Thursday 31 August 2023

What Is It Like to Be a Bat? By Thomas Nagel (1974)

Philosopher Thomas Nagel wrote the essay "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" in 1974, an essay that makes one think about empathy by posing this very question.

Our own experience provides the basic material for our imagination, whose range is therefore limited. It will not help to try to imagine that one has webbing on one's arms, which enables one to fly around at dusk and dawn catching insects in (Nagel, 1974:14) one's mouth, that one has very poor vision, and perceives the surrounding world by a system of reflected high-frequency sound signals, and that one spends the day hanging upside down by one's feet in an attic. In so far as I can imagine this (which is not very far), it tells me only what it would be like for me to behave as a bat behaves. But that is not the question. I want to know what it is like for a bat to be a bat. Yet, if I try to imagine this, I am restricted to the resources of my own mind, and those resources are inadequate to the task (ibid:16).

(...) The more different from oneself the other experiencer is, the less success one can expect with this enterprise. In our own case we occupy the relevant point of view, but we will have as much difficulty understanding our own experience properly if we approach it from another point of view as we would if we tried to understand the experience of another species without taking up its point of view (ibid:24). (Nagl, 1974)

- - - - - - - - -
- Nagl, T. (1974). What Is It Like to Be a Bat? Wie ist es, eine Fledermaus zu sein? Reclam, 6th edition
- photographs of Adam West (Batman, 1966) via and via

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Just human traits

"If you list the qualities that we consider feminine, they are patience, understanding, empathy, supportiveness, a desire to nurture. Our culture tells us those are feminine traits, but they're really just human."

image of Sidney Pollack with Robert Redford via

Tuesday 29 August 2023

The 8 Mile Wall. By Fabrice Monteiro.

As a child, I asked my father, a professor of medicine by profession, why he always dressed in a 3-piece suit when we came to spend the summer holidays in Belgium. He whom I had always seen dressed in a simple wax ensemble in Benin. He explained to me that it was the only way to be treated with consideration as a black man in Europe. 

I then asked myself the following question: 
Are we black before being a man? 

The 8 mile wall is a wall built in Detroit in 1940 as a racial separation between houses occupied by whites and those occupied by blacks within the same social milieu. This 1.80 m high and 800 m long wall did not represent a real physical barrier but it says a lot about the psychological barriers that have been deliberately created since slavery to encourage difference through color. 

From the pseudo-scientific studies of the 19th century applying to demonstrate the inferiority of blacks to human zoos where Europeans discovered their first black man behind bars by going picnicking to the acclimatization gardens. The exotic imagery conveyed by the first postcards from Africa, the media, the cinema or advertising, all contributed to a certain perception of the black man from one continent to another and continue to do so.

The good savage, Uncle Tom, Aunt Jemima, how to get rid of the hilarious and persistent Mr Banania in the 21st century?. This ethnocentric vision fueled by stereotypes and manipulations of the image of black becomes reality for the spectator and insidiously contributes to a certain gaze, sometimes in spite of oneself but which is not without consequences in the establishment of respective identities. Here, the "blackface" no longer laughs with all his teeth while rolling balls. He exhibits himself with dignity as a symbol of mental oppression as an appeal to reason, a challenge to break definitively with a difference, the “inferiorization” of one's neighbour.

- - - - - - - -
photographs by Fabrice Monteiro via

Monday 28 August 2023

Ageism = No Compassion. An Abstract.

Background: Upon encountering older adults, individuals display varying degrees of prosocial attitudes and behaviors. While some display compassion and empathy, others draw away and wish to maintain their distance from them. The current study examined if and how ageist attitudes influence the association between the sight of physical incapacity in older age and compassionate reactions toward them. We predicted that ageist attitudes would interfere with the ability to respond to them with compassion. 

Methods: Young adults (N = 149, ages 19-29) were randomly distributed into two experimental conditions, each viewing a short video portraying different aspects of older adult physicality; one group viewed older adults displaying incapacitated behavior, and the other viewed fit behavior. Participants subsequently filled out scales assessing aging anxieties, and ageist and compassionate attitudes. 

Results: Ageism was associated with reduced compassion toward the figures. Moreover, viewing incapacitated older adults led to increased concern toward them and perceived efficacy in helping them. However, significant interactions proved that higher scores of ageism in response to the videos led to increased need for distance and reduced efficacy toward incapacitated adults, an effect not observed among subjects with lower ageism scores. 

Conclusions: Ageism seems to be a factor which disengages individuals from older adults displaying fragility, leading them to disregard social norms which dictate compassion. The results are discussed from the framework of terror management theory, as increased mortality salience and death-related thoughts could have led to the activation of negative attitudes which, in turn, reduce compassion. (Bergman & Bodner, 2015)

- - - - - - - - - - - -
- Bergman, Y. S. & Bodner, E. (2015). Ageist attitudes block young adults' ability for compassion toward incapacitate older adults. International Psychogeriatrics, 27(9), link
- photograph by Arlene Gottfried via

Sunday 27 August 2023

Bad Blood, the Tuskegee Experiment, and a Legacy of Distrust

From 1932 until its exposure in 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) ran "The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male". Originally, it was supposed to last six months. It went on for forty years. 600 Black American men (399 men with "bad blood", i.e., latent syphilis and 201 free of the disease for the control group) were recruited in Alabama to study the progression of syphilis including recording the progress of disease until its final stage, autopsy. 

