Tuesday 31 October 2023

"Hotter than Bond, cooler than Bullitt"

“Ghetto kids were coming downtown to see their hero, Shaft, and here was a Black man on the screen they didn’t have to be ashamed of. We need movies about the history of our people, yes, but we need heroic fantasies about our people, too. We all need a little James Bond now and then.”
Gordon Parks (1972)

- image of Richard Roundtree (1942-2023) via 
- "Hotter than Bond, cooler than Bullitt!" was the blurb on the paperback the film was based on (via)

Sunday 29 October 2023

Narrative images: Trolley

"One of the most important photographs in “The Americans,” one of the most celebrated ones, is this one of the trolleys in New Orleans. It was a picture that Frank made in the fall of 1955, just a few weeks before Rosa Parks in nearby Montgomery, Alabama, had refused to give up her seat on a bus.

As you can see, it shows a trolley, and we see in the front of the trolley, two older white people, two children in the middle of the trolley. The boy looking out, I think, with an almost quizzical expression, as if to ask the photographer and then also us, the viewer, “What is this world? What is going on?”

In the back of the trolley is this African American man, who looks out with an almost plaintive expression, questioning expression, about why the world is perhaps this way. You can see here the rigidly segregated society that existed in New Orleans at that time.

One of the really interesting facets about the picture is those who are old enough to remember segregated buses, particularly perhaps those in the South, in New Orleans, might notice that the little girl has her hand resting not actually on the back of the seat itself, but a little bit higher than the seat. And it turns out that her hand is resting on a piece of wood that indicated the “colored section” of the bus. And that piece of wood could be picked up and moved backwards if there were no more seats for white people on the bus. So, if you get on this bus at that time, and there was no seat for a white person you could pick that up move it to the next row of seats and all of the African Americans would have to get up and move one seat back on one road.

It’s a really, I think, chilling expression of racism in this country at that time.

(...) it still speaks about issues that we’re dealing with today in contemporary society, the racism that exists within America, and also (...) it’s such a poignant and powerful picture."

Sarah Greenough

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photograph by Robert Frank (New Orleans, 1955) via

Saturday 28 October 2023

... a state of latency waiting for the right circumstances

"There is a large research literature showing how antisemitism exists in many locations and how it spreads like a virus, or rather, how it never disappears but simply goes into a state of latency waiting for the right circumstances to become manifest." (Brekke, 2021)

- Brekke, T. (2021). Islamophobia and Antisemitism are Different in Their Potential for Globalization. Journal of Religion and Violence, doi: 10.5840/jrv202142689 
- photograph by Robert Frank (Detroit, 1955) via

Friday 27 October 2023

Laughing at others? The role of gender and the moderating effect of age.

Abstract: People have different responses to being laughed at, including fear of being laughed at, joy from being laughed at and joy from hearing others laugh. Previous studies have indicated that men have a higher tendency of laughing at others, but there were no gender differences on terms of the other two responses. Socioemotional selectivity theory indicates that individuals pay less attention to negative stimuli as they get older. It is worth investigating whether the gender differences of gelotophobia and gelotophilia occur in certain developmental stages. 

The present study is a cross-sectional study, with a sample size of 1247 participants; we collected information regarding laugh-related traits among participants 11-66 years old, and we particularly focused on the moderation effect of age on gender differences on gelotophobia, gelotophilia and katagelasticism. The results showed that men had a stronger tendency for laughing at others, but there were no significant gender differences on terms of gelotophobia and gelotophilia; age not only moderated the relationship between gender and gelotophobia but also the relationship between gender and katagelasticism. Male adolescents had higher incidences of gelotophobia and katagelasticism than female adolescents, but this finding was not consistent in the middle adulthood sample. The present study found age to be a moderator between gender and laugh-related traits, and it indicated the influence of age on the fear of being laughed at during early adolescence, but there was no gender difference with respect to katagelasticism in middle adulthood. (Wu, Chan & Chen)

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- Wu, C.-L., Chan, Y.-Ch. & Chen, H.-C. (2019). Gender differences on laugh-related traits: A cross-sectional study. International Journal of Psychology, 54(5), link
- photograph of Melinda Mercouri (1920-1994) via

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Inclusive Miss Universe

In 2022, IMG sold the Miss Universe Organization to Thai businesswoman and advocate for transgender rights Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip. Since its foundation more than seven decades ago, it is now the first time that a woman owns the organisation. The first Miss Universe pageant was held in 1952 with an age limit of 28 (27 for Miss World, 25 for Femina Miss India, 55 for Mrs Universe but she needs to be married). In its 72 years of history, Miss Universe crowned 40 women aged 17 to 20; in the past years most of the contestants were not older than 25. R'Bonney Gabriel is the oldest Miss Universe (2022) to date. She was 28 when she competed. 

