Im a Sex Worker Who Is Sick Of Female Misogyny

So youre a feminist, ey? You tell your kids that girls and boys are equal? That little ladies can grow up to be firefighters and astronauts, that boys can play with dolls and paint their nails? Thats a good start, but the bare minimum a decent adult can do in the year 2017. With a rising oligarchy on our hands, it is time that women and minorities and working class people begin supporting each other. A society is stronger when it is less divided, and we can mend our societal rifts by deeply examining which attitudes reinforce oppression and harm. We can each do our part, and Im here as a feminist sex worker to tell you that the normalization of sex worker abuse by American women contributes to the abuse of all women.

Heres the thing: feminism isnt as simple as reblogging the cutest Tumblr Yas Queen inspos, or buying Male Tears coffee mugs. To support equality of all people, despite their gender, race and class, its vital that you put your money where your mouth is and I dont mean between your teeth at my stripper stage.

How do you feel about sex work? If youre inclusive in your feminism you understand that everyone should be born with full ownership of their body and their time. I appreciate you, and you need read no further! But for the American women who hashtag their pole classes with #notastripper, or who still think that strippers are funny as the butt of a Tina Fey joke, youve got a long way to go, baby.

For women who still think that strippers should remain the butt of a Tina Fey joke, youve got a long way to go, baby.

It was mid-March this year, 2017. I was stepping onto the strip club floor, in the first minutes of my Tuesday evening shift. As of this writing, I celebrate my eighth year at this club. I scanned the crowd, taking the temperature of what kind of reception I could expect. Would the audience be gracious and kind? Stingy and sexist? Entitled and arrogant? I discover this by interacting, but first I study.

It was early, and the crowd was sparse. A few men pushed limes into their beer bottles, someone tap, tap, tapped at the video poker machine in the corner. The bartender shuffled ice. The other night-shift strippers trotted up the dressing room stairs, selecting their music at the DJ station, stretching their calves and running fingers through their hair.

A woman with a pink hat stared pointedly at the stage. She was wearing a pink hat, but not any pink hat. A conspicuous, knitted, cat-eared hat that I recognized from the historic January 21st Womens March. She sat close to the bar, her head resting on her fist and her eyes fixed on the naked woman spinning upside-down.

In front of Pink Hat was a plate of half eaten pasta and some fries. Her drink was scarcely colored, the ice but little pebbles in the glass she had been there for some time. Two men in worn, dusty hats and Carharts clapped loudly and pushed a few more dollars across the metal stage we call the rack. It was my turn on stage.

Hey, did Pink Hat Lady tip you? I whispered into my co-workers hair as she brushed past me to leave the stage. She paused, without raising her eyes to betray my inquiry, No, just stared the whole time. Shes been here for two hours. Great. Taking a deep breath for patience, I trotted across the stage in my stripper sneakers and my onesie, smiling big for the two blue-collared boys who were already laying bucks on the rack.

I once heard, I dont have to tip you, I have a vagina too! from a female non-customer. Akin to, Im a gynecologist, so I dont need to pay money to see pussies! its one of the most insulting and entitled attitudes that adult entertainers commonly encounter. Strippers love female customers, we are way better than gross sweaty men, is a lie that some women actually believe. No girl, we dont. When you come to work to make money, you prefer customers who are actually willing to exchange currency for labor. All women participate in emotional labor for free, and I cant imagine stepping foot into a venue where women work for tips [only] and feeling entitled to give them literally zero for their efforts. Shit, I tip my barista 50% and she screws up the latte like ten percent of the time.

American culture is so deeply entrenched in a misogyny that encourages slutshaming, whorephobia and victim-blaming, that the perpetrators are of all genders. Women are no less hateful of sex workers, and permissive of their abuse, than men. In my decade of immersion in the World of Whoredom, American men and women both have treated sex workers like shit. There is no difference between the hatred I receive via online comments, insufferably ignorant conversations with strangers in public or the number of women that I have watched lose contact with their families due to their jobs.

The hashtag #strippershatemebecause was an attempted Twitter-troll campaign encouraging and making light of physical abuse. Examples include: #strippershatemebecause I dont throw cash, I throw rocks or #strippershatemebecause I kill them after Im done raping them.

Jacqueline Frances

Jacqueline Frances

Jacqs message never falters: People in all walks of life use their bodies, their emotions, and their time in the pursuit of currency.

Indeed, Pink Hat sat for three more hours, sipping her drink, never once leaving her seat, and never once tipping me nor any of the other hard-dancing ladies. Her pink hat perched upon her head, like a crown celebrating the hypocrisy of fauxminism. I would rather be tipped by a sweaty, swearing trucker than break my back for nothing for a smirking woman. Ive been groped and insulted by as many cis-women as I have by cis-men, which is an alarming rate of female on female victimization, considering that female clients are a quarter of my patronage.

Always look over your shoulder, or in the mirror, when you bend over, I told the wide eyed newbie, after a female audience member shoved a dollar between Newbies labia. People will assault you in front of others, because they think its okay, because theyve been raised to believe that we are accepting of abuse.

Ive been groped and insulted by as many cis-women as I have by cis-men, which is an alarming rate of female on female victimization.

The DJ looked on, and I turned to him, Im not trying to scare her! But she needs to know, people will enter in to this venue specifically to abuse you.

Newbie chewed this over, her neatly tweezed eyebrows furrowing together. I could get an infection from that dollar

According to many so-called feminists, Im part of the problem. Attitudes of fake concern over womens welfare and safety are linked to Puritan attitudes on sex and its commodification. Im sick of hearing from affluent women who have never in their life spoken with an out sex worker. I hate to break it to you, but Tina Fey and Lena Dunham are not feminist icons. They perpetuate dismissive ignorance about sex workers, thus supporting stigma that reinforces harm against sex workers.

