Saturday, August 21, 2004

More bad news than good

I've been thinking of changing this blog's title to Humanity's Status Update, since it doesn't look too good at times, but Women's Status has more of a ring to it. I watched an interesting interview with Carmen Bin Laden yesterday on the BBC's Hard Talk Extra programme. She described the vicious circle going on in Saudi Arabia: women are denied an education and then relegated to a second-class role because they are uneducated and have nothing to say. If they have money, they shop - though a driver has to take them to the stores, of course, because they are not allowed to sit behind the wheel.

The first thing the ruling classes do when they want to control a segment of the population is deny them an education. (Before slavery was abolished in the USA, slaves could be hanged on the spot if their masters found out they could read.)

Today's bad news has to do with my "day job," which is translating. According to a New York Times article titled "Lost in Translation" (registration required), Simone de Beauvoire's The Second Sex was bowdlerised and distorted by a 1950s translator who knew nothing about existentialism and little about French!
Since the American publishers, Knopf and Vintage, allegedly refuse to authorise a new translation, it's time for English-speaking women to learn (or brush up on) their French - or wait till the book enters the public domain in 2056...

I suppose this is good news - it is a bit odd to see the world's Number One Stepford Wife among the ten most powerful women on the planet - but according to the BBC this is the top-ten power list for the "second sex":
Condoleezza Rice
Wu Yi
Sonia Gandhi
Laura Bush
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Sandra Day O'Connor
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Megawati Sukarnoputri
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Carleton "Carly" S Fiorina

Shame on me for not knowing that Wu Yi is Vice-Premier of China
Carly Fiorina chairs Hewlett-Packard

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