Tuesday, November 21, 2017

TaraElla Show 2018

A new TaraElla show experience is coming in 2018.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

John Legend Tackles Toxic Masculinity. Good on him!

John Legend recently talked about his plan to fight toxic masculinity in an interview with Cosmopolitan.

Good on him! It's time men started challenging the rigid gender-based stereotypes as they apply to society.

While the gender binary is useful, meaningful, perhaps even fundamental for 99% of the population, rigid stereotyping in the form of toxic masculinity (or straitjacket femininity) is unhealthy for everyone.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

I get that Donald Trump hates the Media. But this is really getting too Obsessive!

Everybody knows how much Donald Trump absolutely hates the media. In fact, a recent poll saw 70% of respondents say that they think he hates the media more than white supremacists. Democrats and Republicans alike agreed with the statement by a majority.

I personally happen to get that impression too.

Which means it's really a wake-up call for Trump. It really is unbecoming of a president to hate the media more than people who actually threaten to tear the fabric of society apart.

You know, many people don't like the media, but The Donald is really too obsessed with it. Maybe he should just quit the presidency and start his own media. (It would be interesting to see if his new company will take much of Fox News's current audience or not.)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

So Taylor Swift has become Fully Tabloid. I guess it's her choice. Or Maybe Not.

Taylor Swift's new single What You Made Me Do has broken all sorts of records. In a way, I do like the song. But in another way, I really can't hide my disappointment.

This is the end of the Old Taylor, the serious musician. As Taylor herself says in the song, the Old Taylor is dead. Long live tabloid Taylor, who will feed the public's every need for obsessing with celebrity feuds! I still can't believe she gave into that!

But then I guess it's her choice. You can't stop people from doing what they want.

Or maybe not. Because, the tough reality is that, if you want to stay on top of the music chart game, then you need lots of attention and popularity. In times like these, how else is anyone going to get that except by going fully tabloid? I mean, many people don't even listen to the full song nowadays. How can a serious musician compete with a tabloid celebrity in the popularity game?

p.s. I would like to see Taylor Swift run for president some day. That way, we'll surely get lots of debate about what 'I don't trust nobody and nobody trusts me, I'll be the actress starring in your bad dreams' really means.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Game Of Thrones: The Lesson of Littlefinger's Demise

The recent season finale of Game Of Thrones saw the demise of one of its most hated characters, Littlefinger. In the end, his scheming simply backfired. It seems that, even in the fictional world, you can't always get what you want by turning people against each other.

Which really is a lesson some so-called social justice activists need to learn. You know, including the so-called radical feminists who want to use the LGBT community to push their 1970s style 'abolish gender' stuff on the general public, thus causing lots of backlash and pain for LGBTs everywhere. Or the tradition-hating anarchists who dress their ideology up as some kind of Marxism or revolutionary socialism, while painting all liberalism as neoliberalism, misleading thousands of college students out there. You know, one day people will wake up.

It's okay to believe in what you believe and preach it. It's just not okay to mislead people, like Littlefinger did all his life.

p.s. Real LGBTs are simply minorities who don't threaten the mainstream way of life. Granting them equality is simply basic decency. If you are concerned about radical feminism, take it up with the mostly straight radical feminists. Don't take it out on marriage equality.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

From Caitlyn Jenner to Australia Day: Social Justice Warriors really need to be More Practical.

The recent decision by reality TV personality Caitlyn Jenner to cover Dude Looks Like A Lady has caused outrage among online social justice warriors (SJWs). The song, interpreted as transphobic by some, has always been controversial. Yet the fact that it is Caitlyn Jenner, a transwoman, who has decided to cover it, should logically mean there is no need for outrage this time. Several queer commentators have also said that people who get outraged over this are simply too easily triggered and lack humour. As with everything, it's the context that's matter. Furthermore, stirring controversy in this way would likely reduce public sympathy to trans rights. As always, SJWs are often too quickly to jump at apparent injustice, without looking at the context and consequences.

Meanwhile, half the world away in Australia, there is increasing controversy over Australia Day (sort of equivalent to the fourth of July in America), because it commemorates the day of the arrival of the British and hence represents a day of invasion for some people. Two city councils have decided that they will not be celebrating Australia Day next January. The Australian federal government has responded by revoking the councils' power to conduct citizenship ceremony. As expected, Australian SJWs are getting really upset over all this. However, all this is sort of meaningless anyway. Two councils can't change the date of Australia day. A national referendum would likely be needed. And there won't be the numbers to win the referendum if one was held. In addition, the fact that neither the government nor the Labor opposition (the Democrats' counterpart in Australia) support changing the date means that there won't be prospect of anything happening anytime soon.

Real injustice is happening every day out there. There are people everywhere who would benefit from practical change. Focusing on symbolic fights that ultimately get us nowhere only distracts us from the fights that really matter.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Diversity in Hollywood remains poor. What should we do?

A recent study by USC has showed that representation of women, ethnic minorities and LGBTI people in Hollywood remains stuck at about the same level as 2007. Clearly more needs to be done.

But what can be done?

It would really not be meaningful to just add a few more token characters here and there. This may fill the quota, but will really add nothing to our cultural consciousness. It's like how affirmative action programs often make things better on paper without making things better in reality.

I suggest that we should all help encourage more diverse voices and perspectives to enter the mainstream consciousness. Since many movies are based on written text, perhaps we should start there. Putting it in market terms, there's both a supply side issue, i.e. minorities often aren't as encouraged to write about their experiences as much, and a demand side issue, i.e. minorities' work don't get read as much, and don't often get widespread mainstream attention. The demand side issue is especially one that we can all help to fix, I believe.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Ina Garten loves to cook to Taylor Swift. Who would have thought?

Celebrity chef Ina Garten has revealed that her favourite music to cook to is Taylor Swift's most recent album 1989.

Who would have thought?

I mean, the album is nice, but I never even thought of it as music for cooking. But then, I don't cook either, so perhaps I wouldn't understand.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Will Donald Trump finally listen to Jackie Evancho now? (It actually doesn't matter that much.)

Donald Trump's inauguration singer Jackie Evancho has been waiting to meet the president for some time, to talk about trans rights. (For those who haven't been following this story, Evancho's sister Juliet is trans.) So far, Trump has not yet answered her request.

Now Jackie Evancho will instead take her message to the platform of television. An TLC special about her family will air across the US on 9 August.

This means Donald Trump finally has a chance to listen. But will he? Perhaps it really is a bit too optimistic to even wish that he will.

But that won't matter too much, because millions of Americans will be listening. In the end, personal stories are what can change people's minds, not a president's actions.

Real change is always bottom-up, and change is always won by convincing real, everyday people out there. The politics is not unimportant, but way, way more secondary. Perhaps we should all remember this, especially in the face of politicians like Trump.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Margaret Atwood is right. Being feminist doesn't necessarily mean agreeing with other women.

Handmaid's Tale author Margaret Atwood recently said that being a feminist doesn't mean always agreeing with everything every woman says (is that even possible?), or blindly supporting someone and their policies or beliefs just because they are a woman. Atwood specifically gave British Prime Minister Theresa May as an example of a woman she doesn't necessarily agree with.

I have to say I personally have a much better view of Theresa May. But otherwise, I do agree with Margaret Atwood. Feminism means supporting equal rights regardless of gender. It doesn't mean supporting women for the sake of supporting women.

During the Rudd-Gillard wars in Australia (2010-2013), I really didn't appreciate other feminists who thought of me as less of a feminist because I chose to support Rudd. I wasn't going to give Gillard a free pass even if she was Australia's first female prime minister. It was during this period that I started strongly rejecting the idea that feminists must always support other women. During the Clinton-Sanders wars in America (2016), I personally supported Clinton, but I didn't think it was any less feminist to support Sanders, if one's politics was more in line with his platform. I proudly stated this to my friends, both Clinton and Sanders supporters. Perhaps because some prominent feminists were Sanders supporters, or perhaps because I was already personally supporting Clinton, this time this particular stance was much more well received.

The bottom line is this: being a feminist doesn't mean putting having a female president ahead of everything else. (By the way, if that was the case, would we all need to support Sarah Palin, should she become the Republican candidate? I really hope not.)

p.s. No disrespect to Gillard. The Rudd-Gillard thing is over now, and both former PMs have handled themselves with grace after their departure from politics.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Justin Bieber has reportedly been banned from touring China. Maybe he will finally learn his lesson.

It is reported that Justin Bieber has been banned from touring China as part of his Asian tour this year.

While the exact reasons for the ban are not entirely clear, there is speculation that this may be related to his repeated insensitivity towards Chinese culture and sentiment. His actions during 2013-14 clearly seriously offended many ethnic Chinese, not just in China but across the world.

Maybe it's time Justin (and his many fans) learned a lesson: you can't get away with offending people repeatedly. Being nice has its benefits, and being offensive is not cool. Also, cultural sensitivity is not optional, especially when you are a guest in another country.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Is Ed Sheeran a Misogynist? Perhaps we should think more.

British singer Ed Sheeran was possibly forced to take drastic action on his twitter acccount after Buzzfeed published an article about some of his old tweets that they found, which sounded offensive and sexist. Soon after, he took his whole twitter account offline, and then only reactivate it after bulk deleting many, many tweets.

Of course, talk about Ed Sheeran being a probable misogynist also started flying around the internet.

