Thursday, November 21, 2013

headless women and up-skirt shots

So someone posted a link to a BBC magazine article about 'sexting' on their facebook. Someone who I have argued with before about victim blaming and the way girls are sexualised in our culture. I posted a response on his page which said 

"interesting that there's only one letter to a son which only mentions the need to respect other people right at the end. and.. "I am shocked and saddened by these girls' eagerness to flaunt their adolescent bodies, pouting in front of the camera lens, taunting young boys and even grown men" because men just can't help themselves can they? There's a lot of talk about self-respect and self-esteem going on in these letters but what are these parents actually doing to teach their children what self-esteem is? Writing a letter to them in their teenage years seems a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. A better message might be to tell people not to pass on private pictures to other people because that's just a bit of a shitty thing to do. Plus - why have the BBC used a picture of three teenage girls shot from groin level with their heads cut off? Don't they realize that this reduces the female form to the status of just a 'thing' and that it does nothing to improve this victim blaming piece of 'journalism'. FFS"

 He hasn't responded ... yet. I expect he will respond by telling me that it's really important to protect our female offspring because of all the nasty men out there and what is wrong with teaching them to be safe anyway. He won't understand the victim blaming that I see in the article, or the need to teach our male off-spring not to behave in a way that is predatory, controlling and abusive; That it is not just a girl's/woman's responsibility to 'be safe'.

He won't understand what I have written on my own Facebook about this either.

"WOW - look at these shit letters telling young women not to taunt men with their bodies. Nothing in there about telling men not to be shits and have some respect for other people's privacy. And why has the BBC used a picture of three teenage girls shot at crotch level and with their heads cut off like they are some kind of disembodied 'thing'. Ridiculous. I have found this shot on thinkstock and it looks like the BBC edited the picture to intentionally cut the girls heads off! "

I noticed that the picture used by the BBC comes from a company called thinkstock so I did some research. 

THIS is the picture the BBC used. 

                               THIS is a picture (Cropped by thinkstock) that they could have used

                                THIS is the original picture that the person at the BBC Cropped.

Possibly they thought the three girls looked too grown up so they just chopped their heads off? However, they have ended up with an up the skirt shot of some headless teenage girls. They could have used alternative cropped picture with the closed legs. Marginally better perhaps but still headless. Still one of those disembodied pictures of the female form that reduces women to just a 'thing'.

Sure ... they wanted to focus on the image of texting, but a quick search of thinkstock shows many more pictures of mobile phones being used (By teenagers) that doesn't involve up-skirt shots of headless women. First they have created a magazine article that puts responsibility on women to text safely and sensibly, rather than encouraging a state of affairs where young men are responsible adults who don't do shitty things like pass around naked pictures of their female friends and girlfriends, then they have illustrated it with a typically sexist and damaging photograph where women are headless and viewed only as a trio of knees and vaginas.

Way to go BBC employee.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Turning off Facebook.

I want to give up Facebook. I think. Or maybe it is better to say I think it would be beneficial for me to give up using Facebook. So why don't I just stop using it? Today. Now. There are many reasons I like using it of course, many things I will miss about it.

Photographs... I like posting photos of my life, my son, my dinner. All those annoying things that people dislike about Facebook, I do them all. Yet I have an Instagram account and a Tumblr and various other places I can (and do) post my photographs. Hell, I don't really NEED to post them at all given that if I wanted to share them I could do it by email instead of to the world wide web. Or I could try that radical idea of printing them and putting them into folders and then inviting people round to my house to see them.

Keeping in touch with friends... I have lots of friends who are scattered over the country, the world in some cases. So why don't I write to them or pick up the phone? Facebook makes it easy to maintain friendships where there is distance or where time, work and family commitments mean you can't regularly meet up. On the other hand does my use of Facebook mean that I am less inclined to make and keep arrangements to physically spend time in other people's company?

Stalking people... Facebook allows me to look up people and see what is going on in their world. I don't actually have that many friends on my list (Compared to others) but I can see friends of friends and I can see into the lives of people on the periphery of their lives. I also know everything that my friends are doing so there's no need to talk to them about their lives face-to-face, right?

Communication and calendars... There's no getting away from it, Facebook is a very effective organisational tool and I use it to keep track of events and groups that I plan to attend. I also use it for group chats. However I am guessing that if people really wanted to contact me and keep me in the loop then they would just email or phone me.

Activism... I am a member of several groups including The everyday sexism group and a local feminist group. We may just be keyboard warriors to some but I have had my mind expanded and my eyes opened by some of the articles and discussions posted in these groups. I have even ventured out to attend demos and flash-mobs. So clearly Facebook can enhance a person's life and activism.  However, presumably I could still do these things by attending meetings or looking up information on the rest of the web?

On the other hand there are many reasons why I should stop using it. I spend far too many nights sitting on the sofa with my iPad propped against a cushion refreshing my news feed in the hope that something interesting will happen. I am seeking out enjoyment through an electronic device which renders me prone and immobile and wastes evening after evening when I could be dealing with all the things that make me feel depressed about my life. Like, for example, the seemingly immovable mountain of crap that fills up my house and which acts as a barrier to me ever inviting anyone around - something which just can't go on now I have a small Toddler who is making friends and asking me if they can come to play. And I am serious here... I DO sit for hours on end doing nothing but re-load my news feed as some awful BBC 3 program purrs in the background and then I take it upstairs and I lie in bed refreshing my feed until gone midnight in the hope that something interesting might happen and then when I wake up I grab my phone and refresh my feed just in case I missed something exciting - which I never have. There is nothing exciting about catching up on the witter of my insomniac friends - is there?

Here are some of the reasons why I should be giving up my Facebook...

Gossip... The reality is that in the main all I am doing is hunting for gossip, ear-wigging, snooping and generally expecting some kind of exciting news to appear. Not only that but I have been the subject of gossip as a result of my postings on more than one occasion. Indeed, I have recently had to restrict a large part of my friends list so they can only see part of what I post. Having family on your Facebook can cause discord and upset either as a result of what you post (Misinterpreted or not) or because of what they post (Passive aggressive or not). My marriage just can't stand the strain and having a Facebook account. When you are prone to write honest updates, like I am, it is not beneficial to a good relationship. I would like to know what life is like when people who's opinion I don't much care for are not party to every thing that goes on in my life. If I can't censor myself (believe me I have tried) then I need to deny myself the opportunity.

Mental Health... This is because I do think that broadcasting every little thought and experience means I no longer seek out meaningful conversations and meet-ups with people who are good for my mental health. I also obviously spend far too much time indoors planted on the sofa as described above. No Facebook = more activity = better mental health. Also there is a terrible navel gazing that goes on (At least for me there is) when you are able to compare your Facebook (Or real) life with the lives of everyone on your friends list.

