Tag Archives: sexuality

Researching social media: twitter and homophobia

11 Dec

It’s some time now since I last posted about twitter and therefore, when reading about Nohomophobes last friday in the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, I thought it would be a suitable choice for a post addressing both a Communication topic (twitter) and a Sociological one (homophobia).

nohomophobes alltimeAn initiative of the ISMSS Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services at the University of Alberta, Nohomophobes keeps track of how often Tweets include the words ‘faggot’, ‘dyke’, ‘so gay’ and ‘no homo’, and is therefore «designed as a social mirror to show the prevalence of casual homophobia in our society. Words and phrases like “faggot,” “dyke,” “no homo,” and “so gay” are used casually in everyday language, despite promoting the continued alienation, isolation and — in some tragic cases — suicide of sexual and gender minority (LGBTQ) youth. We no longer tolerate racist language, we’re getting better at dealing with sexist language, but sadly we’re still not actively addressing homophobic and transphobic language in our society».

Whether we truly are getting better at dealing with racist and sexist language, I dare not say (and I’m not exclusively thinking of my native country), and yet it’s just such academic initiatives as Nohomophobes that, even if ‘only’ by making us conscious of our casual discriminatory language, can help individuals and societies getting better.

As far as (discriminatory) language is concerned: should you want to know more about the origins, meanings and use of such terms as dyke, faggot and gay, take a look at the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, freely accessible at Berlin Humboldt-University‘s site.


RefWorks to pickup artists (PUAs)

5 Dec

Dealing with young people and their (intellectual) expectations and development, and considering the sheer variety of the world of knowledge are among the most important reasons that make a (library) job at the University so exciting.

jitse schuurmansWhile discussing a RefWorks question some time ago with UvA-anthropologist Jitse Schuurmans I not only came to know of the existence of pickup artists and who they are, but also that Schuurmans – who recently started his PhD on the subject at the AISSR research group Dynamics of Citizenship and Culture – had already written a (Dutch) book on the subject in 2010, De versierkunstenaars.

Should the meaning of ‘pickup’ («a casual encounter with a stranger with a view to having sexual intercourse», Oxford English Dictionaries) be not enough of a clue, the following from the University of Pittsburgh Women’s Studies wiki might prove clarifying: «The seduction community is a transnational male subculture with its origins in the U.S. It consists of pickup artists (PUAs) who systematically work to get better at approaching and attracting women».

This being said, and apart from Schuurmans’ book and ongoing research, are there any scholarly publications on the topic? Searching for ‘pickup artists’ in both the ProQuest-databases and Web of Science (online available through the UvA-Library: restrictions may apply outside the UvA-network) retrieves one relevant peer reviewed article (Hall, J. & Canterberry, M. (2011). Sexism and assertive courtship strategies. Sex Roles, 65 840-853) and several reviews of Neil Strauss’ book The game: penetrating the secret society of pickup artists.

fragonardGiven both Strauss’ and the more recent Confessions of a pickup artist chaser: long interviews with hideous men, released this year by Clarisse Thorn, aren’t scholarly publications, and while waiting for Schuurmans’ research output, a valuable exercise – so far information literacy is concerned – is to go through Hall and Canterberry’s references and to note the keywords the databases provide for their article and for Strauss’ reviews: (ProQuest) sexism‎, prediction‎, males‎, internet‎, females‎, courtship‎, “college students‎”, artists‎; (Web of Science) “ambivalent sexism”, “assertive behaviors”, courtship, “relationship initiation”, sociosexuality, “nice guy stereotype”, “chat-up lines”, “benevolent sexism”, “hostile sexism”, women, gender, men, personality.

How to use such terms in a systematic search for more relevant literature has been the topic of last week’s post. How such notions as ‘sexism’ and ‘courtship’ can possibly lead to the most diverse research areas is aptly illustrated by my immediately thinking of Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s The Swing as significative example of (18th Century) man/woman relationship.

Photo’s: Jitse Schuurmans’ is found on TEDxYouth@Amsterdam, to whose team the UvA-researcher belong. Fragonard’s painting and image belong to the London Wallace Collection.

