Tag Archives: Parenting

Mothers who say F**ck

30 Dec

I recently engaged in a robust exchange of views with one of my sons. This particular adult child has long-held a reputation for forgetting to tell anybody things, unless we happen to be in the same room as him when something that might need to be told to us occurs.

On this most recent occasion, the stuff he forgot to tell me was totes important, and my lack of knowledge caused me untold aggravation, and the rest. So I rang him up and let him know where he currently stood with me. As he’s always thought of himself as “the good child,” this came a something of a shock.

First we had to deal with the “oh, it was just a misunderstanding” meme. No it wasn’t, I told him, I didn’t misunderstand anything how could I when you didn’t tell me anything I could misunderstand?

Then we negotiated the “Mum you’re losing control” meme. I’m not losing control, I told him, are you? And by the way, you really need to learn the difference between expressing emotion and losing control. The two are not necessarily the same thing, I told him.

I was also thinking of his wife when I said this. I thought, I bet he says this to her when there’s a disagreement, so I better bring him up to speed about women expressing ourselves. This “you’re losing control” thing is an attempt to shut us up, a projection, and a put down. In my experience it is usually said by males who fear they are losing an argument, though it’s not necessarily gender-based.

Finally, I was reduced by his wilful obduracy to foul language. Fucking hell, I said. “Don’t swear at me down the phone, Mum,” he demanded. Oh my! I cackled, in capital sarcasm font, so in your moral universe me swearing is a bigger offence than you not telling me stuff I really needed to know?

“We’re going round in circles,” he bleated. Indeed we are, I replied, taking pity. Let’s sleep on it and talk again in a couple of days.

My sons taught me foul language. Since becoming husbands and fathers they’ve turned on me. I can’t swear, and I’m reprimanded every time I do something they consider the least bit edgy and that is quite a lot of stuff I do and say. Last time I took Archie out and stopped for coffee, his father asked me if I’d left the baby in the car while I went into the cafe. I looked long at him, and shook my head in a WTF kind of way.  Archie’s mother then stepped in and reminded her husband that he’d survived my mothering quite well, and he should perhaps pull his head in.

I am extremely fond of Archie’s mum. I see a lot of me in her. Archie is also showing signs of a possibly anarchic personality. On his recent first plane trip, and though only fourteen months old, he stood up on his seat and hurled peanuts at the passengers sitting behind him till his dad grabbed him by the nappies and hauled him off to the toilet where he gave him a stern talking-to and probably told him he was losing control.

I’m considering forming a group called “Mothers Who Say Fuck.”  I’m sure I’m not the only mother who overnight finds herself dealing with a role reversal initiated by her adult children who for some reason, and without consultation, have cast her as the irresponsible adolescent and themselves as long-suffering adults who are burdened with keeping an eye on her and monitoring her language. I can’t quite get my head around this phenomenon. All things considered, they have some nerve.

This attitude does, however, make for a special bond between grandmothers and grandchildren. We share a common cause – defying their parents. We will both be instructed to mind our mouths. We will both be exhorted to act responsibly, and to act our age. On the positive side, we can sit at tables and roll our eyes at one another when their parents issue yet another fucking edict. We can slink off and comfort one another when we’ve been reprimanded and given time outs. We will always know we have each other, when everyone else is pissed off at us because we’ve thrown the metaphorical peanuts. Oh, yeah. I see only good times ahead for Archie and me.

Me and Archie

 

 

 

Dear Joe Hockey

21 May

Dear Joe Hockey,

Meet Archie. According to you Archie has the ideal parental configuration, that is, he has a male and a female parent as his primary carers.

Note I don’t say he has a “mother and father.” That’s because in my experience the attributes the dominant culture (as represented by you in this instance) associates with mothers and fathers aren’t necessarily founded in biology, rather they are cultural constructs and as such, can be assumed by either sex. I have seen male parents in my family engage in “mothering” while I’ve witnessed female parents happily “fathering” away and nobody much cares, as long as the babies are getting what they need.

While Archie meets your standards in terms of immediate family, after that it gets a little wild. This fortunate infant has four grandmothers, two of whom are called Jennifer because one grandfather married the same name twice, though not simultaneously because as yet, nobody’s done polygamy. I don’t see this in our futures either, as the women in our extended family are exceptionally feisty, and most of us see polygamy as favouring the male of the species. The prospect of having more than one male partner at a time leaves us uninspired, though several of us have engaged in serial monogamy.

That being said, Archie does have Mormon-by-marriage cousins in the US, albeit lapsed.

Archie also has five cousins whom we all call the Caramels, owing to their Indian mother and Anglo-Celtic father. These parents were married in two ceremonies, one Catholic and one Hindu. Archie himself recently enjoyed a Catholic baptism and an atheist Name Day, to cater for the disparate choices of his nearest and dearest. All four grandmothers were present including the bisexual one, and nobody got into any recriminatory fights.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot. One of Archie’s great-aunts is also bisexual, and her partner is transgender.

Archie’s parents both work and the extended family as a whole has a strong work ethic, even the sexually adventurous among us. We are all good citizens paying our taxes and staying out of jail.

As yet, we have no idea how Archie will decide to express his sexuality. We don’t much care.