Getting things done... I have a head full of ideas about what I want to do. Do the illustrations for a children's book, create some stud walls so my son can have his own room, declutter my house so my son can have friends round, learn to cook, get my sewing machine down from the roof so that I can make dolls (I have the pattern, I made one by hand - the plan was to make one for all the children I know by Christmas), tend my allotment, do a night class, do more exercise. Instead I sit like a lump and wonder why my house is depressing me so much, why I am so lumpy and how the hell we can ever have other small children to visit. If I wasn't on the Internet then perhaps I could achieve some of this list?

THE PLAN - I really don't think that it is going to be possible for me to just turn off Facebook and stick to it, I think I need a gradual withdrawal not least because I want to extract some of the information my Facebook holds - addresses, dates and so on. I also don't want to make a big dramatic 'I am leaving Facebook' announcement. I will gradually withdraw, start posting my photographs elsewhere and stop checking my phone, or even better stop logging into Facebook at work. Then perhaps a little bit before Christmas I can quietly leave. Do I set myself a time to stay off? A year, a month? As long as humanly possible? Perhaps I am just kidding myself and what I need to do is just turn the bloody thing off right now but I will start by resisting the habitual things like flopping onto the sofa when my son has gone to sleep. Instead I will set myself tasks, the first of which will be to measure the spare room and plan the partition. Then I can set about building my son a room which will force me to declutter and give me some interesting design things to think about and will hopefully lead to him moving into his old room, me having some more interesting things to talk about, better communication with my husband and a return to the old Pre-Facebook me.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Why wearing daisy Dukes should be OK

This American Dad has been getting a great deal of attention after dressing himself in short shorts to teach his teenage daughter a lesson about wearing revealing clothes. He says in his blog 

"I know the world has varying degrees of what is modest and what is not when it comes to clothing.  In our family we have pretty definite modesty guidelines; No mid-drift or low-cut shirts, no short-shorts, short skirts and we even go as far as saying no sleeveless shirts unless playing sports or on the beach. Having raised four daughters and three sons, I’m a bit protective. Some may call me old fashion, but I call it “A Dad who loves his daughters” (and sons too)...I’m a firm believer that the way we dress sends messages about us, and it influences the way we and others act. My teenage daughter day after day continues to wear clothing that I, as her father, feel is inappropriate and immodest. Her mother and I feel the same about the importance of dressing modest."

Isn't it a shame that his attempts to shame and victim blame didn't result in a lesson about respecting women and the amount of shit they have to put up with on a daily basis. For example he could have returned and started a dad campaign highlighting the harassment that women have to put up with just because they want to walk the streets like men do. Isn't it enlightening that all he had to endure, in his short shorts, was people chatting to him and asking if it was ok to take his photo? 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Oliver Eric Rawlings

BBC Radio Two interviewed the Historian Mary Beard today as part of a piece about the abuse women get on Twitter, particularly that received by Caroline Criado-Perez after her successful campaign to keep women on UK banknotes. Mary is no stranger to abuse, notably that which criticises her appearance. As the piece went out a man decided to tweet the following to Mary Beard and Jeremy Vine

His tweet was quickly circulated, retweeted and challenged and because his Facebook profile is open and his Internet trail there for all to see some people commented that if they wanted could pass the tweet onto his mother. Mary Beard responded by saying she would give him a few hours to respond. The every day sexism project responded with a big discussion on their Facebook page, retweeting and challenging him. Shortly after he apologised by posting

His apology seems heartfelt, though possibly also because he is worried about what his parents will say as well as being mindful of the other people who have fallen foul of the media and lost their jobs because of things they have said on twitter.

Some hours later the young man updated his facebook page to say

Which to me makes his heartfelt apology appear to be nothing more than damage limitation. After all, what kind of special stupidity does it take to think that you are championing freedom of speech by calling someone a slut and their vagina disgusting? Explaining it away as being 'taken out of context' is just bizarre. What could he have said with more than 140 characters that would have made it less offensive? Well, we do indeed know what else he would have said as he followed his original Tweet with "I'm not sad twitter is my voice. And I would say it to your face too. Look at my face? What do you think?" [sic]

I would love to see/hear him say it to Mary Beard's face, or to Jeremy Vine's face. Perhaps Jeremy Vine could have him on his show to explain why he wrote what he did. Since this all happened his Facebook has been locked and he's now going under a more simple Oliver Rawlings. Perhaps because he's scared of the attention. Oh the irony.

The sickening thing about this is how easy this kind of abuse seems to slip out of some minds and onto Twitter and how spectacularly it misses the point. The point being that people who have spoken up about misogyny and sexism in recent weeks have been threatened with rape and murder by people who fail to see that by being white and male they have the most privilege of all and should be afraid of neither feminism nor women.

"there is some truth in the view that misogyny rears its repulsive head when women make collective advances, and that, thus, it is more an action of weakness than strength. If there is any comfort in any of this sad, pathetic, and unpleasant male behaviour, it is that more men always abhor it."

Monday, July 22, 2013

Leave kate alone

When I was pregnant I remember having quite a big argument with my husband about why I didn't want him calling his mother the second I knew I was in labour. I didn't want him to call my mother either. I didn't want him to call anyone apart from the midwife. My labour and childbirth was something I wanted to be just for us, private and unfettered by feeling like I was was worrying people. My ideal scenario was to be calling close family from my hospital bed to let them know that our child had been born several hours previously, to have had a few wonderful hours with just us - our new family; to take in the wonder of it all and then let people know. I remember that my husband really couldn't get his head round why I wouldn't want people to know and that our argument was quite heated and tearful. His mother lives abroad and he thought she should know as soon as the first twinges began. I didn't see why since she was going to be flying over on my due date and staying for three weeks anyway, so the chances were that she would be in the country by then. Eventually he understood that the potential lack of privacy was causing me quite a lot of upset and it was better for him to back-off and let me try to have the labour I wanted which was to potter quietly at home and then travel to the hospital when I felt the baby was near.

What actually happened was quite different to what I imagined. His mother flew in and had been in the country for a week before I felt the first twinges. When I went into hospital I found out I was only one cm dilated but they let me stay as it was snowing very heavily. After an uncomfortable night we decided to return home, me complete with urine infectrion and anti-biotics, where the pain continued through another night which I spent either propped up on cushions or jumping off the bed. The next day, severely sleep deprived and unable to work out how far apart my contractions were, we traveled back to the hospital where I was told I was now 2 cm dilated. I was so disappointed. We decided to stay t hospital because the snow was falling thicker. For a whole day and evening I continued to walk through my contractions in a lonely, sterile hospital room at the midwife led unit while my husband fiddled with his iPhone. By this point I am pretty sure that everyone knew I was in labour and while I was worried that they were worried I had other things to focus on like marching round the room in repetitive circles and gripping the sink on the wall so hard that I thought I might break it off. At around 10.30 pm more that 2 days after I first went to the hospital I was rushed up to the consultant led unit and finally given gas an air. I was 6 cm dilated, my waters hadn't broken, my urine infection meant that I was in several different types of pain. When they drained the urine they got half a litre, when they broke my waters they found Meconium. When I got to 10 cm they prepped me for a C-section and gave me an epidural. Our son was born almost 3 days after I first went into hospital and rushed into special care for ten days while I recovered from the episiotomy and pumped my breasts furiously.

