Monday, 26 December 2011
Sunday, 25 December 2011
Tuesday, 13 December 2011
'The Protestant Monastery: Or, Christian Oeconomicks. Containing Directions for the Religious Conduct of a Family'.
Men should have power over their wives
Good wives should be patient, loving, sweet, kind and obedient
Men should look after their wives
Men should never hit their wives
Men should take advice from their wives
Men are stronger and wiser than women
Men should respect their wives
Wives should obey their husbands
Have contemporary marriages moved away from this model for a happy marriage? Your immediate instinct would be to say 'yes', I suspect, but do consider the rise in domestic violence, the recent spate of family killings by men and the favourable way policy makers view marriage with a sub-text of keeping traditional roles going.
Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Wednesday, 16 November 2011
Monday, 14 November 2011
Sunday, 13 November 2011
So women are both recipients and contributors to violence. I have a sense of deja vu. Hasn't that train of thought been used before to justify rape and violence against women?
Thursday, 10 November 2011
A woman was raped because her ex-boyfriend posted details of her online falsely alleging that she had a fantasy of being violated. Quite often I see comments left on women's sites too that threaten rape. Cyber rape is a growing phenomenon.
Wednesday, 9 November 2011
I am quite used to speaking in public but when I got up to speak at MIRCI I was nervous as anything because I felt as if I was about to reveal a stream of inner consciousness and thought. In my normal day to day life I don't get the opportunity to discuss the ideologies and practical experiences of being a feminist mother.
Mothering in the public sphere seems to be about discussing a list of things 'to do' with one's child. Mothering in the private domestic setting is about 'doing things' with one's children. The deficit lies in discussing how a mother's personal experiences of feminism can shape a child's cognitivie, psychological and emotional development.
I am on a mission to rectify the situation and will be speaking at Occupy St.Paul's, London, UK on November 12 at 11am on Feminist Mothering. Specifically, I am hoping to start a UK Mother Outlaws group (originated by MIRCI) and am hoping that enough interest will be generated at Occupy St.Paul's to get the ball rolling.
Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Granted, in the initial stages mothering does consist of changing nappies, burping etc but I underestimated the politics of race and how it would take hold so early on. At mother-baby get togethers mothers would congregate along race lines based on their own race. There were no huddled groups for mothers of mixed race babies.
Did it matter? I didn't think so then because I just joined the group with friendly faces. However, as time has gone on I do realise that race has an important dimension in mothering. Asian mothers now consist a large minority group globally and what precedes us is a racial stereotype of Asian mothers i.e docile and only interested in the domestic sphere.
Stereotypes often have a factual basis and while the picture I paint is still true of many Asian mothers there is a force emerging which wants to challenge the patriarchal notions of motherhood. These mothers realise that the straitjacket of gender inequality within the home has devastating consequences for their daughter i.e domestic violence, patriarchal bullying, and want to fight back. The family structure must not be used to reinforce daughters as second class citizens.
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
If society cannot stop for a minute or two to make allowances for those who need a bit more time to get through life then, frankly, something is wrong. The inability to incorporate the differences in the physical or mental conditions of those who live in our midst is a failing of modern society. This failing stems partly from the false economy of placing paramount importance on beauty and body size and holding it up as the benchmark for bodily perfection.
However, the main failing of society is down to plain discriminatory attitudes. There's no beating about the bush with this.
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Ambition pervades every part of mothering. We want our children to have social skills, good manners, morals, virtues, a good circle of friends and the list goes on. Is this you?
I am looking to create an online community of ambitious mothers who are willing to share experiences, philosophies and advice. Do tell me who you are and I will list your blog on my blogroll. The reason I am doing this is because I cannot find mothers who are willing to add the word 'ambitious' to their mothering. The stigma in a patriarchal society of being an ambitious woman seems to have extended its negative self into mothering too.
Shake the shackles off and leave a comment.
Tuesday, 9 August 2011
The Chief Executive of Radar, a charity for disabled persons, Liz Sayce says that at the current rate of progress it would take until 2070 for the employment rate for disabled people to catch up with the rate for non-disabled people. About 53% of disabled people are unemployed or working below their potential. So what is needed to speed up the process of employment?
Liz Sayce says that individualised support, mentoring and role models are key to success. I notice that debates about equality and fair access revolve around the concept of poverty which involves an assumption that everybody is non-disabled. A change in such assumptions is needed before progress can be made.