But maybe we should think clearer. Tweets are essentially meaningless when taken out of context. Which was what that Buzzfeed article actually did. A main drawback of twitter is that it is difficult to determine what context everything was said in.

Therefore, this feminist is not convinced that there is anywhere near enough evidence to accuse Ed Sheeran of misogyny.

In addition, I think we should reflect on the sometimes hysterical nature of online feminist activism. Just this year so far, we have seen feminist hysteria surrounding Ed Sheeran, Jay-Z, Ivanka Trump, and even Bernie Sanders. Somehow, angry mobs are everywhere on the internet, and nobody is safe. You know, all this stupidity can only lead to the discrediting of feminism eventually. Which will be a real tragedy.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Katy Perry hopes to end feud with Taylor Swift. I really hope she is sincere.

Katy Perry has recently said in multiple interviews that she hopes to end her feud with Taylor Swift.

But it still isn't clear what this conflict was about. Or if it even ever existed at all.

I mean, I do have a long-standing suspicion that this feud perhaps never even existed. That perhaps, just maybe, Katy Perry was imagining it, for whatever reason. Especially since there is no clear evidence that Taylor Swift ever even acknowledged its existence. And no, the Bad Blood video does not count, as there was no evidence that it was directed at Katy Perry (or directed at anyone in particular at all).

In any case, I really hope Katy Perry is sincere about putting it all to an end. We're sick of hearing about this likely non-existant feud. I really hope she's not just acting out and trying to drag out the story for even longer. Because it is really becoming ridiculous.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hayley Williams Shows Us Success is not just External

Hayley Williams recently revealed that she briefly quit Paramore in 2015, due to depression.

I thought the revelation was surprising.

But I also think it shows us something very important: success isn't just externally determined. You can have every success out there, yet if you feel unwell inside, you may not be able to feel any of that happiness. You may even feel like you need to walk away from it all.

I think it's time society had a conversation over this topic.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Lady Gaga is Right About the Haters (and let's include Trump too)

Lady Gaga recently talked about seeing negative people on the internet, and concluded that 'I never have to meet any of these people'.

Yes, that's the right attitude to have about haters. You know, some people are just extreme, hateful, or downright weird.

We just have to ignore them.

p.s. With regard to these people to ignore, I do mean to include a certain high-profile American politician who regularly uses Twitter. If only the world would just ignore his tweets from his personal account from now on. I mean, they don't affect government policy, right?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Lorde is the Woke Queen. Or is she? What if she got Even More Woke?

Lorde has been praised by intersectional feminists around the world, ever since she said that feminism is not all about privileged, white women like herself. Some have even called her the new 'Woke Queen' (whatever that is supposed to mean).

This outpouring of positivity isn't unexpected. Especially as a minority of radical feminists continue to hold tight to the fantasy that Taylor Swift is the biggest 'White Feminist' in the music industry (something which has no basis in reality), they might have believed that the had just found the anti-Swift they had been looking for, for almost a decade. I mean, Lorde made all the right noises, she spoke the right language, to get the patronage of this crowd.

But then, what if she got more, well, 'woke'? Let's imagine that she came to the realization that many of the boundaries and taboos of mainstream feminism has been alienating women of color all along, and spoke out about that. Let's imagine that she decided to call for a feminism truly without gatekeepers. Would the feminist establishment be so welcoming of her still? I highly doubt it.

p.s. this post isn't meant to be taken as negative opinion on Lorde. It's good that she is attempting to be intersectional with her feminism, it's just that I wouldn't call her 'woke' so soon. I have to know if she will just be a mouthpiece for mainstream feminism or if she will really think for herself.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Please Don't Make the Private Matters of Jay-Z and Beyonce about Feminist Theory.

4:44, the latest offering from Jay-Z, in which he makes an attempt to apologize to wife Beyonce Knowles regarding his past behaviour, has reignited the feminist discussion around the whole thing, which started when Beyonce released her album Lemonade some time ago.

Some feminists have again heaped praise on Beyonce, whilst others have said that Jay-Z's apology doesn't go far enough. They reckon that Jay-Z should have addressed male privilege and systematic issues, if he was really sincere.

But let me say this: let's not make this a lesson in feminism, shall we? What Jay-Z was doing was a personal apology to his wife, and discussion of structural discrimination issues and privilege wouldn't be appropriate here. A man wouldn't talk about male privilege when apologizing to his wife, right? The feminist thing here is that she made him apologize, full stop.

I am a feminist. But it's not always all about feminist theory, right? (I don't even know if Jay-Z is a feminist.)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Donald Trump has Proven Himself Unfit for Office. But we REALLY need to start Demanding More of our Leaders.

Donald Trump's recent horrible behaviour towards show hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough has, in the eyes of many (including myself), conclusively proven that he is indeed unfit for office. I have personally long suspected of his unfitness for office, but this really proves it beyond any doubt for me.

But how did we get here, a President who is effectively going out of his way to bully two of his citizens? Such behaviour was indeed unthinkable back in the 1950s, despite all the faults of that era.

The fact is that, we in the Western world have been demanding less and less of our leaders, and this trend has gotten us to where we are. We ought to start demanding more. Presidents are not just everyday citizens, they are our representatives, and we need to hold them to a higher level of accountability and decency. The non-judgemental stuff ought not to apply to our leaders. It is why I really think that Bill Clinton should have been impeached back in 1990s, despite the fact that I would have supported his administration otherwise. Fellow liberals clearly don't share my view there, but hey, if you let your side off the hook, the other side will do the same too, and we will end up in a downward spiral.

It's not too late to reverse this downward spiral, though. Next election, start demanding that candidates show some integrity before endorsing them, wherever you live in the world. We really cannot afford another Trump anywhere in the world.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Feminism Must Not Discredit Itself Over Ivanka Trump

In recent weeks, a section of the feminist community has again stepped up its attacks on Ivanka Trump, with someone even declaring her a danger to feminism. On the other hand, conservative criticism that this proves the exclusionary nature of modern feminism is also ramping up.

You all know my attitude on this. You may think this is about me sympathising with Ivanka for some reason. But the real thing I'm concerned about is feminism itself. To put it bluntly: some feminists are discrediting feminism over Ivanka Trump. No matter what you think of Ivanka, this sounds like a tragedy.

Even before all the drama about Ivanka and feminism, many people out there already perceived feminism to be too political, to be about a specific political agenda, and to be a movement that conservative people cannot join. It seems that, unfortunately, some feminists don't mind providing evidence to support these accusations. Make no mistake: the 'movement' to exclude Ivanka Trump from feminism is undoing the great work of other feminists educating the public on what feminism truly is. If feminism is about gender equality and only gender equality, it should logically have nothing bad to say about Ivanka, after all.

I never supported Donald Trump's candidacy and presidency, and in light of recent developments I have developed an even dimmer view of him. But Donald is Donald, and Ivanka is Ivanka. If feminism cannot get this right, it will be discredited for at least a generation. And we cannot afford that.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Caitlyn Jenner for President in 2020? Why that's a potentially great idea.

It's 2017, and America and the rest of the West are bitterly divided.

We desperately need a president who will cut across lines and unite people. While the left is all about social justice for minorities and the right is all about conservative values, the best thing to do would be to have a president who can serve both camps. After all, the two aforementioned things are not really mutually exclusive. We just need to find a conservative who is also a member of one of the minorities the left loves to champion. Now, I'm not saying that I would necessarily support all the policies of a conservative administration. I think I wouldn't, actually. But this does represent a way to heal the divide.

The most logical choice would be a conservative person of color. However, the high-profile conservative people of color in America tend to be religious conservatives too, and a lack of support for LGBT rights is a no-no for progressives these days. I can't imagine how a President Condoleeza Rice could be accepted by progressives. Even a more moderate President Marco Rubio would be controversial for his non-support of marriage equality. Therefore, a high-profile conservative LGBT person would probably be the better choice. This leaves us with Milo Yiannopoulos and Caitlyn Jenner as the main candidates.

Milo Yiannopoulos would be a very controversial choice indeed. He doesn't seem to care about the fact that he is flaming tensions across the cultural divide. His strong and uncompromising support for Donald Trump would also be a negative in the sense of healing the divide, Trump being the most divisive politician of our age. On the other hand, Caitlyn Jenner has shown that she is a person who can listen to contrary opinions, as we have seen on I Am Cait. More recently, she famously changed her mind to support marriage equality. While she did support President Trump in last year's election, she has not hesitated to criticize his lack of support for trans rights this year.

I am not saying that I would definitely support Caitlyn Jenner if she did run in 2020. But there would definitely be some merit to the idea of her being US President.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

From Washington to Paris to Wonder Woman: Why Feminism must learn from Ariana Grande and Be Positive

The Ariana Grande One Love Manchester concert gave us much needed positivity. And in this new mood of positivity, I realised one thing: recently, the negativity within feminist circles has had an impact on my outlook on life too. It's really hard to stay positive with all that anger, bitterness and divisiveness. But still, we must try to stay positive.

However, we must also ask this question: why can't the feminist movement just stay positive? I mean, the women's march this year was the perfect example of where feminism could be really positive. But even there, some feminists complained about feeling excluded. Shouldn't the women's march be inclusive of everyone? Why does there have to be exclusions?

More recently, this ugly divisiveness was on show again, from Paris to Wonder Woman. A black feminist festival in Paris sought to exclude white people from much of its venue, while some Wonder Women screenings sought to exclude men. Again, why does there have to be so many exclusions, and therefore so much controversy? Can't we just all live together, be inclusive, and be positive?

