What's up, Europe? Gender, media and European integration. The story of a a young Dane exploring the continent.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Reader for 2007

I have been wanting to read 'Stiffed' ever since I bought it - together with Faludi's thought-provoking book 'Backlash' - in an American bookshop in Amsterdam. Hopefully I will find time in the new year.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The slow Rwanda

In Rwanda 1,000,000 people were slaughtered by extremist Hutu militia groups - making it one of the world's largest genocides. The Rwandan genocide is outstanding - not only because of its dimension, but also due to the international community's poor response to the atrocities. During the mass murder the UN was paralyzed; unable to reach an agreement on how to react. The consequence being a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus lost their lives during only 100 days in the spring of 1994.

In spite more than 10 years have passed since the genocide in Rwanda brutal war still haunts Africa. The gallery of Danish photographer Jan Grarup makes it evident; war is not over. We Westerners are just good at ignoring it.

At this moment another serious conflict takes place in Africa; the Darfur province in Sudan. According to an estimate by the UN more than 400,000 people have died and around 2 million more have lost their homes since the conflict began in 2003 (source: wikipedia.org). A genocide that, according to many experts, is orchestrated by the Sudanese government. In spite having had three years to come up with a response the international community has again failed to intervene - hereby allowing the Darfur conflict to turn into a 'slow Rwanda'.

Relief aid is by many regarded as useless, even as something that supports the conflict, since corruption directs the stream of money from the West into the pockets of the Sudanese government. According to the Danish, independent campaign 'Save Darfur' up to 95 percent of the emergency aid from the Danish government has ended in the hands of war-makers.

For sure, war is not over.

Friday, December 22, 2006

War on Christmas

As an update to my previous post about international media coverage of Danish People's Party policies I have just become aware of the "War on Christmas" going on overseas. As in the Danish case the dispute was triggered by the government changing its Christmas greeting - from "merry Christmas" to "best wishes for a holiday season of hope and happiness".

One of the driving forces behind the dispute is Bill O'Reilly, a news anchor at the conservative news channel Fox. I am a bit unsure whether O'Reilly can be labelled "Christian fundamentalist" but there is no doubt he is a moral conservative. With respect to the War on Christmas Media Matters quote him for saying:

"it's all part of the secular progressive agenda ... to get Christianity and spirituality and Judaism out of the public square."

"[B]ecause if you look at what happened in Western Europe and Canada, if you can get religion out, then you can pass secular progressive programs, like legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, gay marriage, because the objection to those things is religious-based, usually."

Check out O'Reilly's campaign at Media Matters

Links are borrowed from progressivt.dk

For those interested in O'Reilly and Fox news I strongly recommend the documentary "Outfoxed". Especially the part about Jeremy Glick's visit to Bill O'Reilly's show is thought-provoking.

For Danish speakers Henrik Hansen also offers his opinion on the Danish People's Party case.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Animal sex and christmas cards - Danish politics in the eyes of the international press

For a party that seems to be against everything that has to do with globalization and international collaboration the Danish People's Party is quite comfortable with the international press. Within the last month they have been appearing in two major international news outlets.

Animal sex proposal spurs call for referendum
Reuters, 30th of November 2006

Danish populist party blasts government for removing 'Christmas' in holiday greetings
Associated Press, 21st of December 2006

Bad news is good news - also in Brussels

The negative slant to media coverage of the the European Union is a source of permanent headache to the people in Brussels. They are, as I, convinced there are plenty of good news to pass on but somehow these stories are rarely found in the papers.

In a study of British journalists Gavin reaches the conclusion that this trend is perfectly natural. Not because Brussels is nested with corruption and deception but because "bad news is good news" - and decision-makers and civil servants in Brussels need to cope better with that. Gavin explains:

"... newspaper people might come to the conclusion that Europe's serious deficiencies outweigh the more abstract and less tangible benefits it has brought us over decades. And stories headlined 'Still no war after fifty years!' or 'Europe continues to give us a level of prosperity we might not otherwise have' are always going to loose the battle for column inches to reports beginning with 'Beef war with France, again!'"

In Gavin, N.T (2001): British journalists in the spotlight. Europe and media research. Journalism vol 2(3), pp. 299-314.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Sex computer game for women

Sex computer games are traditionally intended for a male audience with very few - to say absolute none at all - games produces for women. Earlier this year game designer Heather Kelley from Ubisoft introduced the worlds first sex game for women. In her game she presents a bunny, Lapis, as the new Leisure Sweet Larry. Players touch and stroke the animal and travels higher into the sky as they rub.

In an interview with WomenGamers.Com Heather Kelley explains about her idea:

"The idea is not to be pornographic in any sense, but to use sexual pleasure as a metaphor for magical freedom and flight, things much more about the imaginations, not looking at naked bodies or anything about that. It is about sex, but not overtly sexual.

I was looking at things that appealed to women as players and things that dealt with fantasy. Fantasy is a strong element of sexuality and I wanted to work with it, but not in a literal way. There was a certain aesthetic that I wanted, a feeling of freedom and release, so the concept, in full, would allow much further travel – the demo is sort of scratching the surface."

The game is designed for a Nintendo DS.

Try out the game here. Before playing you need to download Virtools Web Player. Game controls are explained on the Lapis web page.

Read Heather Kelley's thoughts about the game design in her concept presentation

Read what women gamers have to say about Lapis at the WomenGamers.Com discussion forum.