Friday, 21 October 2016

Quoting Bette Davis

“I think it’s a terrible hindrance for any female to have a lot of intelligence in private life, but I think in business it’s sometimes even worse. There’s deep resentment, no question about it, from the male side of the business. . . We all work for men, they’re the people in charge. I think they find women easier who don’t have the ability to think for themselves. One can make more enemies as a female with a brain, I think.” 
Bette Davis   

“Women are the essential part of the theater. But the writers are not writing about women, they’re too perplexed about the whole female situation.” 

Bette Davis   

“I think men have got to change an awful lot. I think they still somehow prefer the little woman. They’re just staying way, way behind. And so I think millions of women are happy to be by themselves, they’re just so bored with the whole thing, you know, trying to be the little woman, when no such thing exists anymore. It just simply doesn’t. This world’s gone way beyond it. The real female should be partly male and the real male should be partly female anyway. So if you ever run into that in either sex you’ve run into something very, very fine, I think."
Bette Davis

“When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch”
Bette Davis

“If men found out how to give birth to children they’d never propose again.”
Bette Davis

::: Bette Davis on the sexes: WATCH/LISTEN

photographs via and via and via and via

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Narrative images: Warschauer Kniefall

"As I stood on the edge of the Germany's historical abyss, feeling the burden of millions of murders, I did what people do when words fail."
Willy Brandt

On 7 December 1970, German Chancellor Willy Brandt (1913-1992) visited a monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (about 13.000 Jews were killed by Nazis during the uprising in 1943, thousands more died in the Warsaw concentration camp that was established soon after the uprising or were executed in the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto, ...). Willy Brandt visited the monument, lay down a wreath ... and spontaneously fell to his knees. Brandt remained silently in that position - on his knees, head bowed low - for twenty or thirty seconds surrounded by people who were awe-struck. Polish politicians were astonished, Polish intellectuals have been admiring him ever since. But his kneeling in front of the monument also made him a target for hostility and hatred. For his gesture of humility and penance, Brandt received a great many letters from people saying they wished to see him hanged, that they would like to pinion him against a wall; he was called "traitors of the home country". The majority of Germans felt his humility was exaggerated (48%: "excessive", 41%: "appropriate", 11%: "no opinion"). In 1971, Willy Brandt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (it is thought that his gesture in front of the monument was one of the reasons why he was awarded the prize). His landslide win in the 1972 elections showed that more and more people supported his "Ostpolitik" that was symbolised by his genuflection (via and via) and that communicated that Germany was no longer a country other nations had to be afraid of.

"I have been often asked what the gesture was all about. Was it planned? No, it wasn't."
Willy Brandt

"We have a strong tendency to view the year 1989 as the beginning of European development, basically, the beginning of our new political era. It's true that this is the turning point in Europe. If you open your eyes wider, the year 1970 was the turning point in Polish-German relations in the political sense."
Janusz Reiter, Poland's first ambassador to the reunified Germany

"Brandt walked forward, Scheel half a step behind him, and behind them both came a wreath of white carnations carried by two Polish civilians, who set it down in front of the monument. Brandt straightened out the red, black and gold German banner, on which was written 'The Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany'. At that moment he was the symbol of his title, his position, his country. He took a step back and stood still, without saying a word. Suddenly, he dropped to his knees and crossed his hands in front of himself, his face immobile. He stayed a long time in that position, the only thing audible was the clicking of cameras, the stifled sobs of an old woman in the crowd. No words were needed to understand that the Chancellor was begging forgiveness in the name of the German people for the crimes committed by their nation. As the Spiegel journalist Hermann Schreiber said, 'here is a man kneeling when he has no need to do so, in the name of all those who should kneel and do not.' That the gesture came from a German who had done nothing to be reproached for, and who had even fought against the Nazis' barbarism, made clear that it meant to 'accept the past' for post-Hitler Germany."
Miard-Delacroix (2016)