Olympic Games (2): sport and sex(ism)… And synonyms and related search terms

16 Aug

The moment colleague Janneke Staaks drew my attention to the post What’s wrong with the media coverage of women olympians, published on the blog of Northeastern University media researcher Sarah J. Jackson, being myself busy with the sport-and-race topic of my previous post, I thought that addressing the issue of sex(ism) and sport could prove as interesting. And so it did.

Sarah J. Jackson’s post – a highly reccomended one – brought me, among others, to the column (London Olympics 2012: here’s 20 jolly good reasons to feel cheerful about the Games) London Mayor Boris Johnson wrote on last 15th August for The Telegraph, with as jolly-good-reason number 19 the following: «As I write these words there are semi-naked women playing beach volleyball in the middle of the Horse Guards Parade immortalised by Canaletto. They are glistening like wet otters and the water is plashing off the brims of the spectators’ sou’westers. The whole thing is magnificent and bonkers».

Though appreciating Johnson’s reference to the work of one of my favourite 18th Century Venetian artists, I couldn’t help feeling some discomfort with the ‘glistening wet otters’, a comparison which made me think back to Italian footballer Antonio Cassano’s publicly abusing homosexuals as ‘froci’ or to Dutch trainer Frank de Boer’s assertions regarding gay people’s conspicuous locomotion and their being less sporty. (Both sportsmen later apologised; I don’t know about London Mayor).

A truly intercultural topic – USA, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands – which proves nicely relevant with regard to information literacy as well. The multidisciplinarity of the issues at stake (communication, sexuality, sport sociology etc.) does namely correspond to the sheer variety of search terms you can think of… even without recurring to animals or insults.

The list of subject terms suggested by the database Sociological Abstracts when running a search for peer reviewed articles on “sexism in sport” is astounding: females‎, athletes‎, sex differences‎, racism‎, sports participation‎, news coverage, professional sports‎, sexual inequality‎, college sports‎, masculinity‎, mass media images‎, sex stereotypes‎, opposite sex relationss, males‎, sports teams‎, television‎, sex/sexes/sexism/sexist/sexists‎, sex role attitudes‎, feminism‎, olympic games‎, language usage‎, social reproduction‎, mass media effects, homophobia‎, naming practices‎, athlete/athletic/athletics‎, patriarchy‎, adolescents‎, feminist theory‎, mass media‎, sport/sporting/sports, sportsmanship, ethnography, sexuality‎, discrimination‎, stereotypes‎, attitudes‎, physical education‎, asian cultural groups, magazines‎, lesbianism‎, leisure‎, discourse‎, role models‎, woman/women, journalists‎, high school students, sex roles‎, sex role identity‎, colleges‎, social problems‎, assimilation‎, womens rights, american indians, conversation‎, aggression‎, age differences‎, sociocultural factors‎, sociology of sports‎, culture/cultures/cultural/ culturally‎, black white differences‎, death‎, spectators‎, embodiment‎, student attitudes‎, discursive practices‎, teacher attitudes‎, universities‎, programming (broadcast)‎, occupational roles‎, norms‎, nontraditional occupations‎, race‎, newspapers‎, role/roles‎, nationalism‎, male/males, man, minority groups‎, methodological problems‎, resistance‎, membership‎, physical fitness‎, social history‎, hegemony‎, physical characteristics, heterosexism‎, performance‎, sexual harassment‎.

In other words ( 🙂 ): choosing a topic to do research on is not only a matter of conveniently limiting it (geographically, historically, socially etc, see my previous post) but also to think of as many search terms as possible which may be related to the topic. Both these activities together represent a crucial initial stage in any search for scholarly information on a specific topic (have a look at the ACRL’s Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, with number one & two being the ones applying in the present case).

Photo’s: Australia’s first women Olympians, Fanny Durack and Mina Wylie, swimming gold and silver medalists in 1912, from the collections of the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales and American Greg Louganis, openly gay athlete, gold medalist in diving in 1984 and 1988 (image), from the official site of the Olympic Movement.

Children’s literacy: advertising, information, sexual

21 Jun

The RSS-feeds I am subscribed to usually give me inspiration when choosing a topic to blog on. This post is no exception to the rule, yet the latest cover page of UvA-Hva students’ weekly Folia Magazine (see picture) – and the article it actually refers to – provided extra input.

