Friday, May 06, 2011

A little bit of everything

The longer I leave posting, the more there is to talk about.

We’ve had the strange configuration of Easter and Anzac Day merging with family birthdays, where I found out my uncle, who was a lecturer at Duntroon, had protested against the hazing (bastardisation, he called it) when he was there. This was before women were admitted. I’m not surprised more students from the academy are now speaking out.

Then residential school. Calling it an intensive school is not a misnomer. It was intensive. I learned I can still act. That I still like to act. That the tribe of English and drama teachers is a tribe I’m happy to belong to. That the world I used to inhabit still exists. My little piece of maternal feminism consisted of staging a mother combing her child’s hair for nits to the sound of the music Popcorn. People liked it. About time we saw women’s unacknowledged work on stage. I stayed with my friend who is a single mum to a child with special needs. Working full time. Has her own talents. Saw a glimpse into how hard that world can be.

The main thing I learned was that two weeks without exercise equals a back which is cactus.

Reading The Guardian Weekly proved handy, as I presented on issues in the world today, as they may be pertinent to mounting a production of a play. Matilda is now using those papers for researching issues for debating, and her enrichment program. We very efficiently mounted a production of Woyzeck. The issue for me is that some people in the world are more valued than others - and some are disposable. The other striking thing is the prominence of news stories about family breakdown resulting in death. The father in Melbourne throwing his daughter off a bridge. The mother driving her children into the Hudson River. The father who killed his toddler daughter and wrote updates about it on Facebook. The story of Woyzeck (and Greek mythology), over and over. What are our expectations about being in a family? What happens when families break down? Is it possible to avoid such tragedy?

I returned home to a family in action mode - we really have a cram packed week every week.

Banjo is sick. She has been delirious in her fever, and last night, puked into my lap.

And now Mothers Day. We saw the Target advertisement on tv, showing the different types of mums you can buy for: gourmet, sporting, pampered. I quietly noted that, once again, there is no Chinese mum or Indian mum, or Tongan mum, or heavy metal mum or surfie mum. I asked the children what kind of mum I am (creative/ intellectual?) and Clancy said ‘You’re an old fashioned mum’. I guess that will do. After years of bleating on about how Mothers Day started as a protest for peace, and how we could make it a day of political action, I’m coming around to enjoying the children enjoying giving me gifts from the school stall, and visiting my own mum, while she’s still alive.

But, obviously, some mothers are more important than others, because if you are a teenage mum, you will be forced to put your child into care at twelve months old, so you can study or train and still qualify for benefits. And while parents need all the support they can get to improve their lives for themselves and their families, and we know that the education level of the mother is crucial to this, no matter where the family lives, perhaps offering incentives would be better than offering punishment.

Meanwhile, Hungary, with a new conservative government, is considering offering mothers an extra vote in elections. The objections are based on this perhaps privileging Roma families. Obviously some families are more valued than others. The government also wants to push through laws protecting the life of the foetus from conception. Consequences, anyone?

Philosopher and ethicist, Peter Singer, who I respect, but don’t always agree with, has again called for people in wealthy countries to give money to people in developing countries. Because eight million deaths a year can be prevented. In this case, I do agree with him. Eight million people could give $1000 a year. This is doable. Imagine telling our children we ended world poverty.

The Mothers’ Index, released annually by Save the Children, reports Australia as the second most mother friendly country in the world. The report looks at infant and maternal health. Norway comes first. Afghanistan came last, with every woman expecting to lose a child. The USA does badly for a wealthy country. The comments started with readers calling privilege - that Australian women should stop whining.

Calling privilege is a hot topic in the feminist blogosphere at the moment. Especially in the US, and around issues of race. Thanks to Blue Milk for reporting on this. You can see more on hers, and many other feminist blogs. And yes, Feministe, I’m hoping that I am filling the gaps that I see. I’ll be writing something about this soon. Ah, feminism. This conversation got stuck in the 70s; we’re just rehashing the same old lines using different media. Time to move on.

No comments: