What we’re reading: on racism, male violence, motherhood, and Kathy Acker

New book on Canadian racism firmly refutes ‘We’re not as bad as the U.S.’ sentiment, by Shree Paradkar

Self-deception has repeatedly served as a bedrock of cruelty.

It has transformed greed into gallant heroism, where invasion of lands is adventure, displacement of natives is about saving the savages, and theft and self-enrichment is ingenuity.

It has rationalized subjugation as the “natural order” of things. Women — at home; gays — in the closet; natives — in reserves; and Blacks — in farms or in ghettos. …

Settler deception in Canada, however, is unique in the euphemism it employs. …

Let’s stop romanticising the misguided, possibly dangerous actions of spurned men, by Sian Norris @thepooluk

On Saturday, the Bristol Post reported the story of how a 34-year-old man was intending to play one of the city’s public pianos in order to “win” back his ex girlfriend. Calling the woman who he’d been dating for four months “Rapunzel”, the stunt was intended to show off how much he loved her.

As is fairly typical in these kinds of stories, the Post branded the stunt as romantic, calling Luke Howard “heartbroken”, tagging his efforts as “dedication” in their tweet. However, in refusing to accept his ex girlfriend’s “no”, and by making a huge public statement demanding that she recognises his “love” for her, Howard’s behaviour is not romantic. It’s entitled – and it’s symptomatic of a wider problem of men’s harassment of their exes.

This is not the first time that women have been told to accept men not taking no for an answer as a romantic gesture. From John Cusack’s ghetto blaster in Say Anything… to the best man’s creepy filming of his friend’s bride in Love Actually, the ideal of a heartbroken man harassing the object of his affection has been sold to us as true love over and over again.

But there’s nothing romantic about refusing to accept that a woman has a right to leave you. It’s not a love story when a woman tells a man “no” and he demands she change it to a “yes”. ..

After Kathy Acker: the life and death of a taboo-breaking punk writer, by Suzanne Moore

…  At 53, the experimental writer was too young to die and her reaction to her illness had pushed away so many friends who had tried to help her. This was a lonely place, or maybe she had slipped fully into a world of magical thinking – I can’t say. Looking back, though, I think this was how she had always lived. Another way to put it is that Kathy lied. Or that she created her own myth via a series of strategic personas. All her work was an attempt to the dissolve the “I’ , the narrator, the ego. This constant slippage of identity. Who is talking? Who is the author? What is writing but copying down words? What happens when language is lost?

To pin down the real Kathy Acker then is a self-defeating task but Chris Kraus’s biography of her is a brilliant and necessary thing. There is a wonderful ambivalence between subject and object here, which wires up a tension throughout this incredibly well-researched book. Kraus and Acker moved in some of the same circles. The poet Eileen Myles once said that Kraus was “entirely obsessed… wanting to be Kathy”. Sylvère Lotringer – who was Kraus’s husband, and who features in her previous book, I Love Dick– had an affair with Acker for three years before he met Kraus. Inside one of his books, Kraus found an inscription from Acker: “To Sylvère, The Best Fuck in the Word (At Least to My Knowledge ), Love, Kathy.” …

‘Kids are gross’: on feminists and agency, by Caitlin McGregor

… My son, Oscar, is three. He is articulate and perfectly able to understand plain English, but people are constantly talking about him, in his presence, as if he’s not there. Many of my friends are self-described fierce feminists, who can and do rant indefinitely about the indignity women suffer by being silenced, ignored, objectified and dismissed, and yet they consistently do all of these things to Oscar. They ignore his requests not to be touched or embraced, and never make what is to me the very obvious connection between this and their own feminist positions about the non-negotiable need for consent. They override his very clear statements about his emotions; they even laugh when he’s upset and say, in his hearing, that his anger is ‘cute’.