The men - poor sharecroppers who took part without informed consent - were given placebos, e.g. aspirin and mineral supplements, although penicilin was introduced in 1947 becoming the recommended treatment (via). While withholding available treatment and not disclosing the diagnoses, the PHS told them that they were receiving free therapies for "bad blood". Obviously, “the men’s status did not warrant ethical debate. They were subjects, not patients; clinical material, not sick people.” (via). There were fliers out offering free health care and free burial:

It offered the men free health care, annual checkups, certificates of appreciation and free burial. They did not tell them that they had syphilis. And one man who found out what he had drove over to Montgomery to a clinic to get treated. And the doctors had him chased and brought back and warned the clinic that if they ever treated another subject from Tuskegee, they would lose their federal funding. Jean Heller

Things started changing in 1966. Peter Buxtun, who was working as a venereal-disease investigator for the PHS (and later became one of the most important whistleblowers) heard his colleagues talking:
“I’m seated in this dinky coffee room and I hear several colleagues talking about an ill, insane man who was taken by his family to see a doctor outside of Tuskegee, Alabama. The doctor determined the man had syphilis and gave him a shot of penicillin. To everyone’s shock, however, the doctor was soon called on the carpet by physicians for the Communicable Disease Center (known today as the Centers for Disease Control) and reprimanded. They said he had ‘ruined their study’ and ‘jogged their statistics.’” 

Over the following years, Buxtun requested whatever material was available, made investigations, educated himself on the history of unethical research, tried to convince his colleagues, sent his assessment to his superiors and got lectured for doing so. The study continued. In 1972, finally, Edith Lederer, a reporter with the Associated Press, passed Buxtun's story on to her superiors which led to newspaper headlines across the country about the victims going untreated for forty years. Only then did the study stop (via and via). By that time, 28 participants had died from syphilis, 100 from related complications, at least 40 wives had been infected and the disease had been passed to 19 children at birth (via). In 1974, survivors and heirs of those who had died received a ten million dollars out-of-court settlement, in 1993 Bill Clinton officially apologised, in 2004 the last participant passed away.

An arch-conservative and proud Oregon Duck, Buxtun is a lifelong Republican, strong NRA supporter (the owner of several dozen guns), and a collector of medieval weaponry. But regardless of his political persuasion, organizational affiliations, and hobbies, Buxtun learned at an early age to consider the lives of poor, Black sharecroppers beyond what they were thought of by the medical establishment: as autopsy material. He did not need a popular movement or newspaper headlines to tell him what to do. Buxtun saw a wrong perpetrated by powerful forces and spent years trying to right it. Without his courage and perseverance there is no telling how much longer the ethically toxic Tuskegee Syphilis Study would have continued. (via)

The Tuskegee experiment was possible because of a combination of a military approach to medicine and racist ideology:

First, it is important to understand that the Public Health Service was established in the U. S. Surgeon General's office and was operated as a military organization. Amidst the development of an imperial agenda of the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the PHS was responsible for protecting hygiene and the superiority of "the American race" against infectious foreign elements from the borders. The U.S. Army's experience of medical experiments in colonies and abroad was imported back to the country and formed a crucial part of the attitude and philosophy on public health. Secondly, the growing influence of eugenics and racial pathology at the time reinforced discriminative views on minorities. Progressivism was realized in the form of domestic reform and imperial pursuit at the same time. Major medical journals argued that blacks were inclined to have certain defects, especially sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis, because of their prodigal behavior and lack of hygiene. This kind of racial ideas were shared by the PHS officials who were in charge of the Tuskegee Study. Lastly, the PHS officials believed in continuing the experiment regardless of various social changes. They considered that black participants were not only poor but also ignorant of and even unwilling to undergo the treatment. When the exposure of the experiment led to the Senate investigation in 1973, the participating doctors of the PHS maintained that their study offered valuable contribution to the medical research. (Park, 2017)

The Tuskegee study is far from being the only case in which Black people were exploited in the name of medicine but it has become "the" study symbolising this kind of abuse. Today, this experiment is seen as one primary driver of distrust Black communities have in the U.S. health care system. It is also used to show Black Americans why they should not cooperate with medical researchers. Still, the racism that fueled this study had existed for centuries before (via, Northington Gamble, 1993). After the Tuskegee study, the federal government strengthened regulations aiming to protect subjects of human experimentation. Despite the increased safeguards, Black Americans still fear to be abused in the name of medical research, a distrust (e.g. vaccine skepticism today) that is the direct result of "the broader history of race and American medicine". US-American medicine, in fact, supported racist social institutions and laws (Northington Gamble, 1993).

Geriatric psychiatrists are in a critical position to either heal or harm, repair or further damage, older Black Americans’ distrust of our healthcare system. Older Black patients served by geriatric psychiatry remember the painful memory of Tuskegee in their minds and bodies and pass this memory on to their families. Bearing in mind that history is our most ominous caution and our greatest teacher in understanding and hopefully ending today's healthcare injustices, what will geriatric psychiatrists do to transcend the wrongdoings of Tuskegee? (Black, Ramos & Anderson, 2022)

- - - - - - - - - - -

- Black, C. B., Ramos, M. & Anderson, N. (2022). From "Bad Blood" to "Racial Disparities:" Will Geriatric Psychiatrists Transcend to Wrongdoings of Tuskegee? The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 30(8), link
- Northington Gamble, V. (1993). A Legacy of Distruct: African Americans and Medical Research. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 9(6), 35-38.
- Park, J. (2017). Historical Origins of the Tuskegee Experient: The Dilemma of Public Health in the United States. Uisahak, link
- photographs of Tuskegee study subjects via and via and via and via and via 

Saturday 26 August 2023

Videos about older adults on TikTok

Abstract: Besides being one of the fastest growing platforms since entering the social media fray in 2016, TikTok is notably monopolized by teenagers, which makes it a veritable source of information not to be overlooked by gerontologists. Currently, most studies regarding age stereotypes on social media have examined content on Twitter and Facebook. Our study explores how older adults are portrayed on TikTok and the factors associated with these portrayals. 

