mouth wide and I will fill it: rawness of clipping nails too far, rubbing crusted tears out of your eyes in the morning, coughing up phlegm and having to swallow it back. Decay, life, organic matter are all important to Garden of Purity.
    Garden of Purity is installed in the Courtenay Place lightboxes, but also consists of a series of longer videos online, at gardenofpurity.space, which were hosted at MEANWHILE for one night only. The project is described by MEANWHILE as exploring ideas of Catholicism, abjection, advertising, and queerness, and considering the links between art history and mass media. My laptop is not powerful enough to play the videos properly, but this adds a clunky and distorted layer to the moistness of the imagery. I cannot be a passive viewer, as the limits of technology make me constantly aware of the fact of my viewing. I become conscious of my viewing behaviours, my impatience, my desire for immersion.

    The basis of the imagery is from edible material that Duffy has sourced. Think of rituals that involve food, a wafer placed on the tongue, breaking bread. An apple, plucked, bitten. This presentation of edible material does not look like something that can be eaten though, but something that has been.
    Consumed, digested. An intimate look at the systems of the body — can you get any closer to someone than when you have seen the inside of them? Someone told me about a man who watched his wife have her organs taken out and put on a surgical tray next to the operating table. True romance. Is the inside of the body sexy? Can it still be sexualised? Can you put a beating heart on a billboard and use it to sell a bikini? Maybe making something absolutely graphic means it can no longer be explicit. Zooming in on sex, on its fluids and frictions makes it more scientific, or maybe more erotic. open your mouth wide and I will fill it conjures sexual innuendo. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it — with a cock, spit, cum, piss. The idea of kinks. Who can say what is deviant? Normal sex/abnormal sex. Advertising tries to convince us that there is a fixed notion of desirability and sexiness, based on heteronormativity. Adam and Eve. Garden of Purity, sanctity and sinless. Blackened, the apple falls. Decay signals life, but decay is also the end of a life. The limpet-like facets of Duffy’s work breathe in and out.

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  • Doing It

    There’s something that everyone knows about sex, but few people ever say, and it is this: sex is interesting. Regardless of whether you’re having it or not having it, or how you’re “doing it”, sex is interesting. This fact implicitly fills magazines and shops and bedrooms and, indeed, books. Doing It, by Hannah Witton, is one such book. It’s framed as a sex education book, but it is Witton’s attitude to sex that I learned the most from.
    Hannah Witton is a YouTuber. I’ve been wary of YouTubers’ books in the past—a great deal of them look pretty and have pictures of attractive yet average (and white) people on the covers, are filled with mediocre writing, ostensibly themed, but are really about the authors themselves. YouTubers’ books get a great deal of attention in the online world, which has lead to me, several times, thinking that the book itself is important, and being sorely disappointed. Hannah Witton is one of the few YouTubers who I still watch regularly, so I approached her book with a great deal of caution.
    For the most part, she did not disappoint. Sure, Doing It was a little too colloquial for my tastes at times. Witton also relies somewhat heavily on clichés, clinching her LGBTQIA+ chapter with the line, “After all, love is love”. Her prose is peppered with phrases like “living under a rock” and “out of the blue”. For the most part though, Witton’s writing is straightforward and undistracting; not especially distinctive, but clear, which is all it needs to be.
    The book, as a whole, has a tendency to fill space with design features, perhaps to make up for stationary nature of words, compared to the slick jumps of a video. There are whole pages filled with squiggly lines for no apparent reason, there are quotes that appear to be pulled out strewn across pages, but the words do not appear in the main text. It was unnecessary.