None of these people are purposefully cruel, nor is their approach to interacting with children unusual. What has often perplexed me, though, is how often this kind of behaviour is exhibited by people who are so involved with and driven by feminism, which is so heavily grounded on assertions of dignity, autonomy and respect. What I’ve come to suspect is that many feminists’ failure to recognise the autonomy of children is, at least in part, symptomatic of the way children have for many feminists become symbols of oppression. But when we are unable to separate the systematic discrimination that makes mothering a ridiculously difficult and often oppressive role from the fact that children are sentient, autonomous human beings who deserve dignity and respect, we are in danger of allowing glaring hypocrisies to creep into the way we construct and use feminist principles and ideas. …

Unlearning the myth of American innocence, by Suzy Hansen

… For all their patriotism, Americans rarely think about how their national identities relate to their personal ones. This indifference is particular to the psychology of white Americans and has a history unique to the US. In recent years, however, this national identity has become more difficult to ignore. Americans can no longer travel in foreign countries without noticing the strange weight we carry with us. In these years after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the many wars that followed, it has become more difficult to gallivant across the world absorbing its wisdom and resources for one’s own personal use. Americans abroad now do not have the same swagger, the easy, enormous smiles. You no longer want to speak so loud. There is always the vague risk of breaking something.

Some years after I moved to Istanbul, I bought a notebook, and unlike that confident child, I wrote down not plans but a question: who do we become if we don’t become Americans? If we discover that our identity as we understood it had been a myth? I asked it because my years as an American abroad in the 21st century were not a joyous romp of self-discovery and romance. Mine were more of a shattering and a shame, and even now, I still don’t know myself. …

The Wifework of Empathising with Absentee Fathers’ Struggles, by @LucyAllenFWR

Cross-posted from: Reading Medieval Books
Originally published: 17.06.17

Perhaps it’s inevitable that, the same week the Guardian decide to publish a moving, impressive tribute to two young men publicising the toxic and predictable effects of violent masculinity, they’d also ruin all that good work by printing this piece, to destroy my ever-fragile faith in the male of the species.

(Kidding. I love men, me, and I think it’s totally important to keep saying that.)

Julian Furman, the author of the piece that so irritates me, nobly explains his history. ‘I … pressured my wife to start a family,’ he blithely explains, as if ‘pressuring’ someone to risk their health for nine months is a perfectly normal marital dynamic and not something to feel deeply ashamed of doing. But Furman seems to imagine this admission will endear him to readers, coming (as it does) hot on the heels of an overwritten depiction of how he tried to punch his father who, it seems, committed the crime of being concerned about his son’s emotional health. After a lengthy whinge about how awful it is not to be the centre of attention when you have a newborn, and how terrible it must be to actually have to do some of the childcare instead of living separately from your family and calling it ‘sacrifice’, Furman ends with an impassioned plea: men need to be heard. Silence is deadly. To begin, all that is required is for us to talk.


Read more The Wifework of Empathising with Absentee Fathers’ Struggles, by @LucyAllenFWR

What we’re reading: on racism, motherhood, capitalism, and women-only spaces

Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

… “At best, white people have been taught not to mention that people of colour are “different” in case it offends us. They truly believe that the experiences of their life as a result of their skin colour can and should be universal. I just can’t engage with the bewilderment and the defensiveness as they try to grapple with the fact that not everyone experiences the world in the way that they do.

“They’ve never had to think about what it means, in power terms, to be white, so any time they’re vaguely reminded of this fact, they interpret it as an affront. Their eyes glaze over in boredom or widen in indignation. Their mouths start twitching as they get defensive. Their throats open up as they try to interrupt, itching to talk over you but not to really listen, because they need to let you know that you’ve got it wrong. …

Whole Foods represents the failures of ‘conscious capitalism‘ by Nicole Aschoff

“Mackey has loudly declared unions akin to herpes and state regulation little more than “crony capitalism” – that all we need to solve things like the climate crisis are better, smarter, “conscious” capitalists. The crisis of Whole Foods belies this notion. There’s no way to “fix” corporations’ compulsion to produce ever more, ever more cheaply. It’s written into the DNA of global capitalism. … “

All I Have Are Questions, And the Most Unbelievable Broken Heart”  by Jacqueline Hoy

” … Before my sons passed away, I had absolutely no idea how common stillbirth is. Well, it claims the lives of six babies every day in Australia, more than 2,000 each year. It’s believed one third of these heartbreaking losses can be prevented.