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Friday, 22 July 2011
I have been wondering about how people with mobility impairments are coping with having to walk all those miles in stifling heat. Does anyone have any information on this? From my reading of general material on the subject there is a suggestion that women with mobility impairments are often the worst hit.
Disability is an issue that is being embraced in development objectives. The Australian government has recognised it as such in the giving of foreign aid. The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) has also recognised disability as a development objective and states that 10% of people with disabilities count towards the world's population but account for 20% of global poverty. That is a hugely disproportionate figure by any account.
Part of the fightback must come from helping to mainstream disability as part of society and it is a responsibility borne by everybody, not just charities and organisations. The Disability Hate Crime campaign is seeking to change attitudes towards people with disabilities. The vulnerable are not there to be targets of malicious actions. Changing attitudes starts with every single human being.
Wednesday, 13 July 2011
Friday, 8 July 2011
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Wednesday, 29 June 2011
Tuesday, 7 June 2011
The child in the Easter Bunny costume is my 11 year old daughter. We strongly object to the merchandis
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
Monday, 30 May 2011
The orthodoxy of masculinity was encapsulated by Thomas Hobbes, the British philosopher, who wrote of it in his famous political book called ‘Leviathan’. Within his work, he coined the phrase the ‘natural state of man’. According to Hobbes the natural state of man is one of war and strife. By this he means that man is naturally competitive and gives in to a primeval instinct to conquer and rule in a manner that is devoid of consideration for others. Domination, aggression and bullying are the words that come to my mind in interpreting the ‘natural state of man’.
It may seem far too general to define masculinity in these terms because we all know men who don’t fit description. Yet, it describes the contemporary world of boardroom politics, dictatorships and autocratic states which are dominated by men. Viewed in this pervasive context masculinity comes across as being a negative trait.
Hobbes himself alludes to this negativity in his mitigating theory against the ‘natural state of man.’ He says that a ‘covenant’ needs to be established to prevent against man becoming solitary, poor and brutish. The covenant must stop man from falling back into his natural state. Hobbes views this as a social contract, with its central tenet designed to ensure that man takes into consideration the good of others. Hobbes says that the Covenant stops the ‘war of every man against every man’. This is an overt call, as I see it, to withdraw from the natural state.This then begs the question as to whether masculinity has evolved to become a social construction? In present day masculinity has retained the age old trait of physicality but has picked up an emotional dimension too. A man with muscles and a flat board stomach is a visual display of masculinity. A man who writes poetry and cries openly over sad films is seen as being in touch with his feminine side but will be viewed by many as still being masculine. A man who never cries and is always in charge of himself is also seen as being masculine. James Bond as played by Daniel Craig, the ultimate show of masculinity, came close to crying when his beloved drowned herself.
With so many variations on masculinity I think it is logical to assume that it has, indeed, become a subjective social construction. Dictators, ruthless male CEOs and despots like the African rulers aren’t viewed as being masculine anymore. What is missing with these men is an ability to distribute consideration for others – the Hobbes ‘Covenant’.
My theory is that the ‘natural state of man’ has evolved to become more socially acceptable and that those who refuse to buy in to the ‘Covenant’ are the miscreants of our world. The global social ills of rape, wars, drug and alcohol abuse, sport hooliganism, child abuse and domestic violence are mainly perpetrated by men. The fight back against this has come from feminism, the gay movement and the considerations of social justice which demand a need to think of others.
The ‘natural state of man’ is the number one enemy of women. Yet, many women aid and abet this state for example wives of dictators and women who enjoy the wealth created by their ruthless businessman husbands. It may have been an ideology that created a male ideal of masculinity but now it is reviled and rightly so.
Any form of masculinity that rejects women in its power structures is facing a backlash. We see this with the demonstrations in the Arab world where women are leading the way. The women who continue to support the traditional state are vilified. This modern narrative is rewriting the participatory principles of masculinity- ‘if you are not with us women we don’t want you’. Only with a greater amount of cohesion between the genders can a truly acceptable philosophy of masculinity be unmasked.
Thursday, 26 May 2011
The title is not a question on whether he is guilty of the crimes which he has been charged with. The presumption of innocent until proven guilty and all that. Rather, the title heading is a question on whether DSK is guilty of the age old crime of seeing his gender as justification enough to prey on women.