    The content of this book did not need margins or fancy typography. For the most part, it stands on its own. If you have ever watched Hannah Witton’s videos (which I highly encourage you to do), particularly her collaborations with other people, you will know this: she is good at asking questions, and she knows when to stay in her lane. The LGBTQIA+ chapter is almost entirely made from the words of other YouTubers with queer identities talking about their experiences. They acknowledge that their experiences are not universal, and yet they are much better at talking about the topic than Hannah, as a cis straight woman could be (there is a whole other discussion to be had about how queer people are often asked for their labour so that straight people don’t get things wrong, but I still thought that the inclusion of queer perspectives was vital). Throughout the book, Hannah repeatedly acknowledges that her experience is not universal, and that she has many kinds of privilege.
    One of the most compelling chapters of Doing It is when Witton demonstrates her knack for getting interesting information on people, and talks about four generations of sex education in her family. She did her undergrad dissertation about sex education, which is when, I believe, most of the interviews took place, and Witton’s great-grandmother talked about learning about sex from her husband, who learned it from the chambermaid. The information is fascinating, and very well put together.
    Throughout the book, Hannah talks openly about masturbation, consent, STIs, contraception, and, most importantly, the role of personal choice in sex. I didn’t necessarily agree with all of her opinions, but appreciated how sex was presented as something positive, complicated, and important. Most of the information was not new to me, but I felt like I learned from Hannah’s willingness to ask questions and keep learning.
    Sex is interesting, whatever your relationship with it is. Doing It is a book about sex, and the role it plays in society, and it lives up to the promise of its back cover: it’s about “doing it safely. Doing it joyfully. Doing it when you’re ready. Not doing it”. And a fun, straightforward YouTuber who shares just enough of her personal life to keep things interesting.

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  • Top 5 Sexiest TV Shows I I Was Too Young to be Watching But I Did Anyway

    5. Skins
    Skins is about teens being sexy and stressful, and was a necessary part of growing up in the mid-to-late 2000s, along with thinking anyone with a side fringe was hot, and MSN group chats. While I was in the same age bracket as the characters on Skins when season one aired, the whole time I watched it I felt very uncool and very unsexy. I think this show should only be watched by people who have been to Berlin and/or done nangs, which is what I believe is cool now based on social media and not leaving the house.

    4. Big Brother Australia: After Dark
    If you put a bunch of young hot Australians in a house for several months with no escape, they are going to get horned up, and then the rest of Australia, and as a result New Zealand, will want to watch it. I’m pretty sure I literally saw someone get teabagged on this show. When I googled the show, the third result was from PornHub. Why couldn’t everyone just masturbate in the toilet like Tiffany Pollard did on CBBUK and leave it at that?
    3. Sex and the City
    For most people my age (mid-to-late twenties), Sex and the City is the number one show they sneak-watched late at night, up close to the TV, with the volume down very low. SatC is how I learned about dildos, oral sex, and poorly prioritizing my money. Of course it all flew over my head because I was literally nine years old, but I sure felt cool and mischievous. After a rewatch as an adult woman, it makes a lot more sense and I also have discovered I am, unfortunately, a Carrie — I don’t believe in astrology, but I do strongly believe everyone is a character from Sex and the City. You are usually the one you hate the most because you see yourself in their flaws so much, unless you are a Samantha, in which case: nice!

    2. Queer As Folk (US)
    I watched the entirety of this show — about the lives of a group of gay men and their loved ones in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — between the ages of fourteen and fifteen, at a time when I was voraciously working my way through my local indie rental store’s queer section. My mother would always let me rent whatever I wanted because she trusted me, which was foolish because I was going through puberty and not at all to be trusted. Queer As Folk was groundbreaking in its representation of gay men at the time, and it also did not fuck around in its depictions of fucking; in the very first episode I was introduced to rimming. I think this show influenced a lot of my teen writing career, which was primarily sexually explicit Harry/Draco fanfiction written by me, a virgin who couldn’t drive. But look at me now! I still can’t drive.
    1. Nip/Tuck
    Nip/Tuck is Ryan Murphy’s classic medical drama about wanting to be inside people with both surgical tools and your penis. It is a very sexy show where everyone is extremely angry and sad all the time, and was surely the least positive role model for my teenage hormones from this list. If I think about it too hard, it unnerves me that Ryan Murphy has been simultaneously entertaining, disappointing, and traumatizing me since 1999 — over two-thirds of my life. Best not to think about such things, shut up, and keep watching the filthy television.