We analyzed 673 videos with the hashtags #Boomer and/or #OkBoomer that received over 5.4 billion views and categorized them into nine topics. Five of these topics (e.g., 'Warmth/Coldness') were extracted from previous studies on age stereotypes. The remaining four topics were unique to our dataset (e.g., 'Wealth Gap'). The outcome variable was 'Negative Age Stereotypes' which was rated on a binary scale. One in two videos about older adults featured negative content. As hypothesized, videos containing negative age stereotypes were more likely to be about the 'Values and Beliefs of Older Adults' (7 times), 'Negative Encounters with Older Adults' (8 times) or 'Older Adults Antagonizing the Young' (13 times). Conversely, videos which portrayed older adults as 'Warm' were 43% less likely to contain negative stereotypes. As the phenomenon of an aging population fast unfolds, it is imperative that society relinquishes its tendency to stereotype individuals on the grounds of age. By examining the possible mechanisms driving negative stereotypes of older adults on TikTok, our study provides the basis upon which such stereotypes can be counteracted. In doing so, it paves the way both to improve the well-being of older persons and to foster intergenerational solidarity. (Ng & Indram, 2023)

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

- Ng, R. & Indran, N. (2023). Videos about older adults on Tiktok. PLoS One, 2(18), link
- photograph (New York, 1990s) by Arlene Gottfried via

One day I happened to walk down First Avenue on the East Side, close to Peter Cooper Village, and spotted this older woman, very neatly dressed. I just walked towards her and asked her if I could take her picture.
Arlene Gottfried

Friday 25 August 2023

"Darling, I want my gay rights now!" Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992), born Malcom Michaels Jr., moved from New Jersey to New York City aged seventeen. There, she adopted the name Marsha P. Johnson, "P." standing for "Pay It No Mind" - her life motto and reply to questions regarding her gender. 

Marsha called herself a gay person, a transvestite, and a drag queen. At the time, the term transgender was not commonly used.  She was near the Stonewall Inn on 28th of June 1969, the night the police raided the bar and the patrons fought back. Apparently, Marsha was on the front lines, the stories about her role vary and range from her starting the uprising to her climbing a lamppost and dropping a purse onto a police car damaging its windshield. Marsha attended rallies, sit-ins and meetings of the Gay Liberation Front whose work she appreciated. At the same time, however, she expressed frustration about how transgender were invisible and how white gay men and lesbians dominated the conversation.
How many years has it taken people to realize that we are all brothers and sisters and human beings in the human race? I mean how many years does it take people to see that? We’re all in this rat race together!
In 1970, her fiend Sylvia Rivera had the idea to create a place where transpeople could live and feel safe. Together they founded the Street Transvestite Activist Revolutionaries (STAR) offering a home and breakfast to those in need. Marsha became "Saint Marsha".
I’d like to see the gay revolution get started… If a transvestite doesn’t say I’m gay and I’m proud and I’m a transvestite, then nobody else is going to hop up there and say I’m gay and I’m proud — and I’m a transvestite for them.
Marsha P. Johnson worked as a sex worker, waiting tables, and performing in drag shows., spent most of her life without a permanent home. Danger and poverty accompanied her life, she contracted AIDS in 1990, and was arrested more than 100 times. In 1992, her body was found in the Hudson River. The police ruled her death a suicide, her friends disagreed and called it a hate crime. In 2012, the NYC Police Department agreed to open the case again; the case is still unsolved (via).

“As long as gay people don’t have their rights all across America, there’s no reason for celebration.”

“I was no one, nobody, from Nowheresville, until I became a drag queen.”

“We have to be visible. We should not be ashamed of who we are.”

‍“Darling, I want my gay rights now!”

“I don’t know what I am if I’m not a woman.”

“I’d been going to jail for like 10 years before the Stonewall.”

“There are a lot of gay transvestites who have been in jail for no reason at all.”

“I started out with makeup in 1963 and 1964. In 1965, I was coming out more, and I was still wearing makeup but I was still going to jail just for wearing makeup.”

“Gay sisters don’t think too bad of transvestites. Gay brothers do.”

“Now they got two little nice statues in Chariot Park to remember the gay movement. How many people have died for these two little statues to be put in the park for them to recognize gay people?”

- - - - - - - - - -
photographs (first one by Johnny Romanek) via and via

Thursday 24 August 2023

Chokehold. The Dangers of Internalizing Racism. By Jahi Chikwendiu.

I keep hope, but I have lost all faith that this country will ever appreciably cleanse itself of deeply entrenched racism. Its barrage is constant and unavoidable warfare. 

Before reaching school age, I knew of only one family in our neighborhood that wasn’t brown. I was mostly shielded from even the idea of racism until yellow buses transported us out of brown stomping grounds and into school hallways that flowed mostly pink. It didn’t take long to recognize how we all were being primed to understand racial differences and unequal treatment. My rambunctiousness compared with that of pink classmates seemed to always bring much harsher reactions — teachers’ scolds from behind stern glares. I met with the principal’s paddle more than a few times. When I stopped giving him the tearful response he seemed to seek, he’d solitarily confine me all day in the office’s supply closet. The only light came from a sliver under the door that would allow my eyes to adjust from seeing total blackness to seeing the room as clear as day. Outside the door, chummy adult voices greeted one another as if there wasn’t a child locked away nearby. 

I was still in elementary school and playing in the living room at the home of friends when their teenage brother popped from one of the back rooms wearing what must’ve been their father’s white Ku Klux Klan outfit. As my younger brother and I instinctively lurched back, he lifted the pointed hood to reveal his laughing face. Their father was also one of our peewee football coaches.  

“Why are all the niggers in the back?” It was the first time, but not the last, I heard our high school football coach launch the n-bomb. It was during warm-ups, in front of all the players, in one of my first team practices after transferring to the school. When I found myself the only one openly protesting his racial slurs, the coach told me, “Son, I could make you a star. But I’m not.”  