Nobody likes angry, bitter and divisive movements. Certainly not myself. It's time we made feminism more positive.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Ariana Grande One Love Manchester Concert reminded me of something: the power of Positivity

Ariana Grande has been praised by many people around the world for her bravery in going back to Manchester to deliver the One Love Manchester concert. And with the support of artists like Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Liam Gallagher and others, it was a great show. Surely the music was great, but there was also one quality about it that really struck me.

The positivity.

The positive message of unity and love that came out of the concert was unmistakable, and I think it is an important message to have right now. Not only because the whole world is reeling from a series of terrible terrorist attacks, but also because there's just too much negativity hanging around generally. 2017 has been a particular controversial year, and people on all sides have gotten especially negative. The West really has not been this bitter, this angry, and this divided before. Somewhere along the way, people forgot to be positive.

So make this pledge with me: remember to be positive, even in the face of difficulty. Because we all need it.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

White feminism? Zionism? Can't we stop this madness and just enjoy Wonder Woman?

Wonder Woman has opened to the well-deserved praise of feminists around the world. After all, it isn't every day that we get a major movie about a female superhero. (By the way, I would be really happy if we can have a Supergirl movie too.)

However, some self-proclaimed feminists are trying to spoil the fun for the rest of us. Firstly, there is the predictable accusation of white feminism. The term 'white feminism' has been so overused it now means essentially nothing. I'm also worried that it is becoming a racist slur against, well, feminists who are white. Anyway, apart from the fact that Wonder Woman is white, what's so 'white feminist' about Wonder Woman? It's not like that she's racist?

The more surprising accusation about Wonder Woman is the supposed Zionism. This stems from the fact that Gal Gardot, who plays Wonder Woman, is Israeli, and has voiced support for some of her country's actions in the past. Now, as an East Asian I am firmly neutral about the Israel-Palestine issue, as I believe it is not my place to comment on this issue. Other than reaffirming my commitment to opposing both anti-semitism and Islamophobia in all forms, I have nothing else to say. However, Wonder Woman the character is not even Israeli, so how is the Wonder Woman movie Zionist? I mean, the fact that Eddie Redmayne played Lili in The Danish Girl doesn't make Lili the character a straight man, right?

It seems that some people just have to be perpetually angry, and can't enjoy anything in life. It's annoying. What I'm most concerned about is that this kind of annoying behaviour will just serve to discredit feminism.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Helen Mirren wants us to all be feminists. Great! However, we must stop annoying people like Kara McCullough.

British actress Helen Mirren has told students at a commencement ceremony that, no matter what race or gender we are, we should all be feminists. She admitted that until relatively recently she didn't even identify as a feminist herself, because she thought that would be too political. However, she came around to see the necessity of the feminist movement.

I agree that we should all be feminists. After all, feminism, as it is properly understood, means the equality of people, regardless of gender. If you can't support that, then you are a bigot, effectively. I also agree about the necessity of supporting the feminist movement. Equality can never be taken for granted.

But some people seem to have a different view on what feminism is. Just a few weeks ago, newly crowned Miss USA Kara McCullough said that she preferred 'equalist' instead. As feminism properly understood would have the same meaning as 'equalism', it's just that Kara McCullough has a biased view of what feminism means, right? But then, if she does, she's not alone. After all, even Helen Mirren thought it was 'too political' for her in the past.

And you can't really blame people for having a distorted view of feminism, when self-proclaimed feminists are out there saying that you can't be a feminist unless you oppose capitalism, or that you can't be a feminist if you are pro-life. These stances are decidedly personal beliefs that are not essential to a worldview of gender equality, and they are also clearly very political. No wonder views of feminism being 'too political' or 'not really about gender equality' are so common.

If we believe in feminism, we must stand up for the one and only definition of feminism, and argue against those who implicitly or explicitly suggest that there should be other requirements for memebership in the feminist club. Only that way can we not alienate many potential feminists. Only that way can we build a feminism that is inclusive and strong. You can be a feminist and a socialist, but it should be clear that you don't need to be a socialist to be a feminist.

Friday, June 2, 2017

So Ivanka Trump can't even celebrate Pride Month now? This is madness! Pride Month should be for everyone!

It's June, so I'm wishing everyone, and especially the LGBT readers of my column, a happy Pride Month! I think it's a good thing that we are all so aware of Pride Month nowadays. LGBT people and their allies should stand up and be heard.

This Pride Month, Ivanka Trump has also shown her support, sending out two tweets. However, sadly, they have not been universally well received. Continuing on the theme of making Ivanka responsible for everything her father stands for, the far-left crowd has rejected her well meaning messages, instead posting accusations of her being 'complicit' to the Trump administration's policies in response. Responding to love with hate, in other words.

Having this attitude towards Ivanka won't change Donald Trump's mind about anything. But it would certainly make many other people take a dim view of LGBT rights, and thus more likely to support the Trump administration's homophobic policies. Some people may think that being perpetually angry is a good thing, but in reality it only makes things worse. Just recently a poll said that marriage equality support in the US is at an all time high. It would be a shame to spoil this sentiment by being divisive and angry, especially as marriage equality is still a live battle in Northern Ireland and Australia, two countries the US shares a language and a culture with.

Even if Ivanka can't do much to change her father's mind, her support should still be welcome. The LGBT rights movement needs allies from everywhere, more than ever. Now is the least appropriate time to alienate people.

Pride Month should be for everyone who wants to partake. Don't make it any more complicated than that.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Vanessa Hudgens is Right. Singing Along to Celine Dion can Pay Off!

Vanessa Hudgens recently credited singing along to Celine Dion when she was younger for giving her the great vocal range she has.

Some may say that can't be correct, as many people like to sing along to Celine Dion too, perhaps in the shower.

But the difference is in how you do it. To improve your singing, you need to sing along seriously. Sing like you're performing for a crowd. Do it with passion.

Now, the question is, will somebody one day credit singing along to Vanessa Hudgens for their vocal skills?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Is Miley Cyrus Finally Turning Over a New Leaf? We're Ready to Forgive You, so Come Back!

Miley Cyrus has been seen sporting a new style, as she goes out and about to promote her new album.

There's a different hairstyle, and a different dress sense. It seems the Miley of 2013, with all the bad fashion sense, the bad role-modelling, and the bad influence on our culture is all gone.

Honestly, I was quite upset at what Miley did back in 2013. But it's been four years, and it's long enough for one to be forgiven. Miley Cyrus remains one of the best singers of our generation, and she deserves a second chance.

In other words: we're ready to forgive you, Miley, so please stage a huge comeback!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Manchester Attacks Should Cause Major Changes. Anything Less Means No Justice.

Over the past few years, the increasing frequency of terrorist attacks have caused increasing levels of anger and frustration among the good people of the Western world. After each attack, we hope and pray that it would be the last, and that some miracle would happen to save us from having to see any more. But that miracle never comes. The Manchester attacks have caused a particular sadness and anger in many people, because many of the victims were children. Only the most evil and depraved beings (I won't use human here because they are not) would even think of doing something like that. While many people have sadly become sort of numb towards terrorist attacks in recent years, the Manchester attacks have shocked us out of our dangerous complancency, because it begs a fundamental question. If the West cannot even guarantee the safety of its children, what values does it still stand for?

Given the gravity of the situation, many of us demand major changes. Major changes in the way we, as a society, talk about the situation we are in. Major changes in government policies aimed at bringing an end to the terror threats. And yet, those major changes have not happened. The way our leaders seem to go on their business as usual almost makes me miss George W. Bush. At least he appeared serious enough about the need to tackle terrorism (even though he probably wasn't, in reality). Compare that to Donald Trump, who doesn't seem to have done anything much about the biggest issue of our time having already spent more than four months in office. I will not mince my words here: from what I see, Donald Trump is not strong enough on terrorism. The 'Make America Great Again' crowd needs to stop giving him a free pass on this issue.

Our cultural leaders and commentators aren't much better, though. While many have shown great passion for tackling climate change, the same cannot be said about tackling the threat of terrorism. While climate change may cause losses of life decades down the track, terrorism has already caused many deaths to date. If there is an urgent need to address climate change (and I believe there is), why isn't there an even more urgent need to address the terror threat? Can you seriously look into the eye of a mother who has just lost her daughter, and tell her that terrorism is a less important issue than climate change?

Here are three major changes I would like to see. It's the very least we can do at this point in time.

We Need to Talk About the Issue of Racism and Disaffection
Many experts have said that the perception of racism and disaffection among young Muslims living in the West is driving them towards radicalisation.

I agree that we have to address the racism and Islamophobia that is present in our communities. It is not OK to discriminate on the basis of race or religion, ever. In addition, it is not OK to dismiss the religious practices of ethnic minorities. For example, non-Muslims should refrain from commenting on headscarves, let alone calling for restricting their use. Governments and politicians should also follow these rules: don't ever behave like former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

On the other hand, the campaign to increase the perception of racism everywhere needs to be stopped. If the perception of racism is an important driver of radicalisation, causing people to see racism where there is none would potentially lead to more radicalisation. Moreover, promoting divisive theories in a time where we need to be united against an existential threat like terrorism is really inappropriate and irresponsible. We probably need to let go of things like microaggression theory and cultural appropriation theory, if just for the sake of our collective safety.