You simply dont need to shit on women for making a choice that you didnt.

Keeping sex work and adult entertainment illegal does what Prohibition did for alcohol; gangsters ran the streets and moonshine reigned king. The War on Drugs did not remove drugs from the streets, but rather locked up two generations of poor people, primarily Black and Hispanic/Latino. Similarly, atleast one third of female prisoners have engaged in sex work at one time, and their lifetime of incarceration and recidivism is partly due to belief that there is something inherently wrong with trading cash for certain types of touch. If you want to prevent separating families and stop this oppression of women, you must lend a hand to lift em up, or at least stay out of their hair.

If you want to fight actual trafficking, support legislation that decriminalizes it. Last month, California Democrats made waves with a bill that no longer allows police to arrest minors suspected of soliciting sex. Thats right, sexually trafficked children can no longer be cuffed, but are rather offered resources and options to leave their pimp. In 2015, I lobbied for Oregons HB1359, which established an anonymous hotline for live entertainers (aka strippers) to report workplace grievances, or seek resources for filing taxes or acquiring healthcare.

If you want to help pornstars, stop re-blogging stolen porn on Tumblr. Dont buy or support porn with known rapists like James Deen or Chico Wang.

Sex workers and adult entertainers are tired of defending their livelihood. Exploitation is a heavy word to toss around, especially when the victims own feelings about their experience are entirely disregarded. If you want to help women, help those who are truly in need. The real voices of capitalism and commercialism are unheard, in agricultural fields, in sweatshops, and in kitchens. More women face sexual violence in their own home than in a strip club, how are you proactive against domestic violence? Boys will be boys is the poison pill that so many of us prescribed: shut up and take your medicine and swallow the blame, whore. And besides, some of these so-called arguments are moronic.

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Microwaving tea might have health benefits, but people are like ‘nope’

Uhhh, no thanks.
Image: Shutterstock / Norberto Mario Lauria

Here’s something that might make you spit out your tea.

According to food scientist Dr Quan Vuong, from the University of Newcastle in Australia, microwaving your cup of tea is the key to getting more health benefits from the beverage.

He’s done years of research on the matter, but still, people aren’t taking it well.

“Microwaving is one of the advanced technologies to get more bioactive compounds from the products,” he told ABC News.

According to Dr Vuong, the best tasting and most effective method of microwaving your tea is putting hot water in the cup with a teabag, then heating it in the microwave for 30 seconds on half power, and finally letting it sit for a minute.

The method reportedly activates 80 per cent of the caffeine, theanine and polyphenol compounds. The long-term consumption of polyphenols, an antioxidant, has been linked to protection against the development of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases.

For some (like the British, obviously), the news comes as a bit of nope, nope, nope.

But it is tasty, according to one person who’s tried it.

Vuong has also investigated how other foods, such as leftover lemon (pomace), can boast additional antioxidants after being zapped in the microwave.

But for tea at least, it seems like some people are more than happy to do without.

WATCH: While the United fiasco unfolded, a travel writer made $11,000 off overbooked flights

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Pregnant sex worker makes statement by keeping her job


In most ways, SummerSebastian is just your averagewoman blogging about her pregnancy. Her first blog entry catalogs hormonal changes,shares an ultrasound photo, and talks about how her pregnancy is affecting herwork. Its just that the 30-year-olds workplace happens to beThe Bunny Ranch, a legal brothel in the state of Nevada.Sebastian, who is in hersecond trimester,plans to publicly, regularly and most of all proudly blog about her experience as a prego-workinggirl right up until she gives birth.

It actually never occurred to me that I would stop working at the Bunny Ranch while I was pregnant, she writes in a post on the brothelsblog. And as Vice reports, she simply needs the money to pay to finishher masters degree and to support her two daughters.But more than that, she says her decision to keep working, and go public about it, is political.I want to make a statement that supports the right of a woman to chooseto work as a prostitute while pregnant!

If the pastis any indication, Sebastians decision is likely togarner a frenzyofoutrage. In 2008, Alana Love began working at the Bunny Ranch whileseven months pregnant and, just like Sebastian, she blogged about the experience. She landed on an episode of The Howard Stern Show, where she was asked to strip down to reveal her belly and swollen breasts; she was chastised by an outragedTyra Banks (thats the onlyoption for you to support your child?); and she was targetedin shamingblog posts from lady mags (Have a little pride!). The media frenzy about Loves decision wasno surprise pregnancy aloneseems to invite intensejudgments around a womans choices(even if its justhaving an occasional glass of wine) and, for many, somehow renderher body no longer herown (see: anti-choice rhetoric). Add sex work to the mix, and oh boy.

But, of course, Sebastianknows how her news will be received. fsociety already looks down on me for being a working girl (even though legal), you can imagine what they will probably think of a pregnant working girl! she writes. Even other working girls sometimes look down on pregnant working girls. But Ive never been one to let myself be intimidated by what others thought!

While manywomen find that their pregnancies come asunwelcome news inthe workplace, it seems that Sebastianspregnancy is something of aboon for business.The Bunny Ranchs website features photos of all of its workers, and Sebastians image is overlaid with the screaming text,PREGNANT! As Sebastian writes,dding this creative component to my parties with my clients has just made sex that much more exciting, andinteresting! she said. Ive had no issues at all! And kissing and caressinggo for it!Ive gone from being the QUEEN of GFE to being thePregnant Girlfriend Experience! She adds,I know being with a pregnant girl sexually is a HUGE sex fetish for a lot ofpeople, and I sure hope to accommodate you over the next six months! Indeed, there is a whole genre of pregnancy porn, where round bellies are worshiped.

