Sunday, February 24, 2008

Babies and femmos.

Being a non-babied up person living in a world where it seems like everyone has spawned has afforded me the opportunity to observe things without being too emotionally involved. I have my pet peeves with how mums and dads behave just like I have my pet peeves by how ordinary everyday people behave. In fact, one might argue that I have a lot of pet peeves. Oh well, I'm peevey - you really got a problem with that?

A little issue has arisen lately in baby-land and I have to say, it's given me more peeves than ever thought possible. I'm talking about how people react to the weight of babies. Now I realise that weight is probably the most important way that one can distinguish how healthy a baby is but I'm not talking about that. It's the language that people use.

My friend S's little miracle (really, he actually is - spend first couple of months at the Children's hospital and really was touch and go for a while there) has been growing in leaps and bounds since he was released from the hospital. Really he is one of the cutest babies in the world. He's one of those babies that strangers will boldly approach and want to hold. Things started off a little rough for the poor guy but now he's doing well. In fact when people see him how they ALWAYS comment about what a big boy he is, and how chubby he is getting and ...hey maybe mum should be putting him on a little feeding restriction. The thing is little N is not like those big babies you see on Phil Donohue where the baby is actually half the size of mum at 1 year of age and looks basically like an adult in diapers (though, I might be confusing this with a whoooole other episode of Donohue). Little N is in fact precisely in the 50th percentile for his weight. He's the epitome of normality. He's not 1 percent below or above he's just right. Meanwhile mothers of babies born on the 15th percentile are commenting about what a chubbster N is - not in a nice way either - in an I'm slightly worried about your baby way - patronising, utterly patronising. Like as if being born thin and still thin is somehow better than than being normal and healthy.

The reason why it's a peeve of mine is that I can see where this is leading. We already have this preoccupation with children's weight and the so-called obesity crisis in children. I wish I could link to an entry that "pubby" wrote about this issue but he's taken his blog offline - but he also asked whether these figures were sincere because he hadn't noticed that suddenly all these kids were supposedly fat. I work with kids. I see kids everyday and there is probably 1 per class who is overweight. IF THAT. I don't have any this year at all. In fact I'm looking at all the children I know who started school this year and there is not ONE who would even be considered chubby - that's almost 100 new children! Figures point to something like 40% of children being fat but from what I've seen it's actually about 5% which is called a NORMAL DISTRIBUTION of fat folks. Maybe it's 10% in some areas...yes, more concerning but still, hardly an epidemic! I don't know if figures are being inflated or whether the way we measure fat is right off the scale (pun intended) but if it's an epidemic then I don't bloody see it at all.

The point is the weight obsession starts with babies. All these mothers (let's face it, mostly mums) are obsessed with talking about the weight of their own children but not only that, I sense some smugness and defensiveness about weight, depending on where on the percentile the baby falls. Once I commented on how F's baby J had grown into a big boy. I hadn't seen him in about 3 months and he was like a new child. So what, he got big! Big deal, it's great, it's called growing. But I got flicked with the end of the wrath stick quick smart by F who snapped that actually he's only on the 30th percentile now and not big at all. Ohhhhh kay, sorry didn't think I was suggesting that your baby was a sumo wrestler but hey, whatever.

Incidentally why is it so wrong to say that a female baby is a "big strong girl". Ever try saying that one? It's like you're saying "hey I've just noticed that your daughter is a big fat dyke. I can see that she's a breath away from letting her body hair get to unflattering lengths and start listening to angry girl rock" I thought, growing was supposed to be a good thing! Maybe not in girls.

In other news concerning dirty femmo stuff, I was intrigued by a column in Sunday's Age by Angela Pippos "What's Wrong with Being a Fashionista Feminist Anyway?" where she addresses just how diverse feminists are in this era. She also says

I'm a feminist. Was that so hard?
It's really not a big deal. I simply believe that women should be given the same opportunities as men. Throw me in in the river and see if I float. It's hardly radical but, in my experience, any mention of the "f" word in male company can bring on a type of behaviour often seen in a David Attenborough documentary, followed by a sudden attack of mundane questioning".

She goes on to list a few examples of questioning she is immediately dealt by affronted men "Do you expect men to open doors for you?" "Do you want a man to pay for dinner on a first date?" etc. You know the typical questions asked of femnos that makes everyone want to stab their eyes out. What really interests me about her column is the underlying question for me about feminism. Why is it still a dirty word? Yes, I'm being serious. In all my years of being a feminist I've never met one who hates men. I've never met one who burns her bra. I've never met one who spends all night planing to picket the local men's club or any of the other stereotypes that are prescribed to so called ..here is comes "feminazis". Do I know lesbian femmos? Of course. Does that mean ALL feminists are gay? Do I know femmos who are frustrated by the status quo and frustrated by some perceptions perpetrated by men. Hell yes, does that mean that they are frustrated with men in general? Pssssh, I don't think so. I hate that type of generalising of feminists that happens but actually has little grounds in reality.

I don't know about you but when I hear the old "you're a man hater" (often comes in a feminist type entry) and it's been written here on this journal as well me reading it on so many other feminist blogs that I've lost count - I often think that the person writing it either has shit for brains, doesn't actually KNOW any feminists or rather...doesn't KNOW any women AT ALL or that maybe..just maybe THEY don't really like women all that much themselves, or feel threatened by them expressing an opinion - whatever. The fact that I *am* a feminist and I don't actually know ANY feminists who hate men NOR do I hate them myself sort of makes me wonder why on earth that's a phrase that is so easily thrown around by others when confronted with someone who claims to be a feminist? I mean I always hear about these so-called feminists who are supposed to hate men, usually it comes in the form of "yeah I know a feminist who hates men" but you know..it's sort of like an urban myth to me. Have you heard the one about the lady with the boil on her face that exploded and 50 tiny spiders came out? Yeah, that common. If anything feminists have so much problem in appearing a unified group with unifying beliefs in the first place that *men* aren't even the issue. It's women and what women think that is more of an issue.