Yet stillbirth remains such a taboo subject. I feel it most when I run into people who I haven’t seen since I lost the twins. Their questions, their judgement, the awkwardness and uncertainty of not knowing what to say. The “do we talk about the elephant in the room?” look on their faces.

But I want to talk about them. I want friends to ask me about them. I want people to know their names and know what it was like carrying them and to be able to talk about the precious time we spent with them after they passed away, before we buried them together so that they could stay by each other’s side forever. …”

Why there’s nothing racist about black-only spaces | Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

” …. Some white people have got so upset about their exclusion from parts of the Nyansapo festival, an intersectional black feminist gathering scheduled for 28-30 July in Paris, that the mayor of the city called for the festival to be banned, until organisers clarify details with her, and anti-racist groups have claimed that Rosa Parks would be “turning in her grave” at the event.

In the same week that some men have kicked up a fuss over not being allowed to attend women-only film screenings of Wonder Woman it seems a discussion is needed as to why spaces that are centred around marginalised groups, whether they be women or people of colour, are not racist or sexist.

Unofficial safe spaces have existed for all denominations for centuries, and self-organising has long been a key part of anti-racist and feminist movements. As one of the editors for gal-dem, a magazine and creative collective written and produced exclusively by women of colour, I think about our position of racial exclusivity a lot. In some ways I appreciate it might be difficult to grasp why such spaces feel so necessary. The simplest way to understand why the Nyansapo festival has elements that aren’t open to white people (the festival is split into three areas, one specifically for black women, another for black people, and a third for everyone) is to acknowledge the racism we suffer in western society. There’s no moving forward unless we accept that racism against people of colour is deeply systemic. …”

Black motherhood and survival: what my mother has taught me by Christine Pungong

My conscience is the sound of my mother’s voice. I hear it echoing in the back of my mind whenever I do something I know she’d disapprove of. Sometimes it’s scrutinizing, sometimes it’s cautionary, but most of the time it’s just concerned. Though I often try and resign myself to just not caring, truthfully I know that my mother’s disappointment, second to her worry, is my biggest fear. I’ve been thinking a lot about my conscience, and specifically about emotional and psychological burdens. Both my mother’s and, in turn, the ones she has laden me with over the years.

I find that it’s sometimes all too easy to forget that our mothers had their own lives before motherhood. That they argued with their parents, laughed at terrible jokes, lamented the loss of close friends, had doubts about their faith, hated their clothes, and spent long melancholic summer evenings contemplating the direction their lives would eventually take. For a lot of women, motherhood snatches away these memories, eclipsing them with the newest priorities in their lives: their children. Despite its often-touted (and false) status as ‘the pinnacle of womanhood’, motherhood is in fact characterized by a series of painful dichotomies and unattainable expectations. …

Nothing Like A Toddler to Dash Your Feelings of Self-Importance

Cross-posted from: Never Trust a Jellyfish
Originally published: 08.12.16

3 Year old: Mommy let’s go to the big bouncy place!

Me: Ok Lilly, we’ll go tomorrow. Do you want to go alone or with friends?

3: No friends!

Me: Ok, go alone then?

3:  Not alone mommy, I want to go with you!

Me: Awwww, that’s so sweet, I’d love to go with you. 
Read more Nothing Like A Toddler to Dash Your Feelings of Self-Importance

Tiffany Dufu’s ‘Drop the Ball’: Women Blaming Themselves, Again, by @LucyAllenFWR

Cross-posted from: Reading Medieval Books
Originally published: 14.04.17

A quick post, in irritation. Today, I read in the Guardian that women should expect more of their partners, and less of themselves. Not terrible advice (though not really a revelation either). The article is a puff piece for a book I never plan to buy, written by new mother and bringer of epiphanies to the oblivious, Tiffany Dufu. In her book, so we are told, Dufu describes her revelatory experience navigating the return to work after her first child’s birth, and her growing realisation that her partner would have to do some of the work around the home, since they both had full time jobs. The experience that brought on this revelation sounds depressingly familiar. Back from a full day of work, while struggling with breastfeeding difficulties, Dufu heard her husband return home to the meal she had prepared, past the dry-cleaning she had picked up, only to dump his dirty plates in the sink for her to clean.


