India: Future of romance in #MeToo era

Future of romance in #MeToo era


Man-woman interactions have never been easy. But now every exchange seems officiated. Words are closely evaluated, by both men (before) and women (after).

By Hemant Morparia\Mumbi Mirror 

I have to start with a disclaimer here: the concept of romantic love is alien to me. The title of this piece presupposes that romance had a past. A casual peek into history tell us that ‘romantic love’ was, in fact, invented by wandering 12th century troubadours in France (where else?). It was a clever, fiendish ploy that depended on mutual self-deception, in order to, well, get some… um, you know, (unsuitable word alert) ‘action’.

I have, in my life, not seen any couple that continues to be in thrall of romantic love for any significantly meaningful length of time. Any talk of romance brings to my mind a cartoon by Mick Stevens published in the New Yorker (see, only cartoonists quote other cartoonists by name. All others just quote the publication). The cartoon shows a couple on a boat ride in an amusement park’s ‘tunnel of love’. You can see the tunnel’s exit: the boat with the couple is about to land into cesspool of effluents, garbage and other stranded couples. Cartoonists get it right pretty often, I’d say.

Actually, I have to make a correction —I have known just one couple which continues to be madly in love, and with an intensity that increases on a daily basis. Let me introduce Exhibit A. On my way to the gym each evening, for the past few years, I have been seeing a couple, a male and a female. They are rag pickers who live in abject poverty on the footpath, with no roof over their head. When they interact with each other, however, I see their mutual, fixed gaze; the world is dead to them in that moment. When the man is away, I see the woman stand for long, gazing in the direction of his expected arrival. On my way back, at night, they are asleep in each other’s arms. The relationship is not one founded on something transnational or conditional. It couldn’t possibly be. In this primal and feral state, they have nothing, and they have everything. They have love.

Cut to the present. Man-woman interactions have never been easy. They are equally a playground as they are a minefield. All men have had, at some point or other in their lives, some unsavory thoughts about women. Some men, drunk on power or fame, have quite brazenly acted them out. Women are speaking out now and it’s about time too. Women are looking askance in the direction of all men. The regular, non guilty men are the ones who are clueless in this crossfire, and the angry women aren’t helping. Every exchange between the sexes now seems officiated. Words, spoken or written, get carefully evaluated and weighed, by both men (before) and women (after). What is said and what is meant or implied in this climate of distrust are considered exclusive. A minor slip could result in the ‘Gotcha!’ moment. For example, can a man say, ‘Are you the new, hot yoga teacher?’, with zero risk today? Even punctuation marks need careful attention. A comma can break a sentence, but what of a missing one? That could break bones. Try ‘I love cooking my girlfriend and my pets’. Outrage is guaranteed from humorless Twitterati and the Shouting Heads In TV Studios (SHITS) will be shouting for your head on a platter! Out of instincts of self-preservation then, male-female interactions are fast simulating the way porcupines make love (‘very, very carefully’) and without the porcupiny tenderness.
It seems that every woman is angry today (I carefully chose the word ‘angry’ here instead of ‘mad’) and every man a bit confused and unsure. I drew a cartoon recently in which the song line ‘Tumko mujh se pyaar hai? Na na na na na na na’, from the cult film Aradhana, ends with the director yelling “Cut – end of song. NO means NO!”. When I posted it on social media, several women felt hurt and objected to it. Someone even summarised Aradhana as a misogynistic film which devalued womanhood (!) and promoted patriarchy (!!). It would be all very funny if it was not so sad. If both sexes continue the present downward trajectory of interactions, which are now getting to be without nuance, leeway or spontaneity, then I am afraid, there will be little to hold us together. As it is very little does.

I believe that the human male and the human female are two entirely different species. There may be more in common between a male human and a male chimp than a human male and a human female. In due course, men will eventually go their own way. So will women. As they retreat to Hisland and Herland, there will be little meaning to life and its activities. We will cease to do, build, create, compose, communicate, play or laugh, the very basis of all civilization. There will be no motivation to do all that. We shall, each gender separately that is, return to a state of chaos, anomie and primal poverty. From those feral, dystopic lands, one day, a single man and a single woman, both having nothing, will lock gaze. Their eyes will light up as they see a faint but distinct possibility of having everything.

Even love.
Post script: here is an exercise for you: what is the right way to punctuate ‘woman without her man is nothing’? (Both possible answers taken together only are correct.)

Giving Gyan



Women of Value

I arrived at the end of a fight in the parking lot of a discount store. The woman I was standing next to was a friend or a sister who was angry with the woman with the blood stain on her shoulder and the large hole in her top.

The friend or sister is standing with her arms folded angry, talking to herself. I cant believe it!  she took off her job to fight this women or should I say all the women her man has fucked.  It don’t make no sense!   

For more than four decades, a wife lived across the street from the woman who was having an affair with her husband.   To perhaps soften the blow.  The wife held lavish parties inviting children, grand children and great grand children. There were glossy pictures all over their home. In public she often said, my husband, Peter did this for me.  But everyone knew, all her friends and all the children knew of the affair.  The wife knew where he was, whenever his car was in the driveway.   He was with the love of his life.

