Friday, September 14, 2012

The Topless Kate Middleton Controversy

I have been mulling over a recent event and have decided that I would really like to write about it. So I'm going to.
Kate Middleton has married Prince William and the media has been scrutinising her closely. Last night there was a news segment which took up five minutes of our time showing her making a speech which was essentially "Thanks for having us" and seemed to me to be almost as bland as a news item can be.
This morning I woke up and turned on the news and it was all about how she had been snapped topless and the photos have been published in a French magazine.
At first I thought, oh well, I guess she did some nude modelling when she was younger, big deal.
But no, these pictures had been taken of her sunbathing topless on a balcony of a private and supposedly secure hotel (I'm assuming here that the photographer would have had to enter private grounds to take the photos.)
People (on the news) have been saying, well she was naive to go outside without a top, regardless of how secure the hotel was. And perhaps she was.
There have been two different people (I think, the photographer and the editor of the magazine he sold the pictures to) come on screen and defend the pictures, both of them expressing their confusion over the controversy, saying that Kate is young and good looking and they can't see the problem.
Here, to me, is the problem.
It's one thing to publish naked photos of someone who did nude modelling, or who stripped off in a public place (like a beach). Tasteless, maybe. But, to me, they consented to being nude in public and those are the consequences.
Kate did not consent in any shape or form. You can say she was being naive, but when does that responsibility end? Is she being naive if she leaves her curtains open a crack by accident before getting changed? Is she naive if she changes in a room that hasn't been swept for sensors and cameras? Is she naive if she ever takes her clothes off for any reason?
 Kate has married into the public eye. But she never signed a contract that stated that gives the right for people to see her naked if the opportunity arises. And the scary thing is, they are doing it anyway. Which means, since there's no contract separating her from you, that they could do the same thing to you without any justification. Why not?
And saying that "it's OK, because she's hot" just makes it worse. It reeks of the old "she was asking for it" mantra that rapists have been using for generations. I don't want to compare this to rape, because I think rape is a word that should be used with caution, to respect the people who have experienced its full horror.
But this was definitely treading a fine line toward sexual assault. Those photos will be online forever. She now knows that she can never trust, never turn her back, never let her guard down, no matter what the circumstances.
And I wouldn't wish that on anyone. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Writing Competitions

I've been neglecting you, I know. But here. I've made a couple of sites for you. I'm planning to build them up over time to hopefully become good resources.

The first is a page listing competitions for New Zealand writers (and other art opportunities).

The second is a page with international free writing competitions. At the moment it only goes to September but I will add more soon!

Entering competitions is important for a couple of reasons. First, it trains you to let your work go. Some people (myself included) have a difficult time declaring their work finished and ready to go out to the world. Knowing that you have to put it into a competition tends to sharpen your editing skills.
Having a deadline is also a really good motivator. And competitions are good practice for submitting your work to other markets.
With all that, there's also the chance that you will place. This can help you to gauge your skill level and can give you some exposure, as well as prize money!
With free competitions you've got nothing to lose, so you've got no real excuses either.

Good luck!