Read more Tiffany Dufu’s ‘Drop the Ball’: Women Blaming Themselves, Again, by @LucyAllenFWR

What we’re reading: sisterhood, gender, and feminist mothering

The trouble with the sisterhood in academia by anonymous

I’ve wanted to write this for some time, but never found the words. If I’m honest, I’m certain that some fellow women academics will not be pleased to hear what I have to say. Luckily, I’m currently on a flight, 12km above the ground, where I feel safe from the judgments that would confront me were I to exorcise this academic grievance at the coffee station. But we need to start talking about the way women hold back other women’s careers.

At my institute I’ve recently joined a lively discussion on equality in academia that was initiated by the Athena Swan programme. I’ve taken part in several earnest official conversations during lunches, and several unofficial conversations after work in the pub. Much of this has focused on gender inequality, and the problems that male – and predominantly white male – academics create for early career women in particular. …

The Good Daughter by @VictoriaPeckham

In Tate Britain is a painting by the Victorian artist George Elgar Hicks of a woman ministering tenderly to her invalid father. It is called Comfort of Old Age. The work is the final panel of Hicks’s triptych Woman’s Mission. The first part, Guide of Childhood, in which the same figure teaches her little boy to walk, has been lost. But the second panel also hangs at the Tate in London: Companion of Manhood shows our heroine consoling her husband after ghastly news.

Hicks depicted “woman” in her three guises – mother, wife, daughter – and in her ideal state, the selfless provider of guidance, solace and care. Her life has meaning only in so far as it nourishes and facilitates the lives of others, principally men. …

Black British writing: a tribute to Buchi Emecheta by Eashani Chavda

On Wednesday 25th January 2017, Nigerian author Buchi Emecheta passed away at the age of 72. There is so much to be said about Buchi and the impact she had on black British writing. I never had the honour of meeting her, but she is a true heroine of mine and an inspiration to my own writing. Her voice and sheer determination made her one of the first successful black British female authors and paved the way for other black British women. Emecheta’s greatest contribution to black British writing is  the voice she gave to a community and the socio-political issues that marginalised them. 

Whilst black writing had soared overseas in conjunction with the civil rights movement in America, its progress in Britain was much more gradual and largely lead by men. Despite this, Buchi Emecheta is up there with Samuel Selvon, Stuart Hall, Joan Riley (to name just a few) as a great pioneer of black British writing. While male writers covered topics of class and racism in mid-20th Century Britain, Buchi highlighted the plight of black women in Britain and the double-colonisation they faced. While intersectionality has become a buzzword for feminists today, Buchi approached the topic of misogynoir back in the 1970s. The struggle of black migrant women following the Windrush era, and the layers of oppression they faced were fluently articulated in Buchi’s writing. The social realities she depicted in her novels were felt by a large community of women, who being isolated in their own homes, workplaces and on the bleak streets of London, could finally feel some relief in knowing that they were not alone. Not only did she expose the racial, gendered and classist discrimination of 20th Century Britain, Buchi defied patriarchal structures within the Nigerian community, all whilst taking great pride in her culture and her blackness. …

Why I’m raising my kids to know their sex, not their gender by J.J Barnes  via @FeministCurrent

In January 2017, the BBC aired a controversial documentary called, “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?” which explored the doctrine that children know best when it comes to their “gender identity,” and that we should accept their beliefs without question. Following the airing of this documentary, the BBC came under fire from trans activists, who claimed the documentary would spark prejudice and lead to the social rejection of “trans kids.”

As the mother of a four-year-old girl and a 10-month-old girl, and step-mother to a four-year-old boy, I find the limited discourse around “trans kids” troubling. As I watch my children growing, learning, changing, and exploring, the idea of allowing them to make such a life-changing choice, so young, without question, is abhorrent. …

Is It OK If Other People Discipline Your Child? by @cwknews

Cross-posted from: Communicating with Kids
Originally published: 05.06.16

other people discipline your childI was on BBC Radio Tees last week discussing whether it’s ever OK if other people discipline your child (you can listen here, from about 01.29.00) , which made me think we’ve come full circle: in my parents’ generation it went without saying that it was everyone’s duty to do so. ‘Bobbies on the beat’ would give kids a clip round the ear if they were caught stealing apples or being ‘cheeky.’

