The 5 Most Problematic Christmas Songs

I love the holidays. Honestly, probably more than the average person—the food, the family, the festivities; it’s all so dreamy and magical.

I’m also a huge fan of Christmas music. Year after year, I listen to the same Christmas soundtrack because it really gets me in the Christmas spirit.

However, this year, I’ve really started to listen to the lyrics of these songs and have realised something:

Some Christmas music is super problematic.

I’ve curated a list of the 5 most problematic Christmas songs and the reasons they make the holidays a little bit less jolly. I will be rating the problematic nature of these songs on a scale of 1-5 Santa heads.

1. Santa Buddy: Michael Bublé, 2011

Alright, Michael. We get it: no homo. Michael Bublé’s male-centric rewrite of the classic Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby” changes the words in such a way that we couldn’t possibly think he was looking at Santa in an erotic way.

He does so by making Santa his buddy, his pally, his poppy (?) instead of his baby, by asking for a ‘65 convertible in a very masculine STEEL blue and not the original light blue, by requesting “Canucks tix” (aka, hockey tickets) because he is A Man Who Likes Sports and Don’t You Forget It. However, he still asks for Santa to come and “trim [his] Christmas tree”. Hmm….

Screenshot 2018-12-07 at 13.12.50

2. Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Dean Martin, 1953

If you were to name one particularly controversial Christmas song, it would be this one. It’s fun, catchy, and it’s been around for decades, but it’s highly problematic. It tells the story of a woman who has spent an evening with a man, but he begs her to stay as she attempts to convince him that she needs to leave.

But what is this song really about? While the lyrics play it off as a cutesy and flirty hard-to-get situation, what the song is really doing is perpetuating rape culture. With lyrics like “I simply must go,” “The answer is no,” and “Say, what’s in this drink?”, this song is actually quite problematic in its dismissive qualities of a woman attempting to remove herself from an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation.

Screenshot 2018-12-07 at 13.13.14

3. Do They Know It’s Christmas? 1984; 2014

It’d be easy to blame this song on simply being a symptom of the time it was releasedin 1984, speaking about starving Africans was actually quite forward thinking and woke.

But in 2014? A resung version starring big names like One Direction, Ellie Goulding, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, and so many more? In 2014, should we still be perpetuating the idea that everyone in “Africa” (where, specifically. Africa is large and is made up of over 50 countries) is starving? The original hasn’t aged well, and the 2014 version really just shouldn’t exist.

Thank you for trying to raise awareness, Band Aid. Thank you for raising money for Ebola prevention. But lyrics like “Where nothing ever grows, no rain nor rivers flow” isn’t necessarily accurate depiction of the entire continent of Africa.

“Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?” Yes, probably.

Screenshot 2018-12-07 at 13.13.22
4. Never Do a Tango with an Eskimo: 1955

According to this 1955 Christmas song by Alma Cogan, one must never dance with an Eskimo for several reasons, the main ones being that “once those Eskimoses start to wiggle with their toeses, you can bet your life you’re gonna get a chill,” and also that “once an Eskimosee starts to cuddle up so cozy, you’ll find your passion cooling, yes sirree.”

Good to know. But don’t worry, she does give us plenty of other races that we can dance with, such as “a Latin”, “a gaucho” or “an Apache.”

I have several questions. Why is Cogan picking on Eskimos? Why is this considered a Christmas song? Why does this song exist at all? Can we stop perpetuating negative stereotypes about entire demographics, please?

Screenshot 2018-12-07 at 13.13.27

5. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus: Michael Jackson version; 1970

Nothing says Christmas like infidelity! According to the song, a young Michael Jackson sneaks downstairs only to find his mother kissing Santa Claus, but no one believes that Jackson actually saw this happen.

While some people believe the song is about the mother cheating on her husband with Santa, others see it a bit more innocently; perhaps Santa IS dad, and mommy is simply kissing her Santa-suited husband. Either way, it’s caused some controversy among Christmas listeners. What do YOU think the song is about?

Screenshot 2018-12-07 at 13.13.32

Did we miss your least-favourite Christmas song? Let us know in the comments!

 

5 Ways to Stay Warm in Student Halls

Winter is coming, and while it’s not as cold as North of the Wall in Game of Thrones, it’s still chilly enough to make you shiver all day, especially when studying all day in a cold bedroom.

We know student halls can be a bit of an igloo-like place during winter time, so we’ve got some great tips on how to stay warm in your student dorm room!