Trying to list every racist act I’ve shunned and overcome would be impossible. Instead, when presented with the challenge to visually depict how racism stymies the collective potential of black people, I decided to create a series of photos meant to be a “Whitest Hands” version of Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye.” In that book, Pecola Breedlove — a young black girl — is convinced that her life would right itself if only she had long, blond hair, white skin and the bluest of eyes. The images here are intended to be sirens: startling alarms to wake us from internalizing the myth of white supremacy and the reality of racism, which has led us to blind, deafen, silence, even choke ourselves. To refrain from internalizing racism’s offerings is to give ourselves better chances of breaking the surface of racism’s murky depths, like lotus flowers blossoming skyward.

Jahi Chikwendiu

- - - - - - - - - -
photographs by Jahi Chikwendiu, Washington Post via

Wednesday 23 August 2023

Judging Discrimination against Women more Harshly and Statistical Fairness Discrimination

In their study, Feess et al. (2021) asked participants (n = 478) representative of the US population in terms of gender, age (adults), education, and political orientation, to judge discrimination in two scenarios, a) a discrimination-against-the-woman scenario (stating that "[t]aking into account all characteristics of the two applicants (qualifications, experience, personality, etc.), the manager knows that the woman is slightly more qualified and hiring her would bring slightly higher profits for the company. After considering everything, the manager hires the man.")  and b) a discrimination-against-the-man scenario (the man being slightly more qualified and the manager hiring the woman). .

Respondents were asked to judge the manager's decision on a scale ranging from 0 (very morally wrong) to 100 (very morally right). The participants saw the same additional text that pointed out that both the man and the woman would work equally hard to get the job, that they would suffer equally from not getting the job, and that the job is in an industry without gender discrimination.

The authors defined gender discrimination as hiring someone of one gender "despite knowing that an applicant of the opposite gender is more qualified and more productive" and estimated the impact the victim's gender has on the moral evaluation of the discrmination.

38% of the sample were classified as pro-women, 38% as neutral, and 24% as pro-men. Results show that discrimination against women is, on average, judged 5.5 points more morally wrong than discrimination against a man (10.5 points vs 5.0 points). Pro-women respondents judge discrimination against women 22.4 points more morally bad, pro-men respndents judge discrimination against men 12.3 points more morally bad. 

The results of this survey experiment show only mixed support for the statistical fairness discrimination hypothesis. (...) While statistical fairness discrimination may play a role in explaining differences in judgments about discriminated women and men, it is unlikely to be the whole story.

The results relate to other findings such as Block et al.'s paper (2019) showing that people are more concerned about the underrepresentation of women in male-dominated careers than about men in female-dominated careers. Winegard et al. (2018) come to the conclusion that liberals favour disadvantaged groups and that they trust identical scientific studies more if the results are favourable for marginalised groups (women and Blacks) than privileged ones (men and whites). The differences in these judgments are predicted by Equalitarianism, the belief that society should make all groups equal.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

-  Feess, E., Feld, J. & Noy, S. (2021). People Judge Discrimination Against Women More Harshly Than Discrimination against Men - Does Statistical Fairness Discrimination Explain Why? Frontiers in Psychology, 12, link
- photograph by Steven Edson via

Tuesday 22 August 2023

"Chatterboxes" and Other Stereotyped Representations of Mobile Phone Users

Abstract: In the context of an international research project on older people’s relations with and through mobile telephony, Italian participants spontaneously provided narrations on mobile phones that appeared to be structured around strong stereotypes. Respondents show a twofold representation of mobile phones either as a simple communication tool or as a ‘hi-tech’ device, which generates multifaceted stereotypes. 

More specifically, when the mobile phone is considered as a simple communication tool, age-based stereotypes address younger people’s bad manners, while gendered stereotypes depict women as ‘chatterboxes’ or ‘social groomers’. On the other hand, when the mobile phone is considered a ‘hi-tech’ device, age-based stereotypes underline younger people’s advanced user skills, while gendered stereotypes focus on women’s lack of competencies. Based on that, we provide a conceptual framework for analysing such stereotyped – and apparently conflicting – representations. Interestingly, while some issues also emerged in other countries, the masculine assumption that women are less-skilled mobile phone users appears as a peculiarity of Italian respondents. (Comunello et al., 2016)

- - - - - - - - - -

- Comunello, F., Fernandez Ardevol, M., Mulargia, S. & Belotti, F. (2016). Women, youth and everything else: age-based and gendered stereotypes in relation to digital technology among elderly Italian mobile phone users. Media, Culture & Society, 39(6), link
- photograph by Bruce Gilden via

Monday 21 August 2023

The Missing (Young) White Woman Syndrome

In 2004, journalist Gwen Ifill (1955-2016) introduced the phrase "Missing White Woman Syndrome" at a conference. She responded to news anchor Suzanne Malveaux who pointed out that there was a disparity in US media coverage with missing white, young women receiving more attention than non-white women and men. According to her, the media had failed to cover international genocides including Rwanda showing more interest in the two figure skaters Kerrigan and Harding than in a million genocide victims: "In 1994, during Rwanda, we were looking at Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding." "If it's a missing white woman, you're going to cover that, every day," Ifill responded (via). Later, Jon Stewart came up with the following algorithm for media coverage of missing people: Family Income x (Abductee Cuteness ÷ Skin Color)2 + Length of Abduction x Media Savvy of Grieving Parents (via).

13% of the US population and 31% of missing persons are Black; 76% of the US population and 54% of missing persons are white. Findings of a study carried out in 2013 show that missing white women are covered significantly more often than everyone else (via).

(...) what is missing from the popular disparity discourse surrounding “Missing White Woman Syndrome” is that cops and cover stories were never meant to rescue our loved ones, and those of us who make this demand might turn up empty.

