Celebrating 80 years of the premiere of the most romantic American saga

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon and Happy Sunday to you all. We were in the focused process of cooking the Sunday meal when something we heard in the TG1 news program stopped us in our track and made us drop the utensil we were holding into the sink. Today we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the film premiere of Gone with the wind in a movie theater in Atlanta, Georgia, which honored the Southern setting of the trendsetting dramatic saga.

That movie has influenced the tastes and preferences of millions of moviegoers all around the globe, including prominent writers, actors, technicians and directors. In ways big and small, many film enthusiasts have followed some of the trendy novelties it had introduced; when  we decided to write a film scrip about a savage prison riot with my son Gian Luca, we envisioned that the opening scene would be a panoramic view of the prison yard after the prisoners’ riot had been brutally quashed by the SWAT team, with all the gore and mayhem reminiscent of the famous scene in the Atlanta train station.

This film was conceived right when the rumblings of Fascism were getting stronger in Europe and all the moviegoers knew that something terribly wrong was already afoot. However, human beings need the consolation of a brighter future, even, or especially, in the midst of disgrace and doom in order to carry along to arrive to a propitious ending. The film provided countless lines that will be remembered by moviegoers, including when Rhett Butler (played by Clark Gable) said with a unique panache to a manipulative Scarlett O’Hara ( played by Vivien Leigh): “frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

In these turbulent times let us keep some clarity of mind and determination of spirit to do better. Now back to our duties as our children are insolently asking us: “when will it be ready, Dad?”

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Politization of Sexual Desire – part I

(This article was adapted from our new book Emotional Frustration – the hushed plague)

In 1952 Frantz Fanon, a French psychiatrist and intellectual born in Martinique, published Peau Noire, Masques Blanc—one of his most important and still disregarded works. Based on his own experience growing up as a black man in a largely white society, he exposed the dehumanizing effects of racism on the psyche of vulnerable communities in colonized societies like the French Caribbean islands. He applied the psychoanalytic theory and praxis to explain the sense of inferiority and dependency that oppressed black people feel toward the white supremacists.

In the chapter titled Le Noir et la Psychopathologie, he claimed that in a society where whites have all the major levers of economic opportunities and the communications, black people cannot fit into the mold established by the dominating classes, which creates a schizoid dissociation in their subconscious that equates “blackness” with “wrongness.” The perfidious association of “black” with “villainy” will be seared in the young blacks’ minds , inevitably influencing their sexual desire. On the other hand, the social castration of young blacks elicited a compensatory fantasy in the minds of whites who extolled the “sexual prowess” of their victims.

Fanon, compromised with the anti-colonial struggle of Algerians, died too young at 37 years old in a New York City Hospital in 1961 but he bequeathed his ideas to us. Just a few years later the Feminist Movement, deeply influenced by the struggle of colonized people against their colonizers in the 60s, vociferously demands the end of the dominance of men over women in a then overtly sexist Patriarchal society. In the late 70s Catherine McKinnon affirmed that the traditional psychoanalytic view of desire as primal and apolitical must be discarded to recognize its violent nature. Influenced by the Patriarchy, sexual desire of men (the oppressors) is tainted by the paradoxical co-existence of contempt and also arousal of the master towards slaves; likewise the desire of women (the oppressed) is tainted by a sense of vulnerability. In the workplace women were judged by the standards used for wives and friends; the imbalance of power provoked the subordination of female labor to male desire.

For the radical feminists the erotic experience of sex was inexorably related to the imposition of patriarchal rules of domination on women, questioning the true value of the supposed “voluntary consent” and affirming that women could not enjoy it. Discreetly they advocated for a self-disciplining of educated, emancipated women that eventually led to a “political lesbianism” in practice as men could not be trusted. The psychologically and physical abuse of men over women in bed was reinforced by the surge of demand of pornography material in the70s and 80s in our societies.