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  • My Dad Wrote A Porno

    This podcast is the antithesis of eroticism. You will not feel aroused, you will not feel keen to bone, but you might feel like having a pleasant chuckle to yourself.
    As my wise friend Liberty said of this podcast: your funny bone may be stimulated but your other bone will not be. In short, if you are keen to hear the word “tit” repeatedly said in an English accent then this is the podcast for you.
    My Dad Wrote A Porno is one of those rare podcasts that is actually kind of… famous/relatively well-known to the general public/ has experienced success outside of the podcast community. It had been recommended to me several times, and was a frequent feature on either the “top charts” or “featured” section of my podcast app. And for many years I had chosen to ignore this, most likely in favour of a Bachelor in Paradise recap podcast or something of that same, high-quality ilk. So, when Louise emailed me suggesting this podcast, I thought: the time has come, why not? Branch out, Hannah. Stop being a sex-hating, erotica-despising prude (just kidding), and open your mind to the wonderful world of some guy reading their dad’s erotic fiction.
    And that is pretty much all that My Dad Wrote A Porno is. Jamie Morton sits down with his two close friends James Cooper and Alice Levine and together they read through the erotic novels written by Morton’s father. The premise is simple, but it works. Under the pseudonym Rocky Flintstone, Morton’s dad – a retired father of four – has written 6 books that make up the erotic series titled Belinda Blinked, three of which are published and available for download online. Season One of the podcast takes on the first novel of the series, which has the titillating title Belinda Blinked 1; A modern story of sex, erotica and passion. How the sexiest sales girl in business earns her huge bonus by being the best at removing her high heels. In each episode Morton reads aloud a chapter of the book to Levine and Cooper who are hearing it for the first time and frequently interject to laugh at, tease, and lament the ridiculousness of it all.
    And it is all pretty ridiculous – to give a brief summary, the books follow the sexual escapades of Belinda Blumenthal, who works in marketing and sales for a company that sells pots and pans. She engages in sexual relations with regional sales managers, business people — really anyone tied to the pots and pans industry. The strangeness of the “plot” (this word is used loosely) aside, the novels are both entertaining and baffling for their bizarre analogies, questionable grammar, and at times, highly detailed descriptions of furniture.
    But it is really all in Morton, Cooper, and Levine’s commentary that the books come to life and hilarity ensues. The three are all sharp, witty, and funny in their own right, and have effortless camaraderie and banter. Despite already being close friends, they never verge into the territory of in-jokes or exclusivity; the listener is always able to keep up and feel warmly included. Hearing them pick apart the absurdity of the writing while laughing breathlessly, is just fun. At its heart, this podcast is just a thoroughly enjoyable listen. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and is able to make light of the silliness of sex.
    To finish off, I have decided to leave you with some important and profound quotes from Belinda Blinked.
    You are welcome.

    “Her vaginal lids popped open”
    “The conference room was upmarket, much like Belinda herself”

    “Her tits hung freely like pomegranates”
    “She had nipples as large as the three inch rivets which held the hull of the Titanic together”

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  • Soft Tissue

    Soft Tissue is an abstract theater creation from Ella Gilbert.The play claims to be “an affectionate comedy about the absurd performances of the ‘weaker’ sex.
    It moves between observations and conversations — explores the sexy, the grotesque and the beautiful parts of being human — and laughs at them along the way.” But what was presented was disjointed, unclear, and underwhelming — the intention of being a feminist commentary on society feels strongly under delivered.