We Need to Talk About the Causes of Terrorism Frankly
The racism of the far-right and the political correctness of the far-left have both served to muddy the waters, when it comes to talking about the causes of terrorism. The far-right would like to paint all Muslims with the same brush, in order to justify their exclusionary outlook. On the other hand, the far-left would like us to tip-toe around the fact that some people appear to be born with an inclination towards evil. Both approaches are not helpful. We need to be able to frankly discuss the causes of evildoing. There appear to be both causes related to society, and causes related to personal factors.

We Need to Prioritize the Fight Against Terrorism. All of Us Together.
I understand that we all have things that we care about the most. For me, it is the concept of liberty and the twin ideals of liberalism and libertarianism. But still, we need to be able to unite in the fight against terrorism, whatever our creed. I remember that, post-911, the Western world was able to do that for a while. Why can't we bring that back?

No matter where you are in the West, you would have noticed a return of the protest culture of the 1960s and 70s in recent years. 2017 in particular has seen many mass protests, with the Women's March being perhaps the most famous one. Why can't we also have a march in solidarity against terrorism? Right or left; white, black or brown; gay or straight; male or female; Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu or Buddhist, everyone should be welcome in such a march.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Taylor Swift has been Unusually Quiet for Some Time. I Hope She's Alright.

Taylor Swift's recent shying away from publicity has been fascinating for quite a few media commentators. I guess when somebody's that much of a celebrity, it would seem unusual to be so low key for so long.

Maybe it's just her personal choice to be low key. Maybe she's just taking a break.

Or, as some commentators suggested, it may all be part of her strategy leading up to her sixth album, likely to be released later this year. Several media commentators have decided that it definitely is a deliberate strategy, seeing that Taylor has been cultivating her image in a very deliberate way in recent years. I wouldn't be so sure, however. Why would it be good to go low key in a year of album release? How does this make sense?

I just hope it isn't because she's not well. You know, many people don't want to publicly share their life difficulties. This would be especially the case for people who think they may have a lot to lose. A career built on an image of being cool also makes it harder to talk about stuff that is, well, less cool. Of course, all of this is unhealthy. So if you're a real fan, you need to tell your beloved celebrities that they can share their less shiny side with the world too. That you won't stop supporting them just because they're not perfect.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Joe Biden should have been the 2016 Candidate all along, to be honest. (And Biden 2020 Beats Zuckerberg 2020 hands down!)

It has been reported that former Vice President Joe Biden has come out and said he did not think that Hillary Clinton was the correct candidate for the Democratic Party for the 2016 elections. The reports also said that Mr Biden thought he would have been a better candidate.

Which, to be honest, I totally agree. I only backed Hillary because she was the best out of the available choices (Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz: there's really nothing Obama-like about this lot, to be honest.) I backed Hillary because she was more supportive of free trade than Bernie Sanders, and free trade is good for some small businesses. But then, recent events almost made me wish I had backed Bernie instead: Bernie's awareness that political correctness was damaging the Democrats vs Hillary's constant playing to identity politics is difficult to ignore. I guess my ideal candidate would be one who supports economic freedom but also doesn't play identity politics; something not on offer last year.

Returning to Biden, I think he could have been the best candidate last year had he been able to come forward. Maybe Biden should actually consider running in 2020. At least it would be a better option than Zuckerberg 2020 (seriously that guy's not that much older than me. Who would trust him?)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Did Katy Perry make Swish Swish to diss Taylor Swift? Or is it something even more sinister?

Katy Perry latest single, Swish Swish (featuring Nicki Minaj), was recently released to controversy. Many have noted that the lyrics seem to be in answer to Taylor Swift's 2015 single Bad Blood, and not in a nice way either. Add in the fact that Taylor's friend Ruby Rose also took to twitter to express her unhappiness with Swish Swish, suddenly now many people are convinced.

But then, as I said just a couple of weeks ago, I don't trust anything Katy Perry does anymore. To my best knowledge, there was nothing in Ruby's tweets about Swish Swish to indicate that she was indeed doing this to stick up for Taylor Swift. Instead, Ruby bluntly told Katy to 'stop trying to make Fetch happen'. Which is what I personally want to tell Katy too, in fact. I'm going to put it bluntly: I see Katy Perry being a try-hard, trying to push sales of her new album, and she is becoming increasingly uncool at that. I can't help but suspect that this latest 'controversy' is somehow just because Katy wants to 'make Fetch happen'.

In fact, my readers would know that I don't in fact believe that the Taylor Swift vs Katy Perry feud even ever happened at all. But that's another story.

Ruby Rose also seemed to be angry about Katy Perry's recent 'rebranding as a political activist only to ditch it', likely referring to her apparently feverent support of the Hillary Clinton campaign last year, contrasting with her much lower level of political passion recently. You know, Katy, if you want to be passionate about politics, that's fine. But if it's all an act, people will get upset. Politics is very personal and very important for many of us.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I'm Glad Lea Michele is Going Back to Her Roots

Lea Michele has told media that in her second album Places, she is going back to her roots in musical theatre.

I actually quite like what's on the album.

But that's not what I like most about the album. I think the most important thing is that she is going back to doing what she really likes, what she really believes in. In the music industry nowadays, too many people just do whatever the fashion of the day is. Which is why there is an endless number of copycat EDM tracks in the Billboard Hot 100 any given week. Which makes things boring.

So good on you, Lea Michele!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Relax. The Handmaid's Tale is Not Happening in Real Life. We've Actually Been Here Before.

There's been recently a surge in interest in The Handmaid's Tale. Part of the reason is because now you can watch it on the screen besides just reading it. But another important reason is because, well, internet feminists are having a meltdown.

Would people stop saying that something like The Handmaid's Tale is going to happen soon in our real lives? Because, clearly, it won't. It's stupid!

I mean, I know Donald Trump is president, and he isn't exactly the women's rights supporter that Ivanka thinks he is (sorry Ivanka, I like you but I disagree with you there.) But the President of the United States doesn't control everything in our lives and our culture, and four years doesn't change everything either.

I'm old enough to remember the 'religious right taking over the West' scare, in full force about 12 years ago today. In 2004, the Bush administration waved the anti-marriage-equality flag in its bid to seek re-election, and many 'values voters' turned out to 'vote against gay marriage'. Media attention hyped up the power of the religious right in politics, with some outlets even claiming that America was on the verge of a new great religious awakening. This fear also spread to other countries like Canada and Australia. Both US Democrats and their counterparts in several other countries got nervous for real. There was even talk about America becoming a semi-theocracy, where non-believers would be treated as second class citizens.

Think this sounds surreal? Don't remember anything about the religious right taking over the West? It's probably because it was never mentioned again after 2006 or so. It won't be mentioned in any respectable retrospective either, because it was never a real event. People got scared for nothing.

The idea that we were heading down the path of The Handmaid's Tale during the Trump era would be just as stupid if we look back at it in ten years' time. I promise.

Friday, May 12, 2017

MSNBC is Having Difficulty Becoming Diverse because People Don't Want It. How Sad.

The management at MSNBC wants to introduce more diversity in its lineup. Long known for having a strong left lean, the station has attempted to introduce more centrist and conservative voices. But there is one problem: ever since Donald Trump came to power, audiences have been increasing in all the left-leaning shows. Thus MSNBC has been reporting very healthy growth recently, with most of it coming from shows like Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes and Lawrence O'Donnell.

In other words, the diversity project is now in conflict with maximizing profits.

I do hope that MSNBC continues to pursue the diversity thing because that's important. I mean, I like listening to left-wing talk. But I equally want non-left talk, because all new ideas deserve to be considered. If we live in an echo chamber, we end up getting a distorted view of the wider world, and also end up making maladaptive choices.

p.s. As for losing out some profit in the short term, well, in the long run diversity will improve a station's image and widen the viewer base, so it won't be a bad thing either.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Netflix, 13 Reasons Why, and Trigger Warnings.

Firstly, I have to say that I haven't seen 13 Reasons Why, and don't plan to either. So there are no spoilers in this post.

In response to mental health concerns over 13 Reasons Why, Netflix has recently added additional warnings for viewers. In the media, this has been widely reported as Netflix adding 'trigger warnings' for 13 Reasons Why.

Which is so, so wrong.

Television networks displaying adequate warnings about potentially offensive content is nothing new. Netflix is not a television channel, but it provides a similar service, so it wouldn't be unreasonable that Netflix reacts to feedback and puts in appropriate warnings. It is just what you would expect of a responsible media company.

But why call them 'trigger warnings'? Why confuse a very traditional and uncontroversial practice with a new and controversial one? From what I understand, the new warnings are as well justified as any similar warnings in television history. Calling them trigger warnings only serves to trivialize them. Some people (myself included) don't believe in trigger warnings and will ignore anything that is labelled a trigger warning.

For the sake of people's mental health, please don't call everything a 'trigger warning'. It sounds too optional.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

"Nevertheless, she persisted": Supergirl, perhaps the First Feminist Superhero Series

Supergirl has decided to end its second season with an episode titled 'nevertheless, she persisted', to the applause of feminists. The phrase of course was recently a popular feminist meme, arising from an exchange in Congress between Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

It's probably just the icing on the cake for what has probably become many feminists' favorite superhero series ever. I mean, there was an episode with a female president (filmed before the election, so I would assume that's a political statement), and a diverse range of feminist themes including gender roles and LGBT themes. Plus the fact that Melissa Benoist (who plays Supergirl) marched in the Women's March in January this year.

