Parents of a nine-year-old boy heard their son use the word ‘homo’, which is a Dutch swear word equivalent to ‘faggot’ in weight and meaning, and made him pay for it. He had to pay 0,10 euro to COC Netherlands, the Dutch LGBT organisation.
The payment had an explanation from the parents: “Sorry for the odd amount, but this is a ‘fine’ for using the word ‘faggot’ as a swear word (9 years old). He understands what he did wrong now.”
A COC employee said that ‘faggot’ is the most popular swear word at Dutch schools. A gay friend of mine who teaches at a secondary school in Amsterdam recently disciplined a boy for calling another boy ‘faggot’ and had to explain why that was wrong. The issue was that the boy didn’t see the connection between an actual homosexual like his teacher and calling someone a ‘faggot’, but I’m sure he gets it now, too.
The swear word ‘homo’ in films by the New Kids (view the trailer at 0:28 and let it roll for 10-15 sec even if you don’t speak Dutch) is used more like ‘pussy’, which doesn’t really offend people somehow because the films’ characters are total white trash douches themselves.
Tags: homophobia, swearing
Here’s a lovely, fuzzy article about cultural differences in The Guardian, prompted by an organisational theory thought up by Dutchman Fons Trompenaar, which divides the world into peaches and coconuts. Peaches are what I call the ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ people who are friendly to strangers and will withdraw if they have to over time, while coconuts are the ‘wait-and-see’ types who will seem distant at first and may eventually warm up to you over time.
The important point is that both sides are valid and have the power to offend the other, deliberately or not. Recently a Dutch acquaintance said if someone was offended by something he said, it was always the other person’s fault for being offended and that people get offended too quickly. Much like the clumsy KLM tweet about Mexico, where KLM tried to say they were sorry but actually suggested that other people just don’t get Dutch humour, this would mean that the entire Twittersphere would have to bow to a culture they probably don’t even know and that the person at KLM is not responsible for their mistake.
If Trompenaar’s theory of both sides having equal value is true, then someone who causes offense cannot always blame it on other people. Conversely, someone who decides to be offended by everything they hear is of course equally at fault for blaming others. When I was learning Russian at university in Québec, I found out by reading Russian people’s reactions socially that calling myself ‘Natasha’ (my real name) was considered too friendly too fast because ‘Natasha’ is a friendly diminutive of ‘Natalia’ and you don’t let people call you that unless they know you. I then started introducing myself as ‘Natalia’. I could have said, ‘sod this, it’s my culture and my country and my name is Natasha’, but instead I told them they could call me ‘Natasha’ because that was my real name. Some stuck to Natalia, some switched to Natasha, but either way there was some cultural balance without outright blaming the other for not knowing any better.
A Dutch friend of mine visited my house once, which has carpeting that I can’t change for wooden floors, and I told him to please take off his shoes. He said, ‘what’s this, a mosque?’, and I told him that I didn’t want dirt from his shoes on my carpet. I explained that where I come from, a good part of the year it’s full of snow and mud outside, and walking into people’s homes with shoes on — unless you bring a pair of indoor shoes — is a no-no. Although it was my house, it was his cultural rules and I ended up vacuuming for 20 minutes after he visited me. He refused to accept that he had to change the way he did things for me because it wasn’t the Dutch way. All my friends take off their shoes at my place, but they do it because it’s my house and see compromise as a good thing rather than claim that their way is the only right way.
(Link: www.theguardian.com, Photo of Coconut by SingChan, some rights reserved)
Tags: cultural differences, KLM, Zwarte Piet
‘Funfair on the Nieuwmarkt, girl with beehive’ (‘Kermis op de Nieuwmarkt, meisje met suikerspinkapsel) is one of the main pieces of Ed van der Elsken’s retrospective exhibition at the the municipal archive of Amsterdam, but until recently the subject of the photo remained unknown.
The archive asked its Facebook followers if they knew who this girls was. As it turns out her widower recognised her in a previous exhibition and was all too happy to share her name: Margriet Swart.
Van der Elsken (1925-1990) was a street photographer and an important chronicler for Amsterdam during one of its most interesting periods, the 1950s and 1960s, when nozems (Dutch black leather jacket ‘bad boy’ type) provos (Dutch anti-establishment ‘bad boy’ type) made the city an interesting place to be again.