While Love seemed somewhat conflicted about her choice,Sebastian sounds downright enthusiastic. Im so glad I have decided to share this beautiful gift and experience with all of you, she writes. So stay-tuned as Summer Sebastian, your sweet, petite treat, keeps you updated, and we can count down to the nine-month magical day together!

This story originally appeared on Vocativ and has been republished with permission.

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The finest, filthiest porn that Tumblr has to offer

This article contains sexually explicit content and language.

You wouldn’t know it by Tumblr‘s attempts to clean up its image, but the innovative blogging site is one of the best places to find porn. Artful images, amateurs, and an impressive curation of smut abound. You just have to know where to look.

Back in 2013, Tumblr shifted its internal search engine to block certain terms from showing upjust as it was acquired by Yahoo. Fortunately, former employees from a rival search engine (and a porn producer) set up a way to bypass those restrictions. We scoured Boodi, the search engine built for smut, and picked the best that Tumblr has to offer.

The best porn Tumblr


“I like tattoos, music & sex,” boastsWonderland, the much-vaunted Tumblr account known for its black-and-white images ofyou guessed itmostly sex and elegant tattoos, like the photo above. Images are laid out like dark room negatives cascading from clothespins. Occasionally, juxtaposed between the GIFs of curvy legs and coitus are shots of planets, galaxies, and artwork. Porn really is its own natural beauty and looks right at home with the less-than-sexual wonders of the universe. April Siese

Screengrab via Wonderland/Tumblr

Rule 34 of the internet states if you can think of it, there is porn made of it. This is especially true of pop culture icons. One of the most regularly updated porn tumblrs, XXXCosplayPics is your one-stop shop for seeing your favorite characters in various states of undress. Thanks to the explosion in cosplay over the years, chances are if youve ever imagined a character naked theyll pop up here. That is if theyre female; XXXCosplayPics is basically just female characters or sexy half-nude genderswapped versions of male characters. Sadly there isnt a male cosplay porn Tumblr yet available. We will update you if we find one so you can easily hunt down a sexy Deadpool. It’s a curated collection. The photo below, for example, was originally posted by Comic Con Culture.John-Michael Bond

Screengrab via XXXCosplayPics/Tumblr

Taste This Kitty

Embrace your thirst withTaste This Kitty‘s delectable buffet of boning, bondage, and more. Drool-worthy photos of hotties in various stages of undress abound, as do GIFs meant to tease and titillate. The main course, of course, is oral: There are loads of images that depict partners getting down, sometimes with the help of a friend or two. The more the merrier, right? A.S.

Screengrab via Taste This Kitty/Tumblr

TheGiferorGay Porn Gif Palace

GIFs are the perfect bite-sized porn format for people who want to get off but dont have time to watch a video. You can quickly scan a series of images to find the one that inspires you to get your fingers moving without any hassle. TheGiferoffers up thousands of high-quality hardcore porn GIFs. Nothing more, nothing less. Up until December of 2016, the site updated regularly, but with years of backlog, it will take you a long time toum work through the entire archive.Giferis 100-percent focused on straight porn, so if youre looking for gay porn GIFs, check out the equally impressiveGay Porn Gif Palace. J.M.B.

Indifferent cats in amateur porn

Much likebest porn subredditcontenderr/braww,Indifferent cats in amateur pornshifts the focus to a different kind of pussy. Amateur porn is great for a whole lot of reasons, from humanizing a precariously artificial medium to celebrating body types not normally seen in professional adult films. And sometimes you just want a cute feline to lighten the mood even if they are totally disinterested in what’s about to unfold. A.S.

Screengrab via Indifferent Cats in Amateur Porn/Tumblr

Talk To Me

The BuzzFeed of dirty talk, Talk To Me features articles and lists designed to educate while they titillate. Whether youre learning sex positions, getting pointers on sexting, or picking up a new piece of sexual history, Talk To Me wants to make smarter while youre horny. Everyone can learn a new trick in the bedroom. Add this to your feed, if only for your partners sake. J.M.B.

Addicted to Fucking and Sex

If you’re unabashed about your love of making love, there’s a Tumblr awaiting you. Slip off those clothes and saunter on over toAddicted to Fucking and Sex, a frequently updated page that doesn’t hold back. Addicted to Fucking and Sex is a one-stop digital porn shop, boasting an impressive archive and a button for longer videos. It’s also open to submissions and archives what it receives, so users hoping to get a feel of their fellow Tumblr fans can easily navigate to the goods, pick up some inspiration along the way, and maybe even find their new favorite porn Tumblr. A.S.

How To Make Me Come

While no longer updated, How To Make Me Come is one of the hottest tumblrs to ever grace the blogging service. Anonymous women wrote essays using the following prompt: Imagine you could give an essay to a past or future sexual partner, free of judgement or repercussion. What would you want them to know? The results are deeply sensual, educational, and erotic as hell. You wont find naked photos here, but youll be stunned by the ones it inspires in your brain. J.M.B.

Romantic Pornography

Billed essentially as “porn4ladies,”Romantic Pornographytakes a more sensual look at smut. The Tumblr isn’t strictly for ladies, however. We can all agree that sometimes you need more than hardcore. Images of lovers enjoying each other after the fact can be just as arousing as foreplay. Adding a bit of artistry to the mix is the occasional line drawing of a vulva or shot of sex toys atop crumpled sheets, an image as nuanced as it is enticing. A.S.

