Saturday, March 31, 2012

Marriage Equality

A few more days until the submissions to the Senate Inquiry close.

Click here to sign the GetUp! petition.

Or click here to make a submission to the Inquiry.

Here's hoping we can achieve equal rights under the law.

The death of Adrienne Rich

Here is a link to the NYT obituary for Adrienne Rich, feminist poet and activist.

Adrienne Rich, Feminist Poet and Author, Dies at 82

Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born, published in 1976, was the first book to examine motherhood as socially constructed under a patriarchy. She gave us the language with which to theorise motherhood.

And a note from Andrea O'Reilly, head of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement, based at York University, Toronto, wrote:

A sad day indeed for feminist mother scholars around the world; we lost our Adrienne Rich. I recd the news minutes before I had to teach my Intro to WMST have not even had the time to process this loss or attempt to put my love and grief into words. I can only say now--and i hope i may be more articulate later-- that it was Rich who saved so many of us --in theory and practice-- from patriarchal motherhood and made possible empowered mothering. Thank you Adrienne for being the original Mother Outlaw and enabling us to be and do the same. You are deeply loved and will be missed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Crowdsourcing for Mamapalooza

Have a look here:

We're trying to raise some money for the Mamapalooza art prize. Please let everyone know.

I'll post the schedule and new poster shortly.

We're getting there!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mothers Day in the UK

Mothers Day in the UK, and The Guardian has a few treats, especially for a fan of Helen Simpson’s writing..

as well as podcasts of other writers reading short stories for Mothers Day.

A review of Stories of Motherhood, edited by Diana Secker Tesdell.

And a quick overview of mothers in literature.

And the Guardian Bookshop is selling Women of the Revolution: Forty years of Feminism, by Kira Cochrane, a collection of Guardian articles.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Testing Times

Yesterday was the day of the Selective Schools Test. It is a day that many families prepare for for a long time, spending a lot of time and money preparing their child for the test, which determines entrance to selective schools.

She’d been feeling sick the day before, and had a day at home, resting. She wasn’t feeling well for the day of the test either, and took some panadol, which she said didn’t work.

As the children went in to do the test some of the parents admitted they were anxious and feeling a bit sick, and that they needed to go somewhere and calm down.

We didn’t do any coaching. My daughter did a few practice tests, between doing her homework, and her usual activities. She marked her own papers. We pretty much left her to it. She did practice trying to complete the paper in the set time. She didn’t do any practice for the written part. As she went into the test I said, ‘Have fun’.

The test was to take from 9am to 1.15, with four components to complete. In fact they finished at 2.20, so we didn’t bother going back to school as we had planned. We went out for iced chocolate. She told me that one of her friends was crying during a break, because she didn’t have time to finish the test, and felt she wasn’t doing as well as she had in the practices. The girls tried to comfort their friend, saying that test condition make the test harder, and calm down, she’ll be ok, not everyone can finish the test. Another of their friends had brought no food to eat in the breaks. So the girls chipped in and each gave her some of their food.

There were some boys there from a private school. For those families, accepting a place at a selective school would mean a savings of nearly $200,000. One of these boys spoke during the test, and had one of his papers disqualified. I wonder if he told his parents.

Before we went to pick up her sisters she told me that she’s glad we didn’t send her to a coaching college. She said that if she’d practised much more she would have felt more pressure, and wouldn’t have done as well. She’s aware that some of the kids in her year are sitting lots of tests at the moment. Applying for scholarships at private schools. They’re feeling the pressure.

More and more other mums are saying to me that they are told they can choose a school for their child, but really, the school chooses them. And they are tired to going to open days and shopping for schools. The application for public high schools had to be submitted today, and I sent in my daughter’s resume (she’s eleven) and copies of all her certificates. We are lucky that we like our local public school. There won’t be any shopping around for the next two children who graduate primary school. We want what we already have, our local public school, and we’re happy.

As for the test, I reckon she and her friends have already passed with flying colours.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Questions for real matchmaking.

My partner and I were matched at the Desperate and Dateless Ball.

When my sister and I met him and his flatmate, my sister said, ‘he’s for you’ and that was it.

In order to be matched we answered a few questions, but really I think we were matched because we lived near each other and are close in age.

We’ve since attended a number of weddings together and seen those couples break up.

So, here are my questions I would suggest people ask each other before they make a commitment together (our commitment was having three children together).

Do you recycle? Do you feel the need to buy the latest everything, and update the appliances as a matter of style, or do you believe we need to use the earth’s resources carefully?

Do you want to have children?

What do you believe about children? Are they born bad and need to be bent to the will of adults in order to succumb to societal rules, or are they born innocent and just trying to have their needs met even if meeting those needs may not be convenient for adults?

Do you think your own parents did a good job? Were they good role models for you?

Do you believe in a god? How do you feel about religion? How accepting are you of people belonging to religious groups?

