Catholic women speak out and say “Not in my name”

So, Cardinal O’Brien has admitted that his behaviour over the years has “fallen beneath the standards expected of me”. It is unclear what this euphemism really means, as Catholic views on sexual standards don’t seem allied with those of the mainstream i.e. sex is not ok if you are not married, gay, or a member of the clergy. Suffice to say it is not clear that O’Brien has broken any laws, just some stupid internal rules, so I won’t dwell on the nature of the offences.

This blog post is not simply the rantings of a disinterested atheist. I have my own beef with the Catholic Church. Those who know me might be surprised to know I am actually a Catholic, at least I think I am, I’m a bit hazy on the rules. My parents are lapsed Catholics and both sets of grandparents were fervent Catholics. I was baptised in the Catholic Church. Apparently despite being an atheist now the event of my baptism makes me a Catholic for life, and beyond presumably. Like I said I’m not clear on the rules of membership, so I am happy to be corrected, but it seems to me that being a Catholic is a bit like being signed into to a spam newsletter, you don’t remember signing up, and despite looking around the website you can’t find the instructions for how to leave. They make it deliberately difficult, requiring a written request to take you off their mailing list, which quite frankly you are never going to get around to. You can put them in your spam folder but somehow they keep getting through the filter.

I said my grandparents were Catholics, so you can imagine how it went down when my 19 year old unwed parents announced my impending arrival. My paternal grandparents refused to acknowledge my existence until I was about 10 or 11. That is not the only negative impact the church has had on my life and that of my family. The Catholic Church and its hypocritical dogmatics have wronged my family in other devastating ways, so my disenchantment goes beyond my feminist and moral principles.

But I can’t really claim to be an insider in the Church. When insiders start to question the value and morals of their own long supported organisation it is a sign that institution is really in danger. Joanna Moorhead is a journalist and long time member of the Catholic Church, about as much an insider as a woman can get in the Church. She has written and edited religious publications, and today she has publicly professed her dissatisfaction with the leaders of her faith. You can read the full article here but I wanted to pick out some of what I think are the most important points:

…our church has come to be seen entirely in terms of the men who run it. That, of course, is understandable: not only do they hold resolutely on to the reins of power, but they are also the ones who have perpetrated the crimes. One of the more unsettling moments of the pope’s UK visit in 2010, for me, was when he called on “the whole church” to atone for its crimes. But those were not my crimes, Pope Benedict: I am not one of the ordained men who has abused children or helped cover up their abhorrent behaviour, and I resent being treated as one.

In fact, all around me I increasingly hear these words from my fellow Catholics: not in my name. These crimes that have been committed, this power that has been abused, this trust that has been betrayed: not in our name, Your Holiness, has it happened. Guilt has dogged my church through the centuries, and it’s a guilt that has often been planted most deeply among the lay people: every week at mass for many years I have heard the priest in the pulpit reminding and cajoling and persuading us to go to confession, to repent, to bathe in our guilt and be freed from it. Well, not this time: this guilt is not mine; this is the guilt of the hierarchy, the guilt of the priests, the guilt of the ordained men who run my church and who have been determined for centuries that they would not share the running of the church with anyone who was not one of them.

Lay women, the biggest group within the church, are the most silent of all silent majorities…They are also, I believe, its wisdom, its common sense and its conscience. If the Catholic church had done as most institutions have done over the last 30 or so years, and invited women to become its leaders alongside men, it would have discovered – as institution after institution has discovered, the world over – that it could not run itself properly without them.

There is not much left for me to say, Joanna has made her eloquent plea to the Church. I don’t expect them to listen to me but I can only hope they start listening to their members and make radical changes than mean that people’s lives are no longer devastated by the acts of men who abuse the power they hold.

Enough is enough

When I was 18 I worked for a well known holiday camp. I was working 70 odd hours a week in 3 different departments to save for university. On Saturdays I worked in the sales department an my boss was a man who was at least 40, good looking in an oily sort of way. Fairly soon after I started work for him he nicknamed me Busty Bertha, Bertha for short, which he would use liberally including in front of colleagues and customers. When I would go into his office he would sit with his leg splayed and indicate using unsubtle gestures that I should sit in the vicinity of his crotch. There were verbal exchanges too. I tried to hold my own, giving a good game as I thought I should, when in reality I was a sexually naive teenager.

