N.W.BOYER…Christian Author

Posts tagged “Sweat shops

No longer Hiding

 International Women’s Day:   It may be a surprise to some that women of the past often hid behind a man for any ambition that they may have had.  Did you know the following?

george-eliot-authorGeorge Elliot was not really a George, but a Mary Ann Evans.  Known for her writing such books as Silas Marner, she hid behind another name…a male name. George Elliot Silas Marner  In the nineteenth century, women writers often used male pen-names so that reviewers wouldn’t be prejudiced against them as women. Charlotte and Emily Bronte published under the names Currer and Ellis Bell, and the famous French novelist George Sand was also a woman, Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin.

Prejudiced?  Yes, we have our prejudices…and women have had to fight that battle for a very long time.  It may seem strange to our young people today when they see women holding signs up about equal pay.    It hasn’t been long in this country that women fought to simply vote.  We might ask how many did not use that right and privilege in our past election?

We ride on the backs of those who have gone before us.  What a shame to let them down.   Minority women …and men…also fight the battle of prejudice.  Recently, I heard the term “white privilege” and if people felt guilty because they just happened to be born white.   The person being asked this question looked puzzled and did not know what to say to the interviewer.   If they had been thinking quickly, they might have answered something to the effect…”What country are we speaking of in relationship to white privilege?”    It certainly depends on the country that has the majority of people.  Most likely there would be “black privilege” in most African countries as far as jobs etc.  We know that there is prejudice when one is the minority in certain countries to the religion that they follow.  In nations with the majority are Muslims, the Christian or the Jew may be the target, of not only discrimination, but life-threatening attitudes on being infidels.  People with the same religion may be targets of another brand of their same religion.  So it goes on and on…the prejudice that is felt around the world for one thing or another.  Gender is no exception.

Here are a few women who have stood out in history, not hiding, but making their voices heard when many were fearful to do so.  (Slide show)

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Today, I would like to salute the women of the world for without you there would be no world.  You give birth and through you…the generations follow. women maternity 2000 You, in most cases, cook the food that goes on the table, often after a hard days work.   When there is a need to help the others in your household support the family, you pitch in and often save the day.  You are smart…ambitious to do your best…and you are to be commended.

Times have changed and in many ways we are better for it.  In other areas of life, we are still finding our way out of the sins placed upon us as women.  There is still the horrors of female sex trade, sweat shops and abused women.  Women may be called the “weaker sex” because physically most of us have less physical strength than the men of the world.  However, there is nothing weak about most women…in their courage and in their abilities.  In this century, we just look differently and in many cases, we act differently.  Modern woman can march for their rights, but often do not represent the average woman when combining rights with vulgar speech or hated rhetoric.  It may be good for all of us to look to more recent history to see what women have done to keep freedom ours so that we can enjoy what we do have.

professional business women

 

Question:  Whose shoulders are we standing on for the rights and privileges we have today?  One large group of women are those, like my own Mother, who dropped everything for the war effort for their brothers, husbands, and family men  who were fighting in far away places during WWII.  They were the Home-Front Women, better known as Rosie the Riveters.  There was nothing lazy or unpatriotic about them. They knew they had a job to do…and by gosh…they were going to do it!  If they didn’t know how, they knew they could learn.    (Slide show)

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The Holy Scriptures, that were written in a day when women  were often thought of as property or definitely had their place, lifted the woman up and praised her.   Even Jesus reached out to the women with the least in reputation, and did not rebuke, but simply said, “Go and sin no more.”

In Proverbs 31: 10-31, a wife, in particular, is praised for all the things she does. One will notice that she is described as a  business woman.  Maybe she didn’t have a real estate license, but she knew how to negotiate and buy wisely.  She is also described as a woman who loves God and reaches out to others.

” An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her,and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax,  and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.   She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.   She considers a field and buys it;  with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.   She dresses herself  with strength  and makes her arms strong.She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.  Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor  and reaches out her hands to the needy.She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.  She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells themshe delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.  She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children rise up and call her blessed;  her husband also, and he praises her:  “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”

As a woman,  wife,  mother, teacher, friend,  and neighbor, I thank God for the women in my life that have shown me their love, support and example.  It is not all about being on equal footing in all areas of life, but in what we can appreciate  about ourselves to have had the privilege of being female.

