Philobiblon: Women's weekend: the good, the intriguing and the ugly

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Women's weekend: the good, the intriguing and the ugly

* After Africa elected its first female president, it looks as though South America is about to follow suit. Michelle Bachelet, a survivor of torture under General Pinochet, has a huge lead in the opinion polls for Chile's general election, which will be on December 11.

What makes this even more unusual is that she appears to be confident enough to be explicitly feminist, saying that she will ensure that 50 per cent of her Cabinet ministers will be female - a figure that I think has only been equalled or beaten in Scandanavia.

* Then a Japanese royal escaped from the palace. Princess Sayako renounced her status to marry a commoner. (Of course he might only be a bonus, when you think of how the poor princess who married in has fared.)

This Guardian article says it was a "dramatic break with the past, and that was driven home to me by an email letter today from the Ichiroya Kimono Flea Market. (They sell antique kimonos and other Japanese antiquities, but also write a newsletter in entirely understandable if slightly off-key English that gives a fascinating insight into another world view.) Yuka writes:

"I love the photos of the both Emperor and Empress when their only daughter entered and came to their table. You may not believe it but they are the first who attended their children's wedding reception. ... You can see how happy they looked and their peaceful smiles are the ones of ordinary parents. They greeted all the guests stayed until everything was over and thanked and sent the guests off -- it is a natural thing but was a very unusual thing in the royal family history.
... The children used respect language to the Emperor and Empress, and in public, we could never see them hug each other or speak frankly each other but in these short words, we could see their bond and warm caring of each other.
Many people lined the streets and wished their happiness. Some people said, they felt the royal family is now very close to them and they could never forget the smiles of relief of Sayako san's parents-they certainly looked different from the faces we see in their public appearance.

The BBC has a series of pictures.

* Meanwhile in France, the apparent president-to-be, Nicholas Sarkozy, has had a meeting with an editorial house. After that, his ex-wife's book was pulped "and deleted from the firm's computers". So much for free speech - although what's the bet it is on the internet within days?

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