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A parent massacres their children and their spouse, before then killing themselves – in recent memory alone it’s a brutal scenario painfully familiar to dozens of communities around this country.

Towns in Wexford, Cork, Tyrone, Limerick – and now, Ballyjamesduff in Co Cavan – all rocked by familicide: a truly monstrous crime worthy of the harshest, most merciless condemnation.

Of course, it’s unlikely that all the resulting reporting, commentary, evaluation and reflection on social media, in print and online will pinpoint what moment or moments in the 40-or-so years of Alan Hawe’s life lead him to do what he did.

So instead, here’s what is known: we know that three children – Liam, 13, Niall, 11, and six-year-old Ryan – all went to sleep on Sunday evening. And we know that they never woke up because their father violently killed them in their beds.

We know too that he stabbed to death his primary school teacher wife, Clodagh. Then finally, he killed himself.

On a weekend in August surrounded by people who must have loved him and trusted him implicitly – that man single-handedly extinguished four bright futures.

Clodagh, Liam, Niall, and Ryan were just a few days ago in their home, a place where they should have been protected and happy.

This evening, their grieving wider family not only have to grapple with the catastrophic circumstances of their passing, but they also have to weather what amounts to nothing short of the martyring of Alan Hawe.

Here are just some of the words used by national media to describe him: ‘successful’; ‘upstanding’; ‘torn’; ‘normal’; ‘highly-respected in the community’, and ‘tragic’.  

One local public representative went as far to call him ‘quiet and a real gentleman’. A neighbour shared that he was ‘very obliging’. Someone else managed to stress that he was fundamentally a 'good father' (really?).

And it is amid all this misguided fawning that Clodagh herself has been forgotten.

So much so, in fact, that Women’s Aid re-ignited its #StolenLives hashtag, while the National Women’s Council championed the Twitter trending #HerNameWasClodagh.

As that latter charity highlighted on social media earlier today, ‘minimising’ the actions of Alan Hawe only ‘enables the shame and silence which allows violence against women to flourish’.

Is there a stigma around mental health in this country? Probably. Could more be done? Absolutely. Do men find it more difficult to seek out support? Statistics very much suggest so.

But let’s not wave away accountability with nondescript sentiments of ‘oh he must have been a tortured soul’.

'Lots of people, men and women and non-binary people, struggle with mental illness,’ says writer and editor Linnea Dunne in a moving blog post on the Hawe deaths. ‘But it takes more than mental torture to brutally murder your own children.’

So instead let’s ask ourselves this: if an alcoholic man got into his car and mowed down and killed a mother and her three kids on a rural road one Sunday evening in August, our response would hardly be ‘we need to take a step back and talk about addiction’.

That man in Co Cavan is first-and-foremost a murderer; because of him Clodagh, Liam, Niall, and Ryan are all dead.

And no amount of ‘let’s discuss mental health problems,’ will change that.

Important information: The Samaritans can be contacted on jo@samaritans.org or alternatively call 116 123. Call Women's Aid on 1800 341 900. The National Women's Council Of Ireland's website is here.

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College parties: the home of dented beer cans, sloppy shifts and deep meaningful conversations with your own reflection.

As anyone who has spent even one semester in university will know, the impromptu college party is like making friends with the weirdo on orientation day – something you simply cannot avoid.

And why would you want to?

They’re a veritable haven after you’ve been booted out of the pub, and can’t imagine going home alone.

And then you get there.

And there’s much less drink than you were promised, a lot more gobshites than you anticipated, and an overpowering smell from the kitchen bin.

And suddenly you regret ever ‘accidentally overhearing’ session-talk from a group who you knew lived a stone’s throw from the local.

"I’ve brought this on myself,” you’ll think as you begin checking kitchen cupboards for booze – not that students actually keep their hooch anywhere as predictable as the kitchen cupboard, but you’re desperate.

If you haven’t spent an awkward hour slugging from a can you liberated from beneath a stained cushion while your friend – who promised she wouldn’t disappear upstairs – disappears upstairs, were you even in college?

They say university is about furthering your prospects and broadening your horizons, but we all know it’s about the experiences that take place outside the lecture hall.

