Silkworms and Me – a Love Story

Every year, summer’s first few days of sunshine bring back a wealth of half-forgotten activities and hobbies to our exam-worn lives. Iceboxes and swimming gear are dug up from the hidden reaches of our storage, balconies and gardens become pleasant habitats once more, and we finally remember what sunglasses were for. For some, it means the first of many trips to the beach, to others late evenings in the backyard with a glass of wine, or maybe even a couple of plane rides across the globe. To a select few, however, the taste of summer brings a powerful desire to relive childhood memories and bunker down in their bedroom to breed silkworms like there’s no tomorrow.

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Antidepressants No More?

Antidepressants are a touchy topic, and despite tentative steps to decrease taboo in recent years – as portrayed in The CW’s hit series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, for instance – the subject continues to make me shuffle my feet and glance for the nearest fire exit, even two full years into my own daily dose. Not that taking antidepressants was forced upon me, or begun with any sort of overwhelming reservation, of course – the reasons behind starting to take pills were nothing but my own.
At their forefront stood the gnawing curiosity of whether a tiny 10mg pill might somehow transform me into a new person. I had the vague yet fanciful notion of a glittering, toothy smile; a spring in my step and the general (and incredibly realistic) picture of myself going about public parks hugging random strangers and actually enjoying the company of anyone under fourteen.

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Hetero-Free TV 3 – Scraping the Bottom (Of the Barrel)

Now, before anyone gets too excited about this article’s title, know it refers exclusively to the fact that I – author of the heterophobe’s guide to TV – am beginning to run out of titles for suitable film reviews to write, and not to anything else. Frankly, if you were thinking of any other meanings I would kindly ask you, dear reader, to get your mind out of the gutter. This is not that kind of article (probably).

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Nashville Reflections

I’d been sitting on the idea of this article for quite some time, unable to find the drive to put it onto paper, but when news of Dutch politician Kees van der Staaij’s signature on the now infamous Nashville Statement exploded like wildfire across Dutch news sites earlier this month, my slumbering brain finally whipped itself into shape. For anyone unfamiliar with the event: the Nashville Statement is a document outlining a set of conservative Christian doctrine stances relating to gender, sexuality and marriage, written by The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, in – as the name suggests – Nashville, US. The relevance of this document within Dutch society was of course largely non-existent until its translation into Dutch at the beginning of this year and consequent signing by a significant group of Dutchmen and women, which caused a thunderstorm of outrage on media platforms across the country, both from secular and religious sources.
I too felt an upsurge of exasperation at this news, and while this was not great for my heart so soon after the holiday season, it proved ideal for this article – indignation is as good a writer’s incentive as there ever was.

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Hetero-Free TV 2

While I would like to commence this second article by restating that I am indeed most definitely not a heterophobe, and that I, frankly, find the very suggestion profoundly offensive, I hereby gladly present to you, dear reader, a second collection of films that are morally sound and which happen to also be predominantly heterosexuality-free. Coincidence? I couldn’t possibly say.
Now, this half-hearted assurance might cause you, astute observer that you are, to make the comment: “I don’t know, that still seems kind of sarcastic.” To this, dear reader, I would like to answer: “I have no idea what you’re insinuating. I have lots of friends who just so happen to be straight, and just because I’ve refused attendance to their so-called ‘marriage ceremonies’ on religious grounds twice now that doesn’t mean I am anything but hetero-supportive.”

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The Struggle for Hetero-Free TV

If you’re anything like me and have no problem with heterosexuality whatsoever, yet find yourself letting out an involuntary gasp of shock whenever you see two individuals of the opposite sex as much as touching hands, then you probably share my dilemma of what to watch on television. After all, no one can deny that in the past few decades heterosexuality has become more and more prevalent in mainstream media, and it is now hard to turn on any program without being confronted with the sight of two heteros bumping uglies on some seedy excuse for a mattress at one point or another. While I repeat that I am in no way heterophobic – I in fact have many straight friends, and probably at least one family member, who swing that way – this does not mean I have to be comfortable being exposed to it all the time, especially when in the privacy of my own home, from the comfort of my bed, while eating ice-cream, wearing sweatpants and picking my nose. And quite honestly, television just isn’t what it used to be anyway: one moment you’re watching a mildly interesting cop drama and then the next thing you know two straights are locking lips and rubbing privates on the nearest piece of furniture. It’s a disgrace. So, to all of you fellow movie lovers of class and moral uprightness, know that I have made the ultimate sacrifice of watching a whole stack of films and series over the course of the past year. Some were great, others terrible, but I was relentless in my quest. And, after painstaking hours of effort and more than several moments of intense heterosexuality-induced nausea, I here have a list of films and series you can watch with minimal exposure to any of that hetero hanky-panky. Trust me, you’ll thank me later:
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Internationalism 1: Dutch Power Distance AKA Why We Protest So Much

This article presents the first in a series of five about international students at the UvA English department, intended to explore some of the differences and similarities faced when studying abroad. In order to structure these as clearly as possible each of the articles will explore a single ‘pillar’ of Hofstede’s model of Cultural Dimensions – a model which has received worldwide attention and use since its conception. The more thoroughly studied of the pillars are the following: Power Distance, Individualism, Masculinity and Uncertainty Avoidance. In this article we will be focusing on the first.

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