“That’s a boy thing” by @MurderofGoths

Cross-posted from: Murder of Goths
Originally published: 05.01.17

My kids have reached that age. Now the infuriating conversations have started.

“Boys do this, girls don’t”

“That’s a girls toy”

“Girls don’t like that”

No matter that, up until this point, I’ve always encouraged both children to play with and like whatever they want. I’ve been very clear that there are no “boys toys” and “girls toys”. Myself, and the rest of the family, have done whatever we can to make clear to both children that girls and boys are more alike than different.

Unfortunately I’m not able to control the environment my children grow up in as they get that bit older.

Here’s the thing that gets me though, I hadn’t quite considered how strange small child logic can be, as evidenced by conversations with my 4 year old son.
Read more “That’s a boy thing” by @MurderofGoths

Chocolate slice prohibited! Is food shaming harming our kids? by @meltankardreist

Cross-posted from: Melinda Tankard Reist
Originally published: 10.02.17

About 15 years ago, a message was sent home from my daughter’s primary school teacher. It wasn’t about chocolate slice. It was about her hair.

My then six-year-old’s head was covered in tight, thick ringlets. While many clucked and cooed about her “gorgeous” hair, they didn’t have to wash it, or try to get a brush through it.

It was an ordeal, one I approached with dread — she’d cry and flail about. And so it wasn’t washed or brushed as often as more patient parents might have done.

(I also had two other children and a baby who needed attention.) 
Read more Chocolate slice prohibited! Is food shaming harming our kids? by @meltankardreist

Getting pregnant won’t ruin your life: teenage girls, pregnancy and myths

Cross-posted from: Slutocracy
Originally published: 12.04.13

As Doortje Braeken noted in her telegraph column, “we’re not teaching young women about teenage motherhood because we don’t believe it’s a good idea because we do see that it reduces a woman’s future choices.” She went on to say that personal choice is absolutely sovereign. I fully agree with Doortje Braeken but I want to highlight the issue of believing that pregnancy limits choices.

Because the idea that starting a family at a younger age somehow magically limits a woman’s choices is absurd. If you’re under 16 it is the law that you have to go to school so even if a young parent wants to stay home with their child, they can’t. No university will ban you from attending because you are a mother or father and it’s the norm for older or mature students to be parents. If older students are often parents why are younger students assumed to be unable to cope? And that’s without considering the fact that while kids take up lots of time and attention, many students work while studying so it’s not like being childfree means you have unlimited reserves of time.
Read more Getting pregnant won’t ruin your life: teenage girls, pregnancy and myths

Picking apart the mother-blaming that takes place with abused mothers by @monk_laura

Cross-posted from: Mother's Apart Project
Originally published: 11.05.16

I’ve been working on a theme that is to do with unhelpful/punitive/harmful responses to mothers who have become, or are at risk of becoming, separated from their children in a context of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) (mothers apart for short). I am arguing that these responses stem from mother-blaming and involve attitudes, beliefs, values and perceptions that are influenced by culture, society, theories and the media. I also argue that blaming mothers apart can lead to secondary abuse/coercion, re-victimisation and re-traumatisation, and relates to the dearth of support for this at-risk population of mothers apart who are largely a marginalised and stigmatised vulnerable group of women with complex needs that are currently not being met by services/interventions.
Read more Picking apart the mother-blaming that takes place with abused mothers by @monk_laura

What My Mum Went Through by @HelenSaxby11

Cross-posted from: Not the News in Brief
Originally published: 06.03.16

My mum was twenty eight when she had her first baby. That was quite late for a first baby in those days, especially as she had been married for a whole five years at that point, but she and my dad wanted to wait till they could afford a baby and had their own home to live in first. Finally they got a mortgage on a narrow two-up two-down terraced house with damp on the walls, silverfish in the fireplace and a toilet in the back yard, and then they started their family.

My sister took a whole day to be born, she was a big baby, and my mum had to have stitches after the birth. However, that didn’t prevent her from getting pregnant again within a few months. It has to be remembered that rape within marriage was not a crime in those days, and although I am not casting aspersions on my dad, I do think that those ideas, that a wife owed her husband regular sex whenever he wanted it, were strong enough at that time to ensure that most women would see sex as their duty (and most men would see it as their right). Even after a difficult and painful birth.
Read more What My Mum Went Through by @HelenSaxby11

The Inri Letters – Part 1: Mother’s lament at She means well

Cross-posted from: She means well ...
Originally published: 15.10.15

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 08.21.31Dear Sarah,

Well, I suppose you’ve heard the news.

