Interviews with North Koreans

A must see. Just incredible to go through these experiences.

Being a woman in North Korea is worse than I thought.

Thank you, Asian Boss, for these outstanding videos.

Tenant of Wildfell Hall


Written by Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall goes into uncharted territory for novels of the 19th century, I’ve read.  The story follows Helen, a smart, beautiful heroine who sets her cap for Arthur Huntington, a handsome rake. Despite her aunt’s warnings, Helen insists on marrying this manipulative cad.

Most of the book is narrated by Gilbert Markham a prosperous landowner. I thought this was original as most stories of this sort either have an omniscient or female narrator.

When the story opens there’s a great deal of mystery. Mrs. Graham, an aloof woman moves into the countryside with her young son. She keeps a distance from the people in the community, but attracts Gilbert Markham. As he tries to get closer to Helen, she pulls back though it’s clear she’s attracted. To explain herself, she gives Gilbert her diaries so that he can understand why she tries to live so secretively. It also gets her to take the narrative reins.

We learn that Helen’s husband has been abusive and callous from the start of their marriage. Arthur is an alcoholic, gambler and philanderer. Brontë, who’s brother fought several addictions, shows the darker side of 19th century. It was a time when there was a lot of addiction, gambling, and disrespect towards women, who had little freedom or options.

While the heroine was sometimes too Puritanical and rather icy, it’s an understandable response to her husband’s behavior. I appreciated how different the story was from an Austen or Gaskell book.  For more commentary on The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, you can listen to the Midday Connection Bookclub podcast.


Spare Me: International Women’s Day

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, which is sort of a silly day anyway. It doesn’t have to be, but in my experience it just is.

It’s not a big deal in American, in fact, it gets less attention than say Secretary’s Day.

On campus the university sponsored an event with games races in which participants see who can carry an egg on a spoon the fastest. Really? Is this something women need? What are they commemorating?

Most women I know would like more time or money. I think a great way to celebrate would be to give all women around the world a day off with pay. Let’s see what happens then.

As I’m doing my homework today, I run across this blog post on Ogilvy’s Asia website encouraging women to surround themselves with more flowers. Come on.



Talk about demeaning. I think we’re better off without the day. Teachers here were encouraged after a day of work, before going home to more work, to run around with eggs on spoons and to try to pick up ping pong balls with chopsticks. I am not making this up. I did not participate. I could not bring myself to watch such a spectacle.

The Ogilvy article links to some videos of women skipping and leaping through fields of flowers.

Earlier today I was troubled to read an article on Al Jeezera about child brides and another on the prevalence of gang rape throughout the world! One in four men admit to raping women in the Asian Pacific region. One in four.

Why don’t we focus on these problems on March 8th?

An important issue, yet under reported and poorly dealt with topic: Domestic Violence.

Shards of China

I don’t think that this problem is exclusive to China but I’ve lived all over the world, and it’s the only country where I’ve seen regular domestic violence on the streets – during the day, and not alcohol motivated.

A few days ago I was walking down to Louhu subway station, and there was a Chinese guy (about my size – and I’m not small) administering a good slap to his girlfriend for some minor misdemeanour. Hundreds of people walked past as this poor girl wept and her boyfriend carried on his beating. Not one stopped, in fact a police officer nearby turned his back deliberately so he didn’t have to do anything.

Did I intervene? No. This is one of those areas where an intervention almost always makes things worse. If you want a kicking then get involved, it probably won’t be him that hurts you – it will…

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