Bollocks to that


Dear Grant, (@grantfeller)

Oh man, where do I begin with this?

So I read your article in Sunday Style Magazine (Why Men Make Terrible Mothers, 28/10/14) and I’ll be honest: I had to close the magazine and go for a walk in the fresh air. Because, really. Are we still doing this? In 2014? In the face of actual real life statistics that prove what we all inherently know – that the bond between an adult and a child is profoundly influenced by the quality time that they spend together, not whether or not the adult has lady parts or man parts – you still want to get out of nappy duty by playing the gender card.

Oxytocin – the love hormone – is a wonderdrug. It helps women grow healthy babies in their bellies. It helps them get those babies out. It masks the pain and trauma of childbirth. It forces a bond between mother and child so that the child won’t be abandoned. It assists with the creation of milk for those babies. That’s a whole lot of crazy shit, but it all happens over a very short space of time in a new human’s life – 6 months, 12 months, or for the hardcore amongst us, a couple of years. But what’s a couple of years compared with the 18 that you are legally obligated to take care of that child? Or the lifetime that your heart compels you to be there for them? Women get a head-start in the bonding department – absolutely. But without constant and consistent time spent with that child, a bond won’t form on its own. Love grows and continues to grow long after the maternal oxytocin wears off. And men produce oxytocin, too. Why do you think that is? So that they can bond and connect with fellow human beings. Think about the people in your life whom you love – do you honestly think you love them less than the women in their lives?

This whole backhanded ‘Women: The Altruistic Wonders’ argument is precisely the kind of manipulative shit that keeps women from pursuing the same social privileges as men. Because why bother hiring a woman if she’s just going to exercise her natural instinct to go off and have babies? Why bother educating her if she’ll never fulfil that potential? In fact, why bother letting her out of the house in the first place if all she’s ever going to do with her life is raise children because she naturally wants nothing more than to live it in servitude to her kids?

As nicely and jovially as you tried to put it, you essentially said that women belong at home and men belong in the workforce. Bollocks. Humans belong where they are best suited, whatever bits they have between their legs. Gender roles are a dangerous social construct that only serves a small few (but perhaps you are one of those few). This constant suggestion that women have a set role to play isolates and limits them, and in turn isolates and limits men. This is problematic for both of us; it causes deep-set anxiety in women who find themselves not enjoying motherhood as intensely as society expects them to, and it breeds a sense of powerlessness and obligation in men. What will men do without the women in their lives if they are so inherently incapable of taking care of the kids? What if they are unable to provide for their family? What control do they really have over their own offspring as mere men? God forbid they actually enjoy caring for their children and feel emasculated by doing something they love.

Insistence of set gender roles has darker and more sinister undertones, too. There is a proven link between the respect and authority that women have in society as a whole and the incidence of violence against them. In communities where women are represented in a diverse range of roles and responsibilities, and revered in positions of authority, lower instances of domestic abuse and rape are recorded. And it’s not just women who suffer from the crippling social expectation of strict gender roles. The most common cause of death in young men is suicide. Men, who are taught that feelings are something they shouldn’t have, would sooner die than talk about what’s troubling them. This is not a coincidence. I want to be part of a world where women have more choices, but I also want to see men living long, happy and healthy lives. The two can’t be separated.

I’m gonna level with you. The job you’re doing – being at home as the primary carer of a child, while also trying to nurture a fledgling business – that shit is HARD. It’s not hard because you’re a man, it’s hard because it’s HARD. I know. I do the same job and I’m a woman. I was legitimately surprised at how shit I am at this job. The suggestion that you’re not good at it simply by virtue of being a man is a cop-out. And if that’s the case, what’s my excuse? Women are expected to be good at raising kids so they pretend they’re happy, even when they’re struggling (#lovemyjob). Men are not expected to be good at it, so are either praised when they manage a basic task, or excused if they drop the ball. But it’s all unfounded bollocks; if you’re not enjoying it, or you’re finding it hard, the problem and its solution lies with YOU. If you’d rather be at the pub than at a play date, it’s not because you’re a man, it’s because those are your priorities. And OK. No judgment. I’d rather be at the pub some days, too. It might get better with time or it might not, but ultimately you have choices – far more than I do over here in the same boat – that you can exercise to better your situation. If your choice is to walk away from being a primary carer, have the courage to say that you couldn’t make it work. Not that you are a man and all men are incapable, cleverly ridding yourself of the disappointment and responsibility that you might actually have to face.