It’s surprising to me that some people have such strong views that you should never discipline another child, until they state the reason: “because THAT’S THE PARENTS’ JOB” and then I get it. Parents these days! No authority!

To inject some nuance into the discussion, there’s a huge difference between different parents, some of whom I have great sympathy for and some of whom I don’t.
Read more Is It OK If Other People Discipline Your Child? by @cwknews

10 Things My Toddlers Found Boring Today by Never trust a jellyfish

Cross-posted from: Never Trust a Jellyfish
Originally published: 16.11.16

You know how kids pick up a new word and suddenly they’re using it all the time and it’s completely adorable? And you know how it’s adorable for maybe the first few hours and then it’s maybe not all that adorable?

Yes, that.

Lilly recently discovered the allure of the word ‘boring’ and for the last week or so, everything and anything has been enthusiastically described as ‘boring’.

What exactly has she been calling boring? Well here’s 10 things she insisted were ‘boring’ just today:

1) The moon

How exactly can the moon be boring? No idea. I suppose it does just sit there without hype or glamour or neon disco lights so it could appear boring to a toddler..

Super-moon
Though I’m sure Mother Nature would beg to differ (image courtesy ABCnews.com)


Read more 10 Things My Toddlers Found Boring Today by Never trust a jellyfish

How do we talk about mother’s day? at Positive and Promise

Cross-posted from: Positive & Promise
Originally published: 10.05.14

The older I get, the more capacious the significance of Mother’s Day becomes.

Yet this has very little to do with biology. For one thing, I am not a mother myself. In the most simplistic, Hallmark card terms, I identify as “daughter” in each relationship that is traditionally relevant to the holiday. Daughter, granddaughter, and, soon, daughter-in-law.

I by no means want to diminish these relationships; each is dear to me, and I will talk about them in this post. But I find myself frustrated by the biologically essentialist emphasis upon blood lineage perpetuated by this holiday. Women create exquisitely intimate ties amongst themselves, ties transcending and circumventing bloodlines. Lineage is not exclusively chromosonal. Motherhood, while important for its conceptual origins in biological connectivity, carries an even richer meaning when we widen the breadth of its reach.
Read more How do we talk about mother’s day? at Positive and Promise

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

THINK OF ME AS LOVING YOU STILL by @_ssml

Cross-posted from: Fish Without a Bicycle
Originally published: 15.10.15

My second to last day on the land I threw away the black leather jacket that I had been wearing to shoot the Night Stage in for the last five years. A very persistent mother mouse had established a nest in an inside pocket and in the process destroyed the lining of my beloved (and iconic, to me) jacket. That jacket was one of the last personal items I let go of on the Land this year, but it was far from being the only. In fact, this year on the Land I ended up losing many things that I knew I would never see again.  I lost the labrys that I wore in the lapel of my jacket on Saturday night, my brand new Michfest hoodie, a one-of-a-kind hand crafted metal earring, a beautiful bouquet of feathers that a Sister presented me with as a gift of gratitude for my work, at least two lens caps, some brand new socks and finally the tent a friend had gifted to me seven years ago – the year my daughter came to the Land as a four month old infant. My tent was badly damaged by the aforementioned persistent mother mouse and a tree that fell on top of the tent, resulting in a ripped rainfly. The mouse came through the bottom of my tent and the tree came through the top. No, the tent was not tarped, I know, I know, I know. My point is,  there were few days that some part of my mind was not occupied by my relationship to the things I had to let go of. I was given plenty of opportunity to remind myself that the most magical, comforting and even practical of “my” things have the potential to pass right through my hands and that both possession and permanence are illusions of my heart and mind. Everything changes. Every single thing reaches a moment of completion. In big ways and small ways we are always moving through and toward and away from the things, the places and the people we have loved, cherished and tried to hold on to in our lifetimes. 
Read more THINK OF ME AS LOVING YOU STILL by @_ssml

