It’s officially been a big day.

A big day, a crazy busy week, a hectic month, and a hell of a year.

Perhaps by way of example, I can provide an insight into the busyness of the last week or two by describing the number of messes we’ve had to clean up this evening. Firstly, there was wine glass that smashed when the box of straws were being pulled from the cupboard. The straws were destined to go into the banana smoothies that the kids were having for dessert. Glass went everywhere. Quite possibly into the waiting smoothies, so not only did the bench have to be cleaned up but the shakes had to be remade.

Then there was the glass of port that was knocked over, all over the computer desk and keyboard. And lastly the dog knocked over a couple of pot plants, smashing one ceramic pot and getting potting mix in the basket of clean washing that was sitting below the coffee table upon which the plants had been placed.

We are supposed to be celebrating tonight, for today the final hard bound copy of my thesis was submitted this morning. Finally. For it has been a long, slow journey. (I started in 2001, close to ten years ago. I studied part-time, deferred at one point, had two kids. My thesis was a very stop/start enterprise. But, it’s done now, truly done and dusted). Apparently it will all be official next week when I receive the letter that declares that I’ve officially qualified for the degree of PhD. (Woohoo, WOOT! And all that jazz!).

So this morning while I was somewhat preoccupied with the lovely bound copies of my thesis that I received yesterday and had to get to the right office today, our dog was taken to the vet to be desexed. In the extra rushed morning rush I completely forgot to send with my daughter the music for the song she had chosen to sing in today’s audition. She was trying out for her school’s talent show that is being held next week. It wasn’t until I pulled up at school to pick her up this afternoon that it dawned on me that she’d gone to school without it. As she came out of the gate I apologised, but was complimented by one of the teachers on her strong clear voice. Apparently, she had gotten up and managed to sing “A whole new world” fairly well without any musical accompaniment. Phew. So she made it through the audition, and will be singing in next week’s show, with or without the music, the choice is hers.

So the beagle has been inside all evening (knocking things over due to his surgery collar) while he recovers from his operation, so we decided not to go out to celebrate the finally submitted thesis. Perhaps festive season fatigue is also factor in our decision to keep things low key tonight. We had the lad’s Christmas concert last night, my work Xmas party tomorrow night and my husband’s the following night.

So I’m sharing my news with you tonight. It still feels surreal at the moment. It’s kinda hard to get excited right now. I mean, I’m quietly excited. That’s the problem with being as laid back as I am, excitement is more of a slow burn than an intense flare.

I just said to my husband “I’m hoping next week’s letter makes it feel real. I still feel as if someone could pull the rug out from under me, like I haven’t crossed my “i’s” and dotted my “t’s”. ” He replied “There’s your problem, you crossed where you should have dotted and dotted where you should have crossed”. Oh Frack! 😉

Anyhow, enough from me. I hope that the silly season is not wearing you right out and that joy, friendship and love come your way. If you need some good reading, please check out the latest Down Under Feminists Carnival, its full (as usual) of feminist goodness and awesome writing. My current plan is to finish my glass of port and get a good night’s sleep. Night!

Crime and punishment, or the lass turns seven.

My daughter turned seven a couple of weeks ago. Seven years old. It’s like a new page in the book of her childhood. She seems rather more grown up, a medium-sized child now, no longer so much a “little girl”. I’m not going to go so far as to call her a tween, because she’s still so much a kid. I know that tween stands for “in- between”, no longer a child, not yet a teenager, but my girl is not a tween, she is a child. She’s mysterious and private and flighty, messy, creative, a dreamer and kinda into that girly stuff that I’m into critiquing, but she’s still very definitely a kid. Tween almost seems to mean mini-teen, as far as the marketers and manufacturers are concerned and I am reminded that I may have to write to the clothing manufacturers and let them know that my daughter and many like her are not Tweens. They are kids and would like to dress as such. I’ve noticed already as I went to buy some summer clothes, that now that I can no longer shop for her for in the little girl section of the shop (sizes 2 – 6), but am consigned to the tween section (sizes 7 – 14) it is increasingly hard to find appropriate clothing. You know, stuff that looks as though it was made for the playground and not the dance floor.

As she gets older I notice how different she is to me as a child. Which of course is to be expected, as she is her own person. But our differences in temperament are so stark I wonder whether my parenting style clashes with her personality. We’ve had our moments, shall we say, and there has been times when I question myself.

