Sunday 28 June 2015

Born this day ... Maria Goeppert-Mayer

"Some [schools] even condescended to give her work, though they refused to pay her, and the topics were typically 'feminine', such as figuring out what causes colors … the University of Chicago finally took her seriously enough to make her a professor of physics. Although she got her own office, the department still didn't pay her … When the Swedish academy announced in 1963 that she had won her profession's highest honor, a local San Diego newspaper greeted her big day with the headline 'S.D. Mother Wins Nobel Prize'." (via)

"Do girls only have to learn how to read just to study cook books?"
Maria Goeppert Mayer

"'Don't grow up to be a woman', and what he meant was, a housewife ... without interests ... Did I think it strange for him to say such a thing to me? ... No, I felt flattered and decided I wasn't going to be just a woman."
Maria Goeppert Mayer (cited in Hargittai, 2015)

Maria Goeppert-Mayer was born on 28 June 1906 in the city of Kattowitz (then in Germany, now Katowice in Poland). Her father, who she found more interesting than her mother because "He was after all a scientist", told her "she should not grow up to be a woman, meaning a housewife". And that was exactly what she did not become. Although there was no public high school offering education to girls to make them eligible to enroll at a university, she passed university entrance, studied mathematics and got more and more interested in physics. With her husband, the US-American physicist Joseph Mayer, she moved to the U.S. and continued the family tradition of becoming professors (she was the seventh straight generation of university professors on her father's side) and took up appointments at e.g. Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University (Sachs, 1979). Later, her son mentioned that running a home was "not her forte" and that her husband suggested to hire support (Hargittai, 2015).
"My father's response to my mother's helplessness was, 'As expensive as maids are in the United States, I promise to hire one ... as long as you remain a scientist!'" Peter Mayer (their son)
For her work on the nuclear shell structure, she received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963 (Sachs, 1979) which she shared with Eugene Wigner and Hans Jensen. She was the fourth woman Nobel laureate and the second one in physics (Sachs, 1979). Maria Goeppert-Mayer passed away in San Diego on 20 February 1972.

- Hargittai, M. (2015) Women Scientists. Reflections, Challenges, and Breaking Boundaries. Oxford University Press
- Sachs, R. G. (1979) Maria Geoppert Mayer. 1906-1972. A Biographical Memoir by Robert G. Sachs. National Academy of Sciences Washington D.C.
- photographs via and via and via

Saturday 27 June 2015

Hasta la vista.

Jakub: What's wrong with U Arnie? I have to unlike...
Arnie: Hasta la vista.

Shortly after yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court's decision to guarantee same-sex marriage as a fundamental constitutional right in all U.S. states, facebook launched a tool to let its users show their support by using a rainbow filter (via).
“I’m so happy for all of my friends and everyone in our community who can finally celebrate their love and be recognized as equal couples under the law. We still have much more to do to achieve full equality for everyone in our community, but we are moving in the right direction.”
Mark Zuckerberg
A great many celebrities used the rainbow filter, among them Arnold Schwarzenegger. When one of his followers communicated that he had to "unlike" (Jakub got 293 "likes" for the comment), Arnie's hilarious response was: "Hasta la vista." (a comment with 646 "likes").

Update (28 June '15): After a short while, the scores of Jakub vs. Arnie were 757 : 4.722 for Arnie. By the next morning, the posting had been shared 10.000 times and liked 250.522 times.

image and facebook dialogue via

Friday 26 June 2015

"Mrs. Peel, we're needed."

"It was the first show that put its leading man and leading lady on an equal footing, and showed a woman fighting and kicking and throwing men around. That was a radical departure in its time."
Patrick Macnee

In "The Avengers", John Steed, played by Patrick Macnee (1922-2015), always treated Emma Peel and other female partners as equals. Even the fact that Emma Peel was called a "feminist icon" is tributed to Patrick Macnee's ability of having a powerful woman at his side. When Linda Robinson appeared in season 6 to play Tara King, Emma Peel's succesor, he said:

"[Thorson]’s character loved Steed, but I always thought that was a bad idea. The show was so much better with Steed and his leading lady as sparring equals, without the woman being subservient. But with Linda, it leaned that way."
Patrick Macnee

"We were the first people in popular television to make the woman an equal partner with the man. You won't believe that, but I promise you it's true."
Patrick Macnee

"It was male chauvinism, as you must realize, in the 1960s, particularly in the entertainment business, which was pretty repulsive."
Patrick Macnee

