Tuesday 12 June 2012

Wait? What?!?!

One of the things that I've enjoyed most about this blog is the space to share things I care a lot about. A lot of the blog as a result has been knitting, crafting and food related. These are my everyday experiences, things I now make a living out of and that keep me ticking. This is after all a playful blog and these are the things that keep me playful.

Tucked into this blog though have been posts about issues I care passionately about, politics and women's rights. These too are a huge part of who I am and I would be lying if I said they're not the kind of thing that I talk about daily. It really is very normal for me to talk about an issue such as gender stereotypes on an average day.

It's why when I discovered that I was pregnant I was faced with a slight dilemma. I loathe oversharing and I am very icky about sharing my personal life. Small snippets, yes.... a child? No. It's just not for me. The internet is a vast and huge presence and I like the inner sanctum of my personal relationships and soon to be family. 

However, as I experience my pregnancy and society's expectations of how a woman and her partner should behave, I have felt a growing need to share some of these experiences. I don't want to share gross out stories or wax lyrical about the joys of motherhood (hello, I'm only just entering my 5th month??) but I do want to voice some of the things I'm experiencing.

For example, our first maternity appointment started something like this:

Midwife: Come in! Mum, why don't you sit here and your husband can sit there?

Me: We may be in for a mighty long wait if you're waiting for my husband. 

I mean, really?!? In this day and age? I'm also stunned by the lack of mixed race couples portrayed in any literature about pregnancy and the complete lack of advice if you do not have a partner. As for same sex couples, they are thoughtfully bracketed under 'partners' while the rest of the sentence constantly refers to your partner as 'he'. 

In an effort to carve out a safe space for me and prepare for the birth, I took a pregnancy yoga class where the teacher actually said 'ladies, imagine your bundle of joy is in your arms and glow' before crooning on, 'of course, boys never sit still but some of you might be lucky enough to have a little girl'. In fear of howling in frustration during the meditation I promptly walked out. 

But luckily, there is a ray of sunshine in my week and I'm going to write about it soon as it has reminded me that I don't have to buy into this stereotyped drivel. Until then, I couldn't help but share my ever growing list of comedy fails. I can't call them anything else, it's too terrifying otherwise.


Renee Anne said...

A babeh! I have one of those :)

I'll admit, I may perhaps share too much about Little Man but he's so frickin' adorable that I can't resist sharing him with the world.

But that's me.

So, if you don't want to share, don't. It's your blog and you can do what you want (yes, I hear "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to" in my head right now).

And congrats on the baby!

Evelyn said...

My feminist self grew mightily while I was pregnant with my son and then again with my daughter. I was questioned about not going with the "traditional" blues and pinks and then "consoled" for having a boy by some and then for having a girl by others. It is maddening, but the best lesson I could teach the unenlightened is that my kids are kind and tolerant human beings. Oh, and did I mention that my first pediatrician actually used the word mulatto when referring to my mixed race child? Yes, we never returned to her! Keep doing what you're doing - gender is only what we make it.

Gracey is not my name.... said...

First: Congratulations! I wish you lots of luck.
Second: I unfortunately never had children, just didn't work out..but I do share my niece and nephews online (and before I post any child's picture, I get permission)
Third: People are still very ignorant when it comes to different types of families....I hope you just can enjoy the experience...
Four: Teaching in an inner city school, well don't think either is more lucky, parents of girls or parents of boys...it's all in how they are raised....

Anonymous said...

My little dude is 6 and his favorite colors are pink and purple. He longs for the day when he's able to paint his fingernails, and as soon as that happens he'll probably wait for the polish to dry and then go play in the dirt. Gender stereotypes have no place in our house! If only the rest of the world didn't have so many hangups.

Amber said...

Over here in 'Merika, I'm actually seeing a few more adverts, tv shows and what not with mixed race couples. It's rather exciting to me.

And @Evelyn, my mixed race husband does not find the word mulatto offensive. :)

Usch said...

