Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Happy 1398! Celebrating a Resilient Holiday.

"For thousands of years, Iranians and those influenced by Persian culture have celebrated their new year at the first moment of spring." (via). The holiday dates back to at least 1.700 B.C. and ancient Zoroastrian traditions (via), estimations are in the range of 3.000 years (via).
An important aspect of Nowruz is that it survived Islam. After the revolution in 1979, the government tried to curb the popularity of Nowruz and limit its influence since Iran's most important holiday had no Islamic roots (neither did Iranians) (via). Even before the 1970s, there were attempts to suppress or ban Nowruz, e.g. by Arab invaders in the 7th and 8th century. It "faced the ire of the Arabs on numerous occasions". In Afghanistan, the holiday was forbidden by the Taliban as it was pre-Islamic, hence un-Islamic (via). Nowruz proved to be a resilient holiday and was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (via).

"Norouz has been a bold identification code for being Persian, including all ethnicities within the land. (...) Norouz has been a celebration of early spring, and as Shabazin (2009) asserts, 'Norouz survived because it was so profoundly engrained in Iranian traditions, history, and cultural memory that Iranian identity and Norouz mutually buttressed each other ...'"
Payvar (2015)

Tonight, the equinox will happen at 10:58 p.m.
Here is some information how to celebrate Norouz: LINK

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- Payvar, B. (2015). Space, Culture, and the Youth in Iran. Observing Norm Creation Processes at the Artists's House. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
- image via

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Quoting Viktor Frankl

“But today’s society is characterized by achievement orientation, and consequently it adores people who are successful and happy and, in particular, it adores the young. It virtually ignores the value of all those who are otherwise, and in so doing blurs the decisive difference between being valuable in the sense of dignity and being valuable in the sense of usefulness. If one is not cognizant of this difference and holds that an individual’s value stems only from his present usefulness, then, believe me, one owes it only to personal inconsistency not to plead for euthanasia along the lines of Hitler’s program, that is to say, ‘mercy’ killing of all those who have lost their social usefulness, be it because of old age, incurable illness, mental deterioration, or whatever handicap they may suffer. Confounding the dignity of man with mere usefulness arises from conceptual confusion that in turn may be traced back to the contemporary nihilism transmitted on many an academic campus and many an analytical couch.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

Viktor Emil Frankl (1905-1997) was an Austrian psychiatrist, neurologist, and the founder of logotherapy and existentialism. After the "Anschluss" in 1938, Frankl was no longer allowed to treat "Arian" patients. In 1941, he married Tilly Grosser who was forced to abort their child and deported to Ghetto Theresienstadt in 1942. Frankl's father died in the ghetto in 1943, his brother was killed in Auschwitz where his 65-year-old mother was immediately murdered in the gas chamber. His wife died in the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen aged 24. Frankl was transported from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz, then to another concentration camp and in March 1945 to Dachau where he was liberated in April 1945 by US-American troops. After all these experiences Frankl published his book "Trotzdem Ja zum Leben sagen: Ein Psychologe erlebt das Konzentrationslager" (literally "Nevertheless, say yes to life") known in English by the title "Man's Search for Meaning" in 1946 (via and via).
In the last camp he comes down with typhoid fever. To avoid fatal collapse during the nights he keeps himself awake by reconstructing his book manuscript on slips of paper stolen from the camp office. On April 27 the camp is liberated by U.S. troops. In August Frankl returns to Vienna, where he learns, within a span of a few days, about the death of his wife, his mother and his brother who has been murdered in Auschwitz together with his wife.
Viktor Frankl Institut
“From all this we may learn that there are two races of men in this world, but only these two—the “race” of the decent man and the “race” of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people. In this sense, no group is of “pure race”—and therefore one occasionally found a decent fellow among the camp guards.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

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photograph via

Saturday, 16 March 2019

"Too Ugly to be Raped." Turning Rape into a Privilege.

In March 2015, a young man raped a 22-year old woman, his friend kept watch. The men were sentenced to three and five years prison in the first trial in 2016. The Court of Appeal in Ancona - consisting of three female judges - recently decided that the woman was too ugly to be raped. After all, the man had stated that he hadn't even been attracted to her, had saved her phone number under the name "Vikingo" which underlined the fact that her appearance was rather masculine. A victim's photograph was shown as evidence; the photograph the judges had drawn their conclusions from. The female judges called the victim a "the clever Peruvian" who looked too masculine to be raped, who may have "organised" the whole evening and provoked the young man who possibly saw having sex with a masculine woman only as a sort of challenge. She was too ugly to be raped, her story was not credible.

The woman has left Italy and moved back to Peru (via). An "Italian problem"? According to estimations, 94% to 98% of rapists go free in the U.S. (via).
“The worst thing is the cultural message that came from three female judges who acquitted these two men because they decided that it was improbable that they would want to rape someone who looked masculine.”
Luisa Rizzitelli
People protested immediately, politician Valeria Valente called the decision an extremely dangerous one that would throw the country back many years, the language chosen by the judges would harm the victim and send out a wrong message to younger generations, a great many associations said it was a disgrace. The case will be reheard (via).