1. Buy a hot water bottle

A hot water bottle is a great way to stay nice and toasty while you’re studying at your desk or just bundled up in your bed watching Netflix. You can carry it with you and will act as a mini heater to keep the cold at bay!

Amazon has a whole bunch of hot water bottles you can choose from (prices start from £4 with Amazon Prime delivery), varying from simple, yet cosy 2 litre ones to novelty hot water bottles with animal covers. One of these cuties will not only keep you warm, but it will also be a nice decoration for your room!

2. Invest in a good duvet

We all know that nights are especially cold during this time of year, so it is crucial to have a good, thick duvet to protect you from the chilly drafts coming from your window; the higher the rating, the better! That way, you’re sure to get a good night’s sleep without waking up a shivering mess all the time!

We recommend the Wilko Super Soft 13.5 Tog Duvet (£10); it’s silky and fluffy, just perfect to cuddle up in bed and relax, all while keeping the cold at bay.

3. Pile on the throw blankets

Sure, for bedtime, duvets are the best option out there. But what about when you’re studying during the day? That’s what blankets are for! Just have one or two (or pile them on if you’re perpetually cold or just love them to bits) throw blankets in your room all the time to wrap yourself and stay warm during your study sessions.

Not to mention, they can bring a lovely pop of colour and style to your student hall room. Bonus tip: if you want some extra warmth, pop your blankets into the dryer for a few minutes; it will feel like a hug from a teddy bear!

4. Get your fluffy socks out

Do you have some funky looking fluffy socks lying around in your wardrobe? Well, get them out, because it’s their time to shine! There’s nothing better than putting a pair of your favourite soft socks on during winter time, especially if your feet are perpetually cold.

If you don’t have a carpet in your room, floors can get quite chilly, so walking around barefoot is the prime occasion for a cold to sneak up on you and make things worse. So if you don’t have a few pairs already, what are you waiting for? Get yourself down to a store and buy some fluffy socks and say bye-bye to frosty toes.

5. Splurge on a mini heater

If you’re one of the unfortunate souls who has a busted heater in your room and your uni safe haven is starting to feel like penguins could live in it, it’s time to get out the big guns.

Spending money on a mini heater might seem like a splurge, but it will definitely be worth it in the long run, especially as the temperatures will continue to drop in December and January.

You can find good deals on Amazon, or you can buy one from well-known stores, like Clas Ohlson or Argos. Before you buy a mini heater though, check with your student halls administrators to check which types are allowed in your room.

Have you got any secrets to keep the cold at bay or does the cold never bother you anyway? Leave a comment down below telling us what you think the best way to stay warm this winter is!

Armenian Family Seeks Asylum From Inside Dutch Church

A refugee family from Armenia are narrowly avoiding deportation from the Netherlands, thanks to a church that has been holding non-stop services since midday on 26 October, 2018.

Bethel Church, which is located in The Hague, is taking advantage of Dutch law that specifies that authorities cannot enter a church while it is holding worship.

This means that as long as Bethel continues to hold worship services on their current marathon schedule, the family—the Tamrazyans—will be safe.

The Tamrazyans had fled to the Netherlands to avoid further politically-charged death threats that the father had received in Armenia, and have lived in the Netherlands for nine years.

Attempts at claiming further asylum in the country, including an emergency pardon, have been unsuccessful thus far. The family requested help from nearby churches, and the Protestant-aligned Bethel Church was the first to offer protection.

Reverend Axel Wicke told Time Magazine that Bethel has received “massive support,” and says that the Tamrazyans are “literally living in a protective house built by prayers and worship.”

“The Protestant Church of The Hague respects court orders,” the Bethel website says, “but finds itself confronted with a dilemma: the choice between respecting the government and ptotecting the rights of a child.”

As of now, the church is requesting that visitors stop by the church—at least two people must be worshipping in order for the church to be considered ‘in worship’—and has their banking information listed here for donations.

Why Does Asian Representation Matter in Film?

If there’s anything I’ve gathered from five years of studying film–and I’ve learned a lot– more than cinematography, mise-en-scéne, or the 180 degree rule, I’ve learned that representation matters.

This is very obvious when looking at pretty much any Asian character in film. Mainstream media is incredibly whitewashed and therefore, other racial or ethnic minorities tend to struggle to find any characters on-screen to relate to—it’s a subtle form of racism and xenophobia that has become socially acceptable.

