Friday 29 April 2016

Feminism & Pay Toilets

In the early years of the 20th century, US-American train stations restricted access to their toilets with a key and later with coin-operated locks. As technology started spreading, corporations discovered the chance to make "big money from the littlest room". By 1970, the US had over 50.000 pay toilets at airports, bus depots and other public places. "Toilet moguls" developed to be facing grassroots campaigns to free the WC in the 1970s. Pay toilets were seen as infringements on basic human rights. And, there was a feminist aspect. In fact, when in 1973 Chicago mayor Richard Daley said he would remove pay toilets from the city's airports, he added he "did it for women's lib". Anti-pay legislation appeared in Chicago and many other states (via).

Assemblywoman March Fong breaks a porcelain potty with a sledgehammer on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento, California, April 26, 1969. Photograph: Walter Zeboski/AP (description via)

"But there was a feminist case against the practice, too, and that’s the argument March Fong Eu was making. Urinals were oftentimes free, meaning the financial burden fell disproportionately on women. And as the momentum for women’s lib built, pressure grew against the practice of charging for access. NOW sometimes joined the fight. For instance, a February 1975 issue of The Cumberland News reports on hearings before the Maryland state Senate that, “‘The practice of installing and utilizing pay toilets is sexually discriminatory in that women are usually discomforted by them and men are not’."
Naomi Mestanas, National Organization for Women

"The argument against pay toilets is linked to the drive for equal rights for women. Opponents of pay toilets argue that women are unfairly handicapped by the locks on booths in public restrooms.
The publication State Government News, issued by the Council of State Governments in Lexington, Ky., reported that legislatures in 20 states were considering measures to abolish, or at least restrict, the pay toilet."
Associated Press

photographs via and via

Wednesday 27 April 2016

A Gender Tax Study

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs conducted a study of the gender pricing of toys, accessories, children's clothing, adult clothing, personal care prodcuts, and home health care products for seniors - i.e., consumer goods reflecting an average consumer lifecycle. About 800 products with male and female versions from more than 90 brands were compared. Here the key findings (via):

On average, women's products cost 7% more than similar products for men, specifically...
- 7% more for toys and accessories
- 4% more for children’s clothing
- 8% more for adult clothing
- 13% more for personal care products
- 8% more for senior/home health care products

Two examples: Schick Hydro cartridges, for instance, cost $14.99,- while Schick Hydro women cartridges cost $18.49,- Often it is not that obvious and price differences between products are due to differing quantities sold to men and women. Rite Aid Guards/Bladder Control Pads cost $11.99,- for men and women (i.e. male and female version) but the quantity differs (39 counts for women, 52 counts for men).

In other words, over the course of women's lives, they pay thousand of dollars more to purchase similar products than men do. The same is true for services. In 1994, the State of California studied gender-based pricing of services and estimated that women paid an "annual gender tax" of $1.351,- for the same services.

::: New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (2015). From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer. A Study of Gender Pricing in New York City; 76 pages

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photograph via

Friday 22 April 2016

Quoting Simone de Beauvoir

"Man is defined as a human being and a woman as a female - whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male."
Simone de Beauvoir

photograph via

Monday 18 April 2016

Vote Dizzy

Your politics ought to be a groovier thing
Vote Dizzy! Vote Dizzy!
So get a good president who's willing to swing
Vote Dizzy! Vote Dizzy!

Trumpeter and bebop pioneer John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie (1917-1993) ran for president in 1964. So did Lyndon Johnson. Gillespie wanted a cabinet of jazz all-stars (with Miles Davis head of the CIA, Louis Armstrong as head of the Ministry of Agriculture, and drummer Max Roach as minister of war ... but since they were not going to have any wars he was given another role), black US-American astronauts in space, the country's withdrawal from Vietnam, free education, free hospitalisaion and the White House to be renamed the Blues House (via and via).

