March 08, 2005

Friday 4th March : Medea Session

We ran through pretty much the whole piece in this rehearsal, and it’s looking really good, finally we’ve got a good performance with so many different elements (dance, music, SFX, the painting).

Rachel’s painting (thanks to James and Beck as well) is looking awesome, much too good to paint over in white! Here it is :

The beginning’s pretty much come together now; we used a CD that Laura’s made of children playing, which is really spooky when played at the beginning before I enter with the chorus. I’m probably going to have to sing the song twice, as Frankie and Kali need enough time to come down from the catwalk and enter at the end of the procession with the rest of the chorus; it’d look a bit naff if they had to come in separately because they were letting the bits of red material down from the catwalk.

We spent a lot of time working on the courtroom scene, as we hadn’t really spent any time on this yet. We altered the placing of the chorus at the back in their ‘material boxes’. Will and I now start standing on platforms at either side of the stage, then we’re carried on on the platforms, into the court (as it were). Four members of the chorus then kneel round each of us on the floor, and they say the ‘Objection’ and ‘Sustained’ that brings the emotional scene into the court scene.

Helen and Rachel (the Gods / scales) stand during the scene on a high platform at the back of the stage, then they come down and move through the chorus while we’re frozen in position, for their scene. We tried putting James and Beck up on the catwalk, as if Medea is in prison (or in a dock in court) and Jason is accusing her; this is effective and we are going to use it. Hopefully we can use light through the catwalk grille like the light through the bars of a prison cell.

We decided on a place for Rachel’s painting as well; on the far left of the set, between two white curtains.

We discussed what white noise/flicking between TV channels we want for the alternative ending scene. Hopefully Annisa is going to be able to do something this weekend on VHS that we can use. Then we need to put it on the same tape as Grace’s news report, and we can edit it all together for ease during the performance.

All getting better every rehearsal, now we have what looks like a good performance! We need to do some hard work next week on making everything smooth, so we know what we’re doing very well and it doesn’t look like we’ve only every run it once before!


March 03, 2005

Medea Rehearsal : 3rd March

I felt today's session in the studio went really well and clarified the structure of the piece, something that's really important before we develop the individual bits any further.

We started off rehearsing individually in our groups; Charlotte, Julia, Kali, Jack and Annisa are working on the Dada poem with a kind of dance where Medea is in the middle and is controlled by pieces of red material which are tied to parts of her body; this represents the different elements of her mindset and her confused state of mind in the situation of the play.

Rachel, Will, Beck, Helen, James and I are working on our courtroom scene. We now have a script that we are learning; the scene is fairly naturalistic, which provides a distinct contrast with the other scenes in the 'middle' of the piece, especially as it comes after the dada dance and poem, which is obviously very non-naturalistic.

Diagram :

There are two pairs of Jason and Medea, one pair which will be behind a thin sheet of material, lit from behind by a light, so they will act out a scene from p346 of ‘Medea’ silhouetted. In front, on a platform, will be the Jason and the Medea who are in the courtroom (me and Will). They are more controlled and restrained than the couple behind the sheet, yet they make sudden outbursts that are controlled by the court. At the very back are Rachel and Helen, who represent the human scales. At the end of the textual speaking by Will, me, Beck and James, we freeze and Rachel and Helen walk on and have an argument/discussion summing up the points for and against Medea’s defence of her actions. We were thinking of using 2 red sashes to represent the two Medeas, and 2 black sashes to represent the two Jasons.

Grace, Laura and Mary-Kate were working on an alternative ending for ‘Medea’. Grace is filming a news report for the beginning of the performance, so today she recorded an alternative report as though the people of Corinth searched for Medea’s children and killed them themselves as revenge for Creon’s death.

Sam and Gethin developed a kind of ritual dance inspired by the ancient Greek dance workshopping that we did with Annisa, which they taught the boys. This will probably be used at the same time as the girls singing a 2-part version of my latin song from the beginning.
We now seem to have a vague structure for the performance :

1) The audience enter to Gethin playing the guitar

2) A blackout then occurs and Frankie and Kali start making noises on the cat-walk

3) The lights then come on. Two figures are seen in masks on the cat-walk. These figures (representing the children) then drop red material down to the floor and create a kind of arch for the chorus to walk through

4) The chorus then walk in pairs through the material arch into the studio through the audience, with me singing and everyone else following

5) When we have all gone through the arch, the red material is dropped to the floor (possibly held by invisible string so we can pull it up again later)

