Overeaction: To react with unnecessary or inappropriate force, emotional display, or violence.
There was a gif on social media last week that had a man laughing with the words, ‘for every male reaction there is a female overreaction.’ And yes, yes unsurprisingly this angered me. It was a man rolling his eyes at all women and branding us drama queens and emotional wrecks who flip at the smallest of things. And maybe in some way I proved him right by feeling annoyed by it, but the main thing I thought was, has nothing changed? Are women still viewed as these highly strung and hugely emotive, sensitive little souls?
And then I went to Blogfest16 and was proved very wrong. Women are not meek, they are not mild and as Shappi Khorsandi said, they ‘are running the world.’ There were amazingly engaging panels filled with inspirational women talking about issues in a measured and thought provoking way. The panel sessions discussed female presence on line, looked at campaigns strong women have led and are leading and talked about finding your voice when others want to silence you. And yes, by ‘others’ the speakers often meant men, because in their experience it always was white men who were trying to silence them. White men who send threatening tweets and attempt to make these women disappear through fear, by sending vile tweets or leaving hideous comments often attacking the women and their children. Miranda Sawyer described them as drunk men in a pub who should be left well alone, and I agree.
But I also agree that not all men are like this, and that sadly the many who are ruin it for the good ones. But yesterday the good ones joined in. They criticised a phenomenal event for not acknowledging them. They were upset by the ‘man bashing,’ and whilst I concur that bringing men down is never a way to thrust women up, the attacks weren’t personal. They were in context, they were real. Damn right Jess Phillips MP should get cross when asked if her husband is going to ‘babysit’ their children. And hell yes Sara Khan should bash the men who threatened to gang rape her in every orifice.
Mumsnet’s tagline is ‘parenting for parents’ and I know, I KNOW that means everyone – for there are many different people who come under that umbrella – but the event was headlined by big female names and many of the sessions were clearly focussed on women and were obviously going to have a strong feminist vibe. And if you were a man and you attended those sessions then I am not sure what else you expected. And it makes me angry that in an environment that should have been a safe space for women to come together and support each other and scream loud and clear about inequality (many of us technically working for free now until 2017 thanks to the delightful gender pay gap) and for me that was tarnished by the men who felt they weren’t acknowledged or catered for.
The friend I went with is running a blog for her business. She is not a mummy blogger and she knew full well that in some of the sessions she would have to work hard to take what she was listening to and adapt it for her purpose. She expected it to be pro female and strongly feminist, trusted the strong line up, and wasn’t disappointed.
Why couldn’t the male attendees do the same? Of course Mumsnet are going to target the majority of the audience and they do not need the men there, or indeed at home in their own little filter bubble, criticising the event for not meeting their expectations.
Every day women are made to feel vulnerable and repressed and out of place in their lives or not good enough. Women have jobs purely because companies need to tick a box and employ a certain number of females. Mothers are made to feel inadequate for staying at home and raising children. They are over looked for jobs they could be awesome at if there’s a man interviewing next to them. If they judge critically they are seen as moaners, if they are unhappy they will be criticised for saying so.
Sara Khan rightly said that there is ‘nothing more dangerous than a female with an opinion,’ and last night on Twitter she was proved right after I attempted to point out the hypocrisy of a tweet only to then be called a hypocrite myself, with my point being completely twisted and misinterpreted. I was not belittling daddy bloggers. I was not turning everyday sexism around and being sexist. I was not saying men were not welcome at Blogfest. I was trying to point out how this is how women feel ALL the bloody time and get shot down for fighting against it. That isn’t hypocritical. That is the exact opposite. Why the hell we can’t have an event for women about women without having a man complaining about it and trying to turn it into something it isn’t destined to be is enraging. We do not need men taking over everything. I think women would like to keep certain things just for themselves. And damn right they should to.
Blogfest16 for me was diverse, thought provoking and inspiring and I think women are even more wonderful now than I did this time yesterday.
And that is what I am going to hold on to. And I know I am not overreacting when I say that women, we really can rule the world.
‘The Good Girl’ is a thought-provoking novel with an extremely important message held within it.
The story centres around two female protagonists, Ailsa, the mother of three children and a head teacher at a local secondary school, and Romy, her seventeen-year-old daughter, and heeds a warning for all parents and their children in this modern day world filled with technology, where naïve decisions can have disastrous consequences.
The two different voices of the main characters are distinct. One being written in the first person and the other in the third aids this, and as you read it soon becomes apparent that the story is being told retrospectively. Readers are shown the disastrous event that the novel is leading towards in the prologue, and are carried through the months leading up to it, all undoubtedly with a feeling of dread in their stomachs. The dual narrative enables the reader to see the different viewpoints in relation to the disastrous event and the thoughts justifying each of the characters actions. It’s a fascinating and clever insight into the parallel lives of a mother and daughter relationship and how things can be viewed differently depending on who is doing the observing.
And either way, in the end, the consequences of Romy’s actions have far reaching effects that no one could have anticipated. And both Ailsa and her husband, due to their own past misdemeanours, feel in many ways responsible. For how one is brought up undoubtedly has an impact on who they are and how they parent their own children. However, times have changed an immense amount in the last few generations and parents now are often unable to relate to the lives of their offspring. Technological advances mean that nothing is ever fully erasable or forgotten. Something uploaded onto the Internet loses the ownership of the person in the photo or video and, once out of the hands of its stars, can spread all over the world.
Fiona Neill is very scathing of social media and the Internet and is very clear throughout the novel that she believes it can have a negative impact on a person’s life far after they have had their five minutes of online fame. It’s a lesson that everyone needs to learn. The novel also explores sexting and becoming addicted to Internet porn, both very real issues for all ages.