“I had a real reason for running because the proceeds from the sale of buttons went to CORE, SCLC [the Southern Christian Leadership Conference] and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and I could threaten Democrats with a loss of votes and swing them to a more reasonable position on civil rights.”
Dizzy Gillespie
“Anybody coulda made a better President than the ones we had in those times, dillydallying about protecting blacks in the exercise of their civil and human rights and carrying on secret wars against people around the world. I was the only choice for a thinking man.” Dizzy Gillespie
It started as one of Gillespie's jokes and a publicity stunt to raise money for the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) and other civil rights organisations but soon became more. People could imagine an alternative to the "millionaire's-only" club represented by other candidates (via). When asked why a black jazzman, "permanent member of the underclass if there ever was one", would run for president he replied: "Because we need one." Jean Gleason, the wife of music critic and founding editor of Rolling Stone magazine, conceived the campaign. In 1963, a rally was held in Chicago and "Dizzy for president" buttons were sold to raise money for CORE. He campaigned into early 1964, then it "sort of fizzled out". According to Gillespie, the only politician who took him seriously was a woman, Barbara Jordan (via). Nevertheless, his campaign did have an effect:
“It shone a light on the whole thing. Like, what about a black person running for president? It had never happened before ... It was to give both political parties, all those poseurs and jive talkers, a kick in the butt.”
Jon Hendricks

"I think the idea is now for blacks to write about the history of our music. It's time for that, because whites have been doing it all the time. It's time for us to do it ourselves and tell it like it is." 
Dizzy Gillespie

photographs via and via and via

Saturday 16 April 2016

Last night a DJ saved my life

“This fellow outside the door said ‘You don’t want to go in there, madam’ and I told him, ‘Yes I jolly well do, it’s my grandson’s birthday!’”
Ruth Flowers

Ruth Flowers (1931-2014), also known as "Mamy Rock" was a very special British disc jockey. She started developing an interest in becoming a disc jockey at her grandson's birthday in 2005 when she joined him at a London nightclub.
“It was frightfully noisy of course, and there were all these lights flashing but what I realised was that these young people were just having so much fun. So I said to my grandson, ‘You know what darling, I could arrange things like this, for the local kids.' And he said he thought that would be very cool.”

She met French music producer Aurelien Simon and talked with him about the idea of becoming an elderly DJ. Five years later she was a regular feature on the European club circuit where she zipped in many countries such as France, Italy, Belgium and Austria.

“To be honest, I just thought that was the craziest thing I’d ever heard. But what did I have to lose?”

“I don’t know why they make such a fuss of me, but it’s like adoration. It’s all photograph, photograph, kissy kiss kissy. They try to hug me, they tell me they want me to be their grandma, they even throw roses at me - which let me tell you, is quite amazing for a woman of my age!”
Ruth Flowers

Weekend DJ Link Pack:

::: Indeep: Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
::: David Bowie: I am a DJ
::: Beck: Where It's At
::: Pet Shop Boys: DJ Culture
::: Giorgio Moroder: I Feel Love
::: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: The Last DJ
::: Ruth Flowers: Still Rocking

photographs via and via and via, information via

Friday 15 April 2016

No music in North Carolina

"I'm sorry to disappoint my fans in the area, but we need to take a stand against this hatred."
Ringo Starr