She was sent to her room, punished for some misdemeanor – probably she was accused of doing wrong by her sibling. In her mind the punishment was entirely undeserved, this was a travesty of justice. She sat in her room seething with the injustice of it all, it was so unfair. The time in confinement was spent devising suitable punishments for her horrible mother who had so unfairly treated her. The perfect vengeance was imagined – her mother was a witch. She would like to lock the witch in a cage and feed her poison for two weeks, not enough poison to kill her, but enough to make her suffer for a while. I don’t know why, but the vengeance fantasy took the sting out of the punishment, and so calmed her that when she was called from her room, having been there for what was considered to be an appropriate amount of time, she not only apologised to mother but confessed the fantasy. She said that she was so angry that she’d wanted to punish her mother and had imagined what she’d like to do. She honestly explained to her mother about wanting to lock her in a cage and feed her poison, but she’d changed her mind, was sorry for whatever it was that had gotten her sent to her room and wanted to be friends with Mum again. A nice reconciliation took place.

That was me many years ago, plotting to lock up my mother. I can no longer remember what it was I was in trouble for, but I do remember telling mum exactly what I’d wanted to do and how angry I’d been. I think she was shocked at my honesty. We forgave each other and I don’t remember ever having such strong vengeful desires towards my mother after that. I also grew out of believing in fairy tale type punishments.

When I recently remembered that incident from my childhood I figured that I’m probably doing ok with my daughter. As far as I know she’s never harbored a desire to poison me, or lock me up in a cage.

Rambling greetings from a neglected blog

Hello, hello, anyone out there?

*Cough, Cough* Hmm, dusty.

What’s been happening?

Is that…? –  Yes, I do believe that’s tumbleweed.

*Clears tumbleweed, chases down dust bunnies, frantically tidies*

Ok, here we are. So yeah, I have rather neglected this blog haven’t I? Turned my back on it, done other things, seen other people, been busy and all that. So what have I been up that has kept me so occupied that I haven’t summoned the energy to comment on the election? Which, incidentally has produced an eminently interesting result, even through at this point (two weeks post-election) we are still not sure what that result is.

Well there’s been a range of things occupying my time and my mind.

You may know that I started full time (paid) work in February. Well, this full time employment gig keeps you busy doesn’t it? Having never worked in a full time salaried position before I expected this to be a shock to my system but really the busyness has actually been less than the proceeding months in which I completed the PhD thesis. Yes, I don’t know whether I mentioned it or not, but I handed in the thesis on the same day that I started my job. Probably not the best way to start but there you go, that’s the way it happened.

So what was it like submitting the thesis, this thing that I’d been labouring inconsistently over for the better part of nine years? Anticlimactic, truth be told.  (It was handed in 6 and a half months ago, and I haven’t yet heard how I’ve gone, so that’s a little…annoying, shall we say).

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In other things you do that keep  you away from blogging, we moved house in June. It was the 26th of June. Two days after Australia got its first female PM. The house that we moved out off we returned to a week later and spent the next two weeks painting, renovating, removing junk from, and generally preparing for market (all the while I was still juggling the full time jig, it just doesn’t conveniently fade away when one has other priorities does it?). Anyway, in news to make you sigh with relief, that house was promptly sold (and settled yesterday actually, so yay, we no longer have pay two mortgages).

I may sound flippant about move and the sell but I’m quietly sad. It was our first house – a charming two bedroom miners cottage. A dump when we moved in, and nicely restored inside when we moved out. When we bought it, we intended to be there maybe five years. Then we thought we’d buy something bigger and start our family.  Well, of course, best laid plans and all that jazz. We ended up staying eight and a half years, and twelve months after we moved in I fell pregnant. So when we moved out it was with two kids and a dog and an excess of stuff. The kids and the stuff necessitated the purchase of, and move to a bigger place.

Been here in the new house for the last two and a half months and it still doesn’t quite feel like home, yet. I’m sure that’ll change. My daughter loves it here. She now has her own room and thinks that this larger house, with the nicer outlook and the handy proximity to a park is the best place in the world (Ahhhh, to look at the world with the eyes of a child – I look at this house and I see another house that needs major renovation work).

My son is not so happy. He keeps asking to ‘go home’. The morning after we moved in, we awoke to the sounds of his sobbing and he told his father that he was scared. Then he vomited all over me. And I thought to myself, “Yep, we are officially moved in now”. (Doesn’t everyone christen a new house with some sort of bodily fluid?, actually don’t think deeply on that question, it was silly and a bit dirty). It takes a drama to make a house yours, and our first drama arrived less than 24 hours after we did.

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There’s been other stuff too. “Issues” you might say. IRL deterioration of a precious relationship which has tainted blogging. So rather than blog, I’ve spent the last few months lurking in my fav places (see the blogroll if you can’t contain your curiousity),  and on twitter and improving my bejewelled stats. You know, concentrating on the important things. And keeping up with that shit is really tiring you know. Exhausting actually.

