Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Violence of Gifford Attracts Sympathy for Disabled?

This blog post has been inspired by an article in the Sunday Times of 20 November by Dominic Lawson titled 'Only a Gunman Brings Respect to the Disabled'. This title is a reference to Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who was shot earlier this year. I read the article with double interest because Dominic Lawson knows what he is talking about as he has a son with Down's Syndrome.

Gabrielle Gifford was shot through the head and was not expected to die but she has pulled through. Diane Sawyer, the very well known host at ABC, interviewed Gabrielle about her ordeal. It was the reaction by the public and the media to the interview that shows the alarming two-tier prejudice that exists against people born disabled.

Gabrielle is seen as a winner, someone who is being heroic in struggling to overcome her disability. People in everyday life who become disabled either through an accident or illness are often seen as brave too in coping with the change in their lives. But, nobody says the same of those who were born with a disability.

The two-tier prejudice comes from the fact that this group has to deal with a prejudicial concept of them being disabled and unable; and an expectation from them to do far more than they can physically or mentally possibly do.

Hate crime is on the rise. There are things we don't all witness like the disabled people who are insulted on public transport for being in the way or not moving fast enough when entering or exiting. Then there are the public spectacles of celebrities, Ricky Gervais, who used the word 'mong' to describle people with Down's Syndrome.

When the blogger, Nicola Clark, criticised Ricky Gervais for this she received a barrage of insults instead of support. What sort of society do we have where people think that the use of offensive language, especially to describe those who are vulnerable, is a sign of humour? Nicola Clark was asked to 'chill out' and to leave free speech alone. I thought our forefathers fought the ideals of free speech on the understanding that it was to be used to increase the wellbeing of all.

Dominic Lawson said: '...hope that the public can now extend their engagement with Gabrielle Gifford into an appreciation of the humanity of those who have been born disabled'.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Mary Wollstonecraft Was Right About Mothers

The image of Mary Wollstonecraft was today beamed onto the Houses of Parliament in London to publicise efforts to erect a statute to her memory. I was thrilled that a feminist had been given the honour of having her memory showcased on one of our most popular British landmarks.

That makes Mary officially a part of our British History, thereby a recognition that feminism has been woven into our fabric of the past. It lends more meaning to the feminist term 'her story'.

I pay homage to Mary because her view of mothers being important because they educate children is a tenet that is central to my mothering. Mothers have so much that they can teach and pass on to their children but society disempowers mothers by marginalising the work of mothering. That which does not produce a profit is disregarded.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Gloria Steinem says 'We Need To Get Much Angrier'

Contrasting Pictures Of Anger and Serenity

My first thought when I read that line was that Gloria Steinem can afford to get angry. She is famous and well respected. She can get away with it. The rest of us have to negotiate and advocate for our women's rights. In other words in the typical female way of apologising before demanding.

As an Asian woman, a further complication, I was taught that it was unladylike to be angry or, indeed, exhibit any other emotion other than demure obedience. Anger? That was the reserved right of the men we disobeyed or unruly children.

So how we do up the ante on demanding equality? Will anger work? On second thoughts, I think collective anger which manifests itself through activism will work. The women in Tahrir Square were angry. The women in Liberia who campaigned for years for peace were angry. The feminists who burned their bras were angry. Anger, therefore, does work.

Let's all get angry.


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Blaming Women for Guns

It never ceases to amaze me just how much is blamed on women or done in our name when we do not want nor need whatever deed we are being burdened with. Gloria Steinem says that women are both the victims and the false excuse for keeping guns (because men use the excuse of protecting women as a reason for having a gun).
So women are both recipients and contributors to violence. I have a sense of deja vu. Hasn't that train of thought been used before to justify rape and violence against women?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Is the internet safe for women?

Facebook has finally taken down the page on rape but not before a number of men had a field day indulging in their evil fantasies. Social Networking is the domain of misogny now, taking the reach of misogy to new levels. By leaving the page up for as long as Facebook did the company 'normalised' violence against women. How safe are women on the internet then?

A woman was raped because her ex-boyfriend posted details of her online falsely alleging that she had a fantasy of being violated. Quite often I see comments left on women's sites too that threaten rape. Cyber rape is a growing phenomenon.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Feminist Mother-a solitary existence?

This blog post of mine has been inspired by a similar one written by bluemilk called 'Break-the-isolation-join-the-list' and my experience of speaking at the recent MIRCI (Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement) conference in Toronto.

I am quite used to speaking in public but when I got up to speak at MIRCI I was nervous as anything because I felt as if I was about to reveal a stream of inner consciousness and thought. In my normal day to day life I don't get the opportunity to discuss the ideologies and practical experiences of being a feminist mother.

Mothering in the public sphere seems to be about discussing a list of things 'to do' with one's child. Mothering in the private domestic setting is about 'doing things' with one's children. The deficit lies in discussing how a mother's personal experiences of feminism can shape a child's cognitivie, psychological and emotional development.

I am on a mission to rectify the situation and will be speaking at Occupy St.Paul's, London, UK on November 12 at 11am on Feminist Mothering. Specifically, I am hoping to start a UK Mother Outlaws group (originated by MIRCI) and am hoping that enough interest will be generated at Occupy St.Paul's to get the ball rolling.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Dimensions of Mixed Race Mothering

Mothering a mixed race child (Asian + White) is a journey of self-discovery for me as much as it is for my 12 year old daughter. When I first became a mother I imagined that mothering was more a practical act than a cerebral one.
Granted, in the initial stages mothering does consist of changing nappies, burping etc but I underestimated the politics of race and how it would take hold so early on. At mother-baby get togethers mothers would congregate along race lines based on their own race. There were no huddled groups for mothers of mixed race babies.
Did it matter? I didn't think so then because I just joined the group with friendly faces. However, as time has gone on I do realise that race has an important dimension in mothering. Asian mothers now consist a large minority group globally and what precedes us is a racial stereotype of Asian mothers i.e docile and only interested in the domestic sphere.
Stereotypes often have a factual basis and while the picture I paint is still true of many Asian mothers there is a force emerging which wants to challenge the patriarchal notions of motherhood. These mothers realise that the straitjacket of gender inequality within the home has devastating consequences for their daughter i.e domestic violence, patriarchal bullying, and want to fight back. The family structure must not be used to reinforce daughters as second class citizens.