20 October, 2007


For those who may want to see other posts I've written before, I did have another blog -called "gotta be a better way". I'm now just publishing my thoughts on Ruby Reflections, but if you are interested in what I've been writing about on and off for a couple of years, feel free to check it out.

Motherhood: dreams and hard truths

I was just thinking tonight about what it might be like to go somewhere overseas for a year or so, to take the family so that I might do something I really want to do, like study at Harvard or work in London or something like that.

I soon realised that there's little option for me to do that now, as a woman and a mother.

When I was in late high school and early university, I would swim in the possibilities of life. I could do ANYTHING. I went to a girls' school - girls could do anything! I could go to university, work, do postgraduate study, travel overseas, make something of myself and my life without once compromising my identity. Of course, this vision included being a mother, but kind of as background noise. Never did I contemplate that motherhood would change these possibilities, cancel some out, make some too difficult.

I never realised that having children, despite its incredible rewards (which I didn't really understand either), would slow my life to a crawl for a long period of time - time which I would not get back.

It's generally quite different for men. Women have biological imperatives in mothering that weigh heavily against them in a modern world. Women go through pregnancy, which often means illness and tiredness, as well as pre-natal appointments and responsibilities, so they have trouble being hyper-productive in a competitive world. Women need to go through childbirth and recover from it. Babies need to be breastfed. So women stay at home to care for them.

Partners (generally men) need to support them, so they stay at work. And as a result they can maintain a professional progression in life that we were told we could also have (I should note the big exception in my discussion - namely my partner, who works part-time so we can share care of our children). Even when we return to work, generally part-time, we simply can't compete with these men.

It's funny - I considered myself utterly, indisputably entitled to equality in every way until I had a baby. Then I realised the inherent struggle that I would go through for the rest of my life, but particularly in this decade, to keep my sense of self and my achievements and skills at work alive and well. And I grieved, and I still grieve, for the things I will lose, despite what I will gain.

And I thought: why didn't someone tell me it was going to be like this? Why didn't they tell me I could be an engineer, or a lawyer, or a scientist or surgeon, but that I would be squarely behind the 8-ball as soon as I became a mother? Where are the people who can help us feel that there's a way through this?

My mother couldn't have told me. She left school and has moved up gradually from there. Work for her is a means to independence, but not an identity. Mothering was everything to her. Getting her two girls educated as professionals is one of her greatest achievements, but she herself was not so educated. She did not start life with ignorant expectations of what she could achieve.

My father, nor any other men of that generation, couldn't have told me. They simply have no idea.

It seems that this is a unique problem for those of us raised by mothers from a feminist generation. There are few women who can help us work it out. Those who have done it either sacrificed their motherhood years for the sake of work - yes, a choice, but not one I could make - or admit that it was really, really hard. I want to find these women, and talk about how they do it. I don't want to go to professional womens' symposia that talk about how to find a good nanny. I want to find out how to struggle through and still bear the love of your children as your greatest achievement, amongst others.

I want to find these women because I want to hear their stories, their regrets and their surprises. And because I want to know how to do it, and how to survive the struggle.

05 October, 2007

I love this.


17 September, 2007

Everything's FUCKED except we do have a house

Dear blog readers, please forgive the swearing in the following post:

I hope I can return to the blogosphere to entertain and reflect as before, after a long absence. I'm on my first day of maternity leave and I'm feeling totally shitful. Here's a number of reasons why:

* I work part-time. My boss agreed to consider me for promotion this year. I fell pregnant in February. Since then, it's been nothing but avoidance and excuses. No promotion. (quote: "I've got full-timers here who work till 7 or 8 at night... you might just have to tread water until you come back full time. But then you'll shoot past them, I'm sure!" Yeah right - unless I have a TOTAL NERVOUS BREAKDOWN first)

* I work part-time. Therefore I get a pro-rata amount of maternity leave pay. So I'm on half the income I was last time.

* I work part-time. Therefore my recreation leave (annual leave) only accrues on a pro-rata basis. So I get less rec leave, at less pay, than I did last time. This means I get a QUARTER of the income from rec leave than I did last time.

