#RHOBH, Psychology, Reality TV

#RHOBH OPINION: Is Denise Richards “Off-Brand”?

If you’re wondering why I capitalized “opinion,” it is because I’ve dealt with many a livid reality tv fan in my day. So if you are one to get more passionate about “Real Housewives” than you do about politics, please note this disclaimer before reading on: Below are simply some thoughts and my mind is subject to change as I watch the upcoming season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Now that that divulgence is out of the way, I’m about to belatedly weigh in on the announcement about actress Denise Richards joining RHOBH.

I will tune in, of course, because I become captivated by drama and even, more simply (or more “accurately” considering last season’s lack of drama), by the glamorous designer duds and luxury looks of the ladies. To skewer an old tagline of RHONY’s Sonja Morgan: I have a taste for luxury, but luxury doesn’t have a taste for me.

I joke with friends that I cannot even begin to consider between-the-brow-Botox due to how wrinkly my wallet is. (It helps to have the excuse of 4 children and four tuitions to fret about. When I didn’t have that excuse – two years ago when they were in public schools, for instance – it was a tad more humbling.) I make no bones about the fact that I’m not rich with a candor that Bethenny Frankel (RHONY) would be forced to admire. In fact, one Twitter user joked that I’m a “wannabe Housewife” (due to the fact that I’ve written about these ladies) and aside from never wanting to expose my embarrassing faults on TV…EVER (!) and deal with the after-effects of that public mortification, I’m content admitting I don’t have the requisite “aspirational” lifestyle to make the cut.

For me, these curious creatures on our TV screens make for a captivating collective anthropological case. While I have my husband rifling through my bag for car keys, stumbling upon CVS receipts and saying “we can’t afford for you to keep buying these face masks!”, the RHOBH are known for their over the top gifts. Take, for example. the five thousand dollar toilet Erika Jayne Girardi gifted her husband Tom.

I love the fact that I had never heard of most of these women before and I’m seeing how insanely affluent and excessive (AKA “extra”) they are. I love the fact that despite how I watched Kim Richards in the movie Watcher in the Woods as a kid, many of you did not. Being Paris Hilton’s aunts, Kim and Kyle Richards made good “Real Housewives” because despite doing the acting thing, they were only somewhat known, but not terribly famous and known by all. They fell somewhere between C and D list.

Considering the cast of RHONY, on the other hand, I like how Sonja Morgan and Ramona Singer were people the vast majority of us had never heard of until they appeared on our screens. It makes me wonder why they weren’t famous prior to the show just for being ridiculously rich and having bonkers, over-the-top personalities.

So now we have Denise, a pick who is the most well known “actress” of all actresses to ever be selected for a Housewives franchise. I should note here that RHOBH is the only one of the Housewives franchises to have somewhat known actresses in the first place.

We had Eileen Davidson, familiar to soap opera aficionados, but not to countless others who don’t watch soaps (moi). Then many of us had to adjust a bit when we were introduced to Lisa Rinna in her Bravo role. Wait, we thought, this is weird because we know her from Melrose Place and from her flop reality show alongside A-list actor- hubby Harry Hamlin. This “adjustment” wasn’t too huge ultimately because Rinna’s acting roles were few and far between, and she quickly established herself as the “hustler” hilariously down to do anything…with a financial incentive. Famously, that includes a Depends commercial that is in her reel.

Rinna’s reception has always been a mixed baggie…akin to that one with pills she carries. Overall though, she “owned it” baby, being candid about the things that would embarrass most, and having no qualms asking a castmate if she’d done coke in her bathroom.

Love her or hate her, Rinna earned the right to hold her diamond in the opening credits of RHOBH.

Now…we have to get our minds around an even more complicated choice for a Real Housewife, a former movie star (or do we call her a current one?). Denise Richards seems too famous to be a “Real Housewife” when we’re so accustomed to meeting new ladies. Consider how Dorit was a whole lot of brand new to get used to. But perhaps therein lies the problem: Dorit is the puzzle piece in a jigsaw challenge that viewers have been unable to jostle in. It is hard to take her business, her lifestyle and her storylines (or lack thereof) seriously for many. I’m of the mindset that Dorit makes great TV because she’s physically gorgeous and an absolute mental trip. I find her to be obnoxious and my annoyance with her fuels my desire to yell at her from the safe side of the TV screen. It works for me, but it’s not working for countless others who have deemed her “phony”, “showy”, “lacking substance” and “boring”.