I think it's actually good to have a show like Supergirl, if only for the sake of balance. I mean, most superhero TV shows and movies have been catered to heterosexual males, and have often reflected a male-dominated worldview. I'm not saying that those shows aren't good. But Supergirl shows us the other side of the coin. Women and feminists can be superheroes too, you know?

p.s. I am still the Princess's Spirit girl. Which means I am still more into Princesses than Superheroes. But then, I'm happy to make an exception for Supergirl.

Download the full song here.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Lena Dunham may think Rhianna is the ultimate Role Model, but Many Would Disagree

Girls may have come to an end, but it appears that Lena Dunham isn't done talking about it, just yet.

Recently, she spoke of how she was surprised that people felt uncomfortable with her revealing performance in Girls, and that "I have always been like Rihanna to myself, like, I just have a great time with my own body."

Reality check, Lena. Many people are uncomfortable with revealing performances, and it's not just because your body is not like Rihanna's. Many people equally don't want to see you or Rihanna (or anyone else) that way. From what I know, Girls actually lost some would have been fans because of this.

And no, not everyone likes Rihanna either. There are probably several reasons that Taylor Swift is more popular than Rihanna. I guess having some modesty may be one of them. And no, I am not being judgemental. I don't care what Lena decides to do. But if she wants success, she needs to accept feedback from audiences.

Perhaps learn a bit from Taylor Swift, and you may get more success. She's your friend after all, right?

Friday, May 5, 2017

I Can't Trust Katy Perry Anymore. She just sounded like a Donald Trump Supporter. I can't be sure she isn't one, in fact.

I don't mind real Trump supporters at all. I just don't like fake people. Fake people have no Princess's Spirit.

Recently, Katy Perry has received a lot of backlash over a 'joke' involving former president Barack Obama. During an Instagram Live Exchange session, a fan said that they missed her old black hair. To which Katy replied, something like "miss Obama as well? Times change."

People are obviously upset. Some have even said that this was an act of microagression towards the former president. Which I don't agree - because I don't believe in microaggressions. I also think that Obama would be too worried about the state his country is in right now to have any time for Katy Perry. But what Katy said was really insensitive: not to the great man himself, but to the millions of people around the world who actually miss him. After all, many of us truly, truly don't like Trump very much, and wish that it was still the Obama era.

Some people have described Katy Perry simply as a celebrity who didn't know what to say. But that's really unconvincing. We're talking about a women in her 30s who has travelled the world and made lots of money.

Which brings me onto my next point: most of my friends are in the miss Obama, wish Hillary had won camp. If I said something like what Katy said, it wouldn't have been interpreted as a joke. They would think I was out of my mind. Anyone who truly understands the pain and fear many have suffered since November last year would know that this would not be an appropriate 'joke' to tell. Not that it sounded like a joke at all either: it sounds like something a die-hard Trump supporter would say to us to rub the salt in. I really cannot help but think that Katy Perry's support of the liberal side of politics was perhaps never sincere at all. How else could she be so thick?

I have long found Katy Perry's sincerity suspicious. After all, she started her career with the offensive anthem Ur So Gay, and followed it up with the equally offensive but dressed up as fun I Kissed A Girl. My gay friends didn't find these songs funny at all. It's hard not to take it personally when the lyrics say 'it's not what good girls do, not how they should behave'. You can't get any more explicitly homophobic than that. But then, Katy supported marriage equality and even challenged former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on this issue. So I tried to believe in her.

But I can't anymore. She's in my suspicious book again.

p.s. I don't mind real Trump supporters at all. Also, I'm a pro-liberty liberal.

Caitlin Jenner has Changed Her Mind on Marriage Equality: why Conservatives should Pay Attention

In a recent interview, Caitlin Jenner has said that she now supports marriage equality 100 percent. In the past, her position was more equivocal. So this represents a substantial change of heart for the conservative Republican. And remember, she is a conservative Republican!

Some people may say that, well, Caitlin Jenner is trans. Of course she would support marriage equality. But that's so not true. I know that plenty of LGBT people, usually older ones, who are opposed to marriage equality. In fact, in my experience, age (being a millennial) is a much better predictor of support for marriage equality. Even conservatives in our generation are likely to support marriage equality. In Jenner's generation? Not so much.

I think that Caitlin Jenner's recent change of heart could have something to do with her recent experiences, however. In the past two years, she has been frequently in contact with the LGBT community and its voices. In other words, she has had plenty of proper exposure to the arguments in favour of marriage equality, exposure that other conservatives of her generation usually don't get. And from my experience, (no offense to opponents of marriage equality), most people, progressive or conservative, would come to support marriage equality if they are properly introduced to the arguments and encouraged to really think about it. It's the same reason many millennial conservatives also support marriage equality.

It shows that marriage equality sits well with most people's conscience, and there is nothing within conservatism that is inherently incompatible with it.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Most Girls by Hailee Steinfeld is just as Weird as Rock Bottom. But it is Even More Thought Provoking.

About this time last year, I pointed out how weird the lyrics to Rock Bottom, Hailee Steinfeld's then-charting hit, was. One year on, I still think that being on the 'right side of Rock Bottom' but hoping that 'we keep falling' makes no sense at all.

This time, Hailee's latest hit is just as weird. But it seems to make some sense too, surprisingly.

From what I can hear (correct me if I'm wrong), Hailee says that 'most girls are smart and strong and beautiful', but then she says that 'I don't want to be like most girls'. Taken together, it could mean something like those girls out there are actually quite good, but I am so much better than them. I hope that's not what she meant. On the other hand, it could also mean that those girls out there are smart and strong and beautiful, but I don't want to be any of these things. Which doesn't make sense. Or maybe we should separate the two statements: the first being a celebration of women in general, the second being a celebration of individuality. I personally think that the last interpretation is correct, although some of my friends disagree.

Hailee also says that 'some days you feel so good in your own skin', but then 'it's OK if you want to change the body that you came in'. Now, this is a bit surprising. Most of mainstream pop culture in the past 20 years or so at least pay lip service to the idea that one should always be proud of their body, no matter what. In contrast, Hailee is being quite equivocal here. I guess she's just being realistic, but one of my friends was worried that she might (inadvertantly) encourage poor body image with this lyric. On the other hand, another friend of mine pointed out that it may be a nod to the experiences of trans people, something I had not considered at first but appears to make sense.

All in all, a very thought provoking hit. What do you people think?

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Hillary Clinton Feminists vs The Bernie Sanders Feminists: What's The Point?

The recent controversy surrounding Bernie Sanders's support for a pro-life mayoral candidate has reginited the Hillary Feminists vs Bernie Feminists battle. The 2016 election may be well behind us now, but the fight just won't die down.

So it goes on. The Hillary feminists accused the Bernie feminists of refusing to support the would-be first female president. The Bernie feminists accused the Hillary feminists of refusing to support action on economic justice. The Hillary feminists now accuse the Bernie feminists of supporting somebody who happened to support one pro-life candidate for mayor (mayors don't get to make abortion laws!). The Bernie feminists now point out that Tim Kaine, Hillary's would-have-been vice president, was also personally pro-life (but he voted pro-choice, so what's their problem?).

This is the problem with today's self-styled progressive activists. They need everything to be perfect, from their point of view. They pick fights with the wrong people. And they respect nobody else's conscience, if it differs from their own.

Knowing this, I shouldn't have been surprised when Donald Trump won last year.

People, focus on things that really matter. Hillary vs Bernie doesn't matter anymore, by the way.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Harry Styles Finally Talks About Taylor Swift. But Why?

In a recent interview with Rolling Stones magazine, Harry Styles finally agreed to say something about his brief 2012 relationship with Taylor Swift. He said that he was aware that people thought at least two Taylor Swift songs (Style and Out Of The Woods) may have been about him, and he thought they were great songs. He also said some other trivial things.

But my question is: why now?

Harry Styles has been quite silent about this relationship all these years, and so has Taylor Swift. There was quite a lot of popular interest, but neither of them would answer any questions. However, by now, everyone has moved on, and I don't think anybody wants to hear about what happened in 2012 anymore.

I suspect it is not just a coincidence that this comes at the same time as the launch of Harry's solo career. Is he trying to grab attention? If that's the case, then I think he did the wrong thing. His first single is already doing pretty well, hitting #1 in the charts. He really doesn't need this. I fear that it would be seen by many as a cheap stunt.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Did Lena Dunham and Girls turn Conservative?

(Warning: spoilers below)

Recently, one of this decade's most controversial TV series, Girls, came to an end after six seasons. The ending, predictably, was controversial. But this time, the controversy was different. While Girls has generally been well received by progressives and young feminists,
it is among this crowd that its ending has been most controversially received.

You see, Hannah (played by Lena Dunham) ended up having a baby, and effectively 'settled down' as a mother. Which is probably not what most Girls fans would have expected or wanted. They expected Hannah to get an abortion. They thought Hannah would be forever single-ish, never to be tied down, and forever continuing her 'exciting' life in Brooklyn. Being a mother and living in upstate New York? That's so not Hannah.

But then, this is probably how reality works. The kind of people who live the Girls kind of life tend to get tired of it after a while.

I have always suspected that college students and recent graduates were the bulk of Girls fans. They look in awe at Hannah and her friends, and think that this is 'the life' that they want. But in reality, it is a life of insecurity and dissatisfaction. In reality, most people don't do well in a life of unstable relationships and unclear career direction. It is the perfect recipe for a Quarter Life Crisis. (After which most people simply change direction and leave that life behind.)