So - this is why I find the whole media circus surrounding the birth of Prince William's child so disgusting. The BBC has a man from PaddyPower discussing the odds on the baby name, the man standing outside the hospital just keeps repeating that there is still no news and the radio tells me again and again that the labour is 'progressing normally' because that is the ONLY statement on the labour that has been made today.

Progressing normally can mean that Kate Middleton will give birth to her firstborn child in two days time or in two hours time. For her sake and 'the public's' sake I hope it is two hours. Are the BBC and Sky and all the other news outlets going to stand outside the hospital for two days repeating the same phrases again and again? Sadly the answer is probably yes. I don't give too shits about the whole royal thing, I am neither for or against royalty but I am a woman who had a long and difficult labour and who wanted things to go according to some plan. In hindsight that might seem ridiculous but every first time mother has an idea of what they would like in a perfect world, even those of us who want a hospital birth. I am pretty sure that, princess or no princess, Kate and William didn't want a bank of photographers outside every possible birth location, helicopters flying overhead and minute by minute reportage of every imagined push. It also makes me wonder did anyone at all think to step in during the planning and say 'hang on a minute, isn't this a bit much, shouldn't we step back and think about the woman at the centre of this? By that I mean a BBC producer or a SKY presenter, maybe a female one? Yes of course this is the media I am talking about but if I were that producer or presenter I know damn well I would be voicing my objection and considering the privacy and feelings of this soon to be new mum who is going through one of the most arduous experiences of her life so far. I hope that while they stand there repeating 'and still there is no news on the birth of the royal baby' a little bit of them is crumbling inside.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Parenting expectations.

Almost two and a half years after giving birth to my son I am still working out how to be a good parent, and more specifically how to deal with social expectations. I read a lot of Alfie Khonish stuff and definitely see myself as an attachment parenting/unconditional parent type, though I have never used a cloth nappy (actually that's not true, I did - once) nor done ECing. I am still breastfeeding, still co-sleeping and have raised my voice only on occasions like when my son tried to open the car door while we were moving. Nor have I raised my hand.

I am having real trouble understanding how to deal with things like park etiquette - those times when someone else thinks my child is behaving badly or for that matter when they think their own child is when really they have done nothing at all.

A couple of weeks ago some bigger children shoved my son, and the bits of wood he was playing with, aside on a climbing frame. naturally my son was upset but I kind of understand that to the larger kids a small pile of wood-chippings is just a small pile of wood-chippings and not the roaring fire my son thought he had constructed and my two and a half year old was just a small uninteresting child in the wrong place. So I gently got my son down from where he was crying distraught bitter tears and encouraged him to pick up all the pieces of wood and try to make a much larger better fire somewhere else. Within seconds he was happy; no need to be angry or upset with the eight year old children who hadn't intentionally upset him. Not much later my son was sitting alone on a smaller platform near the slide once again making wood-chip fires when a child of about 4 came up and started grabbing at them. My son shouted 'no! Mine!' but she continued to grab the wood and drop them through the holes in the platform. I quickly went to my son, grabbed him and said it was all ok and he could come down to play near me. All fine, but at that point the little girl said very loudly "yes, you know it is very rude of you to shout 'no'" and my immediate thought was - actually, no, it's very rude of you to come over and start messing with his game and then expect him not to say anything to you. There was a big difference between the 8 year old children climbing all over the climbing frame and a 4 year old invading my son's space and deliberately messing up his game, then telling him off for objecting. In my opinion.

The last incident was sadder all round. Another girl, again about 4, was continually shouted at by her dad (who was there with his partner and a younger baby) right from the moment they entered the park. 'don't do that', 'stop touching that', 'you're not listening', 'we will all have to go home if you don't behave'. She wasn't even given a second to just BE and it made me very sad. She seemed very interested in the fires that my son was making and gathered up her own chips and started copying what he was doing. As soon as her dad saw her with her handful of chippings he started shouting at her to put them down, don't do that and so on. Inevitably it ended with the poor child being dragged away and accused of ruining everyone else's day because now they would all have to go home.

My tendancy is to just concentrate on watching my own son's behaviour and intervening if I think he is being out of order or if I think others are being out of order to him. I don't want to get into telling off other kids - unless of course they are doing something crazy and out of order - but I don't particularly think that children of my son's age HAVE to put up with children having his stuff without them negotiating an exchange/swap. I read a blog a while ago (Which frustratingly I can't find now) about how this drive to teach kids to share is not always a good thing. The gist being that as grown adults we wouldn't expect to just be able to march over to another person's stuff and take whatever we wanted and then have someone tell the owner of that stuff that they are not good at sharing if they object.

I started writing this blog back in June and have only just got round to finishing. In recent days I have been having a bit of a crisis about my parenting. Firstly because my mum has made a couple of comments about me 'being in charge' (As in I need to be) and I was also accused of being inept and 'wishy washy' on the site known for its nest of vipers. Personally I don't think I am wishy washy - I am definitely up for a bit of restraint, order and discipline - but I think perhaps the fact that I have chosen to listen to and communicate with my son as much as possible may give people the impression that I am. My view is that I am not going to physically hurt my son to make him bend to my will, though I am amazed by the amount of suggestions made about giving him a smack. Yesterday I was in a bit of a parenting funk as my mum's comments about being in charge were later followed with advice on keeping a toy that could strangle him out of reach! I had also had a bit of a nightmare not-getting-in-to-the-car-seat situation which I admit I handled badly but which hasn't happened since.

Are we heading full pelt into the terrible twos I wonder? Am I to be expected to crack down on the restraint just as he is starting to question and resist? Surely if anything this will make the resistance seem worse and make everything all round more difficult for us both. If I can't give my son time to explore and to learn without hitting and smacking then what kind of parent does that make me?

I think I am right about wanting to do things the way I am, I think I just need to be more confident about the choices I am making and be prepared to modify them if needed.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Another Day another Rape apology

This time it's Anne Diamond writing in her Local magazine Berkshire Life where (According to the Daily Mail who is first on the scene with the news) she says

Are we dealing with misjudged slap and tickle with a groupie in a dressing room 30 years ago or a more sinister crime? Are we talking about an annoying penchant for fumbling and groping – almost an accepted form of behaviour in a bygone age – or the cynical sexual exploitation of young girls and boys?' and adds 'And what exactly is a youngster when it comes to showbusiness? I’ve seen many young “ladies” dressed to kill, hovering outside stage doors, keen to force themselves on actors and pop stars.’ 

I am not sure if she is talking about Stuart Hall who admitted 14 assaults, including that of a 9 year old, or maybe she is just casually forgetting his guilt? 

Anne Diamond has a regular show on BBC Radio Berkshire which is billed as 'real lives and compelling stories with a human touch'. Is this the human touch they mean? The one that makes apologies for rapists and blames victims? Perhaps because Anne Diamond has worked with several of the people who have been questioned as a result of operation Yewtree she can't believe that they could do these things. Isn't that the case though with a lot of sexual predators - they hide behind their celebrity or their likableness and no one knows what they are like because being a rapist or an abuser isn't something you boast about.

