Cul Water

Page 1

Anthropological Magazine | Year 29 | Number 4

cul Water

Gewichtloos dobberen aan land Exploration of the wet vagina Bellen met de zee

Colofon Independent anthropological magazine Cul is connected to the Cultural Anthropology and Developmental Sociology department at the University of Amsterdam Editor in Chief: Marije Nieuwland Deputy Editor in Chief: Marie Voerman Graphic Design: Harriet Smith Image Editors: Lieke van den Belt Islay Kilgannon Rozan Snoek Masja Willekens Text Editors: Anouk Euser Kyriaki Mallioglou Anna Scholder Web editor: Wineke Brans Treasurer: Isa Kistemaker Travel and event coordinatior: Janina Ryymin Cover: Harriet Smith Special thanks to: Daan Adam Levan Babalashvili Merab Bolqvadze Marianne Boogaard Hille Dussel Sam van Etten Leo Euser Thije Hanssens Lin-Shi Kok Elene Pasuri Rosa Maas Daan Mekel Rayan Naftchi Tornike Revia Emma Waller Luc Wilkens Cul magazine is always searching for new aspiring writers. The editorial team maintains the right to shorten or deny articles. For more information on writing for the Cul or advertising possibilities, email

The sun is shining, summer is almost here. Time to go outside, enjoy the warmth. Maybe we can seek refreshment in the water in and around the city. Let’s jump on a boat, go for a swim, learn how to surf. Or, for the ones who don’t want to dip their toes in the water just yet, take a seat on that terrace alongside the river with your trusty Cul Water edition by your side. No need to get your hair wet, our editors will take you everywhere the water flows. As you leaf through this edition, Harriet will point out the problems with bottled and commoditized water. Even though water is a human right, it isn’t free. Once you read about the 300% profit margins, you might want to flag down that waiter and cancel your order of that bottle of Nestlé water. Tap is just fine. Flip the page and Masja will bring you along to the boathouse her dad decided to build one day, and - to Masja’s surprise - actually managed to keep afloat. You smile along to the intimate tales and pictures of their tiny Ark, but your smile might fade when you turn the page to find the harsh realities of rising sea levels in the Netherlands. What will happen to this beautiful boat on the Amstel? In Marie’s critical essay, she will paint the picture of what will become of the Netherlands if we continue handling climate change ‘the Dutch way’ and gives the government a stern talking-to on your behalf. As you put the Cul down and look out over the water again, you see that H2O is essential and all around us. We drink it, we play sports with it and we clean ourselves with it. We also sweat and cry it. We are water and we need water to be. That and more awaits for you in this beautiful edition of Cul magazine. We want to dedicate this edition of Cul magazine to Noëlle Steneker, our wonderful mentor, professor and friend. We were lucky to have her as an addition to the anthropology department and have her brighten our lives. Words cannot describe her value, but we dedicate ours to her.

Printer: Ziezoprint Prints: 400 Printed: Mei 2022 ISSN: 18760309

Marije Nieuwland

Cul Magazine Nieuwe Achtergracht 166 1018 WV Amsterdam

Marie Voerman

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram and check out our website! @tijdschriftcul


Editor’s note

Editor in Chief

Deputy Editor in Chief


Essay (ENG) Taking the piss Islay Kilgannon


Column (NL) Blauwe ruis Lieke van den Belt


Image Report (ENG) Just around the riverbank Marije Nieuwland


Essay (NL) Pruilen zonder te schuilen Rozan Snoek


Essay (ENG) A drowning country Marie Voerman


Interview (NL) De kleine ark Masja Willekins


Column (ENG) ‘A suburban puddle’ Kyriaki Mallioglou


Essay (ENG) Who cares about water? Harriet Smith


Image Report (NL) Ode aan de waterkraan Anouk Euser


Interview (ENG) ‘Diving is My Place of Zen’ Janina Ryymin


In Depth (NL) Nessie Isa Kistemaker


Essay (ENG) What else gets me wet? Anna Scholder


Column (NL) Gewicht(loos) Marie Voerman


Image Report (NL) Gender Fluïdity Rozan Snoek



Column (ENG) Revolutionary rest and moon magic Harriet Smith Report (NL) Antropoloog in het veld Christine Yan en Marieke Brandt

Cul Magazine 3



Taking the piss The politics of peeing and accessibility What flows through the undercurrent of our everyday lives, often unspoken but never free from mind? It grows in volume and pushes at your insides; it’s foreshadowed by the man facing a building wall as you approach from behind. It’s the stench that permeates stairwells and damp tunnels, sometimes a trickle and other times a puddle. The presence that is only realised once it’s too late, as vital to life as blood, sweat, or tears: the urge to urinate.

Text and image


verybody pees. As mundane as it may seem, peeing has long been a topic of discourse and political debate. Ideas of hygiene, safety, and even morality are discussed in regards to bathrooms and exemplified by the laws that govern them. Alongside a pandemic that has periodically limited access to public facilities, many people have been confronted with the complications of peeing. While ducking into the nearest pee curl or open public bathroom is an option for some, peeing is not so simple for others. Coming from my experience growing up in the United States, I always envisioned the Netherlands to be a utopia of social services and public infrastructure. However, I have come to understand that across both Europe and America, political debates consistently make peeing a contested right.

It is a common sight to see men making a quick stop in the urinal


Cul Magazine

Islay Kalginnon Go piss girl The women’s bathroom in particular has been a locus for bathroom discourse. An article from the Atlantic by Joe Pinsker addresses ‘Potty Parity’, the recent movement for equitable availability of women and men’s toilets. The article also highlights the anthology, Toilet: The Public Restroom and the Politics of Sharing, in order to chart the debates surrounding peeing related politics. Historically, women’s restrooms have been treated as a non-necessity in male dominated spaces. The science, technology, engineering, and maths departments of many universities have fewer women’s bathrooms, as well as many old pubs and restaurants. In the realm of outdoor spaces, public urinals are present throughout Amsterdam, as well as in other major European cities. It is a common sight to see men making a quick stop in the urinal, by the canals, or anywhere else on the street after a night out. While the practice of public urination is common, it may result in a fine in the Netherlands and criminal charges in other places. Along with the lack of restrooms, the space inside women’s restrooms in the U.S. has been found inadequate, as they are modelled off of men’s restrooms in which urinals take up fewer space. Disparities in access to restrooms not only limit women’s options to pee, but reinforce gender hierarchy by building facilities that accommodate men and actively choosing not to update them. So, the next time you notice a disproportionate line for the women’s restroom, consider this as part of the cause. Another key element of the gendered bathroom discourse is the transgender bathroom debate. Frequently regarded along the lines of ‘bathroom hysteria’, the political tensions were spearheaded by the 2014 North Carolina legislation that prohibited people from using public bathrooms that differed from the gender they were assigned at birth. While the debate continues to insight fear and moral panic, academics in an article by Maria La Ganga in the Guardian draw attention to gendered bathrooms as one of the few remaining segregated public spaces. Tracing the history of segregated toilets emphasises bathrooms as a place of vulnerability, but also a site of moral panic. Discriminatory logic has historically been used to segregate bathrooms based on race, in which the protection of white women was again central to the need for bathroom divisions. Throughout the history of public restrooms, we see how gender intertwines

with racial and biological essentialism to create discourse that values the protection of women’s purity, yet makes no effort to reevaluate accessibility. While safe spaces for women are certainly necessary, bathroom debates that center women and their need to be protected from sexual assault reveal the way underlying structural inequalities are reenforced through moral panic. Liquid gold In addition to public and political debate, accessibility is mediated by capitalist ethics and economic conditions. The University of Amsterdam itself has very limited genderneutral bathrooms aside from the disabled bathrooms, which are also scarce. While women’s restrooms have been treated as a luxury in the presence of men’s, disabled bathrooms are even more of a rarity. Accessible bathrooms require alternative dimensions, added safety measures like railings and emergency signals, as well as additional space and doorways that can accommodate mobility devices. Avoiding the cost of these features is often an economic motivation for public venues, especially when accessibility regulations are not strictly enforced. In the U.S., for example, guidelines such as the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design set regulations for public venues; there is no formal or standardised mode of enforcement. Thus, people with disabilities may be prevented from using the restroom due to cost cutting or public planning oversights. The cost and profit of peeing also limit access in the realm of labour laws and bathroom breaks and access to public restrooms for the homeless. While labour laws differ by place, bathroom breaks are generally accounted for in an employee’s work schedule. However, in doing so, employers exercise power over the amount of time and frequency at which breaks are taken. Under capitalist conditions, peeing is unproductive. The phenomena of Amazon workers and mail delivery people skipping breaks and peeing in bottles in order to meet merchandise quotas unveils the dehumanisation of

Under capitalist conditions, peeing is unproductive

Peeing as a right is only granted to people who can afford it workers and unethical working environments that regulate bodily needs. Dehumanisation or devaluation of marginalised people’s autonomy is topical in the New York Times opinion piece, America Is Not Made for People Who Pee by Nicholas Kristof. Many so-called public facilities are not free for all; shops and cafes require purchases to use the restroom and outside of the U.S. many larger spaces require a small fee for the restroom. The article quotes various homeless people living in the U.S. who reflect on the loss of dignity and pride that comes from inability to access the restroom. Urination once again becomes a symbol of self-worth, and a reflection of how the state and corporate systems dictate notions of belonging within social structures. Ultimately peeing, as a right, is only granted to people who can afford it. Uto-pee-a As much as I’d like to believe that eliminating a select group of Republican senators would solve pee inequality, the problem is with the plumbing; i.e., it runs deep. In the U.S. and beyond, infrastructure is reflective of the inequalities, morals, and values we contest every day. Equity is not achieved through discourse or debate; cities need to be constructed for the people who live in them. Stricter enforcement of accessibility standards, ethical urban planning, and architecture that accounts for population diversity seem to be the most productive steps in making the act of peeing a given for all.

Cul Magazine 5


Image Report

Blauw ruis Tekst en beeld

Lieke van den Belt


ij had kleine bruine pantervlekjes en voelde koud aan, de ronde schelp die ik tegen mijn oor hield. Ik was verbaasd. Hoewel ik me in ons huis in de drukke stad bevond, kon ik toch het ruisen van de zee horen. Als klein meisje dacht ik hierdoor dat de schelp direct als een telefoonlijn in verbinding stond met Zandvoort aan Zee. Wanneer ik even wilde bellen met de zee, hoefde ik hem maar op te pakken uit ons witte vitrinekastje. Luisteren naar de zee werkt kalmerend. Er zit een ritme in de golven, eb en vloed, heen en weer, zoals de adem die mijn neus binnenkomt en mijn mond uitgaat. Mijn hoofd spoelt leeg. Nu ik ouder ben luister ik nog steeds graag naar de zee, maar dan via filmpjes op Youtube. Online vind je dan titels zoals: Ocean Waves White Noise - Sleep, Study, Insomnia Relief - 10 Hours. Regen doet het daarnaast ook goed voor de ontspanning. Ik klik op een filmpje met de titel 10 Hours of Rain Sound Relaxation / Ultimate Stress Relief, Deep Sleep, Meditation, Yoga. Een zacht, regelmatig getik komt uit de speakers van mijn telefoon. Ik beeld me in dat ik in een tent lig, veilig verpakt in mijn slaapzak. Mijn gedachten veranderen in regendruppels. Het geluid van water is multifunctioneel, blijkt uit de titels van de filmpjes. Je kan ermee mediteren, studeren, lezen, yoga beoefenen en het kan je gezelschap houden wanneer je maar niet in slaap kan vallen. Van alle geluiden die kalmeren, hebben regen en golven de meeste videoweergaven. Bosgeluiden met fluitende vogeltjes zijn voor de ochtend, maar het water is voor het slapen gaan: voor de kalmte. Misschien omdat water zo allesomvattend is. Het geluid van regen als een warme deken om ons heen, de zee als blauwe deken die de halve wereld bedekt. Water laat me momenten herbeleven. Bij het geluid van golven denk ik aan de keren dat ik wandelde langs de


Cul Magazine

Just around the riverbank Perceptions on Mtkvari In the highest peaks of the Caucasus mountains, snow is melting. Snowflakes become water droplets and collectively form the Mtkvari river. A stream of clean water from the mountains, passing by small towns with big factories. Clear blue at first, but turning more brown by the kilometre. Eventually, the filthy brown water enters Tbilisi: the capital of Georgia. A city with 1.2 million people and an equal amount of perspectives on their river. I’m ready to wander and meander with Mtkvari: a river debouching into a variety of complex social and political interactions.