So while the college crowd decries that Lena Dunham and Girls have gone conservative, for anyone with a bit of life experience, they wouldn't see it that way. They would just see that Hannah's story has quite a good ending.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

I May Not Agree with Jenna Bush Hager and Ann Coulter, but I Stand With Them. Let Me Explain.

This is a weird thing to write, for someone like me. But then, the times have changed so much in just a few years. Nothing should be weird anymore.

Recently, Jenna Bush Hager's suggestion that her father, former president George W. Bush, is a feminist was met with controversy. Jenna said that her father taught her and her sister that they could be whatever they wanted to be, and that their parents taught them to be independent thinkers. But some of my feminist friends instead insist that President Bush's policies were anti-women, and he can never be considered a feminist.

While Jenna probably thinks that her father is a great president, I have to say I strongly disagree. Bush Jr. was probably my least favorite US president of all time, to be honest. However, on the aforementioned controversy, I stand with Jenna Bush Hager. While the Iraq War and the staunch opposition to marriage equality were both very horrible policies, there was nothing in the Bush administration that was particularly anti-woman. And no, his pro-life policies don't count there. While most feminists are pro-choice, plenty of women are pro-life too, so you can't fault Bush just for that. Even when you strongly dislike someone, you need to be fair with them. It's something that the New (post-Trump?) Left often forget to abide by.

Meanwhile, UC Berkeley has been forced to cancel a visit by Ann Coulter, invited by the college Republicans. The university said that they were unable to find a safe and suitable venue, due to ongoing security threats. Ann Coulter has said she will still attend, because she cannot be silenced. This comes just two months or so after protesters caused chaos at the university during a visit by another right wing speaker. It seems that, even at the home of the Free Speech Movement, free speech is no longer safe.

Ann Coulter is one of my least favorite authors of all time. I have read quite a bit of her stuff, and to be honest, I think most of it is ridiculous. But as for her point that she cannot be silenced, I stand with her there. Right now, there is a dangerous increase in those who want to limit free speech, to silence their opponents via whatever means possible. To defend free speech, we all need to speak up, no matter where we stand on the political spectrum. I probably don't want to hear what Ann Coulter has to say, but I strongly believe it is important that she exercises her right to say it.

I never thought I would side with Ann Coulter on anything, but in a world where free speech is in danger of extinction, even enemies have to become allies sometimes.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Lorde tells media People Don't Recognise Her. But maybe they're just Not That Into Her?

Lorde has recently told New York Times Magazine that, in her time living in New York, she has found that people just don't recognise her a lot of the time.

But I have another 'theory'. What if people do recognise her, but just don't go up and say hi (or say they want their photo taken, or whatever)? New York City (or any other city for that matter) is not a giant Lorde concert where everyone must be a fan of Lorde. I mean, if I saw Lorde somewhere, I would just leave her alone. It would be differnt if I saw Taylor Swift instead, but I just don't find Lorde that interesting (no offense, but people do see things differently). I am not particularly into her music, and don't know much about her otherwise. Why would I want to talk to her, a complete stranger?

I guess being a 'celebrity' and all that would make some people think that everyone wants to talk to them. But celebrity is usually the result of extensive media promotion nowadays, and being taught about someone's existence doesn't mean one would have any further interest in said person. I would think that most people who have been taught to recognise Lorde (or any other celebrity) by the media wouldn't suddenly want to talk to them as a result.

Maybe it's time that celebrities stop thinking and behaving like the world revolves around them. It's for their own sanity's sake.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Ivanka Trump will Advocate for the Economic Empowerment of Women - and There's Controversy Again!

In a recent interview on CBS This Morning, Ivanka Trump said that she would advocate for the economic empowerment women in her role in her father's administration. But it was the fact that she also said that she believed most people would not actually know about her impact that has caused much controversy.

Some have interpreted this comment as making her whole 'offer' insincere. They reason that, if they can't see the results and link it to her work and advocacy, how can they know she's not just paying lip service? After all, Ivanka is quite unpopular among some sections of the community, with a recent poll of young American women giving her an over 50% disapproval rating. Others have pointed out that Ivanka offering to work behind the scenes for no recognition continues the long-standing tradition of women doing all the hard work and men getting all the recognition, and is therefore un-feminist.

But I think they have all missed an important point. In politics, it is often the invisible, behind the scenes work that is most important for outcomes, especially in the longer run. Every successful policy is usually the work of intense behind the scenes lobbying, often for a decade or more. Many progressive young people who don't understand this point want their 'activists' to stand in front of the whole country and bravely declare their undying support for a certain cause. They don't understand that this approach is often counter-productive, except for said activist's own publicity. Therefore, they end up loving insincere, publicity-seeking so-called activists.

As I previously said, I am not particularly a fan of Ivanka, and I believe we are on opposite sides of the political divide by American standards (perhaps not by Swedish standards, but that's irrelevant). But her promise to work behind the scenes for long-term outcomes sounds good. Because this is the only way things ever get done.

Friday, April 14, 2017

How We Can Respect Survivor USA's Zeke Smith From Here

The outing of Survivor USA's Zeke Smith as transgender has hit news headlines everywhere. As I understand it, this was an involuntary outing. As I understand it, Zeke wanted to be known for his game rather than for being the first trans contestant of Survivor.

And that's a perfectly valid wish we should all respect.

But can we still honour that wish, now that his story is all over the media? I think we actually can. Don't think of him as a 'trans contestant'. Just think of him like any other person, when you watch the show.

I mean, if you knew that a contestant was gay, would he suddenly have to become the 'gay contestant'? (That would actually be bigotry.) Or if you knew that a contestant liked to play football, would he suddenly have to become the 'footballer contestant'? (That would actually be stupid.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Why I'm Happy that Chelsea Clinton isn't Running for President yet

Recent news that Chelsea Clinton has indicated she won't be running for president has devastated some of my friends. I mean, some of them were seeing her as a 'last hope', or at least someone to rally around in the Trump era.

But the reality is, Chelsea is still very young, and probably isn't ready to be president anytime soon anyway. The presidency is a job for people with experience, and it probably isn't something people should think about aiming for when they don't have enough experience yet. Experience make great presidents. Or should I say, experience does not always mean great presidents, but great presidents do require a fair bit of experience.

I am also optimistic that, by the time Chelsea Clinton is ready to run for president, a lot would have changed in between. The Trump era doesn't last forever, you know. Other great leaders would have emerged in the meanwhile, perhaps including America's first female president. If Chelsea gets entangled in the issues of right now, she may be seen as tired, old voice by then, having (inevitably) shifted her positions several times to adapt to changing circumstances. Therefore, I also think her decision to stay out of the 'trouble' for now is a wise one.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Why I'm not as Devastated as Katie Holmes regarding Hillary Clinton's Defeat

Recently, Katie Holmes said on the Jenna Bush Hager show that she and her daughter Suri were devastated by Hillary Clinton's defeat in last year's election. She also remarked that we had a long way to go as women.

I wouldn't be so pessmistic myself. After all, while Hillary didn't win, it doesn't mean that no woman can win. Hillary Clinton was not a representative of every woman out there. She is one individual woman, with her own values, beliefs and policies. Whether one supported her or not would depend more on their views in these areas, rather than whether a woman was suitable to lead, I would think. In fact, many dedicated feminists supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries. And, whether you like it or not, many women voted for Donald Trump in the actual election. Some women even supported Sanders in the primaries, then Trump in the election. It's not always about gender, you know.

While I supported Hillary's bid last year and I was disappointed when she didn't win, we must not magnify the implications of that particular result. The world goes on, women's rights are still improving, and brave people continue to speak up and improve things. Not having a woman in the White House (yet) doesn't change everything.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Scarlett Johansson 'Ghost in the Shell' Cultural Controversy: is it Really That Bad?

Scarlett Johansson has been quite popular among cultural progressives in recent years. Given that she is a dedicated feminist who has also spoken up against racism, this is not hard to understand. But somehow, her latest role in the movie 'Ghost in the Shell' has caused her some controversy, among the same cultural progressives.

Here's the story, in summary: 'Ghost in the Shell' is essentially an adaptation of a Japanese story. In the original, Scarlett's character was Japanese. Therefore, some people now think that Scarlett Johansson has essentially stolen a lead role, otherwise to be played by a Japanese actress. And this would discredit her anti-racist and intersectional feminist efforts.

But this is a very limited view, in my opinion. 'Ghost in the Shell' is an adaptation, and it is not obliged to follow the Japanese original in everything. It is also specifically an adaptation made for American and other Western audiences, therefore the casting of a white American lead may have been intentional. They may not have been wanting to cast a Japanese actress in any case. If Scarlett didn't take the job, they would just have offered it to someone else white and American.

And all this might not even be a bad thing, after all. Those criticising Johansson's latest move have rightly pointed out that there have been very few Asian lead roles in Hollywood. But this has probably been due more to the fact that Asian culture has not been mainstream in America rather than due to racism per se. After all, there have been more black lead roles than Asian lead roles, because even black culture is more mainstream America. Movies like 'Ghost in the Shell' will gradually introduce Asian culture to American audiences. Casting already popular actresses like Scarlett Johansson will increase the movie's appeal, and bring in more audiences. In the long run, this will lead to more opportunities for Asian lead roles. We just need to be a bit more patient.