6) The news report then comes on the television

7) Everyone starts saying the lines from the public interviews, in pairs; one person says it, one whispers, until we all start shouting then we stop when Jack stamps his foot and shouts

8) Frankie then choreographed us in a ritualistic dance which ends with some people staying and the others going back into the ‘box’ frames created out of material round the back of the studio

9) Next is the MIDDLE section : Dada poem and dance, Courtroom scene then ALTERNATIVE ending

10) The ending will be like the beginning but in reverse

James, Beck and Rachel have also started work on the painting; they have painted the back white like a blank canvas, and then they are starting to paint by projecting the picture onto it and painting round it.
Good session guys, I really feel like it’s coming on now and I can see it all working really well. We need to sort out who’s going to buy fabric etc so we’re not doing last-minute trips to Leamington next Thursday afternoon. See you all tomorrow! K8 xXx


Laura's Photos

Writing about web page http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/lmatthews/gallery/medea_theatre_studies_stuff/

Lovely Laura has put 22 photos from her digital camera that she took at our rehearsal today (3rd March)! Thanks Laura!

March 02, 2005

Initial Ideas for Courtroom Scene

Rachel, Beck, Helen, Will, James and I are working on a 'courtroom'-style piece that will hopefully fulfil the need that we all felt for more audience participation and involvement in our performance.

We thought that it should be at least a partly non-naturalistic style, as the majority of the piece so far seems to have a non-naturalistic slant. The speech around p346 is a direct argument between Jason and Medea, so we're thinking of using that.

James has got some friends who do law who will hopefully be able to put what we want into 'law-sounding' speaking terms, so it sounds like we're summing up the case in proper Ally- McBeal terms!

Possibly have 2 Jasons and 2 Medeas, 1 pair being the emotional couple having the argument in the background, while 1 pair represent the controlled, restarined individuals in the courtroom being cross-questioned.

Need for prosecutor and defence.

How about an Exhitbit Table? We could have Exhibit A – the knife used to kill the children, or Exhibit B – the poisoned tiara that Medea used to kill Creon's daughter, the princess (what's her name). Is this too gory? Or good? Since we're not actually showing the murdering or the kids at any point, maybe this is nicely graphic?! What do you think peeps?

Signing off here….............


Medea : 24th February : SONG

We had the idea of having a piece of singing from the catwalk at the end of the killing of the children – haunting music, maybe resembling the soundtrack from 'Gladiator'. I thought of using the Latin text that is used for requiem masses (masses for the dead) – this is the first section, which I used words from to set to a simple tune in C minor, 12 bars long.

I. lntroitus - Kyrie

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine
et lux perpetua luceat eis

Te decet hymnus, Deus in Sion
et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem

Exaudi orationem meam
ad te omnis caro veniet

Kyrie eleison,
Christe eleison
Kyrie eleison.

(TRAnslation) :
Grant them eternal rest, o Lord,
and may perpertual light shine upon them

Thou, o God, art praised in Sion, and unto Thee
shall the vow be performed in Jerusalem.

Hear my prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come.

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy


February 23, 2005

Ideas for 'justified'

One of the words we came up with to describe Medea was 'justified'. I explored some images of the typical image of 'Justice', and the idea of using a set of scales to weigh up both sides of Medea's argument for taking revenge on Jason.

Image 1:

Image 2:

Image 3:


Links to other people's blogs for 'Medea'

Beck's blog

Frankie's blog

Julia's blog

Charlotte's blog

Helen's blog

Annisa's blog

Kali's blog

Laura's blog

Gethin's blog

Rachel's blog

Sam's blog

Mary-Kate's blog

Jack's blog


Infanticide Research

We decided that we should focus particularly on the children in 'Medea', as they are not actually given a 'voice' of their own in Euripides' play.

I did some research on Infanticide, mostly in a modern context, but there's a complete mixture. Here it is :