What do you believe in? Astrology? Aliens? Ghosts? The power of crystals?

What is your attitude to money? That rich people are mean or that they’re lucky? That people are poor through their own fault? That money is to be hoarded? To be squandered? That it represents something?

Hoarding. Are you happy to get rid of things? Or do you feel the need to hold onto objects.

What level of tidy / messy are you comfortable living in? Are you happy to do household cleaning?

Attitude to food. What do you eat and not eat? Do you make everything from scratch, or eat from packets? What is food for?

What music do you like? How loud do you like it?

Sport. For watching or playing? How often? Do you follow a team? How closely?

Smoking and drinking. What, and how much? How does it affect you?

Where do you want to live? City? Country? By the sea? In a house of mud? Wood? Stone?

I think that covers just about everything. Helps me remember that my partner and I really are well matched!

What questions would you put on a matchmaking questionnaire?

Sharing favourite movies with the children

I saw my sister in law and her teenage and young adult children recently. They were talking about the movies she’s made them watch: Carrie, Halloween, Scream. My sister in law goes for familiarity with horror films as part of a well rounded education.

There are lots of movies I’m keen to share with my kids. I’m waiting for them to be a bit older. I’m hoping they’ll enjoy these movies as much as I do.

Harold and Maude. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, West Side Story, To Kill a Mockingbird, The World According to Garp.

They’ve already watched Singin’ in the Rain, National Velvet, A Place in the Sun, with various levels of enthusiasm.

I used to love theses movies, but I’m not sure that I want to watch Barbarella, Lolita or Drugstore Cowboy with my kids.

What movies do you love, that you’re keen to share with your kids, hoping that they’ll love them too? Have you shared any favourites with the children that they've loved? Or are they ho-hum?

The bedtime routine

In theory, the children share a room because they love being together. They all go to bed at the same time, about 8.30, have a little chat together after I kiss them all goodnight, and go to sleep.

In reality, they all sleep in the same room because we don’t have enough space. They go to bed at the same time because the younger ones don’t like being in the room alone. They get ready for bed at 8.30, most nights, all mucking about, dancing, doing their hair, and so on. After shouting at them a few times I find someone still hasn’t put on their pyjamas or brushed their teeth. They seem surprised that the routine they’ve been following since they were about one, hasn’t changed for the night. I finally manage to get them to bed. I give each of them a kiss and a hug, but some of these exchanges end in me struggling to get away and save myself from getting hurt. Someone jumps up because they have to do something, then someone else needs cream for a mozzie bite, and someone else needs a glass of water, and the youngest doesn’t want to be left alone, so they’re all up. Or someone realises they have news in the morning and don’t know the topic and can I call so-and-so’s mum and ask? I get them back to bed, but someone has offended or hurt someone else and someone starts crying. Whoever is crying, or gets up after five minutes saying they can’t sleep, I send to sleep in my bed. Everyone needs more hugs and kisses. Eventually they all settle by about 9.30.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Squeaky Wheels

This week. A cry from Banjo ‘I just want to have a nice childhood’ when she insisted I play a board game with her, and from Clancy ‘I miss doing craft projects at home - I don’t have any time!’

I played the board games (two days) and told Clancy that yes, I miss reading for pleasure, because I’m busy too, but she can do craft projects on the weekend, and during the holidays, and she could do more craft if she watched less tv. (Hang on, I could read for pleasure if I didn’t watch tv. Hmm) Priorities. If we want to do the things that are important to us, longterm, (band for her, uni for me) then we might need to sacrifice some other things.

But the squeakiest wheel this week is their dad.

Again, I’ve been thinking I’m doing too much. Is the paid job worth it if I put a lot of my own unpaid time into it? Can I get ahead so it runs more smoothly? What else can I cut back on, or delegate, so I can get ahead with uni work? I bought some frozen food. Now I need to carve out blocks of time to just do uni and nothing else. Even on the weekends. After the first assignment is handed in, I’ll be feeling much better. And I’m grateful for everything that is being cancelled, for one reason or another.

I’m thinking it is all good practice for teaching, which entails loads of preparation time, and is something I’ll have to learn to manage. Learning now.

And applications for high schools. Open days and nights. We squeezed in a few visits, but didn’t go to them all. My 11 year old is writing her resume for her applications. It’s crazy. The local public school is fine, and it bothers me that it is presented as a fallback position: apply to your preferences, but if you fail you’ll get the local public school as a consolation. Not really promoting public schools. People seem to think their local public school only has students who aren’t good enough to get into somewhere better. Not a great attitude and not true. People have their own reasons to consider when choosing schools, and, as a wise principal said, you need to consider what your family values, in term of a range of issues, when you choose a school. Every parent of a Year 6 son I’ve spoken to has said they need their son to attend a co-ed school. They seem to think all boys schools are roughhouses and the smaller, smarter boys will be mowed down. I’m not so sure. I’m told the co-ed schools are pretty boy heavy, so don’t really have gender balance. And lots of attitudes to various schools based on nothing more than gossip. Does my head in.