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In other news we got a puppy. This is Billy.

Cheeky mischevious hole digging not yet house trained Beagle

Billy

Foolishness? or Misogyny?

Perhaps both in equal measure – foolish misogyny from a misogynistic fool.  Yes, Steve Fielding I am taking about you. Do you seriously believe that

“Drug addicts and welfare cheats can go out there and get themselves pregnant and then after 20 weeks have an abortion and still pocket the Government’s cash,” he said.

Family First Senator Steve Fielding has been condemned by other senators for suggesting women might have an abortion after 20 weeks to try to claim paid parental leave.

I have to wonder if you are serious – do you really believe that women are cunning and calculating enough to get pregnant, then have a late-term abortion, then claim that it was a stillbirth and then OMG! shamelessly take the government’s money. Kinda a lot to go through for the minimum wage for 18 weeks, I mean, the supposed diabolical pregnancy would last longer than the cash flow.

But perhaps you are serious, after your religion has inculcated you with the belief that women are responsible for the entry of evil into the world, and I suppose that if that’s the basis of your twisted logic, I can see how you might seriously think that masses of evil women could rort the system in such a manner. Seriously, though, when Barnaby Joyce is telling you that what you are doing is contemptuous [perhaps he meant contemptible?] then perhaps you really should take a long hard look at yourself.

I wholeheartedly agree with News with Nipples who awarded you the Tony Abbott Budgie Smuggler award for Excellence in the Field of Misogyny. So take your award and go listen to the angels.

Funnily enough, I’m not all that surprised

at the results of this research (reported here). Here’s my version of the snippet that the ABC presented. [Strikethrough and bold = my edits].

Men doing chores reduces divorce risk: study

Divorce rates are lower in families in which husbands help out with the housework, shopping and child care, according to a study of 3,500 British couples.

The research by the London School of Economics, entitled Men’s Unpaid Work and Divorce, found that the more husbands helped out, the lower the incidence of divorce.

The study said its conclusions blew open the theory patriarchal myth running since (at least!) the 1960s that marriages were most stable when men focused on paid work and women were responsible for housework.

“The lowest-risk combination is one in which the mother does not work participate in the paid work-force and the father engages in the highest level of housework and child care,” the study found.

I just *love* how that last sentence typifies the way in which mother’s unpaid labour is constantly being rendered invisible. In reporting about a study entitled “Men’s Unpaid Work and Divorce” they can not make clear the distinction between women’s unpaid and paid work – rather only counting paid work as ‘work’ (wow, how special is men’s unpaid work – it gets counted and measured while women’s doesn’t even exist!), even when the results suggest that when men help out with the unpaid work it decreases a couple’s chance of divorce.

Of course, while revealing nothing all that surprising, the study itself continues to reinforce heternormality and the privilege accorded to marriage above other forms of relationship by its lack of investigation into any other form of long-term partnership.

Edited to Add: What is also entirely unsurprising is the fact that with the article ending – “The lowest-risk combination is one in which the mother does not work and the father engages in the highest level of housework and child care” the comments thread on the story was riddled with comments such as:

agnesal: So if mum gets to sit at home all day eating chocolates and dad goes to work then comes home and does the majority of the house work, mum will be happy and less likely to file for divorce. Now there’s a surprise.

JW: So the marriages where the women do the least and the men the most last the longest – sounds like these people need some lessons in shared responsibility. I’m guessing these guys are also the most henpecked.

The Down Under Feminists Carnival is here!

And I do mean literally here! Because this month I am pleased to be your host for the 21st Edition.

So let me pour you a cuppa (how do you take it?) and let’s enjoy this over high tea, shall we?

Well that’s January been and gone. What has happened in the last month?

It seems to have been a quiet month on the blogging front, what with the summer heat and rain and holidays and back to school and the myriad of other things going on this time of year, but there is still plenty to enjoy in terms of feminist writing.

The New Year has been seen in:

And we’ve been wished a Happy New Year! by Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty. And there has been some farewells too, leading Queen Emily to question The legacies of trans-exclusive feminism at her post at Hoyden About Town.

There has been some great discussion about things relating to the domestic sphere – the home, house and family concerns.

Tansy Rayner Roberts has been Writing While The House is Messy at tansyrr.com.

Parenting is a perennial topic, and January saw discussion of the added complexities when the parenting is being done by a step-parent. Stepmum Of The Year wonders Rights? What rights should step parents have? and Stef at A Touch of the Crazy is inquiring Does stepparenting = step-mothering?