In the midst of trying to hold my own I took the decision to mention the behaviour to another manager. I was clear that I wasn’t making a complaint. In reality I didn’t have the language to articulate what the problem was, I wasn’t even sure there was a problem, beyond my feeling uncomfortable. This was a holiday park, sexual hotbeds full of people temporally living in close quarters, in a holiday atmosphere. This is how it was. I tried to hold my own in order to make people like me. The comments I made to my other manager were self preservation. I actually said to him that I wanted to mention the behaviour, in case anything untoward should happen; that if I made a complaint it wasn’t out of the blue.

I mention this because this morning I was listening to politicians on the Radio 4 Today Show, Gisela Stuart, Labour MP, Sheila Gunn, former press secretary to John Major, Jo Phillips, former press secretary for Paddy Ashdown. The discussion was in response to the allegations made about Lord Rennard, the former Liberal Democrat Chief Executive, or inappropriate behaviour towards at least 10 women. The extent of the argument went as follows: politics is a tough business, you know what it is like when you get into it and women need to toughen up. One of these women discussed tactics she used to get away from a particularly frisky colleague who was trying to get her to go to his room at a party conference. Another useful tactic is to just pretend to cry about a previous boyfriend, that soon puts a damper on proceedings. Apparently it is our sisterly duty to share these escape tactics with our colleagues.

If only at 18 some girlfriend had sat me down and shared some tips with me things would have been much better… No, no, NO. What my 18 year old self needed was for someone to sit me down and tell me that I did not have to put up with that sort of behaviour, and that they would support me in making a complaint.

It’s bad enough that women are still having to work in these environments, but what makes it even worse is that STILL we are being to to put up and shut up about it. Men in positions of authority and power are being allowed to treat women as sexual objects, and according to Sheila Gunn we should just consider them as “naughty boys”. This is belittling both to the female victims (or male victims as in the allegations against Cardinal O’Brien, leader of the Scottish Roman Catholic Church) and men, the ones who don’t perpetrate these actions. Men are not young children without control over their desires and actions. They are conscious actors who make choices, some men make good choices and some men make bad ones. Let’s not let the ones who make bad ones ruin it for the good ones.

And let’s get away from this resignation over the situation. Women need to know that they do not have to put up with this behaviour, there is no environment is which it is appropriate, no age or position that excuses men treating women as objects for their taking. We will stand next to these women in solidarity and say “enough is enough”.

Dear Twitter

Dear Twitter

I’ll admit I was skeptical of you at first. I used to call you Twatter. I thought all you were about was slebs tweeting PR friendly snippets of a carefully constructed life to their sycophantic fans.

Now I know better. I have embraced all that you have to offer. It is like having the best bits of the Internet delivered to me personally. I love following people with whom I have shared interests, and some people with whom I have nothing in common. Some people are clever, and some are just damn funny. Twitter is the first place I turn to in the morning for news and activity. I share my news and my grumbles, and rejoice in the joy visited on people who I have never met. I have found help and advice on varying topics such as Excel, parenting and baking bread. Yes, my conversion has been complete.

But Twitter, I feel our relationship may be coming to an end. Oh, it’s not because of the inane Twitter parties, or the fascist, racist and homophobic comments. I understand this is the price we pay for free speech. No, the straw that is slowly floating down to rest atop the overloaded camel is the frequent pornographic avatar photos that bombard my connections page.

On a weekly and sometimes daily basis I am faced with lewd pictures of people who are following me. These pictures are generally close ups of men’s penises. Occasionally the penis is penetrating a woman, her vulva unnaturally stripped of any hair.Other images have shown painful looking piercings, and varying degrees of flaccidity and closeness.

I’ll admit my curiosity was marginally peaked by the man who’s penis was fully tattooed in green and designed to resemble a dragon. You’ve got to admit that sort of dedication to the cause.

Today’s monstrosity was a woman who’s bucks had been stretched apart and clamped, exposing the intricacies of her reproductive organ. I’m not sure if I am supposed to feel aroused or threatened by this image. Either way, I can’t understand why these people think I am their target market.

I’m am unsure what the point is behind these images and the accounts they are linked to. I dare not investigate them in too much detail. But I am telling you here and now Twitter – I DO NOT WANT TO SEE THEM. Obviously I don’t even want them to exist, but there is little I can personally do about that. We live in a patriarchal culture where misogyny abounds, and certain men brandish their penis as a weapon, caring little, and perhaps even relishing in the damage it causes.