Text and image

kust met de wind in mijn haar, of dat ik las op het strand in de zon. Audiofragmenten van regen laten me denken aan hoe fijn en knus het is om binnen te zijn, terwijl buiten alles bijna overstroomt. Ik denk aan de keer dat een wolk met onweer precies boven het vakantiehuisje van mijn ouders dreef waardoor de stoppen doorsloegen en de tv uitviel. Ik was niet helemaal overtuigd dat we het zouden overleven, maar toch voelde ik me veilig, zo tussen mijn vader en moeder in op de bank. Ik heb inmiddels geen schelp met beltegoed meer om te communiceren met de zee, maar wel een mobieltje met een bibliotheek aan geluid. Mensen denken vaak dat de ruis uit een schelp komt door het bloed dat door je oor stroomt, maar eigenlijk is het puur omgevingsgeluid. De schelp filtert het geluid in de buurt, totdat er niets over is dan ruis. Zo bevindt het geluid van de zee zich altijd een beetje om ons heen.

Marije Nieuwland

‘I do not have any bond with the river, it’s merely a symbol in my head. And if you remove that, it’s just a stream of dirty water in my city’ - Elene Pasuri, producer, writer and art manager A peaceful walk alongside the Mtkvari in Tbilisi is not as appealing as it might sound. My friend Elene and I are walking on the high boulevard above the river, with a noisy highway next to us. The other side of Mtkvari doesn’t seem any more attractive. The river is surrounded by the busiest roads of the city, drowning out the sounds of rippling water. Getting really close to Mtkvari to watch, hear and feel the water, seems to be difficult. Only once every kilometre we pass half broken stairs which could bring us down to the river. But when I go down these stairs, they don’t bring me to a romantic spot where I can sit and get in touch with the river. Instead, they lead me straight into the water, and all I’m left with is garbage and the smell of urine. To avoid the half-broken stairs completely falling apart and Mtkvari taking me with her, I climb back up to the boulevard.

Cul Magazine 7

Image Report

Image Report


citizens have lost their river’ – Merab Bolqvadze, urban planner Elene tells me there used to be a lot of interaction between Mtkvari and the citizens of Tbilisi. People who wouldn’t meet each other in their day-to-day lives, would meet at the river where they drank the water, caught fish, took water for agricultural activities or searched for a moment of refreshment during hot summer days. Through all these varying interactions between citizens and the river, interaction between cultural groups in society was stimulated. According to Elene, ‘Mtkvari brought different cultures together’. This all changed in Soviet times. Tbilisi was being redesigned to be as functional as possible. The Mtkvari was hemmed in by huge roads serving cars and trucks driving in and out the city. Soviet urban planning cut off the river from the citizens of Tbilisi. Urban planner Merab Bolqvadze reflects on this in the book Tbilisi Archive of Transition: ‘Nature has been chased out of the city, now we should at least attempt to invite it back’. However, recent capitalistoriented governments are not showing any effort to invite the river back into the city. Political policies obstruct the interaction between the citizens and their Mtkvari river even more: ‘an all-encompassing process of privatisation in Tbilisi has affected public spaces as much as the state-owned means of production, institutions and city building seen in the Soviet past. The process of sale includes not only parks, recreational areas, and forest preserves, but also portions of streets and squares and even areas of the Mtkvari river.’ Elene grabs a taxi and leaves me with Mtkvari: a river stolen from the people of Tbilisi. I can observe the moving water, but I cannot find the human interaction with it. Am I searching for the wrong thing? In days passed, I asked friends about their perspectives on Mtkvari and they almost seemed a bit dazed by my question, as if they never thought about it. And today I seem to be the only one walking the boulevard, exploring Mtkvari and connecting with her. Still Mtkvari flows straight through this vibrant city. Hidden, but always there. While I’m following Mtkvari, I wonder. Perhaps the citizens have relations with their Mtkvari, not because of the way they interact with her but precisely in the way they don’t interact with her.


Cul Magazine

‘On the left side of Mtkvari your street creds won’t cut it’ – Levan Babalshvili, rapper MOON G Even though interactions between citizens and the Mtkvari seem fully lost, the river nonetheless functions as a social border within the city of Tbilisi. People living on one side of Mtkvari have entirely different lives than people living on the other side. The members from rap collective MOON G live on the left (West) side of the river: a part of Tbilisi with decrepit Soviet buildings and a lot of poverty. Opposite to that, the right side is being developed into a modern and wealthy metropolis designed according to West-European urban planning standards. And this distinction doesn’t stop at different buildings and living standards. In fact, the river separates totally disparate social worlds and realities. Levan raps about how norms of behaviour are just not the same on the other side of the stream of water. He mainly criticises how citizens on the right side of Mtkvari are adopting left side urban street culture in their language, clothing, music taste and behaviour while they don’t have any idea what it is like to live on the other side. These ‘street creds’ won’t help them once they cross the bridge.

‘The river is dirty. The fish is dirty…, but tasty.’ - Tornike Revia It’s difficult to get back to the city from the boulevard. First, I must cross a big road with a sincere lack of pedestrian crossings. Somewhere far away I see traffic lights and faded white stripes on the road. I plan to end my Mtkvari walk up there. But when I nearly reach the crossing point, I notice a group of guys drinking beers alongside the river. I haven’t seen this before: people hanging out and having fun together at the Mtkvari riverbank. One man bends over the railing. A second later, I watch him picking up a net full of small fish. He notices me and we start a conversation. ‘Fish for dinner tonight?’ I ask him. ‘Well, the river is dirty, so the fish are dirty’ Tornike tells me: ‘But yeah, still tasty though’. Tornike’s words sound hopeful to me. If he can find something flavorful in the water, maybe the river isn’t lost yet. But for the citizens to rediscover the taste of Mtkvari, they should be given at least a chance to reconnect with her.

Cul Magazine 9



Pruilen zonder te schuilen Een persoonlijke zoektocht naar de betekenis achter mijn tranen Vaak schaam ik mij voor mijn tranen. De tranen komen vooral naar boven als ik een conflict of een discussie met iemand heb. Er valt een bepaalde onmacht over mij heen. Ik kan mijn gedachten niet vertalen naar woorden en op dat moment beginnen de tranen te stromen. In een discussie met mijn vader is dit nog prima, maar hoe zit het straks als ik een baan heb en het oneens ben met mijn baas?

Tekst en beeld


en traan is lichaamsvocht dat in verschillende situaties uit je ogen kan stromen: huilen van het lachen, tranen door de wind op de fiets, tranen tijdens het snijden van een ui of tranen door emotie. Traanvocht is vrijwel altijd aanwezig om je ogen te reinigen, te beschermen en te voeden. Daarnaast zijn er reflextranen die de ogen beschermen tegen rook en wind om irritaties te voorkomen. Het meest fascinerende traanvocht in mijn ogen is echter de emotionele traan. Dit komt omdat het reguleren van emoties vaak uitdagend voor mij is. Vroeger kwamen de tranen namelijk op verkeerde momenten tevoorschijn, waardoor ik erin begon te geloven dat mijn tranen niet ‘acceptabel’ waren. Tegenwoordig uit zich dit in de pogingen die ik doe om mijn tranen te beheersen en te verbergen als ze niet passend zijn in een bepaalde situatie. Door de verschillende tranen te onderscheiden in types en categorieën, krijg ik inzicht in de betekenis en ervaring van tranen. Als iemand bijvoorbeeld een ui snijdt en huilt, koppel ik dat aan reflextranen en niet aan emotionele tranen. Deze verschillende categorieën en functies van traanvocht maakt het inschatten van de ‘acceptatie’ van tranen complex en tegelijkertijd fascinerend. Om het vocht dat uit mijn lichaam komt beter te begrijpen, neem ik je mee in mijn persoonlijke zoektocht naar de waarde achter mijn (verborgen) tranen.

Het meest fascinerende traanvocht in mijn ogen is de emotionele traan Sharing is caring Vaak ga ik discussies en conflicten uit de weg om tranen van onmacht te voorkomen. Voor deze tranen schaam ik mij namelijk het meest. Ze komen namelijk vooral voor op het moment dat ik mijn gedachten niet kan vertalen en er onbegrip ontstaat bij de ander over wat ik precies wil overbrengen of


Cul Magazine

Rozan Snoek

vertellen. De tranen die op dat moment naar buiten komen, werken me juist tegen, waardoor mijn boodschap waarde kan verliezen. Op zulke momenten ervaar ik geen onderliggende machtsrelaties; toch begin ik langzaam wat meer te begrijpen waarom die schaamte verbonden is aan macht.

Oh daar gaat ze weer De oncontroleerbare tranen die op dat moment over mijn wangen stromen, geven de indicatie dat ik geen controle heb over mijn emoties. Ik stel mezelf zo, naar mijn idee, machteloos op. Tijdens conflictsituaties en discussies kan ik namelijk niet bepalen of de tranen wel of niet naar buiten komen. Tegenwoordig benadruk ik bij de ander dat mijn tranen er zijn, maar dat ze een andere betekenis hebben. Door dit te delen met de ander, krijg ik een gevoel van controle terug. Ik trek de ander weg van het idee dat mijn tranen symbool zouden staan voor mijn emoties, die ik niet zou kunnen bedwingen. Hoewel ik emotioneel word, zijn de tranen er uit frustratie en woede en niet uit verdriet. Het vocht dat over mijn wangen loopt, vertelt de ander niets over de waarde van mijn woorden. Dit geeft mij de mogelijkheid discussies te blijven voeren.