::: Short documentary in German; Brandt's genuflection at 6:15 and 7:55: WATCH

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- Miard-Delacroix, H. (2016) Willy Brandt. Life of a Statesman. London & New York: I.B.Tauris & Co.Ltd
- Photographs via and via and via

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Strange Fruit

Billie Holiday (1915-1959) first sang "Strange Fruit" in Cafe Society in 1939. It was, according to Nina Simone, "the ugliest song I have ever heard", ugly "in the sense that is it violent and tears at the guts of what white people have done to my people in this country". "Strange Fruit" was something completely new, the first song with an explicit political message, a song that "cut conversation stone dead, left drinks untouched, cigarettes unlit". Reactions ranged from people clapping their hands until they were sore to walking out in disgust (via). The song was written by Abel Meeropol (1903-1986), a Jewish "white"teacher, writer, song-writer, poet and social activist. Meeropol was "very disturbed at the continuation of racism". He once saw the photograph of Thomas Shipp's and Abe Smith's lynching (Indiana, 1930) that haunted him for days and then wrote a poem about it. Later, he set words to his music and played it for a club owner who gave it to Billie Holiday (via).

In 1999, Time magazine called "Strange Fruit" the "song of the century". That was decades after Meeropol was called to testify before a committee investigating communism in public schools whether he had been paid by the American Communist Party to write the song in 1940. In 1945, he left his teaching job at Dewitt Clinton and started using the pseudonym "Lewis Allen" when writing poetry and music (via).

"Strange Fruit"

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin' in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant South
The bulgin' eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burnin' flesh

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop

::: Billie Holiday sings Strange Fruit: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Nina Simone sings Strange Fruit: LISTEN
::: Nina Simone talks about Strange Fruit: WATCH/LISTEN (song played with graphic content)
::: Diana Ross sings Strange Fruit: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Annie Lennox sings Strange Fruit: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Sting sings Strange Fruit: WATCH/LISTEN
::: UB40 sing Strange Fruit: WATCH/LISTEN

"Billie Holiday described the song to Maya Angelou's son Guy Johnson in 1957, as told in Angelou's The Heart of a Woman:

On the night before [Holiday] was leaving New York, she told Guy she was going to sing "Strange Fruit" as her last song. We sat at the dining room table while Guy stood in the doorway.
Billie talked and sang in a hoarse, dry tone the well-known protest song. Her rasping voice and phrasing literally enchanted me. I saw the black bodies hanging from Southern trees. I saw the lynch victims' blood glide from the leaves down the trunks and onto the roots.
Guy interrupted, "How can there be blood at the root?" I made a hard face and warned him, "Shut up, Guy, just listen." Billie had continued under the interruption, her voice vibrating over harsh edges.
She painted a picture of a lovely land, pastoral and bucolic, then added eyes bulged and mouths twisted, onto the Southern landscape.
Guy broke into her song. "What's a pastoral scene, Miss Holiday?" Billie looked up slowly and studied Guy for a second. Her face became cruel, and when she spoke her voice was scornful. "It means when the crackers are killing the niggers. It means when they take a little nigger like you and snatch off his nuts and shove them down his goddamn throat. That's what it means."
The thrust of rage repelled Guy and stunned me.
Billie continued, "That's what they do. That's a goddamn pastoral scene."
Guy gave us both a frozen look and said, "Excuse me, I'm going to bed." He turned and walked away." (literally via)

"During the 50s, she performed it [Strange Fruit] less often and, when she did, it could be agonising to watch. Her relationship with it became almost masochistic. The worse her mood, the more likely she was to add it to the set, yet it pained her every time, especially when it prompted walkouts by racist audience members." (via)

Photographs via and via and via

Friday, 14 October 2016

Political Correctness & Demographics

"To be politically correct is to choose words (and sometimes actions) that avoid disparaging, insulting or offending people because they belong to oppressed groups. Oppressed groups are those subject to prejudice, disrespect or discrimination on the basis of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or physical disability."
The Conversation

Generally speaking, most US-Americans (59%) think that "too many people are easily offended these days over the language that others use" while 39% say that "people need to be more careful about the language they use to avoid offending people with different backgrounds" (via). In a 2015 poll, 68% said political correctness was a "big problem" in the US (via).

