Single ladies

If you’re wanting to feel depressed, have a look at this graph.

What’s most disconcerting is the startling *increase* in the gap between the median incomes of single women and other wage earners. I wouldn’t have expected that.

Comforting to know that conservatives will look at this data and conclude “hey, those women should be married; that would make it all better!”

Katha Pollitt writes France a “Dear Jean” letter

Here are some lovely snippets:

I used to love you, but this is it. We’re through. Oh, it was lovely while it lasted, my crush on your big welfare state, with its excellent national health service and its government-funded childcare. I liked your firm separation of church and state, your refusal to buy into the Iraq War, your mass demonstrations in support of workers and against the neoliberal agenda. And let’s not forget the long vacations, outdoor markets, flourishing bookstores, and high-speed trains! I even liked the fact that all your schools have the same centralized curriculum—not like here, where local cranks and preachers get to meddle with history and science and cancel the school play. French kids study philosophy in high school! How cool is that?

But now, no longer:

But, France, I don’t like you anymore. Because what is the point of having all those smart, cultivated, social-democratically inclined secular people if it turns out they are such self-satisfied creeps? You should listen to yourself sometime: smug, paunchy, powerful middle-aged men parading across the media going on about how Dominique Strauss-Kahn was just engaging in some typically Gallic flirtation in that Sofitel suite in Manhattan. “It was just a quickie with the maid,” said the famous journalist Jean-François Kahn, using an antiquated idiom (troussage de domestique) that suggests trussing up a chicken

And then we come to French women, and here I have more hesitancy about following KP:

Almost as repellent as the sexual entitlement of French men, with their insistence on their seigneurial right to “heavy flirting,” is the docility and feminine-mystique-ization of the French women who enable them. Well, maybe it’s not entirely their fault: not only do they never get to eat a square meal (oh, so that’s why French women don’t get fat),
masses of them are on tranquilizers—twice as many as French men, and one of the highest rates in the world (hmm, about that national health service…).

The thing is, it doesn’t seem very amusing to find that French women have a very high rate of taking tranqs. There are just too many serious questions to be asked when what looks from the individual’s perspective like her own health choice falls into such a significant pattern. France needs more feminists! Which briings us to that very topic:

Ironically, the DSK affair has given the small and internally conflicted French feminist movement new visibility and a great organizing issue. Petitions are going round against sexual harassment and male privilege. There’s rage and mockery at DSK’s pals and their dominance in the media. On May 22, hundreds of women demonstrated in Paris under banners with slogans like Men lose it—Women pay for it.

Liberté, Egalité, Sororité—when you make that your motto I might start taking you seriously again.

And somewhere in there she takes on their treatment of Muslims.

What do you think?

WHO world report on disability

The World Health Organization has released the results of their landmark ‘global survey’ on disability. There’s a lot I don’t like about the way WHO discusses disability, but their ability to undertake a study of this scale is perhaps unique, and the resulting data is valuable and interesting.

A summary of the key findings can be found here, but some highlights include:

– There are an estimated 1 billion disabled people worldwide — that’s 15% of the population (an increase from previous estimates of 10%)

– The number of disabled people continues to increase — posited explanations include longer lifespans and more people living with chronic illnesses (both because some illnesses which were once fatal have now become treatable but chronic, and because there is an increase in lifestyle-related chronic illness)

– Disabled people are more than 3 times more likely than their non-disabled peers to report lack of access to needed healthcare

– In ‘developed’ countries, the employment rate for disabled people is 44% (compared to around 75% for non-disabled people)

– Disabled children are significantly more likely to drop out of school than non-disabled children

Amina and others

The news is all awash today with the story of Amina, writer of A Gay Girl in Damascus. It appears she may not be real.

But let’s not forget, amidst all this hoo-hah, that there are other journalists and bloggers – real others – being held in communicado by the Syrian authorities, where they are at risk of torture and ill-treatment.

It is believed that the following journalists are currently detained:

Dorothy Parvaz: correspondent, arrested on 29 April 2011.
Mahmoud Issa: Journalist and writer, arrested on 19 April 2011.
Khaled Sid Mohand, freelance journalist for a number of news outlets including Le Monde, arrested on 12 April 2011.
Zaid Mastu, Al-Arabiya net correspondent, arrested on 12 April 2011.
Mohamed Dibo: Journalist and writer, arrested on 12 April 2011.

More information, including what you can do, is available here.

Amnesty International has information about the ongoing situation in Syria here.