_Summary
The phenomenon of female infanticide is as old as many cultures, and has likely accounted for millions of gender-selective deaths throughout history. It remains a critical concern in a number of "Third World" countries today, notably the two most populous countries on earth, China and India. In all cases, specifically female infanticide reflects the low status accorded to women in most parts of the world; it is arguably the most brutal and destructive manifestation of the anti-female bias that pervades "patriarchal" societies. It is closely linked to the phenomena of sex-selective abortion, which targets female fetuses almost exclusively, and neglect of girl children.
The background
"Female infanticide is the intentional killing of baby girls due to the preference for male babies and from the low value associated with the birth of females." (Marina Porras, "Female Infanticide and Foeticide".) It should be seen as a subset of the broader phenomenon of infanticide, which has also targeted the physically or mentally handicapped, and infant males (alongside infant females or, occasionally, on a gender-selective basis). As with maternal mortality, some would dispute the assigning of infanticide or female infanticide to the category of "genocide" or, as here, "gendercide." Nonetheless, the argument advanced in the maternal mortality case-study holds true in this case as well: governments and other actors can be just as guilty of mass killing by neglect or tacit encouragement, as by direct murder. R.J. Rummel buttresses this view, referring to infanticide as
another type of government killing whose victims may total millions … In many cultures, government permitted, if not encouraged, the killing of handicapped or female infants or otherwise unwanted children. In the Greece of 200 B.C., for example, the murder of female infants was so common that among 6,000 families living in Delphi no more than 1 percent had two daughters. Among 79 families, nearly as many had one child as two. Among all there were only 28 daughters to 118 sons. ... But classical Greece was not unusual. In eighty-four societies spanning the Renaissance to our time, "defective" children have been killed in one-third of them. In India, for example, because of Hindu beliefs and the rigid caste system, young girls were murdered as a matter of course. When demographic statistics were first collected in the nineteenth century, it was discovered that in "some villages, no girl babies were found at all; in a total of thirty others, there were 343 boys to 54 girls. … [I]n Bombay, the number of girls alive in 1834 was 603."
Rummel adds: "Instances of infanticide … are usually singular events; they do not happen en masse. But the accumulation of such officially sanctioned or demanded murders comprises, in effect, serial massacre. Since such practices were so pervasive in some cultures, I suspect that the death toll from infanticide must exceed that from mass sacrifice and perhaps even outright mass murder." (Rummel, Death by Government, pp. 65–66.)
Focus (1): India
As John-Thor Dahlburg points out, "in rural India, the centuries-old practice of female infanticide can still be considered a wise course of action." (Dahlburg, "Where killing baby girls 'is no big sin'," The Los Angeles Times [in The Toronto Star, February 28, 1994.]) According to census statistics, "From 972 females for every 1,000 males in 1901 … the gender imbalance has tilted to 929 females per 1,000 males. … In the nearly 300 poor hamlets of the Usilampatti area of Tamil Nadu [state], as many as 196 girls died under suspicious circumstances [in 1993] … Some were fed dry, unhulled rice that punctured their windpipes, or were made to swallow poisonous powdered fertilizer. Others were smothered with a wet towel, strangled or allowed to starve to death." Dahlburg profiles one disturbing case from Tamil Nadu:
Lakshmi already had one daughter, so when she gave birth to a second girl, she killed her. For the three days of her second child's short life, Lakshmi admits, she refused to nurse her. To silence the infant's famished cries, the impoverished village woman squeezed the milky sap from an oleander shrub, mixed it with castor oil, and forced the poisonous potion down the newborn's throat. The baby bled from the nose, then died soon afterward. Female neighbors buried her in a small hole near Lakshmi's square thatched hut of sunbaked mud. They sympathized with Lakshmi, and in the same circumstances, some would probably have done what she did. For despite the risk of execution by hanging and about 16 months of a much-ballyhooed government scheme to assist families with daughters, in some hamlets of … Tamil Nadu, murdering girls is still sometimes believed to be a wiser course than raising them. "A daughter is always liabilities. How can I bring up a second?" Lakshmi, 28, answered firmly when asked by a visitor how she could have taken her own child's life eight years ago. "Instead of her suffering the way I do, I thought it was better to get rid of her." (All quotes from Dahlburg, "Where killing baby girls 'is no big sin'.")
A study of Tamil Nadu by the Community Service Guild of Madras similarly found that "female infanticide is rampant" in the state, though only among Hindu (rather than Moslem or Christian) families. "Of the 1,250 families covered by the study, 740 had only one girl child and 249 agreed directly that they had done away with the unwanted girl child. More than 213 of the families had more than one male child whereas half the respondents had only one daughter." (Malavika Karlekar, "The girl child in India: does she have any rights?," Canadian Woman Studies, March 1995.)