According to a survey carried out in the United States by Pew Research Centers, attitudes to political correctness differ based on demographics:

- Gender
About two-thirds (68%) of men say too many people are easily offended by language today compared with about half (51%) of women.

- Ethnicity
30% of blacks say too many people are easily offended by language today compared with 67% of whites.

- Politics
78% of Republicans say too many people are easily offended by language today compared with 37% of Democrats.
83% of Trump supporters say too many people are easily offended by language today compared with 39% Clinton supporters.

More: Pew Research Center

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- Photograph by John Rawlings (1912-1970) via
More articles:
- Language Matters: Concerns About 'Political Correctness' Are Deeply Intertwined with Race; Alternet
- The Crusade Against Political Correctness Shows Its Colors; Huffington Post

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls

"Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman."
William Moulton Marston

Wonder Woman - the comic character, not actress Lynda Carter - will be honoured at her 75th birthday by becoming the United Nations' new Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. The US Postal Service marks her birthday with the issue of four Wonder Woman stamps.

"Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power."
William Moulton Marston

Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston (1893-1947) and had her debut on 21 October 1941. According to DC, the story was "meant to test her appeal at a time when female superheroes were rare”, but the character “quickly broke out and headlined her own title by the next year".

On 21 October 2016, Wonder Woman will officially be designated for the position at a ceremony at the UN headquarters in New York City. Diane Nelson, DC Entertainment President, will accept the designation on behalf of Wonder Woman; Ban Ki-moon will attend the announcement.
Wonder Woman's 75th birthday will also be the day, the UN's global campaign achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls will be launched (via).

"Seventy-five years ago, while most comic book damsels in distress helplessly awaited rescue by their male protectors, Wonder Woman confidently brushed aside this established gender barrier. In groundbreaking tales, Wonder Woman continues to defuse the havoc of a male-dominated world—always with justice, equality, and peace. The U.S. Postal Service® celebrates her diamond anniversary by chronicling her evolution in comics, from her World War II origins to today.
In the wake of Superman’s phenomenal launch in 1938, hordes of copycat Super Heroes appeared in the pages of comic books. Most were short-lived, some endured, and virtually all were male characters. Then, in 1941, came Wonder Woman. With her peaceful ways and fearlessness, Wonder Woman stood out from the pack.
Creator William Moulton Marston was a psychologist who contributed toward the development of the polygraph—“lie detector”—and whose theories about women’s potential were atypical of his era. The middle-aged Ivy Leaguer was unlike most creators of Super Heroes in the genre’s early days: typically scrappy young sons of immigrants, seeking opportunity during the Depression. In comic books Marston recognized a powerful medium for his message. For this mission he assumed a secret identity: Charles Moulton.
Marston’s Wonder Woman was unique in its throwback visual style and its fast-forward intentions for society. He expressed a view that women’s power lies in their superior capacity to love and believed that women should rule the world—and would do a better job of it than men.
Although Wonder Woman was preceded by a handful of female characters who could be deemed Super Heroes, she quickly eclipsed them all. (...)"

Images via and via and via and via

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Dark to Light

"As a part of the Pedigree Learn from Dogs film series, “Dark to Light” tells the true story of Liz Oleksa, a single mother struggling to raise her son while her eyesight deteriorates. When she does go blind, she thinks her life is over. Until a dog changes everything."