I am not a prude, and I refuse to engage with anyone who even thinks that puritanism has anything to do with this. This is about these sickening images being thrust upon my personal account without my consent. These images, once seen, cannot be unseen, and though I block and report them, for a time they remain on my connections page, strangers’ cocks just winking at me malevolently.

Twitter, this is your patch, your application, what are you going to do about it? I am a 31 year old women, and while these images sicken me, I’m mature enough that my disgust comes mainly from what these images represent than what they are. But what if it was a teenager or young adult seeing these images? What messages are they going to take from the freely distributed pictures of parts of the body that should remain private between intimates? What is the impact of the normalisation of images of women’s shorn pubic areas, being violated by various objects?

I don’t know how it can be stopped, but then I don’t own a massively successful social networking application. I’m assuming that within the technologically skilled Twitter HQ there are people who could come up with some sort of filtering a mechanism to screen out pornographic images. Twitter, please do something about it, even if it not from fear of losing one lowly user, but out of a sense of social and moral responsibility.

All about Eve

Yesterday the General Synod of the Anglican Church voted against ordaining women as Bishops. In actual fact a large majority of the Synod voted FOR the motion, but a two thirds majority across all three of the Houses is required, and the House of Laity was 6 votes short to pass the motion.

I struggle to articulate my thoughts on this matter. I am a fervent atheist so you might question why I should care about an institution I regard as outmoded and full of fantasy. Well, discrimination in an arena angers me. I don’t want to play cricket either, but I want our female cricket team to get equal treatment to their male counterparts. I have not seen any coherent arguments against the notion of women as Bishops, and I can’t think of any argument that I would accept on the matter. I cannot understand how the Church can defend this decision.

I wanted to weep yesterday listening to Alison Ruoff on Radio 4 as she tried to defend the notion that women should be subservient to the authority of men: “it’s that way in the home too” she said. Not in my home it’s not. In fact many of the opponents to the motion were women, bought up with the indoctrination that their wants and needs come after those of men.

For too long in the eyes of the Church, and consequently in the rest of society (let’s not forget the CofE hasn’t always been the irrelevance it is now) women have been treated as less than equal, bearing the sins of Eve who is seen as the sole reason for the banishment from the Garden of Eden, conveniently forgetting Adam ate the apple too.

The Church spent a long few days praying to God to guide them and give them wisdom in their choices. Well, if this is the outcome God led them to then they can keep their God. And supporters of Anglican reform know this is how many people will feel and fear this will lead to the discrediting and demise of its position as a National Church. Women are not a minority group. We make up just over half the population. Businesses today know they have to offer benefits and career profession prospects to attract high calibre women to make up their workforce and make them more relevant today. The Church of England, essentially a business, working to protect its assets, its power, and its market share, has failed to modernise, held to ransom by anachronistic shareholders.

The members of the Church who were against the ordination of women as Bishops are today rejoicing, proclaiming that they have prevented a schism in the Church. Those members who threw their toys out the the pram and threatened to run off and join the Catholic Church may now stay. But who knows what amazing women, the future of the Church, will leave or stay away because of this decision.

I hope all those who remain in the Church that hold sensible and modern views voice their dissatisfaction at this decision. Anyone who continues to blithely worship within a such an institutionally misogynistic organisation without fighting for the equality of women is themselves participating in and propagating the notion that women are inferior. And that notion filters down, so that consequently all those women who are the backbone of the Church without pretensions to ordination are by association inferior. The Church of England is an anachronism and and irrelevance and it needs to reform if it is to survive in this increasingly secular country.

Live to blog, blog to live

20121111-130138.jpg
Yesterday I spent the day at Mumsnet Blogfest. I expect today there will loads of posts from various bloggers about the panels, and the cakes, and meeting lots of other bloggers, and I’m sure I’ll get some mileage out of it for a while. But today my overwhelming feeling is that of defensiveness about this blogging life I lead.

Liz Jones, journalist of the Daily Mail, and long time Mumsnet and mum hater was on the panel talking about public vs private lives. Jones has infamously spilled her guts on everything, including her marriage breakup and keeping a condom full of sperm which she planned to inseminate herself with.