In her article, Purnell explains the status quo with history, with white women's "cries and lies" galvanising law enforcement and lynch mobs to act on their behalf for many centuries. When the White-Slave Traffic Act was passed in 1910 to combat sex slavery and human trafficking, police officers and investigators were sent to "rescue" white women forcibly removing them from their homes in which they were living with Black men, immigrants, poor white men. At the same time, when the same white women demanded voting rights, education, equity, or housing, these efforts were resisted by their "rescuers". According to Gruber, "white women's alliance with law enforcement stemmed from not just racism and racial ptivilege but also women's need for power and protection in a society that significantly restricted their social, sexual, and economic liberty". From this perspective, the responses to missing white women are rather a failure of society than an accomplishment or a goal. Although a lot has changed for the better, there is still "the notion that the amount of media coverage that a missing person receives, or the number of resources that police expend to find them, is a litmus test for the value of Black life" (via).

More recently, a sample of 3.600 articles (newspapers, TV, raio, online outlets) about missing people published between January and November 2021 was analysed. The conclusion: "If you're young, white, female, and a resident of a big city, the coverage you'd receive if you went missing is vastly out of proportion". A white young woman missing in New York, for instance, could be covered in 67 news stories while a young Latino male would appear only 17 times and a middle-aged Black man would receive a maximum of four mentions (via).

A Black man who went missing in St. Louis, for instance, would only garner 12 news stories, while a young white woman from the same town would attract ten times the media coverage. (via)

In Washington specifically, Indigenous people represent only 1.9% of the state’s population, yet they account for 6% of active missing person reports. But “the actual number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is likely much higher,” as Indigenous persons, just like Latinx people, “are often inaccurately reported or listed as White in law enforcement databases.” Indigenous women go missing at ten times the national average, yet there are no high-profile cases, obsessive social media followings or extraordinary efforts by law enforcement to solve their cases. (via)

An analysis of the intersection of ethnicity and gender on the media coverage of missing persons showed that 49.74% of articles were dedicated to white women while only 17.40% covered white men. The numbers might not be absolutely correct (since e.g. many cases go unreported, databases have different definitions of "white", white women are kidnapped at higher rates) but the tendency is clear (via).

On this website (Columbia Journalism Review) you can calculate how "pressworthy" you are: LINK

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
photograph by Peter Lindbergh (Paris) via

Sunday 20 August 2023

Made In The Shade. By Chloe Meynier.

"Through a mise-en-scene self-portraiture series, Made In The Shade depicts characters in Mid Century Modern settings, mirroring an era that was aspiring for change. Despite this societal urge to create a new modern lifestyle, most women rapidly lost their independence gained during the war period and returned to domesticated environments to fulfill decades of gender role traditions.

The carefully staged scenes attempt to challenge female stereotypes. The series offers a powerful lens through which the viewer contemplates these women in a non-objectified way and reconfigures their essence. The absence of context gives these characters the power to be architects, scientists, musicians, engineers, doctors, etc.; roles often identified as being fulfilled by men.

Through a female gaze, the work questions how society shapes human beliefs and ideologies, and overall, reinforces the importance to continue the action for gender equality in an era informed by #MeToo and #Time’s up movements." (literally via Chloe Meynier)

photographs by Chloe Meynier via and via and via and via and via 

Saturday 19 August 2023

John Lydon, His Wife, and Alzheimer's

John Lydon competed to represent Ireland at the 2023 Eurovision song contest to raise awareness of Alzheimer's since his wife, Nora Forster (1942-2023), had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2018.

I’m doing it to highlight the sheer torture of what Alzheimer’s is. It gets swept under the carpet, but in highlighting it, hopefully we get a stage nearer to a cure.
John Lydon

“Forty-eight years together isn’t enough. But even in illness we’re still finding out new and great things about each other. With Alzheimer’s, they can’t always formulate the words but the real person is still in there. The saddest thing you can do is cut them off.”
John Lydon

“As I say in the song, old journeys end and some begin again, but this is the beginning of a new journey with us."
John Lydon

“And, oddly enough, as bad as Alzheimer’s is, there are great moments of tenderness between us. And I tried to capture that in the song, and so it’s not all waiting for the Grim Reaper."
John Lydon

“I can see her personality in her eyes, she lets me know that it’s the communication skills that are letting her down."
John Lydon

“And I’m just blessed really that I can be there and catch on to that and maybe share that information as this progresses, as we know it will, to its ultimate sad demise. "
John Lydon

“Pass something useful on to other people. It’s a subject now that I’m so firmly tied up and wrapped up and connected to that I care now for all of its victims. Particularly to spouses that have to endure this.”
John Lydon

“We’re not dealing with the walking dead. It’s a matter of memory fusing in and out."
John Lydon

“I had those issues when I was younger, coming out of meningitis. So I’m absolutely in the right place for it. It makes us love one another even more, no question." 
John Lydon

“We’d never be: ‘Oh dear, time to lock you away’. No.” But locating advice as to how to cope with the mental decline of his “significant other” has not been easy. "
John Lydon

“It’s tough to deal with advice from people who absolutely mean well. But I have people who talk to me about their mother or their aunt, who are going through dementia. And it’s not the same for me because Nora’s my significant other. It’s a huge world of difference. And there’s no real literature out there or expert advice to help me.” 
John Lydon

“We find a place in comedy. We’ve always had a good sense of humour. That’s absolutely vital. I think humour keeps you smart.” 
John Lydon

“Alzheimer’s is dreadful. She has to relearn things every day and you must never lose your patience with it."
John Lydon

“No matter how many times you ask the same question, give the right answer. Don’t fob them off. I’m learning a lot about myself this way. It’s a strange blessing, I suppose, because oddly enough it’s bringing us closer together. "
John Lydon

- - - - - - - -

photograph (1977) via

Friday 18 August 2023

Old, White, Male - The Most Accecptable Target of Hostile Ageism

Abstract: Most ageism research has focused on prejudice against older people without considering their multiple intersecting identities. We investigated perceptions of ageist acts that targeted older individuals with intersecting racial (Black/White) and gender identities (men/women). Both young (18-29) and older (65+) adult Americans evaluated the acceptability of a variety of instances of hostile and benevolent ageism. 

