Thursday 30 April 2020

Being an Elder in this Pandemic

"If you're not producing as much as you consume, or perhaps a little more, then clearly we cannot use the big organization of our society for the purpose of keeping you alive, because your life does not benefit us, and it can't be of very much use to yourself."
George Bernard Shaw

photograph of George Bernard Shaw via

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Men and Women, Sexual and Emotional Jealousy

While I'm away
You can let the mouse go down on you
Let the mouse do what I'd do
If I was there
But you'd better explain
That I have a vendetta in my narrow bones
And a vindictive eye
Of my jealousy I have no control
No control

::: Franz Ferdinand "Bullet": LISTEN/WATCH

The evolution-based approach:

"A potentially rich framework for analyzing many aspects of interpersonal relationships has been provided by Evolutionary Psychology (Buss, 1994, Buss et al., 1999). With increasing frequency, jealousy as an aspect of relationship has been the focus of both empirical research and theoretical formulation.
It is often speculated that there are important gender differences with regard to the elicitation of jealousy. Women may be more threatened by the potential loss of attention and other emotional resources in a romantic relationship, whereas men may be more concerned about potential sexual infidelity. Based on the evolutionary model (Symons, 1979) it has been proposed that because males can never be completely confident about the paternity of any offspring they would be more concerned by sexual infidelity. Sexual infidelity would raise questions about paternity and the risk of investing resources, both human and economic, in another person's offspring. On the other hand, females would be more upset by emotional infidelity that might indicate a lack of long-term commitment and success of the relationship by the male. Females know that their offspring will have their genetic legacy, but need assurance that the partner will provide resources for the survival of the offspring (Cann et al., 2001)." (Bhowon, Ah-Kion & Tseung-Wong, 2004)

Doubting the evolutionary explanation and placing jealousy within an attachment theoretical perspective:

"Studies have found that more men than women endorse sexual infidelity as more distressing than emotional infidelity, whereas more women than men endorse emotional infidelity as more distressing than sexual infidelity. Some evolutionary psychologists have proposed that this sex difference can be best conceptualized as reflecting evolution-based differences in parental investment that produce a need for paternity certainty among men and a need for male investment in offspring among women. Nonetheless, a conspicuous subset of men report emotional infidelity as more distressing than sexual infidelity. Current theorizing explains between-sex differences but not within-sex differences. We hypothesized that attachment-style differences may help to explain both between- and within-sex differences in jealousy. As hypothesized, dismissing avoidant participants reported more jealousy regarding sexual than emotional infidelity (64.8%), and secure participants, including secure men, reported more jealousy regarding emotional than sexual infidelity (77.3%), chi(2)(3, N = 411) = 45.03, p < .001. A series of sequential logistic regression analyses indicated significant moderation of the sex-jealousy relationship by attachment style. Implications of an attachment perspective are discussed." (Levy & Kelly, 2010)

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- Bhowon, U., Ah-Kion, J. & Tseung-Wong, C. N. (2004). Jealousy in Sexual and Emotional Infidelity: A Study of Sex Differences. Gender and Behaviour,2,225-239.
- Levy, K. & Kelly, K. M. (2010). Sex Differences in Jealousy: A Contribution From Attachment Theory, Psychological Science, 21(2), 168-73
- image via

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Female Singers + Album Covers

"This study investigates the image of popular female singers in different musical styles as conveyed through their album cover photographs. Slides were made of ninety-one albums recorded by women between 1973 and 1981. They were shown in subgroups to panels of judges who rated them on thirty-one traits. These traits represent either (a) aspects of the “traditional” feminine stereotype, (b) qualities of sexual attractiveness, or (c) positive, but not specifically feminine, traits. The results indicate that female singers were rated positively, regardless of musical style. Country singers were rated relatively high on the traditional traits, while rhythm and blues artists were high on sex appeal and positive traits. Rock singers were rated as aloof and high on positive traits but low on traditionalism and sex appeal. Pop singers were not rated high or low on any dimension. Some differences in male and female raters’evaluations were found. It was concluded that female recording artists generally are not presented in the same stereotyped manner as women are usually portrayed in other forms of media advertising." (Thaxton & Jaret, 2007)