"Titled Dark to Light, this short--in support of Blindness Awareness Month this October--was also created in a second format that uses descriptive video services (DVS) to voice over the visuals displayed on the screen, ensuring the visually impaired can experience the film as well." (via)

Monday, 10 October 2016

Homophobia and Latent Homosexuality

"The roots of homophobia are fear. Fear and more fear."
George Weinberg

“I coined the word homophobia to mean it was a phobia about homosexuals….It was a fear of homosexuals which seemed to be associated with a fear of contagion, a fear of reducing the things one fought for—home and family. It was a religious fear and it had led to great brutality as fear always does.”
George Weinberg (cited in Herek, 2004)

"When a phobia incapacitates a person from engaging in activities considered decent by society, the person himself is the sufferer….But here the phobia appears as antagonism directly toward a particular group of people. Inevitably, it leads to disdain toward the people themselves, and to mistreatment of them. The phobia in operation is a prejudice, and this means we can widen our understanding by considering the phobia from the point of view of its being a prejudice and then uncovering its motives." George Weinberg (cited in Herek, 2004)
In 1972, psychologist George Weinberg introduced the term "homophobia", a term that challenged the traditional way of thinking about the so-called problem of homesexuality, a term that helped shift society's attention on the real problem of prejudice and stigma by locating the problem not in homosexual people but in intolerant hetereosexuals.
"Weinberg gave a name to the hostility and helped popularize the belief that it constituted a social problem worthy of scholarly analysis and intervention. His term became an important tool for gay and lesbian activists, advocates, and their allies." (Herek, 2004)

What is the motivation behind being homophobic? Based on people's scores on the Index of Homophobia, Adams et al. assigned indivuals to a group of homophobic men vs. a group of nonhomophobic men. Men of both groups were exposed to sexually explicit (hetereosexual and male homesexual) erotic stimuli while changes in penile circumference were monitored. Results indicated that those who score in the homophobic range and admit negative affect toward homosexuality "demonstrate significant sexual arousal to male homosexual erotic stimuli". Nonhomophobic men, however, show no significant increase in penile response to homosexual stimuli. Explanations vary from latent homesexuality to anxiety enhancing arousal (Adams et al., 1996).
"Although the causes of homophobia are unclear, several psychoanalytic explanations have emerged from the idea of homophobia as an anxiety-based phenomenon. One psychoanalytic explanation is that anxiety about the possibility of being or becoming a homosexual may be a major factor in homophobia (West, 1977). For example, de Kuyper (1993) has asserted that homophobia is the result of the remnants of homosexuality in the heterosexual resolution of the Oedipal conflict. Whereas these notions are vague, psychoanalytic theories usually postulate that homophobia is a result of repressed homosexual urges or a form of latent homosexuality. Latent homosexuality can be defined as homosexual arousal which the individual is either unaware of or denies (West, 1977 ). Psychoanalysts use the concept of repressed or latent homosexuality to explain the emotional malaise and irrational attitudes displayed by some individuals who feel guilty about their erotic interests and struggle to deny and repress homosexual impulses. In fact, West ( 1977, p. 202) stated, 'when placed in a situation that threatens to excite their own unwanted homosexual thoughts, they overreact with panic or anger.'" (Adams et al., 1996)

"Some phobias, such as the fear of squares or of trains, are acquired only in later life, while others, the fear of darkness, storms and animals, exist from the very beginning. The former signify serious illness, the latter appear rather as peculiarities, moods."
Sigmund Freud, General Theory of the Neuroses; Fear and Anxiety

Related posting:
- The -ism Series (8): Heterosexism

- Adams, H. E., Wright, L. W. & Lohr, B. A. (1996). Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 105(3), 440-445.
- Herek, G. M. (2004). Beyond "Homophobia": Thinking About Sexual Prejudice and Stigma in the Twenty-First Century. Journal of NSRC, 6-24.
- Williams, M. (2008). Homosexuality Anxiety: A Misunderstood Form of OCD. Leading-Edge Health Education Issues, 195-205.
- Photographs of Michel Serrault (1928-2007) and Ugo Tognazzi (1922-1990) (La cage aux folles) via and via and via and via

Friday, 7 October 2016

"It's as simple as that."