The film industry is one of the largest in the world, so it make sense that the content we enjoy affects us significantly. One of the biggest issues surrounding TV and film is that the stories being told are overwhelmingly white.

On the flip side, Asian characters are not often depicted in film or TV as protagonists; instead, they are typically side characters without names or important narratives.

Elizabeth Gottshall, a former studio art and computer science student, was born in China, but was adopted and brought to Georgia in 1998.

Gottshall is incredibly passionate and outspoken about the representation of Asian people in film and media, often writing and sharing social media posts that bring attention to the misrepresentation of Asians in the media.

She notes that the Asian and Asian-American communities are most often the victims of whitewashing (meaning that white actors accept roles that are meant to be played by an Asian actor). Even when Asian characters are presented in films, they are incredibly stereotyped and misrepresented.

“The stereotypes aren’t just about being good at math and technology,” Gottshall explains. “For Asian women, a lot of stereotypes are based on Asian women’s appearance. [They] are frequently portrayed as very thin and most importantly, pale. This is a huge problem.”

One of the most interestingly bizarre stereotypes and film tropes surrounding the Asian community involves putting stripes of colour into Asian women’s hair.

It is a common trope that is used to make Asian women “stand out” and to Westernize them, often portraying them as fun and carefree. This trope is meant to combat the incredibly harmful and untrue stereotype that Asian women are “boring and submissive”, which is common stigma in media.

While it may seem niche, this hair colour is actually a frustratingly common trope used in films and TV. Twitter user @nerdyasians tweeted this image that further emphasizes this idea:

Screen Shot 2018-11-22 at 23.59.45

But the stereotypes can be much more serious than hair colour.

“The most harmful stereotypes are about Asian woman being hypersexualised and only being there for white men to have sex with and dominate,” Gottshall said.

One of Gottshall’s most recent social media posts sheds light on a movement called #AsianAugust, a phenomenon that highlights films starring Asians and Asian-Americans. Some of the featured work this past August included The Darkest Minds, Dog Days, The Meg, Crazy Rich Asians, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, and Searching.

Variety Magazine explains that movements such as #AsianAugust show that “there can be more than one movie out at a time featuring diverse protagonists without hindering each other’s opportunity to succeed. They can even spark a ripple effect.”

Not only is it powerful that these films even exist, but they’re also films that ignore the stereotypes and stigmas that are so often put upon Asians and Asian Americans in media. They allow audiences to be exposed to characters which Gottshall calls “realistic and three-dimensional” that “Asians and Asian-Americans can relate to.”

While there is still lots of work to be done, the existence of films such as the ones presented in #AsianAugust—and their impressive amount of success—demonstrates that the film industry might actually be going in the right direction when it comes to fair representation of races.

Kingston University Student Debuts Film on Amazon Prime

A Kingston University student celebrated the launch of his short film on Amazon Prime at the movie premiere held in Blakes Hotel, Kensington on 16 November.

The short film Vent explores the life of Rose and Parker, a couple forced to live inside their flat due to a widespread radiation leak which happened three years ago. Fed up with the mundane conditions they are living in, Rose decides to take matters in her own hands and go outside, despite her controlling boyfriend’s attempts to stop her.

Mayuren Naidoo, Vent’s director and producer, said his inspiration for the film was controlling domestic relationships.

“I wanted to show this relationship in a film with a different setting, the idea that there has been a radiation leak and therefore it is only safe to go outside using a gas mask,” Naidoo said. “It also resonates with the multitude of women in similar situations in real life, as the idea that one individual can control the other and deny them of their basic freedom.”

The protagonists of the movie, Rose and Parker, are played by Vala Norén and Harrison Osterfield. Nolen is the younger sister of Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, who was in films like Prometheus and the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Osterfield is known for his role in George Clooney’s upcoming Hulu drama series Catch-22 and for assisting his drama school colleague, Tom Holland, on the set of The Avengers and Spider-Man films.

Naidoo is currently doing a Film Studies master at Kingston University. In addition to his studies and his independent projects, he also recently founded his own production company, Complete Field Films.

This is not Naidoo’s debut in directing, as he previously wrote and directed his first film in 2016, Midnight Sonder, which won the Best Produced Screenplay award at the Creation International Film Festival in Ottawa, Canada and the Bronze Award at the FAMEUS International Film Festival in Los Angeles, California.

The 18-minute film can be watched in high definition here, and is available both for rent and purchase at £0.99.

