Mandatory program, Tuesday

Mandatory program, Tuesday dec 5th.

Today, Tuesday december 5th, I visited school to participate in the international week program. After a brief welcome the day was kicked off by two guest speakers. One on food and politics, the other on globalization. After this we all watched a documentary on racial privilege. In the afternoon there were several workshops to attend, of wich I chose “Cultural diversity and the global gendre gap” by Hans de Hoog.

The lecture on food and politics seemed a bit strange at first. I never really thought about food in this way before. After hearing about how some aspects of global history revolve around tea I was quite surprised. Also I had no idea that the Russian economy relies on vodka sales as much as it does.

The second speaker talked about how migration is of all times. The difference between migrations in the past and now is that the numbers have increased. Too many people are migration to a relatively small area, wich causes problems. I think that’s a pretty accurate statement. Migration is a problem that needs solving and I don’t think it will be solved any time soon because of its complexity. The main reason for people to migrate is to find a better life. As much as I would like everyone to live a happy life, I don’t think marching en masse to a place where people have it better is the way to achieve this.        As for the documentary, I thought it was a bit one-sided. I also felt like there was little evidence apart from personal stories and social media posts.

Last but not least was the workshop by Hans de Hoog. His workshop was on the differences between men and women in politics, educational opportunities, etc. Every year the WEF (World Economic Forum) releases a list of the countries of the world, ranked by there succes in closing the gendre gap.

A highlight in this list is that the Netherlands score significantly lower than on most other global rankings while Rwanda scored significantly higher.

I decided not to jump into conclusions straight away. I figured there was likely a reason or a certain way of measurement that made this curiosity possible. As it turns out I was right. The fact that more Dutch women have parttime jobs than most countries caused a decline in the global ranking. The reason Rwanda scored so high is because of the countries recent history. After a series of massacres across the country the women decided men weren’t up for the task of leading a country. Female occupation in politics causes a rise through the ranks.

As far as preconceptions go, I think the only one I really had was that the Netherlands would naturally score high in any ranking. When I heard Rwanda came fourth on the list I inmediatly thought there had to be a catch. Maybe this isn’t a good thing, but I turned out to be right. Some gendre gaps aren’t born of inequality.

Large challenge, visiting the Jan Cunen museum

Large challenge, visiting the Jan Cunen museum, Thursday dec 4th.

For my second challenge I visited a museum. The Jan Cunen museum is a rather small one located in the centre of Oss. There were 3 exhibitions on display, all themed around ‘powervrouwen’. There was one section on birth control pills whereas the others were dedicated to female artists. For this particular blog I will focus on the birth control exhibition.


The invention of the birth control pill is one of the big inventions of the 20th century that changed society. It separated sexual intercourse from reproduction, drastically changing the personal lives of people all over the world. When ‘the pill’ was first introduced in 1962 there was a lot of controversy around it. Especially in religious circles birth control methods didn’t receive a warm welcome. The pill was no exception to this. The international pharmaceutics industry even sent adversaries tot he Vatican with the mission to make birth control pills accepted. As it gradually did more and more people started using them. Later, in 1968, pope Paulus VI declared the pills prohibited, but by then it

had already made its way into everyday life. By then most men of the cloth had accepted birth control, claiming it was a thing between the user and God.

The introduction of the birth control pill also gave feminist groups renewed motivation. In Holland the slogan ‘baas in eigen buik’ (literally boss in own belly) was used when the feminist movement ‘Dolle Mina’ demonstrated to get birth control to be a part of basic healthcare insurance.


Personally I birth control is a good thing. Apart from the fact that I’m not a religious man, I think birth control is a good thing. The world’s population is growing fast enough as it is. Besides, I think people should have control over where, when and with whom they want to get children.

Medium challenge, documentary: “De verdeelde klas”

Medium challenge, documentary: “De verdeelde klas”, Friday jan 12th.

My third and final blog will be about a documentary on racism. In the nineteen sixties, the day after Martin Luther King died, an elementary school teacher named Jane Eliot started a social experiment in her class. The children were divided into 2 groups. One with dark couloured eyes (brown-eyed group) and one with lighter colours (blue-eyed group). On the first day the brown-eyed children got several privileges and the blue-eyed group got some of their privileges taken from them. The second day they switched roles. De verdeelde klas is about the same experiment, only in 2015 and this time in Antwerp.

Right off the bet I was interested in the subject because I think most people are somehow biased. I was curious about how the children would react and how they would feel about the subject at the end of the experiment. A few hours after the test had started the children already started showing different behaviour. Friends had suddenly become enemies and children that didn’t usually hang out came together because they now shared the same fate.

The children that were being discriminated felt really bad about the whole thing while the privileged kids enjoyed their freedom. On day two, when the roles got swapped, those same children showed almost the exact same behaviour they had so despised the day before.
At the end of day to the experiment was lifted and the teacher discussed the matter with the children. They said they had all learned a valuable lesson. Just like the kids back in the sixties.

During the documentary I felt sorry for the kids that got discriminated but in the end I think it was valuable to them. It gave me a glimpse of what life is like when you are being excluded for something you have no control over whatsoever. Food for thought, that’s for sure.