Monday, 4 July 2011

Ins Wasser gehen...

Millais, Ophelia

B2B – and what does 175 mean to you? It’s paragraph 175 to me. Throughout my youth, my adolescence, § 175 was homosexuality, and someone born on May 17th would invariably be labelled as such.

The only other paragraph that was as well known was § 218 – the one prohibiting abortion. We were the generation who wrote dialectic essays about the abolition of § 218 and never ever had to face the choice between “Engelmacherin” and “ins Wasser gehen”. Such euphemisms, both of them! The first refers to an abortionist as someone who makes angels. How sick is that? The second is a reference to a popular method of suicide for girls who found themselves in the family way.

Was Ophelia their role model? Did it become fashionable in the 17th century, or did it take the Pre-Raphaelites to popularise it?

I knew someone whose birthday was the 17th of June, and that, to me, held far more significance: 1953. Uprising. Squashed. Claimed by the West.

Now usurped by October 3rd as Day of German Unity.

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