‘Huil je nou weer?’ Om inzicht te krijgen in de acceptatie van mijn tranen, haal ik het boek Purity and Danger van antropologe Mary Douglas aan. ‘Waarom een boek waarin reinheid en dreiging centraal staan?’, vraag je je misschien af. Ook ik zou mijn tranen in eerste instantie niet omschrijven als iets wat dreiging of reinheid symboliseert. Toch ben ik hier anders over gaan denken. Want volgens Douglas biedt materie die afwijkt en buiten een categorie valt inzicht in de structuren van de samenleving. Hierbij kan je denken aan koffie. Koffie in een kopje is niet vies, maar zodra de koffie zich op de grond of op je kleding bevindt wordt het wel degelijk viezigheid. Ik verwacht van een ander dat ik de koffie in een kopje geschonken krijg en niet van de grond hoef te slurpen. De context van de geserveerde tranen heeft invloed op de reactie en acceptatie. Zo is huilen tijdens een begrafenis passender dan huilen om een slecht cijfer. Dit herken ik ook in mijn eigen ervaringen. Als ik vroeger huilde om een onvoldoende op school was dat niet per se omdat die onvoldoende mij verdrietig maakte. Ik huilde om de samenloop van omstandigheden: de moeite en tijd die ik aan de toets had besteed, de bezorgdheid over mijn zieke oma en de ruzie met mijn zusje. Deze ophoping zorgde ervoor dat ik in tranen uitbarstte op een moment dat het niet zo gepast was. En dan kon ik opmerkingen verwachten als: ‘Huil je nou weer?!’, ‘Niet zo aanstellen’, ‘Huil je nou om een slecht cijfer?!’ en ‘Oh, daar gaat ze weer hoor’. Deze opmerkingen hebben mij doen geloven dat ik niet mocht huilen en de tranen voor mezelf moest houden. Ik heb mezelf dus aangeleerd mijn tranen maar te verbergen, waardoor ik tegenwoordig nog amper huil. Dit is niet om zielig te doen, maar juist om een interessante tegenreactie van mijn (emotionele) brein, op mijn lichaam, niet onbesproken te laten.

Zal ik mijn tranen meer accepteren? Tranentrekkers Tranen zijn echter niet altijd onder te brengen in categorieën en vallen er dus soms tussen. Binnen gekaderde categorieën is er namelijk vaak geen ruimte voor de verschillende omstandigheden die voorafgaan aan het huilen. Emoties bouwen zich op tot een enorme hoop waardoor de tranen dan alsnog naar buiten komen op een ongepast moment. Deze momenten zijn bepalend geweest voor de waarde die ik aan mijn tranen heb gegeven; wat ertoe heeft geleid dat ik mijn tranen ben gaan verbergen. Persoonlijk hoop ik op meer acceptatie bij huilen, juist in die ‘ongepaste’ situaties, zonder daar altijd de extra lading aan te koppelen. Tranen mogen er zijn, toch?! Ik hoef het niet altijd te begrijpen, maar ik ben mij nu wel een stuk bewuster van het mogelijk komen en gaan van mijn tranen, ook al heb ik er niet altijd controle over. Tranen kunnen symbool staan voor onderliggende machtsverhoudingen en bieden inzicht in de acceptatie van oncontroleerbaar vocht dat uit je lichaam komt. Nu vraag ik mij wel af of ik na het schrijven mijn tranen meer ga accepteren, of nog steeds een beroep zal doen op mijn aangeleerde vaardigheid om mijn tranen onder controle te houden. Het idee om later voor de neus van mijn baas in tranen uit te barsten voelt nog steeds niet helemaal oké, ondanks dat ik nu wel zou snappen waar de tranen vandaan zouden komen. Eén ding weet ik wel zeker, bij de volgende tranentrekker in de bioscoop zal ik mezelf toestaan de kranen weer te openen. Laat die tranen maar komen.

Cul Magazine 11



A drowning country A critical look at ‘the Dutch way’ of dealing with climate change Water and the Netherlands go together like Sandy and Danny in Grease. Which means, sort of but not really. Both parties adapt to each other to try and squeeze themselves into a doomed-fromthe-start relationship for however long it can last. For decades, the Netherlands has tamed and managed water in a way to keep it as its faithful partner. However, this relationship will most likely end sooner rather than later, and the break-up won’t be pretty.

Text Marie Voerman Image Lieke van den Belt


he Netherlands and water have had a complicated connection from the start. Whilst water is often our greatest love, when we swim in lakes, when we skate on frozen canals, when we fierljep across ditches or when we drink cold tap water on hot days, it is also one of our biggest enemies. For most of us who grew up in the Netherlands or have lived here for a while, the knowledge of living below sea-level and the pride we should take in our ‘battle against water’ are just about shoved down our throats. However, for a country on the brink of drowning, the real and terrifying consequences of the rising sea levels that climate change brings are often not only conveniently downplayed or used to our own advantage, but even facilitated. Bring on the water works The setting is the Eurovision song contest, held in Ahoy Rotterdam. For the past four minutes, viewers have been watching the intermission performance of Dutch singer Davina Michelle. In a dramatic break, we see her crossing one of the Delta Works on a motorbike as the water rushes to disastrous heights. Just as it’s about to hit the Delta Works, it stops, and Davina Michelle takes on the power of the water to finish her Sweet Water performance.

The face of the Dutch Janus points in whichever direction is most convenient

Though it is ‘just’ a performance for Eurovision, the implications of the performance ring true far beyond the dramatic staging. In those four minutes, the Netherlands carefully positions itself as both a powerful player in the water-game, whilst simultaneously making sure everyone is aware of the victim position when things go south. We, as a country, proudly tell people about the Delta Works, about the entire province of Flevoland (‘That used to be water, you know!’), about our ice-skating champions and about the Dutch influence in world-wide water-related projects like the Ocean Clean-up. However, when we’re playing the victimcard, we make sure people are aware that over 26% of the country is below sea-level and that it would be, according to the Dutch weather institute, ‘the end of the Dutch Kingdom’ if the sea levels rise. When it comes to our relationship with water, the face of the Dutch Janus thus points in whichever direction is most convenient. Small country, large consequences What is often conveniently left out of the conversation altogether, however, is the role the Netherlands plays in the


Cul Magazine

exact thing it ‘wants to prevent’. Conversations about rising sea levels rarely take a critical look inward. When visiting the website of the Dutch government about the causes and consequences of rising sea levels and what we need to do to protect the country, solutions that are discussed are all geared towards doing what we know: the strengthening of existing water infrastructure. But besides being good at keeping water out of the streets of the Netherlands and other countries, there is another thing the Netherlands is exceptionally good at: polluting. The Netherlands is the almighty champion when it comes to the production and exportation of meat. This is not news to Cul readers, Masja Willekens also noted our prime-minister’s pressing remark that though the climate is important, we ‘still need to be able to keep on barbequing’. But the Netherland’s true contribution to global warming is shocking to hear every time. If we look at the data from Dutch Environmental Defence, it’s clear how drastic the impact of the Netherlands is. For such a small country, a lot of land is used to keep animals or farm food for said animals. This causes an incredibly high amount of CO2 emissions, not to mention the added CO2 production that comes with exporting said meat. CO2, of course, is one of the leading ingredients in the recipe for global warming. Dutch companies like Unilever and ‘Royal’ Shell also add fuel to the fire, with Unilever aiding in putting us on the list as Europe’s largest palm oil importer and with Shell granting us the biggest oil harbour in the world. All the while, the leading parties of the Dutch government gladly subsidise these companies, offer them tax cuts and make no move whatsoever to make any changes in policy. Though we have to keep in mind that Dutch Environmental Defence also has an agenda that they’re trying to push, I’d rather see an agenda pushed with less of an ‘end-of-the-world’ outcome than the alternative.

Conversations about rising sea levels rarely take a critical look inward

Handling climate change in a Dutch way: pretend we’re doing a lot, whilst choosing to do little ‘Not in my backyard’ Wrong. The disastrous results of climate change have already started and they’re not going to stop any time soon. Floods, wildfires and extreme droughts are already plaguing multiple countries. However, until relatively ‘recently’, this didn’t concern the Netherlands. After all, it wasn’t happening in any country close enough to us or that we were connected to strongly enough. Why should we care about our CO2 levels causing a flood in Thailand? It doesn’t concern ‘our’ people. When those floods hit Limburg, however, or when the hot temperatures in summer required the Dutch to use less water, talks about climate change suddenly became a hot topic amongst leading parties. But rather than turning to the big companies, stripping big polluters of ‘royal’ statuses, investing in renewable energy; the blame was put on the consumer. Dutch people should turn on the AC less, take shorter showers, and use metal straws. Still, the Dutch government chooses to handle climate change in a Dutch way: pretend we’re doing a lot, whilst choosing to do little. Now, I know that there is nuance in the way the Netherlands has dealt with climate change. However, drastic adjustment is needed and it is needed now. There’s no time for moneybased politics or pats on the back for doing the bare minimum. The Netherlands need to take responsibility as a big polluter and turn away from short-term problem solving with dikes and dams and move to long-term prevention. Because at the end of the day, a drowning country with a lot of money in its pockets and a lot of big words about its intentions, will still drown.

The leading parties of the Dutch government have been in charge for years, listening to the Green party and many citizens complain about the massive contributions of the Netherlands to global warming. However, in this time span they have also skilfully avoided addressing climate protests, brushed off policy plans to increase taxes for polluting companies and invested more in non-green energy. The Dutch government is very aware of its role in climate change and the precarious position of the Netherlands if the sea levels rise. However, in the game of politics that the top parties are playing, climate change is simply not a priority. After all, they’re keeping the big companies happy, keeping the rich wealthy and keeping the water out. And if it really does go wrong, maybe they’ll throw some money towards strengthening the dams. Solid plan, right?

Cul Magazine 13



De kleine ark Hoe mijn vader een boothuis bouwde - en hulp kreeg! We zitten op houten klapstoelen voor mijn ouderlijk huis, aan een okergeel tafeltje beladen met koppen thee en crackers met brie. Onze hoofden in de zon, onze blikken op de gracht. Mijn ouders wonen al zo’n dertig jaar aan deze kade. In die tijd kon dat nog: een huis kopen aan het water in Amsterdam zonder miljonair te zijn. Altijd wanneer ik deze straat in fiets, lacht het hoekhuis me tegemoet, als een rots in de branding.


Tekst en beeld

ama en jij hebben mij en mijn zus opgevoed met een enorme liefde voor water. We gingen niet op vakantie naar een land, we gingen op vakantie naar het water. Eerst naar de Franse rivieren om te kanoën, dan naar de Middellandse zee om te snorkelen, te bodyboarden en de hele dag met opblaaskrokodillen te spelen. Was dat ook zo in jouw jeugd?’ Papa schudt zijn hoofd. ‘Ik ben opgegroeid in Breda. Daar had je wel kleine beekjes en rivieren, maar geen echte open wateren. Ik kom uit een gezin van zes kinderen. Wij gingen nooit ver op vakantie, alleen naar oma in Nijmegen, met zijn allen in de kleine Volkswagen Kever gepropt. We mochten ook weleens op het huis passen van mijn oom in Den Haag. Dan gingen we natuurlijk naar het strand. Maar verder was water niet zo aanwezig.’