"She’s not my type. I would never rape her. I’m not a rapist, but if I were, I wouldn’t rape her because she doesn’t deserve it." Jair Bolsonaro, 38th President of Brazil
In 2014, shadow cabinet leader at East Hampshire District Council commented on Facebook that Serena Bowes, at the time a 21-year-old student who alleged she had been attacked in an Italian nightclub, was too ugly to be raped: "Not sure anyone would want to even think about it looking at her." (via). Female lawyers are groped in court and told that they are "too ugly to rape" (via). The list can be easily continued...
In a recent interview with New York radio station Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club”, Damon Wayans went on a misogynistic rant in defense of Bill Cosby. In his rant, Wayans said that many of Bill Cosby’s accusers were seeking money and exploitation of Cosby’s career. Wayans was relentless in his attempt to invalidate their claims of rape and sexual assault regardless of the fact that over 45 women have come forward with frighteningly similar accounts of their trauma. He even went on to say, “Some of them, really, is unrapeable. I look at them and go, ‘No, he don’t want that. Get outta here!’”
Ashleigh Shackelford
I was raped when I was 18 by a man who subsequently told me that I should feel grateful that anyone would want to touch me. “You should feel so lucky, you fat bitch,” he said. I never told anyone because why would anyone believe that a fat Black girl like me could be assaulted, when my own attacker made sure to mention that I was fortunate to even be considered for such violence. My attacker made sure to remind me that rape is a badge of honor that only worthy women can wear and that I was lucky to be chosen.(...)
Popular culture and media forms reinforce the standards of beauty to be whiteness, thinness, cisgender identity, heteronormative sexuality, and having an able body. Anyone else who does not fit within these identities has deviated from these unrealistic expectations and is subject to be seen as “ugly” and therefore unrapeable according to our society and folks like Damon Wayans. If the face of victimhood for sexual assault is a thin, white, cisgender, heterosexual woman, what does that mean for everyone else? What does that mean for transwomen? What does that mean for fat folks? What does that mean for gender nonconforming folks, men, and children? What does that mean for people of color? What does that mean for folks who identity as queer? What does that mean for people with disabilities? What does that mean for folks who identify with more than one of these identities?

Ashleigh Shackelford
Rape is not a flattering compliment, it is not a privilege. It is a crime. And the notion that women are raped because they are beautiful, stating that rape is just giving them positive feedback is a sick and sickening part of rape culture. Rape myths (e.g. rape is just another form of sex, all women secretly desire to be raped and enjoy it, women ask for it by the way they dress and behave, women could avoid rape if they really wanted to, etc.) "serve to objectify women, minimilize women's value as human beings, and personally and socially control women's sexuality". They "create a hostile environment for rape victims at individual and societal levels" which affects reactions of friends and family members but also of criminal justice professionals who may assign responsibility to victims (Suzuki 2014). Rape has been used as a weapon of war for centuries (e.g. during the three months of genocide, 100.000 to 200.000 women were raped in Rwanda) (via and via). Rape is used to control, to punish, to harm, and to kill women. It is no privilege. It is a crime.

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- Suzuki, Y. E. (2014). Rape: Theories. ResearchGate
- photographs by Charles H. Traub (1980s, Italy) via

Thursday, 14 March 2019

"a big advantage for women." Monica Vitti (1971)

"What do you think about divorce?"
"It is one of the most sacred things, a big advantage for women."

"And about unmarried women who want to have or do have a child?"
"I completely approve of women who are mothers without being married." 
Rome, 21 November 1971

Monica Vitti is one of the most popular Italian actresses; she received a great many awards. Alzheimer's Disease "removed her from the public gaze" in the 1990s (via).

- Costantini, C. (1997). Le Regine del Cinema. Roma: Gremese Editore; page 185
- photographs via and via and via

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Mina, Unmarried Couples, Illegitimate Children, Divorce, and the Parental Alienation Syndrome

Mina (Anna Maria Mazzini) is an Italian singer, "known for her three-octave vocal range, the agility of her soprano voice, and her image as an emancipated woman" (via).

In the early 1960s, Mina was banned from TV and radio in Catholic Italy for two years because of her relationship with Corrado Pani, a married actor (who had been separated from his wife, divorce was not yet possible) and their son born out of wedlock. Her record sales, however, were not affected by the ban and the Italian public broadcasting service RAI had to end the ban due to public demand (via). In 1963, their son Massimiliano was born. They could, however, not live together as a family as this would have meant breaking the law against concubinage and risking two years in prison (via).
"After the ban, the public broadcasting service RAI tried to continue to prohibit her songs, which were forthright in dealing with subjects such as religion, smoking and sex. Mina's cool act combined sex appeal with public smoking, dyed blonde hair, and shaved eyebrows to create a "bad girl" image." Wikipedia
Divorce was finally legalised in Italy in 1970 (via). Fast forward a couple of decades, and Italy's government wants to introduce divorce law reforms that are seen as a threat to women's rights, autonomy, and emancipation, and have been criticised by the United Nations. The bill was proposed by conservative senator Pillon of the "hardline anti-immigration party" Lega, a man who also happens to be against gay marriage, same-sex parents and abortion, and a mediator. The bill requires all couples wanting a divorce with children to use a professional mediator (via). Pillon is one of the organisers of "Family Day", an anti-gay event that takes place every year and campaigns against the so-called "gay lobby". Pillon's next step will be "proposing a law that would punish women who accuse their husbands of domestic violence if the husbands are not convicted" and to make abortion illegal (via). With the bill, he says, he only thinks of the child, adding: "Away with maintenance cheques, away with the ideological battle of women against men." (via).