I also think you should share as little or as much as you feel comfortable!
As for race: my life is easy in that regard because I am white, so is my boyfriend and thus my son. But I have very extreme opinions when it comes to fairness, non-discrimination etc. and people who know me know that.
However, I find it very difficult to always be politically correct, to use the appropriate words when talking about groups that are suffering from any form of discrimination - may I say black or is coloured better, how do I describe the fact that there is a mix of 50% white and 50%, well what? turkish, coloured, lower income kids in the kindergarden my son attends?
Being afraid that someone might feel offended often keeps me from asking people things that I would like to know out of genuine interest in them. When I see an Asian looking person I can't really ask where they are from because they might feel offended because they were born here (meaning the Netherlands/USA - places I live/d). But what I am actually interested in is their background - something that often plays a major part in who we are.

All this does not mean that we shouldn't be sensitive about what we say, but I also think we should give others the benefit of the doubt.
Sorry about the long ramblings - difficult topic.

Jennifer said...

One thing most new parents aren't ready for is all the "advice" and comments from total strangers (never mind the well meaning relatives!). Somehow pregnant women and parents of young children become public property...whether you're traditional or progressive, mixed or minority. I had to work very hard to ignore them all and be confident that I knew what was best for me and my baby. Good luck. It is a tough job, but well worth the effort.

Ness said...

Congratulations! Ah, stereotypes....The worst part about them is how hard they are to change! Surely people know there are single mothers, unmarried couples expecting, and gay parents, but it is maddening for a professional(someone who should see these people pretty often) to just assume things. Just keep piping up with "Well, actually...." and I know you can make a difference. :)

Ellen said...

My oldest is 16, so I've been at this awhile now. One thing I will never get used to - that you didn't dwell on, but I'm wondering if it bugged you as well - is being called "Mom" by medical and other professionals dealing with my children. I have a name, and it is not Mom, except to my children. Whenever I'm called Mom at a doctor's office, I just want to say "Look at the chart, and you will find my name. Please use it!" So many ways that people are insensitive and don't take the time to get to know their patients/clients. That yoga teacher's comment was unreal! I'm so glad you walked out of the class. We've come so far as a society, and yet we have such a long way to go.

Kristin said...

Oh my,my, my. Yes, sadly stereotypes are magnified when it comes to parenthood. My husband and I found this when we had our daughter (she is now 2). My husband was an at-home-dad for almost two years and we could not believe all the ridiculousness. When we lived in NJ my husband tried to join a play group, but of the three he contacted one did not return his message, one said that fathers could come if the mother was there and the other one said just plain no. Can you believe that?!?! Needless to say, we did not join ANY of those groups and fortunately we have found our own like-minded parent friends. Actually, our childbirth class was where we found our first parent friends - it was a great place to meet other people with similar philosophies - if you find the right class, of course.

Anyway, sadly this is just the beginning. But just think of all the changes we can make for our children's generation.

Anonymous said...

Oh me, oh my! I missed this post when it went live but I wanted to pop on and say congratulations and keep sharing the pain of the craziness you encounter. I work in a yarn shop and my head about explodes when pregnancy and gender stereotypes come to play with the yarn - most recently someone told me a particular blue was 'too girly', a bit of a shock when I thought she was being staunch on the blue/boy and pink/girl thing.

Julie said...

I totally know what you mean... my daughter is 2.5 months old now, and I can tell you from experience that girls are just as wiggly! She hasn't stopped moving, snuffling, snoring, and grunting since she was born. The idea of girls being placid is total BS. As for strangers, you might luck out- not a single non-family member ever touched my stomach without asking first. And I took the subway every day to and from work until the day before she was born. The pregnancy books are scary, I stopped reading them once I was out of my first trimester, and focused on reading parenting books that were in line with the kind of parent I wanted to be. I also didn't knit my girl anything pink- a whole world of colour is out there!

Unknown said...

Wow! I HAVE been living under a log.

Finally catching up with your podcast on my day off and I find out your going to be a mum! Congrats!!!

... and more power to you! I'm all for keeping personal things personal. But like Rennee Anne commented, when I get excited about the things, I usually can't help but share them (within moderation / reason of course).

Anywho, congrats again and I can't wait to hear about the itty bitty knits ;)