Replicating prior work, benevolent ageism was seen as more acceptable compared to hostile ageism, and young adults rated ageist acts as more acceptable than older adults. Small intersectional identity effects were observed such that young adult participants perceived older White men to be the most acceptable targets of hostile ageism. Our research suggests that ageism is viewed differently depending on the age of the perceiver and the type of behavior exhibited. These findings also suggest intersectional memberships should be considered, but further research is needed given the relatively small effect sizes. (Gans, Horhora & Chasteen, 2023)

- - - - - - - - - 

- Gans, H. M., Horhota, M. & Chasteen, A. L. (2023). Ageism against Older adults: How do Intersectional Identities Influence Perceptions of Ageist Behaviors? Journal of Applied Gerontology, 42(6), link
- photograph by Andy Sweet via

Thursday 17 August 2023

On the origins of ageism among older and younger adults. An abstract.

Background: Ageism is apparent in many social structures and contexts and in diverse forms over the life cycle. This review discusses the development and consequences of ageism toward elderly people by others of any age, according to the Terror Management Theory (TMT) and the Social Identity Theory (SIT). 

Method: A systematic search of the literature was carried out on the social and psychological origins of ageism in younger and older adults. 

Results: Studies on the reasons for ageism among older adults point to attitudes that older adults have toward their own age group, while studies on ageism in young adults explain it as an unconscious defensive strategy which younger adults use against death anxiety. In other words, TMT can serve as a suitable framework for ageism in younger adults, and SIT appears to explain ageism in older adults. 

Conclusions: A dissociation of the linkage between death and old age in younger adults can be achieved by changing the concepts of death and old age. For older adults, it is recommended to improve self-worth by encouraging social contacts in which older adults contribute to younger adults, weaken the effects of age stereotypes in TV programs, and prepare middle-aged adults for living healthy lives as older adults. However, these conclusions should be regarded with caution, because several key areas (age related cues, activated cognitive processes, impact of death awareness on ageism) need to be investigated in order to validate this understanding of the origins of ageism among younger and older adults. (abstract by Bodner, 2009)

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

- Bodner, H. (2009). On the origins of ageism among older and younger adults. International Psychogeriatrics, 21(6), link
- photograph by Andy Sweet via

Tuesday 15 August 2023

The Legacy of Slavery. By Angela Y. Davis.

When the tentative pre-Civil War forays into factory work gave way to an aggressive embrace of industrialization in the United States, it robbed many white women of the experience of performing productive labor. Their spinning wheels were rendered obsolete by the textile factories. Their candlemaking paraphernalia became museum pieces like so many of the other tools which had previously assisted them to produce the articles required by their families for survival.

As the ideology of femininity - a by-product of industrialization - was popularized and disseminated through the new ladies' magazines and romantic novels, white women came to be seen as inhabitants of a sphere totally severed from the realm of productive work. The cleavage between the home and the public economy, brought on by industrial capitalism, established female inferiority more firmly than ever before. "Woman" became synonoymous in the prevailing propaganda with "mother" and "housewife", and both "mother" and "housewife" bore tha fatal mark of inferiority.

But among Black female slaves, this vocabulary was nowhere to be found. The economic arrangements of slavery contradicted the hierarchical sexual roles incorporated in the new ideology. Male-female relations within the slave community could not, therefore, confirm to the dominant idiological patterns (Davis, 1981:9)

Most scholarly studies have interpreted slave family life as elevating the women and debasing the men, even when both mother and father were present. (...)

It is true that domestic life took on an exaggerated importance in the social lives of slaves, for it did indeed provide them with the only space where they could truly experience themselves as human beings. Black women, for this reason - and also because they were workers just like their men - were not debased by their domestic functions in the way white women came to be. Unlike their white counterparts, they could never be treated as mere "housewives". But to go further and maintain that they consequently dominated their men is to fundamentally distort the reality of slave life. (ibid.:13)

- Davis, A. Y.  (1981). Women, Race & Class. Penguin Books, 12th edition
- photographs of Angela Davis (East Berlin, 1973) via 

Sunday 13 August 2023

"There is no such thing as a black photographer." The Golden Eye of Dennis Morris.

Dennis Morris became fascinated with photography when - eight years old - he was a choirboy in the Church of England. Donald Patterson, a member of the church, had donated photographic equipment to the church which the youth used. Patterson, in fact, was also one of the few to encourage Morris saying that he had a future in photography, telling him: "Dennis, you have the eye, the golden eye."

When Dennis told his mother that he wanted to become a photographer she was concerned about how he was going to make money from it. And when, aged 16, he told his career's adviser at his school about his plans, the reaction was: "The guy just looked at me like I was mad." Then the adviser said: "Be realistic. There is no such thing as a black photographer." (via) "Those were his words and I've never forgotten them. I told him about Gordon Parks and James Van Der Zee, but he just looked at me blankly and shook his head." (via)

When the careers master asked whether Morris wanted to shoot weddings, Morris was insistent: “No, I want to be a photographer.” The prevalent idea then, Morris explained, was that black photographers were good enough only to shoot the sentimental — weddings and babies — and not explore the other side of the profession: fashion and press photography. (via)

"Growing up Black" is a documentation of the West Indian communities living in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s.

