Friday 27 February 2015

Ignoring Ageism, Living Longer

Self-stereotypes of ageing, elderly people's beliefs about old people as a category, can have a physiological outcome that is not to be neglected. What is so distinctive about age stereotypes is that they are acquired several decades before the individual is old. In other words, they are learned before "age group self-identities" are developed, i.e., when the individual is still young. By the time the individual is "not so young", the stereotypes have been internalised.
"There is, then, a greater likelihood that younger individuals will accept negative stereotypes about aging as true and that this will continue to occur when the individuals become older and the stereotypes become self-stereotypes. This acceptance diminishes the prospect for defending self-perceptions against negative age stereotypes."

Encountering age stereotypes in younger years makes age stereotypes more acceptable at a later stage; their validity is hardly questioned. Since age stereotypes are rather diffuse, they are said to be more difficult to tackle than stereotypes of other stigmatised groups.

According to various research studies, priming negative age stereotypes has a clear effect on both cognitive and physical abilities (no matter if participants are aware of the primes or if they are subliminal). After negative age stereotype primes, older people show, for instance, heightened cardiovascular response and deteriorated handwriting.

In their study, Levy et al. investigated the link between self-perception of ageing and longevity (sample of 660 individuals aged at least 50). According to their results, those with a more positive self-perception of ageing lived 7.5 years longer than those with a negative self-perception of ageing (even when controlling for age, gender, socioeconomic status, loneliness, and functional health). 7.5 years is a considerable life span. Ageism is a serious problem and fighting it seems to contribute to life expectancy more than low systolic blood pressure or cholesterol which are associated with a life span of not more than four years (Levy et al., 2002).

Maja Daniels' project "Monette & Mady": "Through my interest in documenting the contemporary western world, I started considering the general lack of visual representations of issues related to older generations. As I found myself in this process, I met Mady and Monette."

"Monette and Mady are identical twins. They have lived their whole life closely together and are, as they say, inseparable. I first saw them on the streets of Paris and I was instantly fascinated by their identical outfits and synchronized corporal language. Quirky and beautiful, they stood out from any crowd. As I couldn’t quite believe my eyes, I remember thinking that they might not be real.
When I approached them I was not surprised to discover that they often finish each other’s sentences and that they refer to themselves as « I » instead of « we »."

"Mady and Monette are indifferent to the many stereotypes that are related to aging. They have in fact long stopped celebrating their birthdays and they defy any preconceived notions related to growing old."

"This series is an intimate journal of their togetherness and as an alternative take on the complex issues that accompanies the notion of “aging” today, I aim to pursue this series over the years as Mady and Monette grow older."

Maja Daniels, photographer

- Levy, B. R., Slade, M. D., Kunkel, S. R. & Kasl, S. V. (2002) Longevity Increased by Positive Self-Perceptions of Aging. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(2), 261-270
- photographs by Maja Daniels via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Narrative images: Taking a stroll in Salisbury in 1964

Don Sturkey used to work as a photographer for The Charlotte Observer for about forty years. When he joined the newspaper in 1955, Charlotte was segregated. Restaurants started integrating in 1963, schools in the 1970s (via).
"The old saying, ‘A picture’s worth a thousand words,’ it’s not true. Sometimes, a picture’s worth a million words. You can actually see the emotions and see the tragedy and see the violence.” Don Sturkey
Below: "Two young black men pass Ku Klux Klan marchers in downtown Salisbury, August 1964. The Klan was active in North Carolina, and Sturkey covered many of their demonstrations." (via)

"Sturkey prided himself on capturing the emotion of the moment."
Bob Anthony, curator

Below: A family walking through the centre of Salisbury following a Ku Klux Klan rally. This photograph was taken by Don Sturkey in 1964, too.

photos by Don Sturkey (1964) via and via

Tuesday 24 February 2015

260 Years

''You can always ask that question: 'Why now? Why not 10 years ago?' The R&A have been considering this. It's been on our agenda, on our radar, for quite some time, The feeling is as society changes, as sport changes, as golf changes, it's something the R&A needs to do, and is doing now as being forward-looking as we can.'' 