As a male I have never understood why some women allow this form of treatment. Its clear the man she has chosen doesn’t respect or value her.  But where is her self worth her value?  Some women have told me the other woman is a safer target.  Other’s believe there is an ownership and another women should respect the relationship. Some say its for the children, I struggle with this, because not only has he disrespected his wife, he has disrespected the entire family.  They have less of him and the message to the children is this is normal behavior.   

I knew of these women, as a teenager, I used to drive one of these women around in my car.  She wasn’t looking for her cheating husband ,the man she took vows with.  The goal was ultimate humiliation.  She was willing to publicly humiliate herself and the other woman at place of employment.   There wasn’t an end game, just humiliation as their was no guarantee that the planned event would end the affair.    At one point, she took a lover,   (you can’t beat um join um) after all he had been unfaithful for more than three years.  When he learned she had a lover, he left the family.  Not with the women he was having an affair with, but another women.  It seems he was cheating on the side chick too.       

    You rarely find a male, fighting with another man over his cheating partner.  Rarely see two men fighting in a Wal Mart parking lot over a cheating spouse.


2017 was going to be different ,she told herself.  She planned to pull out all the stops and produce more than anyone in the department.  She WAS going to be noticed next year.    She’s been with the company five years. She knows all of her male colleagues earn more than she does.   Her salary review last year, went no where.  She read books to help her be more assertive and convinced herself there were other companies willing to pay her more should her currently employer didn’t meet her wage demands.

From the moment the door opened her confidence disappeared.   When they said, they where pleased with her work,she felt the tears.  (Pleased?) What kinda shit is this? She thought to herself.    She knew she produced more than everyone in her department and it wasn’t noticed.   When they offered her a six percent raise she didn’t speak.     She shook her head when the offered seven, because she thought they may change their minds. Weeks later she learned that one of her colleagues received a twelve percent raise.  Humiliated, the  next day she called in sick.

“We teach people how to treat us”

Men scream about their accomplishments, women whisper.  A male employee may pound on desk, and argue why they deserve a raise .Some women are afraid.  Like many women my friend hoped that she would be fairly judged based on her accomplishments and the quality of her work.   She agreed to  a 7% raise when she wanted a 15% raise.  She wasn’t comfortable asking for what she wanted.   She brought all the necessaries to the review, she had the stats, she knew what she brought to the company.  But she was uncomfortable.saying it. So she took what she that was their final offer.


2018WomensMarchsac (17)

A lifetime doesn’t change overnight.   Women have told me they were raised to be second place.  Their mothers, aunt’s have told them to do what ever it takes to make the marriage work .  One day he will get tired of beating on you . If he cheats on your, just remember you have the paper. 


It was important that black people get elected to office , to vote in major blocks, to have a seat at the table.   Men are in control all most places in the world.  It important they remain  in control. Until the power is shared, womens issues will always come second.

Women, have been under attack for many years, because they do not have enough seats at the table to make a significant difference.  Every year, more women are under attack, health care, reproductive rights, childcare and this will not change until there are more women voices, more places at the table and It doesn’t matter which party belong to.  

Women of Value   

 The women in my life aren’t second to anyone.  Sometimes in life we choose the wrong person, someone who isn’t worthy of our loyalty or devotion. Its not a critical error, it was a mistake .  Hopefully we will learn and make better choices in the future. 

I believe if you have committed yourself, you should do your absolute best to make it.   If its broken try to fix it.  Using your words, ask for what you want.  Its unlikely you’ll get everything. Its a step forward in your relationship or your profession,  its a victory.   

These are my opinions, of course these do not apply to every man or everywomen.  I’m not a psychologist, or sociologist.  I am simply a dad ,brother, uncle, and a friend who wants a better world for his daughters, nieces and friends and their daughters.  A world  where they stand beside their male counterparts and not behind.








How an economic miracle transformed love and marriage in post-war Italy

How an economic miracle transformed love and marriage in post-war Italy
A newly married couple walks near Rome’s Arch of Constantine. Photo: AFP
By: Catherine Edwards/The Local
Italy in the 1960’s was experiencing a whirlwind of change. The Second World War had left a legacy of acute poverty and a country suffering an identity crisis after years of fascism and occupation, but by 1964, the transformation was so stark as to be dubbed a ‘miracle’.

With the help of US aid, Italy rebuilt its infrastructure, evolved from a primarily agricultural economy to an industrial one, and became known for its innovative production techniques and impressive design.

This meant profound changes, not just for the Italian economy but also for the lives and feelings of ordinary Italians.

“Love and marriage were completely redefined in Italy after the war,” says Dr Niamh Cullen, a lecturer specializing in the history of modern Italy at the University of Southampton, who has studied personal documents from the era to piece together how everyday life was affected.

Cullen first became fascinated by the era after spending a year in Turin. The city, home of FIAT and the ‘capital’ of the industrial boom, was one of the centres of post-war mass migration, as young people left the countryside seeking work and a better life. This migration, together with the rise of mass culture and celebrity culture, was the catalyst for Italy’s transformation.

“I wanted to uncover as much as possible how ordinary people lived through these changes; what they thought and how they felt about the world they were living in,” Cullen tells The Local.

Her research has focussed on the evolution of dating, love, and marriage, from the pre-war days when relationships were often decided by families through to a growing acceptance of ‘marriage for love’.