My boy’s been arrested, and he’s not talking to anyone. Not even me. His mother, for heaven’s sake.

I can imagine the gossip in the village market this week. I bet they’re lapping it up, aren’t they? Especially that bitch Katy from the bakers. She must be having a field day. She’s always been jealous.

Our boys were born on the same day, in the same hospital. Did you know that? And, if you wanted proof that there’s absolutely nothing to all the rubbish about star signs and horoscopes, it was those two lads. They grew up just a few blocks from each another, too. Matt was a loud, annoying child as soon as he was old enough to kick a ball around in the back streets. Always making a racket with the other lads after school when my boy was trying to read his books.

Not that it’s surprising. My son had my undivided love and attention, while Katy had five other brats to take care of. No wonder that Matt went feral. Even now, he’s nothing more than a glorified barrow boy, for all his millions and that awful, extravagant house he’s built just outside town.

I can’t help wondering what I did wrong. How I failed my boy. He had everything he ever wanted growing up – not that he ever asked for much. He was clever too, too clever for those idiots they called teachers at the village school. How else could he have possibly have been ‘just’ an average student?

So how we did end up here, with him sitting in prison and refusing see anyone? I wish I knew.

Personally, I blame that lecturer at college. Filled his head with all sorts of ideas. Introduced him to unsavoury sorts who filled my nice, clean house with smoke, loud music and long conversations late into the night. Eating my food without even a “thank you”as if I was some kind of skivvy serving at the table of their ‘higher cause’. They sat around talking about equality and fraternity – but who did the washing up when they’d all passed out on the living room floor? Yes, you guessed it.

And then there was that strumpet, always hanging on his arm. Stroking his hair like he was her special pet. Like he was her property. Not even she had the common decency to offer a helping hand when I fetched and carried as they plotted late into the night. Playing the Lady – like I didn’t know where she’d come from, or what she really was.

But did I ever complain, or leave them wanting? No. Not once.

Let’s face it, they were the first group who ever really befriended him, the first friends he’d ever had over for a meal. I could hardly turn them away, could I?

The only one who showed the slightest decency towards to me was that Jude. A strange lad. Always so intense, so much in earnest. A little bit too eager. A little bit too fey (not that he stood a chance with my boy). But to give credit where it’s due, Jude was the only one to speak to me like I mattered. His praise of me as “the woman that made the man who leads” us was almost embarrassing at times. Almost.

I wonder what’s become of him  now?

Sarah, I want you to do me a favour. When they ask you what you know about the whole thing (and let’s face it, they will, everyone knows you’re my favourite cousin) just tell them that he’s a victim of wrongful arrest. That it’s all been a huge mistake, it’s a conspiracy, and that he’ll be out soon. That one day, they’ll be proud to tell the world that he came from THEIR village.

And if my mother asks you, just tell her that her grandson has gone abroad to study for a few years.

Please write back soon, and let me know what that fishwife Katy has been saying. I wouldn’t wish ill on anyone, you know that, but so far as I’m concerned she can go drown in all those fancy cushions her loud-mouthed son has swamped her with from the leftover stock from his import-export business.

And just one more thing? Can you drop this cheque in the collection box when you go to church on Sunday? Just make sure you leave it open so everyone can see who it’s from.

Meanwhile, I’ll give my boy your love when he finally agrees to see me. And I’ll let him know that you’ll have a plate of your famous almond pastries waiting for him when he gets comes home.

Because he will, of course, be coming home.

Won’t he?

With love,

Your cousin, Mary.

 

She Means Well I’m a feminist, loud and proud, but I’m also married and have a son. I demand to be treated equally based on my qualities and abilities, not the ‘equipment’ I was born with – but I am a firm believer that humour is one of life’s essential and that, yes, silliness DOES save lives. My blog covers a wide range of subjects, mostly in a mildly humourous way, including life as a transplanted Brit living in Greece, the imagined thoughts of my cat in The Kitty Letter Chronicles, things that make me go “Hmmmm” and things that make me go “Aaaaagh!”

The egg

I come from my mother, full as an egg with the weight that sits and grows, sinking into her pelvis, into the centre of her like a truth. I am plump and round and perfect, as the midwives declare my sex, and for a moment, all is whole. One has become two, and each of those two is one. A whole.