The bias against females in India is related to the fact that "Sons are called upon to provide the income; they are the ones who do most of the work in the fields. In this way sons are looked to as a type of insurance. With this perspective, it becomes clearer that the high value given to males decreases the value given to females." (Marina Porras, "Female Infanticide and Foeticide".) The problem is also intimately tied to the institution of dowry, in which the family of a prospective bride must pay enormous sums of money to the family in which the woman will live after marriage. Though formally outlawed, the institution is still pervasive. "The combination of dowry and wedding expenses usually add up to more than a million rupees ([US] $35,000). In India the average civil servant earns about 100,000 rupees ($3,500) a year. Given these figures combined with the low status of women, it seems not so illogical that the poorer Indian families would want only male children." (Porras, "Female Infanticide and Foeticide".) Murders of women whose families are deemed to have paid insufficient dowry have become increasingly common, and receive separate case-study treatment on this site.
India is also the heartland of sex-selective abortion. Amniocentesis was introduced in 1974 "to ascertain birth defects in a sample population," but "was quickly appropriated by medical entrepreneurs. A spate of sex-selective abortions followed." (Karlekar, "The girl child in India.") Karlekar points out that "those women who undergo sex determination tests and abort on knowing that the foetus is female are actively taking a decision against equality and the right to life for girls. In many cases, of course, the women are not independent agents but merely victims of a dominant family ideology based on preference for male children."
Dahlburg notes that "In Jaipur, capital of the western state of Rajasthan, prenatal sex determination tests result in an estimated 3,500 abortions of female fetuses annually," according to a medical-college study. (Dahlburg, "Where killing baby girls 'is no big sin'.") Most strikingly, according to UNICEF, "A report from Bombay in 1984 on abortions after prenatal sex determination stated that 7,999 out of 8,000 of the aborted fetuses were females. Sex determination has become a lucrative business." (Zeng Yi et al., "Causes and Implications of the Recent Increase in the Reported Sex Ratio at Birth in China," Population and Development Review, 19: 2 [June 1993], p. 297.)
Deficits in nutrition and health-care also overwhelmingly target female children. Karlekar cites research
indicat[ing] a definite bias in feeding boys milk and milk products and eggs … In Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh [states], it is usual for girls and women to eat less than men and boys and to have their meal after the men and boys had finished eating. Greater mobility outside the home provides boys with the opportunity to eat sweets and fruit from saved-up pocket money or from money given to buy articles for food consumption. In case of illness, it is usually boys who have preference in health care. … More is spent on clothing for boys than for girls[,] which also affects morbidity. (Karlekar, "The girl child in India.")
Sunita Kishor reports "another disturbing finding," namely "that, despite the increased ability to command essential food and medical resources associated with development, female children [in India] do not improve their survival chances relative to male children with gains in development. Relatively high levels of agricultural development decrease the life chances of females while leaving males' life chances unaffected; urbanization increases the life chances of males more than females. … Clearly, gender-based discrimination in the allocation of resources persists and even increases, even when availability of resources is not a constraint." (Kishor, "'May God Give Sons to All': Gender and Child Mortality in India," American Sociological Review, 58: 2 [April 1993], p. 262.)
Indian state governments have sometimes taken measures to diminish the slaughter of infant girls and abortions of female fetuses. "The leaders of Tamil Nadu are holding out a tempting carrot to couples in the state with one or two daughters and no sons: if one parent undergoes sterilization, the government will give the family [U.S.] \\$160 in aid per child. The money will be paid in instalments as the girl goes through school. She will also get a small gold ring and on her 20th birthday, a lump sum of $650 to serve as her dowry or defray the expenses of higher education. Four thousand families enrolled in the first year," with 6,000 to 8,000 expected to join annually (as of 1994) (Dahlburg, "Where killing baby girls 'is no big sin'.") Such programs have, however, barely begun to address the scale of the catastrophe.
Focus (2): China
"A tradition of infanticide and abandonment, especially of females, existed in China before the foundation of the People's Republic in 1949," note Zeng et al.. ("Causes and Implications," p. 294.) According to Ansley J. Coale and Judith Banister, "A missionary (and naturalist) observer in [China in] the late nineteenth century interviewed 40 women over age 50 who reported having borne 183 sons and 175 daughters, of whom 126 sons but only 53 daughters survived to age 10; by their account, the women had destroyed 78 of their daughters." (Coale and Banister, "Five Decades of Missing Females in China," Demography, 31: 3 [August 1994], p. 472.)
According to Zeng et al., "The practice was largely forsaken in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s." (Zeng et al., "Causes and Implications," p. 294.) Coale and Banister likewise acknowledge a "decline of excess female mortality after the establishment of the People's Republic … assisted by the action of a strong government, which tried to modify this custom as well as other traditional practices that it viewed as harmful." (Coale and Banister, "Five Decades," p. 472.) But the number of "missing" women showed a sharp upward trend in the 1980s, linked by almost all scholars to the "one-child policy" introduced by the Chinese government in 1979 to control spiralling population growth. Couples are penalized by wage-cuts and reduced access to social services when children are born "outside the plan." Johansson and Nygren found that while "sex ratios [were] generally within or fairly near the expected range of 105 to 106 boys per 100 girls for live births within the plan … they are, in contrast, clearly far above normal for children born outside the plan, even as high as 115 to 118 for 1984–87. That the phenomenon of missing girls in China in the 1980s is related to the government's population policy is thus conclusively shown." (Sten Johansson and Ola Nygren, "The Missing Girls of China: A New Demographic Account," Population and Development Review, 17: 1 [March 1991], pp. 40–41.)