I really want my oldest girl to attend a different school from the younger two, so they have their own space and aren’t in her shadow. I’m saving the local public school for the younger two. So she’s applying to two others. But if they are all at the local public, then that would be fine too. Really, being close by is the main consideration for me - I don’t want them spending a lot of time each day on travel. And I know that the closer the school is, the more likely I am to attend any events. (The circle I move in is more like a dot!) I’m starting to base my hopes for high schools of where they go for the overseas trip. In one school the dance group goes to New York. Seems to be as good a reason to apply to a school as any other.

Second semester will be easier. Won’t it?

Sunday, March 04, 2012

The F-Word Feminist Day at the Opera House

Very happy to report that the discussion covered women in global contexts, rather than concentrating on white western women (my previous complaint about these events.)

Here’s what everyone said, in a nutshell.

Germaine Greer

Prefers Women’s Liberation Movement to the word Feminism.

Suggests we join the Country Women’s Association.

Suggests we join a green group. Was it Women of the Earth? I’ll check.

We need to move on from considering abortion as a badge of feminist honour and start talking about the rights of the foetus and the very real violence that abortion is. Move on to talking about responsibility for contraception.

Talked about the word ‘fuck’. As a word that damages. The fucker and the fuckee. That the one who fucks without permission is the one who is damaged, not the one who is fucked.

Identifying as feminist is enough for her, even if you disagree with said feminists’ politics.

Talked about personal relationships. Self confidence. Not trying to please men. Encouraged women to be difficult.

Was funny.

Naomi Wolf

She’s just written a book called Vagina.

Shes interested in how the ideas of the Enlightenment are merging with feminism for women in the Middle East and Muslim women.

She’s interested in democracy as a process, so if you identify as feminist, that’s good enough for her - she takes you at face value that you believe you are helping women - then you can have a discussion.

She’d rather we start by celebrating the successes of feminism instead of starting with its failures.

She told a 20 year old that you can be a feminist, have children a, career, friends and lover, and be happy.

She told the audience that any of you can lead an aspect of the movement - don’t wait for someone else to lead.

Eliza Griswold

A news foreign correspondent who has worked a lot in the Middle East. Her main concern is the women in Afghanistan.

Clem Bastow

Makes jam and works in her pyjamas. (Didn’t I say she would be out of her depth here?)
And she offended many when she suggested older aren’t hip to online feminism because they can’t type on a keyboard...

The event would have been better if they just stuck to the questions already submitted, instead of taking questions from the audience, because, frankly, they were rants and not clear questions, or were rehashing ground we’d just covered (female genital cutting) and wanted to move on. And Eva Cox asked a question. Doesn’t she have enough platforms to talk from? Couldn’t someone else have a go? Why do we always say that young women aren’t engaged with feminism when a quick look at the audience shows there were lots of young women in attendance. And do we really have to end every feminist meeting with ‘what now?”

Friday, March 02, 2012

Keeping the wheels on

So this is what it takes for the wheels to fall off.

One child bandaging her sore ankle. then not being able to find shoes to put on, to take her sister to ballet class in the rain, having a major spak, making her sister late, everyone crying, and finally settling down when we arrive, to find that, after all that, sister doesn’t have her ballet shoes with her.

Rain, that means the clothes aren’t washed as quickly as usual, so a child has to wear a school top she doesn’t like, and gets into a crying jag before school.

A lost pencil case.

Having sisters in composite classes in the same stage. Younger child not trusting friends who are friends with her older sister, who, when the older sister is around, treats her like the annoying younger sister.

People being so pedantic about what someone else says that they are too busy correcting each other to have a conversation. Drives me crazy.

When the wheels fall off I run a quick list of options through my mind. I could go crazy. I could be calm and quiet. I could walk away and leave them to it. What works in one scenario may not work for another.

I woke up yesterday feeling stressed about everything I’m trying to do, thinking I should drop out of uni because it is all just too much. My teeth were hurting - fed up to the back teeth. I’m well aware that middle class stress is nothing compared to the stress of trying to house your children, feed them, clothe them and keep them safe. Then I found I can do more units over summer, speeding up the study. I can be qualified by June next year. So now I’ve booked for my residential school in the Easter holidays, we’ve had a chat about everyone helping out, and I’ll keep going. Really, we just need to eat, sleep and be kind to each other. Everything else is a bonus.

But for now, I have to get the washing dry.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Questions at F-Word: A Day of Feminist Debate

Have a look here for questions submitted for the speakers at the F-Word event at the Opera House on Sunday. I'll be there for the last event of the day. Look like a very interesting event, and I'm sorry to be missing the first two sessions (celebrating my mother's 80th birthday!). I'm hoping the event will be recorded, and I can catch up later.

Good questions here.