As usual, sex was a popular topic in the news this year. From changes in laws across the globe to favor same-sex marriage and the safety of sex workers to watching a young woman swing naked on a wrecking ball, it was impossible to escape the controversial and polarizing nature of sex in our culture.

Global Spread of Marriage Equality

One of the biggest stories of the year was the continuing spread of legal same-sex marriage. According to the New York Times, the global population with access to marriage equality doubled in 2013, which was largely due to progress in North and South America. Eight more of the United States passed laws on marriage equality which are now recognized by the Federal Government thanks to a Supreme Court decision this summer, while Uruguay and Brazil voted to legalize same-sex marriage earlier this year.

France became the largest European country to do so as well, and New Zealand brought same-sex marriage to the Southern Hemisphere. This brings the total global population with access to equalize marriage rights to approximately 585 million, which sounds pretty high until you realize it still only represents about 8% of people across the entire world. Here’s to hoping we double or even triple that number in the coming year.

Challenging Canada’s Prostitution Laws

Another of 2013’s biggest stories came just one week before the end the year when the Supreme Court of Canada voted unanimously to strike down three of Canada’s current laws pertaining to prostitution. While it is not currently a crime in Canada to sell sex for money, there are laws prohibiting living on the profits of prostitution, communicating in public with clients, and using a private residence such as a brothel for the location of the act.

These three laws were challenged by three women with experience in the sex trade, Terri-Jean Bedford, Amy Lebovitch and Valerie Scott. They argued that the current laws prevented them from safely conducting their business, which violates certain rights and freedoms set down in the Charter. While the Ontario Court of Appeal later upheld the law about communicating about prostitution in public, they sided with the Supreme Court regarding the other two laws, agreeing that they were too broad.

The Supreme Court gave Parliament a deadline of one year to create new laws, if they so desire. It will be interesting to see how far they go in protecting the safety of sex workers, a story that I will continue to cover in the coming year.

Miley Cyrus Twerks Her Way into the Spotlight

mileyMuch has already been written this year about the raunchification of Miley Cyrus and her “all grown up” behavior shift from squeaky clean tween idol to lewd tongue-wagging twerker. One of her most memorable moments of the year came when she teamed forces with one of this year’s other prime provocateurs, Robin Thicke, singer of ‘Blurred Lines’ aka that disgustingly ubiquitous song you hope you never have to hear again.

Their little performance on the MTV Video Awards definitely earns top billing for most controversial dirty dance moves, as Miley stripped down to a barely there nude bikini and violated that poor foam finger, causing a media storm in only the way our little Wrecking Ball can.  Will she find newer, more disgusting ways to shock us in 2014? Only time will tell…

No One Wants to Envision Rob Ford Getting Enough to Eat

rob_fordFinally, I’ll close with the little oral sex story that could, and in fact did, make its way around the world’s gossip columns and nightly news satire shows. Toronto’s bumbling mayor extraordinaire Rob Ford made a lot of strange comments that were scrutinized by media outlets everywhere, none as shocking as his response to allegations that he was sleeping with one of his female staffers. Ford said to a room full of reporters that he never wanted to eat her pussy, since he was happily married and “got enough to eat at home.”

I guess ultimately I should feel happy for Mrs. Ford, if indeed these are the arrangements of their sex life, since every woman should get enough at home, but the shock value of his candor mixed with the mental picture of Rob Ford doing anything in the bedroom was enough to make me shudder. The main question on everyone’s minds is how much lower can he fall in 2014?

“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde

Oh Miley… it’s hard to even know where to begin. In case you’ve been living underneath a rock without wi-fi, during a performance last weekend with Robin Thicke at the MTV VMAs, the former child star Miley Cyrus proved she’s very much shed her Disney-friendly Hannah Montana skin by stripping down to a flesh-colored latex bikini, fondling herself with a foam finger and performing the now infamously appropriated style of dance called twerking. Basically, it involves bending at the waist and jiggling your ass.

With her tongue recklessly wagging out of her bright red lips, she expressed a desperate and obnoxious desire for attention. And she certainly got it, but not quite in the way she was looking for… well, at least the notoriety got ‘twerk’ officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Unsurprisingly, the reactions to the performance covered the gamut from confusion to disgust and repulsion. The inventor of the foam finger expressed his disdain for her degrading use of his piece of American iconography, while the Parents Television Council blasted the network in a statement from their Director of Public Policy Dan Isett, calling the situation unacceptable and claiming that they “once again succeeded in marketing sexually charged messages to young children using former child stars and condom commercials…while falsely rating this program as appropriate for kids as young as 14.”

In true teenage fashion, Cyrus flipped the proverbial bird to her critics by bragging on Twitter that she had 306 000 tweets per minute and pointing out that this was more than the blackout or Super Bowl, ending her tweet her with most smug hashtag of them all: #fact.

miley twerkingWhat she failed to register was that the majority of the feedback she received from the public was negative. Cyrus’ manager Larry Rudolph defended her organic evolution in the music industry from teen idol to raunchy pop starlet, comparing her with another of his precocious protégés, Britney Spears, who executed a similar transformation at the same awards show in 2001.