However, all us four grandmothers  love him with a ferocity you don’t want to mess with. If anybody like you tries to put Archie down because of who he loves, they’ll have us to contend with.

Until I was seven, I was brought up by my grandparents. They were then forced to relinquish me to my birth mother and her new husband. A heterosexual pair. In that configuration I experienced physical, sexual and emotional abuse that I barely survived. What I’m saying to you Mr Hockey, is that you and those who think like you are making too many assumptions, and there are too many of us with too much experience who will continue to challenge your assumptions, and we will win.

My family is a big family and we contain many differences. The babies in our family grow up accepting difference because it’s in the familial air they breathe. This is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.

I am sorry for you and your kind, Mr Hockey. I am sorry for your small minds and shrivelled spirits. With my history, I know the miracle of finding human beings who love me and let me love them. I feel sorry for you, Mr Hockey, that you are compelled to judge and reject human beings who don’t fit your narrow vision of what families should be. Maybe if like me, you’d lived in darkness from which you never imagined you’d emerge, you wouldn’t be so damn picky.

I don’t think you will win this battle. There are too many of us who can say, echoing the magnificent words of Penny Wong: “I know what my family is worth.” I know what my hard-won family is worth, Joe Hockey. And none of us need you to tell us how we should be.

Feminist Christian reproduces sexualised images of children on website.

15 Jan
Vogue magazine cover, May 1917

Image via Wikipedia

It’s a complete mystery to me how those demanding the removal of sexualised images of children from the media can justify reproducing those very images in their campaigns.

For example, on the website of Melinda Tankard Reist, Australian feminist Christian advocate for children and women, there’s a series of images reproduced from French Vogue depicting very young children wearing adult clothing, shoes and makeup. Some of them are suggestively posed in sexually suggestive environments.

The point of the post is to cause outrage in readers at these sexualised images of little girls. In order to do that, I suppose their argument goes, readers have to be able to see them.

But there’s something awry about this reasoning. You don’t want these images viewed, you think it’s wrong that they are readily available in the media, and yet you reproduce them on the Internet to make a point?

You disseminate these images yourself, while at the same time railing against their publication in other arenas?

What is going on here?

I wouldn’t like any little girls in our family to be in this Vogue photo shoot. Then again, I wouldn’t like the little girls in our family to be in any Vogue photo shoot, even if they were covered head to toe and clutching soft toys. I want our little girls to do what little girls enjoy doing, and not what adults enjoy little girls doing. From what I’ve heard about photo shoots, they’re no picnic.

My first thought on seeing these pictures was, what were their parents thinking? Surprisingly, nobody addresses this aspect on the MTR website. It’s all Vogue’s fault. Well, it certainly is Vogue’s fault, but some adult caretaker allowed these little girls to do this photo shoot. Some adult caretakers allowed their charges to be transformed into sexualised commodities by French Vogue. As long as parents are willing and eager to offer their children up, somebody will be willing and eager to provide them with the opportunity.

It comes down to the individual. It’s a very personal matter. It’s about morality on a very intimate level, and this is where it has to be addressed, as well as more broadly as a media responsibility.

Perhaps Tankard Reist could have set a personal example by declining to publish the children’s photos on her website?

It would have made her post less titillating, and readers would have had to go find the photos for themselves. But at least it would have been one less publication of those dreadfully sad pictures, and one less exploitation of those little girls.

Tankard Reist criticizes the media for sexualizing children. But what she fails to realize is that she is part of the media. Her blog is on the Internet. Anybody, even the pedophiles she fears will be drawn to these images, can access her blog and see the pictures of the children she has published there.

I don’t think you have to be a parent to feel anguish for these little girls, or to feel a desire to protect them by refusing to perpetuate the circulation of these photographs.

What has happened to feminism that the end now justifies the means?

And doesn’t publishing these photographs make a mockery of their protests against French Vogue?

On the same website there’s a post critical of those who’ve published the names of the women involved in the Assange sexual misconduct allegations. Yet Tankard Reist, apparently without any awareness of what she’s doing, publishes an article by another blogger, in which the women are named!

Tankard Reist has now added her own name to the long list of people who’ve targeted the women by outing them on the Internet.

Then there’s an article by Clive Hamilton, failed Greens federal candidate, and Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University. Under the heading: Dymocks Bookshop: Porn Merchants? Professor Hamilton gives Dymocks a good old telling off for stocking a boxed set containing the first ten years of Playboy.  I can’t imagine what’s in them, and neither, apparently, can Professor Hamilton.

Call me picky, but I always think it’s a good idea to personally acquaint yourself with something, before you go on a public campaign to ban it.

MTR has kindly furnished an email address where you can send your objections to Dymocks about them stocking Playboy and acting like porn merchants.

Clive Hamilton is also a mandatory Internet filtering advocate, whose position is that while some legitimate websites would probably face accidental blocking by a mandatory blacklist, that’s a necessary evil, and that the good outweighs the bad.

Maybe it’s just me, but when I hear phrases like the good outweighs the bad, I get edgy. It sounds as if someone hasn’t really thought things through and they want to shut me up with a phrase designed to repress and suppress.

And who is Hamilton to make decisions for the rest of us? We have to take his definition of the good as a universal and filter the Internet? Non, merci.

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