* I would have left for a better job, but I'm PREGNANT. So I've been stuck with this motherfucker for months.

* I have a (very small) house but NO MONEY. Therefore I cannot catch up with friends, get new tracky pants even though the old ones have holes in them, or go and see a shrink because I'm going insane. I can't see a physio even though my joints are packing it in because of this pregnancy.

* There appear to be wealthy people everywhere. I can't work out where the hell they come from but they PISS ME OFF.

* My Dad seems to be into Landmark Forum positive-thinking crap (which is very easy when you're a highly paid professional) and just tells me to keep "generating" and talks a lot about "the Secret". This also PISSES ME OFF.

* I'm desperately worried about this baby who's being born to a Mum who is SO SERIOUSLY PISSED OFF.

So there's the gist of it, readers. Life's shit. Now piss off.

And thank you for reading, it feels a lot better to get that off my chest.

PS if one more person tells me this is a "transitional period" I'm going to EXPIRE. I'm fucking 8 MONTHS PREGNANT. OF COURSE IT'S A TRANSITIONAL PERIOD. THE PROBLEM IS THE PAIN OF THE TRANSITION.

20 January, 2007

More from la feminista!

I heard crime author Minette Walters talking on the radio the other day about how she was a prison visitor for some time, until she got sick of visiting murderers. Why? Because she found it boring - they're all men who've killed their female partners in a jealous rage. Of the women, most were defending themselves from a brutal partner, but they were jailed because it was not an immediate self-defence, but "in cold blood". Ms Walters began to find that there was nothing interesting in these encounters. Rather, they became depressingly common.

A good friend and family social worker told me last week that she's still getting over Christmas - her workload with violent families escalates dramatically as Christmas approaches.

I have done a number of posts on white ribbon day and domestic violence, and I need not repeat them. However, I still despair about the prevalence of family violence, which is overwhelmingly committed by men, and which overwhelmingly victimises women.

Whilst not all men are monsters, of course, I wonder why the people who boil over and commit horrific violence against their partners are, virtually always, men. I'm sure there are exceptions, but in such minute numbers that they are negligible.

The reason why a man's feelings turn into violence at home is a serious concern. Is ita problem with masculinity itself; a problem with how we raise boys to be men? Many men have serious problems dealing with tension, or conflict, or rejection, and that is because under each of these is vulnerability or sadness, "non-masculine" emotions. Because uncontrollable sadness cannot be tolerated, it "ramps up" to uncontrollable anger.

I think this is a serious problem in the dominant masculine culture for men in general. It is similarly evident in men's own willingness to show violence against each other - but domestic violence has the added aspect of a largely powerless victim.

For example, how many times have I experienced men's rage? The answer is - several. Either from a road rage situation, or at a nightclub hiding in the toilets from a sleazy creature who's getting angry about my rejection, or when I see a "No Fat Chicks - shoot em don't root em" sticker. These are all reminders of men's physical dominance over me. This is violence to some extent, although I haven't been beaten, because they are all reminders of physical dominance and threat.

If you're a bloke, try imagining this, seriously: imagine if fifty percent of the population were a bigger and certainly stronger version of you (let's call them the Alphas). Now imagine that 20% of Alphas have trouble with violent tempers, possessiveness and moodiness. 5% are known to be violent. What's more, the Alphas dominate power structures, everywhere. Now imagine over the years you hear about friends who've been assaulted or abused by the Alphas. It would be enough to make you pretty wary of them. `

Now most Alphas are attractive, in fact loving, most of the time. Alphas are as human as us, but they're bigger and have trouble with emotional stuff, and some of them are even violent towards us though we've done nothing wrong. And they're in the police, the parliament, businesses and families. This is the dilemma that faces women.

The problem is not that women are told that men are violent or dominating by "feministas" - it's that they often experience it first hand. This doesn't have to be a direct experience of violence; simply a feeling of vulnerability in an awkward situation that puts you on guard, that reminds you of your dominated status.

So how does this translate for men? I'm not asking men to be doormats. I'm asking them to recognise reality and help us manage it, so that some women might not be powerless victims of vicious, strong men, or those women who are feel able to escape. This is another reason for something like White Ribbon Day.