           An Italian street pictured in the 1960’s. Photo: RomanNerud/Depositphotos     

But while Cullen can trace a broad shift from traditional values to modern ones, her studies of hundreds of diaries and memoirs revealed that for the individuals involved, “matters were almost more complex and messy than this”.

For one thing, the change to a modern view of love was not linear.

“Modernization had already begun in the early 1900’s,” explains Cullen. “But [Fascist dictator Benito] Mussolini tried to turn back the tide of these changes. Mussolini’s ideal woman – at least according to official propaganda! – was the traditional peasant woman, more interested in having lots of babies than in fashion and beauty.”

The regime passed laws aimed at curbing migration to the cities, as his regime glorified rural Italy and wanted to keep people – particularly women – in traditional peasant ways of life.

Fascist propaganda painted a negative picture of the ‘modern women’ who lived in the cities and followed trends, in an attempt to dissuade women from rejecting the traditional role of wife and mother. Though these efforts were unsuccessful in halting falling birth rates and migration to the cities, it wasn’t until several decades later that the change became drastic.

The outbreak of the Second World War meant couples and families were separated, often for many years. And the violence and upheaval of war seemed to press pause on the change which had seemed inevitable, with Italians desperate to return to ‘normality’ when peace was restored.

“There was a renewed emphasis on conservative morality and on traditional, domestic roles for women in the 1950’s, and Italy this meant that the Catholic Church had a particularly strong hold on society in the 1950’s,” says Cullen.

What’s more, the stagnant economy and widespread unemployment of the 1950’s meant that most young people were focussing on getting by rather than modernizing.

That all changed towards the end of the decade. As the Marshall Plan saw money poured into Italian industry, jobs opened up in the cities, especially in the North – and the youngsters followed in their droves.

This was a seismic shift in the Italian family model, and its traditionally strong ties began to loosen.

Generations had traditionally lived under the same roof, but now young people on the cusp of adulthood had unprecedented freedom. They could not only earn their own money and live independently, but also meet, date, and marry new people in big cities hundreds of miles away from the watchful eye of their parents – and the suitors their family may have picked out for them.

At the same time, rural ways of living were eclipsed by urbanization and the growth of mass culture, meaning that traditional ideas of gender roles and courtship gave way to more modern attitudes.

“Broadly speaking, young Italians were moving away from marriages arranged by their families and increasingly beginning to choose their marriage partners themselves,” says Cullen. “There was an increased emphasis on marriage for love, in Italy as everywhere in the post-war Western world.”

                                  Photo of Venice: RomanNerud/Depositphotos

But as the rules began to change, young people struggled to navigate the rapidly evolving dating scene.

Cullen has studied problem pages of popular women’s magazines, which discussed topics such as the new rules of courtship, the acceptability of socializing in mixed gender groups, and whether girls could approach a boy or should wait for a traditional formal ‘declaration of love’.

“Often the advice was contradictory; customs were changing so quickly that nobody was really sure how to act,” says Cullen.

“One girl wrote to [magazine] Grand Hotel in 1955, asking for help choosing between a goldsmith and a poor labourer, who she said she was in love with. The agony aunt told her to choose the labourer if she felt she would die without him, but marrying for love was clearly not such a clearcut decision for the letter-writer!

“This shows that while the idea of marriage for love was all very well in magazines and films, it was often not a very helpful notion for young women who were not expected to work and have an independent income. Not marrying was not considered an option either in rural Italy and in the advice columns there was a strong emphasis on finding a husband, any husband before it was too late,” Cullen explains.

She says that in the memoirs and diaries she has studied, men were generally much more romantic, “describing their love for their fiancées in strong, definite terms”. Women, meanwhile, who were very often financially dependent on their husbands, were more likely to have a more pragmatic view of the relationship, and often “emphasized doubts and anxieties”.

“Simply put, not everyone could afford to be romantic,” Cullen says. “Of course, with memoirs, these accounts are filtered through memory. But it’s still possible to glean some sense of how emotions and attitudes were changing. I found it important to pay attention not just to what was said but what was not said; where do the gaps and silences lie?”

Arranged marriages and marriages for love weren’t always easy to tell apart, not only for historians, but potentially even for the young people involved at the time.

One account, which Cullen describes as the most moving she came across, had to be read between the lines. A Tuscan woman described meeting her husband at a dance, their courtship, and eventual decision to marry, in what seemed like a typical marriage for love.

“But she seemed somehow ambivalent about these events, and looking closer, it was clear that her family put her under pressure to marry,” the historian says. “As the youngest daughter in a large family, it was made clear that she was a burden.

“The wording she used to describe the wedding day was a little odd but made it clear that it was primarily her family who felt happiness (and relief) at seeing her married off. Her own feelings were less clear; it seemed she could not even admit them to herself. At the same time, it was clear that she loved her husband and they shared a long and happy life together.

“This memoir showed, to me, how love, marriage and happiness could be understood in very different ways depending on the world that a person is born into.”

Welcome to Generation M: Muslim women are set to define our global future – get ready

 Meet Generation M

Meet Generation M

By: Shelina Janmohamed/UK Telegraph


If I were to pick on face to define our global future, she would be female, Muslim, urban and digitally connected.

That might sound surprising, especially given that most of what we know of Muslim women is limited to what they wear or how oppressed we assume they are.

