Trends: Historic Interracial Couples on Film

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in 'Loving' (Evening Standard)

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in ‘Loving’ (Evening Standard)

What a difference a year makes.

Last year, the conversation around movies in Hollywood centered around the fact that there was no diversity. #OscarsSoWhite gained prominence during the national conversation. It seems the entertainment industry listened, because movies with diverse casts and themes will be released. Even better, a couple of movies will tell stories from history that need to be more widely known than they are.

The story of Virginia couple Mildred and Richard Loving are featured in Jeff Nichols’ Loving. Mildred, a Black woman (played by Ruth Negga), and Richard (Joel Edgerton), a white man, were arrested in 1958 for the crime of being married when interracial marriage was a crime. The Lovings’ ordeal to have their union be legally recognized led to the landmark Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case in 1967. The ruling struck down every anti-miscegenation law still on the books in 16 Southern states. (At least in theory; several states still tried to unofficially enforce the law.)

Too few people know this story, and I’m glad it’s gaining more recognition. The case is seen as a landmark in the struggle for civil rights, and can be regarded as the spiritual predecessor to the recent marriage equality fight and decision.

Loving isn’t the only historic interracial love story debuting this winter. Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom focuses on the story of Sir Seretse Khama (played by David Oyelowo), a member of the Bechuanaland Protectorate’s royal family, and Ruth Williams (played by Rosamund Pike), an English woman and Khama’s eventual wife. The Khamas’ romance and eventual marriage set off an international scandal which took years to rectify.

Director Asante’s previous feature was Belle, the true story of a mixed-race English woman in the 18th century. I enjoyed it, particularly because it was something I hadn’t seen before: a woman of color in a period costume drama. Asante won my attention and my dollars with that film, so I’m curious to see her new one as well.

Loving will be released on Nov. 4th, and A United Kingdom will be released Jan. 17, 2017.


#ThrowbackThursday: “The Loving Story,” 2011

Richard and Mildred Loving, 'The Loving Story' (Documentary Daze)

Richard and Mildred Loving, ‘The Loving Story’ (Documentary Daze)

Documentary “The Loving Story” was released in 2011, and examined the lives of Richard and Mildred Loving. An interracial couple from Virginia, they were arrested for violating Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law shortly after their wedding in 1958. The film examines their struggle to remain married and able to live in Virginia, which led to the historic Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision of 1967.

The film was directed by Nancy Buirski, premiered in 2012, and won a Peabody Award.

#ThrowbackThursday: Working Women, 1950s

Working women, 1950s (Minorities in the 1950s)

Working women, 1950s (Minorities in the 1950s)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), women ages 16-55+ comprised 18K+, which was less than 30% of the labor force. (By contrast, working men numbered 43K+ and over 70%.) Out of the 12% of American women who worked outside the home, only 6% of women held management positions.

Today, things have changed…slightly. It’s still difficult for women to climb the corporate ladder and make it all the way to the C-suite.


Sex Ratios: Males vs. Females, 1950s

Blue Man, Pink Woman

Blue Man, Pink Woman

One interesting data point (among the many) the Census has is that of the sex ratio: the number of males for every 100 females. The 1950 Census finds a 98.6 sex ratio, i.e. 98.6 men for every 100 women, within the total U.S. population for all ages.

The ratio actually hits over 100 for a few categories, starting in childhood: Under 5 years, 5-9, 10-14 and 15-19 all registered high ratios. It begins to dip into the high 90s from age 20 to age 54. Ages 54-59 and 60-64 move back up to ratios over 100.

The next two age brackets (65-69 and 70-74) go back into the high 90s. But the last two brackets decrease more dramatically than any of the previous ones: Ages 75-84 has a sex ratio of 85.1 and ages 85+ has a 69.6 ratio. This makes sense, as men usually pass away earlier in life than women.

Anal Sex: Married Men, 1950s and Now

What what in the butt.

What what in the butt.

In 1953, Kinsey found that 11% of men had had anal sex within marriage, out of a sample of 5.3K men. (This sample is described “younger white adults with some college education,” so obviously we’re only getting a narrow, appropriately 1950s-esque, slice of the population.)

The male population clocked in at 74.8M (67.1M white males) in 1950. The 2010 Census counted the male population as 151M, a 101%+ growth over 60 years. If that 11% still holds, that means over 16.610M of today’s male population have had anal sex.

Of course, this isn’t a completely pure, apples-to-apples comparison (more like apples-to-pears), so I’d like to come back to this if/when I find more information.



#ThrowbackThursday: Alfred Kinsey’s “Time” Cover

Alfred Kinsey, 1953.

Alfred Kinsey, 1953.

Dr. Alfred Kinsey, the father of sexology research, was featured on the cover of “Time” magazine for the Aug. 24, 1953 issue.

His book “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female” was published that year, and was the second of two Kinsey Reports.