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
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.
Edwards takes a cold, hard look at the too-high likelihood that males with unsupervised access to children will sexually abuse them, compares it with the far lower prevalence of women committing child sexual assault, and concludes that the policy of her and her husband in only allowing women unsupervised access to their children was the most responsible choice they could make.
Our feminist society is making a zine, the theme is ‘What feminism means to me’ and here is my contribution!
F = Freedom
The most important notion in feminism is a woman’s freedom. Freedom covers a whole lot of things, freedom over her own body, freedom of speech, and freedom in the public domain. Feminism works towards giving women freedom. So we can wear what we want, say what we want, walk where we want and be who ever we want, without anyone taking advantage of us, in any situation. Read more WHAT FEMINISM MEANS TO ME.
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
Cross-posted from: Femme Vision
Originally published: 21.10.16
Commercial organisations should not be allowed access to vulnerable women and newborn babies on hospital wards. Back in 2013, the Guardian published an article calling for Bounty to be banned from maternity wards and a petition was started, but this has since closed and the situation remains changed . Bounty reps are still allowed free rein among the hospital beds of new mothers. A 38 degrees petition was recently launched to raise awareness of the issue once again.
The government argues that the £90,000 it pays each year to Bounty to allow it to distribute Child Benefit forms is justified because that way they will reach 97% of new parents. Bounty itself insists that its reps play a crucial role in getting information to parents. It also argues that most parents are happy to talk to its reps and to receive the free goods and vouchers in its Bounty packs. Read more Bounty should be banned from maternity wards by @lisaaglass
My earliest memory was you
Being wheeled away by green men
A checkered blanket on your knees
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
Faultless and compelling
You’d brush shimmering lilacs
On cheekbones and browbones I desired
Your mouth an Oh
As you traced the line of the lid
Pitch black lashes
A Chrissie Hynde fringe
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
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 Dark: I 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.
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!
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
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
We 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.
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.
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.
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.
Never trust a jellyfish : I am an Anthropologist by training, a housewife by choice, a voracious reader, a lover of fantasy fiction and Sci-Fi, a new mommy, an observer of human nature, a closet optimist and a cupcake enthusiast. I write about all of the above and anything that might strike my fancy
The 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
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
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
Cross-posted from: Sarah Graham
Originally published: 29.03.16
Lucy was 23 when she fell pregnant, following a brutal gang rape by three men in her home country. After receiving threats on her life, she fled to the UK, believing she would be safe here – only to find herself locked up in Yarl’s Wood detention centre at five months pregnant. This is her story, as told to Sarah Graham.
After the attack, I knew people were after me. I was getting threatening letters, I saw men in front of our house, and my mum and I knew the police would not help. I told her it was too much for me; my life was in danger and I had to leave. We sold almost everything we had for me to escape, and friends and relatives contributed to the cost.
I didn’t know what to expect from England. I never thought in my life I would travel, so when it happened I didn’t think of anything except that I had to find somewhere safe for myself and my baby.
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
I 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…’
The ‘nagging wife’ is a centuries-old stereotype that refuses to die. She’s the subject of eye-rolling banter between men, the warning from the pulpit and the marriage guidance book, the defence of countless men who have committedmurder. In recent weeks, she has resurfaced as a truly 21st century reminder to women that there’s something else they’re probably not doing well enough at – in the form of a piece entitled ‘I wasn’t treating my husband fairly, and it wasn’t fair‘.
The post, which appears to have gone viral in the grand tradition of ‘pseudo-meaningful revelations about my relationship that easily translate into clickbait’ (247,000 shares on Facebook), details a wife’s realisation that her controlling and obsessive attitude to household matters was belittling her husband and buying into another hard-to-stamp-out stereotype – that of the ‘useless’ husband who can’t be trusted to do a thing around the house.
Thousands upon thousands of women have apparently recognised themselves in this tale and I don’t think she’s entirely wrong. I’ve heard her tale in conversations in the office or on nights out with friends. ‘Wife always knows best’ – ‘happy wife, happy life’ – I’ve heard people say it and I’ve most definitely seen them post it on Facebook (there is a theme here. Facebook has a lot to answer for). And I don’t buy into it because, really, what does it say when the only words that come out of your mouth regarding your partner, your husband, the father of your children – are about how ‘useless’ he is and how you won’t ‘let’ him do things?