"In Italy’s conservative society, less than 50 percent of women work outside of the home, and most of the burden of child-rearing falls upon mothers. Because women with children struggle to find stable employment, critics argue that the abolition of child support would raise the poverty rate among divorced mothers and could make them unable to provide for their children. Critics fear that the bill could encourage women to stay in abusive marriages rather than opting for a divorce with no child support.
The proposed law also endorses the disputed notion of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), a term first coined in the 1980s by American psychiatrist Richard Gardner. PAS holds that a parent can belittle or bad-mouth the other parent to the point that their child becomes hostile and no longer wants to spend time with them. But PAS is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and the American Psychological Association has “no official position” on whether the syndrome is real, citing a lack of evidence that supports its existence.
Critics worry that claims of PAS could be used to strip custody from mothers or even be used in court to deflect attention from abusive parents. Evidence from the United States also suggests that PAS has been disproportionately used against women: According to a 2017 examination of 238 U.S. court cases involving alienation claims, fathers not only made the vast majority of alienation claims but also won their cases at a much higher rate than women making claims against men.
“Fathers who alleged alienation were more than twice as likely to receive a custody outcome in their favor as mothers who alleged alienation,” read the paper, which was published in Law & Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice, a law journal at the University of Minnesota Law School."
Anna Momigliano

“If a child says ‘I do not want to see my father, I am worried’, they will immediately analyse the mother for alienation syndrome and if the judge thinks they have been manipulated [the children] go to another family,” Ms Pirrone said.
All over the world, it has been proved it is a constructed syndrome – lots of psychologists say it is not scientific and now it is set to be in law.
It creates this prejudice against the mother and it is clear it will disregard domestic violence because the judges are forced to follow certain procedures and rules as this law is very strict. It means judges can’t do their job properly. They recognise that after 30 years domestic violence is being viewed as a serious issue and they are trying to push it back into the silence with a very threatening law.
This law is not even trying to hide its intent. It is against women. He has a very clear ideology and this is a very ideological law. It is punishing the woman and it is pushing them back into a very dependent situation where they are not able to take autonomous decisions or get away from a bad situation.”
Maya Oppenheim

Mina on YouTube:

::: Parole, Parole: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Io vivrò senza te (1972): WATCH/LISTEN
::: C'è più samba: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Non credere (1969): WATCH/LISTEN
::: Un bacio è troppo poco: WATCH/LISTEN
::: L'ultima occasione: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Conversazione: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Se c'è una cosa che mi fa impazzire: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Sono come tu mi vuoi: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Se telefonando: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Mai così: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Città vuota: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Fly me to the moon: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Mi sei scoppiato dentro al cuore: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Non credere (1970): WATCH/LISTEN
::: L'immensità: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Something: LISTEN
::: Un colpo al cuore (1970): WATCH/LISTEN and (1968): WATCH/LISTEN
::: La banda: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Non illuderti: WATCH/LISTEN

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photographs via and via and via

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Raffaella Carrà. A Tribute to One of the Greatest Superstars.

Raffaella Maria Pelloni, known as Raffaella Carrà, is an Italian dancer, singer, actress, and TV presenter. She is very famous in Italy and Spain, and popular in many South American countries (via).

Raffaella Carrà has been regarded as a so-called gay icon for decades. In 1970, she started receiving letters from young men writing her that they were devastated because of their families lacking understanding and tolerance, that they were even considering committing suicide. At that time, Carrà did not yet understand their situation until someone explained it to her. Carrà turned into an outspoken ally and has been one ever since (via). She says that she does not know what exactly turned her into a gay icon (via) but that does not keep her from supporting equality.

More Rafaella Carrà on YouTube:

::: Rumore (smashing version): WATCH/LISTEN, (Chile, 1979): WATCH/LISTEN
::: Ma che sera (1974): WATCH/LISTEN
::: Scordalo ragazzo mio (1974): WATCH/LISTEN
::: Male (1976): WATCH/LISTEN
::: A far l'amore comincia tu: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Chissà chi sei (1971): WATCH/LISTEN
::: Radio City Boogie (1974): WATCH/LISTEN
::: Superman (1974): WATCH/LISTEN
::: Tuca Tuca (1971): WATCH/LISTEN
::: Susy Wong (1974): WATCH/LISTEN
::: Mesmerisingly beautiful choreography with Carrà afterwards (1971): WATCH/LISTEN
::: Felicità: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Punto e basta Show, various songs (1975): WATCH/LISTEN
::: Oggi io sono felice: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Maga Maghella (1971): WATCH/LISTEN

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photographs taken in 1971 via and via

Friday, 8 March 2019

"the time seems to have come for happy changes in conditions of women"

“Women’s problems have now for the first time in history to be studied internationally as such and to be given the social importance they ought to have. And it would be, in the opinion of this Sub-Commission of experts in this field, a tragedy to spoil this unique opportunity by confusing the wish and the facts. Some situations can be changed by laws, education, and public opinion, and the time seems to have come for happy changes in conditions of women all over the world (…).”
Bodil Begtrup (1946)

Begrop was the first Chairperson of the Sub-Commission dedicated to the Status of Women (which became the Commission on the Status of Women), established under the Commission on Human Rights.

Happy International Women's Day (with happy changes)!

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photograph via

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

"If you have too much education, your mind's stimulated too much."

"Toni, why don't you think that education's a good thing for married women?"
"Well, I think too much higher education makes them very unhappy and very frustrated."
"Oh, why unhappy?"
"Well, there they are at home, cooking meals, running a house."
"Oh, but still you get a certain amount of satisfaction out of that.(...)"
"You should be contented to stay home. If you have too much education, your mind's stimulated too much, you're not happy to stay home all time."

"I really enjoyed it (education)."
"But what about the average woman who has been to university? She marries, and has children, and she stays home, or she should stay home. She'd be happier if she stayed home probably."
"Well, supposing you start having babies when you're 20 and you're free by the time you're 45?"
"Well, then you can do a university course then."
"Oh, you wouldn't be bothered when you were that age!"
"Well, then doesn't that just show how useless it is?"