Geraldine Bedell, who chaired the panel, asked Miss Jones if she ever regretted anything she had written “Yeah, all of it” she said, without a trace of humour. She described having a nervous breakdown every time she presses send on one of her articles, and how there have been times when she has engineers situations or made decisions that have resulted in chaos because she knew she would get good copy out of it. A journalist owes it to the public to put it all out there, she argued.

Predictably, Liz Jones has today written an article criticising Mumsnet bloggers for writing about parenthood and cakes, and how we are wasting our freedom of speech on topics such as knitting and chocolate. What is more, people on my beloved Mumsnet itself are also deriding bloggers and agreeing with Jones, conveniently ignoring that blogging, like Mumsnet, is just another forum for expression and socialising, built primarily around our role as mothers.

The Internet has been a democratising force for women. Before it became mainstream, the main female voices to be heard were the select few in politics and the media, and even then those voices were chosen and carefully controlled by the patriarchal constructs of government and mass media. Now anyone, even a mum feeling stuck at home with kids, can put their message out there for all to see, and can find other like minded people, regardless of geography. This is both a good and bad thing as it has been a democratising force for all, meaning that even those with views outside the social norms, views that the majority find repugnant, can find a space online to reinforce those views and create their own social norms.

Freedom of speech means we can talk about what the hell we like. Liz Jones doesn’t get to choose what we write about, and quite frankly I’d rather read about someone having their eyeball pulled out with a pencil than any of her self obsessed drivel about her horses and how everyone hates her. Liz derided Mumsnet bloggers for not doing more. Clearly she missed out on the bit about doing research at journalism school, as she didn’t have to look too far on Mumsnet to find the We Believe You campaign, the Better Miscarriage Care Campaign, or Mumsnet Woolly Hugs. All these campaigns have been massively supported by Mumsnet Bloggers.

The term ‘mummybloggers’ is a phrase used by the mainstream media to deride women having their say. Yes, some people blog about their children and family life, in doing so they share experiences with other women, and provide relief to people stuck in the often lonely world of parenting, where you are afraid to speak the truth about how you feel about this often sacred role. But for a many of us, being a mum is incidental to what we write about, but inevitably spills onto the page, so huge a part of our lives is being a parent.

It’s easy to attack Liz Jones for taking her stance on Mumsnet and mums when she is child free herself. Comments on the article accuse her of being jealous and not understanding because she doesn’t have kids. These may seem like low blows, but she is the one who brings that chip on her shoulder to the table. She is the one who talks about the ‘queasy feeling in her empty womb’, she is the one who came to Mumsnet Blogfest and then proceeded to criticise us all of the triviality of what we do. She is the one with a powerful platform, a voice with which she could do so much, yet she chooses to use it look down on people who are different from her, and to bleat on about her own self inflicted misery. If she thinks bloggers aren’t using their voices for good then she is not looking very far, and probably needs to concentrate on her own back yard first.

I think we as bloggers can learn a very powerful lesson from Liz Jones. No, not that we should be blogging about more than good housekeeping, nor that we should keep quiet about the realities of motherhood. I think we should look to Liz as a sign of what we can become if we share too much of our lives on our blogs. Liz Jones has alienated her neighbours, and systematically written nearly every person out of her life, driven them away by her insistence on sharing every detail and every thought she has. She appeared yesterday to be a sad shell of a woman, by her own admission a nastier, unemotional person, who relishes the disasters in her life as opportunities for good copy. We should consider that when we blog about our children and our husbands, and ourselves. While it is good to share, it’s also good to edit, so you don’t end up writing your friends and family out of your life.

Dilly’s Sunday Brunch

20121104-171359.jpg

Today for the first time I made soda bread. I’ve never had it before and it basically tasted like a large salty scone. Not sure if that was how it was supposed to taste, but it was nice enough nonetheless. I also made banana pancakes, which interestingly are very similar to the soda bread in terms of ingredients, flour, baking powder, buttermilk (I use natural yoghurt mixed with milk). The pancakes also have eggs and mashed banana, and are delicious (and not too bananary). This carb fest was randomly accompanied by sausages and chopped banana, maple syrup and ketchup, though not all together!

So, big news in the Dilly household: I have definitely decided to do my MSc Occupational Psychology and I start (assuming the accept me) in January! This is going to mean a huge amount of work on top of an already busy life. Somethings will have to take a back seat. I’m hoping blogging won’t be one of them. I will still need some down time, and I think it will make an interesting evolution to my blog to discuss managing life as a part time student, and to explore aspects of the course. I am going to have to be scrupulous about time management though. The course should take me two years to complete, then I hope to embark on a new career.