Frantic phonecalls home, furtive stealing of food, and feverish but ultimately disappointing relationships are what the vast majority of us remember about our time as students.

Oh, and the parties.

The late nights we found ourselves with seven random strangers who hid their enthusiasm for Dungeons and Dragons until there was no escape.

The early mornings we spent huddled beneath a coat in the hallway of a student house after realising we lost our purses and didn’t have the money for a taxi home.

The times we thought doing the robot on a kitchen table held up with a Psychology textbook would be gas craic until we ended up in A&E.

A college party wouldn’t be a college party without a dank brown carpet, a pyramid of empty cans, and one randomer in a stolen coat who no one knows.

If teen movies were to be believed, we’d rock up to a student house, be handed a red plastic cup full of vodka, and leave looking as good as we did ten hours earlier when we put the finishing touches on our winged eyeliner.

But college parties in Ireland don’t work like that.

You’re either too drunk to be a functioning member of society or you’re too sober to look past the mould growing on the inside of the fridge.

You attend because you’re mad for the shift, your mate is mad for the jacks and you heard someone came back from holidays with more Bacardi than you could shake a stick at.

You stay because it’s cold outside, someone mentioned grilling a few waffles, and your mate – who disappeared upstairs – inexplicably has your phone.

And you leave looking like you’ve been through a war despite the fact the atmosphere was as much use as Beyoncé in an elevator, and you once got your hands on more alcohol at mass.

And yet the thing that keeps bringing you back to these random gatherings is the memory – the memory of that one heady night when the stars aligned, the drink flowed, and the college party was everything you had dreamed of and more.

You were hilarious, they were hilarious, and nobody hid their booze in the washing machine.

Like an addict, you desperately try to recreate that high, and find yourself wandering deserted housing estates at 2am in search of a gaf party that your man in the chipper said would be chock-full of cans

It wasn’t of course, but there’s always next time.

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Remember when Laura from HR sauntered into the staff room and casually asked for a tampon while Mick from Accounts busied himself with the teabags?

Yeah, me neither.

And that’s because it never happened.

If Laura from HR needed a tampon, you can be damn sure you’ll have found out via email or through a secret gesture the pair of you perfected for moments when you’re packing and she’s lacking.

Despite the fact millions of women deal with the inconvenience of a period every single month for half their lives, many of us still act like it’s something we should whisper about in case we embarrass ourselves… or anyone else.

Yes, there are those athletes who run marathons while free-bleeding and those college students who share photos of blood-stained underwear online, but these acts are often done as a form of statement.

In general, these efforts are made in order to raise awareness of 'period-shaming', sanitation failures in third world countries or global corporations’ stance on censorship.

But when referred to in day-to-day life, periods are spoken of in brief with a friend, in hushed tones with a colleague or in confidence with a practitioner.

And while menstruating is as normal a bodily function as peeing, sneezing or yawning, it’s only the former we approach in a covert manner.

If your co-worker began sliding packets of tissues up her sleeve before whispering she needed to sneeze in the other room, you’d begin asking questions.

If she commando-crawled to the bathroom so no one would guess she needed to pee, you’d definitely have a quiet word.

And if she assigned a non-specific gender to a common complaint by calling a headcold 'human problems', for example, you'd reassess your relationship.

When it comes to periods, we’re all in this together which – on the surface – sounds comforting, but it doesn’t do much to remove the taboo.

When they whisper, we whisper back. When they nudge, we nudge back.

And while no one’s suggesting we forego public decency in the name of our monthly cycle, is it too much ask that we don’t feel the need to go Ocean's Eleven on a co-worker when looking for a tampon?

Earlier this week, Chinese swimmer, Fu Yuanhui, left viewers slackjawed when she dared to refer to the arrival of her period in a matter of fact manner… in front of billions.

Unlike other instances where periods are discussed on a public platform – think stand-up comics, for example – it wasn’t said to provoke a reaction, but merely to help account for her performance.

“I didn’t swim well enough this time because my period came yesterday, so I felt particularly tired – but this isn’t a reason. I still didn’t swim well enough,” she told reporters.