The book also looks at the different attitudes to males and females with regards to sex. In how men are somehow deemed manly and are revelled if they are highly sexually active, however girls are often broadcast as sluts and deserve everything they get. The inequality is a theme that runs through the book through Ailsa and her husband Harry, as well as their older children. Luke, Romy’s older brother is allowed to bring girls home by the dozen with his parents showing a very relaxed attitude to his private life. And, because he has chosen not to make a live video of said private life that is exactly how it stays.
The sharp writing carries this book along and I found myself thinking about the issues it raises long after I had finished reading it. The characters contain someone that everyone will be able to identify with – even the quirky sex therapists from next door – and the family dynamics make your empathy for each character shift over time.
This book is contemporary and intriguing and definitely something that every adult of teenage children should read. In a world of over-sharing and an Internet that is awake twenty four hours of every day we all need to be thinking about our digital imprint and the effect it could have on our lives and those close to us if something intended to be private reached the wrong fingers tapping at the wrong keyboard.
Thank you to Mumsnet Book Club and Penguin for sending me this book to review. I’d highly recommend it.
Feminism: Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.
Right, I can’t help myself…I’m going to have to write this post about feminism and Blogfest yesterday. But I am not going to write about how outraged I was at the panel, because, well (shock horror) I wasn’t; and I’m not going to convey my belief in why I’m proud to be a mummy and a blogger because, well that’s obvious isn’t it? And I’m not going to write about what feminism means to me because quite frankly (shoot me if you like) at 36 I’ve not entirely worked that out yet. But what I do want to write about is the shocking impact that a few misunderstood and very poorly worded opinions had on the entire room, and on why people were so livid and tweeting, blogging, shouting about what happened. (Clever old Mumsnet eh?)
For those of you who don’t know what on earth I’m talking about, yesterday I was at a blogging conference; a blogging conference run by Mumsnet, who are not unknown for debate and controversy. (and penis beakers) The very title of the session ‘Can you be a mummy blogger and a feminist?’ was designed to provoke, and, rather dangerously, made several hundred women p***ed off before the session had even begun. Now, I don’t know what you’re like when you’re angry, but when I’m p***ed off I can be a bit irrational, misinterpret things, take them very personally and often not hear them how they were intended to be heard, just ask my husband! My judgement can undoubtedly be clouded when I’m angry and I often decided that I’m not going to like what I’m about to hear. And yes…here is where I have to mention jam and heels…the question was asked as to whether a feminist can make jam…and was answered with (what I took to be) a very tongue in cheek ‘no!’ I thought they were being sarcastic at this point and taking the mickey out of themselves, and yes I agree, it was a bit silly that this was even mentioned, like I said…designed to provoke, buts it’s brave to think that a group of feminists on stage aren’t going to challenge their stereotypes. However, the audience, already seething and ready for a heated debate, took this ‘joke’ VERY literally…and tensions rose once more, before it was deemed that feminists could also not wear high heels. Um, am I missing the point here, but can’t feminists/bloggers/women do whatever the hell they like! Now, I don’t wear heels because I broke my ankle in them at a wedding dancing with a nine year old boy, true story, but if I want to wear them…I bloody well will!
We all have baggage, we all feel guilty and have our own personal battles, and everyone has achievements they are fiercely proud of. What we all need to remember is that alongside these things we all have experiences that have shaped our opinions and beliefs…and unless we know another person 100% or walk in their shoes we will never fully understand the events and reasons behind these opinions. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if it’s different to yours and instead of condemning and verbally attacking someone whose opinion differs from our own, maybe we should listen and try and understand what brought them there, who knows we might just learn something.
Yes we need to be careful about how we voice these opinions, and I agree that yesterday some were very poorly worded and could and did easily offend. I speak in reference to the reference that ‘women without degrees cannot be good mums.’ Yet this technically isn’t what was said, it was the panellist’s own opinion about herself and her own parenting. She said that she thought that about herself and not all mums, yet frayed tempers and personal situations made this another verbal battle. Do we know why she has his opinion of herself and why her inner voice was telling her that she’d have failed as a mother if she didn’t return and complete her degree? Was it drummed into her by the media, by her mother, her child’s father? Dig a little deeper and maybe we’d find a mum not unlike ourselves who struggles with the guilt of working, not working and a whole host of other things. But yesterday no-one wanted to dig and no-one wanted to see…they were too consumed by perceived rage that she was somehow attacking them. Personal issues were brought to the forefront of everyone’s conscious and fuelled the debate. Private and personal battles were rearing their heads and argued ferociously in public.
As mums we’ve all felt shit about ourselves or our choices, I know I have; from media reports, medical research, and through the many perceived rights and wrongs of parenting. Instead of battling against one another because of all of those things we should be supporting each other, learning from each other, supporting each other, listening to each other, empathising
with each other. Standing together as equals…isn’t that feminism personified?!
There is always a reason for people’s opinions and why they fight passionately for what they believe in. We do not know their history or what they have been through to get to where they are. But there’s always a reason and maybe we need to look behind poorly chosen words and be more understanding and supportive.
Being a mum makes me happy, being a blogger makes me happy, but watching and listening to mummies and bloggers disagree so fervently without the knowledge and understanding behind the words makes me sad. Yes some phrases were poorly worded, yes some things could have been taken personally, but it didn’t need to descend into such mayhem. It was not a healthy debate. It was uncomfortable and raw. But then again…isn’t attack the best for of defence?!