Peter Dawson, Secretary of The Royal Ancient Golf Club

"I am very pleased indeed to announce that the membership of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews has voted overwhelmingly in favour of welcoming women members.
More than three quarters of the club’s global membership took part in the ballot, with a decisive 85% voting for women to become members.
This vote has immediate effect and I can confirm that The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is now a mixed membership club.
The membership has also acted to fast-track a significant initial number of women to become members in the coming months.
This is a very important and positive day in the history of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. The R&A has served the sport of golf well for 260 years and I am confident that the club will continue to do so in future with the support of all its members, both women and men."

Peter Dawson

The R&A, founded in 1754, had a policy that barred women from joining for 260 years. Last September, its members voted in favour of women joining the club. Helen Grant, British sports minister: ''This is welcome news from the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, and I urge its members to follow their committees' recommendations and vote 'yes' for women members. It would mark a step in the right direction for the sport and I would hope encourage the remaining golf clubs that still have anachronistic single-sex member policies to follow suit.'' (via)

"It would be much better if she and her ilk stayed at home, got themselves prettied up and waited for the phone to ring."
Joe Williams, sportswriter for New York World-Telegram, 1948

Mildred Ella "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias (1911-1956), the "World's Greatest Woman Athlete" started by playing basketball where she gained world fame, was an expert diver, roller-skater, and bowler, entered three events in the Olympics in 1932 and won all of them (Javelin Throw, 80 Meter Hurdles, High Jump) and set four world records in a single afternoon. In fact, her "performances were enough to win the team championship, despite her being the sole member of the team". She started playing golf as a latecomer, won 82 golf tournaments and became the United States' first female golf celebrity. In 1948, she became the first woman trying to qualify for the U.S. Open. Her application, however, was rejected by the United States Golf Association since the event was "intended to be open to men only".
Didrikson Zaharias certainly did not fit "the traditional ideals of femininity" (via and via). Women's sports and female athletes developing "mannish bodies" represented the opposite to femininity. Sports, in general, was unladylike behaviour. Nevertheless, Didrikson Zaharias became a phenomenon, "a sports hero in a century when sports heroes were nearly always male" (Cayleff, 1996).

- Cayleff, S. (1996) Babe. the Life and Legend of Babe Didrikson Zaharias. University of Illinois Press
- photographs ob Babe Didrikson Zaharias via and via and via and via

Monday 23 February 2015

Epilepsy Misunderstood

In the 21st century, ancient myths about people with epilepsy are still believed. Most of the people affected are "normally intelligent" and can - or could - be integrated into the workplace easily. In addition, it is a neurological disorder that in many cases can be treated. Nevertheless, people with epilepsy are likely to be discriminated against. According to an Austrian survey among 2000 persons, 80.4% of Austrians are in favour of integrating children with epilepsy in school; in the Western neighbouring countries it is 90%. Only 47.8% would not mind their child marrying a person with epilepsy.

Comparing Austria with Switzerland is rather interesting ... and saddening. While in Switzerland about 4% believe that epilepsy is "a mental illness", in Austria the percentage rises to 10%. In Switzerland, only 2% of parents are concerned about their children playing with children who suffer from epilepsy; in Austria 11%.  In Switzerland, 5% of parents are strictly against their children marrying a person with epilepsy; in Austria 14%. A great many people still label the neurological disorder as "a mental illness". Particularly very young and elderly people have this perception. Among those over 70 years, one in five believe it to be a mental illness.
According to international studies, 0.5 to 0.8% of the population is affected by the neurological disorder. Translating percentages into figures means that in Austria between 35.000 and 70.000 persons are affected (via).
And Richard Burton? On Wikipedia, it can be read that he had "alcohol withdrawal seizures" which resembled epileptic seizures (via). According to other sources, he was said to equate epilepsy with madness and to have "cured" epilepsy with drink. However, since he did not really trust doctors and avoided them, there is no official diagnosis (via).

photographs of Richard Burton (1925-1984) and Ava Gardner (1922-1990) via and via

Friday 20 February 2015

World Day of Social Justice & NYC Underground

"Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability." 
United Nations

"In this crucial year for global development, as Member States work to craft a post-2015 agenda and a new set of sustainable development goals, let us do our utmost to eradicate all forms of human exploitation. Let us strive to build a world of social justice where all people can live and work in freedom, dignity and equality."

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Message for the 2015 World Day of Social Justice

"The gap between the poorest and the wealthiest around the world is wide and growing. This situation is not only between countries but within them, including many of the most prosperous. (...) Circumstances such as where a person is born, where they live or their gender and ethnicity should never determine their income or their opportunities for quality education, basic healthcare, decent work, adequate shelter, access to drinking water, political participation or living free from threatened, or actual, physical violence."

