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.