I grew up with less choices than my male counterparts on the basis of my gender. I want more choices for my daughter. And more again for the granddaughters I may one day have. I want my son to never feel trapped or emasculated if his favourite film isn’t Full Metal Jacket. Please, be part of the solution. It’s easy, even trendy, to stand up to blatant sexism and misogyny – those lines have long been drawn in the sand. But it is so hard for women like me to stand up to the kind of everyday sexism that you have displayed in your article because you either think it’s a joke or it makes no difference. Please, it is not a joke and it makes a difference. It’s puts women in their place, with a smiley face.

You’re doing a hard job. I’m doing a hard job. We’re neither of us particularly good at it, or enjoying it as much as we’d like, but we’re doing our best. And for fuck’s sake, let’s get on the same side here because we’re all in this together.


Caroline says: Yeah, what she said ^^^. Grant, I’d be happy to catch up with you during the day to lament together how our businesses aren’t traveling at the warp-speed they could be because we chose to have children. Let’s whine in unison over a soy flat white in a (pram-friendly) cafe and compare notes on how boring sheet-changing really truly is and how we just aren’t congratulated enough for those little jobs around the house. Friends got a promotion and a new car? What about us? My kid is rolling like a trouper but where is my thanks? We can congratulate each other Grant, cos lord knows we deserve it. But let’s please do it as people, as parents and as ourselves. Not as sweeping generalisations of our gender. Men and women deserve more than that.

Why the WAF needs Feminism


I’ll be honest with you WAF, when I first visited your tumblr with all those haughty opinions of yours, I kinda scoffed. I mean, really. A bunch of women making the ultimately feminist choice to express their opinion by making largely feminist statements under the banner of not needing feminism. If I could have located just one woman holding a sign that said ‘I don’t need feminism because I believe that men are superior to me and that my opinions don’t matter’ then maybe you would have made your point. Instead, it’s just a bunch of feminists deniers dissing on feminism. Some of the best ones are:

I don’t need feminism because I made a choice to be a stay at home mother.

I don’t need feminism because I don’t need a pack of angry vaginas to fight my battles.

I don’t need feminism because having sex with a stranger is irresponsible, not rape.

I haven’t needed feminism since the 1920s.


I promptly forgot about WAF. Their issue isn’t with feminism but with their skewed perception of feminism. And, it seemed, the underlining fear that aligning themselves with feminism might make them seem angry or unattractive. Far be it for me to tell them otherwise. They’re big girls (so they keep insisting). They can work this stuff out for themselves.

Then just yesterday I read a really, really, really sad article about real life marital counselling in the 1950s and 60s. It’s a long read, but you can check it out here.

It uncovered an epidemic in 20th Century social culture to blame women for any kind of discord present in an unhappy marriage. Even violence against them. The ‘Can This Marriage Be Saved?’ column was published in a widely read and very popular women’s magazine. And I imagine the published cases only represent the very tip of the iceberg.

Take ‘Elsa’ and ‘Josh’. Elsa was beaten and humiliated publicly by Josh on a number of occasions. After giving birth to a baby girl, Josh ignored Elsa and their daughter showing his disappointment in the fact it wasn’t a boy. When he had to make his own breakfast one morning shortly following the birth, he flew into a rage. The counsellor’s comment, as published in this national magazine:

“If she wanted a serene family life, she would have to learn to give Josh what he wanted from their marriage and thereby help him control his temper.” In other words “This wife needed to be convinced out of her own self-righteous understanding of the situation.”

In response to more and more women writing in to discuss domestic abuse, he comments: ‘it was interesting to find how bitterly the average man resents a sloppy and slovenly wife.’

Still think you don’t need feminism? Still think you haven’t needed it since the 1920s?

Find me one woman on the WAF tumblr that thinks this is OK. Not just the abuse, but the justification of it.

Find me one woman on the WAF willing to put on a placard ‘I don’t need feminism because in cases of domestic violence it is my duty as a wife to help my husband control his temper.’

Find me one woman on the WAF who wouldn’t fight tooth and nail if Elsa were her sister or her friend.