- Thaxton, L. & Jaret, C. (2007). Singers and Stereotypes: The Image of Female Recording Artists. Sociological Inquiry, 55(3), 239-263.
- photograph of Diana Ross via

Monday 27 April 2020

The Crazy Cat Lady

"Negative characterizations for those with an affinity for cats are not a recent phenomenon. One New York Times editorial from 1872, headlined ‘Cats and Craziness’, lays out a portrait of an infatuated cat-lover, differentiated from the more rationally behaved dog-lover." (Parsons et al., 2019)

Cat owners are regarded as more emotional, lonely and depressed than dog-owners (Parsons et al., 2019). According to a survey conducted by PetSmart (n = 1.000, USA, 2015), the stereotype of the "cat lady" is the most pervasive one when it comes to cats. Almost 50% of the survey participants bought into the idea that "most cat lovers are female, often spinsters, and that their homes are crawling with felines" although most cats live with families (via).

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- Pasons, C. E., LeBeau, R. T., Kringelbach, M. L. & Young, K. S. (2019). Pawsitively sad: pet-owners are more sensitive to negative emotion in animal distress vocalizations. The Royal Society Publishing, LINK
- photograph by Bruce Davidson via

Saturday 25 April 2020

"I am looking forward to be in ten years time when all of this will be just history."

"I wish Brexit would get the f*ck out of my life. No, wait, I wish Brexit had never appeared in my life. Brexit is an artificial problem. Before the referendum in 2016 nobody talked about this shit. Of course there were a few people that had problems, but I’m talking about the general population, nobody gave a flying f*ck about breaking relationships within the European Union. And now it has completely consumed every wicked minute of conversation in the UK. Not the UK, the whole f*cking world! Like here, you and I talking about this shit, it’s so boring, so destructive, I wish it could just f*ck off. And it is the same with Trump in the US: why is this madman in my f*cking life?! Why do I have to listen to this c*nt on the f*cking news every day?! I am looking forward to be in ten years time when all of this will be just history."
Alex Kapranos

Franz Ferdinand, gods of music, on YouTube:

::: Bullet: LISTEN/WATCH
::: This Fffire: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Auf Achse: LISTEN
::: Darts of Pleasure: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Lois Lane: LISTEN
::: Fresh Strawberries: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Lazy Boy: LISTEN
::: The Dark of the Matinée: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Slow Don't Kill Me Slow: LISTEN
::: Always Ascending: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Right Action: LISTEN/WATCH
::: No You Girls: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Stand on the Horizon: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Can't Stop Feeling: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Take Me Out: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Glimpse of Love: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Ulysses: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Do You Want To: LISTEN/WATCH

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photograph via

Friday 24 April 2020

Female Hysteria and Uterine Melancholy: When Honouring the Phallus Becomes the Cure

Without doubt, hysteria is the first mental disorder exclusively attributed to women. It was first described by ancient Egyptians who said the condition derived from a spontaneous uterus movement. In Greek mythology, Argonaut Melampus cured Argo's virgins who exhibited madness by fleeing to the mountains instead of honouring the phallus. Their madness was caused by their uterus being poisoned due to a lack of orgasms leading to "uterine melancholy". The first step of his cure was having the mad virgins take hellebore and then "join carnally with young and strong men". A link between female madness and a lack of "normal" sexual life was established. According to Plato, Aristotle, and Hippocrates, the uterus suffers, is sad and unfortunate when it cannot join with the male body (Tasca et al., 2012).