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Message for the 2014 World Day of Social Justice

The gap between poor and wealthy is illustrated in a very creative way by Brian Foo.
"I was looking for a dataset that would yield a song with some exciting ups and downs, and ideally, would relate to a topic that is relevant and current. When I was looking at a graph of income inequality along the 2 Train, it looked like the perfect song composition with a build-up, climax, and falling action. I thought the subway train would be the perfect vehicle for this type of project because the sonification of data requires the passing of time. So instead of looking at the data all at once on a chart, with a song, you can ride and experience the data as if you were actually taking the train."

For his "Sonification of Income Inequality", Brian Foo chose the 2 Train on the NYC Subway to demonstrate income inequality with sounds. NYC was an appropriate choice as it "has a particularly large problem with income inequality compared to other cities". The 2 Train goes through the three buroughs Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx. The song is the result of 63 samples created by NCY-based musicians. The quantity and dynamics of the song's instrument change and reflect the median household income of the area where the trains stops. The median income was taken from the 2011 US Census Data Release. Foo compressed the 1 hour 45 minutes ride to about four minutes (more/via).

::: Here is Foo's most fascinating sonification: WATCH/LISTEN

photographs of NYC underground by Danny Lyon (New Year's Eve 1966) via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via

Monday 16 February 2015


"I did get one letter from one southern editor who said something about 'I don't mind you having a black character, but please don't show them in school together.' Because I had shown Franklin sitting in front of Peppermint Patty. But I didn't even answer him."
Charles M. Schulz

"I always refer to Franklin as my fourth child."
Harriet Glickman

April 15, 1968
Dear Mr. Schulz,

Since the death of Martin Luther King, I've been asking myself what I can do to help change those conditions in our society which led to the assassination and which contribute to the vast sea of misunderstanding, fear, hate and violence.
As a suburban housewife, the mother of three children and a deeply concerned and active citizen, I am well aware of the very long and tortuous road ahead. (...)
It occurred to me today that the introduction of Negro children into the group of Schulz characters could happen with a minimum of impact. the gentleness of the kids...even Lucy, is a perfect setting. The baseball game, kite-flying...yes, even the Psychiatric Service cum Lemonade Stand would accomodate the idea smoothly.
Sitting alone in California suburbia makes it all seem so easy and logical. I'm sure one doesn't make radical changes in so important an institution without a lot of shock waves from syndicates, clients, etc. You have, however, a stature and reputation which can withstand a great deal.
Lastly; should you consider this suggestion, I hope that the result will be more than one black child...Let them be as adorable as the others...but please...allow them a Lucy!

Harriet Glickman
(full letter: link)

April 27, 1968
Dear Mr Schulz,

I appreciate your taking the time to answer my letter about Negro children in Peanuts.
You present an interesting dilemma. I would like your permission to use your letter to show some Negro friends. Their response as parents may prove useful to you in your thinking on this subject.

Harriet Glickman
(original letter: link)

On 15th of April 1958, suburban school teacher Harriet Glickman and "father of the Peanuts" Charles Monroe Schulz (1922-2000) started exchanging letters expressing their concerns about the world of Peanuts lacking a black character and how to best introduce one. Glickman contacted her black US-American friends for advice, one of the mothers wrote:
"At this time in history, when Negro youths need a feeling of identity; the inclusion of a Negro character even occasionally in your comics would help these young people to feel it is a natural thing for Caucasian and Negro children to engage in dialogue." (via)

Glickman wanted to send more letters but two "had won the cartoonist over". On 1st of July, Schulz wrote Glickman that he had taken "the first step" (via) and asked her to check the paper during the week of 29th of July: "I have drawn an episode which I think will please you." (via). And there he was: Franklin. Franklin made his debut in the comic strip on 31st of July 1968 (via), "without fanfare" and without any comment on his ethnicity. "He and Charlie Brown struck up a friendship just like any two kids who meet on the beach might do." (via). Franklin appeared for three days in a row and became a regular character. In general, response from readers were positive. Objection came mostly from southern US-states; some papers refused to run the series (via). On 12th of November 1969, the United Feature Syndicate sent a letter writing (via):
In today's "Peanuts" comic strip Negro and white children are portrayed together in school.
School integration is a sensitive subject here, particularly at this time when our city and county schools are under court order for massive compulsory race mixing.
We would appreciate it if future "Peanuts" strips did not have this type of content.
Thank you.