The Chinese government appeared to recognize the linkage by allowing families in rural areas (where anti-female bias is stronger) a second child if the first was a girl. Nonetheless, in September 1997, the World Health Organization's Regional Committee for the Western Pacific issued a report claiming that "more than 50 million women were estimated to be 'missing' in China because of the institutionalized killing and neglect of girls due to Beijing's population control program that limits parents to one child." (See Joseph Farah, "Cover-up of China's gender-cide", Western Journalism Center/FreeRepublic, September 29, 1997.) Farah referred to the gendercide as "the biggest single holocaust in human history."
According to Peter Stockland, "Years of population engineering, including virtual extermination of 'surplus' baby girls, has created a nightmarish imbalance in China's male and female populations." (Stockland, "China's baby-slaughter overlooked," The Calgary Sun, June 11, 1997.) In 1999, Jonathan Manthorpe reported a study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, claiming that "the imbalance between the sexes is now so distorted that there are 111 million men in China — more than three times the population of Canada — who will not be able to find a wife." As a result, the kidnapping and slave-trading of women has increased: "Since 1990, say official Chinese figures, 64,000 women — 8,000 a year on average — have been rescued by authorities from forced 'marriages'. The number who have not been saved can only be guessed at. … The thirst for women is so acute that the slave trader gangs are even reaching outside China to find merchandise. There are regular reports of women being abducted in such places as northern Vietnam to feed the demand in China." (Jonathan Manthorpe, "China battles slave trading in women: Female infanticide fuels a brisk trade in wives," The Vancouver Sun, January 11, 1999.)
Since the first allegations of widespread female infanticide in China connected to the government's "one-child" policy, controversy has raged over the number of deaths that can be ascribed to infanticide as opposed to other causes. Zeng et al. argued in 1993 that "underreporting of female births, an increase in prenatal sex identification by ultrasound and other diagnostic methods for the illegal purpose of gender-specific birth control, and [only] very low-level incidence of female infanticide are the causes of the increase in the reported sex ratio at birth in China." (Zeng et al., "Causes and Implications," p. 285.) They add: "Underreporting of female births accounts for about 43 percent to 75 percent of the difference between the reported sex ratio at birth during the second half of the 1980s and the normal value of the true sex ratio at birth" (p. 289). The authors contended that "sex-differential underreporting of births and induced abortion after prenatal sex determination together explain almost all of the increase in the reported sex ratio at birth during the late 1980s," and thus "the omission … of victims of female infanticide cannot be a significant factor." Moreover, "Both the social and administrative structure and the close bond among neighbors in China make it difficult to conceal a serious crime such as infanticide," while additionally "Infanticide is not a cost-effective method of sex selection. The psychological and moral costs are so high that people are unlikely to take such a step except under extreme circumstances" (p. 295). They stress, however, that "even small numbers of cases of female infanticide, abandonment, and neglect are a serious violation of the fundamental human rights of women and children" (p. 296). (2002 update: A recent article by John Gittings of the UK Guardian cites national census results released in May 2002 that show that "more than 116 male births were recorded for every 100 female births," but claims the cause is overwhelmingly sex-selective abortion: "Female infanticide, notorious in China's past as a primitive method of sex selection, is now thought to be infrequent." See Gittings, "Growing Sex Imbalance Shocks China", The Guardian, May 13, 2002.)
In a similar vein, in April 2000, The New York Times reported that "many 'illegal' children are born in secret, their births never officially registered." And "as more women move around the country to work, it is increasingly hard to monitor pregnancies … Unannnounced spot checks by the State Statistics Bureau have discovered undercounts of up to 40 percent in some villages, Chinese demographers say." (See Elisabeth Rosenthal, "China's Widely Flouted One-Child Policy Undercuts Its Census", The New York Times, April 14, 2000.)
Johansson and Nygren attracted considerable notice with a somewhat different claim: "that adoptions (which often go unreported) account for a large proportion of the missing girls. … If adopted children are added to the live births … the sex ratio at birth becomes much closer to normal for most years in the 1980s. … Adding the adopted children to live births reduces the number of missing girls by about half." (Johansson and Nygren, "The Missing Girls of China," pp. 43, 46.) They add (p. 50): "That female infanticide does occur on some scale is evidenced by reports in the Chinese press, but the available statistical evidence does not help us to determine whether it takes place on a large or a small scale."
Even if millions of Chinese infant girls are unregistered rather than directly murdered, however, the pattern of discrimination is one that will severely reduce their opportunities in life. "If parents do hide the birth of a baby girl, she will go unregistered and therefore will not have any legal existence. The child may have difficulty receiving medical attention, going to school, and [accessing] other state services." (Porras, "Female Infanticide and Foeticide".)