Meanwhile, Sophie at 2 B Sophora paints a poignant picture of One woman and her guard.

As usual with feisty feminist writers there has been some great posts relating to Race, Rights and Identity

A shiny new coin muses on taxes and toilets. Tigtog, at Hoyden About Town, looks at Complacency, Indifference and Intent (or lack thereof) in terms of the discussion around the attacks on Indian students. Chally makes it clear that Disability is not your analogy at Zero at the Bone, and she examines The Privileges and Pains of Passing. Stephiepenguin examines her racial identity and muses and it looks like… posted at 天高皇企鹅远.  In examining identity and insults girliejones wonders Do some insults hurt less?

January 23 was Blogging for Choice Day  – this year with the theme of ‘Trust Women’

Deborah – In a strange land,  asks that we  Trust women, and Tigtog was also Blogging for Choice,  at   Hoyden About Town.

In addition to trust, respect was also a bit of a reoccurring theme this month.

Chally reminds us of The importance of women’s friendships at Zero at the Bone.  Deborah In a strange land sends a Note to Mike Rann: the title is “Ms”. Pharaoh Katt asks that we respect children and their bodies and not  Name and Shame them at Something More Than Sides.

The disrespectful and denigrating of image of the older woman as the ‘cougar’ seems to be an increasing presence in popular culture and thankfully this is being critiqued.  Fuck Politeness writes of Karaoke and cougars. Julie at The Hand Mirror suggests that there has been Vileness, and a bit of irony, from Air NZ and she gives us More on Air NZ’s cougar rubbish. The Luddite Journo asks why Those damn cougars just won’t lie back and think of England ?

Posts pertaining to politics and activism.

Deborah at In a strange land gives us A fabulous resource for feminists, womanists, disabilism activists, equality activists. January’s been an interesting month politically and Rachel Hills at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman has Sex advice for my future children… inspired by Tony Abbott. At the frogblog,  Catherine Delahunty asks Will Cathy Taewa get answers from Paula and Nick?

Posts pertaining to Body image and Sexuality

The bad news, according to The Dawn Chorus, is that Female Ejaculation Doesn’t Exist.   Also, did you know that Jennifer Hawkins does ‘real beauty’ wrong – In case you hadn’t realised blue milk examines the fallout from ‘that’ magazine cover.

Posts pertaining to fashion and rape culture – unfortunately paired together because all you need to know about rape culture has been encapsulated on some men’s T-shirt

(trigger warnings for the links to the posts in this section)

Chally, writing at Feministe looks at the offending and offense shirts in Today in selling misogyny and LudditeJourno has learnt that from said fashion items that It’s not rape if you yell surprise. If that’s what being sold and worn does the existence of such Virtual realities: Sydney University’s “pro-rape” Facebook group surprise anyone? It doesn’t surprise Chloe  at Feministing.

The dismissal from court of a particular gang rape case has led to Emma Hart at Public Address fantasising about chocolate mousse aerosol cans so that we can get All Together Now.

The rules of consent still apply in a group sex situation. Which is why it also doesn’t help when, at the other end of the spectrum, people say that women can’t consent to group sex, or will only do so under social pressure, or maybe only think they do because they’re buying into a male viewpoint. Both viewpoints assume that group sex is always one woman and a group of men. Both remove the emphasis from whether the woman said yes or no – because how can I have the ability to say no unless I also have a meaningful ability to say yes?

Of course, someone has once again blamed Feminism for the rise of raunch culture, but the news with nipples has been writing about Feminism and dolls in order to set them straight.

Posts pertaining to the Media and Movies

Rachel Hills presents Sex & The City and the great (feminist?) quest for love at her blog Musings of an Inappropriate Woman.

Lauredhel gives us Arsevertising*: Will You Be Ready For Your First Time? posted at Hoyden About Town. And she also examines That Homebirth Study in South Australia that was blatantly misrepresented in the media, also at Hoyden About Town.

Tansy Rayner Roberts  at tansyrr.com gives us a review of The Princess and the Frog.

Miscellaneous Musings

Kiwi back in Sydney! gives us a lovely walk through the Melbourne: CERES Garden. Jo Tamar at Wallaby has been Talking about mansplaining…. While meganwegan at Craft is the New Black reflects on Honesty, Anarkaytie gives us a Follow-up to academic feminism to be found at Anarkaytie’s Weblog.

Writing and Sci Fi

girlie jones not only looks at  the latest in female presence in SF ToCs but she asks do You know what’s fun to read in the debate on gender disparity in SF? .

And to see the carnival off, Whileawaying invites us to a Book Launch!