In 2018, the first openly transgender person took part. Only in 2023 was the end of age restrictions announced. 2023 also means the end of restrictions on participants who are married, divorced or pregnant (via and via and via).

photographs (1969) via and via and (1967) via

Tuesday 24 October 2023

Stereotypical Images of Old Age vs Diverse Imaginations of Old Age

Abstract: This article aims to enhance the conceptual debate on diversity in old age by exploring the interplay of diversity in later life and images of old age. We argue that the analysis of images of old age on the micro-level is a fruitful methodology in order to unravel the meaning of diversity in later life. Drawing on findings from qualitative research in Berlin, we explore how new and diverse imaginations, experiences and lifestyles of old age emerge. The conceptual focus on images of old age enables us to investigate further what diversity in later life comprises and how it simultaneously fosters the genesis of new images of old age. 

The manifold new images we found in our research suggest that prevalent societal discourses about old age on the macro-level are rather deceptive and represent mostly stereotypes such as ‘active agers’ or ‘frail and dependent elders’. We offer three explanations why alternative images of old age are currently barely present in public discourse: (a) the actors transmitting images of age; (b) the institutionalisation of the images; and (c) the challenge to communicate complexity. We conclude by suggesting that images of old age are a promising starting point to explore and make visible both the diversity of social groups within the older generation as well as the heterogeneity of older individuals. (Enßle & Helbrecht, 2020)

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- Enßle, F. & Helbrecht, I. (2020). Understanding diversity in later life through images of old age. Ageing & Society, 1-20; link
- photograph by Leon Levinstein via

Monday 23 October 2023

Manifesto of the 343

In April 1971, Simone de Beauvoir's manifesto was published in the magazine Nouvel Obervateur, signed by 342 more women - filmmakers, writers, actresses, philosophers, singers - (including Simone Veil, Gisèle Halimi, Francoise Sagan and Catherine Deneuve) - all of them risking prison at the time since they were openly stating that they had had an abortion which again had been a crime since 1810 based on a Napoleonic law. Some of them lost their jobs, others lost contact to their families who stopped talking to them. The women were accused of being irresponsible and were called sl*ts (the manifesto is also known as the "Manifesto of the 343 Sl*ts", the Vatican Radio said France was going down the road of genocide. 

According to the manifesto, one million women were resorted to unsafe abortion each year in France alone; "I declare that I am one of them," the manifesto said. Hundreds of thousands of women underwent illegal abortions in France every year, those with money went to private clinics or to doctors abroad, others - most of them - ended up on kitchen tables of so-called angel-makers risking both prison time and their lives since there were medical risks. For a brief period of time, there was the death sentence. The last execution (by guillotine) for abortion took place in 1943. 

In November 1974, Simone Veil (nèe Jacob, 1927-2017), health minister at the time, presented a law that would legalise abortion. Veil was attacked personally, one conservative deputy compared her to Hitler. Veil was a Jewish survivor of the death camps Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. In 1975, the bill became law (via and via).

Much of the aggression was aimed personally at Veil and her family and smacked of antisemitism; it came from all sides, from members of the Parliament on the floor to anonymous letters to her office and her home. The most abhorrent remarks even compared the legalization of abortion to the Holocaust. The anonymous attacks included swastikas painted on her car and the elevator in her building and letters condemning her children to hell. At about the same time, Parliament also voted to ban laboratory experiments on animals for commercial purposes; during debate on that issue, certain members openly likened what they called the genocide of animals to the “genocide” of babies and to the genocide of Auschwitz. The worst comment she remembered from the time was one made by Jean-Marie Daillet, a member of Parliament, who asked if she would agree to the idea of throwing embryos into crematorium ovens. However, at the same time, and in the years afterward, many others paid tribute to her, approaching her even in the street to thank her and tell her she would never be forgotten for all she had done. (via)

Manifesto of the 343 (excerpts):

One million women in France have abortions every year. Condemned to secrecy they do so in dangerous conditions, while under medical supervision this is one of the simplest procedures. We are silencing these millions of women. I declare that I am one of them. I declare that I have had an abortion. Just as we demand free access to contraception, we demand the freedom to have an abortion. (...)