Likewise, if a Chinese infant girl is turned over for adoption rather than being killed, she risks being placed in one of the notorious "Dying Rooms" unveiled in a British TV documentary. Chinese state orphanages have come in for heavy criticism as a result of the degrading and unsanitary conditions that usually pervade them. In one orphanage, documentary producer Brian Woods found that "every single baby … was a girl, and as we moved on this pattern was repeated. The only boys were mentally or physically disabled. 95% of the babies we saw were able-bodied girls. We also discovered that, although they are described as orphans, very few of them actually are; the overwhelming majority do have parents, but their parents have abandoned them, simply because they were born the wrong sex." Woods estimated that "up to a million baby girls every year" were victims of this "mass desertion," deriving from "the complex collision of [China's] notorious One Child Policy and its traditional preference for sons." (See Brian Woods, "The Dying Rooms Trust".)
The phenomenon of neglect of girl children is also dramatically evident in China. According to the World Health Organization, "In many cases, mothers are more likely to bring their male children to health centers — particularly to private physicians — and they may be treated at an earlier stage of disease than girls." (Cited in Farah, "Cover-up of China's gender-cide".)
The Chinese government has taken some energetic steps to combat the practice of female infanticide and sex-selective abortion of female fetuses. It "has employed the Marriage Law and Women's Protection Law which both prohibit female infanticide. The Women's Protection Law also prohibits discrimination against 'women who give birth to female babies.' … The Maternal Health Care Law of 1994 'strictly prohibits' the use of technology to identify the gender of a fetus." However, "although the government has outlawed the use of ultrasound machines, physicians continue to use them to determine the gender of fetuses, especially in rural areas." (Porras, "Female Infanticide and Foeticide".)
How many die?
Gendercide Watch is aware of no overall statistics on the numbers of girls who die annually from infanticide. Calculations are further clouded by the unreliability and ambiguity of much of the data. Nonetheless, a minimum estimate would place the casualties in the the hundreds of thousands, especially when one takes into consideration that the phenomenon is most prevalent in the world's two most populous countries. Sex-selective abortions likely account for an even higher number of "missing" girls.
Who is responsible?
As already noted, female infanticide reflects the low status accorded to women in many societies around the world. The "burden" of taking a woman into the family accounts for the high dowry rates in India which, in turn, have led to an epidemic female infanticide. Typical also is China, where
culture dictates that when a girl marries she leaves her family and becomes part of her husband's family. For this reason Chinese peasants have for many centuries wanted a son to ensure there is someone to look after them in their old age — having a boy child is the best pension a Chinese peasant can get. Baby girls are even called "maggots in the rice" … ("The Dying Rooms Trust")
Infanticide is a crime overwhelmingly committed by women, both in the Third and First Worlds. (This contrasts markedly with "infanticide in nonhuman primates," which "is carried out primarily by migrant males who are unrelated to the infant or its parents and is a manifestation of reproductive competition among males." [Glenn Hausfater, "Infanticide: Comparative and Evolutionary Perspectives," Current Anthropology, 25: 4 (1984), p. 501.] It also serves as a reminder that gendercide may be implemented by those of the same gender.) In India, according to John-Thor Dahlburg, "many births take place in isolated villages, with only female friends and the midwife present. If a child dies, the women can always blame natural causes." (Dahlburg, "Where killing baby girls 'is no big sin'.") In the United States, "every year hundreds of women commit neonaticide [the killing of newborns] … Prosecutors sometimes don't prosecute; juries rarely convict; those found guilty almost never go to jail. Barbara Kirwin, a forensic psychologist, reports that in nearly 300 cases of women charged with neonaticide in the United States and Britain, no woman spent more than a night in jail." Much of "the leniency shown to neonaticidal mothers" reflects the fact that they are standardly "young, poor, unmarried and socially isolated," although it is notable that similar leniency is rarely extended to young, poor, and socially isolated male murderers.
A number of strategies have been proposed and implemented to try to address the problem of female infanticide, along with the related phenomena of sex-selective abortion and abandonment and neglect of girl children. Zeng et al.'s prescriptions for Chinese policymakers can easily be generalized to other countries where female infanticide is rife:
The principle of equality between men and women should be more widely promoted through the news media to change the attitude of son preference and improve the awareness of the general public on this issue; the principle should also be reflected in specific social and economic policies to protect the basic rights of women and children, especially female children. … Government regulations prohibiting the use of prenatal sex identification techniques for nonmedical purposes should be strictly enforced, and violators should be punished accordingly. The laws that punish people who commit infanticide, abandonment, and neglect of female children, and the laws and regulations on the protection of women and children[,] should be strictly enforced. The campaigns to protect women and children from being kidnapped or sold into servitude should be effectively strengthened. Family planning programs should focus on effective public education, good counseling and service delivery, and the fully voluntary participation of the community and individuals to increase contraceptive prevalence, reduce unplanned pregnancies, and minimize the need for an induced abortion. _