But behind our rows about banning veils and outlawing burkinis on European beaches, lies a group of women who are set to define our economic, social, political and cultural future. And it could be very positive for us all.

Being granted permission to take part fully in our society is not something these women – who I call Generation M – are waiting for.

They are part of a global group of Muslim women who believe that faith and modernity go hand-in-hand. They believe that being Muslim can be a force for positive change. They use their values to improve the world around them, build bridges across communities and assert consumerism as their right and as a badge of their identity.

They walk the line between dispelling the stereotypes that surround them and pushing against the cultural barriers that, in many parts of the world, have suppressed their voices.

Far from being held back by their faith, they see it as a form of liberation and they are going back to its roots to determine a new kind of feminism. It may not always sync with western middle class feminism, but it is a catalyst for change. That makes it exciting, but also a force of global proportions.

There are 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, approximately one third are under 15 and two thirds under 30. So the impact of young women is not to be underestimated, with their increasing levels of education, employment, rising age of marriage, later childbirth and a growing need to assert their rights.

Their mantra is “forgot to be oppressed, too busy being awesome” – which you don’t have to delve too deep into social media sites to find. They are navigating the challenges within Muslim communities, alongside the growing gendered Islamophobia they are experiencing.

Hate crimes are on the rise and, still, the majority of victims are women – who are spat on, jeered and even covered in faeces.

But Muslim women are learning to navigate this world – one that lauds them with one hand, and hurls faeces at them with the other.

There’s now an achingly cool Muslim fashion scene, from Jakarta to Johannesburg; New York to Mumbai. High street shops and designer labels are listening to what Muslim women want. But to reduce these girls and women to what they wear is to do them a disservice. It’s also to entirely misunderstand the diverse global nature of sisterhood, and the contribution that these young Muslim women are making to it.

We see it all around us. In the UK we are familiar with Nadiya Hussain, the winner of the 2015 series of The Great British Bake Off. She has declared: “I am British, I’m Bangladeshi and I’m Muslim. And I’m proud of all three.”

But while we might hold her dear to our hearts as a national treasure, her pride in her Muslim identity, and how it propels her forward to make a positive contribution is not an unusual story. Young Muslim women around the world are just as vibrant and dynamic. We just need to listen to their voices.

Take Yuna, a Malaysian singer with a soft jazz voice, who wears her headscarf with panache, has millions of followers and is now signed to a record label in the USA. Or Fatin Shidqia from Indonesia, who won the country’s first X-Factor series, can belt out Rihanna while wearing a gold lame outfit, at the same time as releasing a track called ‘Proud of you Moslem’ and spending her winnings to send her parents to on a pilgrimage.

In the USA, Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad returned with a bronze medal from Rio. In the UK, Shazia Saleem launched a range of ready meals to overturn bring global cuisine to Muslims and dispel the myth that we only eat curry.

Consumption by Muslim women is particularly important. They have gone on to the high streets and found that the products they want are missing. Instead of moaning about their absence, they’ve been busy setting up their own businesses.

Take Romanna bint AbuBaker who founded the million dollar fashion business Haute Elan. Or Salma Chaudhry who set up a halal cosmetics company after she survived cancer and wanted to create a beauty range using wholesome ingredients. Or Nasim Rizvi who founded  halal baby food to meet the needs of mums wanting to uphold their halal principles at the same time as working or running busy lives.

All of these are testament to women who are the superheroes of their own lives, and driving a huge social shift.

From astronauts to Nobel prize winners, these inspirational Muslim women are not one-offs but part of a bigger trend. They ardently reject the tag “oppressed” and are working hard to demonstrate their awesomeness. They are contributing to the sense of limitless liberation that many Muslim women increasingly feel. It is they who will forge the path for Generation M – and our global future.

These women are all around us. The question is: can we look beyond the burka to understand their stories, and how they are closely interwoven with our own?

Shelina Janmohamed’s book “Generation M: Young Muslims Changing the World” is published today by IB Tauris.


Background | History of the Burka

The Koran enjoins all Muslims – whether male or female – to dress modestly and refrain from revealing “any parts of their bodies, except that which is necessary”.

Beyond this general instruction, the holy book offers no specific guidance on female clothing. Its pages contain no mention of the burka or, for that matter, of the other varieties of dress that are now associated with Islam, including the hijab, or veil.

The burka appears to have originated in Persia in the 10th century, before slowly spreading to the Arabian Peninsula and present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In Arabia, a variant known as the “niqab” was promoted by the ultra-conservative Wahhabi school of Islam; in South Asia, the burka was adopted by the Deobandis, the local strand of fundamentalism.

When the Taliban captured Kabul and seized power over most of Afghanistan in 1996, they made it compulsory for all women to wear the burka.

Elsewhere in the Muslim world, the garment remained largely unknown until relatively recently. It was the rise of the Wahhabi and Deobandi traditions which spread the burka to areas where it was previously invisible, including West Africa.

Hardly any women wore the burka in West Africa until two or three decades ago. Today, it remains rare in most countries in the region, explaining why some governments have imposed a ban without a public backlash.

The burka is a reflection of culture rather than an accepted interpretation of Islam and it remains an alien imposition in large areas of the Muslim world. Since the rise of Boko Haram, it has also come to be seen as a security risk, hence the gradual spread of the ban through West Africa.