Omdat water altijd beweegt, kun je er met je gedachten op wegdrijven ‘Klopt het dat je ook nooit een zwemdiploma hebt gehaald?’ ‘Haha, ja! Ik zat op schoolzwemmen en dat was vreselijk. Het water was koud en de badmeester was een boze man. Ik heb toen gewoon nooit afgezwommen. Gelukkig had ik een heel leuk buurmeisje, die alle kinderen uit de buurt meenam naar het zwembad en mij daar heeft leren zwemmen.’ ‘Om van water te houden, heb je dus geen diploma nodig. Welke invloed heeft water op jou, denk je?’ ‘Water is een pure vorm van ontspanning. Het staat gelijk aan vakantie, maar ook aan mijn hoofd leegmaken in het Zuiderbad. Dat wij aan het water wonen is zo’n groot geluk. Ver kunnen kijken geeft een gevoel van vrijheid, van ruimte in de stad. Water beweegt altijd en verveelt nooit. In de architectuur is water waardevol: omdat het altijd beweegt, kun je er met je gedachten goed op wegdrijven.’ ‘Mooi bruggetje naar het boothuis. Want na een carrière-switch van huisarts tot architect, ben je in feite nu ook weer iets totaal nieuws aan het doen. In plaats van alleen tekenen en ontwerpen, bouw je het huis zelf. Hoe is dit begonnen?’ ‘Het leven hangt aan elkaar van toevalligheden. In coronatijden merkten je moeder en ik dat we meer behoefte kregen aan natuur om ons heen. Bovendien leek het ons fijn om een plek te hebben dichtbij oma. Vrienden vertelden ons


Cul Magazine

Masja Willekens over hun kajuitjacht, maar dat leek me niks, daar stoot ik vast steeds mijn hoofd. Toen zijn we gaan kijken naar houseboats, maar die bleken peperduur. En toen dacht ik: waarom bouw ik hem niet zelf ?’ ‘Toen je dat vertelde dacht ik wel even: nou, daar gaan we! Ik zag de Titanic-taferelen al voor me. Had je er zelf meteen vertrouwen in?’ Papa lacht zijn brede lach. ‘Wat jij niet weet, is dat dit voor mij niet eens zo nieuw was. Ik heb altijd geklust. In mijn studentenkamer sloopte ik kasten uit de muur, repareerde ik leidingen en legde ik nieuwe vloeren voor huisgenoten’.

‘Een talent dat ik duidelijk niet geërfd heb... Ik kan nog net een lampje vervangen.’ ‘Het kan altijd nog! Je kunt alles leren, het is maar wat je wil. Ik kan ook nog lang niet alles. Bovendien krijg ik veel hulp.’

Samen zoiets bijzonders maken, daar wil je als mens bij zijn ‘Dat is ook zo. In de groepschat “De Kleine Ark” zitten meer dan dertig mensen, die allemaal helpen klussen, bouwen, schuren en schilderen. Waar komt deze motivatie bij hen vandaan, denk je?’ ‘Ten eerste vinden ze het allemaal een heel leuk project. Het heeft een bepaalde aantrekkingskracht: samen zoiets moois en bijzonders maken, daar wil je als mens bij zijn. Ten tweede wil iedereen zijn verhaal kwijt. Terwijl we bezig zijn, bespreken we wat we meemaken, hoor je over elkaars weekend, gezinsleven en dagelijkse bezigheden. Soms komt er niets uit iemands handen, dat is ook helemaal niet erg. Ik voel me al zo vereerd dat mensen de tijd nemen om naar de werf te komen.’ ‘De antropoloog Marcel Mauss is beroemd om zijn theorie over reciprociteit. Hij stelt dat relaties tussen mensen in stand worden gehouden op basis van een bepaalde wederkerigheid. Wat geef jij terug aan de mensen die komen helpen?’ ‘Ik zorg sowieso voor koffie en lekkere broodjes. Daarnaast

moet het een licht en luchtig project blijven: het moet niet voelen als zwaar werk. En natuurlijk is iedereen van harte welkom op de boot als hij af is. Maar volgens mij is dat niet de grootste drijfveer voor mensen om mee te doen. Zo zie ik aan de jonge mensen die komen dat ze heel graag willen leren klussen en ervaring willen opdoen. Voor mij zijn deze mensen dan weer een stok achter de deur. Zij komen, dus ik kan niet wegblijven. Hun enthousiasme stimuleert mij enorm.’ ‘Je zegt dat het einddoel niet de grootste motivatie is voor velen. Als jij met de boot bezig bent, denk je dan vooral aan het eindproduct of kun je echt genieten van de weg ernaartoe? Ik zou vooral denken aan dat lekkere biertje dat ik ga drinken op het dek, hoe ik daarna in het water spring en languit ga liggen zonnen met een boek.’ Papa kijkt bedenkelijk. ‘Weet je, die gedachten laat ik nauwelijks toe. Ik zie nog zoveel beren op de weg. Het gaat echt stapje voor stapje, met vallen en opstaan. Alles wat je in je hoofd hebt kan anders uitpakken. Je moet positief zijn over elke kleine vordering, en niet alleen als het helemaal af is. Dan trek je het niet.’

Het wordt een plek om te rusten én om te maken

Cul Magazine 15



‘A suburban puddle’ The sun’s first rays blink into existence, starting the timer on the day. Eyes adjust, looking East-ward, taking in the warmth. The ground is wet from the heavy rain just a night prior. The birds accompany the light as they sing the songs of the morning. They drop down from tree branches, looking for a sip to drink. A bluebird indeed finds a puddle, looking at its warped reflection as it swallows the fresh rainwater. Across the mirror of happenstance, a thirsty cricket is spotted. And so, the chase begins.

Text Kyriaki Mallioglou Image Lieke van den Belt


e find our vantage point quite limited however, as the bluebird and cricket retreat into suburban shrubbery. The asphalt canopy of our story is localised to the specific circumstantial swelling and sinking of one timeless-but-forgotten road. This hole serves many purposes, beyond getting ‘soccer-moms’ vexed about the ‘pothole problem’ in the city. It invites inner-children to come out to splash, wearing their metaphorical bright yellow wellies. It shows the roughness in the perfection and the utility in the uselessness. An ecosystem of its own, with various visiting contributors.

‘Als je dan tóch even in de toekomst kijkt. Welke dromen heb je voor de boot?’ ‘Het boothuis moet een plek worden om je terug te trekken en je eigen ding te doen. Om te lezen, muziek te maken, te zingen en piano te spelen. Maar ook om mensen te ontvangen. Zo wil ik er heel graag mijn verjaardag groots vieren. En je kent ons leven: wij zijn makers. Thuis in Amsterdam maken we de hele dag door: schrijven, dichten, ontwerpen, mama maakt theater, ik maak onderwijs… De Kleine Ark wordt


Cul Magazine

een plek om te rusten én om te maken. Het wordt een plek voor ruimte in je hoofd. Want alleen met ruimte kun je weer nieuwe dingen creëren.’ ‘Zoals? Een nieuw project?’ Papa grijnst, leunt achterover en zet zijn zonnebril op. ‘Heel stiekem kijk ik soms naar Volkswagenbusjes om op te knappen, waarin je achterin kunt slapen. Maar dat is nog even geheim!’

The downpour of the evening becomes the morning’s playground. Once again proving that the passage of time can change and preserve in contradicting fashion. The first human contact of the day: a man in overalls tosses his cigarette, successfully putting it out. The otherwise empty street echoes with a hiss followed by his retreating footsteps. The trashcan across the street gives a sigh, wishing people would one day notice it. Sounds of far-away honking and dissonant yelling dissolve into the open air above, contrasting the silence of the street the puddle is on. It feels peaceful to know we are not in the chaos, but here instead. The sun is directly above the street now, the steam of evaporating rain coming off the heated asphalt. Before there is time for a warning, a distracted teenager absent-mindedly soaks their shoe in the murky water and instantaneously curses the decision to step outside today. Some moments later, a GPS-less car curiously finds its way through the narrow street. But cars don’t really visit anymore, and the feeling of rubber and the crushing weight of the metal box terrifies the puddle. Yet when it passes over, no harm seems to be done. The sun is getting dangerously low in the sky now, the swirling colours of the sunset mixing into the leftover rain in the concrete hole. With its last gasp of humidity, the puddle makes a promise: “I will visit you again one day, when the clouds are full of tears and when the dimples that adorn the roads need a fill.” And so, the neighbourhood waits.

Cul Magazine 17



Who cares about water? Communities, companies, and environmentalist grandmas ‘Water can’t be free’, at least according to former Nestlé chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe. In a ten minute YouTube video on the subject, I was surprised to find not everything he said was nonsense, yet he lacked some crucial analysis, inherent to his (then) position as chairman of one of the largest multinational corporations in the world. At first glance, it appears questionable to place a financial value on a resource required for survival. But is commoditization of water as bad as it sounds?

Text and image


ften (mis)quoted as saying water is not a human right, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe clarifies that more than 25 litres of water per day is not a human right, with this number chosen as his minimum ‘to live decently’. His class analysis that overconsumption of water contributes to global inequality is true, including his position that swimming pools and golf courses are a luxury. His concern that poor infrastructure loses a significant amount of water annually is valid. However, his conclusion that ‘if the value of water is zero, any investment will never yield’, is an endorsement of a capitalist free market where everything should be for sale, comparable by financial value. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe views water first and foremost as a commodity, unsurprising for the chairman of a company making billions from bottled water sales annually. Perhaps this is why he views consumers as the problem, apparently unwilling to pay enough for water. He considers the ‘water crisis’ a primary concern for the future of humanity. Then, what is the role and responsibility of multinational corporations, especially those selling bottled water?


Cul Magazine

Harriet Smith

Firstly, no company on earth produces water. Instead, they extract from a water source, processing the water to meet regulatory requirements. Water is a vital resource. Yet, one in four people do not have access to a safely managed water service at home. Bottled water may sometimes be a necessity, but the commoditization of water allows some to profit enormously from a basic human right. Water access is uneven and contextually specific. Therefore, I will narrow my focus to Michigan specifically. However, it is just one story of unethical water extraction, illustrating a shift towards water as a commodity in a broader sense.

world’s supply of surface freshwater. Lake Michigan is one of these five interconnected lakes, enticing Nestlé in 2000. Nestlé’s bottled water production centre is located a two hour drive from Flint. Located in Michigan state, Flint is the centre of an infamous water poisoning scandal, a result of poor government oversight, mismanagement, and systemic racism. The 626 million dollars settlement case and criminal trials are ongoing, including against the former Governor of Michigan Rick Snyder. However, the water scandals in Michigan are broader still, a tangled web of politicians and corporations viewing water resources as a financial opportunity. On April 25th in 2014, due to financial pressures, it was decided that water in Flint could no longer be purchased from Detroit, with new plans created to draw from a local water source. The Flint River was only a temporary solution, but high chloride content in the river water eroded old lead pipes leading to lead-contaminated water affecting roughly one hundred thousand people. Lead poisoning affects the brain and nervous system and has continued to affect birth outcomes. Boiling water does not remove lead either, and large public billboards were placed around the city reminding residents that they could not use their tap water for drinking, cooking, bathing, or cleaning. Residents of Flint were left without potable water for six years. Eight years on, politicians say that the water is safe to drink, yet many residents are unhappy with the poor water quality and remaining infrastructure issues. The link between Flint and Nestlé is not immediately obvious. However, when reporter Amy Goodman visited Flint in 2016, the National Guard was handing out bottles of Ice Mountain, a subsidiary of Nestlé at the time (now part of BlueTriton Brands). This water was extracted and bottled in Michigan, against the complaints of numerous concerned residents. As many residents in Flint continue to distrust tap water, they are forced to purchase bottled water. This allows Nestlé and other bottled water companies to continue to profit from a public health crisis, especially as bottled water is typically 3000% more expensive than tap water.