These moments offer hope that there might come a time when periods will be referred to on a public platform as nothing more than a fact of life, and not something to be used as comedy club fodder, a political tool or a vehicle for men to express their repulsion/ wonder (delete as applicable) for the menstrual cycle

Although if the response to a recent furore in Georgia is anything to go by, we may be waiting.

A fitness centre in the city of Tbilisi recently made headlines after advising women they should bow out of that week’s swim sessions if they were wearing anything other than a pair of togs.

You know, like a tampon.

Concerned that menstruating women may contaminate the pool’s water, the powers that be went to the effort of creating and distributing signs that told women they could essentially eff off if they were on their period.

Ladies, if we make figurative lepers of ourselves by acting like our bodies are something to be embarrassed by every month, these guys made it literal.

And, unfortunately for us women, a worrying number of people agreed with the policy.

“Some people have strong periods that even when they use Tampax the blood leaks out,” wrote one Facebook user named Nawrus Akkam. “I am sorry but if I am swimming in the pool I do not want to see that.”

Really, Nawrus? Tell that to Fu Yuanhui.
 

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When I was nine, I was called a ‘slut’ by a boy about a year older than me.

I was making my way past him and his equally gormless friend when he said it.

“Sluh”, he hissed.

I remember pausing momentarily and looking at him in bewilderment before abruptly continuing towards the playing field at the side of the school.

I didn’t tell anyone – for no other reason than I didn’t deem it interesting enough – but I did mull it over for a few days.

And another 20 years.

I remember wondering what it was that made him say it to me.

Did he know what it meant?

Did I even know what it meant?

Who was he repeating and wasn’t he scared he’d get in trouble if a teacher heard him?

At the age of nine, I had – unsurprisingly – no experience of boys except in a platonic sense, so eventually I came to the conclusion that his decision to utter that particular word came down to one of two things.

It was either what I was wearing – a pair of navy Umbro shorts and a vest top.

Or how I was walking – I had recently heard Geri Halliwell use the word ‘strut’ so I was attempting – and no doubt failing – to embody my ginger idol.

I spent the rest of the day pulling at the hem of my shorts and berating myself for not choosing longer ones that morning.

At the age of nine and coming to the end of third class, my understanding of the word slut was unsurprisingly limited.

What I had gleaned, however, was that it worked as a way to describe girls who strayed outside the lines.

If we're talking colouring books, these ladies were total Mavericks.

I had, further to this, established that certain clothes were off-limits to me and particular behaviour was off-limits to girls in general.

So, with the benefits of third class Maths and less than a decade on this planet, I put two and two together, and came to the conclusion that I had overstepped the mark in one of these two ways.

Hand-me-downs from girls my age or older – which often found their way into our home in a black bin liner which signalled more excitement than Christmas morning –  were often scrutinised,  and regularly deemed ‘unsuitable’ for me.

Too short. Too grown-up. Too strappy.

And there were things that the boys in my family could do which simply weren’t an option for us girls.

The summer before, I had spent a fortnight abroad with my family, and inspired by both the sickening heat and the boys I was playing with, I decided to bite the bullet and ditch my top.

Positioning my elbows into the hem of my Snoopy T-shirt, I hoisted it upwards only to be told that ‘little girls keep their tops on with their shorts’.

Oh, it’s grand for the boys, but the girls were going to have to spontaneously combust before they could get away with it.

In the grand scheme of things, I was treated the same as my brother and male classmates, but I was aware – on some level – that there was an onus on girls, from a very young age, to consider how they were perceived by the outside world.

Certain clothes and behaviour were indicative of how you might come across to others, but from what I could see – and here is the important part – this only applied if you were female.

I have no memory of my brother’s wardrobe being the subject of debate in my family home, nor do I ever recall him being prevented from doing something because it wasn’t gentlemanly.

He was a young lad, he didn’t need to be gentlemanly; he was just having the craic, sure.

But have too much craic as a girl, and you teeter perilously close to the realm of the unladylike.

At nine, I knew the word ‘slut’ wasn’t a good thing.

I knew it was used as an insult, and I knew there wasn’t a hope of that boy getting the Friday Taz bar if I bothered pulling on a jacket sleeve and spilling all to a teacher.

And yet, despite knowing all of this, I questioned myself instead of questioning him.

My thought process focussed far too much on my culpability and far too little on his.