The BBC is currently in the throes of a respect at work review to tackle bullying in the workplace. They may well be advised to take this further and educate all staff, particularly those who are the mouth pieces of the corporation, about the damage of victim blaming and rape apology. 

I love the BBC, I really do. I would not want to speak badly of the corporation but they should not be letting go these chances to make a real statement about the damage these apologists can do. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Going 'public'

So yesterday my blog became part of the Mumsnet blog network. I hardly know what this means other than I sent a link to my blog to mumsnet and asked 'can I be part of your blog network please' and that given my blogging history this could be the most stupid thing I have ever done.

 I used to blog on MySpace (well someone had to) long before Facebook became the fashion, indeed I remember a time when I was all 'pffft, Facebook?, like that's ever going to take off'.  I used my MySpace blog to rant and rave, much of it was about people I didn't really know from a forum I spent too much time on. Long story short my blog got read and distributed and crazy drama ensued. Looking back at it now it all seems very ridiculous and clearly I didn't learn anything from it becuase a similar thing happened to me on Mumsnet a few years later - someone read comments, passed them on, big family fall-out ... yadda yadda - YAWN.

This blog has been quite heavily edited as a result which is a shame because I used it to let go of a lot of angst and bitterness I felt when going through my 'unexplained infertility' diagnosis and then the IVF. Clearly when you are unable to have a baby and every person around you is popping them out there's a lot going on in your head that you really can't say out loud. So I might have written some judgemental or rude things about people along the way. I have tried really hard to find them and edit them or at least take out real names. I have also tried to keep in the stuff that I think is important to say. There are some blogs I have taken out completely because of that time my husband searched for my blog and thought I just used it to moan about family relationships.

Mumsnet have sent me a long email telling me what I have to do next, something about twitter and badges (I think I have done that bit) and surveys and profile pictures. I have no idea how much traffic this is going to generate for the blog, nor how much trouble it's going to get me in, but hopefully someone will read it and maybe someone will like it; if anything I hope the fertility and IVF stuff is useful to anyone going through it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

little savages

A very recent conversation with a facebook friend prompted me to do some research on the psychological damage I might be doing to my son by putting him into childcare. I have to say that now he has been in childcare for over a year I am pretty much immune to criticisms about it; I know the childcare we have is good and that we are luckier than many others who do not have the choices we do and I have had pretty much every argument possible about being a working parent. I respect other people's choice to stay at home with their children, however when people state that my choice to work full time is going to fuck up my child's head it cuts deeply so the only sensible thing to do is try to have a look at if and how I can minimise this damage, or even find out if what they are saying is correct. I want what is best for my family and clearly I don't want to be storing up problems for my child.

So I googled 'Childcare' and 'Psychological damaging' and a Daily Mail article came up titled Long days at nursery or childminders raising generation of school-tearaways. 'Hmmm' I thought. 'Daily Mail - 'Nuff Said'. I am pretty sure my friend, who incidentally IS a childminder, won't have taken notice of a Daily Mail twist. So I continued my search and came across Doubts over childcare 'expert' feted by Tories in the Observer. 'Hmmm' I thought 'The Observer, my choice of Newspaper but I am bright enough to understand there's always bias whatever paper you read'.

However... Reading on it does become clear that the so called expert is no expert at all and the studies he cites have not found a link between working parents and childhood mental health, in fact they specifically looked at these issues and found no link.

Still... I hear over and over that it has been proven that childcare out of the home is damaging for mental health. So I worry - even if I am the most excellent parent I can be (and I do try) in the time I spend with my son, what if his being in a nursery for 4 days a week is leaving him damaged and broken? Should I give up my job and stay at home with him until he goes to school? Are there ever any cases where children actually gain more from their childcare provider than they would at home?

I am a mother of one with a fairly supportive husband (I say fairly - I think generally we do well though I do a lot of the 'wife work') and an average job that pays less than an average wage. Our childcare bill is about 25% of our combined wage though I do have the benefit of a salary sacrifice scheme which saves us a bit. Our son is in a nursery less than a five minute work from my workplace. Both our salaries are less than the national average but to lose one salary (By me giving up work) would mean that we would not be able to afford to pay all our bills and feed ourselves. By both working we have enough to cover all that and a bit extra. We don't do fancy holidays (MIL lives in Spain so we go there sometimes) and we both drive cars that have had several owners. I don't buy fancy clothes. The basic fact is I don't want to stop working, I like working and I like being financially independent.

So I have found this piece which is American but in some ways hopeful, at least for those of us with quality childcare.  And that is the crux of the matter, isn't it? It's the quality that matters and this applies to parenting as well as to paid childcare. Just as I wouldn't want my childcare provider to dismiss my son's feelings I wouldn't want to parent in a way that rode rough-shod over his emotional wellbeing.  There are many parents who just don't care either way.

Yesterday I took my son to a park near my house. We live in a fairly deprived area and this park is set in a square surrounded by housing association houses. In the short time I was there I witnessed a teenage boy being flung out of a frontdoor into the rain with no shoes while an adult told him to 'fuck off'. I was poised to step in if it became violent, other people stood and gawped. After a while he was given his shoes and then shortly after that he was let back into the house. That is the kind of parenting that causes children to have mental health issues, that causes real damage. Imagine growing up being treated like that year after year. Yet it would be wrong of me to assume that this kind of thing was going on in every one of those houses or that this was happening all day and every day to that child, it was just a snap-shot. Being poor and deprived doesn't necessarily make you a bad parent, putting your child into some kind of day-care setting doesn't mean you are damaging your child. Everything is relative and so many factors come into play when raising children. I hope I never throw my son out into the rain with no shoes; I hope I make better parenting decisions than that. I hope that other people can see through the headlines and realise that childcare decisions aren't always made on a whim.

I am doing the best I can for my son in the circumstances. He is very lucky to go to a nursery near my work that is full of lovely middle class children and has a low staff turn-over. He spends one day a week with my mum and has a very close relationship with her. He has a happy mum and dad that he sleeps with every night, he is still breastfed and he is listened to. We don't shout at him or hit him or isolate him. I hope that any mental health damage that is done by the lovely people who care for him while I work is un-done by the love and respect we give him every day. It's all I can do.


I co-sleep. My son is two and four months and we have slept in the same bed since he was ten days old. We would have done it from day one but he was in special care so the first time he slept with me and my husband was the night before we left hospital. It was the first time he got all his feeds from my breast; up to then I had expressed so he could have my milk from a bottle and I fed him from the breast whenever I was able. When we emerged from the family room the day we took him home the nurses commented on how we hadn't needed to ask for a bottle during the night. We didn't tell them that rathe than put him in the crib they provided we had him in the bed with us where he could feed whenever he wanted. When we got home me and the baby went to bed and that's where we were when midwife arrived to man-handle my breasts and give me bad advice about breastfeeding. Fortunately we saw a much better midwife later in the week and our breastfeeding journey continued without incident. Within a week we had stopped giving him bottles and he still breasfeeds now.