One of the things I want to continue to stay true to are my feminist principles, and in the spirit of that I direct you to this interview with Jessica Ennis in today’s Observer. It’s only been to and a half months an already the Olympics feel like a age away. Let’s not forget the incredible achievement of the British athletes, especially the women. Jessica was the poster girl for the events and in the interview she discusses the pressure she was under to perform. My only disappointment is the resignation with which she accepts the objectification of her and her contemporaries; “I think it happens in every walk of life, doesn’t it?” She says in the interview. Even in 2012 a massively successful, strong woman believes that lewd videos of herself splashed all over the Internet are just part of life, so pervasive are the messages that women can be treated like objects, and indeed invite such treatment.

Jessica is a still young, and maybe it is just one more fight she doesn’t want to have. Hopefully we can bring up the next generation of women with the strength and confidence to know that they don’t have to accept such treatment as inevitable and even deserved. Examples of such young women can be seen writing in Jump Magazine, an online magazine for girls, which eschews pink and fluffy and stereotypical girl’s stuff, and promotes aspiration and confidence, with content from girls and women of all ages. A recent writing competition saw young writers such as Eden (aged 10) discuss what it is like to be a girl. Do check them out; these are our women of tomorrow and they should be nurtured and supported in their beliefs that their body is their own and the world is their oyster.

That’s all from me today, have a lovely week people🙂

A woman’s right to choose

I am riled beyond belief at the comments from this government’s newly appointed Health Secretary. Jeremy Hunt, who’s name will always be rhyming slang for what I really think of him, released a statement saying he backs the reduction in legal abortion limits to 12 weeks. This is hot on the heels of Nadine Dorries’s quest to reduce the limit to 20 weeks. One can’t help but think Hunt’s interjection is a ploy to make Dorries seem reasonable. Well, Joseph Mengale might make Dorries seem reasonable, but other than that I am hard pressed to view either proposition as tenable.

Women will never have true equality while privileged males (and idiotic females) have control over our bodies and what we do with them. And if you are wondering why this might affect you as you are a sensible woman with complete control over her contraception, are any methods 100% effective? What if you discover at 20 weeks into a planned pregnancy your foetus has a life limiting disability, or may not survive the pregnancy anyway. Wouldn’t you want choices? Even if you would never choose a termination don’t you want other women, especially those who may be in abusive relationships or poverty, to have choices over what happens to their body. Yes inside a pregnant women is a human life, but that life is contingent on the women as a life source, and unless you consider a woman to be simply an incubator, that woman has to have some control over her body, especially when there may be so many other parts of her life she has no control over.

The reality is that 9/10 abortions are performed before 13 weeks, so the question is, who exactly is Hunt targeting? Women do not go into late abortion lightly. Often they are fleeing abusive relationships. And many abortions beyond 12 weeks are because of the long wait and hoops women have to jump through to get a termination.

Lowering the legal limits for abortion will not reduce the number of abortions. It will reduce the number of legal and safe abortions. Someone desperate enough to terminate a baby in the middle of pregnancy is likely to go to any lengths to do so. Reducing the legal limit for abortion will not result in more happy smiley chubby babies; it will increase the number of desperately unhappy women and children brought into this world in devastating circumstances. With a government reducing welfare and community support for families and people with disabilities this can only be a path to unhappiness for many.

I’m not an expert on this, but the Royal College for Obstetricians and Gynaecologists are so check out their website for more information.

It’s just not cricket

20120925-224543.jpg

I’m sorry I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front recently. I’ve been just so busy, plus I’ve lost my creative mojo a bit. I haven’t found much to inspire me recently, and I have been preoccupied with some personal development decisions which has rendered me more selfish and egocentric than usual.

However I heard something on the news this morning that was enough to spark me into breaking open the ol’ WordPress app and putting a metaphorical pen to paper.

The cricket Twenty20 World Cup kicks off in Sri Lanka this week and both women’s and men’s teams have flown out there, the men in Business Class and the women in Economy. While out there the ICC pay them a living allowance. The women get £37 a day and the men £61. Clearly those burly men need feeding up more than the women. At the end of the tournament the winning team can look forward to a million US Dollar prize money. No hang on – that’s for the men. The women get £60,000 USD. Good job girls, just not quite good enough.