"As you, my fans, know I’m scheduled to play in Greensboro, North Carolina this Sunday. As we also know, North Carolina has just passed HB2, which the media are referring to as the “bathroom” law. HB2 — known officially as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act — dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use. Just as important, the law also attacks the rights of LGBT citizens to sue when their human rights are violated in the workplace. No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden. To my mind, it’s an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress. Right now, there are many groups, businesses, and individuals in North Carolina working to oppose and overcome these negative developments. Taking all of this into account, I feel that this is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters. As a result, and with deepest apologies to our dedicated fans in Greensboro, we have canceled our show scheduled for Sunday, April 10th. Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards."  Bruce Springsteen
This April, Bruce Springsteen announced that he would cancel his show in North Carolina (Greensboro) as a protest of the state's decision to overturn LGBT-discrimination bans. Bryan Adams cancelled his show in Mississippi (Biloxi) because of the state's so-called religious freedom law that allows businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples (via). Westin, Charlotte's largest hotel, has turned one bathroom into an "any gender bathroom" and added an "Always Welcome" banner on its facade in response to the law (via). Companies such as PayPal and Deutsche Bank reacted quickly and announced plans to freeze job expansions (via); PayPal would have employed 400 people in the new facility in Charlotte (via), Deutsche Bank 250 (via). And now Ringo Starr has cancelled his show in North Carolina (Cary) to take a stand against the anti-LGBT law (via).
"I will be donating all of the profits from the show to Equality North Carolina's efforts to repeal HB2 and I am proud of my manager and agent for joining me in this effort by donating their commissions from the show to this vital effort. I look forward to coming to North Carolina and standing up for equality and fairness. If we truly want an inclusive society, we all have to include ourselves in the effort to make that happen. This is the best way I know how to include myself and urge you to join me in the best way you know how."
Cyndi Lauper
"With respect to the current storm which is howling through this State, we considered cancelling our show on Saturday, but decided to go ahead, both for the sake of our fans and to support those in North Carolina who feel as strongly as we do about this issue. We see this as an opportunity to make the following statement.
Yes here it is again, just plain old fashioned prejudice, fear and oppression, the same old kind that’s blighted the human race, in varying degrees, for all of its history. Duran Duran is opposed to bigotry and discrimination in all of its ugly forms, and so it follows that we are opposed to the basic premise of HB2. We support the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender community, to have equal opportunities. We support their rights to live free, happy, fulfilled lives. If you live in this State and feel the same way, we urge you to register, so that you can vote; so that your voice can be heard. We urge you to sign this petition which will be presented at the General Assembly meeting on April 25th in North Carolina. You have the power to repeal this outdated and cruel legislation."  
Duran Duran
Not music but university ... Here the message from University North Carolina Chapel Hill: Update on House Bill 2
"All that Carolina has worked hard to establish over the decades – policies including protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, and fostering a culture of acceptance, respect for one another and human dignity above all else – remain a fundamental cornerstone of what our University aspires to be."
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Update 19 April 2016:

The 40-year-old band Boston cancelled its concert in North Carolina in protest of HB2 (via), Pearl Jam cancelled their show in North Carolina calling the law "a despicable piece of legislation that encourages discrimination against an entire group of American citizens" (via), Cirque du Soleil cancelled its shows in North Carolina saying that the company strongly believed in diversity and equality and that it opposed to every kind of discrimination (via), and on the red carpet of the Tribeca Film Festival, Jane Fonda said she would not go to North Carolina (via).

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photograph via

Thursday 14 April 2016

Online Comments, Diversity Dimensions & The Guardian

"Even if I tell myself that somebody calling me a nigger or a faggot doesn't mean anything, it has a toll on me: it has an emotional effect, it takes a physical toll. And over time it builds up."
Steven Thrasher, Guardian writer

"We decided to treat the 70m comments that have been left on the Guardian – and in particular the comments that have been blocked by our moderators – as a huge data set to be explored rather than a problem to be brushed under the carpet."
Since 2006, 70 million comments have been left on the Guardian's website - 70 million comments that have now been studied in order to better understand the phenomenon of online harassment. In fact, there are clear patterns; here are some results:

- Articles written by women attract more abuse and dismissive trolling and get more blocked than articles written by men.
- The more male-dominated the section (e.g. Sport, Technology), the more blocked comments the women who write there get.
- Fashion is a section where most articles are written by women and it is one of the few sections where male authors receive more blocked comments.
- Articles about feminism attract very high levels of blocked comments.
- Of the ten most abused writers eight are women and the two men are black (two of the women and one of the men are gay, one of the eight women is Muslim, one is Jewish).
- Of the ten least abused writers ten are men.