"The thing I'm really proud of is that I never carried a gun. I said that I wouldn't carry one; when they asked me why, I said that I'd just come out of a World War in which I'd seen most of my friends blown to bits. In a way, I was politically correct at that time. It was rather extraordinary - I don't take all the credit for it. But the main credit of that show - which was a comic strip, The Avengers - we started off doing it live but when the women came, it coincided with the rise of women's lib. So women were totally excited to see, in what was after all a comic strip type show, a woman [who] actually does things. You won't believe it now because women run the roost, so to speak. At that time, to see a women like Diana Rigg, with that beautiful auburn hair throwing men over her shoulder, then tossing her hair out of her eyes, smiling and saying 'Where do we go next?' was highly attractive - particularly to young women. And to young men, particularly with the clothes, because they were... err, revealing and interesting. Suddenly a woman was vibrant in a medium in which [that] normally didn't happen."
Patrick Macnee


"If I was Sean Connery, I would have been macho. I always remember Honor Blackman going to the Bond film saying, 'Oh, he wouldn't let me get away with that.' Implying, you always did. I'd grown up with a lot of women. My mother was a famous lesbian in the 20s and 30s and I grew up with only women, so I was used to getting on with them. It just struck me, in fact now, Jerry Weintraub has been telling people that he's going to have the women dominate to Ralph Fiennes, who is one of the best actors in the world. And I think Ralph Fiennes will be wonderful as Steed. I hope he invents it all over again, makes it a new character, you know."
Patrick Macnee

"(...) I disliked the Bond character intensely. I was told in 1960 that if I read the Bond books it might help with my character, this character called Steed. I told them that I found him perfectly repulsive, sadistic and disgusting, and I loathed that title 'Licensed To Kill'. In fact, the Bond that I did I just went in and played this little part, and thank God they built it up and it was very nice and I enjoyed it. But the character of Bond... no, he's the very antithesis of Steed, in fact. He uses women as battering rams, and uses his gun at every conceivable moment. I tried to use my ingenuity and gave the really dangerous work to the women, which I think is the way it should be. Women seem so anxious to go to war. All right, let them go to war then we won't have to."
Patrick Macnee

photographs of Patrick Macnee and Twiggy via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via

Thursday 25 June 2015

"In the modern world all dreams are equal."

"When I kiss the bride it's gonna be both exciting and disgusting."
"And if my husband doesn't like the cake he will buy his own cake."
"My wedding is gonna be so awesome because I'm gonna have a volcano ..."
"Everybody should be allowed to get married because if you love them, and they love you back, and you want to get married with them I think you should get married with them."

Esurance Insurance Services, Inc. is a US-American auto insurance provider. Their slogan is "Insurance for the Modern World" (via) which means to "get an insurance quote for you, not someone sorta like you" (via) and this personalisation again means including same-sex couples. In 2011, Esurance was one of the first car insurance companies to extend married rates to domestic partners, those in civil unions and married gay couples even in states that did not allow same-sex marriages. The clip "Equal Dreams" was filmed at a real wedding in Chicago this June (via).

"Sometimes children can make complex issues so simple. They remind us what it's like to have dreams. Their words, as heard in the video, help us understand why equality is important. Because all children deserve the same right to pursue their dreams."
Brian Shembeda, Creative Director at Leo Burnett Chicago

Wednesday 24 June 2015

"Historical Fiction"

"No matter what age you are and no matter where you were, tragic moments in history such as 9/11, JFK, and Martin Luther King, Jr. impact us. Other moments may influence us in a different way and can have a lasting effect, like first time you travel in an airplane, are inspired by art, see a magic trick, or fall in love. With Historical Fiction, I have tried to create a narrative of history frozen in time, as if each image were part of a book where the first and last 100 pages have been torn out, and the story is for you to decipher. What happened before and what happened after is only up to the imagination of the viewer, and it's that viewer that can envision themselves in many of these moments."
Tyler Shields

In his series "Historic Fiction", Tyler Shields captures moments every generation in the U.S. remembers, e.g. the moment Marilyn Monroe died, Martin Luther King or John F. Kennedy were killed. One image shows "typical" white suburban housewives sitting under hair dryers reading about Marilyn Monroe's death "as shock and horror fills their faces". Another image shows black women sitting under hair dryers reading about Martin Luther King's death looking "more than stunned as tears stream down their faces" (via).

“I’ve always loved the idea of seeing the opposite. Cops who are beating people up or white people who are hanging black people - what would they think if it was the other way around? What would the KKK say if this happened to them? It would potentially be the most famous photo of that entire generation.”
Tyler Shields

“These type of images speaks from the 20s to now. This could literally be yesterday in Baltimore or Georgia in 1965. And there’s just something so powerful about using the American flag as a weapon.”
Tyler Shields

Shields recreated Stanley Forman's iconic "The Soiling of Old Glory" replacing the white teenager who attempted to assault a black civil rights activist with a black man attacking a white policeman (held by another black man) with the US-American flag.