It’s a women’s thing, like cooking, diapers, something dirty. The fight to obtain free abortion on demand feels somehow ridiculous or petty. It can’t shake the smell of hospitals or food, or of poo behind women’s backs. The complexity of the emotions linked to the fight for abortion precisely indicate our difficulty in being, the pain that we have in persuading ourselves that it is worth the trouble of fighting for ourselves. (...)

It is out of vital necessity that women should win back control and reintegrate their bodies. They hold a unique status in history: human beings who, in modern societies, do not have unfettered control over their own bodies. Up until today it was only slaves who held this status. The scandal continues. Each year 1,500,000 women live in shame and despair. 5,000 of us die. But the moral order remains steadfast. We want to scream. (...)

The ten commandments of the Bourgeois State: 

You choose a fetus over a human being when that human is female.
No woman will have an abortion while Debré wants 100 million more French people.
You will have 100 million French people, as long as it costs you nothing.
You will be particularly severe with poor females who cannot go to England.
As such you will have a wheel of unemployment to make your capitalists happy.
You will be very moralistic, because God knows what ‘we’ women would do if we had such freedom.
You will save the fetus, since it’s more interesting to kill them off aged 18, the age of conscription.
You will really need them as you pursue your imperialist politics.
You use contraception yourself, to send just a few children to the Polytechnique or the ENA because your flat only has 10 rooms.
As for the others, you will disparage the pill, because that’s the only thing missing.

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photograph of Simone Veil via 

Saturday 21 October 2023

Cars Deaf to Women's Voices

An anecdote from about ten years ago... A woman buys a new Ford Focus (2012) and loves everything about it except its voice-command system which often cannot understand what she says while it has no problem hearing her husband when he talks to it from the passenger side. Driving safely becomes a bigger challenge for women since doing without voice activation means not having your eyes on the road all the time.

In 2005, a woman purchased a Buick Rendezvous and found it impossible to programme the voice-activated phone system. When she called customer service for help, she was told that it was not going to work for her and to get a man to set it up. In the meantime, improvements have been made (via).

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photograph (1972) via

Friday 20 October 2023

Imagining Contact, Reducing Prejudice

Abstract: Recent research has demonstrated that imagining intergroup contact can be sufficient to reduce explicit prejudice directed towards out-groups. In this research, we examined the impact of contact-related mental imagery on implicit prejudice as measured by the implicit association test. We found that, relative to a control condition, young participants who imagined talking to an elderly stranger subsequently showed more positive implicit attitudes towards elderly people in general. 

In a second study, we demonstrated that, relative to a control condition, non-Muslim participants who imagined talking to a Muslim stranger subsequently showed more positive implicit attitudes towards Muslims in general. We discuss the implications of these findings for furthering the application of indirect contact strategies aimed at improving intergroup relations. (Turner & Crisp, 2010)

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- Tunrer, R. N. & Crisp, R. J. (2010). Imagining intergroup contact reduces implicit prejudice. The British Journal of Social Psychology, 49(1), 129-142.
- photograph by Bernard herrman (1977) via

Wednesday 18 October 2023

Born this day ... Camilla Ella Williams

"Who would have guessed that a little black girl from Danville, Virginia would make such a wonderful debut."
Camilla Williams

Camilla Ella Williams (1919-2012) began singing at the age of five and joined her church choir when she was nine. At twelve, she started training with Raymond Aubrey, a voice teacher who taught music to white students at Averett College but also instructed Black students in private homes. After graduation, Williams began teaching, then left for Philadelphia to advance her career. 

Williams auditioned with the New York City Opera for "Madame Butterfly" and became the first Black woman to appear in a major US-American opera house performing Cio-Cio San in 1946. Williams was also the first Black artist to receive a contract from the Opera and the first Black singer in a major role at the Vienna State Opera. In 1948, she had the lead role of Aida for the New York City Opera. Three years later, Williams recorded Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" but refused to portray Bess in staged productions since she did not accept the stereotypical casting for the opera. In 1963, before the historic speech "I Have a Dream", she sang "Star-Spangled Banner". After retiring from opera, Williams continued her teaching career and became the first Black woman appointed at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and the first Black professor of voice at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing (Talibah, 2020).