Crossing the road with my mother when I am 11. She launches a volley of fury at a man passing us. Somewhere, later, I learn that my swelling breasts, still tiny mounds on a child’s body, had drawn his eye down. A little piece of me is nipped away.

A dark bus station, 14 years old, counting the chewing gum pebbles on the bricks. A man sits next to me. His hands, my legs, my skirt. I am giddy with relief when another man comes to help, hollowed a little more when he asks me to show him my gratitude. The police come and my mother, who was the start of me, tells me I will be the death of her. Another chunk of me falls away.


Read more The egg

Train Tracks of Doom

Cross-posted from: Never Trust a Jellyfish
Originally published: 05.11.15

Fifteen minutes from where we live, there run a set of train tracks.

Not special train tracks, nor particularly busy train tracks, just normal, run-of-the-mill train tracks like thousands of others all over the country. Yet those train tracks manage to give me panic attacks every time they announce their existence.
Read more Train Tracks of Doom

THE BATTLE STARTS YOUNG

Cross-posted from: The Coven Speaks
Originally published: 02.06.15

My son was two when I first gained an interest in feminism, and initially, I found myself keeping him out of the conversations that arose from a subject that has come to be very close to my heart. Over the past five years, however, matters have shifted and I have found that feminism hasn’t so much become an occasional conversation for us, but one that heavily underlies a way of life.

I rarely blog about my son for several reasons. The main being that the voice of male children so often over-rides that of female children in feminist circles. Even now, these words will not be entirely my own, but touched with the thoughts of a seven year old. The reason, this time, being that I feel it’s important to discuss why feminism – along with other forms of equality and liberation – is a discussion that our children need to be included in. Regularly.
Read more THE BATTLE STARTS YOUNG

What’s The Big Deal With Skin-To-Skin?

Cross-posted from: Your Journey Doula
Originally published: 12.03.15

Skin-to-skin has become a birth plan buzzword. The term has penetrated birthspeak and, in my view, is at risk of being treated as a trend that is only paid lip service in the immediate postpartum period. I did just this with my first child! I knew skin-to-skin was something I *should* be doing but didn’t really know why or what it should look like.

I mention skin-to-skin A LOT in my professional and voluntary  practise supporting mothers, the evidence shows it is something of a panacea for mother-baby pairs. I wonder if it is sometimes overlooked as a suggestion because it is such a simple idea; putting your bare skin to your baby’s bare skin is not difficult, radical or revolutionary.


Read more What’s The Big Deal With Skin-To-Skin?

I Couldn’t Love My Post Pregnancy Body by @rupandemehta

Cross-posted from: Rupande Mehta
Originally published: 21.07.15

Last week I saw a picture of a musician mother’s tummy from South Carolina on my Facebook feed. Tired of being told that she has the perfect body, she wrote,

“Everyone always compliments me on how I have such a ‘perfect’ body after 4 kids. I decided to upload this pic and leave my belly ‘unedited’ and ‘unphotoshopped’ because I used to struggle with accepting my body after kids.”

Even though my initial reaction was, “I would never tire of someone telling me what a fab body I have,” the picture made a huge impact on me. I thought about my own assessment of my body because yes, I too have struggled to accept it.

I mean, who hasn’t?

In 2012, I was in the BEST shape of my life. This is not to say I am dangeroulsy unhealthy as of right now, but back then, I fit the media’s idea of what sexy and gorgeous was supposed to look like. At 125 lbs and 5’7”, I loved the way I looked- my abs, my biceps and my tall skinny legs. Mind you, I’ve never actually had a six pack but I loved everything about myself and was proud to flaunt it. Standing tall in a size 4, I had no insecurities and was proud to admit I was one of the few women who loved their body and was comfortable in her “skin”.
Read more I Couldn’t Love My Post Pregnancy Body by @rupandemehta

Man tells women breastfeeding is easy. Woman observes man is a nincompoop.

Cross-posted from: Herbs & Hages
Originally published: 05.12.14

“I think that given that some people feel very embarrassed by it, it isn’t too difficult to breastfeed a baby in a way that’s not openly ostentatious,”

After swearing, I literally laughed when I saw that statement from Nigel Farage who was commenting on the story about a woman in Claridges being required to cover her baby with a large swathe of fabric, thus rendering her feeding of her child far more conspicuous than it would otherwise have been.