Well, its been lovely hosting you. I hope that you’ve enjoyed the tea and the writing.

Next month the carnival will be at Fuck Politeness‘ place. And don’t forget to submit (see here) – your own posts and those of other down under feminists that you’ve enjoyed reading this February.

Compromise

This is the post where I give a review of the movie currently on high rotation in the DVD player and where I discuss some of the tricky aspects of being a feminist mother trying to raise her kids amidst a culture chock a block full of toxic, pernicious pornified *over-marketed crap.  So much of what is marketed at kids, at girls in particular, is not particularly healthy.  (While the vast majority of the stuff that is marketed as being for children is extremely gender bifurcated, I think that girls stuff can tend to be worse because there’s a sexual/sexualised element tendency in girls toys –  such as these dolls).

A very good friend of mine lent me this movie for my five year old girl to watch, she also wanted to know what I thought of it.  She had purchased in a fit of desperation, in a search for something, anything, that her girls would like that wasn’t princesses.  She was fed up with Princesses.  She just wanted something where the role of the protagonist involved something more than securing her prince.  And that how she ended up with Disney’s latest offering, Tinkerbell.  In comparison to what her girls had been watching, she loved it.  “Tinkerbell’s a Tinker!  She has a trade! She does something, she works with her hands! Here! Watch it!  Kindergarten Girl will love it! You’ll love it! It’s great!”

Indeed, Kindergarten Girl does love it.  The way her face glowed when the movie started was beautiful to behold.  Her eyes lit up as the music started, when there’s that castle with the starry backdrop.  Disney does do magic sooo well.  And yes it is a lovely movie.  The characters are sassy, funny, and erudite ( one even uses the word ‘elucidate’ ).  The music is beautiful and the animation gorgeous.  No princes in sight.  The plot revolves about the ‘being happy with who you are’ bit that seems all the rage in kids/teens movies these days (although in this case, like an awful lot of movies, the character learning self acceptance just happens to be the best at some particular thing and ends up the hero of the day – does this message help us mere mortals learn self acceptance I wonder?)

I do like it, but of course I have, shall I say, reservations about the movie.  I am not enamoured of Tinkerbell’s sexy, svelte look.  Big eyes, hips and curvy figure encased in a short dress.  In fact, the scene where she gives herself a make-over and emerges in her green outfit to have one of her male friends be so dazzled by her look that he fails to recognise her, and her other male friend has his glasses pop out in shock, is my least favourite.  Is it really necessary to fixate on her appearance?  The other aspect of the movie that doesn’t grab me, is the plot device that revolves around the jealous, bitchy character.  To my mind, its stereotypical teenage behaviour being modelled to little girls.  I don’t know, maybe I’m just being picky, as there is lots to like about the movie, especially the knowing references to the Peter Pan story.

That’s the thing with these movies, they are being marketed on two levels.  On the one hand they are designed to be appealing to kids.  On the other hand, they are designed to be enjoyed by adults also. If the adults enjoy a movie, they are much more likely to let the kids watch it, over and over, and over and over again.  If I don’t like a movie, I’m much more likely to try and convince suggest to my kids that they might like to watch something else.  So kids movies, and especially Disney’s, are full of adult jokes and sophisticated humour just so us parents will be willing accomplices in our kids obsessions.  And a whole world of merchandising purchase potential is opened up.

So compromise.  That’s what I do.  I let my kids watch stuff I have misgivings about for two reasons.  One, they are their own persons, their own little selves and I can’t control their personalities and tastes (of course I do try to rein in the unacceptable impulses that young kids are want to have, but overall I’m an influence not a dictator  – and I’ll not exposure them to stuff that I think is entirely inappropriate).  Two, I feel that I’m trying to strike that balance, the middle ground, where they are aware of the pop culture stuff around them  but not too embroiled in all of it.  I am attempting to rise environmentally aware kids, with a feminist conscience.  So, for me, that means trying not be sucked into consumeristic materialism but at the same time letting them explore their interests and follow where their imagination leads them.

* It is not the princess stuff, per se, that I object to, its the RELENTLESS marketing of ubiquitious products peddling a dubious version of compulsory femininity.  From here “Playing princess is not the issue,” argues Lyn Mikel Brown, an author, with Sharon Lamb, of “Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters From Marketers’ Schemes.” “The issue is 25,000 Princess products,” says Brown, a professor of education and human development at Colby College. “When one thing is so dominant, then it’s no longer a choice: it’s a mandate, cannibalizing all other forms of play. There’s the illusion of more choices out there for girls, but if you look around, you’ll see their choices are steadily narrowing.”