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Irony Alert!: This blog may be a tad contrary.

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March 08, 2005

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Bathsheba

I'm 36 with one kid and partnered. I'm fatter than I'd like and I don't want to have much sex. So I guess that in the remaining months of my 37th year I've got to look at getting another kid and becoming unpartnered to ensure that I am, as I have always aspired to be, truly average.

Bathsheba

Now, having dashed off and read your Online Opinion piece (which I liked very much), some thoughts. I totally agree that women should not be defined by their fertility, because there's a lot more to life and love than mothering. I am a mum, but also struggle with the baggage of societal expectations. I fall in the cracks between stay at home mum and career woman, by virtue of being a full-time student earning nothing at all. My partner tends to think that childcare is my job, and that my work takes secondary importance to his. My mother forgets I even do work. I want more kids but they will come at great cost to my pocket, my self-esteem, my career and my capacity to sleep in. I truly envy women who know they don't want kids, or aren't bothered about having them. I just wanted them (although I often question why I did, when confronted by a three year old's pink fit, and generally agree that cats are easier and frequently more charming).

But I do think you are right to point to a neo-con conspiracy, and a sexist one at that. The tropes of 'stupid career woman forgot to have children' and 'dumb woman didn't know her eggs had gone off' is a means of blaming women for a social failing. Cannold's book does contribute to the discourse on the subject by pointing out that this baby absence is a point of considerable pain to many women (including friends of mine who are the same age and haven't managed to find decent genetic material with which to produce bundle of worry). She also highlights the significant cost to women of child-bearing, a cost that men simply don't - because they won't - share. Why do we blame women for not wanting to make their lives even more miserable? [You'd like Hera Cook's new book on English women's sexuality, which shows that before the mid-20th century people hardly never had sex because the cost of pregnancy was just too high]. Neo-cons to the fore, but every other bloody bloke is standing behind them!

But what I was also thinking today is that we've really made having kids way too big a deal. Society has devised this formula for the modern woman's happiness (without really asking the modern women what she thinks, SO typical!). It starts with school, then continues through travel, career, marriage, baby. In that order, and none of these things (with the exception of marriage and baby) can apparently be combined. If a woman should be dumb enough to try to combine them, she's accused of wanting to 'have it all', or of ruining her chances, being a bad mother etc. If she only wants to do a few of those things ( the ones that don't involve childbirth) she's a freak. And when we do have brats we're supposed to give them everything - stay-at-home mother, private school, every lesson under the sun, $800,000 house in Sydney, the works.

I just wish the world would take a chill pill and remember that kids are just kids, and mums are people too. And men are fat-arsed lazy greedy bastards.

Elsewhere

Yes, agree to much of that (don't encourage me too much in male-bashing!) These issues have become very intense. It's interesting living here in Alice, because I think people are more relaxed about kids etc, partly because of the country town ethos, but also because it's just more easy to get round town and do things, etc. There often seem to be ad hoc child care minding arrangements too (e.g. mums taking turns to mind each other's kids at the gym). And lots of women with young kids work too (economic pragmatism more likely than feminist principles to be the cause, as the average wage here is significantly lower than in a capital city). So, yeah, i guess what I'm saying is that I wonder if some of the hysteria about kids isn't rooted in the general hysteria about modern urban living. (Also a lot of young single mums here with some truly dubious, if not scary, exes.)

Interesting about the Hera Cook thesis -- sounds like the Irish (whom, my mother told me, tended to avoid marriage and kids until their late 20s, when they could afford it).

I'm exhausted today (sorry, this is a bit stream of consciousness) because I went mountain-biking at 7 am (the vegie class). I wouldn't be doing that if I was a single mum or even a married mum, I guess. I also saw today in a recent report on cardiovascular disease that I must be amongst the 10 % of the Austn adult population without any risk factors. I think this can be put down to my over-education status, along with the fact that I have the time and resources to look after myself & to live well. I suspect a lot of mums don't...

P.S. The Media Report discussed the outburst of Mary-olatry this morning: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/mediarpt/stories/s1320173.htm Some insinuations about drunken snogging at the Slip Inn.

Bathsheba

Yes, 7am bike rides are out of the question, at least until sprogs can a) get their own breakfast b) be trusted to do same without setting light to house.

but the urban anxiety does seem to be a bigger deal - kids go most places in Tassie and the Blue Mountains too. gotta go, my sprog ain't in bed yet!!

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