Denise Richards, on the other hand, has not only been in the public eye for her dramatic struggles and moves, but also had a past reality show. She dealt with the death of her mother and helping her father with his own grief. She is known for having married and divorced Charlie Sheen, had an on-again and off-again dysfunctional deal with him subsequently, battled custody with him, and rode his manic roller coaster of drug addiction debacles.

She famously became romantically entangled with the rocker ex (Richie Sambora) of her former friend Heather Locklear, who has recently made news herself for arrests and her own serious substance issues.

The best thing about reality television is that stars now know it’s the arena for candid confessionals. Denise Richards will have to “bring it”, so that’s the major plus of her being newly anointed a Housewife. Also, because she “brought it” on reality tv in the past, I doubt she will hold back on RHOBH.

So while there’s a ton to tune in for, I have to wonder if there’s a better venue for Denise (a follow-up E! reality show perhaps) to answer all the questions fans have about her past, present and future. The Real Housewives seems off-brand for her, but then again, she’s not doing a lot of movie acting these days. Is a Bravo show the next logical step for Hollywood ladies of a certain cohort when the roles have run out? Perhaps it is, and perhaps what I’ve previously considered “off brand” no longer is.

A franchise that once fascinated us with folks who flaunted their fabulosity while we thought “…and you are…?” is adding the marque of familiarity. It is like a new line of $3M Pagani cars that Dorit and Erika must test drive.

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Cults, Psychology, public figures, True Crime, Uncategorized

#NXIVM: Catherine Oxenberg Says Daughter “Will Be Fine…More Than Fine”

Catherine Oxenberg is many things. She’s enviably beautiful. She’s intelligent and she’s kind. She’s also “royal” – her mother is Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia – in addition to having played royalty on televisions as an actress.

But these days Catherine Oxenberg is known for more than her television roles, most notably for starring on Dynasty, and her lineage. These days she’s known as a fierce crusader and a fighter, one who took on a cult and didn’t back down until she knew her daughter was safe. It is a group that has threatened its detractors, terrorized them via bogus litigation, and maligned former members. Yes, it is the cult that is the subject of many conversations and is currently all over the media. The one that fronted as a mainly innocuous, but money-sucking, professional empowerment/self-help group and has changed names many times, but is now known by one represented by Roman numerals. The cult that – it was subsequently discovered – had a unique division devoted to the sexual slavery of women. That division, called DOS, called for fierce loyalty pledges from members, requiring the handing over of “collateral” (incriminating information/pictures that would mortify the individual should they defect from the sorority) and branding in the pubic region.

As Catherine details in her new book Captive: A Mother’s Crusade To Save Her Daughter From a Terrifying Cult, she and her daughter India went to a meeting for what appeared to be a self help group back in 2011. Catherine’s then-husband made a somewhat offhanded and jokey remark, following some creepy observations about the group’s leader Keith Raniere. He suspected aloud to her that Keith was involved sexually with the group’s women. Catherine remembers the comment (which would prove to be a confirmed truth) in hindsight, but it was stated in such an off-the-cuff manner that she didn’t focus deeply on it. She had also only briefly met the cult leader.

Following that fateful meeting, Catherine took some NXIVM courses that promised success in business and taught about the tools and skills to excel. She reflects now: “A lot of what you hear Keith say about NXIVM’s philosophy sounds like gobbledygook when you listen to him on YouTube and see how captivated (former Smallville actress) Allison Mack is by his words. He has this ability to break you down and then reel you in.”

Catherine said that she gets annoyed by how people undermine those who are susceptible to brainwashing: “Anyone is susceptible because the person doing it is clever and has a strategy. It’s about appealing to an individual’s interests and goals. India is a confident and self-assured woman. There were prominent, highly intelligent people who took NXIVM courses. It’s very insulting when people criticize and judge how one can be taken in by this group. Aside from offering community, NXIVM offers the promise of doing something and being a part of something special that will make a difference in the world.”