Perhaps it's that feminist discourse is centered around the fact that things are not quite right in the world of woman. That there are certain issues that affect our gender and those issues maybe be life threatening or indeed socially confining to women. Maybe there's some resentment too, that women get the focus for this type of discourse? The fact that they are discussed might be a little too confronting for some people and confused with hate - when really it's not about hate at all, it's about getting answers and asking WHY does this happen to women? Is that a wrong question to ask? I certainly don't think so. It does NOT negate the FACT that things happen to men too and that is an important point. That in fact we are all individuals who have shit happen to us at some stage or another and that there are issues for men that are just as concerning that in fact SHOULD be discussed too. They should be discussed by the same people that are complaining that are sick of hearing about women's issues and say that yeah, men have issues too can't you see that? Well, dude, discuss away! Indeed, asking why the world is a certain way is not about hating anyone. It's about trying to get answers about how things are and perhaps start discourse that will affect change. One can only hope anyway.

I know that discussions about rape, prostitution, maternity leave and domestic violence gets a lot of backs up, especially with men but the fact of the matter is that these things DO happen and they DO happen mostly to women and the fact that we make up more than half the population means that it's something that everyone should be worried about. These are things that SHOULD be discussed widely and without refrain. It happens and the fact that it happens disturbingly often to one gender over another is a cause for feminist discourse. Live with it! I've read so many "anti-feminist" blogs (mostly written by anonymous people with anonymous comments - just goes to show doesn't it?) that will reference one article where a woman has beaten her husband in a show of domestic violence. Yes it happens and this is horrible. I don't want to diminish that - but the anti-feminist blogger will then say (and this happens in almost 100 percent of all anti-feminist bloggers) something along the lines of "and now you see why I refuse to get involved with all women. Women are evil etc etc". This is in direct opposition to most feminist blogs which takes issue on women's issues in society and how that affects us and in fact are a celebration of female achievement in the arts and culture. They are positive places that actually reserve any condensation of men to specific examples ie: THIS MAN said something not quite right about women. THIS MAN is wrong. Whereas the anti-feminist blogs that I've read are all about generalising one act to mean *all* women and being defensive about it too. Perhaps I've yet to come across a anti-feminist blog that is about being male positive instead of female negative. I'm know that there are some feminist blogs that really ARE venomous about a lot of things too, including men but definitely not the popular ones. The popular feminist blogs are generally very political places that invite discussion by men and indeed a lot of them have a dedicated male following too.

For the record I have read many male written gender positive blogs that have nothing to do with anti-feminism - they don't shy away from bringing up issues that are specific to men either! They are great and there should be more of them. They write about male and female issues with sex, violence and everything in between and they are so great because they don't fall into that age old trap of 'what I admire about women is their breasts, bum, legs, they look beautiful, they smell beautiful' - which is quite typical in what DOES tend to get written about women from a male perspective. I mean that kind of blog is great and all but male blogs that go beyond that REALLY need to be applauded for being so great - and they're not great because I agree with them, because I don't always, they're great because they are truthful without falling into "all feminists are bitches" type rhetoric.

Considering that not all feminists are the same, nor do any of the old stereotypes stand up why is it that the F-word is still a dirty one?

Anyway, on to Musical Monday in this haphazard post of mine. Of course, let's just complete the entry with a reference to Kat Bjelland; an artist I'm pretty much so in awe of I can't quite figure out the right words. She looks like an angel but has the voice of a terrifying demon. That's the best I can come up with. In the early days she cavorted around with Courtney Love and Jennifer Finch experimenting in a couple of bands before all went their separate ways and all became highly influential artists in their own right, with their own bands. I sigh here as I make the distinction and say they were 'female centered' bands - grrl rock if you will. Why? Oh because I've featured many, many bands who have all male members and sing about manly things but never distinguished them by saying 'all male' or 'male centered'. It's funny how these distinctions work in rock for women as opposed to men but there you have it.

Babes in Toyland had been around for a good many years before I got into them. I was completely taken with Kat Bjelland and in particular her rock operatic meets screaming banshee type singing voice.

She was a cheerleader in high school by the way.

A cheerleader AND a dirty femmo too. Oh my god, is your mind about to explode? Yes, it's true, us dirty femmos aren't just one type of person. I guess, that was my whole point. Mother's can be feminists. Hot girls can be feminists. Women who love men can be feminists. Scientists can be feminists. Radio personalities can be feminists. Men can be feminists. Cheerleaders can be feminists. It's not just one type of person. And for the record I've read many a comment implying that those people mentioned above CAN'T be feminists - like mum's can't be feminists. ha! Well I'm linking right here to a GREAT entry by a femmo mum who outlines some great points about how to raise your daughter a feminist and you know what? The initial question about 'how do I raise my daughter a feminist?' came from a bloke. How's that for breaking down a few barriers. Yes folks, it's not actually about man hating. Sorry to disappoint - on with the music.

Bruise Violet - Babes In Toyland (apparently not about Courtney Love..but I doubt it! lol).

Sweet 69 - Babes in Toyland

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