More results: The Guardian

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photograph via

Monday 11 April 2016

"Would they call me a diva if I were a guy?" Zaha Hadid, Architect and Woman

Do you resent being called “architecture’s diva,” or do you find it empowering?

"I do find it incredibly frustrating, but I don’t mind. Everything that I am called which was negative, I try to think of it as positive — so it’s fine. It is so tough for women in the professional world. If a man has an opinion, people describe him as opinionated or powerful. However, if a woman in business voices her opinion, she is considered to be difficult or a diva!" 

Zaha Hadid

"Would they call me a diva if I were a guy?" 
Zaha Hadid

When Zaha Hadid's retrospective opened in Vienna in 2003, more than 2.000 people showed up. At the door, T-shirts emblazoned with her quote "Would they call me a diva if I were a guy?" were given out by attendants (via).
"For mixed in with the grief at Hadid’s loss is also anger among women architects who, no matter how they felt about her work, could empathize with the hostile reactions that, too often, seemed to come her way.
After Hadid won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, architectural journalists who might have been expected to laud her achievement instead commented negatively on her looks, clothes, ability to speak English and her talent and worthiness as a laureate. No other Pritzker Prize winner had been subjected to such a belligerent press response.
The New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp referred to her as “a big, raucous peasant woman” whose “earthier appetites” leaned toward eating lamb testicles over reading books. Guardian reporter Stuart Jeffries suggested that the price of her global travels and successes was to be single and miserable. Edwin Heathcote of the Financial Times rudely asked her if she deserved the prize.
That Hadid rose above it, fought back, and even walked out of interviews may have been perceived by some as diva-like. But to many women in architecture, her toughness was about a refusal to be dismissed. And that meant a lot." Despina Stratigakos, Associate Professor and Interim Chair of Architecture, University of Buffalo

"As a woman, you're not accessible to every world."
Zaha Hadid

"Architecture is particularly difficult for women; there's no reason for it to be. I don't want to blame men or society, but I think it was for a long time, the clients were men, the building industry is all male." 
Zaha Hadid

"I used to not like being called a 'woman architect': I'm an architect, not just a woman architect. Guys used to tap me on the head and say, 'You are okay for a girl.' But I see the incredible amount of need from other women for reassurance that it could be done, so I don't mind that at all." 
Zaha Hadid

"I don't generally think of myself always as a woman architect, as I've said many times. People ask 'what is it like to be a woman architect?' and I say 'I don't know, I've not been a man'. I feel that I should be recognised as an architect first. But now I think that if it serves as an inspiration or it helps women architects to push on then that's fine. Whenever I give lectures, I get lots of women come up to me wanting reassurance that it's a trip worth taking."
Zaha Hadid

"I don’t think any man could actually compete with her. If we can eliminate the practice of talking about female architects, it would be the greatest tribute we could give her."
Eva Jiřičná

Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid (1950-2016) was a Baghdad-born British architect and the first woman and first Muslim to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004 (via) - the prize was first awarded in 1979 - and the first woman to be named recipient of the Royal Gold Medal (given annually since 1848) in her own right (via). In a speech, Jane Duncan made the following remarks:
"Speaking as only the third woman president of the RIBA I find it amazing that it has taken until 2016 to elect the first female Royal Gold Medallist.""To right a 180-year wrong we elected a woman whom I have admired since my student days, visiting the AA [the architecture school where Hadid studied and taught] from the Bartlett up the road.""I come not to bury sexism but to praise Zaha. I am not here to castigate my predecessors and their committees for their masculine choices – what else could they do given how hard we make it for women to rise to the top of our profession?"  (via)
When Hadid studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London where she met Rem Koolhaas, Elia Zenghelis and Bernard Tschumi (via), only about 6% of the profession were women (via). She often spoke about the unfair treatment she experienced as both a woman and a foreigner. After her sudden death last March, more female architects started speaking out about suffering sexism at work. According to a survey carried out by the Architectural Review magazine, 61% of women architects have been victim of gender discrimination; four out of ten say that their bosses are responsible (via)
"She did not fit the stereotypical white male profession of registered architects. Jealousy and prejudice failed to bar her way, but it took its toll. Very few people realise the misogynistic, racist and anti-architect environment she had to navigate in Britain. For Muslims, minorities and women, Zaha is a shining torch beaming into the dark minds for whom a few tiles falling off a building seemed a justification to dismiss her work."  Yasmin Shariff, director of Dennis Sharp Architects
“I think Zaha was right that women have to work harder than men to prove themselves. There is a shortage of women architects at the top of the profession and running their own practices in the UK.”  Alison Brooks, winner of Stirling prize in 2008