I am 100% sure that our breastfeeding journey was so successful because we co-slept from the start and I am also certain that the lack of bond I felt when he was in a crib in the special care unit was significantly improved by lying skin to skin in our big comfortable bed.

The re-hash of old research that has been released this week makes it sound like babies who co-sleep are going to die. The reality is that some babies will die whatever you do, some babies will not. Co-sleeping can be done safely and scare tactics like this just infuriate me, particularly when they make the risks sound much higher than they really are.

UNICEF explain it so much better than I can.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Crimewatch creator Nick Ross admits he would not be able to stop himself raping a woman

Or at least he seems to suggest that there can be aggravating circumstances that make men rape. Yes, here we go again folks - another voice comparing women to stolen laptops, cars and wallets and trying to blame them for being too drunk, too under dressed, too free with their movements. Women you say, on the streets, doing everyday things, just walking about? Asking for it.

I read This article in the Daily Mail (sorry) today and was rendered speechless for a long time, then I got angry - really fucking angry. I am angry because the implication is that as a woman I should expect to live in a society where I will be raped just because I am a woman, just because I am exercising my right to walk from one place to another, just because I drink alcohol, just because I am not covered in all the 'right' places and because input myself in the wrong place. Just because I have a vagina.

And then, after I am raped I am expected to have a long think about my actions and decide if perhaps I wasn't really raped because possibly something I did made me get raped, and perhaps expecting to be taken seriously in court is not the best way to seek justice. Perhaps it was not 'proper rape' particularly not if I was drinking and definitely not if I was friendly or nice to the rapist at any point and again not if he wasn't particularly violent about it. Because we all know that putting a penis into an unwilling vagina is not always a violent or aggressive act, right?

I am insulted on behalf of all the men who do not rape, who would never rape. The men who can be around very drunk people and not for one second see it as an opportunity (or and invite) to rape. All the men who pass people in the street who are showing their legs and don't think about raping them. All the men who would help someone in distress rather than hurt them.

I think Nick Ross is a prick. I hope he never works again. I hope someone finds a way to educate him, fast, because he is a very damaging stupid man.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Smoker kate Garraway tells women to be aware of fertility drop

Apparently Kate Garroway didn't mind being made up to look like a pregnant seventy year old because she thinks it will help women be more aware that fertility dips as you get older. No, really.
here she is in the campaign photo for GetBritainFertile which wants women to think about having children eralier rather than when they have run out of the energy needed to run around after the kids.

GetBritainFertile is a campaign by the pregnancy test manufacturer first response and the poster is fueled by the kind of misogyny we see in women hating press like the Daily Mail. Although first response claim this is a campaign aimed at men and women there is no corresponding male poster and from what I can gather the questions they asked on the yougove poll (which annoyingly I can't find) were geared towards asking people how they felt about older motherhood, not older parenthood. Apparently 70% of over 55 year olds who were questioned "opposed and [are] uncomfortable with the idea of women having babies at 40".  Apparently it's the increased risk of health problems for mother and child that makes them uncomfortable, yet statistically these risks are still small.

Ms Garraway has been interviewed several times by the Daily Mail in recent years, mostly talking about having kids as an older woman. In her most recent she says
‘I had my second child at 42 and never questioned at the time that it might be too old’ she says. ‘But I do look back now and realise that leaving pregnancy late can be a risky bet as diminishing fertility can stack the odds against you. 'That’s why I agreed to become Ambassador to the campaign - I want to alert women to start thinking about their fertility at a younger age than our generation did. They should get prepared and make informed choices early so there is no chance of sleepwalking into infertility.’

Previously she has talked about wanting four children, then just wanting a third, then the realisation that her fertility had dwindled making another one almost impossible. I can't help but wonder if her regret at not starting a family earlier has somehow powered this drive to educate feckless career women? She claims to have empathy for those who are unable to conceive without help yet clearly she was able to fall pregnant fairly easily, twice. So now she has fallen into that trap of wanting to tell other women to get a move on, to not leave it too late. ... and all because she was unable to have a third child at 45? Maybe her intentions are good but no one wants a mother of two children lecturing them on how hard it is to get pregnant.

I absolutely agree that it is worth being aware of fertility and how age can effect it, my own story of 'unexplained infertility' and IVF shows that it is not always easy to get pregnant when you are older. However I don't think this kind of poster sends out a positive message, it just screams out that 40+ mothers are old and knackered and bad. Of course no one is asking Kate Garroway how she felt her smoking before and during pregnancy might have effected her fertility and the health of her children.

Here's a blog about it.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Don't complain, I could have raped you instead.

How would I feel about my son or my husband if they spent parts of the day putting their hands up women's skirts or fondling their breasts - uninvited and unwelcomed? Would I think 'oh well, it's just what men are like' or 'the women probably dressed in a way that meant he couldn't help himself'. If I had a daughter would I want them to have to walk around in streets where it is just accepted that unwanted violation of their bodies is normal behaviour and that most likely they have brought it on themselves because of the way they are dressed? Would anyone? If I raise my son to have respect for other people's personal space does that mean I am on a moral crusade? Has the world actually gone mad?

People talk about the actions of men in the 60s and 70s and say 'it was just the norm back then' and expect everyone to be forgiving and understanding about the fact that women and girls were regularly molested, as if no one ever minded or cared back then. Well the women and the girls did mind, they just weren't taken seriously. They were expected to take it as some kind of joke, a bit of horse-play, just a bit of fun. Women back then knew that no one would take them seriously, infact the Jimmy Savile case has shown that no one took them seriously at all.   This isn't about rape being more serious than groping - that's just a red herring used by rape apologists to allow men the freedom to keep on sexually assaulting women. This is about unwanted violation of a person's body. It is about men (because this is what we are talking about here - men fondling breasts) thinking that they have a right to touch, hold, grab, jiggle about any body part attached to any female if they damn well please. It's about teaching women that they don't have any right to their own personal space, that they are just a piece of meat that can be poked and prodded and touched and that complaining will fall on deaf ears. No one is going to help you or understand you or support you or believe you because you are not worth it. This is about telling women that the way they present themselves is going to determine if they are violated and that they should put up and shut up because there are far worse things. In other words don't complain about a bit of fondling when I could have raped you instead. Women are supposed to be grateful that they haven't been raped, they have only been sexually assaulted. 

 It's also a massive insult to men. It tells women that men have no self-control, they don't need to have any respect for other people, they can take what they want when they want it and anyone who complains is just being a shrieking PC lunatic who is making a mountain out of a mole-hill. It tells women that they have no right to their own personal space, that any man who chooses can touch them and not expect to be reprimanded in any way. None of the men I know think it is acceptable to violate another person, none of the women I know think they should just accept that they will be touched by strangers if they go outside.