Water is actually rarely free to the ‘consumer’. In Flint, residents faced some of the highest water prices in Michigan. They were paying roughly $140 per month on average, even while the water was unsafe and they had to rely on bottled water. Simultaneously, Nestlé paid as little as $200 annually, and received $13million in tax breaks for locating their plant in Michigan. Nestlé pays for a government permit and local land leasing, rather than water extraction itself. Therefore increasing water extraction incurs no increased cost for corporations. It seems convenient that the (former) chairman of Nestlé completely failed to mention how little bottled water companies pay for their water, when bottled water typically has a profit margin of 50-200%. Politicians and corporations are intertwined due to lobbying. Nestlé’s annual lobbying and campaign contributions are known to total millions each year, at both federal and state levels. In 2015, during Flint’s water crisis, the Governor of Michigan was Rick Snyder. His chief of staff, Dennis Muchmore proposed spending $250,000 on Nestlé’s water, Ice Mountain as a temporary measure to deal with the lead poisoned water. Interestingly, this occurred while his wife Deborah Muchmore was employed by Nestlé, as a lobbyist and public relations consultant. (Former) Governor Rick Snyder’s name appears again in 2018, when Nestlé applied to increase water extraction from 250 to 400 gallons per minute in Evart, Michigan. The government’s computer modelled simulation of increased extraction suggested this would cause negative environmental impacts. However, this was overruled. The government instead relied upon data provided by Nestlé which considered increased extraction as sustainable. In a public consultation on the issue, there were 75 public comments in support and comments against the proposal; the increased pumping was approved by Michigan authorities anyway. This was also while Snyder’s chief of staff ’s wife worked directly for Nestlé. Nestlé’s extraction efforts are not without resistance. Since they entered Michigan in 2000, a collective of concerned grandmas founded Michigan citizens for water conservation to ‘protect water resources from corporate theft’. They say that

No company on earth produces water Welcome to Michigan The Great Lakes in the United States are the largest freshwater lakes on earth, totalling roughly 20% of the

Cul Magazine 19

Image Report

Essay ‘streams have become mud holes as they sell us back our own water’. In Evart, the jobs Nestlé promised never materialised and instead upgrades to local softball fields were provided. Offers to replace local infrastructure like bridges have been cited as an attempt to cover up the evidence of damage. Infrastructure upgrades would remove historic water marks which demonstrate how low water levels have fallen because of Nestlé’s water extraction. Nestlé’s approach may still be legally compliant. However, they are repeatedly accused of going to economically impoverished communities, taking their water and selling it back to them (or onto others). The small communities that bottled water companies typically enter are easily enticed by initial pay-outs. They are unaware of the magnitude of extraction and the long term impacts of changing the water levels of the local ecosystem. Michigan, comprising 54% African-Americans, has a poverty rate higher than the average across the United States. As well as economic impoverishment, official reports concluded that systemic racism also played a role in the slow and inadequate response to the water crisis. Michigan is only one example: Nestlé has also recently fought legal battles in California’s Strawberry Creek that follow an eerily similar pattern. Freshwater is a finite renewable resource. How it is extracted and distributed is therefore extremely important. Criticism of overconsumption by individuals remains relevant, but corporations should be criticised extensively too. The chairman of Nestlé is perhaps not the person best placed to do this. Viewing water as a commodity for sale serves the interests of the bottled water companies, rather than the communities for whom water is a human right, still not universally accessible.

Freshwater is a finite renewable resource 3 more reasons to hate bottled water (and the companies producing them) Bottled water is not just a problem due to the questionable ethics of extraction though. There are more reasons to avoid bottled water too. Because time is valuable, and paper too, I’ve compiled a short list for you. 1. Plastic pollution The 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report states that we must ‘take action now’ to at least limit devastating outcomes from global warming. Reducing fossil fuels has become a necessity. Plastic represents over 5% of global oil use and millions of barrels of oil are utilised each year to produce single use plastic bottles. Over one million plastic bottles are sold annually, which typically have a five-hundred year life span. Less than 20% of these are recycled, while the majority end up in landfill and in our oceans. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is one of several areas in our oceans filled with a concentrated amount of plastic pollution. It covers an area estimated to be three times the size of France, or around thirty-nine times the size of the


Cul Magazine

Netherlands. This scale of pollution has an unprecedented impact. Microplastics are now an emerging threat to marine and human life. Using less plastic is thus better for the planet. 2. Wastes water and energy Bottled water is incredibly energy intensive, with energy utilised in production of plastic, bottles, water treatment, packaging, and transportation. The water usage is even more shocking. The International Bottled Water Association would remind us that ‘bottled water has the lowest water use and energy use ratios of any packaged beverage’, but one litre of water utilises 1.39 litres of water. This is only the water production process itself, not the plastic; plastic production has a significant water footprint. In a 2011 study by <i>Water Footprint Network, researchers estimated that between 3-5.3 litres of water were required for a typical single use water bottle. Then more water is used to produce the paper label affixed to the outside. A typical plastic water bottle is 500ml, but there could be more than 5.5 litres of water used to produce it. Can this level of waste for convenience ever be justified? 3. Environmental destruction While water extraction faces minimal legal limitations in the United States, it depletes groundwater reserves. Water extraction by companies has been implicated in recent droughts and ecosystem destruction. Depletion of groundwater also contributes to sea level rise, as aquifer depletion increases the movement of water into the sea. In an age of climate crisis, we must surely prevent any unnecessary continuing environmental damage that serves profit not people. Don’t give up hope! We don’t have to just tolerate the damage caused by the bottled water industry; lobbying doesn’t just have to be done by corporations. We have power in solidarity. There is a plethora of interconnected environmental justice groups growing globally. Local intentional communities, connected by political goals, shift consensus to create political change. Furthermore, while some say there is no ethical consumption under capitalism, consumers can make better informed choices. We have the ability to boycott brands we do not wish to support. There is power in our words and actions. There is hope inherent to our interconnected nature.

We have power in solidarity

Ode aan de waterkraan Tekst Anouk Euser Beeld Rozan Snoek

In Oost is er het Eikenplein Daar staat een waterkraan Zilver de kleur, klein het formaat En een knopje bovenaan

Kinderen, Veel kinderen Die spelen, rennen, Springen

Daardoor stroomt het water Heel hard naar beneden Maar veel interessanter zijn De aangelegenheden

Nooit moe, Zijn zij Hun moeders wel Die zitten en kijken toe

Met het raam van mijn ouders als medium Mag ik aanschouwer zijn Anoniem geniet ik van De scènes op het plein

Waterpistolen worden gevuld En deltawerken gebouwd Hijgend wordt de dorst gelest Ze hebben ook zoveel emmers gesjouwd!

Een buurman in een korte broek Vult zijn gieter bij de kraan Wanneer gevuld sjokt hij terug Naar de planten in zijn laan

Verhalen zijn er ook Over de waterkraan Zo vertelt een jongen dat er laatst Een tekening op heeft gestaan

Zo is er ook een opa die Met zijn kleine kind Takjes door het rooster duwt En dat prachtig vindt

‘Van een piemel die plast!’ Zegt hij verbouwereerd ‘Dat gebeurt als je veel water drinkt’ Waarmee vader reageert

Een zwetende renner uit het park Neemt dankbaar een grote slok Maar spoedig gaat hij al weer Door met zijn gejog

Naast al die kindervrolijkheid En leven vol plezier Is er ook de rauwe kant Van de waterkraan

Nieuwsgierige toeristen komen er ook Per toeval op het plein beland Vullen hun Amsterdam fles Vol, tot aan de rand

Er is bijvoorbeeld iemand die Zich regelmatig doucht En ook een man komt er voorbij Die zijn tanden poetst

Hand in hand loopt er een stel Samen naar de plek De jongen kan het niet laten En plenst water in haar nek

Het is toeval wanneer ik kijk Of als ik langs rij op mijn fiets Wordt de kraan door men gebruikt Of gebeurt er helemaal niets?

Mensen die er komen Onwetend van elkaars bestaan Bezig in hun eigen levens Ontmoeten bij de waterkraan

Zelfs honden en katten spelen ermee Of zien ‘m voor het eerst Schrikken, wanneer hun baas de knop indrukt En het water overheerst

Al met al staat water daar Voor meer dan een molecuul De grootsheid van het leven Wordt er minuscuul

Zonder dat doel, brengt het ons samen Het hoeft niet, maar het gebeurt Wij zijn de Waterkraners In diversiteit gekleurd

Cul Magazine 21

Image Report


Cul Magazine

Image Report

Cul Magazine 23



‘Diving is my place of zen’ Finding Peace Underwater, featuring Emma Waller To breathe underwater is one of the most fascinating and peculiar sensations imaginable. Breathing becomes a rhythmic melody of inhalations and exhalations. The cracks and pops of fish and crustaceans harmonise with the rhythmic chiming of the bubbles as you exhale. Soon, lungs act as bellows, controlling your buoyancy as you achieve weightlessness. As in your dreams, you are flying. Combine these otherworldly stimuli and you surrender completely to the sanctuary of the underwater world. - Ted Clark

Text Janina Ryymin Image Islay Kalginnon


cuba, short for ‘self-contained underwater breathing apparatus’, was developed in the 1950’s, enabling exploration to new depths of the ocean without being inside a vehicle. By carrying compressed air with them on tanks, recreational scuba divers dive between depths of thirty metres to forty. The deepest dive has been at 318 metres, by Nuno Gomes. Divers like Jacques-Yves Cousteau have pushed forward human’s knowledge of the underwater world and its creatures. Often described as meditative, scuba diving is a way of becoming more aware of one’s surroundings and oneself. Diving is a way to experience weightlessness without going to space. However, even with all its positive sides, scuba diving can potentially be dangerous. For example, there is a risk of nitrogen narcosis: the breathing in of an excessive amount of nitrogen. In nitrogen narcosis, the diver becomes intoxicated. Firstly, feeling euphoric, then experiencing impaired judgement and decision making, thus making the state dangerous underwater. Therefore, to dive, one should get certified as an open water diver.

I tried imagining myself as a manta ray gliding through the water peacefully

Diving for the first time In my own experience, scuba diving taught me how to let go of fears and remain still in challenging situations and keep my head cool. The first time I dove, I remember feeling a slight anxiety at the odd sensation of breathing underwater. It felt unnatural. I focused on my breathing and was able to find a centre. The challenge started when we were practising taking off the diving mask and putting it back on underwater. You need to empty out the mask because it will be filled with water from putting the mask back on. Upon doing this, my mask was not fully empty so I inhaled a significant amount of salty seawater through my nose into my lungs. I panicked. As my friend and scuba instructor Emma had told me: even if you become sick, you must cough into the regulator because it will clear out whatever you cough. She grabbed me and gestured that it is okay to cough into the regulator, and that

I should remain calm. So, I started coughing water out of my lungs into the regulator, using the breathing apparatus in my mouth. Tears were coming out of my eyes as I coughed the water out. Focusing on my breath wasn’t so easy anymore. Needless to say, the experience was unpleasant. Unluckily, during the same dive - the first time we went deeper - I got cramps in my abdomen. The sensation was abnormal from other stomach aches I had ever had, and I didn’t know if this was normal. Again, I tried focusing on my breath to calm down. Why do people do this to themselves? I thought. After consulting Emma I learned that my cramps were period cramps and that I could avoid getting water inside the mask by tying my hair in French braids. Apparently, the strands of hair left a bit of space for water to enter my mask,

24 Cul CulMagazine Magazine

The best scuba diver is the laziest one making me breathe in water. I knew that soon I would have to do the test of taking the mask off and on again. The next day, my final dive to get an Open Water Diver certificate, began. I was afraid of going to the water again but I decided to push forward, let go of my fear by focusing on my breath and simply try to meditate underwater. I tried imagining myself as a manta ray gliding through the water peacefully. My experience was drastically changed and I experienced weightlessness and the almost mysterious soundscape of the ocean. Going to the depths of diving The impact these four dives had on my relationship to the ocean and the amount of times I keep going back to those memories, is notable. I wonder to myself, if the impression of such a small amount of dives was worth mentioning, what is it like to dive for a living? I interviewed Emma Waller, my scuba diving instructor friend to find out. Emma became a PADI certified scuba diving guide, enabling her to take divers on trips. She lived in Thailand for some time and worked as a guide. Emma’s love for the ocean was present already when she was younger. As a child, she already had a deep connection with underwater creatures: she even dreamed of having a hammer shark as a pet. Emma’s relationship with the sea grew as her grandparents taught her the ropes of sailing and she developed a great respect for the ocean. When Emma was studying, she decided to do an internship at a diving company in Thailand. This sparked her love for scuba diving. During this time, she also got certified to take others out on diving trips and her relationship with the ocean deepened.