To start with, the magazine made me think of an article title in The Guardian I blogged on last year with regard to (needless to say) information literacy, and which could be restated in the case of Folia Magazine as «A case of never letting the topic spoil a good headline».

What the Dutch do better than the Americans («Wij doen het beter dan de Amerikanen») has namely nothing to do with fellatio, but with sexual awareness and education – in other terms (to make the case for this post), sexual literacy – such as this might be developed in young people by reading teen magazines. This is the topic of Suchi Joshi‘s dissertation, reviewed on pages 6-8 of Folia Magazine, and entitled «Adolescent sexual socialization and teen magazines: a cross-national study between the United States and the Netherlands» (defended June 7th; promoters: professor Patty Valkenburg, Spinoza Laureate 2011, and professor Jochen Peter).

To know more about Joshi’s research, you can read her interview on the site of CcaM, the Center for research on children, adolescents and the Media, which is part of ASCoR, the UvA Amsterdam School of Communication Research, and whose research focuses on the role and influence of media use in children’s and adolescents’ lives.

Esther Rozendaal is not only another CcaM researcher, but also one whose PhD thesis has been lately awarded the 2012 Dissertation Award by the ICA, International Communication Association. Entitled «Advertising literacy and children’s susceptibility to advertising», Rozendaal’s thesis explores the development and role of advertising literacy in children’s lives, contributing pivotal insights on how advertising-related knowledge is connected to children’s advertising susceptibility.

Sections of Rozendaal’s publication are available online at UvA-DARE, the Digital Academic Repository of the University of Amsterdam, while a (complete) print copy can be borrowed at the UvA-Bushuis library. By the way: as far as libraries are concerned, it is information literacy what we most care about:

«To be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information» (ACRL’s Presidential Committee on Information Literacy: Final Report).

«Developing lifelong learners is central to the mission of higher education institutions. By ensuring that individuals have the intellectual abilities of reasoning and critical thinking, and by helping them construct a framework for learning how to learn, colleges and universities provide the foundation for continued growth throughout their careers, as well as in their roles as informed citizens and members of communities. Information literacy is a key component of, and contributor to, lifelong learning» (Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education).

Photo’s from CcaM-site.

UvA special issues (2): queer Netherlands

20 Mar

Like I promised a couple of days ago, here is the post on the collective contribution recently made by the UvA-Sociology department to an issue of the bimonthly scholarly journal Sexualities.

Jan Willem Duyvendak, Professor of Sociology and Programme leader of the Research group Dynamics of Citizenship and Culture at the AISSR (Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research),and UvA-colleagues Gert Hekma, Assistant Professor Gay & Lesbian Studies, Laurens Buijs, PhD-candidate in the research project Solidarity in the 21st Century: Ageing, Migration, and Solidarity, Tony Coelho and Sasha Albert, both Graduates in Gender, Sexuality, and Society, discuss a variety of topics varying from gay male open relationships and sex between women in public places to the contradictory attitudes that Dutch society, culture and politics have been showing towards LGBT people.

The latter issue is addressed in relation with both antigay violence and the puzzling example of the Netherlands as gay-friendly country. «So while the Netherlands may seem exemplary in its acceptance of homosexuality, this applies more to its laws than to daily life (p. 628)… social acceptance of non-hetero-normativity remains thin and often opportunistic (p. 629)».

The latter opportunism is what strikes me as most puzzling when looking at how Dutch right-wing and populist politicians keep relating the defense of LGBT rights with their anti-immigrant stances. Indeed a Dutch contradiction, at least in the eyes of someone coming, like me, from a country which has no good reputation or tradition with regard to LGBT people’s rights, and where just right-wing parties are amongst the fiercest opponents to gay rights, just as fiercely (and “unpuzzingly”) as they are in their anti-immigrants stances.

Photo of the plaque commemorating the world’s first same-sex marriage in 2001 at the Amsterdam City Hall comes from the site of COC (Cultuur- en Ontspannings Centrum), the Dutch LGBT rights organization.