In the late 80s and early 90s some feminist rebelled against the fundamentalist anti-sex view of the McKinnonites and revendicated the right of women to good sex. They insisted that women were entitled to sexual desire, including heterosexual. In a chapter titled “Lust Horizons: is the Feminist Movement Pro-Sex” of her book, Ellen Willis stated that the MacKinnonites not only denied the right of women to a basic human physiologic function, but it also reinforced the quaint Victorian prejudice that “men only want sex and women can only endure it.” She claimed that this supposedly “natural” sexual dichotomy was used by the Patriarchate to enforce the exclusion of women from their access to the social and economic levers of power in society. Willis said that anti-porn feminism “asked women to accept a spurious moral superiority as a substitute for sexual pleasure, and curbs on men’s sexual freedom as a substitute for real power.” Surreptitiously deflecting the discourse, the chameleonic Patriarchate stays in power.  

In an excellent review titled “Does anyone have the right to sex” in the London Review of Books, Amia Srinivasan affirmed that the case for pro-sex feminism has been solidified by the more recent acceptance of the concept of intersectionality by the defenders of women’s rights. She said that “ thinking about how patriarchal oppression is inflected by race and class—patriarchy doesn’t express uniformly and cannot be understood independently of other systems of oppression—has made feminists reluctant to prescribe universal policies, including the universal sexual policies.” The furious demand of white women for equal access to the workplace might seem irrelevant to poor black women who have disproportionately worn the pants at home, which implied toiling in an outside job plus doing the house chores. Similarly the self-objectification of women has a different meaning for them as they might subconsciously resent that society “naturally” considers the white women as a paradigm of beauty solely by virtue of their color.

In a follow-up, we will discuss the acrid confrontation of Feminists and Trans women.  

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

“Celebrating” the World Aids Day

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning and Happy Sunday to you all. Today many civic organisations, Public Health institutions. Health Care advocacy groups, Non-Profit organisations and the common citizenry all over the planet are “celebrating” the World Aids Day. We started our clinical training when this terrible disease had not been properly identified but it was already decimating entire communities, especially Gays, Minorities and the Poor. It was a time when also someone we knew personally had the misfortune of getting this diagnosis, which was equivalent to a death sentence at the time. We still shudder remembering all the wasted youth that we saw wither away in the clinical wards, in spite of all our professional efforts to save them. It was extremely frustrating for all health care practitioners.

Fortunately we have now many excellent pharmaceutical treatments and preventive schedules for this infection, which has saved countless people and afforded them a good quality of life even though they carry a chronic disease. The sustained promotion of safety measures for safe sex has dramatically curtailed its incidence in the population. However, it is still an ongoing epidemic, which has not been completely eradicated yet. In modern societies, four large segments of the population are bearing its brunt now:

a- Young people between 16 and 20 years of age

b- Women older than 65 years old

c – Intravenous drug abusers in the developed societies

d – The vulnerable population tier of under-developed societies

The first group of people were born long after the 80s and 90s when the disease ravaged our societies and the basic Public Health measures to prevent its spread were enacted; the lack of a dramatic narrative has desensitized them to the need to protect themselves. The second group has been largely victimized by men who have not used the proper protection in the sexual interactions with partners . The third group is still exposed to the dangerous sharing of needles and the concomitant infections of syphilis and gonorrhea. The last group suffer the consequences of economic inequality and unfair access to health care services in poor societies, including the good availability of retro-viral agents.

We must continue our medical, sanitary and institutional efforts to combat this life-threatening disease and we should participate in all the civic-minded initiatives. In our next blogging season starting in March 2020, we will write a series of articles about it, thus providing our little grain of sand to the humongous dune of necessary containment. Thank you very much for suggesting the critical topics that we should be discussing, which shakes us from the inevitable torpor that may grip us after these half-won battles. AIDS is still a major Public Health threat for all societies, rich and poor, of planet Earth. Any major natural or made-made catastrophe can re-awaken that dormant monster that could potentially overwhelm all the firewalls erected to contain it over so many years.

Nobody is free from any of its tragic effects. Nobody.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.