Romantic Pornography

Lady Cheeky

The woman, the myth, the legend.Lady Cheekyhas far exceeded the platform of Tumblr, though her blog is still hosted on there. It’s curated porn at its finest and even includes sex toy reviews as well asa NSFWcoloring book that’s delightfully naughty and just $16.45. With dedicated sections for BBW lovers and sapiosexuals, Lady Cheeky is a great resource for high-brow hotties and body positivity. A.S.

Lady Cheeky


Step back in time and enter theBijou Theater & Sex Clubbefore it permanently shuttered its doors after almost half a century in operation. Chicago’s revered gay adult theater may be gone but it’s certainly not forgotten. Bijou has done an incredible job of preserving its archives and presenting its delightful vintage porn online. In between flyers from shows gone by are posts with old school gay porn superstars, naughty artwork, and whatever else strikes founder Steven Toushin’s fancy. A.S.


The Art of Porn

Beautiful things happen when you capture a person’s most intimate moments.The Art of Pornfocuses on the high aesthetics of getting down, straddling the limits of both. It’s the type of porn Tumblr that makes you think before you get off and also serves as inspiration for those interested in photography, oils, and body painting. If there’s one thing the SFW facade of Tumblr is known for, it’s its fandom communities replete with fanart. Unsurprisingly, its NSFW underbelly is hiding incredible fine artwork with a sexy, beautiful aesthetic. A.S.

Girlie Magazine

Pornography has gotten much more intense in the last three decades, but once upon a time, it was a simpler pursuit. No fluids, no penetrations, just good old-fashioned sexualiation of the naked human form. Girlie Magazine throws back to those better days with a collection of high-quality vintage nude pinups that would give your grandfather the vapors. Here is the magic endless box of porn you always wished you would find in the woods, all in the palm of your hand. J.M.B.

Photo via Girlie Magazine

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.

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Fashion week job swap: could I become an Instagram star?

Social media stars are wielding increasing power in the fashion industry; what happens when Jess Cartner-Morley trades places with influencer Doina Ciobanu?

The front row is a world divided. Montagues and Capulets, in bare legs rather than doublet and hose. Between the two blocs editors on the one hand, influencers on the other there is little love lost. Last autumn, American Vogue staffers branded the influencers pathetic, describing the job as turning up, looking ridiculous, posing, twitching in your seat as you check your social media feeds. The influencers hit back, branding their Vogue attackers as haughty and out of touch. (Get back to your Werthers Originals, was a particularly choice comeback.) We think they are airheads; they think we are fogeys. So, to find out whos right, I have arranged a job swap at London fashion week. Doina Ciobanu is 22, has 225,000 followers on Instagram (at time of writing), and attends shows as a model, VIP guest and brand ambassador. Ciobanu grew up in the former Soviet republic of Moldova, where she began blogging aged 16. She moved to Bucharest at 19, and now lives in London. For Saturday at London Fashion Week, I will do her job and she will do mine.

My job is to write about the shows. Writing to deadline frames my days and everything else designer interviews, checking out up-and-comers, analysing emerging trends has to fit around that. Doinas job is to provide online content, mostly self-portraits with fairly brief captions, some of which are arranged in collaboration with labels whose clothes or beauty products she wears in the photos. I am an expert; Doina is an avatar.

Julien Macdonald is interviewed by Doina Ciobanu. Photograph: David Newby for the Guardian

The unspoken fashion editor dress code is low-key. Black trousers and a navy jumper is fine. The goalposts have shifted over the past decade, as fashion week has become a more public event but still. Today, however, I am an influencer. So my first outfit is a new-season Gucci logo T-shirt, Mih wide-legged, floor-sweeping jeans, a checked Simone Rocha jacket with puffy sleeves, to which I have added my own black Nicholas Kirkwood shoes and a cherry-red Alexander McQueen bag that is many years old. The outfit feels cumbersome, both literally (I cant get the belt to sit right, and Im terrified of tripping over the hem of the jeans) and figuratively. It takes up a lot of mental space, being dressed like this.

I meet with Doina in a Pret near London Wall, around the corner from the Julien Macdonald show. She has come dressed as a journalist, in jeans and a black sweater, with her hair in a bun. But she doesnt look like a journalist at all, not just because the sweater is a fancy one that Julien sent over this morning for her to wear to the show, but because she is 22 and, like most of the new wave of influencers, absurdly beautiful. Imagine Kendall Jenner crossed with Emily Ratajkowski, and you get the idea: not just gorgeous, but with a specific aesthetic that is millennial catnip. Eyes disproportionately large, cheekbones defined even in repose, she looks like an animated Snapchat filter.

Doinas favourite book, she tells me, is Platos Republic. She reads newspapers in English the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times but fiction in Russian. (A lot of things in life, you can express them better in Russian.) Her life plan is first to build a brand along the lines of Chiara Ferragni, aka The Blonde Salad, the 29-year-old Italian influencer who has built a personal brand worth an estimated 10m, and then to become the first female president of Moldova. I have plenty of time, she says. I will do this first, and then, when I am 40, perhaps I will go into politics. I am 43. What have I been doing with all my time?

Outside the show, Doina greets the streetstyle photographers with kisses before obligingly recrossing the road so they can get a better shot of her arriving. And then crossing the road again, so they can get the shot again. And again, and again. She does this eight or nine times, allowing each photographer to capture the same reportage-style shot of her, apparently serenely indifferent to the lens. These images will appear on streetstyle blogs; the photographers will tag her, so she can find and regram the images.