Being underwater was always a place of peace for her. Scuba diving requires one to slow down breathing. The best scuba diver is the laziest one, as my own scuba diving instructor used to say. Slowing down the breath is a skill Emma still uses today in order to keep calm and present with her feelings, also on land. The quietness that is present within the stillness of the ocean is another anchor for Emma to keep tranquil while underwater. Despite being in difficult situations, like when diving in a shipwreck with dust covering her vision, Emma has been able to keep balanced by following her senses. These difficult situations were analysed by Hardie-Bick and Penny Bonner as ‘edgework’. They write that ‘edgework is the ability to maintain control over a situation that verges on complete chaos, a situation that most people would regard as completely uncontrollable.’ By controlling oneself in these types of situations, one can have a heightened sense of awareness and a feeling of achievement or self-actualization. Diving heightens the senses because it requires one to be aware of their breath, their surroundings, and their body. Panicking will make you breathe faster, so you must also be aware to avoid erratic thoughts. All these factors contribute to making diving such a unique experience. The silence and the sound of rhythmic breathing with bubbles popping create a soundscape that invites one to focus on their surroundings. For Emma, diving simultaneously evokes love and respect toward the ocean. Yet, she finds the alienness of the ocean sometimes frightening. The ocean is the unknown, as we have only explored and charted 5% of its depths. But more deeply than fear, Emma feels a deep connection for marine animals. The multi-sensory nature, meaning the wide variety in which scuba diving affects one’s senses, makes diving a unique experience because it makes one more aware of what is happening around them. The alien creatures floating in weightlessness, the slow rhythm of hearing yourself breathe with bubbles popping peacefully and the lack of spoken language: a barrier created by the element of water. Scuba diving is also a form of self-developing, allowing Emma to dive deeper and deeper, challenging herself in further ways. Ultimately, Emma’s journey to the depths has also expanded her understanding of the ocean and its creatures, allowing her to connect with the element of water subjectively and intimately. For me, scuba diving has not only given me a deeper appreciation for the ocean that I can share with others, but it has also taught me to find my centre in the wildest of turmoils above water.

The ocean is the unknown, as we have only explored and charted 5% of its depths

Cul Magazine 25



Nessie Het mysterie in Loch Ness Rimpelingen in het water, er schiet een zwarte bult aan je voorbij. Je hoort het water klotsen tegen de kade. Dit moet groter dan een normale vis zijn. Zittend aan het meer, worden je sokken nat van het gespetter. Langzaam komt er iets het water te boven. Twee oren, een paar ogen, een snuitje en vervolgens een lange nek worden zichtbaar. Je kan weer gerust ademhalen. Het is Nessie maar.

Tekst Isa Kistemaker Beeld Masja Willekens


e mythe, zoals die nu bekend is, begint bij Aldie Mackay. Op 14 april 1933 ziet ze een walvisachtige vis zwemmen in Loch Ness. Een zwart beest zwemt in rondjes, met het water van zijn bolle rug afrollend. Dit is niet de eerste keer dat er iets vreemds wordt gesignaleerd in dit meer. Al in de middeleeuwen had de Ierse monnik Saint Columba het over een monster dat zijn zwemmende vriend zou hebben gebeten en onder water zou hebben getrokken. Over het uiterlijk was toen nog niet veel bekend. Het verhaal van Mackay is de eerste beschrijving in de twintigste eeuw van het monster van Loch Ness, ofwel Nessie, wat de sluizen opent voor honderden foto’s en verhalen die het leven van het beest zouden verifiëren.

Onderzoekers komen terug met niks anders dan Paling-DNA en een nat pak 22 juli 1933 is er weer nieuws van Nessie. George Spicer en zijn vrouw zien vanuit hun auto een vreemd gevormd dier van wel acht meter lang de weg oversteken. Het beest heeft een lange nek en is iets dikker dan een olifant. Spicer beschrijft het als een draak of een dergelijk prehistorisch dier. Arthur Grant, de volgende die in aanraking komt met het dier, bevestigt deze omschrijving wanneer hij in 1934 op zijn motor bijna een aanvaring heeft met Nessie. Het hoogtepunt van de verhalen rondom Nessie is de foto uit 1934 gemaakt door dokter Robert Kenneth


Cul Magazine

Wilson. Op de foto is te zien dat een wezen met een lange nek en een klein hoofd net boven het water uitsteekt. De rimpelingen in het water bewijzen dat er wel degelijk iets heeft moeten rondzwemmen. Meerdere wetenschappelijke expedities en hordes toeristen trekken naar het meer om het beest met eigen ogen te zien na de publicatie van deze foto in The Daily Mail. Er gaan ideeën rond dat Nessie een Plesiosaurus zou zijn, die 65.5 miljoen jaar geleden is uitgestorven. De Plesiosaurus is een dinosaurus van ongeveer drie en een halve meter groot, met een lange nek en een klein hoofd, net zoals het beest op de foto. Onderzoekers varen in onderzeeërs het meer in om met sonars het restant uit de Jura op te sporen. De onderzoekers komen echter teleurgesteld terug met niks anders dan Paling-DNA en een nat pak. Alhoewel het geschetste beeld van Nessie en de Plesiosaurus veel op elkaar lijken, is het onwaarschijnlijk dat het monster van Loch Ness ook echt een Plesiosaurus is. Ten eerste is het onmogelijk dat de lange nek van het uitgestorven dier zodanig uit het water steekt. Ten tweede bestaat het meer zelf pas tienduizend jaar en was het daarvoor twintigduizend jaar lang een ijsvlakte. Ten slotte, aangezien Plesiosaurussen boven water moeten ademhalen, zou Nessie vaker te zien moeten zijn. Nadat de dinosaurustheorie vrij snel en simpel wordt ontkracht, gaat men opzoek naar een andere theorie. Dino of niet, Nessie bestaat. Met verrekijkers zitten hobbyspeurders nog dagenlang aan de rand van het water en trekken wetenschappers met boten en onderwatercamera’s het meer op, op zoek naar een nieuwe verklaring van de foto. Zestig jaar lang wordt de foto gezien als hét bewijs dat er echt iets groots en onbekends leeft in Loch Ness. Op zijn sterfbed weet Wilson echter nog net te verklaren dat het niet de fout was van de wetenschappers dat er nog steeds geen officieel bewijs was gevonden: wat op zijn foto op het beest leek, was eigenlijk een stuk hout op een speelgoedonderzeeër. Hoewel deze eerste foto van Nessie een grote grap blijkt te zijn, ontmoedigt dit mensen wederom niet. Ze blijven geloven in een onverklaarbaar, mysterieus beest in Loch Ness. Nessie is niet de enige mythe van Schotse oorsprong. De Schotse mythologie is rijk aan verhalen over monsters in bossen en meren die generaties lang zijn doorverteld. Er zitten Kelpies in het water, dwalen geesten onder Edinburgh en de natuur wordt bestuurd door koningen en koninginnen.

Bij elk natuurlijk fenomeen is wel een verhaal te vertellen. Met al zijn burchten en vervallen kastelen is Schotland de verzamelplaats voor het bovennatuurlijke.

Met verrekijkers zitten hobbyspeurders dagenlang aan de rand van het water Persoonlijk geloof ik niet in feeën, laat staan in onverklaarbare waterbeesten - over geesten valt nog te discussiëren. Misschien begrijp ik dan niet waarom mensen nog steeds in het monster van Loch Ness geloven na zo vaak tegen bewezen te zijn, maar ik begrijp wel waarom mensen willen geloven in Nessie. Het fantaseren over iets wat misschien helemaal niet bestaat, heeft iets heel charmants. De spanning van het onbekende geeft een mens een gevoel te leven, net als het onderzoeken van een nieuwe liefde of een reis naar een ver land. Maar ook: wat heeft het voor

toegevoegde waarde als we haar vinden? De waarheid zal het wezen alleen verstoren doordat nog meer wetenschappers en toeristen naar haar rustplaats zullen trekken. Zou het geen anticlimax zijn als we Nessie zouden vinden? In 2013 wordt de dan tachtigjarige Aldie Mackay opnieuw geïnterviewd door BBC-journalist Nicholas Witchell. In 1980 spraken zij ook al met elkaar over de waarnemingen van Mackay bij Loch Ness. Witchell herinnert Mackay aan wat ze meer dan dertig jaar terug heeft gezegd. Op de vraag over hoe groot het monster van Loch Ness ongeveer is, antwoordde Mackay toen zonder twijfel dat het beest enorm is. In een nagesprek buiten het interview om, vroeg Witchell haar wat ‘enorm’ dan inhoudt. ‘Zeker twee meter!’ antwoordde Mackay. De media had echter een heel ander idee gevormd over wat ‘enorm’ betekent. Er werd gefantaseerd over een monster van wel dertig meter. In 2013 komt Mackay daarop terug. Ze heeft zulke lengtes nooit bedoeld. Witchell vraagt twijfelend aan Mackay: ‘Waarom heeft u dan gezegd dat het beest enorm was?’ ‘Ik vis normaal op zalm.’

Cul Magazine 27



What else gets me wet? A deep and juicy search on vaginal lubrication ‘Have you been sitting in the sun all day? Your cheeks are really red’, my co-worker said to me the other day. ‘Uh-huh’, I claimed and quickly walked on whilst trying to keep a straight face. Little did he know, that was far from the truth: I was turned on and horny after being fingered just before work. My phone buzzed and a message popped up. Are you wet?, it read. Uh-huh, I sure was.

Text Anna Scholder Image Islay Kalginnon


ne of the most well-known features about water: it gets you wet. It is also one of the cornerstones of life and, as I learned, makes up over 90% of my vaginal fluids. Who knew? And then again: what else could vaginal fluids consist of ? I actually had to look up a lot of information for this article because, as it turns out, I do not know nearly enough about my own wetness. Which led me to the discovery of The Principles of Pleasure, a series dedicated to women’s pleasure, from which I gained much of my insight for this article. Without further ado, let’s dive into the wetness of my vagina. No need for raincoats, just a heads-up that I will be talking about personal experiences concerning sex and amongst other things - my own vagina.