- photograph via, description (via BackintheUSA on g+) "New Rochelle, NY, 1955 A nice domestic scene with his wife and kids. Erwitt's son Misha interviewed him about this photo: Misha: You took a photograph in 1955 of our mother cooking dinner, her back to the camera. She has Ellen, who’s crying, in one arm and she’s reaching into the oven with the other. I 'm sitting behind them in a high chair and there’s another kid standing, watching."
- text from the clip "Is education a waste of time for married women?", ABC News, 1961

Monday, 4 March 2019

Doing Gender, Doing Age

"(...) age becomes the property of older people, as something inherent in only a part of the population, just as gender was something that only women had and race was of concern only to blacks."
Laz (1998:95)

"Gender and age do not consist simply of roles 'located in a particular site or organizational context. In practice, they often serve as 'master statuses' (Hughes, 1945), cutting across a variety of social situations,' (...)."
Laz (1998:95)

"In short, I imagine a sociology of age, roughly analogous to the sociology of gender, in which we theorize and study empirically how age as a concept and institution is created, maintained, challenged, and transformed; how assumptions and beliefs about age in general and about particular age categories inform and are reinforced by social statuses, norms, roles, institutions, and social structures; and how age patterns individual lives and experiences eves and individuals accomplish age."
Laz (1998:90)

"A parallel with gender study is instructive. West and Zimmerman show that designation of sex and gender in everyday interaction involves more than the simple determination of anatomical "fact". Most people assume genitals are the crucial feature differentiating females from males; yet, in everyday interaction we almost never observe genitals before making attributions of sex. Instead, we rely on "identificatory" displays or appearance (posture, gesture, clothing) that are usually, but not always, consistent with genitals (...).
We can similarly distinguish between chronological age and age category. Chronological age, like sex, is treated as if it were an objective fact, and this is true even when we appreciate its historical specificity."
Laz (1998:92f)

"In 'Doing Gender', Candace West and Don Zimmerman argue that gender is an accomplishment: an emergent feature of social situations that is both an outcome of and a rationale for the most fundamental division of society (...). Rather than viewing gender as a role, identity, or individual attribute, gender is a feature of social situations. It is embedded in and constituted by everyday interaction. We do gender in the actual or virtual presence of others, even when it seems irrelevant or unrelated to interaction. Casual conversation (Henley and Freeman, 1989), making dinner (Devault, 1991), working as an engineer (McIlwee and Robinson, 1992) or a flight attendant (Hochschild, 1983) are occasions for doing gender at the same time that they are conversations, meals, and work.
(...) In West and Zimmerman's view, when individuals do gender 'right' (i.e., in accordance with dominant beliefs about women and men, masculinity and femininity), gender becomes invisible."
Laz (1998:98f)

"Although age often feels like something we simply are, it feels this way because we enact age in all interactions. Since we usually act our age in predictable ways - predictable given the particular context - we make age invisible. We make age seem natural."
Laz (1998:100)

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- Laz, C. (1998). Act your Age. Sociological Forum, 13(1), 85-113, link
- photograph by Bill Silano (1968) via

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Look under your feet

"We know the force of gravity, but not its origins; and to explain why we become attached to our birthplaces we pretend that we are trees and speak of roots. Look under your feet. You will not find gnarled growths sprouting through the soles. Roots, I sometimes think, are a conservative myth, designed to keep us in our places."
Salman Rushdie

photograph by Elliott Erwitt via

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Pope Francis: Fundamentalism, Ideological Extremism - a Disease of All Religions

"Fundamentalism is always a tragedy. It is not religious, it lacks God, it is idolatrous."
Pope Francis

"All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject."
Pope Francis

"Together, we must say no to hatred, to revenge and to violence, particularly that violence which is perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself. We Catholics, we have a few, even many fundamentalists. They believe they know absolute truth and corrupt others. I can say this because this is my Church."
Pope Francis

"God cannot be used for personal interests and selfish ends; he cannot be used to justify any form of fundamentalism, imperialism or colonialism."
Pope Francis

"It is essential that all citizens – Muslim, Jewish and Christian – both in the provision and practice of the law, enjoy the same rights and respect the same duties,” Francis said. “Freedom of religion and freedom of expression, when truly guaranteed to each person, will help friendship to flourish and thus become an eloquent sign of peace."
Pope Francis

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photograph of Papa Francesco via

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

"every ounce of my energy has been devoted to an active opposition to cruel bigotry" Bertrand Russell

Sir Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell of Kingston Russell, Viscount Amberley of Amberley and of Ardsalla (1872-1970) was a British philosopher, logician, social reformer, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and campaigner for peace (via). In 1962, aged 89, Russell received a letter from Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley of Ancoats, 6th Baronet (1896-1980), a British politician who became the leader of the British Union of Fascists, a party that was banned in 1940, the year Mosley was imprisoned (via). In this letter, Mosley tried to persuade Russell to discuss the merits of fascism. Russell replied with the following words:

Dear Sir Oswald,
Thank you for your letter and for your enclosures. I have given some thought to our recent correspondence. It is always difficult to decide on how to respond to people whose ethos is so alien and, in fact, repellent to one’s own. It is not that I take exception to the general points made by you but that every ounce of my energy has been devoted to an active opposition to cruel bigotry, compulsive violence, and the sadistic persecution which has characterised the philosophy and practice of fascism.
I feel obliged to say that the emotional universes we inhabit are so distinct, and in deepest ways opposed, that nothing fruitful or sincere could ever emerge from association between us.
I should like you to understand the intensity of this conviction on my part. It is not out of any attempt to be rude that I say this but because of all that I value in human experience and human achievement.
Yours sincerely,
Bertrand Russell

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photograph of Bertrand Russell by Alfred Eisenstaedt (1951) via

Friday, 22 February 2019

Attitudes to Transgender Individuals in Hungary and Poland: Mental Illness, Sin, Unacceptable

In 2016, Ipsos and BuzzFeed developed questions for online surveys together with the Williams Institute. The aim was to understand the attitudes to transgender persons in different countries. In general, a majority of those surveyed believe that transgender individuals are a natural occurence (52%). There are, however, big differences between countries with Eastern European ones seeming to have the most difficulty in understanding the concept of transgender.