I’m almost shocked that people were so shocked over this. I figured that the devolution of popular culture into a realm of unparalleled crass and lewdness would have rendered us numb to shock value, to the point where it’s not even uncommon to see girls suggestively rubbing their crotches on men old enough to be their fathers.

And somehow all the uproar unfairly was focused on young Cyrus, without enough questioning of the role Thicke played in this contemporary melodrama. Blogger Matt Walsh penned an eloquent letter to his son on the truly unglamorous nature being a man of low character and no integrity:

“A 36 year old married man and father, grinding against an intoxicated 20 year old while singing about how she’s an “animal” and the “hottest bitch in this place.” And what happens the next day? We’re all boycotting the 20 year old. The grown man gets a pass.”

The real winner here seems to be Cyrus’ publicity team, if they’re continuing to rely on the old adage about any publicity is good publicity. It’s been working well this summer for Thicke, who is on his way to having one of the most popular songs of all time, at least according to the Billboard music charts.

It also begs the question: where can she really go from here? At the frenzied pace she’s twerking, she’s headed down a self-destructive path of head shavings, regretful marriages to try to overshadow the canyon-sized daddy issues plaguing her relationships and oh so much more.

The spectacle will be brought to you play by play, as people love to witness a fall from grace. Or maybe, once her judgment isn’t so clouded by the brash arrogance of youth and the spoiled rotten result of never being told ‘no’ by important authority figures, she will begin to realize what a damaging role model she is turning out to be for young girls and teenagers who see this as a viable method of drawing the attention of men around them. But by then, it may just be too late for a generation of kids growing up exposed to these types of images day in and day out.

I think the best thing to come out of this are the memes, specifically watching Cyrus twerk in a whole host of hilarious new locations, my favorite being famous paintings.

Finally, local comedian Jon Lajoie weighed in with this little ditty that hits the nail on the head when he laments, how dare she try to use sex to sell pop music!

blurred lines 3#songofthesummer

No summer would be complete without that one infectious beat and killer hook that keeps bopping around everyone’s heads. You walk into the mall and it’s playing through the loudspeaker, you get in your car and it’s coming out of the radio… you just can’t escape the song of the summer. At first it seemed like Daft Punk had received the lucky honour with their irresistible single Get Lucky until we were faced with the warbling falsetto of Robin Thicke, accompanied by a stripped down dance beat in Blurred Lines.


The song probably would have just become another small blip in the pop music landscape if it weren’t for the controversy-generating explicit version of the video. It features three topless models in a series of flirty, suggestive and downright ridiculous scenes with Thicke and collaborators on the tune, Pharell and rapper T.I., including a tableau of silver balloons spelling out a message about the singer’s endowment.

The nudity isn’t so much what bothered me about the song as the content of the lyrics, even down to the title itself, which implies a blurring of the lines between what is explicitly stated and what is implied, the age-old dilemma at the heart of rape culture.

“The song is about how a girl really wants crazy wild sex but doesn’t say it – positing that age-old problem where men think no means yes into a catchy, hummable song,” noted Tricia Romano in The Daily Beast.


After telling GQ that he wrote the song with Pharell in the studio in a matter of hours, Thicke joked about how much fun they had depicting every taboo they could come up with in the video. He added that he and his collaborators should be given a pass on their seemingly offensive behavior because they didn’t really mean it, since in real life they’re all happily married. Thicke even obtained permission from his wife before filming the video.

“People say, ‘Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?’ I’m like, ‘Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women,’” Thick said.

He went on to declare the song a “feminist movement” on the Today show, since it apparently empowers women. That’s right, women are dying to be referred to as good girls who will end with something big enough to split their ass in two, in the song’ most offensive lyric.


Robin-Thicke-Has-A-Big-DickThat’s mostly where I struggle with this song: it’s hard to take it too seriously, especially when it’s clearly not taking itself too seriously… but then again, why is it acceptable or even funny to joke about these things in the first place? I guess I get what he’s trying to do but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Plus, what about all the people who are exposed to the song and video that aren’t in on the joke? For them, it continues to perpetuate the patriarchal double standard of a world where women are objectified and aren’t even allowed to think for themselves anymore, as evidenced by the song’s often-repeated chorus of “I know you want it”.

Despite its nausea-inducing levels of sexism, the song has reached number 1 and stayed there for a number of weeks. So if his plan (or that of his clever management team) was to generate enough controversy to sell a bunch of records, they’re laughing all the way to the bank.

I guess the silver lining is that it’s really gotten people, especially critics talking, although it seems like for everyone who speaks out against Thicke, someone else stands up for him.


The best part of every incendiary video like this is the slew of imitations and parodies that follow it. It didn’t take long for a role-reversal version made by (insert name here) to hit the internet. It’s laughably funny to see scantily-clad men prancing around an enticing female singer, indicative again of just how ingrained those sexed-up images of women are in contemporary culture.

Another clever parody came from a group of Halifax musicians, who were enraged by what they heard and turned the misogynist message of the song around to emphasize the importance of consent.

“Pop culture is so effective at spreading messages,” said singer and lyric co-writer Kaleigh Trace. “It’s a great way of having fun, and we think that consent and sex-positivity is a pretty good message.”

Ask First from Brendan Anckaert on Vimeo.