Her decision to ‘seize the time’ was a bold one for a young black girl from the South. Many accolades followed her arrival in Philadelphia. She became the first winner of the prestigious Marian Anderson Award, a vocal scholarship established by Miss Anderson, in 1943 and again the next season. In that same year, Camilla won the Philadelphia Orchestra Youth Concert Auditions, which offered an opportunity as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, directed by the distinguished Eugene Ormandy.

Growing up in a small southern town in the 1920s and 30’s naturally implies the canopy of racial segregation and its ubiquitous and complicated codes of social perception and political behavior. These same codes would continue to plague her for the next sixty years of her life. As a mature woman, she realized that she had often been naïve to the prejudicial attitudes she frequently encountered. A select few had protected her from harmful attitudes and negative episodes on her journey.

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- Talibah, M. (2020). Camilla Williams. Danville Museum.
- photograph via

Tuesday 17 October 2023

Language Decolonisation and the Radio

Approaches to language decolonisation vary but are all actions taken "to undo the social, political, and cultural effects of dominance of colonial languages" and to fight against language shift, endangerment, extinction and death. Languages and identities suppressed by linguistic imperialism are legitimated, revitalised, and maintained, linguistic inequality, manipulation, repression and cultural oppression are redressed.

Media is a strong tool for language decolonisation. In Ghana, for instance, radio record most of the programmes in Ghanaian languages. Mass media becomes "a mechanism for the storage of expressions, reservoirs and reference points for the circulation of words, phrases and discourse".
Linguistically, African language programmes on radio and TV have immensely contributed in African societies. Listeners learn a lot of things on language such as new vocabularies for modern concepts in politics, medicine, health, education, administration, economics and science from African programmes. They get new terms, idiomatic expressions, etymologies of words, proverbs, archaisms, appellations, etc. of indigenous languages (see Agyekum 2010 on radio). 
One of the major functions of the African language programmes on radio and TV talk-shows is language modernization, development and elaboration of terms to cater for most aspects of human life. Radio is one of the most powerful tools in the dissemination, interpretation and recontextualisation of discourse (see Agyekum 2000, 2010). Coined terms and phrases commonly used on African language radio programmes are picked up by the people and accepted for use outside radio.
Oral literature genres are less available in urban spaces and appear more and more on radio which somewhat replaces the "traditional village oral traditions" once provided by the elders. Both radio and television become repositories for African languages particularly when it comes to orality which was the main feature of African laguages before the advent of missionaries (Agyekum, 2018).

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-- Agyekum, K. (2018). Linguistic imperialism and language decolonisaiton in Africa through documentation and preservation. In J. Kandybowicz, T. Major, H. Torrence and P. Duncan (eds.) African Linguistics on the Prairie: Selected papers from the 45th annual conference on African linguistics. Berlin: Language Science Press, pp. 87–104.
- photograph by Pierre Verger via

Monday 16 October 2023

"Miss Black and Beautiful" and Raphael Albert's Photography

Raphael Albert (1935-2009) was born on the Caribbean island of Grenada where he struggled to make a living selling his artwork to tourists on the beach. He moved to London in 1953 with an old Kodak camera in his suitcase. There, Albert studied photography at college and worked part-time at Lyons cake factory. After graduating, he worked as a freelance photographer documenting the West Indian communities in London. In 1970, Albert launched the "Miss black and Beautiful" contest, followed by "Miss West Indies in Great Britain", "Miss Teenager of the West Indies in Great Britain", and "Miss Grenada". For thirty years, Albert documented the pageants photographically and commissioned other photographers to shoot them (via and via).

"Albert’s photographs offer a rare insight into an ambiguous cultural performance at a particular historical conjuncture. Most importantly, the photographs in the exhibition offer a rare insight into an ambivalent cultural performance of gendered and raced identities at a particular historical conjuncture. As such, they serve as testament to a profound moment of self-fashioning and collective celebration in London’s pan Afro-Caribbean communities. His images are imbued with an exquisite, revolutionary sensuality and a certain joie de vivre, which I find refreshing and illuminating at the same time. Many of the models in Albert’s photographs embody an aura of hedonistic confidence in a new generation of black women coming of age in Britain during the 1970s, fuelled by complex cultural politics of identity, difference and desire."
Renee Mussai

"One could argue that Albert’s photographs offer a counter narrative to dominant photographic moments of the time, such as images of protest with raised fists locked in revolt, and other signs of discrimination and racial turmoil as often seen in the work of black photographers contemporaneous to Albert, such as Neil Kenlock and Armet Francis. Refreshingly, there are no signs of displacement or marginality, nor a sense of alienation in Albert’s portraits–his pageant images offer a different, and perhaps lighter, form of cultural resistance.