The Euripidy’s myth says that a collective way of curing (or, if we prefer, preventing) melancholy of the uterus is represented by the Dionysian experience of the Maenads, who reached catharsis through wine and orgies. Women suffering from hysteria could be released from the anxiety that characterizes this condition by participating in the Maenad experience. Trance status guided and cured by the Satyr, the priest of Dionysus, contributed to solving the conflict related to sexuality, typical of hysteria disease.
Hippocrates believed hysteria was caused by abnormal movements of the restless, migratory uterus due to an inadequate sex life:
He asserts that a woman’s body is physiologically cold and wet and hence prone to putrefaction of the humors (as opposed to the dry and warm male body). For this reason, the uterus is prone to get sick, especially if it is deprived of the benefits arising from sex and procreation, which, widening a woman’s canals, promote the cleansing of the body. And he goes further; especially in virgins, widows, single, or sterile women, this “bad” uterus – since it is not satisfied - not only produces toxic fumes but also takes to wandering around the body, causing various kinds of disorders such as anxiety, sense of suffocation, tremors, sometimes even convulsions and paralysis. For this reason, he suggests that even widows and unmarried women should get married and live a satisfactory sexual life within the bounds of marriage.
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- Tasca, C., Rapetti, M., Carta, M. G. & Fadda, B. (2012). Women And Hysteria In The History Of Mental Health. Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health, 8, 110-119.
- photograph by Harvey Stein via

Thursday 23 April 2020

Quoting Elias Canetti

"There is nothing more base than a certain loathing for the oppressed that goes to great lengths to justify their downtrodden state by pointing to their shortcomings. Not even great and lofty philosophers are entirely free of this failing."
Elias Canetti, The Agony of Flies: Notes and Notations

photograph via

Wednesday 22 April 2020

How Hot are Women with Rectovaginal Endometriosis? Yes, This Study Has Been Published.

The official objective of this study? "To evaluate physical attractiveness in women with and without endometriosis". Implications? Clinical utility? Contribution to medical science? None. Interventions? "Assessment of attractiveness by four independent female and male observers." Conclusions? "Women with rectovaginal endometriosis were judged to be more attractive than those in the two control groups. Moreover, they had a leaner silhouette, larger breasts, and an earlier coitarche."

Yes, this bunch of sexists seriously started judging female patients's attractiveness based on vulgar criteria, asked them about their first intercourse, checked their body mass index, waist-to-hip-ratio and breast-to-underbreast-ratio. Inclusion criteria were e.g. age between 20 and 40 and Caucasian origin. The subjects were asked to complete a questionnaire investigating general information in the first part and sexual history and sexual habits in the second part (62 refused to compile the sexual part of the questionnaire). Since this was not awkward enough, women afterwards "underwent a physical examination by the two trained physicians, including weight and height assessment, measurement of hip, waist, breast and underbreast circumferences. Once this overall evaluation was completed, other four different physicians (...) gave a judgment, based on direct evaluation, on patient attractiveness on a 5-point rating scale (5 = very attractive; 4 = rather attractive; 3 = averagely attractive; 2 = little attractive; 1 = not at all attractive)". On the basis of the mean scores, three categories were defined: very/rather attractive, averagely attractive, little/not at all attractive (29 were unwilling to undergo physical assessment). The would-be scientists "found out" that women with rectovaginal endometriosis had a significantly higher breast-to-underbreast ratio, leaner silhouette, larger breasts, earlier coitarche, and appeared more attractive than those with peritoneal and/or ovarian endometriosis, as well as those without endometriosis. And yes, this "study" is truly gross.

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- Vercellini, P., Buggio, L, Somigliana, E., Barbara G., Viganò, P. & Fedele, L. (2013). Attractiveness of women with rectovaginal endometriosis: a case-control study. Fertility and Sterility, 99(1), 212-218.
- photograph by the amazing Vivian Maier (Chicago, 1961) via

Monday 20 April 2020

Gender Differences in Borderline Personality Disorder

According to earlier research, borderline personality disorder (BPD) is more common among women (female to male gender ratio of 3:1) (Sansone & Sansone, 2011). Generally speaking, literature on BPD focuses on women while research on its occurrence in men is rather scarce (Johnson et al., 2003). More recent research, however, suggests that there are no differences in prevalence based on gender but with regard to personality traits. Explanations range from "a subtle female gender bias with regard to the diagnosis of BPD" to sampling bias not reflecting the real gender distribution and an uneven expression in BPD (Sansone & Sansone, 2011).

Men with borderline personality disorder seem to "demonstrate an explosive temperament and higher levels of novelty seeking" and antisocial personality disorder while women show the tendency to "evidence eating, mood, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorders". There are also differences in treatment histories: Men are more likely to be treated for substance abuse, women with pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy (Sansone & Sansone, 2011).