When they were first introduced to the group, India was committed to improving her own business skills following a failed food-related venture. Catherine describes India as someone who sees the kindness in people and who is committing to bettering humanity.

“That is something that this group looks for in individuals,” says Catherine, explaining that India was a prime recruit for the group because of her uniquely innate desire to help people and contribute to society. “They slowly convince people – there are brilliant people who have become involved! – that they are part of something that is going to make a huge difference.”

Catherine took some overly pricey NXIVM courses and despite initial interest, became more skeptical and more disenchanted over a three year period. She gave up on NXIVM, but India only became more committed. Then she moved to Albany to be with the group and surrounded by its members.

In Catherine’s book, and on a recent episode of Dateline (in which Megyn Kelly is the interviewer), Catherine speaks about the former NXIVM member who reached out furtively and fearfully to alert her that her daughter was in danger. Catherine was then provided with evidence and became invested in amassing more evidence – which she eventually turned over to the New York State General Attorney’s office.

Although the authorities had been repeatedly pointed to the unethical practices of the group (including shady financial transactions and Keith Raniere’s sexual relationships with women under the age of consent), it was Catherine’s diligently collected mountain of evidence that helped spur law enforcement to serious action.

I ask her if she thinks her status as an actress and coming from royalty helped with her being taken seriously. She laughs: “I think they were tired of being hounded by me and knew I was this mother who wasn’t going to give up!”

While all of this was happening, India had essentially estranged herself from a mother pleading for her return. Mother could not get in touch with daughter or be sure of her whereabouts for a lengthy period of time, and while India was now an adult, Catherine knew the dangers of NXIVM and saw no choice other than to speak out publicly.

This was a move that would have repercussions for Catherine, with India further evading her and ensuring more secrecy regarding her whereabouts.

Going to the media was something that pained Catherine to do, but it was a last resort and a desperate measure called for by a desperate time. Having been in the limelight many years before as an actress and as the daughter of a princess, she would much rather have avoided the media than begged them to shine a spotlight on something.

But in this case, there was a singular goal in mind: getting her daughter out of harm’s way as quickly as possible and to safety.

You will have to read Catherine’s book to see how complicated this journey was. Her daughter India has asked for privacy during this time. We do not know if and how she was culpable in NXIVM’s illicit activities, but few question that she was a victim of Raniere’s intense mind control.

I ask Catherine if India now knows she was “brainwashed.”

“She does not like that word, Catherine states adamantly, “That’s definitely not a word that gets a good reaction so I stopped bringing it up. India feels for the ordeal that I’ve been through. She feels for the ordeals of others.”

By “others”, I privately hope that in time, the empathic India Oxenberg will have little to no sympathy for Keith Raniere.

For now, mums the word, but India has told her mom that she’ll tell her story her way and specifically, in her own time.

To hear India’s carefully crafted statement to the media, you’ll have to check out the Dateline episode. Catherine was able to share with me (and with Megyn Kelly) that she recently reconnected with her daughter and India is safe. The media has reported that she’s away from NXIVM (or what’s left of it currently) now.

When questioned by Megyn Kelly about India’s future (with the allusion of possible lingering effects of NXIVM), Catherine smiled at the interviewer. It was an authentic and heartfelt smile that she hadn’t exhibited publicly in a long, long time. “She will be fine,” she replied, then paused as her smile widened a bit: “…more than fine.”

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, Dating, Psychology, Reality TV

#RHONY: Is There a Shortage of Men in Manhattan?!

Two decades ago, when I was a single woman living and dating in NYC, it seemed like every guy of “average” level looks, intelligence and personality had 9 incredible women in hot pursuit of him.

I was in a certain, very niche- specific dating scene because of my religious background, and once I expanded my social circles, this 9 to 1 ratio of eligible single ladies to eligible single men no longer seemed to be as much of a thing. However, I did notice that “normal” men seemed harder to find than outstanding women, and while the male population of NYC is currently at 47.38 percent versus the 52.62 percent of females (a disparity that doesn’t seem outrageous and was quite similar twenty years ago), a good man is hard to find.