How nice it is to be a man who has never breastfed but nevertheless knows how easy it is to breastfeed a baby discreetly.

And how nice it is that even though you know nothing whatsoever about the subject of breastfeeding, you can pronounce on it and expect to be listened to.  Indeed, your voice is much more welcomed and likely to be heard, than those who have actually done the stuff you know nothing about.  How very agreeable it is to be a white man.
Read more Man tells women breastfeeding is easy. Woman observes man is a nincompoop.

Emerging issues concerning mothers apart from their children by @monk_laura

Cross-posted from: The Mothers Apart Project
Originally published: 15.02.15

The overarching aim of my research project is to address the problem that, in the UK, there is no comprehensive, statutory provision of support for mothers who have become, or are at risk of becoming, separated from their children. But how is it that there are so very many women that need this support? Mother-child separations occur largely in a context of domestic violence and can have profound and long-lasting effects of both mothers and their children. Provision is made, of course, for the health and wellbeing of children through health and social care and the children are the priority – as they should be. However, largely due to a lack of understanding about the dynamics of domestic abuse, professionals often do not see that children could be better protected by protecting and supporting the mother as a priority – by recognising and respecting her status as the primary carer and attachment figure (in the majority of cases), who is often the child’s prime source of soothing and security.

We seem to have found ourselves in a position, however, that mothers are blamed for being in abusive relationships and in seeking to protect the child from being in an unsafe household/environment, all the focus of professionals’ interventions are aimed at the mother: not on protecting her but blaming her. By threatening to remove her children, making action plans with unrealistic targets and setting impossibly high standards of parenting she is all too often set up to fail and ends up losing parental responsibility. Meanwhile, the perpetrator frequently remains largely invisible to any intervention and when a child is removed from its mother because she has supposedly failed to protect the child from the fallout of the abuser’s behaviour, the mother might even find that the abuser eventually ends up with having more contact with the child than she does or even residency of the child. This is likely to be a devastating outcome for both child and mother with lifelong implications for mental health and wellbeing.
Read more Emerging issues concerning mothers apart from their children by @monk_laura

To the child haters by @Trishlowt

Cross-posted from: Trish Lowt
Originally published: 20.02.13

 

Children exit through the plane's lips

(Photo credit: SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent))

This tweet appeared on my timeline this morning. It obviously struck a chord with a lot of people as it had several RT’s and favourites, but it irked me:

“Totally in favour of child free planes. Kids should be made to go to Wales on holiday. Didn’t do me any harm”.

I replied: “nice sentiment – kids are part of society. Which would you choose with child – 40 min plane trip or a 7hr train journey?”

 


Read more To the child haters by @Trishlowt

Why Does a Toddler need a Toy Mop in her Toy Box?

Cross-posted from: Never trust a jellyfish
Originally published: 03.08.15

In the not-so-distant past, the feminist in me was always a little (to put it mildly) miffed by the proliferation of toys in stores that, to me at least, seemed nothing more or less than ‘housewife training equipment’. Why in God’s name would a toddler require a miniature mop and broom in her toy box?? What is this, 1955? Are we supposed to train our babies to be prim and proper housewives from birth now? Should I be enrolling her in finishing school so she doesn’t bring shame upon the family when she doesn’t know the proper technique required to fold a napkin into a swan for Tuesday night dinner?


Read more Why Does a Toddler need a Toy Mop in her Toy Box?

SEARCHING FOR SUNDAY: MOTHERHOOD, GUILT AND DISILLUSIONMENT by @boudledidge

Cross-posted from: We Mixed our Drinks
Originally published: 12.05.15
via Wikimedia Commons

I spent my teenage years dedicated to the music department at my Fenland comprehensive school. Choir, orchestra, string quartet, vocal ensemble, recorder group. Local music festivals, county-wide choir days, youth orchestra every Saturday and umpteen church fêtes. We were a partner school of Cambridge University, and so it happened that every December, we’d pile into a minibus and he’d drive us to Cambridge, the Head of Music leading a gaggle of girls over the Backs and to King’s College chapel, where we’d sit, awestruck, alongside fellow music geeks of Cambridgeshire, and listen to a special performance of Carols from King’s; without the TV cameras, without the crowds of people queuing from breakfast time to try to get a seat. Just 20 or so teenage girls high on sugar from vending machine sweets, on the lookout for nice male undergraduates in the choir, with a slightly harassed middle-aged man known as ‘Mr C’.


