Tales of a Feminist Porn Critic

By Alexandra Fileccia

Her latest blog post reads, “You guys. You guys. Oh my god, you guys. My brain is a whirling, whorling mass of confusion right now. Because DRONE BONING has apparently arrived. And yes, it is porn filmed by a drone.” Lynsey G is probably among a small percentage of women interested in advancements in the porn industry. And that’s because 31-year-old Lynsey writes about feminist porn and sex-positive feminism, a niche she’s made her own.

Lynsey freelances and works a romance-novel editing job to pay the bills. She got her “big break” writing reviews for adult entertainment films—and by “big break” I mean a writing job that pays well for minimal work (hard to come by in the writing and publishing industries) and provides a place to be published, even if by a ridiculous penname. However, she was quick to realize that reviewing porn movies wasn’t as glamorous at it initially sounded. “I came to [my job] thinking this would be really cool. I thought, ‘I’ll be the coolest person anybody knows because I’m reviewing porn,’” she says. But while watching films over the course of that job, she realized there were no plots and just hardcore, focused-on-straight-cis-male-viewers, porn. It was not as cool as she thought she was going to be.

Starting out with pornography sparked her interest in studying women and how they are treated in our society. She says, “My feminism wasn’t fully developed until later in life.” She graduated from Fordham University, a historically Jesuit school, so there were no gender classes or sex and sexuality classes. She studied writing, literature and philosophy which Lynsey says were mostly centered on religious texts and teachings. “I don’t think I’m one of their favorite alumni,” Lynsey says in gest. “Most of my publications are not going to go in the alumni bulletin. It’s a shame, I’m doing great stuff!”

(more…)

Earth Day Celebrations on College Campuses

More and more colleges are showing their love of our planet on Earth Day. There is more of a focus on sustainability on college campuses and more events to spread the word!

Benefits of laughing

Published in Atlas Magazine

By Alexandra Fileccia

Before Jordan Perry, president of the comedy troupe Jimmy’s Traveling All-Stars, walks on stage, he takes a deep breath and clears his mind. He gets into the character of his first skit. The audience roars with laughter. Typically when you are laughing, you are reacting to humor or comedy. For Perry, laughter is a way to feel good. Though the purpose of laughter is not to improve your health, there are some side effects that are conducive to your health.

Laughter is a major combatant to stress. When you are stressed, you release hormones such as epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol. Cortisol diverts energy from other functions in the body, such as the immune system, in order to use and conserve it for the stress stimulus. Laughter, which releases endorphins, suppresses stress hormones. When stress hormones are reduced, it allows for an improvement in immune functions because cortisol is no longer deterring the energy that the system needs. Studies have shown that women who are characterized as optimistic see less cancer growth because they are able to laugh and make light of their situation, which in turn optimizes their immune system and creates more antibodies.

When you have a really good, deep laugh, your whole body is involved. Your head may tilt back, arms swing, and stomach muscles contract. Some people laugh until they are rolling around on the ground, some even cry. These are all responses to the hearty, belly laugh. During intense bouts of laughter, your heart rate significantly increases, mirroring what happens during exercise. William F. Fry, humor research pioneer who experimented with heart rate and laughter, noted that one minute of a strong, jovial laughter produced the same heart rate as ten minutes of rowing on an exercise machine. Intense laughter can result in muscle soreness, similar to the sore feeling after a heavy workout. However after laughing, your heart rate returns to a relaxed state faster than it does after exercising. Robert R. Provine, psychology professor at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, says laughter can be a gentle form of exercise though the calorie cost has not been determined yet.

Laughing also improves your mental health, mostly due to the positive emotions associated with laughter. It serves as a distraction from anything negative in your life. Humor researcher Rod A. Martin says laughter is a coping mechanism. The positive emotions tied to laughter temporarily replace those of anxiety, depression, or anger. This is why people sometimes laugh at inappropriate times or break out in bouts of nervous laughter. It is a way to emotionally deal things that make us uncomfortable—a defense mechanism.