China’s Leftover Women: What its really like being Unmarried at 30

A 'leftover woman' in the SK-II ad

A ‘leftover woman’ in the SK-II ad

 By: Yuan Ren/Beijing

As I turn 30, I am left wondering what it means to be a Chinese woman – and a well educated one at that – entering her third decade. One thing is for sure: if like me, you’re unmarried at 30, your life “is over”.

Just last weekend, taking a cab in Beijing with two single female friends, our driver went off on one about how it’s “game over” – “wan le” – for single women and men at 30. For women though, it’s just really over, he said. Funnily enough I didn’t feel like giving him a tip.

No surprises there, given more than 90 per cent of women marry before 30 in China. Single at 27 and you’re a “leftover woman”; single at 30 – well, you’re as good as dead.

The first time I heard such a comment was in 2008, when I was 22 and fresh out of British university. At the time 25 had seemed far off, not to mention 30. But my auntie still warned me of its dangers: “If you are a 30-year-old unmarried woman in China, life’s over. You’ll forever be a spinster”.


So as I enter spinsterhood then, it’s comforting to know that questions like ‘hair up or down for a lunch date’ as well as pensive (or frivolous) thoughts like ‘will our children be short if I married this guy’ still naturally occupy my mind, (alongside reminders to exercise and never miss a work deadline).

But while I’m stressing about these things, Facebook and WeChat (a popular social media app in China) tell me my friends are busy organizing play dates, mortgages, and of course, weddings.

A woman’s early twenties in China are considered her most attractive. It’s also when a woman is most “tender” (implying that dating is basically a man eating steak) according to my 24-year-old female friend Zhao, fresh back in town from a Master’s degree in Vancouver.

Zhao tells me that even girls her age are experiencing marriage anxiety; their parents worry they’ll miss the chance of finding a suitable boy before they’re past their prime.

I remember my own mother suggesting that I learn a new musical instrument when I was 25, because “boys like girls with musical talent”. Wow, I thought. And what about all the maths I know, mum? No response there.

I’m regularly asked today if I’m stressed that I’m still unmarried, or if I just don’t plan to ever get married. The idea that I would wait is hard to understand for many Chinese people.

But apocalyptic references to single life at 30 don’t really hit a nerve with me: I’ve heard the same remarks so many times I know I what to expect, and I’ve learned not to take it personally. Among well-educated circles, so-called “leftover women” are very common now; the bad news is that 30 is just the new 27.

For me, it’s the vicious attack on single Chinese women that really smarts. If you look at the latest SK-II ad on Leftover Women, which aims to break the stigma around single women, close family is usually where the most hurtful jabs fire.

Just last weekend, taking a cab in Beijing with two single female friends, our driver went off on one about how it’s “game over” – “wan le” – for single women and men at 30. For women though, it’s just really over, he said. Funnily enough I didn’t feel like giving him a tip.

No surprises there, given more than 90 per cent of women marry before 30 in China. Single at 27 and you’re a “leftover woman”; single at 30 – well, you’re as good as dead.

The first time I heard such a comment was in 2008, when I was 22 and fresh out of British university. At the time 25 had seemed far off, not to mention 30. But my auntie still warned me of its dangers: “If you are a 30-year-old unmarried woman in China, life’s over. You’ll forever be a spinster”.A still from the ad

A still from the ad

Just last month, after a minor disagreement with my father, he tossed out this charming line: “Looks like women who are over a certain age and unmarried develop temper issues.”

But however shocking this might seem, it’s just the tip of the iceberg compared to what other women go through. My family is pretty easy going – relatively speaking. For so many women, familial harassment can be relentless and abusive. Not to mention boring and repetitive (the whole ‘leftover’ argument has been going on for too long). The fact that “leftover” women actually signal social and economic progress is rarely mentioned. Anxiety is all the hype.

But how much easier do unmarried women in their thirties have it in the UK? While the judgements are lot more subtle and silent compared to Asia, I would argue that plenty of stereotyping and prejudice still exists. If you Google “percentage of unmarried women in the UK at 30”, and the first phrase that autocompletes in the search box is “thirty, single and depressed”. Nice.


I remember a British male colleague once describing his Saturday night as spent: “in a room full of single women in their thirties”. His disdain was clear for these desperate, sad, Bridget Joneses. In China, unmarried women at 27 are depicted as “picky” due to being over-educated and they’re told flat-out it’s not acceptable; while single British women in their thirties get bitched about behind their backs.

Take American writer Meg Jay’s 2014 popular book Why 30 is not the new 20. It argued that finding the right partner in your twenties is crucial, since the pool rapidly shrinks in your late 20s. Statistically, women ( especially in China) are far more limited for choice than at 25, which is no good if you don’t believe in polygamy.

“Catching” the right man while you’re still young – a popular Chinese mentality – doesn’t seem so ridiculous in this context.

My younger self was averse to being helped to navigate this pool of “choice”. Traditional ‘match-making’, the way young people in China still meet their spouses today, seemed against my principles. Now, I welcome family and friends’ “introductions” because it’s access to a more diverse network and operates in a modern way. It’s not dissimilar to online dating, but with a human intermediate who knows you.

