The Bangladeshis Who Make Your Clothes Have Been Given a Raise
As discouraging as it is, no number of documentaries or worthy articles is suddenly going to make everyone in the world care about the people making our underwear for $1.50 a day. A large part of that is probably because it’s hard to comprehend how shocking the working conditions in Bangladesh’s clothing factories are until you visit them for yourself—until you meet the workers being slapped around by their bosses and the kids being hidden on the factory roof every time Western buyers come to town.
In response to those working conditions and wages, which are among the lowest in the world, some workers have been striking for weeks, their frustration often turning to violence as they clash with police. And those violent protests have won them what looks like a victory: the Bangladesh government announced over the weekend that the minimum wage for garment workers is going to be increased by 77 percent, to $67 a month.
I flew out to Bangladesh a couple of weeks before the pay raise was announced to meet some garment workers. Upon arrival, a contact took me to a poor factory neighborhood—a slum, comprised as it was of a few beaten up huts—on the outskirts of Dhaka. There, he introduced me to Bilkiss, a sweet, pretty 18-year-old who had worked at the same garment factory for five years. She is one of an estimated 4 million in Bangladesh who make our clothes.
The 1812 version of Snow White is even worse when you consider that the girl was only seven years old in the tale (plus her unconscious body ended up being carted around by the prince until one of his servants accidentally woke her up). Also, in The Little Mermaid, the mermaid’s unable to speak because she had her tongue cut out >__<
But I’d love to see faithful adaptations of the original tales. Especially Bluebeard. We need a Bluebeard adaptation.
Actually, the original-original pre-Grimm Brothers’ stories that were passed around Europe via oral tradition are nowhere near as violent as the Grimm’s made them. Cinderella’s stepsisters were never ugly and kept their eyes, Snow White’s mother was not even a villain (instead a group of bandits were), and instead of spending the whole story napping Sleeping Beauty outwitted a dangerous bandit leader, wouldn’t let him sleep with her, and saved herself.
The original oral stories were radically changed by the Brothers Grimm to fit their personal and political beliefs. Most notably, they often added in female characters solely for the purpose of making them evil villains and took away most of the heroines’ agency and intelligence. Both brothers belonged to a small fanatical sect of Catholicism that vilified women because of the idea of Original Sin and Wilhelm in particular had a particularly deep hatred of women. The Grimms were actually pretty horrible people. Those cannibalistic queens and ugly stepsisters and the mass amount of violence against women didn’t exist until the Grimms wanted them to. Their ideas stuck so soundly though that we now assume they were in the original tales and that these terrible characters and ideas come out of some perceived barbaric Old World culture. But in truth they’re really the Grimms’ weird obsession with hating women showing through. The original oral folklore focused on the heroes’ and heroines’ good deeds and used them as ways to teach cultural norms and a society’s rules and encouraged girls to be quick-witted and street-savvy instead of passive princesses, and the Grimms promptly stripped that all away.
"Grimms Bad Girls and Bold Boys" by Ruth Bottingheimer is an excellent book on this
Reverend Billy Talen Faces a Year in Prison for Protesting in a Chase Bank
At 1 PM on September 12, performance artist Reverend Billy Talen and his Stop Shopping Choir walked into a JP Morgan Chase asset management bank on 52nd Street. and Park Avenue in Manhattan. Forty-five minutes later Bill and his musical director, Nehemiah Luckett, were getting handcuffed on an F-train subway platform by the NYPD with charges of rioting, menacing, and disorderly conduct. Now, Billy and Nehemiah are facing a year in prison.
In the complaint filed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the bank’s manager, Robert Bongiorno, said he saw “the defendants, along with approximately eight other people, [were] running about the bank while wearing frog masks.” The frog people jumped on furniture and “repeatedly ran up to the faces of the bank’s employees and customers while screaming, in sum and substance, ‘WE ARE COMING FOR YOU!’”
Robert—who was reached by phone but refused to comment for this article—thought the bank was being robbed and, according to the DA, feared for his safety. He also told authorities that he “observed at least one customer or employee inside of the bank break into tears.”