This week’s recap: guns, migration, Singapore and feminism

The past two weeks have been sort of slow news weeks. There’s been a few bits and pieces of interesting things happening, but nothing big enough to write an entire post about. So I thought to compile a few of the more noteworthy stuff right here (all from the past week in fact).

First, I’m sure this video has made its rounds on the Internet, but it’s such a great piece on why US’ gun laws are crazy that it deserves to be shared again and again. Jim Jefferies nails it on so many counts and I love that he says, enough of the bullshit arguments why America needs guns – just say that you love guns and want to own them. I’ve felt the same way towards some people who give all sorts of arguments why gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed in Singapore or why single mothers in Singapore shouldn’t have the same parental rights as married mothers. The worst kind of bigots are those who think they’re justified in their views.

Next up is an article by Rahila Gupta on Open Democracy, which highlights how highly educated women who migrate to the UK to join their partners face a host of obstacles in finding employment. Not only do they face limitations on being able to join their partners in the UK, but once there, many find it extremely challenging to find work commensurate to their abilities and qualifications – all this on top of more common issues such as loneliness, starting from scratch and having no support network.

Two paragraphs, in particular, resonate with my experiences:

Having failed to get job after job, one woman wondered whether she should have adopted her British husband’s surname, a classic case of how race and gender intersect to keep a migrant woman down. The fact of being on a spousal visa with an expiry date also made them less attractive to employers.

I can’t say for sure if my foreign-sounding surname has worked against me, but I have been passed over in favour of another candidate at the final stage of an interview because my partner visa was expiring and there was no guarantee it would definitely get extended. Also:

Furthermore,  it does not examine how a woman’s place in the family is further undermined by her uncertain migration status.  Many women report the ‘starting from scratch’ syndrome: the sacrifices they have had to make by giving up their jobs, families and social circles to join their husbands. Surely this resentment would impact on their relationships.

Coming hot on Gupta’s article is the Guardian’s report on revisions to the UK’s immigration rules for Tier 2 work visa holders. From April 2016, those on a Tier 2 visa will have to earn more than £35k per annum before they are able to settle in the UK. In other words, those who don’t make the cut will have to leave.

It has become increasingly difficult and expensive for non-EU migrants to come to and remain in the UK. The latest hurdle is the implementation of the healthcare surcharge which came into force this April, which essentially forces tax-paying migrant workers to pay an additional fee on top of their National Insurance contributions towards healthcare.

Amidst all the debates and criticisms of the £35k per annum salary requirement for Tier 2 visa holders is a glaring but frequently unasked question – how does such a hard (and high) figure take into consideration regional disparities in income? For example, my current role in Belfast commands 50% more in my firm’s London office. So a Tier 2 visa holder living in London has a fair higher chance of being able to remain in the country than someone living elsewhere, all else being equal. (Also, is it really 50% more expensive to live in London than in Belfast? I’m not convinced.)

Still on the topic of migration, WSJ Expat ran this interesting article on things one might not know about expat life. The first paragraph addressed the fact that Ireland actually isn’t as great to live in as most would imagine, and it was nice to know that I wasn’t alone in my views – Belfast, despite being in the UK, actually has a lot in common with the rest of the island down south (emphasis added):

Negative factors, she says, include a relatively high cost of living, apartments that are in poor condition, and a transportation system that can be confusing and limited. Other factors that cause expats concern include low quality of medical care and limited availability of leisure activities, InterNations CEO Malte Zeeck says, citing the survey results. Regarding Ireland’s weather, just one in seven respondents actually likes the climate, Mr. Zeeck says.

While I was sitting there thinking about home, along came this Buzzfeed article that was essentially an ode to Singapore, listing 42 reasons why studying in Singapore will spoil you for life (in typical Buzzfeed style, of course). Many people here don’t understand why I find life in Belfast challenging at times – the lack of shops, short opening hours, its small size, limited variety of cuisine – and I felt that this article explained it perfectly. I mean, just look at these:

BeFunky Collage

Finally, I just wanted to touch very briefly on feminism. I follow the Australia rotation curation account @WeAreAustralia and found myself quite put off by this week’s curator’s passionate but extremely forceful and adversarial arguments for feminism.

I disagree with Kate Iselin that men should “shut up” and listen, and even if they should, being rude and unnecessarily mean is never the way to encourage conversation or further a cause. Equally disturbing were the number of people who were cheering the curator on and applauding her for being “a strong woman”.. er, nope.

Bridget Christie’s satirical column on feminism was a breath of fresh air though. My favourite part:

All feminists do all day is burn bras. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, without eating, sleeping or taking toilet breaks. A feminist would rather wet herself than leave a bra unburned. If you read the CV of a feminist, under “Occupation” it would say: “Bra-burner.” And under “Skills” it would say: “Very good at burning bras.” And under “Hobbies and interests” it would say: “Finding bras and burning them.”

And under “My five-year plan” it would say: “To have burned loads of bras.” And under “My 10-year plan” it would say: “To have eliminated all the bras, by burning.”

And these, dear readers, are some of the things that caught my attention this past week. What are some of yours?


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