Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Currently Stuck In My Head...

I just wanted to have this somewhere. What don't you fuckin' understand... doo doo doo doo doo...

(Women + Money) = (Divorce + Damaged Children)

The BBC informs me that we must think of the children. Why, oh why, won’t we think of the children? Whose fault is it, you ask. Well, if you can possibly blame the working mothers, you do, don’t you? We all know the “mothers should be at home with the children” rhetoric, and if that’s what the article said I’d probably have ignored it. But it doesn’t say that.

"Most women now work and their new economic independence contributes to levels of family break-up which are higher in the UK than in any other Western European country."

Yeah, it’s not that we should be at home with the kids. It’s that women having money is causing divorce. If we really want to help the children, we will stop allowing women to have their own money. See, if women are reliant entirely on their husband’s income, then they will have no choice but to remain in unhappy, unhealthy relationships! Then the children will be alright!

I don’t know who comprised this “panel of independent experts”, but the Archbishop of Canterbury is listed as a contributor. Hmmm. These are, perhaps, not experts without an agenda. The thing is, I can understand people who believe that it’s detrimental to a child to have both parents working (usually phrased as “Mums should stay at home”, of course). I would like to stay at home with my hypothetical kids for a bit. I would also like my hypothetical partner to stay at home with the hypothetical kids for a bit. I totally, completely understand the thinking here. I learnt a lot from my parents in my early years (though probably not stuff that Rowan Williams would approve of – I asked my mother why I hadn’t been christened and she said: “that will be your decision to make when you’re older, Jennifer.”). If this panel has been stuffed with bishops and such, I can understand why they’re making such a big deal out of divorce, though I think people at the BBC would do well to bear in mind that correlation does not imply causation. But to say that women’s economic independence is causing divorce and hence harming the children? Can I get a “bullshit”?

The headline worried me, too. Selfish adults damage children. Clearly, they don’t mean selfish adults – they mean selfish mothers. And what does a mother have to do to be selfish? Not a lot. Want a career? Selfish. Part-time job? Selfish. Evening course? Back to school? Selfish, selfish. And god forbid you go out with friends. This is what we’re told. We’re given the impression that our child is so precious that he or she must be given all of our time. All of it. And then, when the child becomes a teenager and starts demanding independence, we are expected to adjust to that in a snap. If we get upset, or panic, we are yet again selfish. What this all comes down to is: women wish to be human. This wish is selfish. Men (of this type, at least) wish us to be quiet, perfect porcelain dolls with no needs of our own and an unlimited supply of unconditional love and nurturing, for which we demand nothing in return. This wish, we learn, is not selfish.

I am confused. I have gone right off the idea of having kids.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

A Neat Display of Privilege

Carol Thatcher has been banned from a BBC show after making a racist remark in the dressing room. By the looks of it, the BBC didn't want to ban her from the show, but had no real choice since she refused to apologise. Her spokesman said:

"Carol never intended any racist comment. She made a light aside about this tennis player and his similarity to the golliwog on the jam pot when she was growing up. There's no way, obviously, that she would condone any racist comment - we would refute that entirely. It would not be in her nature to do anything like that. It is disgusting that we've had a leak of private conversations in the green room - the BBC has more leaks than Thames Water. Carol is mortified that anyone should take offence at a silly joke. She has summarily apologised."

I'm embarrassed to be so stunned by this. I am stunned that somebody would genuinely argue that it's not racist if the black guy really does look like a golliwog. I'm not stunned that she's done the "Well, I'm sorry YOU'RE SO SENSITIVE, you bunch of losers" apology, or that she's done the "I'm the real victim - that was a private conversation" defence. But the whole speech reeks of a privilege that really astonishes me.

Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and whatever else come, most of the time, from people who say they love the oppressed group in question and are totally all for their equal rights. And because they're all for equal rights, it's fine to call a black man a golliwog if he really looks like one, or call a woman a bitch or a whore if she really is one. And then someone objects, and they are shocked. Oh, come on, they say. Don't be so bloody dramatic. Fight the real enemy, the people who really hate you and aren't ashamed to say it. Go fight them. Leave me and my "silly jokes" alone.

Carol Thatcher is clearly stunned that we have mistaken her for a racist. And I am stunned that people still have to stand up and say: "It is unacceptable to compare a black guy to a golliwog, whether or not you think he really looks like one." And that, I suppose, is my privilege.