"Right now we are going through a real racial issue in our country. And, to me, these things that happend in the 20s and 30s, they're just as poignant today as they were back then."
Tyler Shields
"A Black Man Hangs a White Supremacist" is a controversial, provocative and shocking photography "even by today's standards". While around 4.000 black were lynched in the South between 1877 and 1950, there is not one documented case of anyone hanging a Klansman. Shields wanted to see the viewer's emotional reaction to the role reversal (via).

“It has been fascinating to watch Tyler Shields’ photography evolve and mature. His ‘Lynching’ and ‘American Flag’ are powerful pieces, recalling the civil unrest of the period, but also forcing us to ponder the relationship between the oppressed and the oppressors and how things might have been different.”
Bruce Halpryn
photographs via and via and via and via and via and via

Monday 22 June 2015

Strong is the new pretty

"My girls know that who they are is just perfect.
Their silly, adventureous, frustrated, happy, LOUD, athletic, fierce, funny selves.
Being themselves is enough for us. And ultimately, for them, too…that’s the goal, at least.
They don’t need to have their hair done, clothes matching, or even be clean to be loved or accepted.
We love them as they are, loud, dirty, competitive…just like my parents loved me for being um, the exact same way. I wanted this series of images to show their boldness, their strength and the beauty in them, as they are.
Strong is the new pretty."
Kate T. Parker, photographer and mother

"I started to see patterns and recognize that the images where the girls were authentically captured were the strongest images. The images that showed the girls as they genuinely are were my favorites. After seeing this, I started to shoot with that in mind."
Kate T. Parker

"The project became about capturing my girls and their friends as they truly are and how that is OK. Not only OK, but worthy of celebration. There's a lot of pressure for girls (and women) to look a certain way, act in certain manner, and I wanted to let my daughters know that who they naturally are is enough."
Kate T. Parker

"I grew up playing sports and hanging out with athletic, strong, confident girls. My teammates and friends weren’t concerned as much with how they looked as how they played. They didn’t find their worth in how their body looked, rather what it could do. Regardless of whether or not my girls even wanted to play sports, I wanted them to have that same sensibility, that same confidence. We all get these messages to be thin, perfectly groomed, complacent and smiling to be considered beautiful. I simply don’t believe that. The most beautiful girls and women are the ones who are confident to be true to themselves. Girls on the Run’s mission and message perfectly aligns with this. I was so thankful to be able to work on campaign that I 100% completely believed in and felt like I 'knew'."
Kate T. Parker

"My goal with this project was to showcase my girls and their friends, to tell their story. That there is beauty in confident, strong, fierce, messy, silly young girls. I hope that other girls see this and recognize that whatever they love, whatever makes them unique and special is beautiful and worthy of celebration, too."
Kate T. Parker

photographs by Kate T. Parker 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 and via and via and via and via and via and via

Thursday 18 June 2015

In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Chief Gillespie: "Just once in my life, I'm gonna own my temper. I'm telling you that you're gonna stay here. You're gonna stay here if I have to go inside and call your chief of police and have him remind you of what he told you to do. But I don't think I have to do that, you see? No, because you're so damn smart. You're smarter than any white man. You're just gonna stay here and show us all. You've got such a big head that you could never live with yourself unless you could put us all to shame. You wanna know something, Virgil? I don't think that you could let an opportunity like that pass by." (via)

"In the Heat of the Night", 1967
Director: Norman Jewison
Music: Quincy Jones
Cast: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates, Lee Grant, Beah Richards

"Virgil is a pretty fancy name for a black boy like you."
Bill Gillespie

Plot: Wealthy industrialist Philip Colbert is found murdered in Mississippi. White and racist police chief Bill Gillespie finds a perfect culprit when officer Sam Woods discovers black northener Virgil Tibbs at the station waiting for the train. Virgil Tibbs, however, is a recognised homicide detective. Tibbs experiences racist treatment and wants to leave town but stays, works with Gillespie and finds the person responsible for the murder he was initially accused of having committed.