Jess outside a show at London fashion week 2017. Photograph: David Newby for the Guardian

Being Doina is a complex business. Some brands pay her to model in their social media marketing, others pay her to endorse their products. An agent negotiates fees. He looks at what a regular model would get paid, and at what a top celebrity would get paid, and pitches me somewhere in the middle, she explains. A brand will send Doina images or samples of a new seasons products it could be a mascara or a piece of jewellery and if I like the brand and it fits my aesthetic, she will select pieces she is happy to endorse. But many posts are unsponsored, starring Doina in clothes she has bought or borrowed. These reinforce her aesthetic and voice, and build following.

The resistance of the fashion establishment to the likes of Doina is one part anxiety (the elite always fear becoming obsolete), one part snobbery (there have always been It girls who got photographed outside shows, but they used to be debutantes, the goddaughters of the elite, not young women from Moldova), and one part ethical suspicion that there is something compromised or false about the influencer role. This last part is tricky to unpick. Authenticity means something different for Doinas generation than for mine. A tiny example: halfway through our day, a shot appears on Doinas Instagram account of her in a cafe, captioned much-needed coffee between shows; we havent stopped for coffee. But when I bring it up, she is politely nonplussed by how baffled I am. In the run-up to busy periods, she explains, she will often prepare posts so as to have appropriate content ready to go. That the photo wasnt taken on the day doesnt strike her as in any way fake. Her social media isnt a logbook of her life, its a contemporaneous brand-strategy document. So long as shes the one calling the shots, then it is true to herself, because it is true to her vision of herself.

To Doina, being independent of commercial alliance is not aspirational. A generation who have grown up dreaming of becoming personal brands do not treat brands with suspicion. Now that every man and woman is her own brand, The Man is the bogeyman no more. If the designer of a dress she likes will pay Doina to wear that dress, thats not a compromise, its win-win. Indeed, she sees herself as a force for good. I want to get involved in female rights in eastern Europe, because no one is fighting for this, she says. Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, and its female population face significant discrimination. A 2010 study by the National Bureau of Statistics found that 63% of women had experienced psychological, physical or sexual violence from their husband or partner. In her efforts to use her profile to help the cause, Doina has been in touch with UN Women in Moldova, and with Versace, who are very interested in talking about female empowerment, she adds, as if the UN and Versace were two comparable platforms.

Doinas business model is resolutely digital, but her aesthetic is absolutely within the glossy magazine tradition. Her Instagram is all bubble baths in chic hotel rooms, soulful evening strolls along the Seine. My content is always aspirational, she says, and that takes time. I cant take a photo if theres litter on the pavement. So there is, inevitably, a disconnect between the carefree tone of her content and the effort required. The Julien Macdonald show runs half an hour late, so its a race against the clock across to London to a meet-and-greet for influencers with Gigi Hadid at the Tommy Hilfiger store, an appointment that is as significant in Doinas diary as any fashion show. Hadid, with nearly 32m followers on Instagram, is digital fashion royalty.

Doina greets photographers outside a London fashion week show. Photograph: David Newby for the Guardian

During fashion week, my life involves a lot of small talk with whoever I happen to be seated next to. But in Doinas world, communication through a screen trumps talking to the people who are around you every time. Its a numbers game: if an influencer has to choose between talking to the thousands of people who are with her on social media or the three people in her taxi, she will naturally prioritise the thousands. In the cab on the way to Knightsbridge, she breaks off our conversation to post a video on her Instagram story telling her followers that she is in a cab on the way to Knightsbridge. At the Tommy Hilfiger shop, influencers nod greetings to each other and get on with the business of posting photos to their followers. After the rush to get here, Hadid is running late and I am now regretting having passed up the opportunity to eat at Pret. The room is lavishly catered with beautiful food that does not seem intended for actual consumption. There are miniature burgers, but the beef patties are sandwiched between macaroons rather than bread buns. It looks shareable, but only in the digital sense. When Hadid arrives, she and Doina say hello and then, even before Doina has lifted her phone aloft, they both automatically fluff their hair and position their faces next to each other for a selfie video, which Doina immediately posts on her Instagram with the caption keep running into this beauty.

By now I am starving. But theres no time to stop, because we are racing back along the river for a fly-by visit to the Astley Clarke presentation at the Institution of Engineering next to the Savoy hotel, before a two-mile dash north to Bloomsbury and the JW Anderson show. Doinas sweet face clouds over when she realises she has been neglecting her Snapchat over the last couple of hours. If I forget, she says, my mum or boyfriend will text to nag me about it. She works every day from morning until midnight or 2am. At Christmas, she took three days off from social media. Those were my only days off in the past three years, she says. This is the only time I hear Doina being remotely negative about anything. Being an influencer might be hard work, but to make it lucrative it has to be aspirational, so you have to look like you are having fun at all times.

Doina and Jess arrive at a show. Photograph: David Newby for the Guardian

One of the key differentiators between editors and influencers is that while we wear the same clothes all day, give or take a 9pm black tie upgrade, influencers will often change into an outfit by the designer of each show they attend. So, on the way to JW Anderson, I commandeer the backseat of a British Fashion Council car to change into a skirt and shirt by the designer. The stress of being in my bra and knickers in broad daylight, fumbling to fasten shirt buttons in time to make the next show, rattles me more than any copy deadline does. I completely forget to put the coordinating earrings on, and give up on changing shoes, because the skirt is much too long and has a tentacle-shaped hemline that I swear is trying to kill me. But it turns out you do have to suffer for fashion. The killer skirt works. The photographers outside the show love it, and my picture ends up on American Vogues Best Street Style Pics from Londons Fall 2017 Shows. Still, you can tell Im not meant to be there: everyone else in the gallery is studiously avoiding eye contact with the photographer for the preferred candid format. I am smiling at the camera. Total sophistication fail.