Now I cannot find any reason to justify the disparity in daily living allowance. I have just returned from a work trip with a males colleague. Imagine that when we both put in our expenses claims forms when we return to work, that our company gives me nearly half the amount they give him, because I am a woman. There is no justifying the ICC’s decision here so I’ll just move on.

Perhaps, perhaps there is the argument that men’s sport brings in more revenue. Well, I’m sure it does, but that’s because it dominates the media. Are we in a vicious circle here, whereby the media thinks no one is interested in women’s sport so they don’t show it, so people don’t get a chance to be interested in it?

Were any of these people actually awake during the Olympic period? Did that not demonstrate the support for niche sports, women’s sport and para olympic sport? After all the celebration of our athletic heroes, male, female, able bodied or not, are we just going to go back to the status quo of football as the national game, with a bit of rugby, cricket, tennis and F1 thrown in, all male dominated. Did we learn nothing from our Summer of Olympic Love?

The ICC need to come out of the dark ages and stop expecting the girls just to be grateful that the boys are letting them play their game, albeit not actually with the boys. They might catch cooties from the girls, you know. Maybe that’s why they had to fly them different classes…

Dilly’s Sunday Brunch

Brunch with friends
Not quite the idyllic affair seen on most foodie blogs but the best we can do with two 5 years olds and two 2 year olds

We don’t really have any traditions in our house yet. Our kids are too young for regular rituals beyond watching Fireman Sam, they don’t even have daily baths (yes – shock horror!). But recently Sunday Brunch has become a regular feature of our house. I love brunch, the only meal where you can eat a muffin and it counts as part of the meal. Usually we just have bacon and eggs, a bit of OJ and toast, but I’ve been branching out a bit recently.

Last week I made ‘pain perdu’ or French toast, eggy bread, but sweetened and with cinnamon. I made it using leftover bread that I had made earlier in the week, and served it with bacon, maple syrup and caramelised banana. The salty bacon made a surprisingly delicious accompaniment to the sweetened eggy bread and syrup.

This week I forgot to get anything special in so decided to make some banana pancakes from Nigella’s Feast. Luckily we had some berries in to balance out the carb fest, plus the compulsory maple syrup. At the last minute we were joined by friends who were coming for communal car washing, but came earlier than expected. Fortunately there is always more pancake mixture than needed, so it saved DH and I scoffing the lot.

Anyway, I thought that I might post about our brunching exploits, if it becomes a regular thing, and use it as a excuse to muse upon the news of the week, kind of like reading the Sunday papers (now there’s a long gone tradition since having kids).

Here’s a little bit of music to get you in the mood…

Banana pancakes

So, tummy full of pancakes, let’s consider the world this week: well, the Paralympics is drawing to a close, and what a games it has been, exceeding expectations all round. We have a new set of heroes and heroines, and for many a new language for talking about disability like we never have before. There are tests commonly used in psychology called Implicit Associations Tests which are used to measure unconscious feelings about something. Basically you are given a list of words or pictures and asked to assign them to one of two categories, e.g. Good and Bad. Your response time to make your selection is then recorded, we are talking milliseconds here. They are often done using emotive themes such as race and religion and have consistently found biases towards white race and positive categories and non white races and less positive attributes (I’m probably not explaining this very well and don’t have any references, but this is Sunday brunch so let’s not get too hung up). Researchers found they could reverse the negative unconscious biases against black people by priming participants before hand with positive images. They showed clips of black athletes winning medals at Olympic Games.

All this a roundabout way of saying that I hope all the recent coverage of the success and tenacity of these Paralympic games has changed people’s subconscious perceptions of the disabled. It seems trite to even used that term now, as I don’t think I saw anyone ‘dis’ abled in these games. I saw people well and truly ‘differently’ abled. Is that still considered a wanky term? Sorry if it is.

So, onto politics, if one doesn’t mind over breakfast, and Cameron has make some quite frankly nefarious decisions about who should be helping him run the country. A climate change skeptic as Environment Minister; our NHS will now be run by a man who supports homeopathy but not abortion; and a man who supported the rights of a B&B to turn away a gay couple now Minister for Justice. You can’t make this stuff up. I’d laugh if I didn’t want to cry. All we needs for the rape denying, anti-choice for women Republicans to win this November’s US elections and the we might as well give up all hope. While these privileged white men get to decide how the rest of us should live our lives I fear that women’s rights will be put back too far to get any traction to come back from. If you didn’t see my post yesterday I nearly went on Radio 4’s Any Questions to argue as such.