Women celebrating Chinese New Year
Women celebrating Chinese New Year CREDIT: FIONA HANSON/PA WIRE

Today’s me is more open to tradition, to new ideas, and even suggestions from relatives whose opinions I still – largely – ignore. I will at least listen when my aunt tells me I’ll need someone to take care of me, and agree she has point – if a highly pragmatic one.

My twenties taught me why certain considerations are particularly pronounced in China: society strictly relies on offspring to be all hands-on-deck. I have emptied urine bottles of my grandparents countless times in hospital without a second thought. Family is family.

But filial duties aside, today’s me want to lie that I’m 27 not 30 because comments such as: “Even boys who are older than you want wives younger than you” are hard to swallow – no matter how much I tell myself it isn’t personal or meant maliciously.

What bothers me more is that Western-educated women like my friend Zhao so readily accepts the erosion of their youth and liberty without batting an eyelid. When I prompt her, she responds wide-eyed and wondering: “But that’s just the way it is.”

It’s even harder when such discrimination thrives in the workplace. A friend in HR at a China government-owned company says there are certainly “reservations” when hiring unmarried women of my age, due to the “lack of stability” that comes with family.

My twenties turned out very differently to what I imagined – not to say that it’s better or worse. Did I want to be married by 30? I genuinely can’t remember, but I do remember wanting to chair meetings in power suits.

What I should enjoy at nearly 30 is the ability to say what I want – without being called too ambitious, too manly or too idealistic. I want to enjoy going to a wedding without hearing “and when will you be getting married?”.

Maybe I will marry soon; maybe I won’t. But one thing’s for certain – we Chinese women have a long way to go before we arrive at where we wish we could be.

The I-NFL 1.0 “Women and Brady “

By CityFella

The NFL currently earns 10 Billion a year. With lucrative sponsoring and  broadcasting deals they project their earnings to be more than 25 Billion by 2027.

But there are cracks in its image.  Cracks that could  impact the future financial growth of the league.   I call it the ” I-NFL”  I for Image and Integrity.  After a devastating PR blunder, NFL Commission Roger Goodall is attempting to fill in those cracks by aggressively punishing those who could damage the Image and Integrity of the league.

 Punch 45

Forty five percent of the NFL’s Fan base are women.

Ray Rice incident cracked open the wall of silence.  Where the public learned that the league silenced abused wives and girlfriends of players.   Not only did the league silence the women, the abuse were sliced by individuals who are their to protect them, the police.  Perhaps fans, some members of police department,did not report the abuse.

The women who reported the abuse to the league were told  ‘Oh, we’re really sorry that you are going through this. We’ll look into it.’ , no one did

.To be fair, there are some women who choose not report the abuse, however there are stories that suggest women connected to professional players may have fewer options.

Incidents were not reported. Going to authorities, whether police or hospitals, means social exclusion and, more importantly, negative media attention that could end the career of the player and damage the brand.

After the Rice incident, the public learned of the incentives for the managers, coaches, and union reps to keep negative stories under wraps.

No one bought the story, of the NFL not knowing the existence of the Rice video.  Commissioner Roger Goodall was widely criticized by his  inaction and despite his public about face and were taking abuse seriously. We have Ray McDonald .

Last August , the defensive end for the San Francisco 49’s was booked on suspicion of  felony domestic violence.   The victim (baby mama) refused to cooperate with police and no charges were filed.    The team dropped him after another charge. citing his pattern of poor decision making.

This should have been the end of his career.

Saying they believed in second chances the Chicago Bears picked him up. Another slap  in face to the 45.

Sports Writer Nancy Armour of USA Today says The Commissioner should slap a hefty fine and dock and ban the owners of the Bears.

Its not enough to simply punish the players who inflict abuse on women and children. If the NFL want the good work it has done over the last year to combat domestic violence to actually mean something , it has to go after the owners and GM’s who have long enabled them”

Brady Brady Brady

“Suspending a star football player for two games for beating his wife; another star player for four games for under inflating his footballs; then pandering to women with shameless “NFLPink” products and merchandise: PRICELESS!”

Brian Joyce for The Huffington Post

James McNally and John Jastremski.  Remember their names.

These two men, both former ball boys whose roles evolved within the organization over the years were suspended indefinitely .  These two earn somewhere between $100 to $150 per game.   NFL  said the pair  could not be rehired without the league’s approval. Tom Brady will earn 8 million dollars this year.

Everybody Cheats

Some members of the press was outraged by Brady’s suspension.  Saying the suspensions were unfair.  They said, Goodall had gone too far, because everyone cheats.  Why pick on Tom, when others have done far worse.   Empathy for the ball boys who were in contact with Brady was  non existent .


Last Sunday,  a few hundred Patriot fans held a Rally for Tom Brady.  They were joined by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.).  They feel the punishment is too harsh.   In resent polling, the nation sides with Goodall, the punishment is just.

Dan Le Batard of ESPN writes:  “ It is pretty hard to claim and protect integrity when one NFL owner is paying a $92 million settlement to truckers to make a federal fraud indictment vanish … and another owner insists on keeping a racist slur as his team’s nickname … and another owner is getting arrest   with a briefcase full of pills and $29,000 cash … and another owner is allegedly being sextorted for Internet photos … and all the owners are paying a settlement of hundreds of millions to try to get their concussed former employees to go away while the current bigger-stronger-faster employees may or may not be tilting the allegedly even playing field with human growth hormone.”

