Feminism

Feminism is trendy (or should that be trending?) right now.

I’ve read so much these passed couple of weeks; from a misogynistic Viner getting a TV series commission (and getting axed) to the internet trolls that attacked the people who commented on his misogyny… the wonderful celebs wearing the “This is what a feminist looks like” tee to the evil celebs wearing theĀ “This is what a feminist looks like” tee (because it was made by an under-paid woman in a sweatshop).

This sort of attention on feminism interests me now more than ever because of Audrey. I consider what sort of world she will grow up in and what the future holds for her as a woman.

Historically for me, feminism was a dirty word. I always pictured Germain Greer, with a burning bra on a pitchfork, talking about banning something as harmless as page 3. I certainly never thought I would consider myself a feminist. Around the age of 15 I discovered that if you stopped wearing long skirts and DMs and switched to miniskirts and knee-high boots, boys noticed you. I am ashamed to say I played dumb in Design Technology so a boy would assist me with and thought nothing of it at the time. I purchased a wonderbra and pitched myself very much on the “feminine” not “feminist” side of the fence.

For years I thought sexism was a dated concept and that hey, we are all equal these days, so why are women still banging on about it? My first real “brush” with sexism was in a job I took in the early noughties. The MD was proper old school (paper rollerdex, a secretary made all calls for him,he returned from long lunches stinking of booze, drove home… you get the picture). I was there for around a year when someone left and we were recruiting for our office manager. As the stack of applicants arrived, the pile diminished into those requiring the lowest salary, but more significantly, women only. I was soon informed that the first thing he did for any admin jobs or in fact, the job I had, was limit to women only. They also told me to look at myself and the other females working there – were we all not quite similar? Did he have a type? For the technical jobs, he did the opposite and considered men only.

One day an error (purposely guided by the MD) occurred and I heard him apologising on the phone to the client, blaming “the girls” and dismissing it as our sloppiness. There was never any funny business with this man, but over time it became clear that he regarded the woman working there as “silly girls” and certainly respected his male colleagues much more.

So I realised there were still a few sexist dinosaurs out there, but still didn’t feel the need to rise up with my sisters and declare myself a feminist…

My interest in feminism now comes from Audrey and how she will experience life as a girl. We want her to feel equal (and let’s put aside her other struggles with equality due to DS), confident and as important as any boy.

One thing Ted and I constantly despair at, is the clothing on offer for baby girls. We have no problem with pink in moderation, but we do not think she needs to be dressed in a way that constantly screams “I’m a girl!”. The main issue we have with girls’ clothing and toys (and how is this still happening in this day and age?), is the pinkification of things to appeal to girls. They make pink versions of Superman outfits, they do a pink version of the (usually so yucky brown!) Gruffalo, girls t-shirts are littered with kittens and bows and butterflies and glitter… boys get dinosaurs and monsters and bears (much cooler), most of which escape tacky embellishments.

I’m curious as to who is in charge of the importance of girlification? Has the beast been created because that’s what the majority of buying parents want? Or is there a conspiracy to keep girls girly, flood them with pink early and they’ll never want to take the decent jobs? They’ll all want to be popstars and wags?

One thing I do know, is that I want to ensure Audrey is exposed to choices on that front. Yes, I know that in a few years she will probably be choosing the ugliest, pinkest, glitter-covered princess outfit in the shop, but isn’t that more reason not to cover her in it now? Feminism should be about choices. Women now have the choices and the opportunities to be whatever they want to be…

Let’s not forget, Audrey was a pirate (on pirates and princesses day) and a bat (on Halloween):

 

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Stuff and things 5

So, you may have seen from my last post that I recently lost my job. The company I worked for had been struggling for a while, but when it finally sank it was still a shock for those involved.

Audrey had been ill for about 3 weeks, it started with a cough and cold, progressed to sickness, the cough hung on and she was off milk and/or food most of the time. Smiles were at an all-time low. We only really felt like she came back to us just over a week ago, when the smiles and claps returned and her baby-babbles reached an all-time high. She chatters all day now.

Workmen are ripping down a balcony from the back of our building and fixing the front facade, so Audrey’s nap times are fraught with banging, drilling and men shouting!

Anyway, her being ill, my job of 8 years ending abruptly (with salary owed), men on scaffolding watching us in our dressing gowns… it’s been a rough ride recently.

Last week (thank goodness), my husband had the week off. We visited my mum and brother (Nanny and Uncle Graeme) on Sunday and Monday, then I had my hair re-brownified (in preparation for interviews and money saving). Tuesday Audrey was at nursery and Ted and I went to see Nightcrawler. How odd it was to be alone for lunch and then in the cinema all afternoon!

Wednesday my mother-in-law (Bibi) came over for lunch and Thursday was another nursery day so… Ted and I went to see Interstellar.

Friday we had lunch with NCT pals. But now the spending must stop and the job hunt must get serious…

Coffees consumed: at least 10
Burgers: 4
Milkshakes: 2
Pastries/cakey treats: 4
Fudge: too much
Beers: check with Ted
Audrey smiles: too many to record

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P.S. If anyone was paying attention when I teased Audrey having a modelling job… Sadly her photo wasn’t used in the end. But, if you’ve seen the Lidl wooden toy advert on TV this week… You’ll catch a glimpse of her friends Huxley and Zakir!

Work vs work

I used to think the stay at home mum option was the easy/lazy choice… My mother didn’t work until I was around 8 years old and even then she just did some part time work, which meant she was still around for the school run.

My sister got pregnant at 19 and decided to quit work and be a stay-at-home single mother. I honestly thought she spent most of her days in bed!

Now of course I know that motherhood isn’t one long nap or even one long playtime. Babies are exhausting and they require a lot of looking after. Yes, you might get a chance to nap when they nap… But they might only nap indoors in your arms for 6 months (thanks Audrey), so you can’t nap… Or they might prefer afternoon buggy naps (again, Audrey!), so you need to pace around when you’d rather have your feet up with a cuppa.

It’s all challenging and rewarding, up and down… I salute you if you devote your time to raising your children full-time. There’s a lot of walking in parks, but it’s not a walk in the park.

Despite motherhood not being quite the meander down easy-street I imagined, I still dreaded going back to work. I thought it would be such a shock to my system and I worried I would struggle with someone else looking after Audrey. As it turns out, it was a blessed relief! Work turned out to be easier than looking after my own child!

Since drafting this post a few weeks ago, where I basically just wanted to ramble on about the beauty of work/baby balance; I have lost my job.

I did know it was likely to happen (the company was clearly in trouble), but it was still a shock – we were all out of jobs so quickly. When a company goes into administration it can bring everything to a pretty abrupt end.

And so… a job-hunting I must go. This is where I realise that having a baby complicates things on that front. Can I get a quick-fix temp job in a shop? Not really… Unless they can give me 3 days a week that guarantee I can get across town for nursery pick up by 6. And will the wage justify the child care?

I started to contemplate full-time work (since there are 100s more full-time jobs than part-time ones) and realised how much I do value my time with Audrey. It’s not about an ‘easy’ day or even about me having the control, it’s about our relationship and the fact that; time together = bonding.

Right now I’m riding high as Audrey’s number 1. She reaches for me when someone else is holding her, she moans when she thinks I’m leaving her and gazes at me with such love… What if her keyworker at nursery became that number 1?!

And so I shall continue my quest for part-time work, to keep that work/baby balance, but in the meantime I can work extra hard to maintain my place at the top of Audrey’s tree…

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