On a positive note though, my friend sent me this fab video of a US diaper commercial. She explains to me that their long running ad campaign has been that first time mums buy big brands like Huggies first time round then with their second child they get real and chose Luvs diapers. This ad tackles breastfeeding and in the first five seconds you are thinking this is all going to go horribly wrong, they are going to bring out a bottle for the second time mum…but they don’t, and it’s ace!

 

So, plates are empty, we’ve have gorged ourselves on banana pancakes, I’ve dissected a little of the world this week. See you next Sunday? Who knows, I might even have a post ready in time for brunch!

Can I just call this post “cock off Lord Tebbit”?

Today I was contacted by a researcher for BBC Any Answers on Twitter in response to a tweet I’d sent them. Earlier in the week I was idly listening to any questions. Lord Tebbit, Conservative Chair was talking, not even sure what the news story was, but he mentioned employment laws for small business and started blaming, yes you’ve guessed it, those darn women getting pregnant. He lives in fear apparently of the horror of the women he employees getting pregnant. I tweeted my disgust at his comments. In anticipation of the Any Questions show the researcher wanted to call me so I could air my view. I declined for a couple of reasons. I’m clearly happy to sit my views but my weapon of choice is my keyboard rather than my voice, at least to the general public. I’d be terrified of saying something stupid or coming off like a moaning minnie. I mean Any Questions is just a middle class version of the Jeremy Vine show, full of Disgusteds of Tunbridge Wells. Why don’t these people just write blogs?

The other deciding factor is I had 3 young children on my own this afternoon. Can you imagine me trying to make a serious point about feminism with “Mummy, I’ve done a poo” or “Iris is putting stones in her nappy” in the background? Hello YouTube.

But, not wanting to seem like someone who won’t put their money where their mouth is I thought I’d write a controlled and planned blog post instead.

Let me caveat this with the fact that I rarely read feminist discourse. I’m not well versed in political theory. I’m a feminist by gut instinct and logical analysis. I don’t have the language and reason more seasoned feminists have, and none of this is evidenced based.

Glad we’ve got that clear. So isn’t it nice that one of the high ranking politicians in the country’s (almost) leading party views my childbearing status with such horror. Do you know what, as a fertile woman I am so fucked off with being scape goated as the source of the problems for small businesses. I didn’t choose to be a woman. And do you know what, if DH could have been pregnant and given birth instead of me I would have let him in an instant. Does Lord Tebbit think it was fun to have 9 months of nausea, insomnia and joint pains? Not to mention 6 months when I was always only seconds away from crapping myself due loss of pelvic floor muscles post partum?

Sure we could chose not to have children but a) that would affect the perception employers have of me as a potential gravida, and b) wouldn’t the world be a bit screwed if ALL women chose to stop having kids. Can’t have it all ways Lord Tebbit.

Wouldn’t it be nice if more value was given to child bearing? You can bet if it was men’s job it would be. Women need maternity leave for several reasons. Firstly for recovering from pregnancy and labour. That 6 months or so is handy for getting back your pelvic floor in time for being released back into society. It’s important for establishing a breastfeeding relationship if that is what the mother wants. And it is important for creating a nurturing bond with the child, bringing up a child who feels loved and secure so they can grow up to be upstanding members of society. Perhaps one of my children will be the one caring for an elderly Tebbit in years to come. Hopefully then he will value the time I spent nurturing them and caring for them. But then I did stiff my company for two sets of maternity leave – mwah ha ha!

Yes maternity leave is a bit of a pain for small businesses. But the government pays the basic leave benefits so not as much of a pain as you’d think. I’m sure all those pesky equality laws are a pain for SMEs too. Let’s just say they don’t have to employee any disabled people, none of those gays or coloureds (might upset the customers), and certainly no women who look like they might get pregnant (maybe if they just picked the really ugly ones…).

No, I don’t really have any of the answers. But then I am not paid to. Now if only there was a group of people who were paid to solve this sort of problem, intelligent people who could represent everyone in the country….if only.