Monday, 16 May 2011
The scale of patriarchal ideological domination never fails to astound me but this reached new heights when I read about a communique delivered by the Punjab State Commission for Women, India, advising newly married women on their code of conduct. Ms Gurdev Kaur Sangha, the Commissioner, said that new wives 'should focus on their domestic life instead of having long conversations on mobile phones'.
We now have discovered the Holy Grail of Marriage thanks to Ms Sangha, the answer that we have all been waiting for to the question of 'what makes for a happy marriage?'. Apparently the Commission discovered that 40% of women who sought divorce did so on the grounds that their husbands and in-laws did not like them spending time talking on the mobile phone. The husbands were suspicious of whom their wives were talking to and concluded that the listener on the other end was an ex-boyfriend. Ms Sangha has defended her advice on the grounds that it was designed to avoid suspicion arising between new couples as they adjusted to their new life together. Sangha said that a large number of complaints from wives who had suffered domestic violence, sexual abuse and harassment were due to the large amounts of time they had spent on their mobile phones.
In fact, evidence had shown that most new brides were talking to their mothers and discussing the difficulties of married life (any wonder!). The Commissioner, not to be outdone, has told women to stop complaining and to stop talking to their respective mothers and concentrate more on the family they are in. The report further adds that newly wed brides ought to 'make small adjustments and quit long conversations for at least two years to win over the husband and the family'.
Indian women have long suffered from gender oppression which permeates all levels of the Indian social structure. The middle class are just as guilty of the working classes of demanding subordination from daughters and daughter-in-laws alike. What makes this communique shocking are the following two reasons:
1. An official body set up to look after the social interests of women has taken the side of the unjust and unreasonable patriarchal attitudes of the society it operates in rather than attempting to change attitudes; and
2. The Commission believes that domestic violence, sexual abuse and harrassment are actually the fault of the women concerned. There's no recognition of the severity of these offences nor that these are criminal offences. Instead, the Commission views these offences as moral acts and bestows the husbands with an implied authority to carry on doing these things whenever a wife is seen as behaving out of turn.
Amnesty International reports that more than 7,000 women in India will be murdered by their in-laws and families. Rape is the fastest growing crime in India against women. Are mobile phones to blame for all this too?
Sunday, 8 May 2011
I am a Motherhood Activist and spoke at an international conference (see previous blog) about the subjectivity of Motherhood. The traits of a good mother are always named as: being a good nurturer, being always there for your child, being supportive, endlessly patient, being loving all the time, always putting your child first over everything else and providing an environment of constant activity and fun.
The world we live in puts so much pressure on Mothers: mothers who don't work are expected to be constantly sacrificial towards the needs of their children because if mothers don't work then they must have all the time in the world to tend to their children; and mothers who do work must suffer the guilt of being away from the family home and never be bold enough to proclaim that work is an important part of her life.
With such an onslaught of prescriptive information and advice on motherhood I think a push back is needed to stop us going mad. Shake off the shackles of strait jacketed mothering. Be subjective in your approach to mothering but without faltering from the paramount role of giving love and providing a level of parental control that sets boundaries for your children. Weave your own motherhood story out of this and throw away the 'how to' books on what you should and shouldn't be doing.
Happy Mother's Day.
Friday, 6 May 2011
Osama Bin Laden is dead but I fear that Al Qaeda's mistreatment of women will still continue. Evidence in the past week seems to suggest that Al Qaeda will carry on the legacy of death and destruction despite the leader's death because history has shown that such malevolent acts became a trade mark of the organisation practising it for as long as the organisation continues to exist. The abuse of women was long part of the subversive culture of the organisation.
In 2007 it was discovered in Iraq that Al Qaeda had been using rape as a weapon of terror against those women who had been deemed to have transgressed their 'laws' or, purely, for the pleasure of executing an act of violence. Members would break into houses and gang rape women and then take the women back to an Al Qaeda cell to be gang raped by the others. Often young girls were kidnapped because there was a high chance that these girls were virgins.
Quite ludicrously, to put it mildly, women's basic freedoms were curtailed to the extent that a ban was imposed on them buying cucumbers because of a cucumber's resemblance to being a phallic symbol. More seriously, women haven't been allowed to work, be educated and move around freely in society. Al Qaeda is rightly seen as an enemy of the west but many acts of cruelty are conducted against Muslim women too as this shows.
