A Guest post for elsewhere…

Thought you might enjoy reading a guest post I authored for the MumsandDadsnet.com site…

You can find it here: http://mumsanddadsnet.com/2014/03/24/family-care-grandad-delivers-baby-dad-calls-midwife-older-brother-sister-watch/

Big thanks to my talented friend Jamie Marzella for the accompanying photo (gable-end and communal garden of my house/Row)

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Here’s to mumsanddadsnet.com

A very minor, very broadsheet-type stooshie blew up over the weekend. Hit The Independent. Caught my eye.

There’s Mumsnet. And now, fighting the ‘gender equality in parenting’ corner, there’s Mumsanddadsnet…

I’m all for gender equality. Been fighting for ‘equality’ since I was in Nursery and was redirected from the sandpit with the immortal words ‘all good girls like the home corner’. So Mumsanddadsnet sounds alright to me. And it is. Alright that is. The few articles authored so far sound imminently sensible and well-reasoned. Decent. Honourable. Measured. All in all its creator, Duncan Fisher, presents well with his very civilised endeavour to address a serious issue: the inherent sexism of our culture and society – a sexism that identifies the ‘real’ parent as ‘the Mother’ – and which ghettoises women and condemns men to the parenting fringe in the process.

So, why am I apprehensive? Why should I be anxious? Surely any effort to redress imbalance should be welcomed?

Probably because experience tells me that sites that set themselves up as flag bearers for parenting equality are invariably hi-jacked by the women-haters and mother-bashers. By those who think they win equality for Fathers/Men by attacking Mothers/Women. The binary thought processes lead to well-trod battle-lines: women use residency/contact to punish men; men and women are mentally and emotionally inherently and qualitatively different; it’s all a feminist plot to take over the world; it’s not about ‘parents’, it’s about Mothers and Fathers; the attack on ‘father’s rights’ is a result of the feminist attack on ‘family values’; families without fathers are an abomination before God (ah dear, never mind what this implies about same sex couples who parent together)… and before you know it, reasonable discussion about a serious subject becomes impossible.

As soon as the discourse of the ‘Comments’ become peppered with references to ‘the innate differences between men and women’ I am off. And – for what it’s worth – for every sexist conclusion neuroscience (neurosexism) allegedly encourages us to make there’s another* neuroscientific study that ‘proves’ there’s no such thing as the male/female brain – that what minute difference can be observed can be explained  by the impact of the socialisation process which attributes gender to everything (pink lego anyone?).

What is it that all those who cannot bear the descriptor ‘parent’ fear?

‘Parent’, the great semantic leveller, emphasising what He and I have in common when we’ve done our fertile best and reproduced.

I mean, there we are, my fellow Parent and I, besotted with the little blighter and doing our best to deliver he/she safely to independent adulthood. Do we get hung up on gender roles when deciding who does what, subjecting every task to gender-interrogation? Is changing the nappy a Mother or Father duty? Should He iron the babygro, whilst I change the hoover plug? Or should He be principal breadwinner, come home to his dinner on the table and the kids in bed?

Get a grip.

Having brought the kids into this world, we have a joint responsibility and common interest in seeing them safely to independence. The enterprise is more secure if we parent together (whether in the same household or not). Success is more likely if we co-operate and help one another. Success is an even greater certainty if we have the support of a network of extended family or friends or a loving community. ‘He and I’ are yer ‘traditional married heteros’. But the above holds equally true for all those parents who are living apart, those single parents, same sex parents, adoptive parents or foster parents who are lovingly working together – either with each other and/or others in their extended family or friendship groups – to nurture the children in their care.

I suppose I’ve never understood the desperation of those who feel compelled to define themselves as ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ – who are determined to view the world as binary. Does my vagina really make me more suited to the colour pink or to flower-arranging? Does it really mean I’m ruled by the moon? Or that I am innately nurturing and emotional? Does His penis mean emotional distance, power-tools and play-fighting? Or that he is ‘the boss’, the main breadwinner, the head of Me?

There is the stench of desperation and of the protection and exercise of power in the attacks perpetrated by some of those commenting in the early posts of Mumsanddadsnet.

But maybe that was inevitable – and is ultimately an essential part of establishing a message. For if you are good enough to attract their approbation – you may just have a meaningful message and an effective vehicle.

So, here’s to mumsanddadsnet.com – to parenting and to hope.

* Thanks must go to Prof Gina Rippon (Professor of Cognitive Neuroimaging at Aston University) who debunks the neurotrash theories of ‘men are from Mars; women from Venus’…
** http://mumsanddadsnet.com/

Starting from Scratch: a business venture…

Days like this were invented to sleep through… But no. Instead there was work.

So, a quick shift up the M9 to visit a distressed wummin seeking advice and support. Job done. Now home.

Things have been slow recently. Or maybe ‘slow’ is relative and is in fact what happens when you want to crack on – get started – but have to endure the frustration of anticipation; the drag of preparation; the slow-burn torture of knowing that where you currently are is not where you a) want to be OR b) will shortly be… when things are ‘ready’.

I never did apply for that GS/CEO job. Not only would it have been wrong for me, the chances of me actually getting it were nil. I say that informedly. I am no defeatist.

By way of encouragement/discouragement (you tell me) I was told – by the manager in charge of recruitment to the post – that I was ‘too young’.

Ha! Was it the hoodie gave me away? Youth! ‘Too young!’ I’ve never been told that before. And I daresay – from a shallow, vanity perspective it would normally have tickled me. But. I am nearly 47. No child. No inexperienced whipper-snapper. And in most arenas I would be written off as ‘too old’ – equally iniquitous of course.

Yes, yes. I could sprint off down the age discrimination route. But what’s the point? And anyway I need some income – and the raising of any ET action would really (maybe not legally, but mentally and emotionally) require that I walked out.

My hearts not in it. Nor is my head. Not in claiming and not in staying long-term.

It wasn’t the worst of moves. I did need to kick myself out of the ease of my last job – before I found myself at 67 yrs, still trooping off to the Sheriff Court to repel some appeal or prove some pair wee wain should be taken ‘into care’. I had to (for my own sanity’s sake) cut the cords tying me to what I knew and then I had to land somewhere.

The somewhere just isn’t where I am.

So now I’m planning to do something so strangely un-me that I cannot quite believe that I’m even thinking the words. That is, I am going ‘to launch a new business’. Concentrating on an HR/employment law/training/employee engagement + mediation offering.

It’s taking time. I’m talking to a very bright insightful woman about a joint venture – but if that isn’t going to work I’ll be on my own. Though I’ve been approached  by a couple of lawyers looking for escape – they too are interested in mediation – so there are other possibilities.

I need to sever links to my current position gradually. Weaning to half time around August/September (I’ve asked – and it seems it’ll be granted). Unfortunately it takes time to build a client base…

In the meantime, all business tips will be gratefully received. And anyone looking for HR/employment law/mediation – please contact me. Please.

I’m good at this stuff. Honest.