Yesterday, the New York Times published a fascinating story by Ellen Barry on young rural women in India who are recruited to move to Bangalore to work in factories. There, the women — some of them teenagers — make products for Westerners, including Marks & Spencer miniskirts. The work is relentless, the hours are long, and the pay is low; nevertheless, the experience is life-changing for the women who stick it out. The jobs liberate them from purdah, lifelong financial dependence, and arranged marriages requiring endless subservience. Barry describes the customs of some remote villages when it comes to arranged marriage:
“[The bride] must show her submission to the new family: She is not allowed to speak the names of her in-laws, because it is seen as too familiar, and in some places she is not allowed to use words that begin with the same letters as her in-laws’ names, requiring the invention of a large parallel vocabulary. Each morning, before she is allowed to eat, the daughter-in-law must wash the feet of her husband’s parents and then drink the water she has used to wash them.”
Barry writes that female labor is as vital for India as a nation as it is for individual women. According to economists, she says, “… if female employment were brought on par with male employment in India, the nation’s gross domestic product would expand by as much as 27 percent.”
Here are other reading recommendations:
- Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post recently wrote about Jim Cooley, a guy who takes advantage of Georgia’s open-carry (by permit) law by taking his AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to Walmart and the airport. Jim Cooley has also filed for bankruptcy protection three times. He has had a heart-attack, received a total of six stents, and lost circulation in his legs. (He still smokes though.) At one point, he told his wife to leave him. She wouldn’t, but nothing made him feel right till he got that AR-15 and fired it. Cooley, “feeling a sense of control that had gone missing in his life, told Maria he could now keep the family safe,” McCoy writes.
- Related: Three percent of American adults own half the nation’s firearms. These “super-owners” have an average of 17 firearms each, according to a Harvard/Northeastern survey. The not-yet-published survey — obtained by the Guardian and the Trace — estimates that there are 70 million more guns circulating in America since 1994. “At the same time, the percentage of Americans who own guns decreased slightly from 25% to 22%,” reported the Guardian. (There ARE more gun owners but the population has also increased, which lowers the percentage.) That means that 78% of American adults don’t own a gun at all. Click here to read the whole series of articles based on the survey.
- Also related: Nine mass shootings in seven days.
- Kathryn Tolbert of the Washington Post was inspired by her family history to tell the story of the tens of thousands of Japanese war brides. After World War II, these women “married men who occupied their country and came to the United States. And then? They disappeared into America.”
- For another story of immigration, read this personal essay by my former Wall Street Journal colleague John Bussey. I don’t know how I missed it when it ran in June, but I’m glad I found it at last. The essay is about his mother, who, with her parents, escaped Nazi Germany and came to America. The ending nearly stopped my heart.
- Last week, the New York Times did a special section on the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, calling it “a museum that uplifts and upsets.” The last page of the section was completely devoted to the Langston Hughes poem, “I, Too.” Click here to explore the articles online.
- Related: The Christian Science Monitor reports that George Washington’s step-grandson had children with two enslaved women. The story of the biracial branch of the Washington lineage has been added to exhibits at Washington’s Mount Vernon estate.
- Before the presidential debate begins tonight, don’t forget to check out Kurt Eichenwald’s Newsweek story, “How the Trump Organization’s Foreign Business Ties Could Upend U.S. National Security.” If you need a CliffsNotes version, Vanity Fair listed the five biggest revelations.
Meanwhile, in the the celebrity world:
- You can find plenty of stories about the Brangelina breakup on your own, so I will highlight this Town & Country interview with my Emmys Best Dressed/Wear What You Want winner Judith Light.
- I loved GQ’s cover interview with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, though I’m still getting adjusted to seeing him without Hamilton’s ponytail. I liked what he had to say about artists who have enormous, unexpected success: “There are people who have a hit that connects with great success, and then they chase that success for the rest of their lives, and that’s their doom. … And then there are the artists who really stay true to themselves. Doing what inspires them. The world really ﬁxates on them for a moment, goes away, goes to other places, and then remembers them.”