Here is a graph showing infanticide rates :


November 09, 2004

Old Comedy and Satyr Plays

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/theatre_s/ug/courses/th106/ancient/oldcomedy/

1. Which of the following vase paintings appear to depict scenes from Old Comedy, and which from Satyr plays?

The Aulos-playing Satyr Vase

Definitely a satyr play – I think the title 'aulos-playing satyr vase' kinda gives it away though…

The Cheiron Vase

Old Comedy I reckon – the strange padded costumes that emphasise the actors' ugly bits are typical of the ancient productions of Old Comedy.

The Choregos Vase

Again, Old Comedy, for the same reasons as the Cheiron Vase.

The Pronomos Vase

This is a satyr play, I think; there are satyrs depicted, and the mask (pf Dionysus?) the man is holding looks much more like a tragic kind of mask than one in a comedy :

The Tarentine Vase

I think this is probably from a satyr play, as the actor is not wearing the large, bulgy clothes often shown in Old Comedy.

Vase 96AB113

Definitely Old Comedy; the huge costumes, large, grotesque gestures etc show it to be from a comedy.

Vase 96AE112

This is a hard one; I'm going for a satyr play, because the features of the characters aren't exaggerated as much as in some vase paintings. However, there are elements of comedy such as erect phalluses (or is it phalli in the plural?!) so I'm not too sure.

The Wurzburg Orestes

Ooh, I like this one cos it's quite different from the others – it looks quite exotic somehow. I'll go for a Satyr play, cos the men are depicted quite naturalistically and in a human way.

2. Drawing on the evidence provided by these vase paintings, the plays you have read, and other appropriate online sources:

i. what would seem to be the main characteristics of Old Comic masks, costumes and stages?

The costumes are grotesque and emphasise the large, bulgy bits of the charaters – the masks are likewise non-naturalistic and make the characters look hideous. Many of the male actors wear short skirt-like tunics and large, padded ights underneath. The stages seem to include a large piece of scenery (such as the steps in this picture) to represent where the scene is taking place.

ii. what appear to be the main characteristics of Satyr play masks, costumes and actors?

The satyrs appear to wear a kind of tail ad boots; many have wings coming out of their heads. There is not as much over-padding in the costumes of the characters. There are also no phalluses shown.

3. Read the analytical descriptions for the Pronomos Vase and the Choregos Vase. Using the web-searching and site-evaluation skills that you have developed, find information about, and devise an analytical description that might accompany one of the other vases.

Analytical description of Pronomos Vase : _A late 5th / early 4th-century B.C.E., red-figure volute-krater found in Ruvo, Apulia, in the South East of the Italian peninsula. The vase depicts the artist, named as Pronomos, as a seated aulos player. Pronomos is a known Attic vase-painter most of whose work dates from 410 – 390 B.C.E..The vase depicts Dionysos, a range of young satyr actors and older character actors, in costume, mostly holding their masks, musicians, as well as actual satyrs, maenads, symbols of victory (tripod, winged victory), icons of Dionysos (panther, thyrsos (= thyrsus), musical instruments. It has been suggested that the vase was commissioned to celebrate the victory of a chorus in the dramatic festival, probably a trilogy of tragedies and a satyr play.

