Eee, I’m loving this new column of ours! I’m snuggling into it myself, already, like it’s some big cosy armchair and I’ve put Miss Bee to bed and have the whole evening ahead of me to hang out, just me in my PJs with a cup of tea and a laptop.
So I was directed to this article yesterday by the ever-on-to-it Aussie feminist mum, Blue Milk. It reports on the fact that in US election coverage over the past six months men have been quoted around five times (FIVE TIMES!) as much as women on issues primarily affecting women, such as abortion, birth control and planned parenthood.
I had one of those nasty, slimy, wearying moments in which I get thoroughly depressed and start to reflect on the bizarre fact that there are still people out there (men and women) who think that there’s no such thing as a patriarchy any more.
I’ve actually been thinking about this a bit recently, in the context of early parenthood – another area that primarily involves women, and is dominated in the popular media by men. It was the infamous Time article that first pinged this thought into my head; the two figureheads of parenting literature the piece referred to (in its dodgy allegation of the sea change currently taking place in American parenting philosophy) were, firstly, Dr Spock and, latterly, Dr Sears. (That would be Doctors Benjamin and William, my friends; not Betty and Wilhemina!)
Recently, a friend referred me to a Guardian piece about another male parenting expert, Carlos Gonzalez, who has recently published an authoritative book on the subject. For some reason I hadn’t heard of this guy, although he actually sounds like he makes a lot of sense.
Yes, he does make sense – it’s not my point that these dudes are getting it wrong. My point is the fact that these are dudes.
Why are their voices the ones we’re being fed as authoritative? Why are their opinions getting published, and distributed, and listened to? Is it really the case that there aren’t any women out there – real, live, mothers, with lady muscles that have squeezed out babies and breasts that have fed babies and body clocks that have woken them up 1.5 minutes before their baby does in the middle of the night a bajillion times – who can guide us just as definitively? Heaven forbid I suggest it, more definitively?
Feminism can answer all these questions of mine very simply.
I see all this as reasonably self-evident to the point of not being very newsworthy (I and my close friends and everyone I respect on the internet know the patriarchy ain’t dead). The reason I am blogging about it today is that I wanted to talk about it in the context of something else that I’ve been thinking about recently, thanks to one of my blogging heros Mrs Woog. Woog was recently featured in the Sydney Morning Herald in a piece on mummy bloggers (or as Woog awesomely calls us, ‘contraceptively challenged internet writers’).
The piece had its moments, but the thing that stuck out about it to me the most was a throw-away term near the end referring to mummy bloggers as ‘one-woman publishing enterprises’.
Readers, those four words, whether or not they intended to (and in context, they totally did not) gave me hope.
Because I have this tiny but growing idea that Mrs Woog and thousands like her – yes, me and Zelda too! – are the future. We are writing. We are publishing. We are slowly but surely growing an audience, and getting ourselves heard where we need to be heard.
And we’re doing that on our terms, in what is essentially a very female way: starting small, just among friends, then slowly reaching out to others in the same boat; expressing opinions but always clarifying that they are our opinions; we mean no harm to people out there who feel differently. Fitting in publishing between changing nappies, cooking dinner, working from home. No need for
anyone else (least of all men with money and power and supposed authority in the mainstream media) to be involved.
This is totally reinforced by stuff I’ve been reading on blogs recently. All sorts of blog posts: beautiful, hilarious, well-informed, helpful.
Two out of many by way of example: a long piece on night-weaning a toddler that was bloody inspirational, by a random stay-at-home mother in the States I think (she hasn’t updated her blog since 2010, dammit! This may or may not be attributable to the Patriarchy) and this lovely rant by Vegemite Vix in response to the SMH‘s piece and comments, which articulately sums up the value of the sort of blogs I’m on about.
We ‘mummy bloggers’ are women, talking about women’s stuff, for and to women (and, importantly, with women – coz the internet makes conversations between media and consumers possible in a way that has never existed before). We are quietly, subtly, almost apologetically (us women can’t help saying sorry) saying to the patriarchy ‘we don’t need you’.
I have this delighted, subversive, excited little suspish that in a decade or two the Spocks, the Searses and the Gonzalezes won’t be around; they will be seen as irrelevant.
It’s exciting. It makes me very happy.