"Franklin is thoughtful and can quote the Old Testament as effectively as Linus. In contrast with other characters, Franklin has the fewest anxieties and obsessions."
Charles Schulz

"Franklin’s introduction was part of a five-day sequence featuring Sally tossing away Charlie Brown’s beach ball and Franklin rescuing it. In some ways, this seems an aggressive bit of integration - many American public beaches, while no longer legally segregated, were still de facto segregated at the time. In other ways, the strips suggest what might be seen today as an excess of caution; of the twenty panels of the series, Franklin is in ten panels and Sally is in eight, but never is Franklin in the same panel as the white girl. Franklin would not reappear for another two and a half months, when he came for a visit to Charlie Brown’s neighborhood. He was somewhat lighter skinned here, which seems to be less a matter of trying to make him acceptable to the readers and more a matter of cutting back on shading lines which were overpowering his facial features. Franklin’s job in this series was to react to the oddness of the neighborhood kids, and that was a precursor to what would be his primary role in the strip as a whole. Perhaps due to excessive caution, Franklin was never granted any of the sort of usual quirks that define a Peanuts character, the very sort of mistake that Glickman was warning about when she called for one of the black kids to be “a Lucy.” Schulz may have had more to work with if he had listened to Bishop James P. Shannon, who had marched beside Martin Luther King in Selma; Shannon was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as wondering if the new Peanuts character would be “a believable human being who has some evident personal failing,” versus being “a perfect little black man.” But whatever failings (or problematic lack of failings) Franklin may have had, his appearance drew national media coverage, and made local comics page editors flinch." (literally via)

"Schulz understood the tightrope he had to walk because of earlier offensive portrayals of blacks in the media. So he made a deliberate choice not to give Franklin any of the negative traits that plagued the other Peanuts characters." Well, nobody said that it would be easy. Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune columnist put it this way (via):
"Let's face it: His perfection hampered Franklin's character development… But considering the hyper-sensitivities so many people feel about any matters involving race, I did not blame Schulz for treating Franklin with a light and special touch. Can you imagine Franklin as, say, a fussbudget like Lucy? Or a thumb-sucking, security-blanket hugger like Linus? Or an idle dancer and dreamer like Snoopy? Or a walking dust storm like Pig Pen? Mercy. Self-declared image police would call for a boycott. If Schulz's instincts told him his audience was not ready for a black child with the same complications his other characters endured, he probably was right."

Excerpt from an interview by Michael Barrier (via):

BARRIER: Have there been occasions when United Features has sent back a strip, or said, "We're really worried about this one?"

SCHULZ: Yeah. There were only two occasions. One was a long time ago; Linus's blanket suddenly took on a life [of its own] and began to attack Lucy. Larry Rutman called; this scared him to death. He thought for sure that it would frighten children, that the blanket doing this would frighten the child reader. Which was ridiculous, when you think of the things that they see in other places. I remember I finished up the little series and let it go at that. Later on, when Franklin was introduced into the strip, the little black kid - I could have put him in long before that, but for other reasons, I didn't. I didn't want to intrude upon the work of others, so I held off on that. But I finally put Franklin in, and there was one strip where Charlie Brown and Franklin had been playing on the beach, and Franklin said, "Well, it's been nice being with you, come on over to my house some time." Again, they didn't like that. Another editor protested once when Franklin was sitting in the same row of school desks with Peppermint Patty, and said, "We have enough trouble here in the South without you showing the kids together in school." But I never paid any attention to those things, and I remember telling Larry (comment: Larry Rutman, president of the United Features syndicate) at the time about Franklin—he wanted me to change it, and we talked about it for a long while on the phone, and I finally sighed and said, "Well, Larry, let's put it this way: Either you print it just the way I draw it or I quit. How's that?" So that's the way that ended. But I've never done much with Franklin, because I don't do race things. I'm not an expert on race, I don't know what it's like to grow up as a little black boy, and I don't think you should draw things unless you really understand them, unless you're just out to stir things up or to try to teach people different things. I'm not in this business to instruct; I'm just in it to be funny. Now and then I may instruct a few things, but I'm not out to grind a lot of axes. Let somebody else do it who's an expert on that, not me.

images via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via
PEANUTS © Peanuts Worldwide LLC. All rights reserved.