Vaginal fluid is a rather general term Peeking inside To tackle the first bump on the road: the vagina and the vulva are not the same thing. I’ll try to explain it as clearly as I can. When I talk about the vulva, I talk about the external genitalia between my legs. It is the area bounded by the pubis mound, the groyne and the anus. The vulva, also known as the pudendum, entails the urethra, the outer and inner labia, the clitoris (hood and head) and vaginal opening. The vagina, from the cervix to the external surface via the vulva vestibule, is a muscular, elastic tube. Now that we have the anatomy part a bit (un) covered: time to talk about some functions and tasks of the vagina and vulva in relation to wetness. The vagina is a mucous membrane, meaning that the skin and tissue of a healthy vagina are always moist. Vaginal fluid is a rather general term that can be used to describe any fluid that comes out of the vulva. The kinds of fluid I will be discussing are discharge and arousal fluid.


Cul Magazine

Vaginal discharge has the task of removing dead cells and bacteria from the vagina and out through the vulva. This helps keep the vagina clean and sustains a healthy environment. Normal vaginal discharge can range in colour from clear to milky white. It mostly consists of water, salts and other organic compounds. Cervical fluid is a form of vaginal discharge. Also known as cervical mucus, it is a clear or gel-like fluid that is produced by the cervix. Personally, my mother did not really include this in her sex talk she had with my sister and I. To spare you the details, I do have to give her some credit on ‘the talk’ as she had cut out little sperm cells and a uterus and started acting things out. She did emphasise that my vagina is a self-cleaning organ, discharge is normal and important, and stressed that we shouldn’t ever use soap whilst washing down under.

Arousal fluid however, she unfortunately forgot to mention. This is a different kind of fluid and occurs when the body senses sexual desire or attraction. During this process, there is increased blood flow to the genitals, including the vaginal walls, which causes fluid to pass through them and thus provides lubrication. Arousal fluid production increases during sexual activity, but during orgasm - the intense release of the sexual heightening from stimulation - arousal fluids increase even more. Some people experience genital contractions during orgasm to ‘squirt’ arousal fluid from the vagina. This is sometimes referred to as female ejaculation or squirting. This clear fluid is expelled from glands close to the urethra and is not the same as pee, though it is sometimes described as a peeing-sensation. Which brings us to the question of where the wetness comes from. Most forms of vaginal wetness come from one of two places: Bartholin glands or the cervix. Bartholin glands are two small, pea-sized glands located just inside the vagina, on the inside of the inner labia. And the cervix – being the opening of the uterus – is located further in the vagina. The only information I got in school – or still remember receiving – was on male ejaculation, getting pregnant and STI/STD’s. We have a long way to go on reaching equality here, but that is not the exit we are taking for this article. For now, we stay on the highway and away from anatomy: let me chauffeur you on a journey through my brain and personal experiences.

Can they tell when I’m aroused? What do I desire? My own sexual experiences would have definitely benefited from knowing all of the above. It would have contributed to the realisation that my body was properly functioning. Knowing where wetness comes from and the how, why and when it increases, would have made some physical experiences much more comfortable. During previous sexual encounters with people I, for example, realised I was not really wet during sex, which can make experiences rather uncomfortable or unpleasant. With my current bed partner, getting wet is luckily no issue. Not so long ago, we went for lunch. I had not seen them in a couple of weeks due to their holiday and our busy work schedules, so I was very excited to see them again. Over the most delicious vegan sandwiches, we caught up with our stories. When I leaned back in my chair and looked at them with a smile, they suddenly asked: ‘are you horny?’, a question that took me by surprise and took a while to answer. In all honesty, I had not thought about sex, but now that they mentioned it, I did feel an urge to hug and kiss them, in addition to the growing wetness between my legs. So, naturally I wanted to know if they can tell if I’m in the mood. Can they tell when I’m aroused and into sex? The answer was: ‘yes, by your body language’. So, I asked them to elaborate and got the full answer. ‘The look in your eyes,

Cul Magazine 29



the dimples in your cheeks, the angle of your head, you start to blush, the way you listen to me, your body temperature, you’ll wet your lips and I can go on some more... Most of the time it is a combination of those.’ Those are indicators for them that I’m into them and perhaps desire them. Desire is explained as sexual attraction to someone or something, with the added motivation to seek out sexual activity. Desire can come in two forms: spontaneous or responsive. And yes, there are times I see a person and immediately feel a connection resulting in an urge for tongue-wrestling. More often, however, my desire has to grow and be cultivated. Doing things that help me relax or feel turned on, further the growth of my desire. Then what do I desire; what gets me turned on, I asked myself. It wasn’t until my bed partner had a mild pneumonia, causing their voice to drop almost an octave, I realised a major turn on for me: the tone of someone’s voice. In addition to voice, someone’s mind can get me turned on too: the way they think, talk or explain things are indeed sometimes very sexy. These realisations helped me discover ‘tools’ to use during solo-sex: audio-porn. I am most certainly not a fan of porn, for I am of the opinion that it is a female-unfriendly entertainment industry that undermines genuine, healthy and pleasurable sexual encounters. That being said; I have found an app – Dipsea – that offers female-friendly audio narrated stories of sexual encounters. They focus on storytelling and market themselves as ‘an app for Sexy Stories, Sleep Scenes, and Wellness Sessions designed to turn you on’. For me this app works: listening to these stories or to someone talking during sex helps me get in the mood. It also ensures my brain has something to focus on. In over my head This brings us to my biggest hindrance during sex: my own brain. The brain is a very complicated organ and plays, next to the reproductive organ, a big role when it comes to wetness. After four years of being sexually active, I have definitely figured out I need my brain to be somewhat empty and my mind to be present and in the moment for me to enjoy the sex. That sometimes takes a while and can be challenging. My mind very quickly starts wandering to other places. I’ll see something on a wall and off my thoughts go, on a journey of their own. Or perhaps even worse: I’ll become so aware of my own body during sex, I start performing it. This may sound weird but have you ever thought: ‘I wonder how this looks, how does the other person see my body or am I doing it right? Should I make different sounds?’ whilst having sex with someone? You get in your own head and start watching or judging yourself. This phenomenon is called spectatoring. Whenever that happens to me, I find it very difficult to slip out of it.

A dissonance or disagreement between the body and the mind


Cul Magazine

Gewicht(loos) Gewicht(loos) My current bed partner does notice when it happens. They sometimes stop to ask what is going on or check if I´m alright. I was, indeed, alright. But my thoughts were all over the place. After a later sex-session, we ended up talking about what we think about during sex. Throughout this talk I came to the realisation that I still find certain revelations uncomfortable to share. Perhaps it is because I’m afraid I’ll hurt someone’s feelings or think they might find me weird. So, with somewhat crimson cheeks, I for the first time mentioned to them that my thoughts sometimes wander off, to the most random of places. I could end up thinking about fantasies or other people and previous sexual experiences. And sometimes I’ll be writing an essay, making a grocery list or analysing the bedroom in my head. They noticed my discomfort and in an attempt to put me at ease shared their thoughts too, resulting in me being turned on by their brain and fantasies once more.

Am I doing it right? Should I make different sounds? My mind wandering to other places or my body running ahead of my brain indicates a dissonance or disagreement between the body and the mind. This is called sexual discordance. Desire, pleasure and genital response are three separate things. Ideally they should be overlapping or aligned, yet that is not always the case. This realisation took me a while and to be honest, I still find it difficult and frustrating to come to terms with. To me, this dissonance only seems to occur when I am with someone rather than when I am alone. I know what I like and my mind does not seem to wander off as much whilst masturbating. So in order to better understand my own body, I watched an online workshop on masturbation and yoni massage. I was completely mesmerised and sat at my kitchen table with a flushed face. The yoni massage focuses not only on the vulva but also on the mind. Breathing techniques and mindfulness exercises help get your body and mind more aligned and relaxed; practices I’m now trying to master in my bedroom. So, as the exercise goes; relax, breathe in and out. Although it might get slippery along the way, you will gain so much if you go on your own discovery-journey. No one’s road is the same, but go explore, learn and try in a personalised and comfortable way. I have for sure never been more satisfied with digging deep and will definitely keep on uncovering along the way.

Het (on)gemak van een strandbezoek Het zand is te heet aan mijn tenen. Eronder, ertussen en aan de zijkanten; ik kan mijn vel bijna horen sissen. Mijn zogenaamde ‘plus-sized, body positive’ badpak duwt ondertussen krampachtig mijn vet in een soort-van-toch-nog-zandloper-figuur. De zon brandt mijn huid felrood ondanks de zeven lagen factor vijftig zonnebrandcrème en het zweet druppelt langs mijn rug. Op het strand ben ik één en al ongemak, van buiten en van binnen.

Tekst Marie Voerman Beeld Masja Willekens


m mij heen liggen mensen te zonnen, te lezen, te relaxen. Het lijkt haast alsof ik de enige ben die omringd is door een waas van discomfort. Ik val compleet buiten de boot: een groot ongemakkelijk mens dat zich in de mal van de ‘normale’ mensen om zich heen probeert te duwen, maar er aan alle kanten uitpuilt. Ondanks de zon, de muziek en de gezelligheid, zakt het gewicht van andere ongemakken uit het leven zwaar bovenop het al bestaande gewicht van mijn lichaam. Het lukt me niet om me te vinden in de ontspanning. Elke stap richting het water kruipt er meer onzekerheid omhoog en vormt een brok in mijn keel. De druk achter mijn ogen en neus neemt steeds verder toe. Het water van de zee dat mijn voeten eindelijk raakt, laat me uit mijn gedachtenspiraal opschrikken. De kou van het water zorgt voor een spoor van kippenvel op mijn armen en benen. Ik adem diep in door mijn neus, de ziltige lucht verlicht direct de druk in mijn hoofd. Hoe dieper ik het water instap, hoe meer van mijn gewicht wordt weggenomen, hoe meer van mijn zorgen lijken te verwateren. Voor ik het weet, kan ik niet anders dan me toegeven aan opgetild worden door het water. Een paar schoolslagen en ik ben ver genoeg om de bodem niet eens meer te kunnen zien. Langzaam leun ik naar achter tot alleen mijn tenen, buik, borsten en gezicht nog boven het wateroppervlak zichtbaar zijn. Mijn lichaam drijft, volledig ondersteund. Water loopt mijn oren in en dempt al het geluid. Ik voel niet meer waar het water eindigt en mijn lichaam begint. Even lijkt het strand vol verwachtingen heel ver weg en mijn zorgen onbelangrijk. Er is alleen het hier en nu. De wind blaast

zachtjes over alles wat boven water is, de golfjes klotsen voorzichtig over mijn nek. Ik moet denken aan wat de Vriend van een van mijn beste vriendinnen zei: dat dobberen een mindset is. Ik sluit mijn ogen en denk aan wat mentaal dobberen me zou kunnen bieden. Geen stress van het strand en geen verwachtingen van hoe mijn lichaam in dat badpak zou moeten passen, geen beangstigende berg aan verantwoordelijkheden in het normale leven. Gewoon, het gevoel dat niets moet maar alles mag. Vrij en gewichtloos. Ik haal nog een keer diep adem en laat mijzelf dieper het water in zakken. Als ik zo het water uit moet, is mijn gewicht weer aan mij om te dragen. Maar misschien kan ik het extra gewicht van verwachtingen en verantwoordelijkheden hier laten. Zo kan ik, ook op het land, toch blijven dobberen.