The NFL, has a long way to go

UPDATE: Wednesday

Ray Mcdonald Re-Arrested For Violating Restraining Order

(click link for story)

Congress’ despicable war on working women: How our warped laws perpetuate discrimination

Congress' despicable war on working women: How our warped laws perpetuate discrimination

John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul (Credit: Jeff Malet, Brandon)

By: Katie Mcdonough/Salon

Women account for two-thirds of minimum wage workers, and a great many of them are supporting families on just $7.25 an hour. For a family of four, that’s well below a poverty wage. Women also account for two-thirds of tipped workers, whose wages have been frozen at $2.13 since the fall of the Soviet Union. And while key labor victories of the 20th century guaranteed millions of workers the right to organize, protections from discrimination and basic health and safety standards, domestic workers — 95 percent of whom are women, and overwhelmingly women of color and immigrant women — are still excluded from these laws except in a handful of states.

For millions of women, the safety net simply doesn’t exist. And this wasn’t an accident.

I took furious notes while reading Caroline Fredrickson’s “Under the Bus: How Working Women Are Being Run Over.” The book, which is out this month from the New Press, traces the many ways that women have historically been excluded from the laws and systems designed to protect workers, and how those exclusions continue to shape policy being drafted today. “Furious” because I had to write fast to keep up with information Fredrickson packs into this relatively slim book, and furious because the every new thing I learned made the hair on my neck stand on end.

The book offers a history lesson as well as a set of policy recommendations to ensure that women, particularly women in precarious, low-wage jobs (which is many women), can access the basic rights and protections so many take for granted. I talked to Fredrickson about the pay gap, the Fight for $15 movement and what might be politically possible at a moment when a majority of Americans support raising the minimum wage and paid leave even while their elected officials drag their heels.

Our conversation has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

Signature labor victories of the 20th century, from the New Deal to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, include exemptions that disproportionately affect women, particularly women of color and immigrant women who are domestic and agricultural workers. This was no accident. Can you talk a bit about how these exemptions — which you call the “the Faustian bargains on a road to a better America for some” – came to be?

When I started digging into the history of the legislation, trying to understand where the exclusions came from, it was so clear that there was a concerted effort by certain members of Congress to preserve the Jim Crow economy in the South. And so what they did was they took categories of workers who worked in the agricultural sector or who were involved in maintaining the plantation of the landowners and exempted all those workers from the protections of the law. Those were mostly black workers, people of color, women who were working as housekeepers, cooks, and nannies, but also a lot of women were in the fields.

The resulting impact was you’d have a large number of workers who were never protected, and it’s so explicit in the Congressional record. We’re so much more used to the muted language of today or euphemisms, but they were pretty direct about why it was that they wanted to exempt these workers and how much the racism and misogyny influenced their policy decisions.

And I think what has happened is the exemptions have been perpetuated. The origin were very concretely racist and responding to a certain economy and the Southerners feeling like their way of life was being challenged. But then as we built on that structure, we haven’t fixed those omissions.

So what you actually have is a growing category of workers. Right now the domestic worker category encompasses a whole bunch of workers like home health aides that are in one of the fastest growing professions in the country. So more and more people, and mostly more and more women, are filling those jobs, and they continue to lack basic labor protection.

You mention in the book that you worked on a bill, the Genetic Justice Act, that had an exemption for small businesses, but you didn’t question why the exemption existed or why it would need to be part of a new piece of legislation. Have such exemptions become so standard that we’ve stopped considering their actual function and consequences?

We don’t even think about it. The groups of workers who were cut out remain so vulnerable and have so little political leverage that it’s very hard for them to bring it forward, to actually raise the issue that they continue to be excluded from these laws. So I think part of it is almost an ignorance more than an intentional omission.

Although in the size-based exclusions, I think you’re right, we sort of generally, glibly accept that it’s just too expensive we shouldn’t expect small employers to be subject to these laws. And yet nobody has demonstrated that there’s a cost, except to the employees who are discriminated against.

The chapter on the wage gap is incredibly comprehensive, and pulls from multiple sources to document the kinds of direct and indirect discrimination that women face on the job across industries. But I’ve found in my own writing that, no matter how much data there is to make the point, people still tend to respond that the disparities are about women’s choices, not discrimination.

It’s exactly what the right is trying to suggest — that really women are choosing to have more flexible lifestyles or choosing to take time off. But what they’re ignoring is that we’ve already accounted in the 59 percent of the wage gap all of those factors, all of those include occupational segregation — which I actually think is a manifestation of discrimination, but we could talk about that separately — time that women may have taken out of the job of the workforce, experience levels and racial discrimination. And so all of those already add up to the 59 percent [of the gap], and there’s still 41 percent that doesn’t get accounted for.

There is a very interesting study where they looked at women right out of college, women coming out of the same colleges as men, they compared their salaries in their first year, working the same kind of jobs with the same degrees, with the same grades, from the same schools. And women were already making five percent less. And then they looked at that same cohort, and the same type of cohort, ten years out — still without children, still within the same set of experiences and skills — and they found that that wage gap had grown to 12 percent. So there’s some statistics that people who will contest the wage gap can’t dispute. It’s a fact. There is at least some amount of discrimination.