De Groene Amsterdammer explains his role: “Van der Elsken had an eye for what was brewing under that grey reality, a sense for rebellion and bold adventure, against the long leather coats and the bull pizzles of the police. This brewing is visible everywhere in Van der Elsken’s photos, in the faces of the boys hanging out in the streets and in the eyes of the girls at the funfairs.”
The exhibition, Amsterdam!, runs until 14 September 2014.
(Link: PhotoQ; illustration: PhotoQ / Ed van der Elsken)
Tags: Ed van der Elsken, hairdos, street photography, War on Fun
After the Dutch national football team beat Mexico in an exciting last ten minutes of an elimination match at the World Cup last week, in which the Oranje came back from behind with two goals, a fifteen-year-old Mexican girl called Dizzy Miss DC uploaded a song to YouTube in which she blew off steam by hurling a stream of invectives at the Dutch players and the Dutch nation and even at Europeans.
Last Thursday a 20-year-old woman from Drenthe called Karlijn Rietkerk responded. She addressed the Mexican girl (both women accompanied themselves on a ukulele) and berated her for her use of strong language (“didn’t your parents tell you that it is inappropriate?”). In her short song Rietkerk asked, isn’t football supposed to be about fun?
“F is for football
And we kicked your ass
U is for you suck balls
N is for never winning the cup…
Played a good game but it wasn’t enough.”
At 24 Oranges we like a good bit of trash talking and this world cup has certainly not disappointed us, but we need to give the victory to Karlijn Rietkerk on this one. Dizzy Miss DC’s frequent use of homophobic language disqualifies her entry from these ukulele wars. The Mexican tried to defend herself in a written coda, saying: “In my case, those words had no power at all, because I didn’t mean them. Why did I say them then? Mexican humour. It’s complicated.” Even back in 1979 Lester Banks had something smart to say about using words that have no meaning at all: “No matter how you intend them, you can’t say them without risking misinterpretation by some [bigot]; your irony just might be his cup of hate.”
(Illustration: cropped screenshot if Rietkerk’s video at YouTube)
Tags: Drenthe, homophobia, irony, Mexico, satire, trash talking, ukuleles
The students graduating from Amsterdam’s Rietveld School of Art & Design (in Dutch, Gerrit Rietveld Academie) will be exhibiting their graduation projects until Sunday 6 July 2014.
24 Oranges was invited to come and take a peek.
Some of the works, such as the dog above, were displayed without any explanation of what the student was trying to say—probably not necessary with a Disney-like creature anyway—or even the name of the maker. (There were sticky notes carrying the name Tim Maarse near this sculpture, but it wasn’t quire clear if the sticky notes referred to the sculpture or were a work unto themselves).
Other artists, such as photographer Casper Koster, left extensive documentation behind for visitors to peruse and take home. His series ‘Coulissen’ portrays actors as they are waiting in the wings of a stage for their next scene.
Setareh Magshoudi made a mobile mosque of paper: “From my own experience arose the need to create a space for my daily prayers, a temporary space which would provide private space and at the same time a sacred sense.”
Jessie Hoefnagel was knitting something big. Unfortunately, her seat was in a warm spot because of the sun, so by the time I got there all I found was a note saying “not here until it gets bearable”.
When I had finished walking around, three hours had passed and my feet were sore. Where did the time go?
I will post some more photos to Flickr when I get the chance (and will hopefully be able to add more names of the artists at the same time). Meanwhile, check out the exhibit in person if you have the chance or visit Trendbeheer, as Jeroen Bosch took a load of pictures.
Tags: mosques, sculpture
The court of Amsterdam has handed down a ruling today that the entire Dutch media was waiting for about Zwarte Piet (‘Black Pete’, Saint Nicholas’ holiday time helper): it turns out he’s deemed “offensive to black people” and “racist” after all.
Although it was argued by many that Zwarte Piet is just some black figure and that he had nothing to do with slavery, a point that can surely be made, the blackface clown with exaggerated red lips and golden earrings apparently encourages a “negative stereotyping of black people”. In Dutch, when someone is made out to be the ‘bad guy’ in a situation, it is called to be the ‘Zwarte Piet’, which says a lot already about how he is viewed.
Today’s verdict only applies to Amsterdam and it remains to be seen what the rest of the country will make of such a strong and old tradition being struck down. Internet comments are not the nicest at the moment, blaming a few people for ruining it for everybody else and that sort of thing.