Monday, April 3, 2017

That Daily Mail Sexist Cover, Smurfette 'Missing' in Israel town, and the Importance of Speaking Up

On Monday 27 March, when British newspaper Daily Mail offered an online preview of its front page for Tuesday, there was an uproar of anger. That cover featured a picture of UK Prime Minister Theresa May meeting with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, with the caption 'Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it!'. Even UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned this particularly outrageous act of sexism against his opponent.

And thanks for speaking up, everybody. The fact that a newspaper can still think of doing something like this in 2017 may be quite appalling, but if we don't clearly let them know that it's unacceptable, nothing will change.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Smurfette is missing on billboards for the latest Smurf movie, in a town in Israel. This is particularly weird, given that Smurfette is the real star of the whole movie. Apparently, the decision was due to religious sensitivities.

Religious sensitivities or not, this attitude should never be acceptable. There can never be gender equality in a world where women, or in this case a female cartoon character, cannot even be shown in the same light as men. As in the Daily Mail case, I think it's time we spoke up.

We need to speak up, or nothing will change. If we speak up, things might not change overnight, but it won't be wasted in the longer run.

Download the full song here.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Will Donald Trump Disappoint Inauguration Singer Jackie Evancho?

When Donald Trump was sworn in as US President in January, Jackie Evancho was there to perform the national anthem. She decided to perform despite calls for her to withdraw, and afterwards she received plenty of backlash. Even though she said she did not do it for Trump specifically, the fact is that she saved him from some embarrassment he didn't need. And for that, many anti-Trump people were more than disappointed.

Fast forward two months, and Miss Evancho is requesting to meet Donald Trump, and not for the first time either. The reason? She wants to talk about trans rights, in light of Trump's decision to cancel former President Obama's executive order requiring schools to let trans students use the appropriate bathroom. This is also personal for Miss Evancho, as her own sister is trans. So far, Donald Trump has not responded to the request.

Will Donald Trump end up disappointing Jackie Evancho? It may be too soon to tell. But if he does, what does this say about him? Especially given the fact that Jackie sang for him despite calls to pull out? This would be beyond any sense of humanity, right?

Download the full song here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Some Reflections as Keeping Up With The Kardashians Hits 10 Years...

This month, Keeping Up With The Kardashians finally reaches the milestone of being on television for 10 years. It's a show that I don't watch personally, but it's surely one that's received lots of attention. It's even been blamed for Donald Trump's election victory (I don't believe that personally).

For a long time I have simply dismissed the show. But thinking about it, they've played their role in talking about important things, and bringing otherwise apolitical people into the political conversation. Whether it's gun control, LGBT rights, or the 2016 election, the Kardashians have not been shy to share their thoughts.

I still won't watch the show, personally. But I do realise it has value. So here's to 10 years for you!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Ivanka Trump, Marisa Kabas, the far-left, and the Real Danger to Feminism

Ever since I've started defending Ivanka Trump's feminist identity, I've received plenty of requests telling me not to, even people demanding that I stop. But I stand firmly here. Why? Because I firmly believe in the diversity of feminist ideas, and I won't let feminism morph into a political party with a party line every member has to toe. While Ivanka is not my feminist idol, she clearly is an inspiration for some women, a form of empowerment for them. How's that not feminist contribution?

As I said last week, if the issue is Donald Trump, then let's stick to that. I'm no fan of Donald Trump either, personally. But if we want to fix things, blaming it on Ivanka doesn't solve anything. We need to study the real reasons for her father's victory, and learn our lessons. Regarding this, I believe the rise of the authoritarian far-left has a lot to answer for. I know that plenty of people around the world supported Trump simply because he is politically incorrect. I believe a substantial proportion of Trump votes was due to a feeling of oppression due to a lack of freedom of speech and conscience, and somehow these people concluded that they could fix it by electing a politically incorrect president. Which is nonsense, because there's no evidence Trump believes in increasing freedom. But when people are desperate, they reach for ridiculous solutions. If not for the authoritarian far-left, I believe Hillary would be in the White House right now.

The authoritarian far-left is not just a figment of anyone's imagination either. Progressive movements used to be so much more, well, 'liberal', just five or ten years ago. Now something's clearly changed, and it's not a good change. Take feminism for example. Pro-life feminists have long felt uneasy with some aspects of the movement, but now they've been made to feel more unwelcome than ever. It's not just those arguing for restrictions on abortion either. Those who dispute the personal or religious morality of abortion are given the cold shoulder, even if they are legally pro-choice. Recently the 'party line' seems to be getting tighter still. In her recent piece in Harpers Bazaar, Marisa Kabas noted that she has been made to feel unwelcome in some parts of the movement due to her stance on Israel-Palestine issues (something I'm personally neutral towards, by the way). This, in turn, has made her reflect on how pro-life feminists also feel unwelcome, and how there could instead be a civil conversation, even though she is very much pro-choice herself. I have no doubt that, as more and more people are made to feel unwelcome, more and more will make similar reflections. Kabas is still very much determined to remain in the feminist movement. I'm not so sure everyone will make similar conclusions however.

If feminism is no longer liberal, it will no longer serve the needs or even sit well with the consciences of some women. The less liberal it becomes, the less women it will serve, until it becomes some meaningless movement opposed to the needs of the majority of women. The majority of women will become opposed to so-called feminism at that point, and will even support the patriachy if there is no other choice. And this is the real danger to feminism. Not Ivanka Trump, or even Donald Trump himself.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Sunny Apples of the Month: 'Beauty and the Beast' and Drew Barrymore

Sunny Apples are great pieces of culture and great icons of inspiration, who are 'sunny', i.e. have an optimistic attitude on life and don't harbour a victim mentality, and 'apples', i.e. good for your health and wellbeing, as in 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away'.

'Beauty and the Beast' has opened to great applause and box office records around the world. And it's not hard to see why. A story filled with family values, love, righteousness and what I call 'The Princess's Spirit', people just love a great dose of these things. Some bitter souls may say Belle shouldn't have sacrificed herself for her father, or that she should have hated the beast because he was bad to her at first, but most of us would recognise it as family supporting each other, and forgiveness and love, respectively. A story with a sunny apple attitude, definitely.

Drew Barrymore is our other pick for sunny apple of the month. Despite her difficult past, positivity and hope is what she stands for now, and she has no bitterness about the past. And the people are loving it! Drew is a great feminist icon in our opinion. As it stands, feminism could do with a lot less of victim mentality, and Drew Barrymore could help show everyone the way.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Jessa Crispin, the Meaning of Feminism, and Why 'Choice Feminism' is the Only Real and Moral Feminism

Lately, there's been a lot of talk about Jessa Crispin and her book Why I Am Not A Feminist. In the book, Crispin argues against 'Choice Feminism', the kind of feminism that emphasizes women's choices as feminism's goal. She says, amongst other things, that this form of liberalism would not allow women to actively change the world. Therefore, she calls for a feminism that is based on solidarity around socialist goals instead. (At least this is my understanding of her argument. Correct me if I'm wrong.)

But, thinking about it, 'Choice Feminism' is the real feminism. You see, feminism came from liberalism, as a logical extension of the idea that everyone should be equally free to follow their own consciences. Early feminists like Mary Wollstonecraft and many of the suffragettes were liberals, and liberal men in that era like John Stuart Mill and Prime Minister Lloyd George were supportive of feminist causes as part of their liberalism. In contrast, statist conservatives and fascists alike, all who did not believe in equal moral agency, did not believe in feminism. Without liberalism and its ideals of freedom of conscience, there would never have been feminism.

And ever since feminism has expanded 'choice' to women, women have helped re-shape the world, for the better, in multiple ways. Some have become educators and others have become business leaders, changing the cultures of these fields bit by bit in profound ways. Some have remained stay-at-home mothers, and have used their increased bargaining power to benefit their children. Women have also used their political 'choice' to make change. For example, in the 100 years that women have had the vote, governments have paid increasing attention to the needs of families, since women, who tend to care particularly about these matters, have political power over them. More recently, mothers of gay and lesbian youth have been particularly active in championing for marriage equality. It may not be the socialist revolution some people were wishing for, but that's only because the majority of women clearly don't believe in such a move.

As I argued in my book Liberal Revival Now, liberalism is the most moral ideology because it supports freedom of conscience. And in a world where every woman should be as free and equal as every man, every woman will use her freedom of conscience to better the world as she sees fit. There will be 'solidarity' where people believe in causes together, but there will naturally be civil conversations and debates instead where there is no agreement, because forced 'solidarity' is just another word for enslavement. I believe most women, most feminists, would wish to create a world like this. We're getting there, slowly but surely, with 'Choice feminism', or, as it should be properly called, Liberal Feminism.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Taylor Swift New Music Rumours: It Sounds Really Wonderful

Swifties around the world are keenly waiting for Taylor Swift's new music, having been disappointed by her not releasing anything in the second half of last year, as per her usual schedule. But if these rumours are true, then Taylor Swift fans are in for a great surprise.

Firstly, there's been talk of a new website created specifically for Taylor fans, simply named Swifties. Rumours say it will have things like online tutorials, educational camps, and Taylor Swift branded musical products. Sounds like an interesting concept to me. I actually wonder why nobody else has tried this until now.

Secondly, there are also rumours that Taylor may try a new way of releasing music. In the internet age, releasing music online via both downloads and streaming has become commonplace, but all these models have been created by either computer companies or music labels. The idea that artists can be more creative about how they release music is certainly a breath of fresh air.