What had I done to trigger that remark instead of what had he been taught of girls to consider it acceptable.

What had I been thinking opting for those shorts instead of what had he been thinking singling me out to road-test a word reserved solely for girls.

Why had I thought it was OK to ‘spice girl strut’ instead of why had he thought it was OK to single me out?

But sure look, what did I know?

I was nine-years-old with more than a passing resemblance to Meg from Family Guy, and very little life experience from which to mould my perspective.

It was 20 years ago, I was a primary school student, and thankfully we've all moved on so much since then.

Oh, wait.
 

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Discussion surrounding anxiety and the lived experience of those who suffer through it has, thankfully, become part of society's daily discourse.

From well-meaning memes and heartfelt Tumblr posts illustrating the agony of an anxious mind to oratory from high-profile individuals campaigning for further awareness of the issue – all are incredibly worthy contributions to a discussion which desperately needs to maintain – if not gain – momentum.

Encouraging communication with friends appears to be a key theme in removing the stigma, and while undoubtedly sound advice, for a child it's unfortunately not that simple. 

You can't exactly shuffle up to your colour group leader and be all: "Oh hey Ciaran, only me. So basically, I'm worrying myself into an early grave because I think Claire looked at me funny during long division. Any advice?"

Other kids played GAA after school or did Speech and Drama at the weekend. Me, I worried for a hobby. 

I was often riddled with unwarranted guilt and unnecessary anxiety, but as far as I can see, nothing sparked it or indeed accelerated it, and yet it manifested itself in primary school, and is as vivid a childhood association as Fat Frog ice pops, light-up runners and rip-off tracksuit bottoms.

And I didn't help myself – I was super creative when it came to tying myself in knots and ruining all my own after-school down-time. 

         I remember asking myself how Ginger Spice would pose for this shot…nailed it.

Kenan and Kel was spent creating a worry, Sister Sister was spent turning it over in my mind and Sabrina the Teenage Witch signalled the alarm for full-on nausea. I mean, I was exhausting to be, and exhausting to be around.

"But, Mam what if this happens?" "But Mam what if that happens?"

I managed to invent ludicrous worries – incidents which never actually happened and were very, very unlikely to – and then worried myself sick until I got distracted by another conjured concern and focussed all of my attention on that.

I used rifle through my books before lending them to the school library incase there was anything of a questionable nature nestled inside. 

What did I think I might have hidden in there? A spliff? a condom? My dastardly plan for world domination?

I once outted myself and was punished – minus five points for my colour group but whatever – for not having practiced my recorder the night before despite the fact I had been complimented on my performance and no one would have been any the wiser. 

I did it simply because another pupil had been snared for not practicing and the injustice nearly sent me over the edge.

I would regularly decline invitations to slumber parties because I was convinced something would happen to my family If I left for the night. 

As if my chubby presence in teddy bear pyjamas and mismatched socks would protect my home and all who dwelled within against the litany of things I had imagined, but my mind was made up – I'll be staying at home, thanks. The fam need me.

My third class teacher picked up on it – I say, picked up on it but it was as obvious as the glasses perched on my round, worried face – and remarked on it in an end of year report. 

"Niamh tends to be a worrier, and needs a little bit of minding", she wrote.  A little bit of minding? I was in permanent need of a carer. 

I got into the habit of leaving my mother notes outlining that day's biggest concerns.

"I called Sarah's name in the line but she didn't hear me and now what if she remembers and thinks I was talking about her?"

I'd like to say I'm exaggerating but if I'm honest, I'm sugar coating.

I'm hugely grateful that this level of anxiety and the regularity with which it presented itself in my childhood didn't follow me into my adult years, but there's no denying that Niamh from third class still appears every now and again.

And while these new – and often irrational – worries are no longer accompanied by the sound of classroom chitchat or Nickelodeon's canned laughter, they can, at times, feel as all-consuming as they did back then … until I remember I probably just need a little bit of minding.

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There’s an episode of Sex and the City – season four: episode eight, fact fans – where Carrie is forced to acknowledge that the laptop which has kept her in Manolos has finally kicked the bucket.

After losing much of her work and having a meltdown any technophobe would recognise at 50 paces, she’s asked countless times by numerous people why she didn’t have the foresight to ‘back up’ her work.