Fix my Brain: A Guide to Mental Health Services at KU

University can be a stressful time for anyone, whether you’re a first year student or you’re getting your PhD. If you find yourself anxious, depressed or just plain stressed during your time at Kingston, know that you’re not alone—and there are plenty of support services to keep you on track.

Want to get help, but not sure where to turn? Here’s a comprehensive list of “what to do” when you find your mental health is suffering at university.

  • Contact Your GP

Your general practitioner is your first point-of-call when it comes to mental health services. Whether you’ve seen them your whole life, or you’re visiting them for the first time, they’ll be able to give the most inclusive advice about your specific mental state. They can also provide a prescription for medication that might help, as well as refer you to counselling services in the Kingston and Surbiton area. If you’re an on-campus student, it’s as simple as ringing the Penrhyn Road Fairhill Clinic and requesting an appointment.

  • Visit a Student Wellbeing Drop-In Clinic

If you can’t (or don’t want to) get an appointment with your GP, visiting the drop-in clinic is your next best option. These clinics run at both the Penrhyn Road campus (Health Centre) and Kingston Hill (Yorkon Building) throughout the week, and are roughly 15 minutes long—similar to a GP visit. These clinics are confidential and are a good choice if you’re not sure what type of support you need. The health adviser at the clinic will be able to offer advice about seeking medication, on-campus support or even counselling.

  • Call for a Stress Management Appointment

These unique appointments are offered at both the Penrhyn Road and Kingston Hill campuses and are arranged either by calling 0208 417 2172, or visiting a wellbeing drop-in clinic. Kingston University’s website claims these sessions help with “time management skills, assertiveness levels, new study techniques, anger management techniques and ways to relax.” This, partnered with visits to Kingston’s CASE program, are a great way to get a handle on your studies-related stresses.

  • Speak to Samaritans

Whether you’re in a crisis or just need someone to talk to, don’t be afraid to call the Samaritans at 116 123. This number is manned 24/7, and all calls are fully confidential. If you would prefer, you can also email them at jo@samaritans.org. It can be very therapeutic to tell someone else about what’s on your mind, and Samaritans is equipped to handle a range of mental health issues. Whether you’re depressed, dealing with a traumatic situation, or just terrified of your exam next week, Samaritans is there to listen.

There are people who want and are ready to help, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for support. No matter what you’re going through, you’re not alone.

 

The Stress of Being Sober at University

It normally starts with the dreaded question, “Why aren’t you drinking?”

You sit there, clinging onto your pint of Pepsi that you hoped nobody would notice. The realities of explaining your personal life choices can be daunting, to say the least.

The struggle comes from a societal pressure to conform–and the burden of socialising is changing the way non-drinkers experience university. This irrational, generational fear of missing out is causing a struggle for those who don’t want to fit societal pressures and norms.

For some, alcohol abstinence is just part of the dreaded anticipation of peer pressure, potential exclusion and social challenges.

It’s no secret that drinking culture has long been associated with 21st century university life, and alcohol is–in some ways—deemed as the university student’s social beverage of choice.

The initiation of Fresher’s Week starts the school year into an alcohol-fuelled string of social events, from post-lecture pub drinks to clubbing events. Here, being a non-drinker can cause anxiety and apprehension.

As someone who chooses not to drink, I often find it’s one of the first things people notice about me during any social event.

Sometimes, I wonder if it’s just me being paranoid. I’ll unintentionally let the fact that I don’t drink slip, as if it’s a dirty little secret—but do people assume I don’t drink because I drive to classes? It’s a difficult situation that heightens my self-confidence, and I’m sure I’m not the only person to have been in this situation.

For those who choose not to drink, the act of declining an alcoholic beverage from their peers can cause an intense fear of being judged for their choice to stay sober. But, according to the Health Survey for England 2016, the biggest drop in adult alcohol consumption has been among young people between the ages of 16 to 24.

It seems that sober-culture is, somewhat, becoming socially common. However, as the number of non-drinking students goes up, the social pressures put on students to drink still prevail.

It’s safe to say that the perceptions surrounding non-drinking and peer pressure can contribute to some forms of negative stigma around alcohol abstinence.

The suggestion of “not being up for a good time” are just some of the behavioural preconceptions of a non-drinker by their drinking classmates. The association between alcohol and socialising a direct effect of this and—as a result—non-drinkers can find themselves isolated from classmates and friends.

Many non-drinkers can relate to being told, “Just one drink, it won’t hurt.” But, for someone who has made an informed personal, religious or health choice, this can be an uncomfortable scenario.