Victims often remain victims because they are convinced that nobody wants to know, that nobody actually cares. They are told this all the time, in sickening language. They are told they will be killed if they leave. So the act of leaving is one of phenomenal courage.

I once prosecuted a serious domestic violence case. One of my "victims", after a terrible 3-day beating, had a broken ankle, a head wound and massive bruises. She walked out after her amphetamine-addicted partner crashed on the couch. She remembers every step as she walked out the door. She then knocked on three doors and was rejected by neighbours who "didn't want to know". Eventually, she flagged down a car. The driver took her straight to the hospital.

The sad thing is that we were all betting on whether there would be a murder trial in 2 and a half years' time. The other prosecutors had seen it before.

Another friend of mine grew up in a rough country town where she considered it lucky that her dad was only physically abusive, not sexually like some of her other friends.

My point about this story is that things like white ribbon day might be just the slightest beacon to women in these situations, that they will be supported. I know we're all saturated by consciousness-raising these days, but in this case it might actually make a difference.

06 December, 2006

and more...

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From the 2 year old...

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17 November, 2006

I love this idea...

...of a private blog - more like a diary, or a conversation between two friends. Thank you for sharing with me.

Things have been insane with me lately - firstly little bub has had gastro, then I got it, but in a slightly different version which entailed splitting headaches and fainting. Fortunately, my Boy seems to have avoided it. He has been fantastic - took two days off work to look after us. I seem to be doing much better today - hoping to be better tomorrow.

Then I've got a big stack of exams to mark - I looked at the first five - they were terrible - so I just put them back in the stack. Can't face it on a still ever-so-slightly queasy stomach.

I'm also trying to finish a paper so that the stupid uni will hire me next year, and amend another paper so that I can convert the world to the wonders of unjust enrichment. It's good to be a woman with a mission, even though it's a mission that the rest of the world finds slightly strange. I've only ever had one really negative reaction to my evangelism (understandable - someone had been stuck in a car with me for 3 hours talking about unjust enrichment - threatened to leave me at Mt Buller if I uttered a peep on the subject again).

I read your post on work and felt sad. Sometimes, I, too, have moments where I wonder if I'll ever fit in any workplace? I've always had an anxiety that I'm a round peg in a square hole...

But hey, I like people who are round pegs in square holes. Who am I kidding? Why have we been friends for so long? As my Mum has always said, we were kindred spirits from childhood for this very reason (and the fact that you also liked reading. And you would listen to me obsess about Lord of the Rings! I mean, really, greater love hath no 7 year old!).

So here's to more round-pegged moments together, Cherryripe. Cheers!

Damned sertraline

Has anyone else noticed that taking antidepressants stops you from doing creative things? I'm having trouble stringing interesting sentences together these days... Then again, it's greatly improved my sex life, contrary to indications, so maybe that's stopped the creative angst.

Three beautiful things...

I just had a peek at this blog, which cites three things that give the writer pleasure each day. Let me see, what would mine be today...

1. My child is no longer vomiting on me.
2. I am selling two jumpers on eBay for more than I wanted.
3. My child is no longer vomiting on me.

So it's been a good day all in all...

20 October, 2006

Frogging Mohair...

Well my knitting addiction is gradually coming under control. I'm trying to make christmas presents now, but every time the boy sees me knitting (or frogging mohair - if you know what that means, you'll know what a bitch of a job it is), he freaks out. It is somehow so comforting, but gets pathological: I find myself desperately fingering and clicking, trying to actually make tangible progress, obsessively impatient with such a naturally slow activity. There are so many beautiful things to be made, and if I don't spend every waking minute doing them, I will... I don't know... suffer in some way I guess.

I want to write a book, but I'm scared. It's easier to knit - at least each stitch is either right or wrong. It's the judgment calls that I struggle with so much. I can't make decisions. I retreat from them instead. This is why I can't write it, even though it's writing itself in my head. I'm terrified.

The forgetfulness seems to be slowing: the fog is lifting. This is good. Next: clean my room.