As previously said, these are just rumours, and they may not be true at all. Nevertheless, all these concepts sound interesting. So much that, even if Taylor does not end up doing it, I think somebody else should.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Scarlette Johansson, Saturday Night Live, Ivanka Trump, and 'Compliant'. Who's a feminist and who's not?

There's been a lot of talk about that Saturday Night Live skit. You know, the one where they dismiss Ivanka Trump's feminist identity, saying that she could have stopped men like her father but instead she's just 'compliant'.

I think it's just wrong on all sorts of levels.

Firstly, if somebody identifies as a feminist and does so seriously and not out of malice, nobody should be able to take their identity away. It becomes dangerous when we allow feminism to be defined by a group of social elites, who get to select who's in and who's out. Feminism is not like some exclusive clique, or a political party where you have to apply to join. It's simply a concept that people can choose to identify with if that's what they believe in.

Secondly, do you people think she can really change her father's ways completely, if she did try? I don't think so. Not being able to help isn't the same as being 'compliant', right? As for criticising her father, well, if your father was president and he acted like Donald Trump, do you think you would be out there criticising him?

Honestly, I don't know a lot about Ivanka Trump, but I don't see anything suggesting that she deserves this treatment.

If Donald Trump is where the problem is, then let's stick to talking about that.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lena Dunham, Immigrant Women, and Keeping Things Separate

For the occassion of International Women's Day this year, Lena Dunham wrote an article praising the contribution of immigrant women to American society, and calling for the recognition of such women.

While her intention is good, and I get that any pro-immigrant sentiment is much needed and appreciated in the current climate, I think there's no point highlighting the contribution of immigrant women in particular, when all immigrants, men, women and gender non-conforming, actually contribute substantially and in similar ways. There is simply no rational case for singling immigrant women out for special discussion.

I am just concerned that creating a special category for women where justification for different treatment doesn't exist may actually lead to differential treatment by society in the longer run. Differential treatment based on gender is not only unfair, it usually disadvantages women, remember. As I previously highlighted, female world leaders who don't play the gender card have fared much better than those who do, probably because they receive less differential treatment in return.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Meghan Markle, India, Stigma, and Opportunity for Women (including in the West)

Meghan Markle, actress and girlfriend of Prince Harry, recently talked about her trip to India earlier this year, and remarked upon how stigma surrounding menstruation there has meant lack of access to proper sanitation for girls and women. This in turn means that their opportunities to undertake education and sport are limited, and their potential is often not realised.

It's an issue I think women in the West should pay more attention to.

It also highlights how important it is to remove stigma around things that are just natural, and just a normal part of life otherwise. Stigmatization is the path to oppression. Rational, taboo-free discussion is the path to end the stigma.

Once upon a time, there was strong stigma around the idea of women having careers. Working women who were married and/or mothers were particularly stigmatized. Luckily, waves of activitism, discussion and awareness has changed this forever, at least in the West. We do need to keep in mind that this situation still exists in many other parts of the world, and is something we should work to change. Coming back to the West, however, nowadays, we should probably be more concerned about the stigma surrounding stay-at-home mothers, and the false idea that they contribute less to society. Ideas like these have prevented many women, who would otherwise have taken up this option, from doing what they really want to, and the stigmatization has meant this issue is rarely even discussed or explored in our collective conversation, including in feminist circles. It's time this changed.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Anne Hathaway, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, and Gender Equality

Drawing on her own recent experience, Anne Hathaway gave a passionate speech on the need for paid maternity leave on International Women's Day last week.

As I have previously said many times, having a family and caring for their family is a high priority for many women, and any serious exercise in women's empowerment should throughly address this issue. For her effort, I believe Anne Hathaway deserves a 'feminist Oscar' or 'feminist Grammy Award' if there ever is such a thing. (Or maybe we could start something like that?)

But the thing I was genuinely (pleasantly) surprised by was that Anne actually gets the point that real gender equality and liberation can only come if it includes everyone. In her speech, she pointed out that paid paternity leave is needed just as much, as we need to avoid situations that "undervalue fathers and overburden mothers", as well as situations that leave minorities like gay parents behind. Furthermore, she pointed out that "in order to liberate women, we need to liberate men" too. This really contains a lot more understanding of the real world situation and needs than many self-professed feminists can claim.

Perhaps, one day, every feminist will understand that just supporting policies that allow women to 'do the things that men do', or even to only care about women's (and nobody else's) liberty and equality, will not bring us anywhere close to real empowerment.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Emma Watson's Beauty and the Beast Controversy: Does It Make Her Less of a Feminist?

Three years ago, as she stood to tell the UN how important it was for men to be supportive of women's rights, I was frankly surprised at Emma Watson's evolution into a feminist icon. I wasn't convinced at first, but I gradually became convinced of her sincerity.

However, Emma's sincerity about feminism seems to be under doubt again, at least among some observers. Her decision to play the Princess Belle in the upcoming Beauty and the Beast film is part of the reason. You see, Belle, and perhaps Princesses in general, are seen as weak and non-feminist. And maybe Emma even helped contribute to this view, when she once said something along the lines of rather identifying with the warrior than the fragile princess, if my memory serves me right.

But there's nothing inherently weak or unfeminist about Princesses. For me, the spirit that princesses embody is a strong one, something I celebrated in my Princess's Spirit Trilogy novels. And maybe, just hoping, now that Emma has played one, she would agree with me here. Princesses actually make fine feminists.

Feminists have been too hard on Princesses for too long now. This needs to change.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Jennifer Lopez Speaks for Many Women, I Think

In a recent interview on Today, Jennifer Lopez spoke extensively about her children, even getting emotional at the subject.

It made me think. Here was one of the world's most successful women, who had many things in life she should be happy about, yet the one thing she credited for making her life so much better was her children.

After all, many of us are family beings. No matter how much material wealth one may acquire, family is even more important, for many of us.

Which is why feminism should never let mothers, and motherhood, down, if it is serious about empowering all women, all the time.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom Never Meant to be Serious? Really Disappointing If So.

After Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom's recent split, there have been rumours that the two never intended this relationship to be serious.

I hope it's not true. I mean, we should all respect others' choices, but it saddens me that people choose to start relationships that can be disposed of whenever they want to. I know it's their freedom to do so, but I have to say that it makes me feel sad about the state of humanity.

In my humble opinion, it's no good for either party. Human beings are meant to live in committed relationships, I believe.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Next Hope for America's First Female President?

When Hillary Clinton's quest to smash the glass ceiling of the Presidency failed last year, quite a few were already wondering where America's first female president was going to come from now. The US stands alone among its peers in never having had a female leader now, with the UK, Canada, Australia and NZ all having had female heads of state.

I remember J.K. Rowling being quite optimistic about that it would only be a matter of time. And she had reason to be optimistic: her own country is now on its second female prime minister.

But perhaps we should think about it another way: maybe we should stop deliberately hoping for a female President, and let it occur naturally. Perhaps the reason why the UK was able to have a second female prime minsiter without much fuss was because nobody, including women, cared too much about it. Here is my theory: after the reign of Thatcher in the 1980s, British progressives largely forgot about wishing for another female prime minister, and British conservatives learnt that female prime ministers may actually serve them well too. Much of the UK hence became 'neutral' about the gender of their leader ever since. And this neutrality has helped, in the long run.

After all, the recent history of female leaders and potential leaders has shown that playing the 'gender card' is a liability at the ballot box. Successful and popular female leaders like UK Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are not known to play the gender card. On the other hand, the gender card has arguably poisoned the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, both who were known to champion their feminist credentials heavily.

I'm not saying that it's not important to stand up for our feminist values. But in politics, strategy is everything, and apperently de-emphasizing the gender aspect gets more votes.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

What Will Donald Trump be like as President? Let's Look At Some Australian Parallels

In just a few days, Donald Trump will become President of the USA. What will the next four years be like? There's lots of speculation, but nobody knows for certain yet. But here's an interesting take on it:

Donald Trump's election last year saw the despair of many young and self-described progressive people, not just in the US but also around the world. But as a keen observer of Australian politics, I felt a sense of deja vu. Just three years earlier, when former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was elected, the situation was very similar. Young intellectuals were crying, protesting, saying that he was not 'their Prime Minister', even thinking of leaving the country. After all, Abbott was elected on a platform of securing the borders, repealing environmental measures, and making the government work again, whatever that meant. Sounds familiar? Should I also mention that Abbott didn't have a good reputation among feminists, and was opposed to marriage equality? Sounds familiar again?

In office, Abbott not only maintained his platform, but became increasingly nationalistic too, using the national security agenda to boost his polls. For many Australians, it was a really horrible time indeed. Yet his popularity went south and never quite came back again, despite all this. It appeared that people were not buying the nationalistic message anymore. Instead, when he moved to weaken Australia's government-funded healthcare system (another Trump parallel here?), people just lost faith in him, perhaps permanently.

Nationalism and 'border security' can only get you so far, bread and butter issues will count for much more in the long run. If Trump behaves like Abbott did, his popularity will not last.

In the end, Abbott's reign came to an end when his communications minister Malcolm Turnbull challenged him for the leadership, just shy of two years of the day he was sworn in. Of course, this kind of leadership change cannot occur in the US context. But there will be a mid-term election in 2018, and if that goes badly for the Republicans, there won't be a lot that the Trump administration will be able to do from that point onwards. (Think Obama's or Bush's last two years.)