I hope that the abuse of women by Al Qaeda will form a part of Western considerations when dealing with those countries or organisations who are sympathetic to Al Qaeda's aims. Women's rights is an international issue and a global approach is needed to address women's plight in the face of religious fundamentalism
Thursday, 28 April 2011
A mother poses with her three children, presenting a picture of happiness, but last year she killed them brutally. Today she was sentenced to jail for 18 years. I call myself a Mother Activist but I am still more shocked at a mother killing her children then a father doing the same.
Yet, according to the American Anthropological Association, more than 200 women kill their children in the United States each year. Three to five children a day are killed by their parents. Homicide is one of the leading causes of death of children under age four.
Why then does society, I include myself here,treat such incidents as if it were such a rare occurence? I attribute this foolish naivety to the unrealistic motherhood model of self-sacrificing mothers who are expected to divest themselves of any shortcomings when it comes to their children. These mothers aren't expected to have any human quirks such as personality disorders, low self-esteem or to suffer from depression. It is as if women who are mothers have split personalities: the mother side is one of perfection in every sense and the other 'normal' side is only allowed to reveal itself when the children aren't around.
When society learns to twin these two personalities mothers will,finally, be recognised as human beings who are multi-dimensional. Mothers do not have to be denied for the advancement of children. On the contrary, violence is probably a by-product of the subversion of motherhood. I am not excusing this mother's actions but am seeking to point out that mothers who kill may not have gone on to do so if there was a recognition of the struggles endured by mothers. To chip away at the outmoded notion of motherhood isn't to reduce it but rather to strengthen it. The construction of a new model of motherhood will, consequently, benefit those children who are at risk in their homes.
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
This piece was carried as a front page feature by www.modernmom.com
On the 29th of April 2011 Cinderella will marry her Prince. The British Royal Family will receive the sort of press coverage that we haven’t seen since Princess Diana’s funeral. The role of Cinderella in this modern fairy tale will be played by Kate Middleton and the Prince is William.
Cinderella, as we all know, was young, beautiful and a sacrificial female who waited for the right man, a Prince no less, to come along and rescue her. Fast forward to contemporary times and we have Kate. She is a living example of one of the first fairy tales that little girls are introduced to and, alas is proof that such dreams can come true for a few. The Disney magic of Cinderella with the magic of mice turning into soldiers, swishy gowns with stars on them and high heels isn’t just stuff made of empty wishful dreams and therein lies the trouble with fairytales.
They do nothing for feminism but trot out the same old tale of a woman waiting to be given a new lease of life by a man, whether he is a real Prince or not, in the form of a wedding ring. The debate on whether Kate has set back the feminist agenda is a much discussed one among women everywhere, especially in Britain. Not a week goes by without a media article on this issue and discussion centres around the fact that Kate seem to have done nothing with her life between leaving university and getting married save for a short spell at a fashion house.
I don’t think anyone is questioning her decision to get married but rather the fact that she seemed to have slipped into the lifestyle of an age gone where women didn’t do too much for fear of being seen as being too clever and overshadowing the man who marries her. Her period of languish is being seen as a fantasy fuelled period – ‘One day my Prince will come’. Prince William did not actually propose to Kate till a few months ago so many of her years have been spent languishing, for want of a better word. Hence the nickname given to Kate by the British media – ‘Waity Katey’
The romantic among you may say that she is doing all this for love. Does love have to be so sacrificial and in high doses even before one gets married? Marriage does involve an element of sacrifice for the better good of the union but if she has done this much so far what will be the expectations of the Royal Family from her? This family does not encourage independent and innovative thinking women.
What I find quite sad is the fact that her parents have been quite complicit in all this. As a Modern Mom I would have been quite despondent if this was my daughter’s life being played out. I want my daughter to realise the power of her selfhood and this means reaping the benefits of her good education to enter the workforce where she will challenge herself in many ways. My daughter is a person in her own right and must never wait for a man to validate her. The 20s are a defining era in a woman’s life. It’s not only about entering the workforce but about learning a whole new set of life skills. It’s when women have earning power and the financial means to travel and explore new avenues in life. It is the first taste of proper adulthood when you have to make decisions yourself and be accountable for them.
The current economic global perspective is marshalling a greater than ever social move towards personal effort and economic autonomy independent of welfare issues. Given this it is absolutely crucial for a woman to be able to demonstrate free will and make wise choices that will not only sustain her in the current but for the future as well.