But it is equally important to remember that Albert’s photographs of the late 1960s and early 1970s were taken at a time of “No dogs. No blacks. No Irish” in a country irrevocably tainted by Enoch Powell’s 1968 “Rivers of Blood” anti-immigration speech, delivered only three years after the introduction of the 1965 Race Relations Act, the first legislation passed in the UK to outlaw racial discrimination on the grounds of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins."
Renee Mussai

photographs by Raphael Albert via (1- Miss West Indies in GB contestant at Blythe Road, London, 1970s, 2- Beauty queen posing against alpine backdrop, London, 1970s, 3 - Crowned beauty queen with fellow contestants, London, 1970s, 4 - Beauty queen, London, 1970s) and via

Tuesday 10 October 2023

Italian-French Co-productions and Transnational Cultural Exchange

Abstract:  The article explores some recurring features found in Pathé’s Italian-French co-productions in the 1950s and 1960s, addressing this corpus of films as a representative sample of the larger co-production trends between the two countries in the period under discussion. The analysis is based on the examination of unpublished documents as well as press material from the archives of the Fondation Seydoux-Pathé (Seydoux-Pathé Foundation) and the Cinémathèque française (French Film Library). 

As the article evidences, co-productions served as a powerful instrument of transnational cultural exchange, modern marketing practices, and the rethinking and revisiting of country-specific genres. They also paved the way for the exportation and popularization of Italian actors, directors and cinematic style across France. Great attention is paid to how the French specialist and popular press received such co-productions, whether the films’ dual nationality affected their reception and to what extent co-productions contributed to the image of Italian cinema in post-war France. (Palma, 2017)

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- Palma, P. (2017). Viaggio in Francia: Pathé Italian-French co-productions in the 1950s and 1960s. Journal of Italian Cinema & Media Studies, 5(3), 333-355.
- photograph of Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve (1974) via

Monday 9 October 2023

"We do not know who we are if we ignore what we will become."

"Let us cease cheating, the meaning of our life is in question in the future that awaits us; we do not know who we are if we ignore what we will become. Let us recognize ourselves in this old man, in this old woman. We must do so if we want to take up our human condition in its totality." 

As Sonia Kruks points out, most people seek to flee this "other within us", do not recognise themselves in the old but view them as a "different species". It is "their bad faith flight from their own incipient old age that accounts for much of denigration and mal-treatment they inflict on the old".

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image (Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean-Luc Goddard) via

Saturday 7 October 2023

Quoting Bob Hoskins

"I've played so many historical characters because most horrible dictators are short, fat, middle-aged men."
Bob Hoskins

"I'm a feminist, yes! Very strongly."

Bob Hoskins

"I'd say I am partial to women."
Bob Hoskins

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image via

Friday 6 October 2023

Fugitive Feminism. By Akwugo Emejulu.

"Fugitive feminism is a doorway through which I imagine Black women leading the way into the non-human, or perhaps, a beyond-human, future. Fugitive feminism is both the promise and the act of self-rebirthing, into a different reality, where we no longer are circumscribed by the assumptions of humanity that have shaped our liberations struggles by turning our backs on the very thing for which we have struggled for generations - inclusion in womanhood and humanity."
Emejulu (2022:31)

::: Related posting: Fleeing Humanity

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- Emejulu, A. (2022). Fugitive Feminism. Silver Press.
- photograph via

Thursday 5 October 2023

The intention of decolonising museums is not ...