"Star Trek is about the freedom to be who you are, and be respected for who you are. It demands that you respect everyone else equally. It's as simple as that."
Nichelle Nichols

image via

Thursday, 6 October 2016

"Trek Against Trump": For a Future of Enlightenment and Inclusion

"Trek Against Trump is not endorsed, sponsored, or affiliated with CBS Studios Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp or the "Star Trek" franchise" but more than 100 actors, producers, directors of Star Trek series and movies (and their family members) signed a letter and sent it to the Trek Against Trump Facebook page; among them George Takei, Walter Koenig, Eugene and Heidi Roddenberry, Adam and Susan Nimoy, J. J. Abrams, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Wil Wheaton, Zoe Saldana (via). (For the full list click here.)

Here is the statement:

"Star Trek has always offered a positive vision of the future, a vision of hope and optimism, and most importantly, a vision of inclusion, where people of all races are accorded equal respect and dignity, where individual beliefs and lifestyles are respected so long as they pose no threat to others. We cannot turn our backs on what is happening in the upcoming election. Never has there been a presidential candidate who stands in such complete opposition to the ideals of the Star Trek universe as Donald Trump. His election would take this country backward, perhaps disastrously. We need to elect a president who will move this country forward into the kind of future we all dream of: where personal differences are understood and accepted, where science overrules superstition, where people work together instead of against each other.

The resolution of conflicts on Star Trek was never easy. Don’t remain aloof –vote! We have heard people say they will vote Green or Libertarian or not at all because the two major candidates are equally flawed. That is both illogical and inaccurate. Either Secretary Clinton or Mr. Trump will occupy the White House. One is an amateur with a contemptuous ignorance of national laws and international realities, while the other has devoted her life to public service, and has deep and valuable experience with the proven ability to work with Congress to pass desperately needed legislation. If, as some say, the government is broken, a protest vote will not fix it.

Have you just turned 18? Have you moved? Have you never voted before? Some states have early registration (early October) and/or absentee ballots. You can’t vote if you are not registered. So make it so. Go to , a non-profit, non-partisan organization, and fulfill your civic duty. Because, damn it, you are a citizen of the USA, with an obligation to take part in our democracy! Do this not merely for yourself but for all the generations that follow. Vote for a future of enlightenment and inclusion, a future that will someday lead us to the stars." (Trek Against Trump)

"Star Trek’s humanistic, moral, and scientific view of the universe has given hope to countless people across the world. It has also inspired technological advances and asked us to rethink outdated mythologies in light of modern science. Star Trek’s life-affirming perspective flies boldly in the face of the xenophobic, protectionist, sexist, and dystopian worldview presented by the Donald Trump campaign. That’s why over 100 cast and crew members from the Star Trek TV and film franchises have come together to take a stand against Donald Trump and to encourage Trekkers to register to vote." (Good)

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Related postings:

- Leonard Nimoy
The Conscience of Star Trek
- Leonard Nimoy on what he would say upon being the first man to set foot on the moon
- The Nonstereotypical Role of Lieutenant Uhura
- Captain Pike has a female first officer & Captain Kirk hugs a mountain
- The Star Trek Opening Monologue
- Quoting the "First Lady of Star Trek"
- Trekkies
- Quoting William Shatner
- Quoting Gene Roddenberry
- More on space, spiced with some science fiction and a lot of diversity
- It's OK to be Takei
- Public Library

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Images via and via

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

A Pocket Guide to France (1944)

I- Why you're going to France
YOU are about to play a personal part in pushing the Germans out of France. Whatever part you take - rifleman, hospital orderly, mechanic, pilot, clerk, gunner, truck driver - you will be an essential factor in a great effort which will have two results: first, France will be liberated from the Nazi mob and the Allied armies will be that much nearer to Victory, and second, the enemy will be deprived of coal, steel, manpower, machinery, food, bases, seacost and a long list of other essentials which have enabled him to carry on the war at the expense of the French. (...)