I have a son, I want him to grow up knowing that making another person feel uncomfortable or violated by touching them inappropriately is not the a good way to behave. I don't want my niece to grow up having to accept that whenever she walks out of the house (or even when she stays inside) she will have to sweetly put up with men touching her because they feel they are entitled to. I don't know anyone who would go on national Radio and suggest that it's OK to fondle 9 year old girls, that it's just a bit of fun and those children should just accept it as such. That's what 'comedian' Kate Copstick said today on The Jeremy Vine show. Presumably she is just a rent-a-mouth who is more concerned about increasing her media profile than talking sense but i am shocked that someone would say such a thing.

Why Barbarah Hewson has lost touch with reality

this by Barbara Hewson has made me so angry.

Here's why:

"I do not support the persecution of old men. The manipulation of the rule of law by the Savile Inquisition – otherwise known as Operation Yewtree – and its attendant zealots poses a far graver threat to society than anything Jimmy Savile ever did."

What does age have to do with anything? Everyone gets old, does being old mean that you should no longer be responsible for the crimes you have committed? Jimmy Savile is dead, he never got to pay for his crimes - YES... CRIMES, because that's what they were and he would have known it. Having sex with someone, mollesting someone, doing something to someone against their will is a crime. Having sex with someone beneath the age of consent, even when consent is clearly given, is a crime.

"Now even a deputy speaker of the House of Commons is accused of male rape. This is an unfortunate consequence of the present mania for policing all aspects of personal life under the mantra of ‘child protection’".

Neither you nor I know if he is guilty but every victim should feel that they are able to seek legal justice and every person accused should be given the opportunity to prove their innocence. Your job is not to speculate on if someone is likely to have broken the law, it is to prove or disprove.

"We have been here before. England has a long history of do-gooders seeking to stamp out their version of sexual misconduct by force of the criminal law. In the eighteenth century, the quaintly named Society for the Reformation of Manners funded prosecutions of brothels, playwrights and gay men."

Oh those terrible Do-Gooders, going about the place doing good. How dare they. We are not talking about Oscar Wilde here! Comparing outdated laws against homosexuality, which have since rightly been changed, to perfectly reasonable sexual consent laws is just stupid.

In the 1880s, the Social Purity movement repeatedly tried to increase the age of consent for girls from 13 to 16, despite parliament’s resistance. At that time, puberty for girls was at age 15 (now it is 10). The movement’s supporters portrayed women as fragile creatures needing protection from men’s animal impulses. Their efforts were finally rewarded after the maverick editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, WT Stead, set up his own secret commission to expose the sins of those in high places.

After procuring a 13-year-old girl, Stead ran a lurid exposé of the sex industry, memorably entitled ‘The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon’. His voyeuristic accounts under such titles as ‘Strapping girls down’ and ‘Why the cries of the victims are not heard’ electrified the Victorian public. The ensuing moral panic resulted in the age of consent being raised in 1885, as well as the criminalisation of gross indecency between men.

The Social purity movement was flawed because of religion and religious morality. However they were right to suggest that the age of consent was far too low. You are mixing up women and children here. Some children of 10 may have hit puberty but not all will and even those who have are unlikely to be mature enough to give informed consent regarding their bodies and sexuality. This is why the age of consent should remain at 16 - there are too many variables to support a drop to 13. The Social purity movement resulted in a lot of debate about prostitution and sexual exploitation which was much needed. Anyone who is forced into something is in a fragile position and though some feminists might believe that prostitution should be a viable economic choice for women it predominantly involves the exploitation of women. Of course women need to be protected by the law. Children need to be protected by law. People need to be protected by law.

"By contrast, the goings-on at the BBC in past decades are not a patch on what Stead exposed. Taking girls to one’s dressing room, bottom pinching and groping in cars hardly rank in the annals of depravity with flogging and rape in padded rooms. Yet the Victorian narrative of innocents despoiled by nasty men endures."

This is not about the BBC. This is not about comparing terrible abuses. If a person feels that they have been violated then they have a right to seek justice where the law has been broken. I do not want to live in a society that thinks I am a piece of meat that can be manhandled every time I step outside my door, or even behind closed doors. Why would anyone think this is an acceptable way for me to have to live? I don't want to be groped in cars, I don't want my bottom pinched. Who in their right mind would promote this as an acceptable way to treat people or stand by and idly let it continue?

What is strikingly different today is how Britain’s law-enforcement apparatus has been infiltrated by moral crusaders, like the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC). Both groups take part in Operation Yewtree, which looks into alleged offences both by and not by Savile.

Expecting women to be able to go about their daily lives without being touched up, manhandled, violated, raped and sexually abused is not a moral crusade. As a mother I will be teaching my son not to touch up, manhandle, violate, rape or sexually abuse women. Does that mean I am on a moral crusade? Thank goodness for organisations like the NSPCC who help children who are being violated, why would someone not want these children to be helped?

These pressure groups have a vested interest in universalising the notion of abuse, making it almost as prevalent as original sin, but with the modern complication that it carries no possibility of redemption, only ‘survival’. The problem with this approach is that it makes abuse banal, and reduces the sympathy that we should feel for victims of really serious assaults (1).

Just because you are unable to feel sympathy for victims of abuse doesn't mean that others don't. It is precisely because of people like you that we NEED these pressure groups. We need to fight people like you who want to normalise abuse, who appear to want to allow people the right to violate other people's bodies and to take what isn't theirs. Suggesting that they seek to expose abuse only so they can keep going as an organisation is just ridiculous.

But the most remarkable facet of the Savile scandal is how adult complainants are invited to act like children. Hence we have witnessed the strange spectacle of mature adults calling a children’s charity to complain about the distant past.

Seriously? You think that crimes have a shelf-life? That people should just get over whatever abuses they have suffered? Just pull themselves together and allow their abusers to get off scott free not to mention that they will probably continue to abuse other people just like Savile did? If anything - when victims are seen to be taken seriously it encourages other victims to speak up.

The NSPCC and the Metropolitan Police Force a joint report into Savile’s alleged offending in January 2013, called Giving Victims a Voice. It states: ‘The volume of the allegations that have been made, most of them dating back many years, has made this an unusual and complex inquiry. On the whole victims are not known to each other [sic] and taken together their accounts paint a compelling picture of widespread sexual abuse by a predatory sex offender. We are therefore referring to them as “victims” rather than “complainants” and are not presenting the evidence they have provided as unproven allegations [italics added].’ The report also states that ‘more work still needs to be done to ensure that the vulnerable feel that the scales of justice have been rebalanced’.
Note how the police and NSPCC assume the roles of judge and jury. What neither acknowledges is that this national trawl for historical victims was an open invitation to all manner of folk to reinterpret their experience of the past as one of victimisation (2).

Jimmy savile is dead. None of the victims are going to ever see proper justice handed out to their abuser, he was able to get away with crimes for so many years because his victims did not think they would be believed. Now we are taking victims more seriously it is more likely that other victims will speak up earlier and sexual predators like Savile will be stopped. Of course more work needs to be done so that victims of all abuses can feel like they will be taken seriously rather than automatically assumed to be making it up.