 ... "to erase history, or the history of the object, but to work collaboratively with communities to develop multiple perspectives to support a better understanding and deeper meaning. Decolonising the collection will mean that we have more information about objects, not less. We will be able to present a more balanced, authentic and decolonised account of history."
Comms team response to blog comment, 2022

photograph by Inge Morath (Museum Hamburger Bahnhof, Saachi Collection Show, Berlin, 1998) via

Tuesday 3 October 2023

Movies Aimed at Teenagers and the Non-Existent Older Person

In a content analysis, the portrayal of older people in the sixty most popular teen movies from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s was examined, twenty from each decade. For this purpose, older people were defined as those appearing to be 55 years of age or older (note: a rather large group of very different ages and generations), identified based on the presence of one or more of the following characteristics: appearance of retirement, extensive grey hair, wrinkles, extensive loss of hair or balding, cracking voice, use of an aid (cane or wheelchair), parent of a daughter or son who is middle-aged or older, grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Three coding categories were used: young old (55-64), middle old (65-74), old old (75+). Physical characteristics (health status, physical activity, physical portrayal) and personality traits (e.g. forgetful, angry, helpless, lonely, sad, senile) were also coded, so were their portrayals as either consistent or not consistent with positive and negative stereotypes.

While some portrayals were favourable showing older people as active and healthy, mostly, they were marginalised in terms of plot, featured as background characters, and their personalities were based on stereotypes and negative traits. Older people's underrepresentation relative to their actual number in the US-American population was extreme, only 7% of characters in teen movies were old. Almost a third of the movies did not contain any older characters, six of these films were from the 1980s (e.g. Pretty in Pink, Footloose), eight from the 1990s (e.g. Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You), five from the 2000s (e.g. Friday Night lights, Snow Day). In line with these findings, the movies with the highest number of older characters were recent: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire contained seven older characters, The Princess Diaries contained six. Apart from that, no statistically significant differences were found between the decades suggesting that the representation of older characters has remained relatively consistent in teen films over time (at least the time examined).

The primary character role fulfilled by an older character was that of worker (n=27.30%), followed by grandparent (n=18.20%), and boss (n=18.20%). Only 13% of older characters were coded as friends (e.g. Doc from Back to the Future). Grandparents were mainly featured in minor or incidental roles, only two of the 18 grandparents were featured in major roles.

Those who had either major or minor roles were significantly more likely to have teeth (...), to be portrayed as intelligent (...), loving (...), or eccentric (...), and to exhibit the Golden Ager (...), John Wayne Conservative (...), or Perfect Grandparent (...) stereotype. Major and minor characters were significantly more likely than incidental characters to be portrayed in an overall positive manner, while incidental characters were slightly more likely to be portrayed as neutral or negative (...).

The dominant personality trait of older characters (n=32, 35%) found was "angry/grupy/stern", the second-most (n=23) was "friendly" (25%). Men were significantly more often shown with grey hair than women, women - on the other hand - were significantly more likely to be shown as hunched over.

Positive and negative attitudes to older people might crystallise during late childhood and adolescence, a time characterised by young people seeking out "specific forms of media to actively acquire the norms and beliefs of the culture in which they live", by a process of formulating one's identity, and heavy media consumption.

The stereotypes that adolescents today hold toward older people were reflected in older character portrayals in these popular teen films. Given the negative representations of older people that adolescents are exposed to in their teen years, it is no wonder that they express negative attitudes toward older people. After years of exposure to media that negatively depict older adults, adolescents may have been cultivated to stereotype older people. This has the potential to influence the quality of their interactions with older people, and also influence the way they come to view the prospect of getting old.

Since, at least in "nuclear family cultures", children and teenagers have less intergenerational contact with older people than in the past and at the same time the media plays a more crucial role, it is likely that the latter turns into a socialising agent shaping them and the source they get most of their information about older people from. Adolescents with heavy TV consumption might get the idea that older people are vanishing from the population since they are almost non-existent in movies (Magoffin, 2007).

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- Magoffin, D. L. (2007). Stereotyped Seniors: The Portrayal of Older Characters in Teen Movies from 1980-2006. Brigham Young University: Theses and Dissertations, 977, link
- photographs of teenagers by Joseph Szabo via and via

Monday 2 October 2023

Marie-Claire Chevalier, Gisèle Halimi, and the Legalisation of Abortion in France

In 1971, Marie-Claire Chevalier (1955-2022) was still in high school. That year, aged 16, she was raped by a schoolmate, became pregnant and had an - illegal - abortion. Since a law from 1920 prohibited the interruption of pregnancy, she was arrested, along with her mother, the woman who had performed the abortion and two friends who were charged as accomplices.  