The film became "an overnight hit" and won the Academy Awards for "Best Picture", "Best Actor in a Leading Role" (Rod Steiger), "Best Writing", "Best Sound", "Best Film Editing" and was nomiated for "Best Director" and "Best Effects, Sound Effects", several Golden Globes, BAFTA Awards, Grammy Awards, and many more (via). The 1968 Academy Awards were scheduled for 8 April and postponed out of respect for Martin Luther King who had been assassinated on 4 April 1968. Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger and other actors and actresses had notified the Academy that they would not attend the show if the Board did not postpone it until after King's funeral. The show was postponed - a then-umprecedented step (via).

Mayor Webb Schubert: Bill... what's made you change your mind about Tibbs?
Gillespie: Who says I have?
Mayor Webb Schubert: [referring to Tibbs slapping Endicott] Last Chief we had... he'd have shot Tibbs one second after he slapped Endicott, claim self-defense. (via)

"I'm sure you can find a movie before 1967 where a black man hit a white man back. But in a way, this was the slap heard around the world."
Norman Jewison

Norman Jewison's film about racism was produced "in the heyday of the civil rights era" and it was, as Jewison said "not a period film. It was taking place in the present time". In that present time, the film showed a slap scene (watch) between the cotton plantation owner Endicott and Tibbs. Tibbs' reaction, a fiercer, harder slap, shocked the audience (via). Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier went to the Capitol Theatre in New York a couple of times to see how many black and white Americans there were and to amuse themselves hearing black Americans cheer during the famous slapping scene that gave the film the nickname "Super-spade Versus the Rednecks", and white Americans react with a whispered and astonished "Oh!" (via). During production, Poitier refused to shoot the scene in the South. Jewison persuaded him to go to Dyersburg in Tennessee. As feelings were extremely high, Sidney Poitier kept a gun under his pillow at the Holiday Inn, just to be on the safe side (via).
"When we rehearsed the slap, we always stopped and said, ‘bang, bang, bang’ or ‘slap, slap.’ Because it hurts to get slapped that hard. I took Larry Gates aside, the chap who played Endicott, and had to teach him since he wasn’t a trained film actor, he was a theatrical actor. I said, ‘Try not to hit the ear. Hit him on the fatty part of the cheek, underneath the ear. Then you can take a pretty hard slap. Go ahead, slap me.’ He says, ‘I can’t do that.’ I said, ‘Go ahead.’ So he slapped me. I said, ‘That’s not a slap. Slap me harder!’ When he got to the point when he was stunning me a little, I said, ‘You got it!’
I could see Larry was afraid of slapping Sidney. But Sidney I didn’t have to direct. He was a film actor. I said, ‘I want you to hit him hard enough so that he feels it. In other words, you can’t hold back.’ I remember working on this technically, trying to get both actors to the point where they’re not afraid of hurting each other. That was the main thing. I think we did it in two takes, and I think we used the first. Because there’s something about being caught off guard that was essential to the moment. Nobody expected him to slap Sidney.
I think you have to show Virgil’s shoulder here, to feel the closeness of their bodies, to feel his presence. He had to look like he was hurt. And Endicott’s hurt more because he couldn’t control his own passion. He’s a typical racist Southerner who always looked on blacks as people you had to take care of, like his orchids. So when he does this, he realizes what he’s become. Those tears aren’t just tears of pain. He’s embarrassed. This was coverage I was doing, so we knew that we probably wanted this shot. But it’s in the editing room that you decide these things, and I had one of the most talented editors in America on the film, Hal Ashby [who later became a director].
This is an important reaction, because without it, you don’t really have a scene. Endicott says, ‘What are you gonna do about it?’ Gillespie didn’t even pull his gun. He was so in shock, he says, ‘I don’t know.’ Rod had said to me, ‘How do I play this scene?’ I said, ‘I want complete honesty. You’re a white cop, he expects you to respond, but it comes as a shock to you. Don’t complicate it.’ Rod was always worried about what he was going to say. But I think it came out right. His glasses were an orangey shade. I gave Rod five or six colors to work from, but that was the color Haskell and I felt looked the most menacing.
This is where they have the argument in which Virgil says, ‘I can pull that fat cat down, I can bring him right off this hill.’ So this confirms to Gillespie that Virgil is quite capable of reverse discrimination, that now he’s racially motivated. He thinks Virgil is trying to pin the murder rap on Endicott because of what Endicott represents politically. That’s why he says, ‘You’re just like the rest of us, ain’t ya?’ He’s now allowed to let it out. This was easier to shoot outside the car. It puts the car between them, so it separates them, like the separation of the races.
(...) Race relations were on the TV screens of America, and race relations were stretched to a breaking point. And this was a film about race relations."
Norman Jewison