More statements:

"I am sure that as a woman I can do a very good skyscraper."
Zaha Hadid

"People don't talk to you properly. It's the way they talk to you; they dismiss you. I think it's a combination of me being a woman and a foreigner."
Zaha Hadid

"As a woman, I'm expected to want everything to be nice and to be nice myself. A very English thing. I don't design nice buildings - I don't like them. I like architecture to have some raw, vital, earthy quality."
Zaha Hadid

"I'm judged more harshly because I am a woman."
Zaha Hadid

"In London it was very timid, people behave well, they're polite -- especially if you're a woman. A woman should behave properly. It means that you don't challenge the situation."
Zaha Hadid

"If you're a man you're seen as someone who's tough and ambitious," she says. "But when a woman is ambitious it's seen as bad. I think things have changed in the last 20 years. They're better. But there's still prejudice."
Zaha Hadid

"I think it's a boys' club everywhere. And I'm not privy to that world so much -- they go fishing, they go golfing, they go out and have a drink. And as a woman you're excluded from that bonding. It's a big difference."
Zaha Hadid

"Men think a woman should not have an opinion."
Zaha Hadid

"Society has not been set up in a way that allows women to go back to work after taking time off. Many women now have to work as well as do everything at home and no one can do everything. Society needs to find a way of relieving women."
Zaha Hadid

"I don't think people should do things because you know, 'I am turning this age, I must go have a husband.' If you find somebody and it works out then have kids, it's very nice. But if you don't, you don't."
Zaha Hadid

"In Iraq, many of my female friends were architects and professionals with a lot of power during the 1980s while all the men were at war in Iran."
Zaha Hadid

"When I taught, all my best students were women."
Zaha Hadid

"There are lots of women in school and whenever I teach I have a lot of women students, all from the beginning. When I started teaching there were mostly boys, and now there are lots of women who are actually sometimes the best students in the studio. It's a mystery to me what happens to them afterwards. I don't know what happens, whether it's a lack of confidence or difficult circumstances in offices or vanity or they're not accepted. I don't know.
Zaha Hadid

"It’s still very difficult for women to operate as professionals because there are still some worlds women have no access to. But I don’t believe that much remains of the stereotype that architecture should be a male rather than a female career. 50% of first year architectural students are women, so women certainly don’t perceive this career as alien to their gender. In our office we have no stereotypical categories that relate to gender at all."
Zaha Hadid

"You now see more established, respected female architects all the time. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Sometimes the difficulties are incomprehensible. But in the last fifteen years there’s been tremendous change, and now it’s seen as normal to have women in this profession."
Zaha Hadid

"If you think about making a city that is much more porous, many accessible spaces, that is a political position, because you don't fortify, you open it up so that many people can use it."
Zaha Hadid

"Women are always told, 'You're not going to make it, its too difficult, you can't do that, don't enter this competition, you'll never win it,' - they need confidence in themselves and people around them to help them to get on." 
Zaha Hadid

"Like men, women have to be diligent and work hard." 
Zaha Hadid

"Half of architecture students are women, and you see respected, established female architects all the time."
Zaha Hadid

"Being an Arab woman and a modern architect certainly don’t exclude each other! When I was growing up in Iraq, there were many woman architects. My earliest memory of architecture, I was perhaps 6 years old, was of my aunt building a house in Mosul in the north of Iraq."
Zaha Hadid