Marie-Claire Chevalier was prosecuted and imprisoned, her rapist was released (he had been arrested for auto theft and released for denouncing his victim for having had an abortion) (via and via).

French doctors willing to perform the illegal operation commonly charge $900 or more; a trip to London or Geneva for a legal abortion would cost at least $600. Two friends sent Mme. Chevalier to an office secretary who moonlighted as an "angel maker," as the French call an abortionist. Although the secretary charged only $300, she did the job so badly that Marie-Claire hemorrhaged and was taken to a hospital. 
The hospital said nothing to the authorities, but Marie-Claire's 19-year-old seducer (sic)—whose own mother described him as "not very attractive." and really interested only in motorcycles—said all too much. Arrested on a theft charge, he started talking about Marie-Claire. The authorities indicted her, her mother, the two friends and the angel maker. All France settled back to cluck over the trial. (via)

Chevalier was represented by Gisèle Halimi (1927-2020) in "a sensational 1972 trial", the "Bobigny trial" (named for the Paris suburb where it took place). Halimi was - with Simone de Beauvoir - one of the founders of "Choisir", a group campaigning for the decriminalisation of abortion which finally happened in 1975. In an open statement, Halimi declared that she herself had had an abortion: "Sometimes it is necessary to break the law to move forward and bring about a change in society." (via and via). More women openly stated having had an abortion to support the case, such as e.g. Delphine Seyrig

Outside the courtroom, there were demnostrations; Paul Milliez became "an unsung hero" of the Bobigny trial (via):

Dr. Paul Milliez, dean of a Paris teaching hospital, a Catholic and father of six, testified that he would have performed Marie-Claire's abortion and that he had done so in a few other cases. Though he had immunity from criminal prosecution as a witness, he was quickly summoned for rebuke by Minister of Health Jean Foyer. When Milliez pointed out that wealthy women can easily get abortions, Foyer told him that "this was no reason why the vices of the rich should be made equally possible for the poor." (via)

Chevalier, her mother and the other women on trial were acquitted in the case that became a landmark one and that certainly paved he way to the legalisation of abortion in France (via and via).

A trial that would not have the sole purpose of defending the defendants (the young girl, her mother and three “accomplices” abortion), but would aim to shake society as a whole, provoke debate, shake consciences, break the taboo on abortion and denounce the legislation in force. A trial that would force the public authorities to face up to a phenomenon that affected nearly a million French women each year and claimed many victims. A trial that would point to the hypocrisy of a system in which the richest got by without any problem, at the cost of trips abroad or stays in private clinics, while the poorest, subject to the “angel makers”, risked their lives and faced the torments of justice. In short, a political trial was needed. (via)

Chevalier won the case but was traumatised by the rape and the abortion that had almost killed her. After the trial, she changed her name and sought to live her life out of the public eye (via and via).

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photographs (first one. Gisele Halim and Delphine Seyrig, 1972)  via and via and via and via 

Sunday 1 October 2023

Sexual Harassment in Educational Settings: Teachers as Victims and the Gendered Nature of the Problem

Sexual harassment and sexual violence in educational settings do not only target students but also teachers - or female staff in general. Men and boys are consistently found to be the main perpetruatros of sexual harassment and sexual violence which is linked to male ideas around gender and masculinity playing a crucial role. In addition, online pornography creates a "misguided representation" of individuals and sexual relationships, which again has an impact on young men and boys in particular. There is, in fact, an association between regular access to online pornography and violent sexual behaviour. Also, young men who use pornography are more likely to show negative attitudes to gender equality. Easy access to porn is said to have a "very corrosive impact within schools". 

Sending unwanted hardcore pornographic or nude images to girls in the corridor or to other students in class are some of the problems cited. According to a piece of research on nude image sharing, the scale of the problem is enormous and, at times, more than 5.000 responses is possible. The problem is difficult to tackle since the behaviour is also happening outside the school gates, on young people's mobile phones. 

One major challenge is the combination of two trends taking place at the same time: the mainstreaming of hardcore pornography and the digital revolution of the social world from which new kinds of digital-based abuse and violence emerge. This kind of abuse is also targeting teachers. One in twenty of the teachers taking part in a poll said that the misogyny they had experienced had been posted on social media. The posts showed the teachers' faces superimposed on pornographic images or upskirt pictures of teachers (via).

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photograph by Joseph Szabo (Barbara, 1977) via