There is no more hiding.  Unlike George Elliot, my books may never be famous like hers, but I have MY name on them of which I am proud and thankful.   We have freedoms and privileges that many women of the past could have only dreamed of.    GO GIRL…be proud but thankful!

 

 


Lost in the Piles of Plastic and Sweat

The commercialization of Christmas has reached around the world, especially to those who labor in the factories to make the hundreds…no, millions of pieces of plastic that are placed on Christmas trees and even manger scenes of the Baby Jesus.

How many Chinese hands have painted the figures and perhaps wondered who this person is and what Christmas is all about? Is there a meaning to Christmas other than a small paycheck?   Stacks and stacks of ornaments…piles and piles of plastic…hours and hours of labor…boxing and labeling “made in China” to be moved thousands of miles away around the world.  This is Christmas to so many.

Below are parts of  an article that is worth sharing.  After reading this, one may decide that Christmas next year may be celebrated in a different way.   We will mention only briefly the economic issues as it relates to the U.S.A, but simply see how the Baby Jesus has been lost in the mountains of plastic.

Tim Maughan writes about his visit to Yiwu, a Chinese city that could almost be called “Christmas town”  His trip was organized and funded by the Unknown Fields Division,  a group of architects, academics and designers at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London.

Most of these pictures were made by Tim Maughan as he toured the Christmas city of Yiwu.  As we study these pictures, it is most revealing of commercialism on a mass scale.

 

“I’m a few hours away from Shanghai and I’ve not seen daylight for over three hours. I’m also hopelessly lost. I’ve been trying to get out of this place for the last 45 minutes, but the vast labyrinth of corridors and stores all look identical. I’m surrounded by artificial trees, baubles, fake snow, felt Santa hats, and animated LED reindeer. All I hear is festive music. I’m trapped in my worst Christmas nightmare, and it is only August. A hot, sticky day in August. For a moment, it feels like I may never escape, doomed to spend the rest of my life in a never-ending Santa’s Grotto.

I’m at the Christmas level of the International Trade Market in Yiwu, around 300 kilometres (187 miles) south of Shanghai. more than 60% of the world’s Christmas decorations are made in Yiwu, a significant proportion of which is sold at this enormous wholesale market. As I discovered, Christmas is made in Yiwu. That tree lighting up your lounge. Those decorations hanging from the ceiling. That novelty stocking filler you bought for your child. Chances are they came not far from where I am standing….

It’s hard to know how to describe Yiwu Market’s scale. I could start with the statistics; how it currently covers an area of four million sq m, with 62,000 booths inside. I could tell you how it is estimated to have an incredible 40,000 visitors every day, 5,000 of whom are said to be buyers from foreign countries. But these are just numbers.

Inside, it looks like a run-down large shopping mall, but you need to start walking to appreciate its size… (after going through many levels of artificial flowers/pencils etc)

Eventually I reach a broken escalator, changing levels…. Liam Young, our trip’s organizer, has been here before and he tells me that on the last visit some of his students set out to walk through all five districts, to visit each product area. Over eight hours later they finally gave up.

It’s not just the size that separates Yiwu market from your local shopping mall. For a start you can’t really buy anything here, at least not in the conventional consumer sense. Yiwu market is, for the large part, strictly wholesale. Each of the 62,000 booths, all identically sized 2.5m by 2.5m cubes, is a showroom for an individual company or factory. The market is less a shopping mall than a vast, endless trade show, built for those most important of middlemen: retail buyers, who flock here from across China and the rest of the world to negotiate deals on shipping containers full of cheap products to fill the shelves of stores back home. The sheer scale of what’s in front of me belies the fact that Yiwu market’s heyday was in the past – much of this trade is now migrating online, to websites such as Alibaba and Made In China. But it remains the physical manifestation of a vast invisible network that supplies many of the inexpensive goods we all buy in the West and worldwide.