Doina is much better at my job than I am at hers. After the show, we head to Emilia Wickstead, and soon afterwards she files her reviews to me for feedback. They are excellent. From her Julien Macdonald review: Female empowerment is a term du jour. But where New Yorks designers offered up feminism in the guise of slogan tees, Macdonald interpreted it through his concept of a future where clothes are made on-demand, tailored to the shape of every woman.

We go our separate ways for a short time, and when I see her again at the 9pm Versus show, I am reminded of the famous quote about Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire: that she did everything he did, backwards and in high heels. Doina has used the hour to change out of her jeans and into a fuchsia tuxedo suit with a black lace camisole and spike-heeled sandals. And me? I ate a pizza.

Doinas week as Jess: Im probably having more fun

I work hard at the fashion shows, but Im not going to pretend its not glamorous. You can see that on my Instagram feed, where Im skipping down a crumbling staircase in Paris or posing in a Louis Vuitton minidress in Milan. What you dont see is the behind-the-scenes effort: the months of meetings beforehand, the Google doc full of contact details for designers, so I dont end up wearing the same Gucci loafers as everyone else. You dont see the last-minute panics on show day: changing my outfit in the car while my driver tactfully waits on the pavement; shoving protein bars into my mouth between appointments.

Doina Ciobanu at a launch party in London. Photograph: David Benett

Ive always been fascinated by the journalists I see at fashion week. I like how serious they look. They are in their own world, while Im talking to my followers on my two phones. Were both working, but I feel like Im probably having more fun. I love print journalism; I love to feel a magazine in my hands; I know some people think its irrelevant these days, but I really hope that is not the case.

The Guardians fashion team asked me to make like a journalist and wear one simple outfit, rather than get changed between the shows. That was a liberation: no desperate rush to find somewhere to change. I even had time to buy a coffee.

At the Julien Macdonald show, it felt very strange to be taking notes, rather than pictures. Its such a tight space on the front row that a notebook and pen were useless. As soon as the clapping had finished, I rushed backstage, as instructed, to grab a quote. Macdonald was friendly, but I was in a crush of other journalists, everyone is muscling in, trying to congratulate him or ask questions. I had to manage all that, and say something intelligent, and take notes, too. Its very different from meeting a designer as an influencer, when Ill kiss them on the cheek and say, I love your clothes, and theyll say, You look beautiful, and thats it.

I wrote the review on my phone, while walking down the street between shows. It was stressful. Im used to writing one thing quickly on Instagram; I dont need to give that a lot of thought. But a lot of people are going to read this, and theres an additional layer of stress that comes from knowing that its the Guardian.

My next assignment, an Emilia Wickstead report, was harder. We were short of time, so I didnt go backstage to speak to her and had to come up with an analysis on my own. It was the end of the day, I was hungry, I was tired, my brain wasnt working. I started writing the piece on the way home; the deadline seemed impossibly soon and I was anxious to make it good.

I studied political science and history, so I love understanding the cause of events. Being a journalist for a day gave me a chance to flex those analytic muscles; as an influencer, you simply look at what looks good on people, what you think people would like. Id love to use my brain more in that way in the future, by getting more involved in activism, using my following for good. But I wouldnt be a journalist. Im an independent soul. Usually, when Im working, Im the brand. As a journalist, its not about you.

Doinas Julien Macdonald review

All hail female empowerment. Or so indicated designer Julien Macdonald backstage after successfully debuting his autumn/winter 2017 collection.

Female empowerment, feminism and their ilk are the terms du jour for the fashion set right now. New York fashion week gave collection after collection where womens rights were the focus. But where New Yorks designers offered up feminism in the guise of slogan tees and underwear surely destined for fame as a hashtag, Macdonald interpreted it through his concept of a future where technology has such an impact on fashion that clothes are made on demand, tailored to the shape of every individual woman.

For Macdonald that is, of course, a particular style of clothing and a particular type of woman. One empowered, one confident. If feminism is a thread that runs through Macdonalds winter 2017 collection, its the same feminism that the likes of Emily Ratajkowski can be found celebrating: that a woman can express herself and her person at a time of her choosing, Laura Mulveys male gaze be damned. Appropriate, then, that Ratajkowski has done much justice to Macdonalds designs before now.

Macdonald does a style and he does it well. His hallmark spiderweb dresses are still to be found, but increasingly with straighter lines and alongside dresses offering a sleeker and more futuristic vision. Macdonald told me that his inspiration was modern architecture, big cities [and] the metropolis. His autumn/winter 2017 may be inspired by a future landscape, but theres also an air of the imagined future that the likes of Fritz Lang once saw for us. Nostalgia, the present, and the future always go hand in hand.

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Space historian Amy Shira Teitel is changing the face of online educaiton

The Daily Dot is celebrating Woman Crush Wednesday, better known as #WCWonTwitterandInstagram, by highlighting female creators onYouTubewhose work we admire.

Like all great love stories, Amy Shira Teitels longtime affair with space history has been a winding and unpredictable road. She has turned this lifelong pursuit into a full-time business that has launched her as a writer and expert. Now the author, blogger, vlogger, and TV host is using her digital media presence to champion women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (S.T.E.M.)—making the often-academic topic of space accessible to anyone who is interested.