The acute problems of proof which stale allegations entail also generates a demand that criminal courts should afford accusers therapy, by giving them ‘a voice’. This function is far removed from the courts’ traditional role, in which the state must prove defendants guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

Victims should be believed and supported. The accused should be given the opportunity to prove their innocence. At the moment so few rape and sexual abuse cases even reach court in the first place.

What this infantilising of adult complainants ultimately requires is that we re-model our criminal-justice system on child-welfare courts. These courts (as I have written in spiked previously) have for some decades now applied a model of therapeutic jurisprudence, in which ‘the best interests of the child’ are paramount.
It is depressing, but true, that many reforms introduced in the name of child protection involve sweeping attacks on fundamental Anglo-American legal rights and safeguards, such as the presumption of innocence. This has ominous consequences for the rule of law, as US judge Arthur Christean pointed out: ‘Therapeutic jurisprudence marks a major and in many ways a truly radical shift in the historic function of courts of law and the basic purpose for which they have been established under our form of government. It also marks a fundamental shift in judges’ loyalty away from principles of due process and toward particular social policies. These policies are less concerned with judicial impartiality and fair hearings and more concerned with achieving particular results…’

Oh bollox - take a look at the figures for how many rape and sexual assault cases actually make it to court, then take a look at how many accused rapists are actually found guilty and then tell me that judges are attempting to achieve particular results. Aside from that, when Arthur Christean was writing about Therapeutic jurisprudence he applies it to the accused NOT the victim. That the accused is given support and help to change their behaviour. In an ideal legal system the victim would receive help and the guilty person would be rehabilitated.

The therapeutic model has certain analogies with a Soviet-style conception of justice, which emphasises outcomes over processes. It’s not difficult, then, to see why some celebrity elderly defendants, thrust into the glare of hostile publicity, including Dalek-style utterances from the police (‘offenders have nowhere to hide’), may conclude that resistance is useless. But the low-level misdemeanours with which Stuart Hall was charged are nothing like serious crime..

Stuart Hall admitted indecently assaulting 13 girls, aged from 9 to 17. These are not serious crimes? Wow, thanks for that. Oh and guess which crime got to lie on file? Yes - the rape charge.

Touching a 17-year-old’s breast, kissing a 13-year-old, or putting one’s hand up a 16-year-old’s skirt, are not remotely comparable to the horrors of the Ealing Vicarage assaults and gang rape, or the Fordingbridge gang rape and murders, both dating from 1986. Anyone suggesting otherwise has lost touch with reality.

Robbing an old lady of her pension in the street is in no way comparable to the great train robbery either but one would hope that the person robbing the old lady would be given some kind of punishment if found guilty or if they admitted their guilt. The only reason you mention the Ealing Vicarage rape is because the victim was a virgin and the daughter of a vicar, and there you were complaining just a few minutes ago about moral crusades. And anyway - why are you getting your knickers in a twist about crimes from 1986? Don't you know that was 27 years ago? I am sure the victims are over it by now - do stop persecuting their assailants!

Ordinarily, Hall’s misdemeanors would not be prosecuted, and certainly not decades after the event. What we have here is the manipulation of the British criminal-justice system to produce scapegoats on demand. It is a grotesque spectacle.

Ordinarily you say, well isn't it good that what we view as ordinary is changing so that victims can feel that they are being taken seriously? A scapegoat for who? Can you scapegoat yourself? Stuart Hall knew what he did was wrong, he entered guilty pleas. Are you suggesting that after his guilty plea the judge should just let him off because he's old? Don't worry - I am pretty sure that's going to happen anyway.

It’s interesting that two complainants who waived anonymity have told how they rebuffed Hall’s advances. That is, they dealt with it at the time. Re-framing such experiences, as one solicitor did, as a ‘horrible personal tragedy’ is ironic, given that tragoidia means the fall of an honourable, worthy and important protagonist.

So you are saying that they said 'no' but he carried on anyway and that's 'dealing with it'? In my eyes it makes it so much worse. And stop being silly about the semantics.

It’s time to end this prurient charade, which has nothing to do with justice or the public interest. Adults and law-enforcement agencies must stop fetishising victimhood. Instead, we should focus on arming today’s youngsters with the savoir-faire and social skills to avoid drifting into compromising situations, and prosecute modern crime. As for law reform, now regrettably necessary, my recommendations are: remove complainant anonymity; introduce a strict statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions and civil actions; and reduce the age of consent to 13.

Ah ha! Here it is. Silly me, we must stop people from being victims, tell them to modify their behaviour so they don't get attacked because it's their fault if they do, right? And on top of that you think lowering the age of consent to 13 will mean that fewer poor old men will be persecuted because their victims will be over the age of consent so it won't matter so much, even if they have said 'no'?

You are an idiot.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Politically correct?

I had the most bizzare conversation with my mother yesterday. I was sounding off a bit about how difficult I find some things when it comes to the split of domestic duties between myself and my husband. We, husband and I, had just finished a little bit of a row started by me when I began stressing over having to do ironing with the toddler at my feet, when my mother turned up early to take me to lunch. Exasperated I asked her how on earth she coped with three small children and if my dad had been much help. Her reply was 'I didn't' followed by her telling me that dad was useless and she did everything and had for years just decided it was easier to do things 'for myself' than stress out about him not doing them. She then went on to question if perhaps I was 'more concerned with being politically correct than finding solutions' and then said she was a bit worried that my marriage won't last the way it is going and that is why she divorced my dad.

I am still shocked by her attitude. Shocked because it seems such a step backward and also because it's not something I ever thought would come from my mother's mouth.

I am trying to get this straight. She couldn't stand my dad's inability to share the load of childcare and housework but was fed up with having continual battles about it so decided to just do everything for herself = they ended up getting divorced anyway. (I know the reality is different, there was a lot more than the housework contributing to the demise of my parent's relationship).

My situation: Get irritated by having to do more than half the childcare (washing clothes, ironing etc) and housework (This is something my husband agrees I do more of) so I continually get upset by it but try to talk to husband about how he could help more = us having arguments = vicious circle = us divorcing?

I tried to explain to my mum that I thought wanting to be able to share tasks equally between myself and my spouse wasn't politically correct it being the 21st century and everything. That what she was suggesting was for me to basically surrender myself to the idea that no amount of conversations about the unfairness of it would help and I may as well get on and keep doing the bulk of it.

Now - I absolutely do accept that my attitude often stinks, I can be a right old horrible moaning cow and I take things out on my husband in an unfair way. I can be snappy and I can be rude and I have the most almighty strops where I bash and clatter inanimate objects and make my husband feel like shit. I hate that this is the way I respond to stressful situations and I really am trying to stop these behaviours. I am tired though, and I am easily irritated when I feel like promises made are never really going to happen ("I'll do that later" for example). For more than 2 years I probably haven't had any longer than 3 hours unbroken sleep, four at a push. I am basically an irritable rat-bag. Yet I still don't see why I should just roll over and accept that the other adult sharing my home is going to consistantly let me do the bulk of the housework and childcare and I am definitely not going to accept that I am being 'too politically correct' or that this 'political correctness' is going to be the reason for my marriage breaking down!