And eventually she blows.

Confronting the ever-organised and uber-practical Miranda, Carrie insists “You know, no one talks about backing up.”

“You've never used that expression with me before, ever. But apparently, everybody's secretly running home at night and backing up their work.”

As a 16-year-old I could empathise with her frustration, but as a 29-year-old the outburst has taken on a much deeper, more profound meaning.

There comes a point during your busy life pretending to ‘adult’ that you realise not everyone is actually pretending alongside you.

And I’m not talking about the real adults here – they are, of course, adulating like good things – but your friends, peers and co-workers.

You’ll be given hints every now and then which you’ll choose to ignore – passing references to saving accounts and multivitamins – but, like the moment you almost miss a step on the stairs, you’ll suddenly realise that everyone has been running home and backing up without you.

But instead of just investing in an external hard drive on the sly, they’ve been opening separate savings accounts, enquiring about pension plans, and putting money aside every single month which they – and this is the important part – do not touch.

You soon realise that when they say they’re broke, it doesn't mean they actually want to go halves on a Candy Floss machine – which you insist you can share joint custody of – and just unfortunately don't have the money this time around.

Oh, they have the money alright, but they just have better things to spend it on.

When they give the property pages more than a passing glance and reveal – usually after a night of drinking – that they have a five-year-plan and a few thousand in the Credit Union, you’ll realise that this has all been done without your consultation or express permission.

‘Weren’t we all in this together?’ you’ll ask as you moodily scuff your toe into the ground and wonder at what point they decided to actually grow up and you decided that Tupperware was where you’d draw the line.

Realising that countless people in my circle had been ‘running home and backing up in secret’ has made my descent into the dirty thirties – 10 months, three weeks and four days but who’s counting? – all the more traumatic.

While many of us might seek comfort in memes which remind us that our 20s are a time for multiple f*ck-ups, long romantic walks to the fridge and numerous career lowlights, many more have used the latter half of the decade to get their life together and plan for the future.

The more mature among you might suggest I take inspiration from my more practical peers, learn how to drive, answer those letters from the bank and educate myself on the nutritional value of avocados.

But my spirit-animals reading this will acknowledge the situation for the clusterf*ck it really is  –  a downright abuse of trust and a total disregard for my feelings.

And if anyone needs me, I’ll be in my fort.

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To some, Taylor Swift is nothing short of a modern-day goddess; an all-American girl with a heart of gold and a back catalogue of pop stompers.

To others, she’s an astute businesswoman; adept at manipulating the media, a pro at orchestrating picture-perfect moments which ultimately reinforce the wholesome image she worked so hard to create when she politely tiptoed onto the music scene in 2006.

To me, she’s akin to a tooth ache.

Not the type that leaves you writhing in agony and begging for pain relief, but the other one.

The one you describe as a ‘dull ache’ which you purposely – and here’s the clincher – make worse by continuously prodding with your own damn tongue.

‘Trying to see if it’s any better,” you sheepishly explain to anyone who catches you moments after you lamented being struck down by this oral catastrophe.

In much the same way you wait for a particular colleague to make the noise you hate simply so you can grit your teeth and roll your eyes, many of us reluctantly keep abreast of developments in Taylor’s life just so we can do the same.

But what is it about this Grammy Award-winner that rubs so many of us up the wrong way? And why do we find ourselves so put out by her lifestyle, love life and the tracks ultimately born of them?

Is it because she’s dated numerous men over the course of her 20s? Hardly. It’s only the very fortunate among us that go through life without kissing our own frogs, so that’s not it.

Is it because she makes music which you mumble helplessly along to on the morning commute? By that token, we should consider everyone in the charts a serious pain in the arse, and the thing is, we don’t.

Or is it because she’s part of a ‘squad’ made up of the most beautiful and – some might say – privileged young women of our generation? Yes, but that’s definitely not all.

Whether it’s her lovers, her lyrics or her ladies, everything in T-Swizzle’s life is too contrived for most of us to stomach.

From her cat-lady persona and adorkable Instagram to her rollercoaster romances and sisterhood of the travelling bants, many of us just don’t believe the 26-year-old popstar anymore.