Friday 13 February 2015

Vienna's hotel with an additional value

"This project is a symbol of tolerance and everything I love about Vienna."
Michael Häupl, Mayor of Vienna

"Who lives here legally should also be able to work here legally. Refugees living here have a stable job and a future."
Michael Landau, President of Caritas Austria

Tomorrow, a new hotel will open in Vienna. And it is not just another hotel but a very special one. Since tourists and refugees often have some things in common, such as language, culture, mobility and open-mindedness, in this hotel, tourists will be welcomed by special employees: tourism experts and refugees (Czaja, 2015) from 16 countries.
The hotel is a five-year-project run by Caritas, a Catholic non-government, not-for-profit organisation that was founded by Lorenz Worthmann in 1897 which is today operating in more than 200 countries (via). Hotel magdas is financed by crowdfunding and the Caritas Social Business Unit. The social business hotel was rebuilt by AllesWirdGut architects. In five years, the building will be demolished and a new one will be constructed for senior citizens in need of care (Czaja, 2015). Hotel magdas is located close to the "Wiener Prater", the oldest amusement park in the world (via).

- Czaja, W. (2015) Wiener Prater: Flüchtlinge und Touristen unter einem Dach. Der Standard, 12. Februar 2015, S. 10
- photograph of Vienna in the 1960s via

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Quoting Luis Buñuel

"Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese."
Luis Bunuel

photograph of Luis Buñuel Portolés (1900-1983) with Catherine Deneuve ("Tristana", 1970) via

Monday 9 February 2015

The -ism Series (19): Tokenism

"Tokenism is defined as an intergroup context in which very few members of a dis-advantaged group are accepted into positions usually reserved for members of the advantaged group, while access is systematically denied for the vast majority of disqualified disadvantaged group members." (Wright & Taylor, 1998)

In her theoretical framework, Rosabeth Moss Kanter distinguishes between a) uniform groups (homogeneous groups in which all members hold the same master statuses, ratio of majority to minority group members is 100:0), b) skewed groups (majority group members far outnumber minority group members, ratio from 99:1 to 85:15), c) tilted groups (less extreme distributions with ratios from 84:16 to 65:35, hence, minority group members can form coalitions and experience less stress) and d) balanced groups (ratios from 64:36 to 50:50).
Skewed groups are characterised by a clear disproportion between majority and minority. In this context, Kanter refers to majority group members as "dominants" and calls minority group members "tokens". As a token, the individual is treated as a representative of the category the individual belongs to, as a typical symbol rather than an individual person. In other words, what one does and how is not attributed to the individual but to the group he or she is considered to be representing. Token woman Mary, for example, is not bad at math because she (the individual) is not good at it but because women (the group) are said not be good at it (see illustration). According to Kanter, tokens experience more stress because they are under performance pressure, are constantly reminded to be "different" and are confronted with stereotyped assumptions on a regular basis (Braboy Jackson et al., 1995).

Kanter's numerical approach certainly explains a great many mechanisms. The reliance on numbers only, however, is criticised for neglecting complexities such as gender status, occupational inappropriateness, and intrusiveness (particularly as Kanter focused on women working in "gender-inappropriate" fields). In fact, token men do not necessarily share the negative experiences of token women (Yoder, 1991) since negative outcomes are primarily associated with low-status groups (e.g. women, ethnic minorities) (Settles et al., 2006).

- Braboy Jackson, P., Thoits, P. A. & Taylor, H. F. (1995) Composition of the Workplace. The Effects of Tokenism on America's Black Elite. Social Forces, 74(2), 543-557
- Settles, I. H. & Buchanan, N. T. (2006) Psychology of Tokenism. In Jackson, Y. K. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Multicultural Psychology, 455-456, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications
- Wright, S. C. & Taylor, D. M. (1998) Responding To Tokenism: individual action in the face of collective injustice. European Journal of Social Psychology, 28, 647-667
- Yoder, J. D. (1991) Rethinking Tokenism: Looking Beyond Numbers. Gender & Society, 5(2), 178-192
- photographs by Bert Stern (1960) of Veruschka Von Lehndorff with Walter Matthau, Art Carney and Mike Nichols, Vogue via and via and by Bert Stern (1961)Veruschka with David Bailey via