In Hungary, 43% believe that being transgender is a form of mental illness, in Serbia it is 43%, in Poland 41% (compared to 9% in Spain, 11% in Italy, 13% in France and Argentina). Among western countries, the U.S. is the most likely one to believe transgender individuals have a mental illness (32%), that they are committing a sin (32%), and that society has gone too far in accepting people who dress and live as one sex while having been born another (36%). There is a majority (60%) stating that they would like their country to support and protect transgender people more actively (70% in Spain, 67% in Argentina). Hungary is the least likely to agree (41%), followed by Poland (39%). 70% of people around the world say that their government should protect transgender people from discrimination. Argentina is the most likely to agree (84%), Poland the least like to agree (51%).
As the survey was carried out online, there are limitations to the generalisation of the results (composition of the sample). They are, nevertheless, interesting as the self-selection of participants took place in all countries. The results show the cultural impact on the attitude people have to transgender men and women. More: Global Attitudes Towards Transgender People

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photograph taken in Chicago in 1975 by the great Vivian Maier via

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Pluralistic Ignorance

Pluralistic ignorance is the discrepancy between one's private beliefs and one's public behaviour in certain situations. In other words, people have a certain attitude to something and act contrary to it because they go along with the mistakenly presumed opinion of the peer group. The term was coined by Katz and Allport in 1931 when studying white students' attitudes to the admission of black students to fraternities and dormitories (Bjerring et al., 2014). Seven social comparison errors play a major role: false consensus, exclusivity bias, group polarisation, vocal minority, third-person effect, spiral of silence, and social identity (Mendes et al., 2017).

"Katz and Allport (1931) reported on findings from an extensive study of students, which showed that while each individual student did not have any objection to minorities being admitted to fraternities and dormitories, each student also seemingly believed that other students might object to such admissions (O’Gorman, 1986; Halbesleben and Buckley, 2004)."
Bjerring, Hansen & Pedersen (2014)

"The particular example reported by Katz and Allport was their finding that while a majority of Syracuse fraternity members favored the inclusion of racial minorities in fraternities, at the same time they felt that this represented a minority position among fraternity members. Several other studies have found instances where liberal attitudes on racial integration, e.g., inter-racial adoption (Fricke, 1965) and residential desegregation (Lenihan, 1965), were held by a majority of respondents who presumed that the attitude was a minority one."
Korte (1972:576)

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- Bjerring, J. C., Hansen, J. U. & Pedersen, N. J. L. L. (2014). On the rationality of pluaralistic ignorance. Synthese, 191(11)link
- Korte, C. (1972). Pluralistic Ignorance About Student Radicalism. Sociometry, 35(4), 576-587.
- Mendes, A., Lopez-Valeiras, E. & Lunkes, R. J. (2017). Pluralistic ignorance: Conceptual framework, antecedents and consequences. Intangible Capital, 13(4), link
- photograph (Brest, 1972) by Luigi Ghirri (1943-1992) via

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

The Green-Feminine Stereotype: Eco-Friendly and Unmanly

In general, women litter less and recycle more than men, partly because green actions seem to be seen as "unmanly". In other words, the desire to feel macho is stronger than the desire to care about the environment.

More than 2.000 US-American and Chinese participants took place at research studies on the link between eco-friendly behaviour and gender stereotypes.

Both male and female participants showed a clear tendency to describe male and female individuals who bring reusable canvas bags to supermarkets as more feminine than those using plastic bags. They also perceived themselves to be more feminine when recalling a time when they acted in an eco-friendly manner.

In one of the experiments, the research group threatened the male participants' masculinity by showing them a pink gift card with floral design (versus a neutral gift card in the control group). Those shown the "threatening" gift card showed a significantly higher tendency to choose a non-green rather than green version of several items afterwards. The authors' interpretation is that "men try to reassert their masculinity through non-environmentally friendly choices", the conclusion that "one could harm the environment merely by making men feel feminine" and that the green-feminine stereotype inhibits men from taking environmentally friendly actions. They suggest that products be marketed as more "men"-vironmentally-friendly with "masculine" fonts (whatever they are), "masculine" colours, "masculine" words and images in the branding since men seem to be quite sensitive about their gender identity (via).

The results are surely interesting. Future studies could control for machismo and differentiate between men and men. If in a first step accepting responsibility for our planet needs to be sold as something that does not decrease masculinity by applying obvious gender marketing strategies, so be it. In the long run, hopefully, the need to act responsibly will be internalised and not throw testosterone levels out of balance.

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images via (by H. Armstrong Roberts) and via (1964, The Super Giant supermarket in Rockville, Maryland. Color transparency by John Dominis, Life magazine photo archive) and via (by Hank Walker) and via (by 14thCenturyHood)

Monday, 18 February 2019

Take the Pledge

Before buying your wife a new cross-flow Cortina, make her repeat after you: I WILL see the housework's done before dashing off to show the girls my new Cortina's chic interior colour scheme. I WILL spend more time behind the wheel of my sewing machine than the padded wheel of my Cortina and running through my smooth automatic transmission. I WILL put up with washday blues before scenic views. I WON'T get parking tickets simply to draw attention to my new Cortina.

image (1969) via

Monday, 11 February 2019

She Is Called Alice. Not Henry.