Laughing is contagious; it’s part of human nature. When a person sees laughter, their instinct response is to laugh as well. “The neural mechanism responsible for laugh epidemics replicates behavior that it detects, producing a behavioral chain reaction,” says Provine in his novel Laughter: A Scientific Investigation. The contagiousness is one way laughing strengthens relationships. People who laugh together form a certain connection and comfort. Laughter can diminish stress in social situations, which enhances social interactions. “I like to try and make people laugh,” Perry says, “because I believe laughter brings us together.”

A Hidden Gem

 

In the small town of Well, Limburg in the Netherlands, you will find crystal shop Die Steenen Haeghe with stones from all over the world. Shop owner Frank Hertman and wife pick out each stone in the shop by hand.

Written and produced by Alexandra Fileccia, Courtney Tharp and Jennifer Hannigan

The man behind the counter

By Alexandra Fileccia

 In the Prague 1 Municipal District, across the Legion Bridge, there is a quaint shop with a goat sculpture that sits on the nearest right side corner under the blue, green and red letters of the store name, Zdravíček. A young man stands idly inside, hidden by the windowless entrance. From the outside, it doesn’t look like anything more than a place to eat; the chalkboard above the goat advertises soup and sandwiches. Once inside though, the little eatery unfolds into a colorful farmer’s market.

 Jakub Holzer, 27, stocks a shelf of local, homemade desserts. Occasionally, he knocks some over and rights them again. He walks back to the cash register and hovers for a few seconds. When he sees that no one is ready to pay yet, Holzer retreats into the back room where his colleagues are gathered in conversation. When he hears the door open, he peers his dirty blonde haired head into the room and returns to his post greeting incoming customers with a smile and a timid head nod.

Holzer speaks perfect Czech, having grown up in Nová Ves nad Lužnicí, Czech Republic. To foreigners, he speaks broken English, hesitating before each word. From his backpack he pulls out bilingual a copy of Don Quixote, one page in Czech and the opposite page translated in English. “I have taken four years [of English] in school, but without active speaking, it is poor,” says Holzer as he flips through the pages of the book. He says that reading literature with English text along side Czech text is how he keeps the Anglo-Saxon language in his head. As a customer approaches the checkout counter, he slides the book back into his backpack and rings up the fresh vegetables grown organically on local Czech farms; an involuntary action after the years spent as a cashier. Though his smile hides his annoyance with such a simple task, it is clear that the young man is capable of much more.

Being a cashier at Zdravíček is only a part-time job for Holzer, a way to make some extra cash as he says. Though he studied design in school, he is a paid journalist for Nový Prostor, a magazine sold by the homeless and those in social distress. The title translates to New Space in English. “Writing was always my hobby,” says Holzer, who says he got this job by chance. The magazine focuses on social issues and alternative culture. He has written about a variety of topics ranging from squatters in Prague to theatre technique to esotericism in Czech.

Though he currently spends his time among organic cabbage and potatoes, and shelves of locally jarred honey and jams in the Czech Republic, Holzer has traveled to Spain, Italy, Albania, France, Germany, and Romania. He says he enjoys traveling, even within his own country. “With every article,” says Holzer, “I meet new people and visit new places.” This is one of his favorite things about his career in journalism. At times he says writing for the paper is stressful, but says it is as close to a dream job as he can imagine.

Though he has done quite a bit of traveling, he plans to stay immersed in the history of his home country. “I love the nature here,” says Holzer as he hunches over the checkout counter, “and the Czech people.” He says that Czech people have a certain ironic humor he couldn’t live without. He makes a motion of opening a book and says that by picking up almost any Czech book, you would be able to pick out the humor—that it’s hard to explain. He would miss his culture too much to move away. “I feel like I belong to the Czech Republic,” Holzer says and stiffens his posture. He looks around the store for something to keep him busy, lingering around his post. With no customers around, he rejoins his coworkers in the backroom.

My new food blog

My new food blog

I started a food blog for my eating adventures throughout Europe while I’m studying abroad through Emerson College’s Kasteel Well program. Follow it for my weekend eats and reviews!