It’s a title I gave because when I was growing up, my generation was the first to be called black. My parents’ generation were called coloured people. We went from being called coloured people to being called black. Dennis Morris

But what we see in Dennis Morris’s pictures of black Britons in the 60s and 70s — collected together in a new book — both challenges the limitations inherent in that framing and provides a counter-narrative to it. For in the photographs of people at church and at play, styling and protesting during this critical period in our racial history, he transforms black Britons from objects to subjects and recipients of hospitality to cultural agents. We see not just a group of people shaped by their presence in Britain but shaping it: not content with being tolerated by ‘hosts’ they demanded engagement in their new home. Gary Younge

- - - - - - - -
photographs via and via

Friday 11 August 2023

Spatial Age Segregation and Co-Accessibility to Urban Activities

Spatial age segregation means that people of different ages do not occupy the same space, which again leads to little mutual interaction. Despite evidence suggesting that an inclusive approach to age leads to societal benefits, among them the reduction of ageism and the isolation in later life connected to it, age segregation is still a problem to be faced.


Usually, the concentration and distribution of various age groups living within a neighbourhood is "the" indicator used in literature. Age segregation outside the residential place is taken into account by only a limited number of studies despite its implications for everyday life (parks, supermarkets, restaurants, workplaces, etc.).

Generally speaking, there are two categories of accessibility: a) place-based (number, density and diversity of activity locations in a neighbourhood) and b) people-centred measures (degree to which people have access to a the destinations). Both approaches rarely consider the demographic characteristics of the people having access to the destinations.

In their study, Milias and Psylldis (2022) define accessibility "according to which activity location is accessible to different people within walking distance". The study of spatial age segregation is carried out in the five most populous Dutch cities characterised by differences concerning density, age structures and distribution of activity locations. Residents are grouped into the following three age categories: 0-15 years, 16-64 years, equal or above 65 years of age.

We start by exploring how accessible the different activity locations in each city are to the three population age groups under study. To do so, we calculate an estimate of the total number of each age group that has access to any given destination within five, ten, and fifteen-minute walking radii from people's residences. We then assign percentages to each destination that reflect the potential age structure of people who might perform activities at that location. These percentages are used as proxies of potential exposure of an individual to a specific age group (e.g. children).

In Amsterdam Center about 14% of the people who have access to the activity locations within a 15-minute walk from their residence are elderly, only approximately 5% are children. An example of the opposite case is the Amsterdam child-rich neighbourhood Ijburg where 20 to 30% of the people who have access to various destinations are children while only 2 to 6% are older adults. 

An emerging pattern, visible across all the cities under study, is that activity locations with higher age diversity scores tend to be located in the city outskirts. (...) In contrast, across all cities, activity locations with low age diversity scores (i.e., EI < 25%) tend to be located in the Inner City (IC) neighborhoods. This, is mostly visible when considering activities accessible within a five-minute walk distance from people's residencies. Overall, activities within a 10 or 15-min walk from people's residencies yield higher age diversity scores.


(...) across all cities under study a similar pattern emerges; that is, the activities located in the outskirts of each city tend to have higher age diversity values. These values are strongly affected by the population distribution in the Netherlands, where children and elderly populations reside primarily in the outskirts of the cities, contrary to adolescent and adult populations that are more dispersed across the urban fabric. Thereby, local age structure should be considered in tandem with the distribution of activities when assessing spatial age segregation from the lens of accessibility. 

(...) Lastly, our results suggest that the time required to reach a destination also influences the co-accessibility and age diversity scores. In particular, destinations that lie within a 10 or 15-min walk yield higher age diversity scores, relative to destinations within a 5-min walk from people's residences (accessible to a lower number of people). This further indicates that promoting people to perform activities only within a 5-min walking radius potentially decreases the likelihood of encountering people from different age groups.

A very interesting thought is the need not to overestimate the degree to which different age croups encounter each other: 

Conventionally, judging only on the basis of age structure in the residential space, these neighborhoods would not be considered age segregated. However, the scarcity of accessible activity locations within these neighborhoods could have a substantial effect on the likelihood of people from different age groups to encounter each other. This, for instance, might occur either when the portion of residents who have access to the same activity location are not as age-diverse as the overall neighborhood population, or when a portion of the residents have no access to any activity location and it is, therefore, unlikely to encounter other people. In other words, the sole consideration of a neighborhood's overall age structure could often result in an overestimation of the degree to which different age groups are exposed to each other.

- - - - - - - - - - -

- Milias, V. & Psyllidis, A. (2022). Measuring spatial age segregation through the lens of co-accessibility to urban activities. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 95, link
- photograph by David Godlis via

Thursday 10 August 2023

Donovan Smallwood's Langour

Langour is a series created by photographer Donovan Smallwood, in his words, a "love letter" and a "note of disillusionment", "an interaction between landscape and portraiture, serving as an exploration of nature, home, escape, and tranquility."

"I wanted to metaphorically capture myself in the landscapes, the spaces, and the people I photographed. Everything and everyone photographed served as a mirror for me and in that way the work has no choice but to be about being Black in a space of nature."
Donovan Smallwood

"A monarch butterfly lands on a white flower thick with petals. A soft gauzy light obscures and embraces a young man in a do-rag, eyes seemingly closed, the graceful branches of a tree mimicking his limbs at rest. 

But this is a clever play on the pastoral, for it is only at the end of the book that our location comes to light. The buildings of the Manhattan skyline emerge towering over the trees at the project’s last glance. We have been led through Central Park; a people’s park of green lawns, forest trails where a dark history lingers. A multitude of racist injustices have played out in its environs, none more famous than the devastating wrongful conviction of the ‘Central Park Five’, the name given to a group of teenage boys falsely accused of rape amidst a whipped up media frenzy and witchhunt in the late 1980s. It is here in this huge expanse of greenery, the living lungs of a city whose tensions spill into its supposed Eden, that Smallwood’s photographs have been made." (literally via)

photographs via

Wednesday 9 August 2023

College Drinking Intensity, Gender, Social Structure and Social Media

Abstract: College drinking scholars have built a deep literature around the ways in which gender shapes drinking culture and its outcomes. Few have explicitly explored the way that gender combines with other structural attributes, like social class, and works through social media interaction to predict drinking intensity. We investigate the way gender, identity, and different types of social media involvement can help explain drinking intensity among college students at an institution with a strong party culture. 