The easy solution would be to take this with a grain of salt, but for some, it can be far more problematic than this. Consequently, university students are still experiencing the same pressures of social drinking—although it’s no longer as rare.

With statistics showing that the proportion of both men and women drinking more than the recommended 14 units of alcohol a week has decreased between 2011 and 2016 (from 34% to 31% of men, and from 18% to 16% of women), there is generally a decrease of alcohol consumption overall.

With that being said, non-drinkers university should feel free to embrace their sobriety, trust their peers and put these societal pressures aside. Today, turning down a drink does not have to be a big deal.

The Bloody Truth Behind Menstruation

Menstruation – It’s painful, bloody, and downright annoying. The unpleasant yet necessary cycle of menstruation affects nearly 50% of the world’s population — yet the topic is incredibly hush-hush and deemed taboo to speak about.

Anyone with a vagina has been there: you need to ask a friend for a sanitary product, but you’re uncomfortable saying the words out loud. But why is this? What is it about periods that make women feel uncomfortable to speak outwardly about them?

Depictions of menstruation in media – including film, advertisements, video games, social media, etc. – have always been particularly problematic. The media’s representation generally does not convey what menstruation is actually like, but rather demonstrates a glorified version that seeks to make audience members more comfortable with a manipulated version of menstruation.

Ads are especially guilty of adopting this sugarcoated image of menstruation. These advertisements are usually selling sanitary products and, in order to boost sales, depict the women on screen as being happy and physically active, conveying the idea that if you buy these tampons, you will also be happy and active!

This image is particularly absurd to most period-having humans; when you’re on your period, all you want to do is curl up in a ball and cry. PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is painful and uncomfortable and ugly–and no matter how effective a tampon is, women on their period typically don’t want to perform a ballet recital or go rock climbing.

Advertisements are also notorious for specifically not showing period blood, despite the fact that their products exist for the sake of combating menstrual bleeding. Rather than the standard colour of blood – red – advertisements use a mysterious blue liquid to represent period blood.

The use of this blue liquid isn’t only found in sanitary product commercials; indeed, it can be seen in advertisements for toothpaste, diapers, paper towels, and more. Why do advertisements do this?

This sterile blue colour is often used in advertisements to denote cleanliness. The blue liquid elicits images of pure, clean water, and directly opposes any unsavoury thoughts of blood or bodily fluids. 

The use of this blue liquid also stems from quite problematic origins, some of which are deeply rooted in cultural norms. This allusion to cleanliness perpetuates the notion that menstruation is unclean and impure, a belief shared by the texts of many cultures and religions. This idea is also often seen in mainstream media and films, such as Carrie (1976), in which Carrie’s mother believes that her period is a symbol of sin.

While menstrual product advertisements do not necessarily mean to imply that periods are impure, companies tend to portray menstruation in a veil of beauty and happiness.

This perpetuates the notion that menstruation should be a clean experience, as a means to combat the inherent impurities of menstrual bleeding. This depiction is particularly effective as advertisements are ubiquitous and accessible, and therefore viewed by larger audiences, which subconsciously perpetuates these ideals without audiences knowing it.

The depiction of menstruation extends past advertisements. Not only is it misrepresented in mainstream media, but it is often actively censored.

A photo that poet and activist Rupi Kaur posted to her Instagram account of her bleeding through her pants was flagged and removed from the Internet. Since the photo technically met the official Instagram guidelines, it was eventually reuploaded; however, Kaur did not go quietly into that good night.

rupikaur-period1-454x341 Photo credit: Rupi Kaur

In response, she wrote, “I will not apologise for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak.  When your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified.”

This, and sanitised media depictions, are just some of the many ways that menstruation is stigmatised and stereotyped and deemed gross or offensive, ultimately making it a taboo subject.

While this information can be disheartening, it is important to remember to celebrate companies that are attempting initiatives to end stigmas surrounding menstruation.

For example, Libresse is an international brand of feminine hygiene products that has recently initiated a campaign called “Blood Normal” that seeks to “banish the blue liquid that conventionally stands in for period blood in ads and instead shows real-life scenarios of young women dealing with their periods.”

The hope is that more mainstream companies will adopt similar ideals, ultimately working to collectively end stigmas surrounding menstruation. In the end, perhaps someday, women may not have to whisper about their periods and treat them like they’re secrets.

Watch the Blood Normal campaign video here.