One of the downsides about being engaged to a man who sells jewellery is that sometimes he forgets how much I’m not interested in it. This is not to say that I don’t like colourful or twinkly things – that would be silly! – just that I don’t really care what it’s made from, as long as it doesn’t irritate my skin. Bear in mind, my skin can be irritated by aqueous cream and E45, two products specifically designed for sensitive skin. So the irritation thing is a reasonable concern. The relative shininess of platinum as compared to silver really isn’t.
Now, J and I both wear engagement rings. Which is to say, anybody who sees his left hand assumes that he’s already married, because in the eyes of the patriarchy, it is always and only the woman who should carry the symbol of ownership – formerly wedding rings, and now, since mens’ wedding rings have become common, engagement rings.
The other day, wedding rings came up in conversation. Since one of the things that irritates J is me quoting his own arguments at him verbatim, I try to make a point of doing so every so often, and this provided me with the perfect opportunity:
J: Lots of the men I speak to at work get that look. The one that says, “I’m paying silly money for my girlfriend’s ring, and she’s not paying for anything for me”. And then I speak to them about watches. And their faces light up.
Me: The joys of equality – now everybody has to give you their money!
J: Well… I was thinking… Everybody thinks that this [points at his ring] is a wedding band, and I’d only have to move it to my right hand. So maybe you just shouldn’t buy me a wedding band.
Me: Hmm. Well, I was thinking, everybody thinks that this [points at my ring] is a wedding ring, and I’d only have to move it to my right hand. So maybe you just shouldn’t buy me a wedding ring either.
J: *looks disappointed*
Me: *light dawns* Oh! You wanted a new watch, didn’t you?! You thought that you could buy me another ring I don’t need and I could buy you another watch that you don’t need!
J: *looks shifty*
Me: How much?
J:…. £1,000… ish…
Me: *laughs hysterically*
J: No wedding rings, then?
I would like to point out here that my life is made considerably more entertaining by J’s presence. In a good way. And I’m very relieved, to be honest, that we won’t be thinking about any more pointless jewellery. Being many things, but mainly an impoverished maths student, I can’t help but note that the money that would have bought the watch J wanted would have paid for 40 week’s worth of food for me – an academic year’s worth, in other words. That kind of thing makes me want to gibber in a corner.
(J now has his own blog, which he has promised will not make him sound like a whinging emo git. I checked this. He told me it was “delicately put”.)
When there are at least 5 of you in a flat, and a lone woman is the only occupant present, telling her that “you have ways of getting in” to rooms is not appropriate.
Lucky for you that I knew you were joking, and even luckier that you weren’t giving off active creepy guy vibes.
I keep knives in my room.
And I spent a year dismembering pigs’ legs. Believe me, their skin was tougher than yours.
Not a very good one, admittedly, but I do at least have one.
So, you know how there’s that bingo-worthy saying, “I don’t see colour”?
And you know how there’s a trend for advertising towards men to use all of the shades of the black/grey/white/silver spectrum?
Maybe it’s true!
Maybe, the reason that advertisers don’t use actual colours to advertise to men is because they are advertising primarily towards white men who are likely to say “I don’t see colour“! The advertisers are therefore targeting a more specific demographic than it would first appear: the demographic of racist, mindless, male douchebags!
For example, Lynx. They have a white man surrounded by white women to sum up the brand on their website. I think my assumptions are reasonable.
I am a genius.
In other news, because I am a maths geek, it turns out that any numeric palindrome of the form ABBA – like 1331 – is divisible by 11. This pleases me, because it was worth 4 marks in my exam. And also because it makes 11 a more useful number.
This is an open letter, and if I thought that it would be welcome, I’d have started it with the words “Dear Incurable Hippy”. But if I’m angry with people, the last thing I want is for them to be civil without saying anything helpful. So I’m not going to do it here.
What I would like to say is that the Sheffield Fems as a group have been wrong, and have done wrong, and that I, personally, have done wrong. And for all of that, I am sorry.
I don’t want to try to offer any glib explanations.
I have been wrong. I haven’t done enough. I saw your post last time you publicly showed how angry you were. I saw it and brought it up at a meeting and asked that something be done about it. I didn’t follow up on it. I should have done. I should have kept asking, and kept looking for different venues, and kept insisting that we did something about the pub, and I didn’t do any of those things. I don’t hold the Sheffield Fems email account, and I used that as an excuse to distance myself from it, and from you.
I am very, very sorry.
As of yet, we haven’t had to pay for the use of the room in the University Arms. But that doesn’t make it right. I can’t – and wouldn’t – argue with any other point you make. You’re right. And it’s my fault as much as – if not more so – than anybody else. Because I was the one who first saw the post you wrote last time, and I didn’t do enough for you.