As this goes on I do start to wonder (Having friends in similar situations) if this is a default male position. They just do less, or they know that eventually they will just be allowed to get away with doing less. How often have I and my friends heard a man say 'well, you just need to tell me what I need to do'? It seems to be a common phrase in arguments about housework, that men can't 'see' what needs to be done and then 'need' to be told because they are so useless that they just don't notice the mess we can see or the jobs we think need doing. My thoughts are always why should it be women who have to run around after men reminding them or instructing them? I know not all men are like this but I hear it over and over. I have also read that there is nothing more off-putting than a person who refuses to do tasks that he/she feels are beneath them but who has no qualms about letting another person do them instead. It's an unattractive trait.

I don't think my need to be seen as an equal domestically is going to lead to a divorce, and nor do I think I should just give in and 'do it for myself'. Not if it means that really I am doing it for everyone else and not even getting any satisfaction or reward for it. Maybe I should join those who pay someone else to do the jobs they deem beneath them and get a cleaner? While they may not enjoy it (And there's nowt so queer as folk) but at least they will be getting rewarded. I just have to make sure they are rewarded from both mine and my husband's pay!

This made me chuckle:

Perhaps the reason why I am so shocked is because I thought my mum was a feminist. When I think about it though, I am not sure if I am right. Is she? Was she ever? Where did I get the idea that she was? Since I was about 8 or 9 she has been in education or in work, she raised three children while working a full time job as a social worker, she has been divorced since I was 20ish, though in a long-term relationship for around 20 more years. We were definitely raised to believe that women are equal to men, even if that wasn't the example we were being set. I have discovered in recent years that my mum was completely unaware how much my dad was earning when we were teenagers, they (like me and my husband) had separate bank accounts and from what she says she spent a lot of her own salary providing for us kids when my dad just didn't - at least not until after a lot of persuasion. We were very poor, even when my parents had full-time professional jobs. My mum did most of the... well, most of everything I guess. The cleaning, the cooking and so on though I also remember that we were all pretty well trained to take care of ourselves by the time we were teenagers. Up until I was 8 or 9 my mum was a stay at home mum so I always assumed that this was an arrangement she and my dad had come to between themselves. Maybe it was just circumstance and maybe even back then my dad kept his salary (Though he was unemployed a lot) to himself? I need to ask her more questions about all this really but I don't want us to have a big falling out or a big issue between us. I would just like to understand what was going on with her that has made her come out with the kind of thing she did the other day.

Friday, April 12, 2013

...Really worth remembering - Professor Robert Edwards

With all the hoo-hah about Margaret Thatcher dying and having a state funeral and people dancing on her grave I forgot to mention that someone very special died recently. Professor Robert Edwards was a pioneer in fertility treatment and without his work I would not have my son today.

Naturally his death has meant a lot of discussion about IVF and fertility. I have written about this before but am always so fed up when people call in to radio shows to bleat on about why the infertile should adopt. Such utter uneducated rubbish is trotted out. Worse are those people who call in to say that IVF is an abomination because embryos are destroyed during the process. There are some truly stupid people around.

I wanted to write a bit about the process. IVF itself, as in the sperm meeting the egg bit (the bit that people think is an abomination), is really just like natural conception only it is done outside of the body. Once you are pregnant it is no different to a natural pregnancy, in labour you are no different to any other woman in labour, once the baby is born he or she is no different to any other baby. The hard bit is the getting the egg in the first place. I don't know if I was just lucky or if I am particularly hardy but I didn't find the treatment terribly invasive or hard. Maybe it was because I wanted it so badly or because I knew I was only going to get one shot at it? Though I am sure EVERY couple going through it must want it so badly so I guess I was just very lucky. Yes, the injections did become tiresome and yes, I did get some side effects like bloating and ovary pains but I rarely felt sick and soon became an expert at the injections. I think by the time I got to the egg collection I was so far through the process and so resigned to it that I let it happen to me and stopped worrying so much. The hard bit was over, now I just had to wait to see if it had worked. of course, because it did work I didn't get the tougher bit many couples experience when it fails. I am truly grateful to science, although in general I have no interest in science at all.

For all those people who think there is something futuristic and frankenstien about fertilising an egg outside of the womb I would just like to say that although it is not the 'natural' way of doing it, it still manages to create normal babies just like babies born through the luck of natural conception. IVF children are not freaks of nature, they don't go through life experiencing anything differently to the millons of babies born the natural way. They are not an abomination. The conception part of a baby's begining is such a very small part of their history; my son still spent weeks growing inside me, nourished by me, cared for by me. He wasn't in a test-tube in some holding area waiting until the nine months was up. He came out the normal way too, as did his cousin. Also, when you are carrying an IVF baby you don't spend 9 months thinking of him/her as an 'ivf baby' - IVF is the means to an end and while of course you feel so lucky to have been successful you don't spend 9 months referring to your 'ivf baby' - it is just a baby, just a pregnancy, just a labour. We love our children just the same as other parents love theirs. Maybe sometimes we think 'I am so lucky' when we are staring down at their soft heads as they feed or watch them sleeping or when they run up to you and throw their arms around you. So lucky to have had the chance to experience being a parent, so lucky to have been successful. Doesn't every parent think that too?

My son will know that he was born through IVF, he will learn that children are made in different ways and some parents need more help than others; he will probably know he is an 'IVF baby' long before he knows the 'facts' of life. Bottom line is that his fact of life is going to be different to some other facts of life and I am glad.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Maggie Maggie Maggie, gone gone gone!

As it says, Margaret Thatcher is dead. In her 80s and suffering with dementia in her later years, she died this morning. When I heard my first reaction was arms in the air and a big 'Whooop' followed by a little bit of a guilty feeling for celebrating the death of someone's mother. I am a mother and my own father is dead so these days I do wince a bit from public celebrations of public deaths. However now that the news has been broken and my friends have all commented on their facebook pages and so on I am starting to think that a great big street party might be in order.

I guess what has changed my mind from thinking we need to be respectful to wanting to dance on her grave is the amount of tributes that have been paid in the media; the people citing her as a great politician and the incredible announcement that she will have a ceremonial funeral. Really? Paid for by who? Why? Does this mean that when Tony Blair goes, or John Major, will they get a ceremonial funeral? How much of a step-down is this from a State funeral?

Apparently there are areas of the country where the pubs are filling up with people celebrating her death. Places like the Welsh Valleys, Scotland, Yorkshire - basically anywhere north of London; the parts of the country that were decimated in the late 70s and 80s as a direct result of policies brought in by the Thatcher Government. Now I can understand why these people have a perfect right to throw their hands in the air and 'Whoooop'. I get it. As a 43 year old I am just young enough to have missed being that involved in her election but am old enough to have known about the 'milk snatcher' and the 'out out out', old enough to have protested about nursing cuts, closure of coal mines, the falklands, and nuclear power.

this is always a good thing to watch to remind yourself why she was such a horror.