Tibbs: Now listen, hear me good mama. Please. Don't make me have to send you to jail... There's white time in jail and there's colored time in jail. The worst kind of time you can do is colored time. (via)

images/screenshots via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via

"I've never met a racist yet who thought he was a racist."
Norman Jewison

Tuesday 16 June 2015

TV, Film & Gender

A study examining gender portrayals in general audience films (101 of the top-grossing G-rated movies between 1990 and 2005) came to the conclusion that there was a clear gender imbalance. 28% of the speaking characters and 17% of characters in crowd scenes were female, 83% of the films‘ narrators were male. Apart from gender, ethnicity was a construct affected by a clear imbalance in representation. 85.5% of the characters in G-rated films (i.e. general audiences, all ages permitted) were "white". Differences did not only refer to the quantity, there were also qualitative differences. Females were valued for their appearance, had rather short sighted aspirations and were longing for one-dimensional love. The authors conclude that much work is needed to be done to improve gender portrayals (Smith & Cook, 2008).

"Female audiences are driving the change, I think. Women don't stop consuming cultural product once they stop menstruating."
Cate Blanchet 

"When Lisa Genova wrote this book, she told me that no one wanted to make it into a movie because no one wanted to see a movie about a middle-aged woman."
Julianne Moore at the 2015 Golden Globes Award

"In spite of efforts to achieve greater gender balance within the industry, especially in these busier times, the reality seems to be that it's getting worse not better. These statistics must propel industry and inform government policy to increase the pursuit of proper diversity in the workforce."
Iain Smith

"On so many sets women are seen as lesser beings in terms of status and many women still find it hard to be taken seriously. I just can't bear it. There are still a lot of hostile working environments in film and television for women to walk into that need to be addressed, where they are treated differently from the men, but because of the nature of the industry none of these people get called out."
Beryl Richards

"I've noticed a lot of people talking about the wealth of roles for powerful women in television lately. And when I look around the room at the women who are here and I think about the performances that I've watched this year, what I see actually are women who are sometimes powerful and sometimes not, sometimes sexy, sometimes not, sometimes honorable, sometimes not, and what I think is new is the wealth of roles for actual women in television and in film. That's what I think is revolutionary and evolutionary."
Maggie Gyllenhaal at the 2015 Golden Globes Award (by the way the same Maggie Gyllenhaal that at 37 was told to be too old to play the lover of a 55-year-old man)

Some figures:

- More than three-quarters of those involved (entire crew from make-up artist to sound engineers and directors) in making 2.000 of the biggest grossing films in the past twenty years have been male, 22% female (via).
- On basis of the 2.000 films, 13% of the editors, 10% of the writers and 5% of the directors were female. Visual effects had 17.5% women, music 16%, camera and electricals 5% (via).
- In TV, less than 15% of directors are women. (via)
- Of the top 100 box-offices releases in the US, 4.4% of the directors are women. (via)
- The Academy Award for Best Directing has been given out for 87 years. During this period, one woman won the award. (via)
- In film, about three-quarters of leading roles are male. (via)
- In 2014, women made up 13% of leading roles. (via)
- In film, 9 out of 10 script writers are male. (via)
- During the 2013/14 television season, 29% of employed TV writers were female (2011/12: 30.5%). (via)
- In 2013, 10% of film screenwriters from the top 250 films produced in the US were female. (via)
- In 2014, only 55.4% of films passed the Bechdel Test (2013: 67.5%, 2012: 66.4%). (via)
- In 2014, women had speaking roles 30% of the time, i.e., 5% more than in the 1940s and 1950s. (via)
- In 2014, the top ten earning actresses made half of what their male counterparts made. (via)
Ally the Manic Listmaker compiled a collection of movies by women worldwide in the past twenty years and listed 1.400. (via)

Some reactions:

- In 2015, Meryl Streep started funding the "Writers Lab", a laboratory for women screenwriters over 40.
- In 2015, "The Dollhouse Collective" was launched by Rose Byrne and four other actresses, an all-female production company aiming to increase the presence of female filmmakers (via)
- In 2014, Lena Dunham launched "A Casual Romance" with two women, a production company aiming to empower comedic women. (via)
- In 2012, Reese Witherspoon together with producer Bruna Papandrea launched "Pacific Standard" focusing on developing roles for women.
- In 2015, Geena Davis launched the Bentonville Film Festival to promote diversity . (via)

- Smith, S. L., & Cook, C. A. (2008) Gender Stereotypes: An Analysis of Popular Films and TV.,
- photographs of Twiggy Lawson by Bert Stern (1929-2013) via and via and via and via and via

The first part of this posting was originally published on Science on Google+ on 14th of December 2013