"Alice" is the machine on the right - an artificial voice that simulates the sound pressure of a human voice talking into a telephone.
The more than 7.000.000 phones Western Electric makes for the Bell System each year, at our Indianapolis and Shreveport plants, must respond perfectly to every sound she makes before they pass inspection.

Alice is just one of many testing devices Western Electric uses to make sure every piece of telephone equipment we make for the Bell System communications network functions the way it's supposed to.
Because that network is so reliable, you can call almost anywhere, and reach the one number you want out of millions in seconds.
If you're wondering why we named her "Alice" instead of "Sam" or "Henry" - can you image giving a man's name to a machine that always has the last word?

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image via

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Quoting Oscar Niemeyer

"I think of myself as no more than 60.
What I could do at 60, I can still do now."
Oscar Niemeyer in 2007,
four months before turning 100

photograph of Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho (1907-2012) via

Monday, 4 February 2019

Trophy Hunting in the Arctic and the Polar Understanding of Man

"Men weren't really the enemy - they were fellow victims suffering from an outmoded masculine mystique that made them feel unnecessarily inadequate when there were no bears to kill."
Betty Friedan (1921-2006)

"Few women were involved in trophy hunting, regardless of geography. Both the absence and presence of women can obviously be of importance in the development of a particular practice. Because trophy hunting tourism is primarily a male tourist practice, an understanding from a gender perspective is unavoidable."
Lena Aarekol

Trophy hunting does not aim at obtaining food or any other profit such as securing income. Around 1830, "British sporting gentlemen" introduced trophy hunting to Scandinavia. At the time, they already used to practice it in their African and Asian colonies. Hunters from Germany, Austria and America also went further north. Arctic trophy hunting became popular in the period of Arctic Ocean imperialism, during the time expeditions were set to conquer the poles. "Concomitant with these approaches to the Arctic, what we might call a polar masculine understanding of man and nature evolved", emphasising qualities such as physical strength, restless energy, roughness and a strong will.
Because of the overall modernization in the western world, including urbanization, migration and women’s emancipation, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this area was still considered a place where western males could exercise masculinity, challenge nature and be “men of the frontiers” (Bloom 1993, 32–33; Felski 1995, 20; Gordon 2006, 10; Karlsen 2011, 44–48). This implies that the Arctic trophy hunters did not enter an empty space, but an already masculinized arena in which trappers, explorers and adventurers had set the terms. Merely by travelling to the Arctic, the trophy hunters performed masculinity (Hansson 2009: 70).
Aarekol (n.d.:3)
Polar bears and walruses were the most attractive targets when "hunting for trophies and potency".

- Aarekol, L. (n.d.). Arctic Trophy Hunters, Tourism and Masculinities, 1827-1914, The Arctic University of Norway, link
- photographs of Elizabeth Montgomery (1933-1995) via and via and via

Saturday, 2 February 2019

How to warm a calculating woman's heart

How to warm a calculating woman's heart: give her Monroe's fast-printing calculator with 15 digit capacity.

image via

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Age Identity: The Ageless Self and The Mask of Ageing

"While we generally consider old age and ageing as natural human experiences for those who live long enough, the category ‘old’ is infused with negative connotations and demeaning stereotypes in contemporary American society, where youth is glorified and valorised. Within this context, the process for older people to define their identities as ‘old’, a category that is arguably stigmatised and negatively valued, may result in their attempts to dissociate themselves from or exaggerate their evaluation of the distinguishing dimensions of the old category (Howard 2000)."
Rozario & Derienzis, 2009

Age identity can be seen as a social identity (vs. personal identity), i.e., it is constructed within a system of social interactions based on the membership in a social group where meanings about the self are developed.
Though chronological age appears to be an objective bureaucratic measure of the length of one's life, the relationship between chronological age and one's age identity is far from direct (Logan Ward and Spitze 1992), i.e. a person in her eighties does not necessarily think of herself as an old(er) person. Indeed, scholars have argued that many older people do not consider oldness pivotal to their self‐identity (Gilleard and Higgs 2000, Matthews 1999).
Hence, some researchers suggest the notion of "ageless self" which focuses on the continuity of an identity stating that later life is not really different since older adults see themselves as "the continuation of the younger identities". Others propose the "mask of ageing", which "embodies the lack of fit between the inner and outer experiences of the older person" and states that older adults are "youth trapped in an ageing body" (Rozario & Derienzis, 2009).
Late‐life identity remains a contested topic because many older adults claim a disjuncture between their internal experiences and their external appearances. Reasons for this disjunction might lie in our ambivalence and internalised ageist attitudes towards the category ‘old’.

- Rozario, P. A. & Derienzis, D. (2009). 'So forget how old I am!' Examining age identities in the face of chronic conditions. Sociology of Health & Illness, 31(4), 540-553, link
- photographs by the amazing Vivian Maier via and via

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Pygmalion in the Classroom

In 1965, Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson conducted an experiment in an elementary school to study the impact teacher expectation has on student performance. The researchers told teachers that certain children were "growth spurters" based on their results on the Harvard Test of Inflected Acquisition.
But. The test did not exist. The children, in fact, had been chosen at random. They did, however, nevertheless show greater intellectual growth than the control-group children after one year (12 IQ points versus 8 IQ points). Why?

Expectations serve as self-fulfilling prophecies. Teachers expecting greater intellectual development communicate these expectations with reactions, words, looks, postures, gestures; they encourage their students. Particularly younger children, i.e. first and second graders, show effects of teacher expectations (Rosenthal & Jacobson, 1965). Seen from a different angle, this means that certain students are not encouraged and do not perform well due to the low expectations. This is particularly of interest when discussing the performance of children and their ethnicity, religion, gender, and socio-economic background.