Although I can see that by now, it’s unlikely you’d ever want to associate with me (or with the fems in general), I would like to promise you that this time, I won’t let it rest. As I should have done the first time, I consider myself warned. I am ashamed of myself.
I have been ablist. You’d think I’d know better. I will try my hardest to make up for that, and make sure that I don’t do it again.
I hope you can accept this as a sincere apology, but I understand if you can’t. Either way, and regardless of whether we ever meet (although I hope that we do, one day), I wish you well.
This is a response to this post.
I’m off for the next few days, assuming the trains work. And by “few” I mean that I certainly won’t be posting again until Sunday, and if not then, I have no idea, because my lectures start on Monday.
It feels weird to have to say this, to be honest. I’m not used to having so many people read what I write. And I know at least some of them turn up because they think I’m a child porn site, but surely, that can’t explain all of them!
No doubt when I return, the snow will be gone, and I will be sad. Until then, happy snow days!
There are some things that really make me appreciate having a feminist partner. Like his now well-developed habit of turning to me, deadpan, and exclaiming “OMG! Shoez!”. And, more specifically for this post, his habit of telling me when something particularly bizarre has made it into his personal radar. Like this story.
J: Have you seen the news story about how working mothers are destroying children?
Me: Um.. no, I’ve been watching snow all day.
J: It was on TV earlier and I just wanted to stand up and shout “WHAT?!!!”. *pause* Well, actually, I did shout “WHAT?!!!”. I just didn’t stand up.
So, in honour of the story meriting standing up to shout, I thought I’d dissect it a little.
First off, the full report can be found here. I started looking at it thinking that the BBC had cherry-picked the most news-worthy snippets. And, in a way, they have. Most of the report summaries seemed sensible and reasonable in content, and for six out of the seven categories (friends, lifestyle, values, schooling, mental health and inequalities) there was little to object to. Perhaps a seemingly spurious statistic in the friends category – that “for women [the age at which they had their first sexual experience] dropped from 21 in 1953 to 16 in 1998” – could have been omitted, or at least balanced with the corresponding statistic for men, but otherwise, I saw nothing that really bothered me.
But then comes the summary on family.
Frankly, compared with the other summaries, I found it to be poorly written, and nowhere near as coherent. A condensed version of each paragraph of the main summary could be:
- More women with babies of 9-12 months work outside the home, compared to 25 years ago.
- Women’s economic independence has led to a higher rate of divorce/ separation.
- “Children, whose parents separate are 50% more likely to fail at school, suffer behavioural difficulties, anxiety or depression.”
- Parents should not stay together if the conflict between them is bad; but children are less likely to be aggressive/ depressed “the more they see their separated father”
- “it is a real worry that in Britain around 28% of all children whose parents have separated have no contact with their fathers three years after separation”
- *statistics on the prevalance of parental separation*
- “So to reduce the level of conflict in family life, parents must give more priority to their relationship. This would do more for children than anything else.”
Women with money = more divorce = more depressed children and therefore “parents must give priority to their relationship”. Even though “parents should not stay together if the conflict between them is bad”.
The whole thing is just bizarre. Especially since in the long version of the family report, they cite statistics from Refuge that say that half of all cases of domestic violence occur in households with children. What they don’t mention is the statistics that then say that “in over 50% of known domestic violence cases, children were also directly abused”. It is not inconceivable, then, to assume that at least some of that 28% of children without contact with their fathers have very, very good reasons for it. It would be pretty strange for a woman to extricate herself and her children from an abusive relationship, only to then voluntarily allow that man contact with the children. And, similarly, is it not reasonable that those children who have been abused by their fathers, and are not in contact with them, might indeed be more likely to display symptoms of depression?
I am not impressed.
I’m not impressed with the BBC for deliberately sensationalising a report that was, in general, very good. And I’m not impressed with the report itself, for giving the BBC the opportunity. And what’s really depressing is that, while the BBC have picked up on it, the Daily Mail haven’t. I’d have staked a fortune on it being the other way round.
I moved up to the grim North just so I could play in snow come winter, and now I have been gleefully informed by J that down South, it’s effectively snowed everybody in. Humph. Of course, this is partly because the merest hint of rain upsets every Southern rail network. But it is too snowy for people to drive, apparently. He’s promised to send me photographs, and no doubt I shall post these later with a touch of jealousy for good measure. It makes me wish I were in London, because my parents and presumably my brother will have the day off, and it would be snowball fights and hot chocolate all round.
ETA: The promised photo is here. It’s a big file, annoyingly, so I’m only posting one. And it’s started snowing again in Sheffield. Happy days. I’m glad I always go nuts with food-storing. I think I’m just a big squirrel really.