I was just at C-SPAN Book TV and I was interviewed by the head of the Independent Women’s Forum. She was actually extraordinarily sweet and it was very pleasant. And she said, Yeah everybody here in D.C., all women know that there is some discrimination. And I thought wow. That is the first I’ve ever heard someone from her part of the political spectrum say that.

The argument about women’s choices also assumes that women take time off to care for children or other family members because of some innate desire. It ignores the gender norms and structural kinds of coercion that might factor into such a decision. Like if you’re making less money than your partner because of the pay disparities we just discussed, for one thing. 

You have situations where women are either working jobs that are dominated by women and paid less [because of this], or they’re subject to discrimination and tend to make less money than their husband or male partner. As a result, child care services becomes a very rational calculation about how much money they need to earn and how much they need to spend to accommodate a job. So it may just be better economics for the women to stay home and raise the kids herself rather than being in the workplace. So is that a choice? Only in a very constrained set of circumstances.

You also write about how professions dominated by women tend to pay less than those where men are in the majority, which can feel like a kind of chicken and egg question. But you point to research that suggests that these jobs pay less precisely because they are filled by women, not because of the kind of work it is.

There are plenty of studies that show that when you take a job that’s dominated by men and you compare it to a job dominated by women — and they have the same amount of schooling, the same amount of skills, workers with the same amount of experience in the workplace — women in a women-dominated job are going to make less than men in male-dominated jobs. That doesn’t make any sense. If the market really functioned as perfectly as conservative economists would have us think, that wouldn’t be the case. There is a sort of built-in bias, an expectation that women will work for less.

This is just my hypothesis but I think to some degree the women in female-dominated jobs tend to be more on the caregiving side and I think there’s some idea that women should… that it’s natural for them. This idea that it’s not really work, and since it’s not really work, it shouldn’t really be paid like work.

What do you make of the populist turn in the Democratic party right now? It seems like labor issues, particularly as they relate to women’s work, are much more central to the party’s messaging and policy priorities. What do you see as being possible at this moment?

I think it is in some ways a reflection of the good work that people like Ai-Jen [Poo of the National Domestic Workers Alliance] has done, the fact that they’ve been able to move forward on getting the regulation at least promulgated at the Department of Labor, although we still have to go through the implementation to add domestic workers into the Fair Labor Standards Act protection. So there’s been a lot of attention to that.

I think it’s also the change in demographics of our country. We are seeing a society that is becoming more diverse, more racially diverse. Women are working in higher numbers than ever. And I think it’s just becomes a pressing moral issue as well as an important economic issue to figure out how to create an economy that doesn’t penalize… not just the women who are having children, but their children in our society, who will suffer enormous consequences.

Even as the center has shifted on issues like the minimum wage and paid leave, things like universal health care, a living wage and a guaranteed basic income feel like political non-starters. Do you think that there is a future in which talking about a universal basic income will feel like our current conversation about the minimum wage?

Without question, even though I am pretty much a creature of D.C. — I live here, and I’ve worked on the Hill and I worked in the White House, did all the things that people do in D.C. I think the real progress has been made at the state and local level. And we can see there that the demand is strong and it’s being met in some places, like in Seattle where they raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and the fight for $15 across the country, which is very powerful. States are responding and so we have a patch-work now of states with a higher minimum wage or you have states with a living wage or municipalities with a living wage, you have paid sick leave policies, you have vacation policies, you have Civil Rights laws in some states that cover all employees no matter what the size of the employer.

So it’s sort of the cliche to say that states are the laboratory, but in this case I think they are. As things become tested out and are shown to be not only viable and affordable and actually good for the economy, I think we have a much stronger platform at the federal level. I’m not counting on Congress passing universal health care and a basic wage support any time soon, but I do think one has to put things on the table and you have to start working it so you can to build the popular support. I think we’re seeing that.

I see your book as very much in conversation with “Lean In” and the question ofwho can lean in and what they can lean into. 

I was definitely inspired in part by what I thought was the two messages addressing women like me, lawyers and professional white women, which is Anne-Marie Slaughter and Sheryl Sandberg. With Slaughter, the idea that you can’t have it all. And then you have Sandberg, [this idea that] women really need to be stronger, need to speak up for themselves.

I think they are both true narratives in a very narrow way. I think there are a lot of pressures on working women. They are expected to be perfect in every way, and that’s just an impossible burden for anyone. I also think there are cultural constraints that women absorb that help explain why we may not be having an easy time speaking up.

But what I really thought was missing was this whole set of stories about what most women are dealing with, which isn’t a choice. Most women who work don’t have the option to opt-out. There are a significant number of families that depend extraordinarily on women’s wages. And then there are an extraordinary number of single mothers and of course they can’t opt-out at all. The “lean in” piece, which again is an important thing to put on the table, [but] it’s just not really relevant to women in a wide variety of job categories. Asking for a raise is a dangerous thing in many cases. But beyond that, there’s not a whole lot…it’s speaks to if you are a nanny, or if you’re working at a cash register at a CVS, leaning in isn’t really part of the dialogue that is going to make a whole lot of impact on your life.