It takes only a five minute conversation with a NYC single gal today to gauge this problem, while a man always seems to have more dating prospects on the horizon.

I suspect this was particularly prescient to me due to my former religious circles wherein matchmakers pounce upon a widowed man because of the devotion he had to his wife and noted past ability to commit. I realize this sounds awfully vulture-like to the reader, but it’s so hard for a religious Jewish woman to find a man who is self-assured, charismatic and committed. Matchmakers are fully aware of this. There just happen to be more marriage-minded women than men in major metropolitan cities.

This brings us to the ladies of Real Housewives of New York. They’re not in the Jewish dating scene, but are in a niche specific one of their own. It is one where men of a certain middle aged and above cohort are acclimating still to the idea of a highly successful, independent and self-sufficient, affluent woman (though some of these ladies are more modern and self sufficient than others are). The majority of these men have been indoctrinated with the notion of man as provider and, despite protest, many do feel threatened by a women of means who could be the provider herself. RHONY fans often ask “why are these woman always dating the same loser, or arguing over the same man who doesn’t seem so spectacular?”

I mention my “9 to 1” theory to Rori Sassoon, Founder of NYC matchmaking service Platinum Poire. Rori hosted the speed dating event that we recently saw on RHONY. It was where all the ladies seemed interested in the red scarf adorned Brian Krauss. “Aren’t there more men for these women to date?” viewers asked.

Rori agrees that the rationale I developed from my dating days is not off at all and adds: “It is unfortunately still the same. It’s also much harder for women because the man is the one who is doing the pursuing. I also find that if a man wants to be in a relationship, he can make that happen a lot more quickly than a woman can. Because of that, a lot of women do not choose their partner, they are chosen, which can lead to a relationship with an expiration date.”

If all of this sounds terribly antiquated in today’s 2018 culture of #MeToo, #TimesUp, Feminism and shifts from heteronormative stereotypes, we have not progressed as much as you naively thought. A certain level of traditional thinking still abounds amidst the modernity of NYC, especially when it comes to the Gen X and Boomer contingents.

For every Tom, Harry and Brian, there is a group of women hovering in the wings, trying to catch a glimpse of an extinct breed: a seemingly Ok male specimen. Due to the depressing rarity of this find, the bar is not set especially high, and disappointment in NYC dating can seem as inevitable as a streetlight on every corner.

Thinking outside of the box and beyond the city limits is a strategy some of these Housewives have employed because the pickings are slim. It is why so much is not taboo and hiring a matchmaker is not something to be shunned. It’s also why you shouldn’t be ashamed if it suddenly dawns on you that your uncle in Schenectady would be the perfect match for Ramona Singer. Hey, you never know. Vet it through Rori. Crazier things have happened in this world than Ramona becoming your aunt.

Hear Rori Sassoon discuss the RHONY speed dating event and trying to match up the ladies of the cast on the Pink Shade with Erin Martin podcast.

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Parents, Psychology

My Interview with Dr. Phil: #Bullying & Anti-Bullying Awareness

He’s roused millions to “Get Real!” and has tackled the topic on his hit TV talk show — Dr. Phil took time to chat with me about bullying and answer some questions:

Jill Zarin once suggested that parents break into their kids’ Twitter and Facebook accounts regularly to monitor and be on the lookout for signs of bullying. In your expert opinion, how invasive should a parent be and what should they do to keep an eye out for bullying?

There are different ways for a parent to be actively involved. Parents have to educate themselves about the warning signs (check out Dr. Phil’s warning signs of bullying).

They need to know for both sides what the signs are that their child is being bullied or if their child is a bully.

Kids don’t often come home and tell their parents they’re being bullied because they’re ashamed. They may show signs of withdrawal. They may want to avoid going to school beyond the normal “I don’t want to go to school” and exhibit a chronic pattern.

If you see bruises, scratches or that some of their possessions have been damaged or missing, those are all warning signs. They may also start to show signs of depression, crying, aggression, mood changes and lifestyle changes if they’re being bullied.