"It’s still very difficult for women to operate as professionals because there are still some worlds women have no access to. But I don’t believe that much remains of the stereotype that architecture should be a male rather than a female career. Fifty percent of first year architectural students are women, so women certainly don’t perceive this career as alien to their gender. In our office we have no stereotypical categories that relate to gender at all.
You now see more established, respected female architects all the time. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Sometimes the difficulties are incomprehensible. But in the last fifteen years there’s been tremendous change, and now it’s seen as normal to have women in this profession.
I still experience resistance, but I think this keeps me focused. It’s not as if I just appear somewhere and everybody says yes to me — it’s still a struggle, despite having gone through it a hundred times. It’s not necessarily always great, but it makes you think about and do things in a different way."
Zaha Hadid

photographs via and (by Bryan Adam) via and via and via and via

Saturday 9 April 2016

Narrative images: Behind the scenes, a Harlem legend

During "Black History Month", The New York Times started the series "Unpublished Black History" revealing moments in black history with unpublished photographs from their archives. The oldest one in their series is "Behind the Scenes, a Harlem Legend" from 1946.

"A girl skips rope amid a crowd of children on a lazy summer afternoon. But what is most striking is the woman who was not captured by the camera’s lens."

"That woman was Zora Neale Hurston, the novelist and folklorist known as the Queen of the Harlem Renaissance, and she was helping to organize outdoor activities for the children. She had joined forces with a group of women who were trying to combat juvenile delinquency in the community, showing the world that black people were willing and able “to do things for themselves,” she said."

"This photograph never appeared in the newspaper; it was shot for an article about the program in Harlem and Ms. Hurston that ran on Page 14 without an image. But in the faces of those children, Ms. Hurston may well have seen something of herself." The New York Times

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) was an anthropologist, folklorist, short story writer and novelist closely associated with the Harlem Renaissance.
"Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It's beyond me."  Zora Neale Hurston
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photograph (Fred Sass/The New York Times) and information (Swarns, Eveleigh & Cave) via The New York Times

Friday 8 April 2016

A jazz orchestra is no place to find a husband

I am a young girl 18 years old and have a boy friend just two years older. We love each other very much, but my parents will not permit us to marry because he plays the saxophone in a jazz orchestra. What can I do?

A jazz orchestra is no place to find a husband, but if you must take a chance, a man who plays the saxophone is better than one who plays the flute. Personally, we wouldn't trust even the drummer.

Question and answer from a 1933 magazine via

photographs (Paris Blues; Paul Newman, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington) via and via and via

Monday 4 April 2016

The daughters of Eve

"Reality shows us that the real seducers are the daughters of Eve who sashay their way through God's world with their miniskirts, low-cut and see-through blouses and tight-tight pants, for the sole purpose of exhibiting their curvaceous bodies to attract the attention and eyes of men."
Judge Emerson Pereia

Saying that "in today's world it is the women and not the men who are doing all the seducing", Judge Emerson Pereia, of this small town in the state of Minas Gerais (Brazil), acquitted Analindo da Silva of charges of seducing a minor, an 18-year-old girl.

From the Wellsville Daily Reporter, August 16, 1974, submitted by Wayne and Lois West counterman, Wellsville, N.Y. (via)

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photo via

Friday 1 April 2016

"It's not intelligent."

“The time for homophobia is long gone. It’s over."
“Any young person indulging in homophobic bullying is a teenage dinosaur who should just go and sit coughing over a sherry in an old white men’s club.”
“It’s not cool, it’s not intelligent and it’s not attractive. Let the rainbow live. We are all in this together and if you’re young, you know that better than anyone. Get rid of the old, get in with the new-get rid of homophobia.”
Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson has joined the Time for Inclusive Education Campaign that was launched in June 2015 with "one very simple aim: to ensure that all schools in Scotland are offering an LGBTI+ inclusive education." (via)

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photo via