-  Rosenthal, R. & Jacobson, L. (1965). Pygmalion in the Classroom. The Urban Review, 16-20, link
- photographs taken at Broadview Public School in 1959/60 via

Sunday, 27 January 2019

I Always Knew, by Magdalena Klein

I always knew how much I loved you,
That I could never leave you behind.
My body may be a worthless worm,
But my soul from yours will never be torn.

Years were passing and the horrible curse came true.
They locked us millions in cattle cars,
And even to you, so faithful to the Almighty,
The murderers denied immunity.

I couldn’t do for you a thing.
Watching you my eyes were weeping.
I wanted to follow you everywhere – even
At the price of my life, I thought then.

But on a horrible night, as our train
Slowed down and stopped in the open plain,
They stole you from me, my only treasure.
And yet, I could continue on further.

When the snow fell, I worried about you only,
You were by my side at every step.
When I got tired, you led me ahead,
You stroked me, you held my hand.

This is how I survived the dreadfully big struggle
And I returned to the old abode.
Since then I always search to find you, to reunite,
I expect you morning, noon, and night.

I always knew how much I loved you.
My soul has never left you, followed you even then.
And down here, lifelessly, I play a farce – I mime,
This world is no longer mine.
Magdalena Klein

Magdalena Klein (1920-1946) survived the death camp but died very soon afterwards in summer 1946 (via). Klein's last poems were filled with survivors guilt. This one was dedicated to her mother (via).
She left her testimony in form of poetry. Her beautifully handwritten poems were kept meticulously in a notebook, which she entrusted just before being deported to a Gentile friend for safekeeping. Mr. Szabados returned the notebook to her after the war.
 Magda was born in Marghita, Romania, into a middle-class family, as the youngest of eight children. In 1938, she moved with her parents to Oradea and hardly started to enjoy life in a larger city when the anti-Jewish laws were introduced one by one. (via)
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photograph of Holocaust survivor (Theresienstadt and Auschwitz) Nina Klein (born in 1932) with the number 71978 by Beat Mumenthaler via

Thursday, 24 January 2019

The -ism Series (31): The Two Components of -isms & Their Common Elements

"Every ism has two components. Something we value and something we do not. The subject of the isms can be negative or positive.

For example, ageism reflects the negative labelling and treatment of the elderly.We could equally call ageism youthism, which values the abilities of youth. Racism carries a double meaning: a value of one race over another and the discrimination against another race. Sexism describes (usually) the valuing of the male sex and the discrimination (usually) against the female sex. Ableism values certain abilities, which leads to disableism the discrimination against the ‘less able’."
Wolbring (2008:252)

"IT IS VIRTUALLY impossible to view one oppression, such as sexism or homophobia, in isolation because they are all connected: sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, ableism, anti-Semitism, ageism. They are linked by a common origin— economic power and control— and by common methods of limiting, controlling and destroying lives. There is no hierarchy of oppressions. Each is terrible and destructive. To eliminate one oppression successfully, a movement has to include work to eliminate them all or else success will always be limited and incomplete.
To understand the connection among the oppressions, we must examine their common elements. The first is a defined norm, a standard of rightness and often righteousness wherein all others are judged in relation to it. This norm must be backed up with institutional power, economic power, and both institutional and individual violence. It is the combination of these three elements that makes complete power and control possible. In the United States, that norm is male, white, heterosexual, Christian, temporarily able-bodied, youthful, and has access to wealth and resources. It is important to remember that an established norm does not necessarily represent a majority in terms of numbers; it represents those who have ability to exert power and control over others."
Pharr (2002:53)

- Pharr, S. (2002). Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism. Berkeley: Chardon Press.
- Wolbring, G. (2008). The Politics of Ableism. Developtment, 51, 252-258.
- photographs by Melvin Sokolsky (Bubble Series for Harper's Bazaar, 1963) via and via and via and via and via and via

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Bette Davis: Reading Too Much, Getting A Divorce

On 7 December 1938, the New York Times reported that the reason for the dissolution of Bette Davis' marriage with Harmon 'Oscar' Nelson was that she read too much (via):

"Harmon O. Nelson obtained an uncontested divorce today from his actress wife, Bette Davis.
Home life with Mrs. Nelson contained little of that close communion between husband and wife, Mr. Nelson's testimony in Superior Court disclosed. He said that he usually just sat while his wife read, "to an unnecessary degree."
"She thought her work was more important than her marriage," Mr. Nelson testified. "She even insisted on reading books or manuscripts when he had guests. It was all very upsetting."
The Nelsons were married in 1932 and separated a month ago."

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photograph of Ruth Elizabeth 'Bette' Davis (1908-1989) via

Monday, 21 January 2019

"...symbolic violence, a gentle violence, imperceptible and invisible even to its victims". Pierre Bourdieu

I would probably not have embarked on such a difficult subject if I had not been compelled to do so by the whole logic of my research. I have always been astonished by what might be called the paradox of doxa -the fact that the order of the world as we find it, with its one-way streets and its no-entry signs, whether literal or figurative, its obligations and its penalties, is broadly respected; that there are not more transgressions and subversions, contraventions and 'follies' (...); or, still more surprisingly, that the established order, with its relations of domination, its rights and prerogatives, privileges and injustices, ultimately perpetuates itself so easily, apart from a few historical accidents, and that the most intolerable conditions of existence can so often be perceived as acceptable and even natural.

