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

The Best Thing We Can Do For Our Daughters

the best thing we can do for our daughtersI was once, at the school where I worked, in a meeting with a mother whose daughter was causing upset amongst the girls’ group as well as being disruptive in class. It was typical Year 6 behaviour in a way, when kids have essentially grown out of primary school and are itching to get on to the more grown-up world of secondary. Her behaviour was not unusual, just more extreme than most, and it had been going on for a long time. Her mother was very resistant to talking about it, and eventually said, with some distress and anger, ‘But I want her to be tough and speak out and stand up for herself!’ That’s when I got it. I thought to myself ‘Of course you do.’ My next thought was ‘Yeah, but she’s being a real pain…’


Read more The Best Thing We Can Do For Our Daughters

Schrödinger’s Mum by @HeadinBook

Cross-posted from: Head in Books
Originally published: 03.02.16

I don’t know Schrödinger, you understand, let alone his mother. I think they had a cat, but I think that may have ended badly. Or maybe not.

So it’s silly, really, to say that I thought of her (the mother, not the cat) this lunchtime, as I made an emergency dash to the Post Office to get some cash.

I was working from home, you see, feeling smugger than smug after a productive morning job-wise and happy in the knowledge that I’d got two loads of washing out on the line too. The sun was shining, I had some interesting work to pick up in the afternoon, and I was relishing the novelty of re-tracing the steps of a gazillion school runs without my ankles being in imminent danger from a scooter.

Then I saw her, as I sped past the park. Pushing a toddler on the swings, the pair of them wrapped up warm and presumably filling in time before going home for lunch and a nap. I couldn’t see her face; couldn’t tell if she was revelling in the moment or deflecting wails and grizzles from her child and counting down the minutes till they could decently go home.

It was a lovely image, one of those snapshots of motherhood that matches exactly the gallery we all seem to carry within us: This is what being a mum looks like. The image that we look forward to and the one we miss when it’s past.

She could have been me, that mum. Me on any one of a hundred days, standing in the park, playing with one or two or three children; making the most of a break in the weather or just desperate to get away from CBeebies before the programmes started all over again.

“The hours are long, but the days are short” they tell us, those whose children are long grown and gone. We know they’re right, and yet it’s hard, to be in the picture and behind the lens; to try to provide in the now for the wistful regret we know we’ll feel in the future.

Knowing that this precious time is fleeting but, sometimes, desperate for it to pass.

IMG_0070.jpg

 

Head in BooksI write about politics, predominantly on issues which affect parenting, children and education.

NEW MOUNTAINS, NEW MAPS. at Fish without a Bicycle

Cross-posted from: Fish without at Bicycle
Originally published: 15.03.15

…when women speak truly they speak subversively–they can’t help it: if you’re underneath, if you’re kept down, you break out, you subvert. We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains. That’s what I want–to hear you erupting. You young Mount St. Helenses who don’t know the power in you–I want to hear you. Ursula K. Le Guin

I have not been able to write. There is a weight on my chest that has been there for months. It heats up and swirls around and settles heavy when I endeavor to speak to the confusion, outrage and injustice as I take in another narrative of child sex trafficking, the dismantling of reproductive rights and a woman who was recently convicted of Feticide after having a miscarriage. My pulse quickens as I read the latest update of a rape case in which a boy chummily gave a thumbs up in a photo while he penetrated a 15-year-old girl from behind as she vomited out of a window. That split second in her life was memorialized, fed to and devoured by the millions of people in a culture that is fueled by images of female degradation. Rehteah Parsons hung herself in her home on April 4, 2013; her mother pushed open her bathroom door and held the body of her lifeless teenage daughter. In January, the boys involved with her rape and the photo of it were handed a 4-week course on sexual harassment because after all, consent is “complicated.” Mount Holyoke (a Women’s College) cancelled their production of the Vagina Monologues because some members of the student body have adopted the ideology that to stage a production that acknowledges and focuses on the experiences of women who have vaginas is “inherently narrow, reductionist and is exclusionary” to women who do not have vaginas. I can’t help but wonder what could happen if the same internet outrage that that was turned toward Eve Enlser for her work that “reduces gender to biological distinctions” was turned toward the hordes of men who perpetrate psychic gang rapes on Twitter by talking about how they are going to dismember, defile and denigrate the vaginas of women who speak out of turn. Feminist writers are putting down their pens and stepping out of public conversation because the hate speech, death threats, and the vitriol are all so much. Yes, we live in an era of “call out culture” but I have never seen a woman say she was going to sexually violate someone’s face and then murder them because she disagreed with something they said, nor have I seen men doing this to other men.
Read more NEW MOUNTAINS, NEW MAPS. at Fish without a Bicycle

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?

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.