As a 7-year-old, Teitel presented a poster to her second-grade class on the many ways Venus was the opposite of Earth. But despite being obsessed with space and science throughout her education in Canada, Teitel soon realized that it was the history of science that intrigued her the most. After picking up a masters degree in science technology studies, a program that wasnt the right fit, Teitel moved to Phoenix. Not yet ready to pursue a Ph.D. but at a loss on how to pursue academia any other way, Teitel spent her days blogging on Vintage Spaceand nights working as a personal trainer. Four months into her blogging career, started in 2010, her Vintage Space articles began to gain traction across publications like Nerdist and the Guardian; Al Jazeera began asking her to write regular, original content.

With her niche blog gaining steam, Teitel decided to put a Ph.D. on the back burner to see what other unexpected opportunities might present themselves. In 2012, she first opened her YouTube channelas a space to make teasers for her blog posts, which were filing at a vast 2,500 words. The channel eventually transformed into a full-time education hub with videos covering everything about space exploration from the 1960s onward. Her videos quickly gained notice not only for their original content, but for the fact that she—a pink-haired cat lover with tattoos—was inspiring other women in the overly male dominated field of education on YouTube. It was her YouTube videos that sparked DNews to hire her as a regular host, and spurred her TV appearances on Science Channel, American Heroes Channel, SyFy, and the Travel Channel.

Like a skilled acrobat spinning plates without missing a step, Teitel added author to her business card in 2015 after publishing her debut book, Breaking the Chains of Gravity. After my deep research and years of watching her channel, I can confidently say that everything she puts her mind to will work out strongly.Her years of building a brand around her passion continue to show others that it is possible for them to do the same. So as young girls continue to push back against the boys’ club of S.T.E.M., Teitel stands as a heroine using her videos to shatter taboos around who and how someone can succeed in science.

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Twitter drops ‘egg’ avatar in attempt to break association with internet trolls

The social network says it is introducing a new default profile photo a gender neutral silhouette in a bid to prompt more self-expression

Twitter is abandoning its default egg avatar in a bid to shake its association with trolls.

For the past seven years, new Twitter accounts have been assigned a profile picture of an egg a playful reference to the sites bird logo.

But on Friday the social network announced that it would be introducing default profile photos in a bid to prompt more self-expression, and to break free of the association with abuse and trolling on the platform.

Some people had retained the default egg profile photo because they thought it was fun and cute, read a blog post circulated by Twitters product design and research team.

The new default profile photo a generic head-and-shoulders silhouette would feel more like an empty state or placeholder to encourage users to upload their own images, it said.

The default egg profile photo had also become stigmatised because of its prominence among accounts created only to harass others.

Twitter egg avatar. Photograph: Twitter

This has created an association between the default egg profile photo and negative behavior, which isnt fair to people who are still new to Twitter and havent yet personalized their profile photo.

Many users responding to the announcement on 31 March took it for an April Fools joke.

I would, uhh, I would rethink that, one software developer replied to the Rethinking our default profile photo blog post.

I see you put your engineering manpower into the REALLY serious projects, observed another user.

The default profile picture when Twitter first launched in 2006 was of a silhouette of a person. The following year it changed to o_O, before the bird motif was introduced in 2009.

The egg was made the default in 2010.

The new default profile photo was chosenthrough study of bathroom signage iconography, with gender-neutrality a priority, according to Twitter. In a bid to make it feel temporary, generic and universal, it was coloured grey.

Evil has a new face, commented one Twitter user of the new avatar.

Alex Magdaleno (@amagzz)

@design Evil has a new face.

March 31, 2017

TechCrunch columnist Fitz Tepper wrote that changing the avatar would not address the real problem of abuse on the platform.

An abusive tweet is an abusive tweet, whether its next to an egg, a silhouette or a real persons avatar.

Dont blame the egg, just fix the problem.

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A new app lets you list and Shout

Shout is a sharing app. Think of it as a stripped-down Pinterest for those with no interest in messing with pretty photos of cookies and you get the general idea. And I think, with a little work, it could be a go-to collaboration tool for partners shopping for supplies, couples interested in not buying two boxes of beans at the grocery store, and a micro-blogging platform for the plugged in.

To use it you create lists and then add items to those lists. The lists can be collaborative and public so anyone can add items to the list. You can share lists with friends and share single items from lists. The virality is embedded in the process so the more lists you share the cooler your Shout app becomes.

The creator, Jeff Weisbein, started a blog in 2003 called BestTechie and most recently created a sharing service called KYA before creating Shout. I want to provide an easier way to save, share, and curate content for yourself and/or with friends and followers, he said.

Weisbein raised $450,000 from angels and theyre working on a Seed Round of $1.55 million. They just launched Shout so they dont have many numbers yet but it looks like things are on an upward swing.

Our mission with Shout is to make it incredibly easy to save, share, and curate content. One of the core features in Shout is the three types of Lists (Private, Public, and Collaborative), the ability Shout content with your family and/or friends to a single list, and the fact you can easily follow a curated list with content that interests you curated by a human, he said. For example, my mom created a private, collaborative list called Mom Links and Shouts content to it that she wants me to read/look at. I love tech, so I created a public Tech News list where I Shout tech news stories I think are interesting, cool, and important.

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While I agree that what the world needs now is another social media platform like I need a hole in the head, Shout is a bit different and a bit more interesting. I can see this as a next generation Tumblr wedded with a To-Do list, a perfect futuristic hybrid of utility and pleasure that will democratize media and all that jazz. It could also be a cool way to see who likes Grace Slick. We shall see.

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Trump gets flamed: robot prints and burns president’s tweets

Twitter users warm to a robot that replies to presidents tweets by replying with a clip of his thoughts printed and set alight

A robot that prints out Trumps tweets and burns them has caught the imagination of Twitter users.