(Boyer Writes has to stop here and reflect on the fact that President Nixon appeared to be ahead of his time when he opened the way for trade with China.  Even now, we are looking at what to do with Cuba and the opening of trade. Nevertheless, we know what has happened to jobs in the United States because of the China decision.  The furniture companies of N.C. closed. Small businesses buckled across the United States because of the cheap labor of China. Thousands of American suffered because of this decision. This is probably true for other countries as well. )

Tim Maughan continues:

  As I walk I note what I see. Buckets and spades. Umbrellas. Models of the Chinese space station. Flashlights with world leaders faces printed on them. Vuvuzelas (yes, they are still being made). A whole district, the size of a large department store, that only sells LED signs, most set to endlessly scroll the phrase “LED signs”. A shop that just sells Sherlock Holmes style magnifying glasses. The list goes on…
(Tim Maughan)

 As impossibly varied as these all seem, everything here has something in common. There are no high-value goods here in Yiwu market, and few branded items. You can search all day in the electronics district and you’ll see nothing by Samsung, Apple, or Beats. Instead you’ll see a very large and often overlooked sector of China’s manufacturing output. It’s the little items that fill your desk drawers; the free pens that salesmen give you, and the toys your children break or forget. It’s the hundreds of disposable products that fill pound shops, dollar stores and gas stations. It’s the stuff you buy on impulse, or because it’s momentarily funny. And all because it’s cheap. China is the global leader in creating plastic junk, and Yiwu market is its showroom.

  And for that reason, there’s one thing that Yiwu excels at more than anything: Christmas. Forget the North Pole, forget Santa’s workshop. In 2012 Yiwu and the surrounding region had 750 companies making Christmas decorations…

 The first room we’re shown is the main factory floor, where a couple of dozen workers – of all ages and genders, but predominately women under 20 years old – are assembling and painting plastic mistletoe, wreathes, miniature trees and more.

(Liam Young/Unknown Fields Division)

Picture by Liam Young

One woman folds elaborate ribbons from plastic sheeting, whilst the woman next to her glues them on to “Merry Christmas” signs covered in red glitter paint. A young boy in a stained apron, who looks to be barely a teenager, is hand-painting holly berries red. And in a side room a man sits in front of a huge fan as he dips metal wires into a bucket of unidentified boiling liquid, bending them while they’re hot into curved headbands for novelty reindeer antlers.

Everywhere the fruits of their labor surround them; thousands of Christmas ornaments and novelties constantly being piled into cardboard boxes and plastic crates faster than they can be moved out, spilling on to the floor and towering above the workers.

In the next room the fabric products are made; again about two dozen women sit at rows of sewing machines. It’s hot and all you can hear is the constant hum of the machines as they stitch together hats, Christmas stockings, and festive bunting (see video, below). The red and white Santa hat – the kind you wear at office parties – that you buy for a few pounds and then throw away by New Year’s Eve. I see it being made here. I watch a girl sew white fur trim on to red felt at the rate of about two hats a minute, and as she finishes each one she simply pushes them off the front of her desk where they fall, silently, onto an ever-increasing pile on the floor.

(Tim Maughan)

 Upstairs is the plastic moulding room, mainly staffed by young men, stripped to the waist because of the heat. The air here is thick with fumes, the smell of chemicals and warm plastic. The men feed plastic pellets from Samsung-branded sacks into machines to be melted down, and then pressed into moulds to make toy snowmen and Father Christmases. It’s repetitive, and potentially dangerous, as the workers must constantly reach inside the large presses. Many of them pass the time while they work watching Chinese TV dramas on their smartphones.

It’s not just seeing Christmas being made in August that’s disorientating, but also the scale of the manual labor that’s involved that surprises me. Perhaps I was naive, but if you’d asked me before I visited Yiwu how Christmas decorations are made I’d have guessed they were mass-produced in largely automated factories. But the truth here is actually the real secret of China’s manufacturing success – keeping labour costs so low that making things by hand is cheaper than using machines…

As we leave, we get a glimpse of boxes of Christmas decorations being loaded into a shipping container heading to the mega-port of Ningbo. There it would be transported on a container ship to… who knows where. I’m told that most of the decorations are headed to the US and Europe, with Russia being a new, large, and very lucrative market. Watching Christmas being assembled by hand in front of us that day, I heard more than one person in our group remark that the holiday season will never be the same again. Perhaps they were right…”  

If I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Maughan, I’d ask him if he saw the Baby Jesus, Wise Men, Joseph and Mary?  Jesus, the Savior of the World, Who was born to bring the message of new life. Jesus who died for the sins of men and rose again to prepare a place for men and women…  is under the stack somewhere….lost in the piles of plastic….and to the millions of people who pour His image into molds.

As we sing this Christmas, “Joy to the World” or walk the malls with the beautiful lights, we may want to say a prayer for those whose lives are  caught up in the sweat shops of China for our Christmas pleasure. As the workers use their smartphones to release themselves from boredom, one of those workers may find a message of hope and understand that there is a true meaning to Christmas.