In terms of whether your child is a bully, watch to see if there’s a really strong clique. Are they gossiping about someone or making fun of them? Are they excluding some child in some way? Telling jokes about or laughing at a particular child? Exploiting some other child in some way?

Before invading their privacy, determine whether or not the warning signs are there. Then you need to follow your instincts

— A child’s trust is earned.

As far as social networking sites (like Twitter and Facebook), those are fertile ground for bullying. Your kid is going to have more knowledge than you do about the Internet, but not the insight on how to deal with it.

When a child/teen first complains of being bullied in school, what are the key first steps a parent/adult should take?

The first thing a parent needs to do is make sure they don’t fall victim to “Hey, kids are kids, let them be kids.” That’s not true.

When a child is bullied it’s one of the loneliest times in his or her life. The most important thing for parent to do is sit with the child and talk with them and find out what’s going on.

If the child says “Oh Mom, don’t say anything. That will just make it worse,” know it’s not true. The child should know that telling is not tattling — Let your child know that telling someone in a position to help the facts that they need to know to help is the right thing to do. In terms of how the child handles bullies on his or her own, it’s a case by case scenario.

The biggest mistake parents make is telling kids “You just need to confront the bully.” Bullies specifically choose kids that can’t do that. You can advise them to stay with a friend, not be alone, to not place themselves in situations where they’re sure to get bullied (like hanging out in a spot where the bully typically hangs out).

The next thing is to get the school involved. Teachers and administrators don’t get into education for the money. They get into it because they care what they’re doing. They don’t want your child to be victimized. They’re on your side. Ask for their help and alert the teachers involved. Ask for the adults in the school to watch and intervene and become your eyes and ears.

What can schools across the country do to prevent and tackle the bullying problem?

I am very passionate about this issue and I need to emphasize this: We need to amend the secondary and elementary education act to include funding and language that specifically refers to bullying and online bullying. Until we put our money where our mouth is, this problem isn’t going to get better. We have to do this across the board and it is absolutely doable. This is something that needs to be funded and we need to make sure all the schools are not only required, but actively engaged in anti-bullying efforts.

Lady Gaga has discussed being bullied as has Anne Hathaway, Eva Mendes, Tim Gunn and other celebrities. How important are famous voices with regard to anti-bullying awareness?

They are necessary but not sufficient. When folks that young people look up to take a strong position that it’s not cool to bully it has a positive affect. I think it’s terrific but it’s got to go further than that and that’s what I mean about having it as part of the curriculum in schools.

This interview of mine with Dr. Phil originally ran a few years ago on Huffington Post. The message, however, is a timeless one.

(Photo source: DrPhil.com)

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Gender Stereotypes, Women in the workplace, Uncategorized

#Google: Is the “Images” Platform Reinforcing Gender Stereotypes In the Workplace?

A new study indicates that Google images may be reinforcing gender stereotypes in the work place.

As you can see in the above table, images for a certain profession often align with what people perceive to be prevalent jobs for a specific gender. If you were to, say, type the word “CEO” into Google Images, you would find only 11% of female CEOs represented in the results, as opposed to an actual 28% reported in the US Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey.

The study goes on to show that if you type the word “journalist,” females are underrepresented by 28% in the search results. When it comes to “bus drivers,” our minds typically conjure up a male image and Google Images represents that in its platform results. Women are underrepresented by 29% in comparison to US Labor Force Statistics data.

AdView analyzed United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics data, along with the results of Google Image searches for a range of job roles.

Psychology dictates that we come to know and understand things based on what we are shown. It is perplexing to think that societal perceptions could be so influenced by a popular search engine – when we are not getting accurate representations from that popular search engine!

More astonishing is this fact: After the search giant’s most recent annual report was released, it was revealed that Google has had a mere 0.3% growth in the percentage of women employed since 2014.

The misrepresentation of genders within job roles on Google Images is particularly salient because between May 2017 and May 2018, Google held 87% of the search engine market share in the US.

The Most Underrepresented Roles for Females on Google images are:

Baker – females are underrepresented by 33% on Google Images

Bus Driver – females are underrepresented by 29% on Google Images

Journalist – females are underrepresented by 28% on Google Images

Hairdresser – females are underrepresented by 24% on Google Images

CEO – females are underrepresented by 17% on Google Images.