I wonder if Zwarte Piet is worth being the perpetual ‘bad guy’ and ‘whipping boy’ for a deeper discussion about racial stereotypes that needs to happen and will see where history will collectively take the Netherlands on this one.
(Link: www.nieuws.nl, Photo: tobysterling.net)
Tags: Sinterklaas, Zwarte Piet
The City of Amsterdam subsidized a free educational game entitled ‘Road to Freedom’ that was 1.5 years in the making to teach children about Dutch slavery in Suriname. It was produced by the National Institute for the Study of Dutch Slavery and its Legacy and designed by Pepergroen to mark the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery.
The Afro-Surinamese community in the Netherlands wasn’t thrilled with the game, but neither were the Americans at Apple who called the content ”slanderous and insulting”. A quick Google search shows that Apple is not a fan of anything with slaves in it, like this sweatshop app.
On the one hand, anything too culturally confrontational makes many people from countries with unresolved colonial pasts uncomfortable and on the other, anything that is presented in a game format already downgrades the importance of historical relevance. If I were at school today and someone gave me a flee from a Russian labour camp game, I’d have a real problem with it and so would my parents.
I do get what the makers were trying to do, but unfortunately they have managed to trivialize something that deserves a much better platform. A Dutch friend of mine would say, ‘het idee is goed, maar de uitvoering is klote’ (‘The idea is good, but the execution is crap’).
UPDATE The video we had up yesterday introducing the game has been pulled offline.
(Link: www.joop.nl, www.volkskrant.nl, Screenshot of the game before it was yanked offline)
Tags: Apple, apps, slavery, slaves, Suriname
As of 1 July 2014 the country’s new Transgender Law comes into effect, allowing transgenders to change the gender stated in their passport and other documents without having to plead their case to a judge first or undergo surgery to be rendered permanently infertile. Transgenders now only need an expert statement to receive new ID with the ‘correct’ gender, which technically applies to anyone over 16 and does have fees attached to it.
After eight years of struggling, Transgender Netwerk Nederland and COC Nederland are celebrating this milestone of Dutch law, calling it ‘finally having a say about one’s own gender’.
(Link: transgendernetwerk.nl, Photo of Gay flag by sigmaration, some rights reserved)
Tags: gender, transgender
The A15 motorway south of Rotterdam is not a nice road to cross if you are a pedestrian or cyclist. Eight lanes of terrifying motorized menace are bordered by a double railway on one side and another road on the other.
To help you escape the city without having to play a game of humanFrogger, this bridge, which appears to have come straight from the set of a science fiction film, was built earlier this month. All 190 metres of it connect the city of Rotterdam to the nature preserve of Rhoon.
The bridge, called ‘De Groene Verbinding’ (‘The Green Connection’) was designed by Marc Verheijen, an architect employed by the public works department of Rotterdam. If you want more photos and information, Mark Wagenbuur has an extensive write-up including pictures and videos.
The photo above comes from the Province of South Holland who have also dedicated a page to the bridge.
Tags: bridges, cities, nature preserves, Rhoon, Rotterdam
Earlier this year Facebook was sued by American patent trolls Rembrandt IP, allegedly representing the deceased Jos van der Meer.
Van der Meer’s heirs claim that the Dutchman invented the concept of Facebook in 2001, calling it Surfbook. The Register reports that an American jury disagreed in no uncertain terms: “the Eastern District of Virginia jury decided that the patents were “shabby” and shouldn’t have been granted”.
In 2001, a full two years before Facebook was founded, Van der Meer had patented things like keeping a personal diary on the web. Damning evidence indeed if you squint your eyes for a moment and forget that Geocities was founded in 1994 and the word ‘weblog’ was coined in 1997.
On its website Rembrandt IP writes: “[our company] undertakes a rigorous diligence process to investigate all intellectual property it considers for enforcement actions. [...] Due to the high level of internal resources needed to complete this in-depth process, we are very selective when determining which opportunities to consider.”
Did their process fail them this time around or did Rembrandt IP expect to lose? Given that they started a lawsuit in January against another tech giant, Apple (PDF), a reasonable person would probably forgive me for thinking that they start these cases for the publicity it generates. (I am not sure how effective a strategy it is to lose your cases).
(Photo of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg by Elaine and Priscilla Chan, some rights reserved)
Tags: Apple, Facebook, patent law, patent trolls, patents, USA