punk phd / feminism / motherhood

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Rape, Parenthood and Loneliness...(or why everyone should be a feminist)

Last week I attended a local 'Reclaim the Night March' and made a poster detailing some of the claims made about who/what is to blame for rape (e.g. alcohol, clothing...women generally) with the point made that it's not any of these things, rapists are obviously to blame. I got into a conversation about this poster after the march and the point was made that rape was not a feminist issue, men were also raped and that, more broadly, feminism was basically pointless. I'm no idiot. I know that rape victims can be men as well as women. But concerning rape there's two issues which, for me, demonstrate why we need feminism:

1) the disproportionate amount of women being raped or sexually assaulted suggests that something about societal views towards women needs to change. For example, according to the ONS (2009/10, 2010/11 and 2011/12 average) the percentage of males who were a victim once or more of a sexual offence in the last 12 months stood at 0.4% and for females 2.5%. Statistics such as these lend weight to arguments which suggest that we increasingly live in a rape culture, a society in which the sexualisation of women dominates.

2) the under-reporting of rape when men are the victim (demonstrated by the difference when comparing police-reported statistics and victim surveys). Again, we might trace this issue to the issue more broadly of societal attitudes concerning women/men. It could be that men do not wish to come forward due to societal views concerning how men should be/be seen, therefore suggesting societal views need to change.

So, feminism, for me, is the fight against gender inequality, which men can also be disadvantaged by. I thought of this again when listening to Radio 4's Women's Hour yesterday when they were discussing motherhood and loneliness. Someone raised the point about fathers often being side-lined in such discussions because women are still predominantly the primary carer of children in the first year or so. Again, we have evidence of why feminism continues to be relevant. We live in a society where, despite some acceptance of alternatives, women are generally still socialised and stereotyped into the position of the primary care giver (regardless of whether they work or not). But this may in turn impact on the experiences of men who are the primary carer. What we need then is a move away from this gendering of roles which is where feminism becomes important.

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Finding Feminist Undertones in Children's Books no.1/2

Our now 20 month old has fully discovered books and loves us reading them to her. There are ones requested time and time again - currently The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child. And as ever I like to read a little too much between the lines. The Gruffalo's Child, for example, could be seen as a positive example in challenging traditional gender stereotypes. We have the gruffalo who we now discover is a dad and, what's more, a single dad at that. There's our first gender stereotype challenged. Next is the gruffalo's child who goes out alone into the wild on the search for the 'big bad mouse' (apologies for the plot spoiler...) - this child (who is described as 'brave') is the gruffalo's daughter. Take that gender stereotyping of boys as brave and fearless! On an equally pleasing note was an extract from a Peppa Pig book in which someone makes a comment about women not being very good at archery - which Mummy Pig challenges and proves wrong. There is some good in Peppa Pig after all...

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Friday, October 07, 2016

Damn those babyccino-swilling hordes! - In defence of children (and parents?)

A few days ago I was having a quick browse in a women's clothes shop when I heard a child having a full blown meltdown. Looking across the store I could see a woman with a boy, perhaps four years old or so, in a stroller and by the looks of things he wasn't too chuffed with the new season selections. Usually in situations like this I'll make a comment out loud to my little one to remind that that was her a few days/hours/minutes/who are we kidding even seconds ago (in fact, on this occasion the only reason she'd allowed me to step foot in this store was due to a bag of mini rice cakes being produced). I think I do so in order to a) make light of what for me at the time probably caused me to stress a bit and b) perhaps let the other mum overhear so on the off chance they too were stressing on the inside it might make them feel a bit better. An older woman and man walked by whilst said boy was still doing his best exorcist impression and the woman took it upon herself to make just loud enough comments about how the mum "didn't seem too bothered". She continued this train of thought out loud even once they'd left the store and walking behind me I could hear her repeating this over and over to the man as if the mum's no fucks given approach was wrong. Maybe the mum was meant to have exited the shop the minute her kid starting throwing a wobbly? Heck, she maybe should of just pre-empted the many tantrums which would ensue on a trip to town and just stayed at home. Because, in all honesty, what are your options when your kid is being (quite frankly) a little shit? Then today it was my turn for a public showdown. I went to grab some lunch for myself and the little 'un (not to mention some much needed coffee...for me) and decided to 'eat in'. Probably the minute I uttered those words Jekyll in her pram was brewing for her Hyde delivery. Cue tantrum getting into the highchair. Tantrum being in the highchair. Tantrum being on my lap. Tantrum being back in her pram. Tantrum because she wanted food. Tantrum because she then didn't want food (the food got launched). Tantrum because she wanted the bit of food on the floor. Tantrum because she wanted some juice. You get the idea. And what could I do? Not much apart from shoving the food into my face as fast as humanly possible and downing my coffee to make a hasty exit as I could feel the glares from behind laptops and my body temperature had rose to the point of feeling the need for fresh air. And then, home this evening, I read this by Julie Bindel. Yes Julie, children can be annoying. That can be the case even for those of us who have children ourselves but lets not assume parents generally 'let' their children act like this - sometimes, no matter what you do, that kid is gonna do a hissy and maybe you just grin and bear it cause you've got shit to do! And the assumption of areas or such which are 'child-free' tends to be that all children are unbearably loud and misbehaved. Well, many members of the public are also unbearably loud and misbehaved - can I get a separate train coach from them also? Children are children after all. This aside, I think the most valuable comment someone made on this piece was as follows:

I'm not sure people understand that what you're basically saying is "no mothers of young children" in public spaces. Julie, who is supposed to be a feminist, fails to realise is that there are many, many spaces we already can't access. Important, adult spaces like political meetings or reading groups because of a lack of childcare/creche/child friendliness. If you make society less child friendly you make it less woman friendly as a result - Laura Beattie.

Definitely food for thought.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

PhD Musings

Being A Punk versus Identifying WITH Punk Something that's come out of a few interviews and which I've now been incorporating into my future interview questions/themes is this idea of being a punk being quite distinct from identifying with punk. It's been interesting seeing whether people see this distinction as relevant to them and how they place themselves within it. At first I wasn't sure how much this related to my original research aims (particularly as I intended to be focusing on age/body with older punk women) but as I did say I was interested in identity then this seems central to this. Sampling I've been thinking more about the limitations of my sampling method recently - in that I am recruiting largely using online social media and perhaps this is cutting out potential participants if they don't use this. I've also been wondering whether I should speak to some younger females punks to act as a point of comparison. Perhaps this will depend on time. But it's something worth thinking more about.

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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

feed them any/everywhere // extended breastfeeding

I quite like the challenge of seeing how many different places/situations I can breastfeed*. So much so I did at one point create a poster listing a variety of places to tick off when done. If my primary reason for this is that because if my baby is hungry then she's eating regardless of where I am as that's my priority, then my desire to contribute to the #normalizebreastfeeding movement is the second. Whilst I was never particularly bothered about breastfeeding in public after the first few fumbling weeks, I now however catch myself wondering what other mums might be thinking - not because I am breastfeeding my baby, but because I have continued to breastfeed beyond six months. It's disappointing to read that the UK is the world's worst when it comes to breastfeeding and the knowledge that if we make it to 12 months I might be in the 0.5% of women who are still breastfeeding does little to ease such thoughts. Islay will be nine months in a week and it is my intention to continue breastfeeding her for as long as it works for us both, mainly her. In all honesty, I'm pretty fucking chuffed that not only did we make it past the first six weeks but that my body is actually still managing to sustain her beyond six months and continuing to produce enough milk. I've had comments along the lines of 'you might as well just switch entirely to formula now' as if there's a time limit on breastfeeding. Perhaps the nutritional upper-hand breastmilk has over formula might even out after the first six months but there's all the other benefits to consider as well. First of all, I enjoy cuddling up with my girl for her feed, it's time we have to share something special and as long as she seems happy with that I'm not going to voluntarily give that up! Secondly the pure convenience. I don't have to think about bottles when I go out or making up formula...plus why pay for something I can provide for free? (though there is the cost of keeping me supplied with chocolate...boob fuel of course...) So I know I need to stop those little niggly thoughts when they emerge and continue to cherish our breastfeeding journey whilst we have it. And keep ticking off that list...

*I guess it's similar to my challenge to see how many different pubs our baby can experience. See other blog.

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Older Women's Co-Housing

I was really interested to hear about OWCH (Older Women's Co-Housing) on BBC news this morning and after hearing two of the members speak did a quick search online to find out a little more. There's so much about this project that I admire - the upholding of traditional ideals concerning neighbourhoods and communities; the commitment to challenging ageism and (though there is no explicitly direct reference to it) the distinctive feminist feel to the project. The group also produce their own quarterly newsletter and with wide ranging topics, from member's reflections on cultural trips to discussions of health, it makes for an interesting read. Their website provides further information about the group as well as links to further reading concerning co-housing and ageism.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

In which Katie Price is an idiot (again?)

Katie Price announced in a TV discussion about legalising prostitution today that she'd accept £1million for some 'slap and tickle' therefore demonstrating a complete lack of awareness of the reality of prostitution. Fucking idiot.

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Thursday, October 08, 2015


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