II - The United States soldier in France
MANY of you are no doubt wondering what kind of people the French are. You will soon see for yourselves. You will find that aside from the fact that they speak another (and very musical) language, they are very much like a lot of the people you knew back home. Here are a few facts about them which apply generally, but you must remember that each of them is individual, and that Pierre Ducrot is as different from Paul Boucher as you are from Joe Jones.
Frenchmen are much like us in one particular respect - they are all Frenchmen together and are as intensely proud of the fact as we are of being Americans. Yet we have many kinds of Americans - Southerners, Yankees, hoosiers, Native Sons - to name a few. (...) It's the same with France; you will find many accents and dialects among Bretons, Alsatians, Normans, Basques, Catalans and Provencals - the Southerners of France. But these people are Frenchmen all, and proud of it.
You will soon discover for yourself that the French have what might be called a national character. It is made up of half dozen outstanding characteristics:
(1) The French are mentally quick.
(2) Rich or poor, they are economical. Ever since the Nazis took over and French business came to a standstill, thousands of French families have kept themselves alive on their modest savings.
(3) The French are what they themselves call realistic. It's what we call having a hard common sense. (...) the Nazis have called the French cynical. Even in defeat the French can't be easily fooled.
(4) The French of all classes have respect for the traditionally important values in the life of civilized man. They have respect for religion and for artistic ideas. They have an extreme respect for property, whether public or private. (...) Respect for work is a profound principle in France. (...) Above all, the French respect the family circle as the natural center of social and economic life. (...) There is very little divorce in France. (...)
(5) The French are individualists. (...)
(6) The French are good talkers and magnificent cooks - if there sitll is anything left to put in the pot. French talk and French food have contributed more than anything else to the French reputation for gayety. (...)

The French also shake hands on greeting each other and on saying goodbye. They are not back-slappers. It's not their way.
In the larger cities you'll find shop-keepers who speak English (...). Many of the younger French generation (...) have picked up a smattering of English, plus slang, from the American movies, which were their favorites till the Nazis prohibited them. (...)

Security and Health
Health conditions of France closely resemble those you know in the United States except for a somewhat lower sanitary standard. Water supplies in the rural areas are more likely to be polluted but those of the large cities were generally safe before the war. Milk is not safe to drink unless boiled. (...)
Flies, lice and fleas are more common than with us, and less is done about them. (...) For your own sake keep them away. (...)

You Are a Guest of France
(...) Mostly, the French think Americans always act square, always give the little fellow a helping hand and are good-natured, big-hearted and kind. They look up to the United States as the friend of the oppressed and the liberator of the enslaved. (...)

France has been represented too often in fiction as a frivolous nation where sly winks and coy pats on the rear are the accepted form of address. You'd better get rid of such notions right now if you are going to keep out of trouble. A great many young French girls never go out without a chaperone, day or night. It will certainly bring trouble if you base your conduct on any false assumptions.
France is full of decent women and strict women. Most French girls have less freedom than girls back home. If you get a date don't be surprised if her parents want to meet you first, to size you up. (...)
Should you find some girl whose charms induce thoughts of marriage, here are a few points to think over: In your present status as a soldier, marriage to a foreign girl has many complications. (...)

Throughout the history of France, the Church has filled a very real compartment in the lives of Frenchmen. In the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance, the superb craftmanship and the sincere religious feeling of the French combined to erect some of the most magnificent monuments to God ever created. (...)

V - In parting
We are friends of the French and they are friends of ours.
The Germans are our enemies and we are theirs. Some of the secret agents who have been syping on the French will no doubt remain to spy on you. Keep a close mouth. No bragging about anything. (...)
You are a member of the best dressed, best fed, best equipped liberating Army now on earth. You are going in among the people of a former Ally of your country. They are still your kind of people who happen to speak democracy in a different language. Americans among Frenchmen, let us remember our likeness, not our differences. The Nazi slogan for destroying us both was "Divide and Conquer". Our American answer is "In Union Is Strength".

A Pocket Guide to France DOWNLOAD