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Bravo TV, Psychology, public figures, Reality TV

An Abundance of Ashleys

Between the years of 1983 and 1988, “Ashley” was a top choice for American parents naming baby girls. It was, in fact, the second most popular girl’s name in the nation in 1985, which means if you are a Millennial, there’s a good chance you know an Ashley or two…or seven as I currently have programmed in my phone.

On reality television now, there are three Ashleys – within the aforementioned cohort – who have people talking. Perhaps there is a special formula for all Ashleys to crack (one I wish I knew!) because each of the three Ashleys I’m about to discuss have either had to overcome hurdles in the maze of reality TV, perception and reality, or are still bumbling through that complicated labyrinth.

Let’s begin with Ashley Iaconetti from The Bachelor franchise. This Ashley first came to our collective attention during Chris Soules’ season of The Bachelor. She was the emotionally overwrought Kardashian lookalike who seemed to cry on a whim. She also quickly became known to us for another more notable characteristic: being the virgin and was rapidly embraced by Bachelor Nation, the dysfunctional franchise-family that feverishly recycles favorites in spinoffs. So of course, Ashley appeared, and shed a ton of tears, on Bachelor in Paradise and later found lust on Bachelor Winter Games.

After many overly emotional scenes and plenty of loud sobs regarding being relegated to the “friend zone,” Iaconetti’s long-time pal and crush from Paradise finally started to reciprocate her feelings. She had cried over him in Paradise and had been encouraged to give up hope by their mutual friend (former Bachelor) Nick Viall. Years and too many tears later, after baring her soul to cameras ad nauseum, Ioconetti has been publicly vindicated, I guess: The object of her documented obsession, Jared Haibon, recently proposed. The perpetually pining princess will need to be recast as the fiance who turned her commitment phobic pumpkin into her prince.

Another Ashley who some of you are familiar with is Ashley Borders of Southern Charm Savannah. I wasn’t wild about the show, a sentiment not uncommon among Bravo fans, but I found this Ashley endearing even before I had the chance to meet her in person and confirm this.

A crowd of white, somewhat wealthy Savannians were introduced to us as a group of friends – except immediately, we got the sense that Borders was more of a free spirit. This was especially so when juxtaposed with the more traditional, snooty Southerner cast mates. They seemed stuck in the past and we witnessed how they were so bothered by Borders’ bathing suit-clad bod and the effect it might have on the taken men. It was clear that Borders was merely an on-camera friend to those who shunned her on the show, and we got a glimpse of the more liberal Savannians who accepted her, like the cute jewelry designer who appears in one episode.

According to one of my sources in Savannah, Ashley was demoted from a main cast member to a “friend of” for the soon to be airing Season Two. This was because the least likable, most stodgy and snobbish cast mates refused to film with her. Luckily enough, not all of them are total dicks, so although Borders will not get the redemption season she deserves after cast mates lambasted her last season, she will appear in a few scenes this time around.

Last season, while focused on her fashion career, she had a side gig with Delta airlines that afforded her travel opportunities. Her cast mates made a big deal about the side gig, calling her dishonest because she didn’t talk as much about it. In doing so, they unwittingly brought attention to their elitist and classist notions about career choices.

Ashley Borders’ liberal views and openness towards those from all walks of life, made her a breath of fresh air alongside this catty and cliquish crew. It will be interesting to see if she gets some redemption in her diminished role this season. Perhaps refraining from having to hang out too much with elitist cast mates is vindication enough for anyone.

The last of the Ashleys on my mind is the most talked about currently. Ashley Jacobs of Bravo’s Southern Charm (the original Southern Charm, as Savannah is a newer addition to the main franchise) is getting a lot of attention for her missteps on the show, as well as backfiring efforts to repair her image via social media.

Jacobs has had a really tough season and is in over her head as a reality television rookie. The hospice nurse attached herself to a paramour with a personal baggage, including the fact that he and his ex (the mother of his two kids) film together seasonally. It has not gone well for Jacobs who clashes on camera during the current season with Kathryn Dennis, mom to her beau Thomas Ravenel’s children.