And I have also seen masculine domination, and the way it is imposed and suffered, as the prime example of this paradoxical submission, an effect of what I call symbolic violence, a gentle violence, imperceptible and invisible even to its victims exerted for the most part through the purely symbolic channels of communication and cognition (more precisely, misrecognition), recognition, or even feeling. This extraordinarily ordinary social relation thus offers a privileged opportunity to grasp the logic of the domination exerted in the name of a symbolic principle known and recognized both by the dominant and by the dominated -a language (or a pronunciation), a lifestyle (or a way of thinking, speaking and acting) -and, more generally, a distinctive property, whether emblem or stigma, the symbolically most powerful of which is that perfectly arbitrary and non-predictive bodily property, skin colour.

(...) Being included, as man or woman, in the object that we are trying to comprehend, we have embodied the historical structures of the masculine order in the form of unconscious schemes of perception and appreciation. When we try to understand masculine domination we are therefore likely to resort to modes ofthought that are the product of domination.

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- Bourdieu, P. (2001). Masculine Domination. Stanford: Stanford University Press, link
- photographs by Pierre Olivier Deschamps (1991) via and via

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Once upon a time...

"Historically, older people were valued and respected members of society across cultures for their vast knowledge of the culture (...). Scholars have noted a contemporary shift toward a general devaluing of older persons in modern societies, especially in Western cultures."
Levy & Macdonald (2016:18)

- Levy, S. R. & Macdonald, J. L. (2016). Progress on Understanding Ageism. Journal of Social Issues, 72(1), 5-25.
- photograph by Elliott Erwitt (Ireland, 1962) via

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

The Best Men Can Be

"Thirty years ago, we launched our The Best A Man Can Get tagline.
Since then, it has been an aspirational statement, reflecting standards that many men strive to achieve.
But turn on the news today and it’s easy to believe that men are not at their best. Many find themselves at a crossroads, caught between the past and a new era of masculinity. While it is clear that changes are needed, where and how we can start to effect that change is less obvious for many. And when the changes needed seem so monumental, it can feel daunting to begin. So, let’s do it together.

It’s time we acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture. And as a company that encourages men to be their best, we have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man. With that in mind, we have spent the last few months taking a hard look at our past and coming communication and reflecting on the types of men and behaviors we want to celebrate. We’re inviting all men along this journey with us – to strive to be better, to make us better, and to help each other be better.
From today on, we pledge to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man everywhere you see Gillette. In the ads we run, the images we publish to social media, the words we choose, and so much more.
As part of The Best Men Can Be campaign, Gillette is committing to donate $1 million per year for the next three years to non-profit organizations executing programs in the United States designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal “best” and become role models for the next generation.
Our tagline needs to continue to inspire us all to be better every day, and to help create a new standard for boys to admire and for men to achieve… Because the boys of today are the men of tomorrow.
We’ve all got work to do. And it starts today."
"It is no longer enough for brands to simply sell a product, customers are demanding that they have a purpose – that they stand for something. Masculinity is a huge part of Gillette’s brand, and there is a recognition in this ad that the new generation is reworking that concept of masculinity, and it is no longer the cliche is once was." Mark Borkowski
In its latest advertising campaign, Gillette replaced the tagline "The best men can get" with "The best men can be". The new narrative about a different type of masculinity went viral, the company was bombarded with praise, abuse and calls for boycott (via).

Monday, 14 January 2019

Quoting Miriam Margolyes

"Anti-Semitism is a rotten thing. It's an ignorant, stupid, horrible thing. As is anti-Muslim feeling. They have to be together."
Miriam Margolyes

"The curious thing is that I embraced homosexuality with as much joy and delight as I've embraced everything else in my life."
Miriam Margolyes

"People who were gay were pitied and ridiculed by my parents - they had no modern sense of people being allowed to be who they were."
Miriam Margolyes

"Although my parents both liked her, they just didn't approve of a same-sex relationship. Nowadays, people say that you must let children be what they are, but when I was growing up, the parents defined the child - and my parents had a definite vision of how they wanted me to be."
Miriam Margolyes

"Everything's harder for women: harder to start, to stay employed, to run a life with a family."
Miriam Margolyes

"I think Britain is a bit class-ridden. People tend to be judged by how rounded their vowels are."
Miriam Margolyes

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photograph via

Thursday, 10 January 2019

The British Art of Queuing, Culture and Egalitarianism

"People usually choose to queue because it is fair. In fact, queues are places where people are obsessed with fairness, and where cutting in line is seen as a terrible crime that can lead to all sorts of scuffles, fights and frictions. (...) While the need to queue depends largely on the activity, a person’s willingness to queue occurs in varying degrees around the world. Britons, in particular, are renowned for their orderly and regimented approach to queuing. (...) The stereotype of the Anglophone countries is that queuing is something they specialise in. The more charitable view is that there is a strong tradition of egalitarianism in many of these places – and the queue is a form of equality, where if you seek a service first, you are served first, regardless of your social position."
Nick Haslam

“The British have a well-established culture of queuing and a very specific type of queue conduct, one that has been known to confuse many a foreign visitor. In a time when Britain is changing rapidly, and the ways in which we queue are shifting, the psychology behind British queuing is more important than ever – it a one of the keys to unlocking British culture.”Adrian Furnham
The least accepted "no-no", according to a survey conducted by Privilege Home Insurance, is queue skipping since it goes against the principle of "first come, first served", against the British social system of linear queueing and as it sparks a sense of injustice. Other "no-nos" are starting a conversation while queueing and accepting an offer to go ahead of someone in the queue. "In British queueing culture, not only will acceptance be perceived as impoliteness, it will also lose the individual the respect of the remaining queuers" (via).
"When humans encounter a queuing situation outside our personal and cultural expectations, we become dumb and anxious." (via)

photographs by Nina Leen (1958) via and via