Cul Magazine 31

Gender Fluïdity Image Report

‘Omdat het een menselijke ervaring is, kan je het niet echt in woorden uitdrukken.’ Beeld Rozan Snoek

Image Report

‘Aan de ene kant was ik van ‘Fuck jullie allemaal ik ga gewoon mijn leven leven’, maar aan de andere kant durfde ik niet helemaal mezelf te zijn.’

Daan Mekel

Rayan Naftchi

‘Je zou kunnen zeggen dat er zoveel labels zijn omdat er zoveel mensen zijn, omdat iedereen een andere ervaring heeft van het leven en van gender. Dus iedereen zou daar hun eigen benaming aan kunnen geven. Dit kan je voor jezelf invullen, want er zijn geen vaste categorieën. En omdat er dan zoveel benamingen zijn, maakt het eigenlijk niet meer uit.’

Thije Hanssens

‘Vragen stellen mag altijd, maar weet een beetje de grens. Er zijn genoeg mensen die het wel willen uitleggen aan jou, maar daar moet je niet zomaar vanuit gaan.’


Cul Magazine

Cul Magazine 33

Image Report

‘Als je het niet zelf merkt, kan je ervoor kiezen om er niet naar om te k ij ken . ’

Image Report

Daan Adam

‘Het stomme van hoe de maatschappij en onze sociale regels werken, is dat als je best veel “vrouwelijke” kenmerken hebt, maar je ook als genderneutraal identificeert je minder snel serieus wordt genomen.’

Lin-Shi Kok

‘Fijn voor die mensen dat ze een hokje hebben voor zichzelf, maar zelf zou ik het denk ik chiller vinden om überhaupt mijn gender niet hoeven te kiezen. Gewoon, “Ik ben Daan, hoi!”’

Sam van Etten

‘Als mensen dingen mijn gender zonder kan ik me wel

aannemen over te vragen, dan beledigd voelen.’

‘Ik heb het gevoel dat ik nog aan het ontdekken ben wat mijn gender is.’ 34

Cul Magazine

Cul Magazine 35



Revolutionary rest and moon magic Spiritual space in a violent world Our moon is gravitationally connected to earth’s large bodies of water, and astrologically connected to our intuitive sense of purpose. The ‘theory’ of astrology and lunar magic are obviously subjective, a part of specific belief and value systems, but are there rituals and practices of lunar worship that could hold wider contemporary relevance? There is certainly something magic in staring up at the full moon, reflected below in the ocean, listening to waves lapping the shoreline.


Text and image

Harriet Smith

strology is a system of pattern recognition, a reflective tool, or a life-orienting religion depending on who you ask. It maps the movement of the night sky, like astronomy, but then ascribes meaning to planetary positioning. It might act as a divination technique or simply a way of knowing yourself better, depending which astrologers you listen to. The astrological zodiac signs are divided into categories of earth, air, fire, and water, and there are three water signs: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. The moon is the astrological ruler of Cancer; therefore, water is also connected to the moon, denoting emotion and intuition, reflecting the inherent meditative quality of gazing at the moon. This connection between the moon and water feels inevitable given that the tides are, in part, connected with the gravitational pull of the moon.

Water is connected to the moon, denoting emotion and intuition The moon can make us feel more connected to the earth, not just the ocean’s tides. There is a romance to viewing the moon with a lover or friend, whether together or separated. Perhaps, because gazing at the moon is a moment of stillness in a busy world. The moon moves relatively slowly: it takes roughly 28 days for the moon to complete one orbit of the earth. This is roughly the same amount of time as the median menstrual cycle, and this association has led to the moon being viewed as a symbol of the feminine, ascribed this gender in most forms of astrology. I prefer to think of the moon as genderqueer, but feel free to make up your own mind. The sun is cyclical and grounding, the same glowing orb every day gifting us energy for growing food and vitamins for our physical bodies. The moon is more mysterious, visible

36 Cul Magazine

the lunar cycle. Much like a menstrual cycle, these shifts in physical and emotional state are not universal, but personal, recognisable only through observation and building a relationship with our own body. In this way the theoretical connection between the moon, water, emotion, and intuition can become transformed into a personal ritual, a regular deliberate habit of introspection.

I prefer to think of the moon as genderqueer Revolutionary rest To connect with our watery emotional side, we need rest. Yet, to write about revolutionary rest while feeling stretched for time and often exhausted feels hypocritical and has been difficult. It seems like a time of burnt-out activists, weary students, exhausted sex workers, and struggling entrepreneurs, at least among my friends in Amsterdam. The world has changed in the past few years; millions of people have died, many are developing chronic illnesses, yet it feels like we are meant to be as productive as ever, remaining unchanged. Vaccines have been developed but patents have not been waived. In 2022, the world’s ten wealthiest people, who all happen to be men, have doubled their fortunes, while 99% of humanity has seen a reduction in income. The Russian war against Ukraine threatens lives, alongside ongoing conflict and military occupation in Yemen, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Ethiopia, and Palestine. The difference in European and US response has exposed further systemic racism and xenophobia. Many of these problems are caused by an unacknowledged history and the legacies of colonialism. The prevalence and prioritisation of an economic system, which relies upon extraction, economic crashes, and cash profit above all else has led us to a place I find strangely dystopian. It is in this contemporary context that observation of the regular cycles of the moon brings a sense of comfort. How do we replenish ourselves when we feel the weight of violent cultural practices (an economic system is a cultural practice too)? Sometimes it helps to howl at the moon in frustration or burn words that need releasing surrounded by candles and dreamy music under a full moon. Rest is revolutionary when pausing is necessary for us to recognise our planetary potential: to dream beyond the present.

Sometimes it helps to howl at the moon in frustration

only through reflected light and invisible on each new moon. Its 28 day cycle is typically considered to have eight distinct phases. Astrologically, these are imbued with different energy, again reminiscent of a menstrual cycle. Physical and mental energy, confidence, and emotions shift throughout

Lunar magic Building an intentional relationship with the moon is a gift of ancestral wisdom across multiple cultures. The time of the full and new moon have historically been associated with rest in many different settings. Astrologists, Wiccans, and Buddhists typically believe full moon energy is slower, viewing it as a reflective, rather than creative period. Indigenous groups, such as the Ojibwe of Turtle Island, named full moons in relation to seasons, flora, and fauna. These include the frog moon, strawberry moon and falling leaves moon; each a

specific reference to the emergence or movement of animals and plants of a specific time. Lunar observance can extend beyond the self, referencing relationships with the land and building an awareness of what grows and emerges from the earth. In astrology the new moon is a time for manifestation, whereas the full moon is associated with harvesting and checking personal alignment. This gives a lunar timeline to potential productivity, that reminds you to ask how you feel as well as what you want to achieve. The full moon acknowledged with introspection, may have an extra restorative dimension if we bathe lit by candlelight, connecting with the sensation of our body’s weightlessness in water. Sometimes we need a sensual experience to connect our body and mind. I think moon rituals offer the possibility for us to disconnect from an industrial patriarchal capitalist model of constant growth and productivity, unaffected by the seasons or personal circumstances. Instead, moon rituals are an invitation to check in with ourselves, while recognising the changes and movements around us, a tool for grounding. Take what resonates Astrologically speaking, water is about connecting to our embodied emotions, desires, and feelings. Lunar wisdom connects our body with an awareness of time and place, with other humans, with the ‘natural’ world, of which we are part, and the possibilities we can create. I am aware that spirituality and connecting to sources of power outside of ourselves may feel unnatural to many secular people. However, I believe there is something pragmatic enough about lunar observation, that it may serve as a bridge to something magical, yet not religious. Utilising lunar calendars to open ourselves to emotions, feelings, and intuition offers the potential for the co-creation of a kinder, more resilient, and empathetic world, as we could begin to understand our own needs and boundaries better. Building a connection with the earth around us is essential to prevent ecological disasters and build greater food resilience. The new moon and full moon days, every two weeks, can be special days, if you want them to be. This is an invitation.

Cul Magazine 37


Antropoloog in het veld Een nieuwe traditie: het Waterfeest


Text Christine Yan en Marieke Brandt Image Kopfkino illustration & Elsie Vermeer

ntropologen Francio Guadeloupe en Jordi Halfman hebben in 2015 de mythe van het Waterfeest bedacht op het strand van Sint Maarten: een mythe die, geïnspireerd door de kracht van de zee, de verschillende verhalen van kinderen samen zou brengen. Het idee van het Waterfeest is gestoeld op een mythe, waarin mens en dier samenwerken. Met als doel dat het als een jaarlijkse Nederlandse traditie gevierd kan worden, waar kinderen met verschillende achtergronden een gedeelde identiteit van elkaar ontdekken. De thema’s van duurzaamheid en inclusie staan hierin centraal. Wij werken met een team van vrijwilligers aan het ontwikkelen en testen van verschillende Waterfeest-prototypen. Met het Waterfeest willen we de verbondenheid vieren van de mens en haar omgeving, en van mensen met verschillende geschiedenissen die samen in het Nederland van vandaag wonen. De mythe van het Waterfeest bestaat uit drie specifieke verhalen, verbonden met de ervaringen van drie kinderen: een verhaal over de watersnoodramp van 1953 in Nederland (Emma), een verhaal over de geschiedenis van de trans-Atlantische slavernij (Eduardo) en een verhaal over de recente arbeidsmigratie die plaatsvindt rondom de Middellandse Zee (Aylan). De verhalen refereren ook aan universele ervaringen van migratie; alles verliezen maar ook de hoop die het geeft om ergens weer een nieuwe plek te vinden. Deze kinderen zijn ieder verwijderd geraakt van hun families en het leven dat zij kenden. Maar met de hulp van


Cul Magazine

elkaar en dolfijn, schildpad en zeehond (die symbool staan voor de verbinding van de mens met de natuur), creëren de kinderen een nieuw leven in het land half onderwater.​ Het Waterfeest werkt vanuit antropologische inzichten aan het belang van gedeelde verhalen en rituelen. Ook past het Waterfeest de creolisatie-theorie toe die gecombineerd wordt met inclusieve co-design werkmethoden. En wij werken graag samen met organisaties en studenten. Tijdens het testen van onze prototypen hebben wij gemerkt dat er veel behoefte is aan een verhaal als het Waterfeest. Hoe bereik je basisscholen met het verhaal? Hoe kun je het Waterfeest succesvol implementeren in de klas? Hoeveel begeleiding moet je geven aan de docenten en kinderen bij het bedenken van zo’n feestdag? Wat voor relevante samenwerkingen kun je aan het Waterfeest koppelen? Dit zijn vragen waar wij ons momenteel mee bezighouden. Inmiddels hebben wij een eerste versie van het boek met de ontstaansmythe en een les-schatkist ontwikkeld die is uitgetest in een groep 7 klas in Amsterdam. We streven ernaar om het Waterfeest te implementeren in 10 basisscholen tegen 2025. Ook jouw hulp is daarbij zeer welkom! Wil je meer weten, of misschien zelfs meedenken met ons project? Kijk dan op onze site!

Cul Magazine 39

Cul wants you! Cul magazine is always looking for new external writers! Do you want to write a guest article for the website? Send an email to and perhaps your article will be published on our website soon! Want to receive all Cul editions at home? Visit our website to subscribe!

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.