Mother at The Feminist Poet

Cross-posted from: The Feminist Poet
Originally published: 30.03.14

My earliest memory was you
Being wheeled away by green men
A checkered blanket on your knees
Doubled over
Then pushing my tiny thumb up against your brass jean button
The stars making a dent
I would watch you roll your cigarette
In one hand
The other holding a book
Or tea
Your laugh
Faultless and compelling
You’d brush shimmering lilacs
Dusty blues
Dusky pinks
On cheekbones and browbones I desired
Your mouth an Oh
As you traced the line of the lid
In kohl
Pitch black lashes
A Chrissie Hynde fringe
Black vest
And converse boots
I stole your leather Jacket with the fringes
I’m sorry I never told you
When I smell nail polish
You are here
When I smell leather or Patchouli
You are here
My first love
My idol
The one I’ve always hoped I could match
To be for him
What you are for me

 

The Feminist Poet: A Shout from the DarkI am The Feminist Poet and this is my blog. You will find poems, fables, allegories and fairytales inside. Sometimes the hardest things to hear are easiest heard through poetry. And for me, the hardest things to hear are the stories of the women, my sisters and the daily battles they face. This blog is for them.

On Dealing with Feelings of Inadequacy at Never Trust a Jellyfish

Cross-posted from: Never Trust a Jellyfish
Originally published: 04.08.16

I miss work. I miss the feeling of accomplishment that comes with it, I miss the daily challenge.

Not that I don’t have ‘work’ as a stay at home mom, this is after all a 24/7 sort of gig. And it is also probably the most fulfilling and contentment-inducing job out there, but damn it it’s just not the same!

motherhood
I don’t regret giving up a career to raise a family, I honestly don’t, hell I’d make the same choice again in a heart beat, but there’s a lot that comes with this new role that you can’t truly understand till you feel if. I may be exactly the same person with the same personality, but people and society just see me differently. There’s a change in perspective, a paradigm shift, when you go from ‘working person’ to ‘stay at home mom’, and even though I know that’s not who I am, living and interacting in this society just makes me see myself the way they see me.
Read more On Dealing with Feelings of Inadequacy at Never Trust a Jellyfish

​My self (at 35) by @reimaginingme

Cross-posted from: Reimagining my Reality
Originally published: 14.08.16

*Edited version of a piece written for Mama Riot*

Where to begin, middle, or end?

The self is a jumbled chronology, with moments that bleed like watercolour on blotting paper. I read somewhere that it’s made up of what we choose to forget, remember, create, and tell. I like that explanation and the way it compartmentalizes time, qualities and thoughts, as if they were tangible, practical things. Some suggest that female identities are cyclical, rather than linear. Combine that with the way patriarchy imposes myriad roles on us and skews power dynamics and it’s clear that, whether by choice or social construct, we become many women during the course of our lives.  
Read more ​My self (at 35) by @reimaginingme

Breastfeeding: The dangerous obsession with the infant feeding interval

Cross-posted from: Emma Pickett
Originally published: 01.08.16

Breastfeeding motherWe expect teeny growing babies to be governed by this artificial notion of time. Image: Unicef UK/Morris

Somehow, somewhere, new mothers got the message that the gap between when a baby stops a breastfeed and the time they start to need another one matters a very very great deal.  24 hours a day.

It seems to matter beyond all logic and reason. They see this magic number – 90 minutes, 2 hours, 3 hours – as a measure of something sacred.

And it’s crap.

There are mums sitting at home, relaxing and nesting with their gorgeous new baby. There’s a disk from a box set in the DVD player, a cup of tea on the go, a recent chat with a friend. Breastfeeding is going well.  Weight gain is fine.  Baby is content. But when baby shows hunger cues after only 40 minutes instead of the hoped for 1 hr 30 minutes, their heart sinks and they feel a sense something is fundamentally wrong. They aren’t ‘doing it right’. Their friend’s baby ‘goes longer’. Doubts creep in.

 

This article written by breastfeeding councillor Emma Pickett was published by the UNICEF for World Breastfeeding Week. You can find the full article here.