Let me tell you something WAF: you’re here, expressing your opinion on a global scale, because of feminism. And let me tell you something else, if you ever find yourself married to a ‘Josh’, that ‘bunch of angry vaginas’ you hate so much will not rest until you are safe.

I’m gonna level with you, WAF: there are some angry feminists and there are some peaceable ones, too. Lucky for you, you can ignore the angry ones if you find them so displeasing – believe me, it will never be illegal to shave your legs, like men or wear short skirts. But all in all, this developing global community of ours hasn’t reached a point where all women out here have the choices that you seem to think you have. You think you don’t need feminism, but your mother probably did and your sister might, your daughter might, your neighbour might. I’d love nothing more than to say, with all honestly, that we don’t need feminism anymore. But we still do.

So when you say your prayers tonight, and find yourself grateful to live in an imperfect but improving society, feel free to give your thanks. To feminism.

Remember ‘Elsa’. Not her real name, but she was a real person. A woman who was told, publicly and not so long ago, that her husband might beat her if she finds herself unable to tend to her prescribed household duties. Remember her and the many women like her who still live in the same fear. Lest we effing forget.

Sleep Deprivation – Tortured Delirium or Creative Genius?


I’ve always been a great sleeper. I love sleep. I sleep well. I sleep long.

Correction: Slept.

Lately, August has been enjoying his “babies being babies” status by waking every two hours overnight to feed. I’m talking ravenous feeding. He’s little, he’s growing, and it’s just not an option for me to refuse to feed the little tyke. So I’m up. A lot.

As the days wore on and my maximum length of slumber at a time peaked at 2.5 hours in a 5 day period – I hit delirium. And this is where it gets interesting. I think I found a correlation between creativity and sleep deprivation. A positive spin on a shite situation – yes indeed. Could it just be the delirium talking – quite possibly.

I can only liken it to that level of drinking when your barriers come down, you get all loosey-goosey in the chatter department, and you suddenly become a champion pool player. I have proof that after approximately 3.5 glasses of wine, I “get my eye in”* and start sinking balls like I’ve joined the professional circuit. I once got someone to take a video of me executing some crazy shot that included ricochets, jump shots and 3 balls sunk, just so I could show people my mad skills in the harsh light of day. Amy and I once went away for a weekend to write an ebook (still in progress), drank a couple of bottles of red, befriended the local pub owner and creativity positively sparked out of us. We think.

I started to see this side of me emerging around 3pm each day, but now my mad skills extended to heightened wit and crazy styling ideas. And there was no booze involved. I had inadvertently “got my eye in”** by not sleeping.

My self-editing went out the window, with any idea getting airplay. I was spinning puns and weaving wordplay without pause, and thoughts were streaming out of me. I also got totally over-emotional, like a drunk crying into a beer. But this was a small price to pay for flashes of brilliance.

A lack of inhibition has been characteristic of many creative greats, with an ability to tap into ideas that might never have seen the light of day had they allowed editing to occur. I can totally understand the need to chase this feeling, this crazed state of heightened everything where it just seems easier to work. Sure – you’re dancing (sometimes flailing) to the sound of your own drum. Sure – timeframes go out the window and strangers give you polite smiles and start to back away slowly. And SURE – your partner/family/dog are a little unsure as to why things are getting made when there are chores to be done. But all just a byproduct of the delirium. A small price to pay.

For a spell at least.

We know that sleep deprivation also does a whole heap of bad stuff to your body if it continues for too long a stretch.*** You shouldn’t drive, operate heavy machinery or basically do anything that requires refined motor skills and quick judgement. And we don’t CHOOSE it (that would be taking it one step too far).

But you know what? Two nights ago, August slept from 9pm to 5am. I awoke with both the fear of God that something had happened to him, and the pain of Zeus in my engorged breasts. After I’d checked that he was indeed totally fine and happily gurgling to himself in the cot, I realised that I felt like a new woman. I felt great! Good Morning World!!

But I also felt something was amiss. I sat down to try to plan my day, to write some more and plot a moodboard. And struggled a little. Then it hit me. My eye was out. I was totally rational and rested. And although I was so relieved to have been handed this delicious stretch of sleep, I was also a little sad that my loose crazy genius had also retired. Now I really had to think.

For the time being at least. August is nothing if not unpredictable.




* not scientifically proven

** also not scientifically proven

*** this is totally scientifically proven but I just don’t have time to Google the appropriate reference. Soz