National Archaeological Museum, Naples, 3240 inv. no. 81673_

Analytical description of Choregos Vase : _A 4th-century B.C.E., red-figure South-Italian vase, the so-called 'Choregos Vase'. One side of the vase shows four theatre characters on a temporary stage. This is one of a number of vases which has been called a 'phlyax' vase, after the actors of the so-called 'phlyax' farces, which they seem to depict. But, following Taplin's discussion in Comic Angels, these farces are now generally identified as being indistinguishable from Athenian Old Comedy. The vase labels the two shortest figures on this side 'CHOREGOS'. The figure between the two choregoi, (label unclear) is also dressed in comic costume. He stands on an upturned basket, and gestures as if making a speech. A fourth figure, labelled 'AIGISTHOS', stands to the left beside an open doorway; he is holding two spears. His 'tragic' costume, stance and gesture contrast markedly with those of the comic figures. In the scene from a comedy depicted here, two choregoi may have been debating which of them would sponsor a tragic tetralogy, and which a comedy, in one of the dramatic festivals.
The other side of the vase shows a seated female figure. A small bird perches on her left hand. To her left, stands an attendant, fanning her. To the right of the seated figure, is a naked youth. A small dog-like creature stands on his right arm.

Vase of the Choregos Painter. No. 96.AE.29. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California._

Analytical description of Cheiron Vase :

The characters depicted on the vase are wearing the grotesquely exaggerated costumes typical of the performances of Old Comedy in Ancient Greece. In Greek mythology, Cheiron (or Chiron) was a Centaur, half man and half horse, and the son of the Titan Cronos. He was the potter who made this vase (the Cheiron vase).

This is a picture of Cheiron the centaur :

4. With reference to the extract from Csapo and Slater on Comic Vases, how reliable are these vase paintings as evidence for 5th-century B.C.E. staging of Old Comedy and Satyr plays in Athens?

As with the frescoes, the vase paintings give fairly good but not totally reliable evidence for how Old Comedies and Satyr plays would have been staged in Ancient Greece. Some of the vases depict phylax and other stages, which are presumably fairly accurate depictions as the sculptors or painters wouldn't have made up how the stages looked. However, it is possible that the pictures were romanticised by the artists to make them look more aesthetically pleasing. For example, the fresco showing Pentheus' death from The Bacchae is fairly romanticised, and not truly based on Euripides' description of the death in his play.

In the vase painting mentioned in the Csapo and Slater article the orchestra is left out of the painting, as the painter simply wished to exclude them from the vase. Such whims of the artists mean that many of the vase paintings may be historically inaccurate.

As stated in the article, "many of the details of our drawing are reconstructed since the pot itself is much damaged and most of its finer details unclear" – since we do not know how the plays were staged in Ancient Greece, we cannot reconstruct them completely accurately. Therefore, the details of how they were staged can be lost when the pots get damaged.


October 29, 2004

A rather jolly little quiz

  • Quiz for Professionals *

> The following short quiz consists of 4 questions and will tell you
> whether you are qualified to be a "professional."
>

> Scroll down for each answer. The questions are NOT that difficult. But
> don't scroll down UNTIL you have answered the question!
>

> 1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?
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> The correct answer is: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and
> close the door. This question tests whether you tend to do simple
> things
> in an overly complicated way.
>

>
> 2 How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?
>

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> Did you say, "Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close
> the
>

> refrigerator?" Wrong Answer.
>

> Correct Answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe put in the
> elephant and close the door. This tests your ability to think through
> the repercussions of your previous actions.
>

>
> 3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals
> attend… except one … Which animal does not attend?
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> Correct Answer: The Elephant. The elephant is still in the
> refrigerator.
> You just put him in there. This tests your memory.
>

> Okay even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly,
> you
> still have one more chance to show your true abilities.
>

>
> 4. There is a river you must cross but it is inhabited by crocodiles,
> and you do not have a boat How do you manage it?
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> Correct Answer: You jump into the river and swim across. Have you not
> been listening? All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Meeting.
> This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.
>

> According to Anderson Consulting Worldwide, around 90% of the
> professionals they tested got all questions wrong, but many
> preschoolers
> got several correct answers. Anderson Consulting says this
> conclusively
>

> disproves the theory that most professionals have the brains of a four
> year old.


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