    Gilbert has made a brave attempt to say a lot with very little. There are only a few actual lines of dialogue throughout the piece, and the rest Gilbert tells with her body and by making sounds, mostly with her mouth. She does this well enough to construct a loose understanding of her piece, touching on the objectification of women’s bodies in media, particularly in rap music, the male “savior complex”, and the idea of women needing to be beautiful. But that’s about it. It felt as though Gilbert was hoping these small interactions would all speak for themselves, but as an audience member, they left me feeling confused and unsure of the connection of themes being presented.

    Thematic and meaningful messages were lost in abstract interaction going on with the audience all throughout the performance. Some of Gilbert’s mouth noises were understandable, i.e. Gilbert getting the audience to tell her she was beautiful, but other parts of this interaction, and her responses, didn’t make sense, such as Gilbert pretending to be a cat and getting the audience to bark like dogs at her as she squealed and ran back stage. People were laughing, and willing to interact, but it felt like we were playing a game, and rather than it advancing the performance it got audience members so caught up in interacting that the story on the stage got lost. Several members of the audience gave it a standing ovation, but I wasn’t sure if that was because they’d gained an understanding I’d missed or because they wanted to show that they, above others, understood this abstract performance that had just taken place.
    Abstract theatre has a place, but there was too much left unsaid in Soft Tissue for it to be able to communicate clear meanings and understandings to its audience. Ideas presented need to become more well rounded and transparent for the piece to resonate with wider audiences.
    It must be said that regardless of what I did not enjoy about Soft Tissue, that Ella Gilbert is a wonderful performer. What she did bring to life on stage was passionate and intriguing, and I do sincerely hope she continues work on this piece, because it is full of so much potential.

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  • Batman v Superman XXX: An Axel Braun Parody

    Porn really loses its appeal after you’ve gotten off, but I suffered through more than an hour of this 133 minute monstrosity — drunk, alone, on a Sunday — in the name of journalistic integrity.

    What is Batman v Superman XXX?

    It’s Batman v Superman, except not. The Joker’s kidnapped Lois Lane, Superman’s off banging chicks on other planets and has to come home to save her, and Batman, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and a bunch of random (female) characters I don’t know are also there. One wouldn’t think that I’d need a masters degree in comic books to fully get to grips — so to speak — with a porn film, but maybe I do?
    There’s fewer lens flares, worse jokes, and somehow less homoeroticism in XXX than the original. Admittedly, I might have turned it off before the epic Batman/Joker sex fight scene, but I don’t think the director would have had the guts to put that in a porn parody aimed mostly at heterosexual dudes.
    Don’t worry, there’s plenty of women that hook up with each other — because as we all know, men who direct porn have an expansive and unproblematic view of female sexuality on screen and absolutely do not leverage that on a daily basis.
    Speaking as a non-heterosexual woman, I was hoping there’d be a little more in this for me. Some porn parodies are great — there’s genuinely fantastic, hilarious dialogue in Scooby Doo XXX: The One Where Scooby Doo Never Appears (it’s been unfortunately struck from all internet pornography sites for being too good) — but the writers must have been having a
    day off during this film.
    Other parodies, and other genres of porn seem to give a damn about the people in their audience who don’t just want pure, hardcore smut — making it more about genuine pleasure, and less about visceral sex in your face, maniacal rooting, and shades of dubious consent — but this one just doesn’t. Once you’ve seen one blowjob scene where two people are dressed in god awful amounts of spandex, you’ve seen them all.

    What more can I say? It’s pornography, and y’all know how pornography works. Batman vs Superman XXX is exactly the same as any other piece of porn on the internet, except you’ve got to suffer through twice as much sexing and four times the usual amount of mundane dialogue in order to get to one (of the many) cumshots.
    I suppose some pleasure can be gleaned from the commitment to the bit costume-wise, and there’s also some not-terrible camera work, but on a whole, the entire porn looks like a low-budget student film gone terribly wrong.
    Most porn films tend to be cinematographically/dramaturgically/spiritually awful, but somehow it’s even worse when there’s the appearance of effort involved.

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  • About the Author ()

    Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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