Read more SEARCHING FOR SUNDAY: MOTHERHOOD, GUILT AND DISILLUSIONMENT by @boudledidge

Playboy Feminism TM isn’t feminism, it’s the same old misogyny by @sianushka

Cross-posted from: Sian & Crooked Rib
Originally published: 01.07.15

No one wants to be ugly. No one wants to be the unsexy one. No one wants to be rejected.

And that, I think, is what makes this weird phenomena of ‘Playboy Feminism TM’ so attractive.

Okay, if like me you read the phrase ‘Playboy Feminism TM’ and went WTAF, I thought Playboy was rather antithetic to feminism seeing as it involves Hefner’s insistence on being flanked by much younger women and the magazine’s 50+ years history of treating women as disposable objects for male consumption, then you have my sympathy.

But no! It’s 2015 and let go off your anti-porn hang ups ladies, because apparently these days Playboy is totes feminist. In fact it always was, and the proof is that they got a bloke to write an article telling all us boring women feminists how we’ve done feminism wrong, and Playboy-reading men have done feminism right (sorry guys who read Playboy thinking they were sticking it to the feminist movement. Turns out you were feminists all along! Oops!).


Read more Playboy Feminism TM isn’t feminism, it’s the same old misogyny by @sianushka

The Real Life of Twins at Communicating with Kids

Cross-posted from: Communicating with Kids
Originally published: 15.07.15

 

secret life of twinsI am an identical twin so I sat down to watch ‘Secret Life of Twins’ on ITV yesterday hoping that it would do something I’ve never seen before on t.v. by portraying the real life of twins, rather than the freak show entertainment we usually get.

But no, it didn’t; so here, for all parents of twins and everybody else in the world for that matter, is my critical response. I think I’ll start with a few requests to future t.v. producers of programmes about twins:

1. Would you stop getting twins to pose together doing exactly the same actions so that we can gasp at how amazing that is – they look AND act the same!

2. Can you stop the really patronising voice-over. Twins are not fluffy bunny rabbits.

3. Can you not act like the similarities between twins are the reality and the differences are aberrations. And please don’t sound SO startled when you mention those differences.
Read more The Real Life of Twins at Communicating with Kids

I don’t want this for my children by @mummytolittlee

Mum-blogging often has an air of ‘dinner party’ about it. “No politics, sex, or religion, thank you very much”. But those are 3 of my favourite subjects, damnit. So, at the risk of totally alienating myself, here’s my take on the general election, and why I’m now nervous to be raising my children in this country. Brace yourselves, it’s a bigun’…

As we inched closer to the result of the British general election the days took on a surreal, limbo-like quality. I was distracted, desperate for change, and I genuinely hoped we’d see a cultural shift within government to allow for fairer, more humane politics. As it stands more than 1 in 4 children live in poverty in the UK, and the latest figures from The Trussell Trust show a 163% increase in demand for foodbanks over recent years.  Our loudest political and media voices depict benefits fraud and immigration as the source of Britain’s financial and social problems, and actively dismiss the huge elephant in the room: tax evasion. We have the world’s most billionaires per capita, and our richest 1% has reached giddy new heights, having accumulated as much wealth as the poorest 55% of the population put together. These facts have undoubtedly contributed to Britain becoming the only country in the G7 group of leading economies with worse inequality than at the turn of the century.
Read more I don’t want this for my children by @mummytolittlee

The (Other) Mothers by @HeadinBook

Until very recently, if you’d asked me to tell you three facts about myself, I might have answered the following: I have bright red hair. I am incurably clumsy. I used to have a career.

To my immense surprise, if you asked me the same question today, the answers would be different. I still have hair next to which carrots look insipid. I still trip over invisible obstacles. But, somehow, the career has moved from being a thing very firmly in my past to being, quite possibly, a thing in my future too.

Being at home with my children for the past few years has been my choice, albeit one forced slightly by circumstances. It has been that most grown-up of things; a compromise, neither principled nor perfect, but good enough. Now that there is a chance of going back into work that I loved, though, I’ve been slightly taken aback by the sense of freedom I feel at the prospect of being something other than a mother and housewife again.


Read more The (Other) Mothers by @HeadinBook

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