A series of nested regressions show that men’s drinking intensity is more strongly associated with dimensions of male identity related to family social class and father’s political leaning. Furthermore, we find a complex relationship between drinking intensity and different dimensions of social media use. For both college women and men, there is a positive association between the intensity of use of general social media platforms and drinking intensity, but this association is not significant when accounting for their involvement in college party culture. However, after accounting for party culture involvement, our results suggest that use of apps related to hookup culture participation may represent an additional dimension that is associated with drinking intensity, a finding that seems especially prominent for some men. We conclude by discussing implications, limitations, and directions for future research. (Welser, Helm & Vander Ven, 2023)

- - - - - - - - - - - -
- Welser, H. T., Helm, B. & Vander Ven, T. (2023). Swipe for Your Right to Party: Gender, Social Structure, and Social Media in College Drinking Intensity. Sociological Focus; link
- photograph (University of California) via

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Raphael Lemkin and the Concept of Genocide

"Murder had a name. Why was it named crime for one person to kill another, but not for a government to kill millions of people? Shouldn't states be held accountable for trying to destroy entire peoples - their lives, cultures and histories?"
Raphael Lemkin

Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959) was a Polish lawyer of Jewish descent. When he learned about the massacres of Armenians he developed a general interest in religious and ethnic persecution (via). Lemkin also cited "Quo Vadis", written by Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz, as a source of inspiration to protect minorities (via).

Here was a group of people collectively senteced to death for the only reason that they believed in Christ. And nobody could help them. I became so fascinated with the story that I looked up all the similar instances in  history. Raphael Lemkin

Lemkin was convinced that there was an international law needed that protected groups. In the 1930s, he tried to introduce legal safeguards at international forums but did not succeed (via). Presenting a paper at the Leagute of Nations legal committee in Madrid lost him his job (via). In the corridors of the United Nations, he was considered "unpleasant company", socially he was often ignored. Upon learning about the executions in Poland, in 1942, he wrote Roosevelt a letter asking him to take action and received the disappointing reply to be patient (via).

He became obsessed with a crime that, at that point, had no name: the mass murder of groups, simply because of their identity. He was aware of the Turkish massacre of Armenians and of the Assyrians murdered in Iraq – unpunished crimes that would allow Hitler to believe his final solution could be achieved without international intervention. Lemkin identified the stages that led to mass murder: the demonisation of a group, the destruction of its culture, restriction of its freedoms and rights, the small rehearsals of extermination. (via)

In his book "Axis Rule in Occupied Europe", published in 1944, Lemkin introduced the term "genocide", consisting of the Greek prefix genos ("race", tribe) and the Latin suffix cide (killing) (via), a new word for an old practice.

By ‘genocide’ we mean the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group. This new word, coined by the author to denote an old practice in its modern development, is made from the ancient Greek word genos (race, tribe) and the Latin cide (killing)…. Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. Genocide is directed against the national group as an entity, and the actions involved are directed against individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group. (via)

When Germany invaded Poland, Lemkin fled from Europe and sought asylum in Sweden, then in the United States. The parting words of his mother were:

You realize, Raphael, that it is you, not we, who needs protection now … of all of us only you do not live the life of love. You are the lonely and the loveless one. Still, you have been carrying the burden of your idea, which is based on love … We know you will continue your work, for the protection of peoples. Unfortunately, it is needed now more than ever before. (via)

Lemkin started teaching at Duke University. He joined the War Department in Washington, DC, as an analyst documenting Nazi atrocities. Later, he was part of the legal team preparing the Nuremberg Trials where he made sure the word "genocide" - although not yet a legal crime - was at least included in the indictment against the Nazi leaders. In Nuremberg he also learned about the death of 49 family members including his parents, who had been killed in death camps, the Warsaw ghetto and death marches or starved to death (via). The fact that genocide was not legally considered to be crime made Lemkin believe that the Nuremberg Trial did not serve complete justice (via)

His efforts and campaigns to see "genocide" added to the international law continued and finally, in December 1948, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide (via).

Genocide "embodies the social ontology of ‘groupism’, because genocide is about the destruction of groups per se, not individuals per se. Lemkin thought that the Nazi policies were radically new, but only in the context of modern civilization. Wars of extermination have marked human society from antiquity until the religious conflagrations of early modern Europe, after which the doctrine that dominated was that war should be conducted against states rather than populations. Given that forty-nine members of his family died in the Holocaust, Lemkin's ecumenical approach to human suffering is at once astonishing and exemplary." (Moses, 2012)

He spent his last years in poverty in a New York flat, his funeral was attended by only a few people (via). Despite the key role he played in the creation of international laws, despite changing "the world with one word" (via)  and the numerous awards he received and having been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice, he is "virtually unknown" (via), and a "prophet without honors" (via), 

The United States, Lemkin's adopted country, did not ratify the Genocide Convention during his lifetime. He believed that his efforts to prevent genocide had failed. "The fact is that the rain of my work fell on a fallow plain," he wrote, "only this rain was a mixture of the blood and tears of eight million innocent people throughout the world. Included also were the tears of my parents and my friends." (via)

- - - - - - - - - - -
- Moses, A. D. (2012). Raphael Lemkin, and the Concept of Genocide.
- photograph (UN photo) of Raphael Lemkin via