 

The Surprising Thing at Never Trust a Jellyfish

Cross-posted from: Never Trust a Jellyfish
Originally published: 19.07.16

Kids shouldn’t be allowed too much screen time, it’ll rot their brain, everyone knows that. Ok, that makes sense, but have the people who hand out these sage pieces of advice ever met a toddler? Because if they had they would know that turning on any device with a screen within a 1 mile radius of a kid will result in the said kid either wrestling the device from you, demanding you hand it over peacefully or throwing a migraine-inducing tantrum.

blogger
pictured: a wrestling match waiting to happen

Theoretically, the idea is ‘limited screen time for kids’ but practically speaking, all parents eventually realize that limited screen time for kids = limited screen time for parents.

So yes, I end up either not watching tv at all or being subjected to episode after episode of talking ponies and their friendship problems.

my-little-pony
As a parent to a 2 year old, that isn’t exactly too surprising. What’s surprising though is that I’m starting to realize I actively avoid non-toddler friendly programming even when I do have the opportunity to watch it. Grown-up tv may have more depth, variety or entertainment value, but kids tv has something better: a make-believe world where nothing bad can ever happen. With the kinds of things happening in the real world these days, I kinda prefer the primary-colored world of preschooler tv.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need any more ‘realistic’ and ‘gritty’ in my entertainment when the world is too real as is.

Safe Spaces and Cosseted Childhoods

Cross-posted from: Communication, Kids and Culture
Originally published: 26.04.16

safe spacesThe Head Teacher at St Albans High School for Girls, Jenny Brown, has spoken out recently about the current trend for safe spaces at Universities across the UK, for which she blames the cosseted childhoods our children now experience in comparison with the tough times of the past. She says:

Is there a teacher or parent left in the country who doesn’t decry the sprouting of the safe-space movement in universities?

“The movement . . . comes with a language that alone alarms: no platforming, safe spaces, trigger warning . . . But why are we surprised? We’ve created this. These undergraduates are some of the first children brought up in health and safety heaven.

“These children of the millennium didn’t play unsupervised, they didn’t play outside . . . they didn’t climb trees, grub up or get back for supper with torn jeans and wet wellies.”

Yup. I’m one of those who is horrified by all this self-indulgent protection from the world that some young people need, it seems to me that there’s a crucial stage of development being missed here: your young adult life is a time when you should be coming up against new ideas and opinions which anger, challenge and even disgust you.
Read more Safe Spaces and Cosseted Childhoods

Tomboy by @HeadinBook

Cross-posted from: Head in Books
Originally published: 02.06.16

Do people still ask children what they want to be when they grow up? It’s not a question I’m aware of hearing these days; perhaps because the answer: “heavily in debt and renting till I retire at 94” is too guilt-engendering for the adult in question to cope with.

Shopping for children’s clothes last week, though, I saw that Next have grasped the nettle…sort of. Among the varicoloured bits of jersey were two T-shirts which flirted with the idea of one’s destiny in life:

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 11.29.49                Spot the difference?


Read more Tomboy by @HeadinBook

Internet mob shames mom in Harambe’s name by Prof. Rebecca Hains

Cross-posted from: Dr. Rebecca Hains
Originally published: 31.05.16

The tragic killing of Harambe the gorilla has prompted an international outpouring of grief and rage. Harambe was killed by Cincinnati zoo officials to save the life of a preschooler who somehow entered the gorillas’ enclosure. It’s a decision officials maintain was their only possible course of action, given Harambe’s great strength and the fact that tranquilizers can enrage animals before they take effect.

Since then, more than 350,000 people have signed a Change.org petition demanding “justice for Harambe,” which blames Harambe’s death on “parental negligence,” insisting, “the zoo is not responsible for the child’s injuries and possible trauma.” The signatories ask for Child Protective Services to investigate the family and for the Zoo and the Cincinnati Police to “hold the parents responsible” for Harambe’s death.

As many parents of young children can intuit, the logic of this petition is questionable. It is reasonable for parents to expect a zoo to have barriers sufficient to prevent small children from entering the enclosures of dangerous animals. According to a statement made by primatologist Julia Gallucci, the design of Harambe’s enclosure was faulty: “The gorilla enclosure should have been surrounded by a secondary barrier between the humans and the animals to prevent exactly this type of incident,” she noted.  … 
Read more Internet mob shames mom in Harambe’s name by Prof. Rebecca Hains

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