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- Johnson, D. M., Shea, T., Yen, S., Battle, C., Zlotnick, C., Sanislow, C., Grilo, C. M., Skodol, A. E., Bender, D. S., Mcglashan, T. H., Gunderson, J. G. & Zanarini, M. C. (2003). Gender differences in borderline personality disorder: Longitudinal Personality Disorders study. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 44(4), 284-292.
- Sansone, R. A. & Sansone, L. A. (2011). Gender Patterns in Borderline Personality Disorder. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, 8(5), 16-20.
- photograph by Vivian Maier via

Saturday 4 April 2020

The Germ of National Interest (by Guy Verhofstadt)

When Jacques Delors said last week that “the germ is back”, he was not referring to the actual coronavirus but the germ of narrow national self-interest among European leaders.

Dutch Minister of finance Wopke Hoekstra even dared to suggest that solidarity among member states is impossible because of “moral hazard”.

While, just as with the migration crisis that hit certain countries harder than others because of their position on the map of Europe, this Corona crisis is one of “bad luck”. Countries who were hit first simply had less time to prepare for the storm than others. There is no moral superiority or predestination to be found in this crisis.
So how do we root out the germ of self-interest that blocks Europe today ? The answer is simple: with the supranational solidarity embodies in the European Commission. Playtime is over, so Ursula von der Leyen and her Commissioners better take out the big guns and follow in the footsteps of the Delors Commission. (...)

But more than communication, Europe needs real action now. A comprehensive three-way-strategy on a continental scale to overcome this crisis. First of all, on the sanitary level.
By putting in place a European response mechanism that is activated every time a serious health crisis emerges. Issuing clear mandatory guidelines on how to act: for people on a personal and family level and for national governments on which business to close temporarily.
At the heart of such a mechanism should be a single European Health Agency that is properly funded and has the mandate to act.
An agency that does more than just “coordinating” national efforts, but is able to take all emergency measures to keep Europeans safe, including the pooling of medicines and hospital equipment and the temporary closing (partially or complete) of our borders.

Secondly, the European Commission needs to launch a massive trillion “Stability and Recovery Package” to support our national economies, especially their citizens and their companies.
A package that must contain a wide range of tools going from special credit for investment over bridge loans for SME’s to a reinsurance unemployment scheme.
A massive package that will be financed by the launch of a European Recovery Bond as part of a renewed and enlarged European budget. (...)

Making the economic crisis in Europe much longer and much deeper than necessary. In 2008, we saved the banks from bankruptcy, it would be an inconceivable perversity if we would not do the same for the real economy and real people who are losing their jobs as we speak.

If this Corona crisis grows into a new sovereign debt crisis, we cannot say we did not see it coming. However, what we did not see coming, but what will perhaps require the biggest pushback is the loss of democratic values and personal freedoms during this crisis.
These are golden days for law enforcement and wannabe dictators. Viktor Orbàn, to give only one example, has been eroding the rule of law and democracy for years. Now, under the pretext of the COVID19 pandemic, he launched an additional authoritarian power grab this week, closing the Parliament and ushering in unlimited rule by decree.
Up until now, the EU has issued only lukewarm challenges to him. Also here, it is time for the von der Leyen Commission to get real and to act.

It’s clear that Europe’s intergovernmental patchwork does not work in times of crises. Not during the financial crisis of 2008, not during the sovereign debt crisis of 2012, not during the migration crisis of 2015 and – unsurprisingly – not today during the Corona crisis.

Therefore it’s time that the Commission adopts a much more pro-active approach than today.
The Commission must take on more responsibility and more power, because in the end that is needed: a fundamental shift away from loose coordination in the Council – permanently weakened by the germ of national self-interest – towards real and decisive action trough the European Commission, a Commission accountable to both: the member states and the European citizens.

This is yet another crisis for Europe due to the inept and inefficient response from its member states. If we do not drastically change our political architecture, this might very well be its last crisis, the beginning of the end of the European project.

(...) it’s time for radical change, time for a fundamental shift, away from those who are unable to solve crisis after crisis after crisis, to those who are capable and willing to do so in the interest of all European citizens.

Guy Verhofstadt

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photograph via