On Women

Long time no see…

Seeing that today is Women’s International day, here’s some food for thought!



Animal rights

When most countries in Europe are passing emergency laws and measures to help us get out of this recession, the Swiss are debating -‘debating’ as in a public referendum – whether part of the taxpayer’s monies should be destined to providing animals with lawyers. Yep, lawyers.

I am all for animal rights – don’t get me wrong – even if I’m no activist. I don’t approve of bullfighting (currently under heated debate in Spain), animal testing or any kind of cruelty inflicted on animals; but believe me when or if I am born again I would like to come back to this world as a dog – or, on second thoughts, a horse – in Switzerland. I have not gone mad… yet. Please, indulge me and keep reading.

Under the current Swiss legislation fishermen need to get sensitivity training,  that is, they need to learn how to catch fish humanely; dog owners need to ‘qualify’  , e. g.  take a course,   in order to receive a license to own a dog; horses must be kept in close proximity to other horses, and any animal considered social – including goldfish – must be kept with at least one other of its kind. Talk about leading a dog’s life…

However, after months of campaigning in the local press for the creation of a public legal office for animal rights in each of Switzerland’s 26 cantons, voters have rejected the proposal with 70.5 percent of Swiss voting no.

I wonder, are you better off being a dog than an immigrant in Switzerland? I rest my case…

Retirement age

There has been much talk in Spain about delaying retirement age to 67. How would you feel about it? I, for one, think it’s an awful idea. How about you?

J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger, author of  The Catcher in the Rye, passed away this week at the age of 91. 

Generations of students and teachers have been forever changed by this acclaimed novel, one of my favourites ever since I discovered it as a teenager. I was very proud of myself when I managed to read it in English the first time, and have often revisited it since, especially when I’m feeling a bit down in the dumps. The Catcher in the Rye, narrated by main character and hero Holden Caulfield, is the story of Holden’s life in the few days after being expelled from his Pennsylvania prep school. Holden, one of the most sympathetic and complex young characters of all time,  is an incredibly intelligent, sensitive young man on the verge of becoming an adult who has trouble functioning in the real world.  

The Catcher in the Rye has been translated to many languages and has sold more than 60 million copies worlwide 59 years after its publication in 1951. It has also been banned more times than you want to count by zealous parents and educators. Not that anybody’s surprised by this (because of the profanity, sex, alcohol abuse, prostitution – need I go on?), but interestingly enough, it’s also frequently used as part of high school English classes and it has become required reading in every English department in America.

There are also some curious facts connected to Salinger’s novel. Mark David Chapman, the man who shot John Lennon, was carrying a copy of The Catcher in the Rye when he was arrested. John Hinckley Jr., the guy who tried to kill US President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was also a Caulfield fan.

If you want to know a bit more about the life and other works of this very secretive author, here is a link to a good article by the BBC:


Solidarity with Haiti

Solidarity has no boundaries and it definitely does not know about ages: take young Charles Simpson’s amazing story. A seven year old boy from London, he decided to do a sponsored bike ride around a park next to his house in order to obtain money for Haiti. The BBC got hold of the story and the donations just keep pouring in.

Check out the story and look at the webpage.

People and organizations all around the world are raising money to help the people in Haiti. You can contribute in many ways, with ideas, little projects, etc. even a little money can go a long way.

Here is a link to VOLS – voluntariat solidari, a Non Governmental Organization for the cooperation and solidarity with children and young people from underdeveloped countries.


In this very humble organization one of my students, Carlos Arenas,  has set up an amazing fund-raising project. He has been working very hard and so far they have 83.400 euros. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all contributed a little?

Minaret Ban in Switzerland

Switzerland, a country famous for its tolerance and passivity – ask Roman Polanski 🙂 -, and with quite a high percentage of Muslim population (400,000), has made a radical move to ban minarets from mosques. The referendum that took place yesterday shows that 53% of Swiss voters are in favour of the ban.

Many of the reasons behind yesterday’s vote -growing opposition to migration, the rise of the far right, fear of Islam – apply to other European countries as well. But despite the outrage and criticism widespread in Europe as a result of the referendum, can we be really sure that we would have voted differently given the chance?

Women and Dating

Just to be fair to us, women, here is a link to http://www.goconversation.com/, where you can find all kinds of conversation tips and actual questions to ask guys in general, a guy on a first date, a guy you like, your husband, your couple, and, even questions to ask the sick or the elderly.

But, if your goal is to turn dating and keeping relationships into an art form :-), here is another one:


You will find tips on what to do if your man has a “wandering” eye, whatever that means, how to “cheat-proof” your relationship and, most important, “the ten fatal mistakes to avoid that most women make with men.”

Well, what can I say, we had it coming…