The account @burnedyourtweet appeared on Tuesday, first responding to a Trump tweet about Fox and Friends:

Burned Your Tweet (@burnedyourtweet)

@RealDonaldTrump I burned your tweet.

March 28, 2017

The robot prints off a tweet, cuts it and then drags the paper over to a lighter before discarding the ashes. Since it began tweeting, it has amassed almost 20,000 followers.

From yet another swipe at the New York Times

Burned Your Tweet (@burnedyourtweet)

.@RealDonaldTrump I burned your tweet.

March 30, 2017

to rants about fake news:

Burned Your Tweet (@burnedyourtweet)

.@RealDonaldTrump I burned your tweet.

March 28, 2017

No Trump tweet is safe. It has has had the seal of approval from Simone Giertz, the queen of shitty robots, who tweeted: This is the most amazing thing Ive ever seen.

Simone Giertz (@SimoneGiertz)


March 29, 2017

The jury is out on whether the robot is some sort of publicity stunt. New York magazine noted the robot followed some accounts of people working in creative and advertising agencies.

As of yet, the robots creator has not come forward. The Guardian has contacted @burnedyourtweet for comment.

The replies to Trumps tweets have become prime social media real estate. And @burnedyourtweet follows a tradition of automated accounts based on his 140-character outbursts although these tend to be Twitter bots rather than feats of mechanical engineering.

Earlier this year, an advertising company created the Trump and dump bot, which automatically trades stocks based on his negative tweets about companies.

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Another European e2e encrypted Gmail alternative reports rising signups

Tutanota, an end-to-end encrypted email service locatedin Germany,saysits seeingan exponential uptick in sign-ups crediting this to growing awareness of and concern forprivacy online for a variety of (oftenpolitical) reasons.

The freemium, open source encrypted email service exited beta back in March 2015 with a mission to broaden access to end-to-end encryption vs extant options like PGP that can be too complex for mainstream users to adopt. Tutanota uses RSA and AES encryption, and monetizes via premium tiers offering paid extras for those who want things likeadditional storage.

Blogging about a growth trendit saysstarted in the second half of 2016 but claims hasreally taken off recently co-founder Matthias Pfau cites data from Alexa Page Rankshowing theemail service gained around 32,000 page ranks over the past two month, at the same time as other privacy conscious tools, such as the DuckDuckGo private search engine, also saw their rankings rise. Sohes calling 2017 the start of the privacy-era.

Hesnot attributing Tutanotas usergrowth to any single event, such as the election of President Trump in the US, but arguesits down to a combination of political events and issues which are driving more peopleto seek privacy-protecting alternatives to safeguardtheir communications from being parsed by third parties.

[As well as the election of Trump] also the radicalization of politics in Turkey and other countries (France, Austria, Netherlands, Brexit & UK surveillance laws) play into it, he suggests,when asked to what he attributes risingsign-uprates. As Tutanota is also available in French and Turkish, it is very easy for people there to protect their private communication.

Hetells TechCrunch the email servicenow has more than 2 million users which is up from amillion a year ago, and around 1.5M at the start of this year.Its adding more than200,000 new users per month, he says.

Growth is highest in the US and in Europe (UK, France, Austria, Germany) and in Turkey. In general Tutanota is growing in all regions, he adds. We are excited about this growth because it means people understand the importance of privacy and why it is necessary to protect their private communication.

We hope this is just the beginning and that the future internet will be much more secure for all of us. Thats also why we plan to add an encrypted address book to Tutanota in the future. Then it will be possible to save ones contacts encrypted, rather than uploading the entire address book to Google or Apple.

Last November, another European-based end-to-end encrypted email service Switzerland-located ProtonMail also reportedseeing an influx of new users. It credited adoubling in therate of sign ups at the time to the election of US President Donald Trump.

Commenting now, ProtonMail co-founder Andy Yen also suggests a variety of events are contributing todrive interest in pro-privacy services such as end-to-end encrypted email, telling TechCrunch ProtonMailscurrent growth rate is approximately 50% higher compared to the start of the year, and 3x compared to middle of 2016.

We have several million users total now, approximately 1 million are monthly active, he adds.

A Google Trends search comparingprotonmail and tutanota shows interest in both search terms rising, with ProtonMails growth curve especially pronounced.

As we suggested last fall, factors such as Trumps electionpresents anopportunity for Europes privacy startups especially for those located in jurisdictions with more robust privacy laws (so definitely not in the UK, whose GCHQ intelligence agencyhasa history of data-sharingwith itsNSA counterpart in the US). Germany and Switzerlandoffer more of a legal firewall against themass surveillance programs revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, in 2013.

ProtonMails Yen also suggests the usability of strongly encrypted email tech is nearing a tipping point, arguing that privacy-protecting email alternatives are approaching feature parity withmainstream webmail services such asGmail and Yahoo which of course do not offer any privacy for users comms, given the companies monetize the free services via user data and targeted advertising.

And even if amajority of email users are comfortable with Google or Yahoo being privy to their sensitive comms, its increasingly obvious that any data anycompanieshave access to is also data that can find its way into the hands of A)hackers and B)government intelligence agencies.

Politics and events like the US election, Vault7 leaks, Yahoo Mail compromise, etc do tend to create spikes of growth, but the sustained growth comes from approaching feature parity with legacy email providers like Gmail, argues Yen.

Effectively, with all else being held equal, given the option between privacy and no privacy, people will tend to pick the private option. Our work today is primarily focused on making sure that all else is in fact equal, he adds.

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