Little girls must be taught that the story of Cinderella can be rewritten to show that this fairy tale figure could have fought back by being assertive and strong willed. She may have still married her Prince but the marriage would not have been a life saving device. It would have been a union of two people in love who were willing to accommodate the needs of the other. More marriages fail than succeed and it would be wrong for mothers to pass on the fairy tale message unfiltered.
Saturday, 16 April 2011
A 'Helicopter Parent' is a term used to refer to parents who adopt a parenting approach that has them hovering over their children's lives almost in an interfering manner regardless of whether the child needs them or not in any particular situation. It has also been referred to as 'overparenting' because these parents seek to smooth their children's lives out for them without giving the child an opportunity to work out a solution for themself.
This approach is most commonly seen in educational institutions where parents barge in to see teachers or university lecturers to demand that their child be given a better grade or mark because that is what he/she deserves, according to the parent's observation.
Helicopter parenting is made easier by modern gadgetry so distance is no barrier to calling your child up to check on what they are doing. Parents have been known to call their child's mobile to wake her/him up in the morning. Sarah Briggs, Confessions of a Helicopter Parent, calls this the 'world's longest umbilical chord'.
Such a parenting approach goes against my theory of mothering which advocates teaching your child the skills of autonomy of thought and action so that he/she will have a framework from which to draw upon when making important decisions. Also, the decision to leave the child to get on must be age appropriate too. I would not entrust my 11 year old with the decision on how her savings ought to be invested. However, I do seek her opinions on her choice of subjects and how best to tackle her homework because this is an age appropriate life skill to be learning.
Sunday, 20 March 2011
I can't believe how time has flown since MIRCI and CRIA held a joint conference on 'Mothering and Motherhood in the 21st Century: Research and Activism' in Lison, Portugal on 18 and 19 February 2011. I can't believe how time has flown since MIRCI and CRIA held a joint conference on 'Mothering and Motherhood in the 21st Century: Research and Activism' in Lison, Portugal on 18 and 19 February 2011.
The conference explored how scholars and activists challenge normative motherhood and develop new experiences, practices, identities, meanings, activisms, ideologies and policies for empowered mothering. In the context of this I learnt about how women from around the world are making inroads with their brand of feminist mothering which is making incremental changes globally.
Dr Andrea O'Reilly,, MIRCI, opened the session with an analysis of what the 21st century motherhood movement looks like ahead of her book which is due out this year on the same subject. The shape shifting scenario, she said, alludes precise definition. Dr O'Reilly spoke of a diffused motherhood movement which champions rights in areas such as pre-school and social security. In other words, women in all spheres of life are acting as champions. She contrasted this with the male model of leadership which holds central power. The female model, instead, is dispersed but nonetheless strong and effective and uses new media technology to spread the message i.eg Twitter, email, bloggin and Facebook.
My participation at the conference certainly backed up Dr O'Reilly's theory that the movement is diffused. I sat in on events in which women spoke about:
a) 'A New Generation of Mothers Reshaping Their Communities, one email at a time' by Ann Wallace, USA, on how her activism centres on who she was as a mother and how silence wasn't an option for her.
b) 'Searching Feminist Perspective To Mothers' Substance Use Problem' by Ritva Natkin, Finland, who spoke about how there is a problem in fairly describing and naming the different problems that mothers experience. As an example, 'addicted' could mean poor, tired, depressed or traumatized. She said the media is guilty of categorising and stimatizing women's problems by their careless use of language.
c)'Motherhood, Radicals and Cold War Politics in the Voice of Women, Canada' by Marie Hammond-Callaghan who used the life history of Barbara Roberts, a Canadian peace historian, to demonstrate that maternalism may have been used to embolden mothers in their fight back against injustice.
d)'Learning to Mother Ourselves:Nurturing the Self Through Improvised Role Enactment' by Arlene Vadum, USA, who spoke about the need for women to try an experimental approach to life by learning to look after themselves as a person. I think most mothers would identify with this need.
The above is a microcosm of the women and subjects presented at Lisbon.
My talk was titled 'Chocolate & Contemplative Discussion on Ambition in Your Mothering'. I handed out a box of chocolates as a metaphor: you don't know what style of mothering you will adopt till you become a mother yourself. Mothering is a subjective persona.
Many thanks to MIRCI and CRIA for this wonderful conference which showed attendees the layers of mothering that goes on around the world and the diversity within it.
Sunday, 6 February 2011
I look forward to meeting other like minded mothers in Portugal.