While initially welcomed by the rest of the crew, they have taken several steps back from Jacobs and rallied around Dennis. The shifting allegiances, and the apparent disdain for Jacobs that has grown since cameras stopped rolling, attest to several complicated off-camera storylines.

The gossip blogs have played their own part in pitting the Charmers against one another.

While everyone loves a comeback and a redemption tale, many fans feel she is beyond reproach and that the influences behind her behavior, the motives and some of the individuals who nudged her behavior along (i.e. those bloggers), will never be revealed to the public.

To me, it would be a shame if we don’t get to see how bloggers contributed, how Jacobs’ relationship with Ravenel factored in, and whether or not Jacobs will acknowledge her bad behaviors after the upcoming reunion airs…Even more so, when ample time passes and realities (beyond reality TV) set in.

Whether Jacobs will have her opportunity to turn the tide and change the minds is something that seems more uncertain than what is likely for the other Ashleys. Her words seemed more astounding, more regrettable and her actions post-filming more shocking. However, when a person takes major initiatives to revamp their life and starts to see things differently, it’s a beginning towards healing all that has been greatly damaged. Having seen young reality stars mature and become more humbled by public reaction, who knows what could happen in the future after life changes offer new perspectives….In the United States of Amnesia, (to borrow the late Gore Vidal’s term) I’ve witnessed fans change their minds when it previously seemed impossible.

Perhaps there is some formula for all Ashleys to follow in order to become successful – especially in this arena of reality television. Or maybe you don’t believe there’s anything significant about a particular name. Rather, that the three Ashleys above coincidently had rough starts, and faced the challenge of being scrutinized by cast mates, viewers and the world of social media.

In the event that it’s not a fluke, here are Things To Know About the Name Ashley if you happen to be an Ashley yourself or know someone who is.

(The title of this post was inspired by the title of John Green’s novel, An Abundance of Katherines.)

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#politics, Cults, Psychology, public figures

#NXIVM: A #Trump Supporting Conspiracy Theorist’s Wet Dream

Frank Parlato, the man who is responsible for bringing NXIVM to your attention through his tenacious and brave blogging – the “whistleblower” who alerted The New York Times to the cult- is generous enough to share others’ wild stories on his blog. He’s also clever and cautious, prefacing those accounts with the disclaimer that they are alleged, rather than confirmed as absolute facts.

Months ago, Stormy Daniels denied, through her rep, that she had ever had anything to do with NXIVM and it’s sexual slavery sorority DOS. Nevertheless, one young man brought forth a rambling tale that sounds like a conspiracy theorist Trump supporter’s wet dream…or a hallucinogen-induced, mania-fueled rant.

Per Parlato’s The Frank Report, FrankReport.com:

The story claims that Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin, James Alefantis, Eric Schneiderman, and Stormy Daniels joined sex slaver and pedophile Keith Raniere, Allison Mack and the Bronfman heiresses, Clare and Sara, at a NXIVM party to recruit young women to be nannies for children.

Big League Politics’ Patrick Howley writes:

“Ben Szemkus details an experience he had at a 2007 NXIVM party in Hamden, Connecticut. Szemkus, an independent citizen, testifies that he saw porn star Stormy Daniels, and Clinton adviser Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner.

“NXIVM is a Satanist sex cult that sees its leaders Keith Raniere and Allison Mack standing trial for human trafficking and child sex trafficking.

“’I attended a NXIVM Recruitment Party/Mixer in February 2007 in Hamden, Connecticut in which I met Stormy Daniels as Well as some High Powered Political Figures and NXIVM Founders, Major Supporters and Members. Here is a written statement detailing My experience that night,” writes Ben Szemkus, detailing that Yale University female students were in attendance at this party.’

“Transcripts from Szemkus’ account are presented below. He describes the party as being “The Belly of the Beast.”

You can read more here: https://bigleaguepolitics.com/sex-cult-party-guest-stormy-daniels-schneiderman-huma-and-weiner-were-all-there/.

If it sounds too insane to be true, it probably isn’t…But, sadly, I do know people who will eat this story up voraciously without hesitation.

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