Are we being had? Is she actually as sweet and sisterly as she wants us to think? Is she really just a small-town girl who graduated from cowgirl boots to crowded arenas?

No, of course not, and over the course of the last 18 months, many of us are starting to feel duped.

With her squad waxing lyrical about her prowess as a total BFF online, and her current boyfriend wearing an ‘I Heart TS’ vest in public, people no longer feel like they’re being given a snapshot into a celebrity’s life, but are, instead, pulling up a reluctant front-row seat to The Taylor Swift Show.

But here’s the thing – contrived or not, there’s no doubt it makes for compelling viewing. And whether you love or loathe her, you are – like millions other – watching.

No longer just a guilty pleasure on your iPod, Taylor – and the world she has created for herself – is, for so many of us, the latest guilty pleasure to have found its way into our magazines, newspapers and social media feeds.

And like many of life’s guilty pleasures, it can give you a toothache.

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Tara Reid claims that a ‘Sharknado’ could actually happen.

Say what?!

The actress – who starred in last year's cult Syfy film which features a tornado of sharks, says that it's a legitimate weather concern.

"You know, it actually can happen," she said.

"I mean, the chances of it happening are very rare, but it can happen actually. Which is crazy. Not that it — the chances of it are, like, you know, it's like probably 'pigs could fly'."

She went on to say that she didn't 'think' pigs could fly, but was certain that sharks could become engulfed in tornados.

"Like, I don't think pigs could fly, but actually sharks could be stuck in tornados. There could be a sharknado," she added.

Tara is currently promoting the made for TV movie's sequel, Sharknado 2: The Second One.

We can only guess what she’s going to say next!

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Selena Gomez has hit back at vile cyber-bullies who wrote: “burn in hell with cancer” on one of her photos on Instagram.

The singer did not take the horrific comment lying down and called out the person in question with a photo saying: “The comment you left about cancer was absurd. How distasteful of a young woman. I have gone through that battle with fans and family members. You can dislike someone but to wish something that could happen to you or your family is uncalled for sweetheart. You won’t be winning ‘anyone’s’ heart that way. Trust me. Educate yourself a tad more. God bless love. Be an amazing woman. You’re beautiful. “

Selena also accompanied the message with a caption that read: “Honestly, I don’t speak up much because it’s simply *always* taken out of context. But I don’t take bullying well. I have seen too much not to say anything.”

Wow, we’re so glad that Selena did not let that person’s awful comment go without repercussion.

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Kanye West has compared having his photograph taken to rape.

Oh Kanye…

In a rant onstage this weekend, Kim Kardashian’s other half said,  “Everybody needs a day off, everybody needs the right to say ‘hey, you know what I need a minute to breathe.

“I want to bring my family to the movies without 30 motherf*****s following me. Everybody here, they like sex right? Sex is great when you and your partner be like ‘hey, this is what we both want to do.

“But if one of those people don’t want to do that, what does that constitute, that’s called rape. That is called violation.”

Within minutes, Kanye was blasted by fans, with one writing on Twitter, “Just stop. It is nothing like rape.”

Earlier this year actress Charlize Theron was slammed by rape charities after she compared press intrusion to sexual assault.

Maybe Kanye should have thought twice before he launched into this particular rant.

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Lana Del Rey has caused concern amongst her fans for her alarming comments about death.

The singer was speaking to The Guardian when she said: “I wish I was dead already.”

Um, what?!

When asked by the interviewer as to whether she finds the deaths of music heroes such as Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse glamorous, she replied: “I don’t know. Ummm, yeah … I don’t want to have to keep doing this but I am.”

She also spoke of the backlash her album received, saying that she never got to enjoy any of the good that came from it: “I never felt any of the enjoyment. It was bad, all of it.”

We don’t think Lana’s fans will be happy to hear the talented singer is in such a bad place.

We really hope you feel better soon, Lana.

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It looks like Gwyneth Paltrow isn’t the only one to put her foot in her mouth lately!

Charlize Theron made a not-very-clever comment during an interview with Sky News where she compared media intrusion to being like “rape.”

People have reacted angrily to Charlize’s comments with many saying that the use of the word was unacceptable and out of context.

Have a look at the video and see what you think.

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