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I work with adolescents who have fallen through the education system and I cant ignore the fact that the adolescent boys I work with, One has been so damaged that he only makes sense about 40% of the time, one of them cant afford new shoes even though the ones hes wearing are split along the seams,and one is on the autistic spectrum. They do not have and will never have the privilege and chances and choices that the middle class university educated women who are big noises on the British feminist scene have. Yes they have more privilege than the adolescent girls I work with have but its still crumbs.

The more I interrogate my adoption issues the more I come to terms with the effect class had on my life, the effect where I come from had on my life and how its shaped me, and the shaming attitudes and prejudice towards where I come from that I received from the middle class adults all around me during my childhood and adolescence and most feminists I've ever met have no fucking Idea what that feels like, or what it feels like to be hungry, homeless, or stuck in a psych unit.

as I've said before feminists have dropped the ball on issues surrounding motherhood and repro justice, but those feminists who want to be parents often have no problem riding roughshod over other women's reproductive rights if it means they get a child out of it.

there's an assumption that the system largely WORKS because it works for THEM, because it works for middle class, able bodied, white, cis, hetero women then it mostly works it just needs tweaking here and there, they dont see how it doesn't work for others, how it causes systemic violence and hardship to others

I am so fucking sick of discussions about body hair and make up, I dont care what some one looks like or who they fuck, I'm not interested in peoples individual choices about things like that too often that turns into a feminist circle jerk of "I'm more feminist than thou" and doesn't take into account intersecting oppressions or life experiences.It's what people do in the wider sphere that interests me, I really dont think standing on street corners protesting is going to change anything. the people I work with and a large chunk of my religious community are making way more difference than most of the feminists I know, they are doing the hard graft ground work of supporting oppressed marginalised people and making resources available for them. None of them would dream of calling themselves feminist, they just do this shit because it's important because someone needs to do it.

I am sick of the invisablising of lives that arnt theirs, the silencing of voices that arnt theirs, the disbelif of experinces that arnt theirs, the dumbass middle class femmininity reaction of "but why do you have to be so meeeeen?" or "anger never got any one any where" bullshit when they are called out on any of this stuff.

but what do I call myself instead - "are you a feminist?" "no I'm a community weaver" doesnt really work
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Over on the The F Word there's a new post by Amity Reed of Fertilefeminism. I for one am really pleased about this. I really think British feminism has dropped the ball on issues surrounding motherhood and reproductive justice issues other than abortion. In my experience lots of feminists are anti mother and those that aren't are clueless of the experiences, needs and oppressions of mothers. Feminist meetings and conferences often exclude mothers through price, lack of childcare and location and sometime just by not addressing anything to do with the needs of mothers. Because the mainstream feminist movement in Britain is overwhelmingly middle class white and able bodied even the women within it who are mothers have no idea of the needs and oppressions of working class, BME,[Women of Colour] and disabled mothers

Amity describes how she has
a feeling of exclusion from the ‘mainstream’ ranks of feminism is sometimes strong. Many mothers I have spoken to (both self-proclaimed feminists and otherwise) feel the same way. When an entire conference on reproductive rights doesn’t include a single workshop on birth; when stay-at-home mothers are denigrated for wasting their skills and educations; when so many resources are directed towards fighting strip clubs and lads’ mags but so little towards child poverty; when public spaces and services are made inaccessible and unwelcoming to families; when feminist books devote many more pages to the evils of pornography than the fact that mothers are disproportionately the ones suffering the monumental and adverse effects of the gender pay gap…it’s enough to make many mothers feel they’ve been forgotten by feminism, that their struggles are unimportant or inevitable.

and this is not okay, yes objectification of women is a feminist issues, but why the obsession with it? Why is that such an exclusive thing in the British feminist scene. I have a sneaking suspicion its because of the quick hit activism that it often involves, standing in a street protesting, signing a petition, sticking stickers and inserts in lad mags may make you feel good, like you've achieved something but it doesn't entail getting your hands dirty, it doesn't involve listening to and supporting real people (it should but that's a whole other discussion)

there is a growing trend in the UK for young working class women with learning difficulties and/or mental health issues to be threatened with having their child taking away at birth and so few people are talking about this, we should be screaming about this, we should be part of the group that supports these women. We should be talking about how little parents on benefits have to live on, how difficult it is for mothers to go back in to education after they have children. We should be talking about child poverty, about the lack of flexibility in employment. We should be talking about the fact that children are taken into the foster care system when very often what their families needs is extra support (It cost £50,000 to keep a child in the care system for a year, it wouldn't cost anywhere near that much to support a family in crises to keep them intact.) We should be talking about the lack of housing for families, despite all the empty properties, we should be talking more about the lack of funding in maternity and post natal care, we should be talking more about the fact women's maternity choices are so often dismissed or curtailed

And at the base line we need to unpack the dominant concept of motherhood and the racism classism and ableism contained within that and the unexamined assumptions of what a good mother is and who deserves to be a mother that come along with it
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So I was thinking about this having/not having kids thing. I was dead set against it for ages and ages and then I thought it might be nice and good, so we tried but as I though my body is really messed up and the chance of having them without medical intervention is pretty much nil

And really I don’t want to have invasive procedures or nasty chemicals in my body just to get pregnant. Also there is no way we could afford treatment and I don’t think the NHS should be providing it because having kids isn’t a right and its using money that could be saving someone’s life.

Also I really don’t think I’d be that good a parent. I’m inpatient and irritable and really really messy, also I am quite selfish about some things and I really need my own space. Also I wouldn’t want a child to live with my depression I don’t think.

So I’ve been thinking about going back on contraception and just declaring myself childfree and be done with it. Paul was like well you are probably not going to get pregnant why don’t we just not use contraception and see what happens. I’m really not a fan of that idea I kind of want to know either way. I think I will feel like I’m in limbo otherwise. I need to be able to plan my life, plan my future as much as possible without worrying I might get pregnant in an important part of my career. I don’t know what contraception o use though, whether to get something permanent.

Maybe Tony having Ben has really made me see the down side of childrearing as well, what a drag it can be, how tiring it is, how it totally curtails your life.

But one of the things that irks me about the self styled “childfree” is how horrible they are (okay so I have only come across these people on eljay which does tend to attract whack jobs but whatever) lots of them seem to really hate kids, are really anti kid in public, especially anti breast feeding and there is a whole load of misogyny as well, it really disturbs me. I actually quite like kids, well im a bit awkward with them up to about five then I really like them, and I think breast feeding in public is totally acceptable, people eat in public don’t they? It pisses me off that a child should go hungry so people don’t get offended.

Being a mother in this society is difficult. The Ideal of motherhood is honoured and put on a pedestal but actual motherhood isn’t. like most things that are seen as “women’s work” it is often belittled and sneered at .Its hard work and usually quite thankless. There is never enough cheap child care, its expensive, its tiring and I just think ist really rude of people to teardown mothers (or any parents) all the time. Motherhood matters. Just because people choose to be childfree it doesn’t mean that parenting doesn’t matter. Also just because I don’t want kids doesn’t mean I begrudge any support that parents get from the government ect.

In fact it may be that I spend a large chunk of my career teaching/supporting other peoples children instead of having my own.


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October 2010

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