I didn’t really enjoy the 30 + hours of non-productive painful contractions occurring every 2-3 minutes, or the one-on-top-of-the-other contractions on the pitocin drip. And while I did like the epidural and thought it likely that I would want one again, I didn’t want to be basically forced into it because really, anyone who is on a pitocin drip but refuses an epidural is either a martyr or a Viking.
Women have a love-hate history with pain control during childbirth. During my nesting phase in the last month of my pregnancy I read a bunch of non fiction books on child birth, and I learned some interesting things.
In honor of Ron’s birthday today, it’s time I finished this post!
I actually started my previous post about Ron’s virtues months before Rowling admitted that she had made a mistake pairing him with Hermione. But it was that shocking announcement which spurred me into finishing it.
Because, like many of us, I also had my doubts about the couple at first, so my last couple of re-readings have focused on Ron’s character.
Every parent I’ve spoken to agrees – the selection for girl clothes is way better than the selection for boy clothes. The girl section is always twice the size of the boy section, and full of adorable pea coats, polka dot dresses, and bluejeans with butterfly embroideries. Meanwhile, the boy section is full of grubby looking t-shirts covered in corporate characters like Batman and Ninja turtles.
I guess Owl agrees, because one day we were trying shorts on him in the store and he looked longingly over to a rack of pink tutus and said wistfully, “Someday… when I’m a girl… I’m going to wear that.”
PH and I exchanged looks. We looked at the price tag of the tutu. Seven dollars.
“We can get that if you want,” I said.
“No, but those are for girls.”
“Yes, they are,” I said. “But you can PRETEND you are a girl. I mean, you wear a fireman suit sometimes, but are you a really a fireman?”
“No! I’m a little boy!”
“Well, you can pretend to be a girl just like you pretend to be a fireman.”
“Okay! Let’s try it on!”
He has never been so excited about a piece of clothing. He carried it proudly to the cashier, and insisted on donning it the moment the transaction went through.
We were pretty amused, and took some pictures, and tried to cherish this moment while it lasted. We got seven dollars worth of cuteness just that night at Montana’s alone, where he did pirouettes for the admiring waitress.
That was months ago.
He STILL loves his tutu.
We won’t let him wear it to school, ostensibly because tutus are dress-up clothes, and it is no more appropriate to wear tutus to school than to show up in his shark costume. The real reason, though, is that there is a boy at his school who is a little punk and would tear him a new one. This charming child introduced words into his vocabulary like “dead” and “kill” and “gun”. The same kid also taught Owl that pink is for girls, among other things. Once I took him to school with his nails painted and he came home and said “Little Punk says that nail polish is FOR GIRLS.”
God knows what would happen if Owl showed up in a tutu.
We’re not just trying to protect Owl’s feelings – we don’t like things like that parroted at him and we’re not going to set up opportunities for him to receive a lecture in gender norms from some four year old peer.
Other than that, he can wear it pretty much anywhere. He wears it to the store and playing around our complex and out to the park. He wore it to a boy’s birthday party, using the logic that birthdays are a dress-up occasion. We couldn’t argue it and so he went. No one teased him. One larger boy did see and point, but Owl didn’t notice. The other three year olds didn’t even blink.
He was just another boy… in a tutu.
He even sleeps in it most nights. Last night he didn’t sleep with it, but he must have put it on first thing in the morning because he was wearing it when he crawled into bed with me this morning, saying “I’m pretty now, Mom! I’m VERY PRETTY.”
We don’t know if this is a phase or not. We used to think so, when he was a baby. It was his love of pretty dresses that turned me into a feminist. We thought he’d outgrow it once he understood about gender. Now we aren’t so sure. He spotted a doll in PH’s study and wanted red lips like her, so I came home to find him wearing lipstick.
For the most part, he seems all boy. He likes to pretend he’s a super hero who fights bad guys. He likes to shoot things, and destroy things, and he has the restless energy of a male child. But he really likes to do these things while wearing a pink tutu.
Maybe these are the sort of passing inclinations that all children have, and PH and I have seen more of it because we don’t discourage it. Maybe other boys admire tutus and their parents just nod and keep walking, which is what we almost did.
Or maybe he’s a cross dresser. Or maybe he’s a trans girl (although I don’t think so, his mind is still pretty masculine). Or maybe he’s gay. Or maybe he’s just Owl, an active boy in a tutu, like Puck in the performance of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream that PH and I attended recently.
Will this be Owl in twenty years?
We don’t care.
Maybe he will grow out of this and then be humiliated by all of these photos of him in a tutu. If so, we’re going to have a word with him, and try to explain that admiring the feminine is not a shameful thing. If a girl can admire the masculine and play with tools, what’s wrong with a boy admiring the feminine and playing ballerina?
That’s the part that I don’t want him to outgrow. I want him to always know that it is okay to be whoever he wants to be.
As long as the Little Punks of the world don’t wreck it too much for him.
We were at an indoor play gym as part of our constant battle to keep our little extrovert entertained on the weekend. PH picked up a local paper to flip through while we sat in the overwhelmingly loud atmosphere.
“Hey, the Quidditch Global Games are in Vancouver,” he said.
“Like, where people run around on brooms?” I said.
“Oh, we need to see that. When is it.”
He scanned the article. “Today!”
So we packed Owl in the car and headed down to see.
It took us a while to find it. International competition not withstanding, the Quidditch Global Games had not attracted a large crowd. Most of the spectators were family and friends of the players.
We were geeking out.
“They have MERCHANDISE!” I said, running over to the booth. There were shirts from many of the international teams. After much hemming and hawing I bought shirt from the Mexican team, where were newcomers this year and could only afford to bring half of their team.
The shirt says “Viva Quidditch, cabrones!” and really, how often do you get a chance to buy a shirt that says (loosely translated) “long live Quidditch, bitches!” in Spanish?
We showed up at the perfect time, because Canada was just starting their match against Australia. We watched as all players bowed their head while the “Snitch” – a heavyset dude in yellow with a sock hanging out of the back of his pants – ran off of the field to hide.
When the Snitch was out of a sight, a whistle blew and all hell broke loose. The players grabbed their brooms, mounted them, and then fought to get a “Quaffle” (which, confusingly, was white) through the other team’s hoops. Since they were all holding onto their brooms, all throwing and catching was done one handed.
It all sounds pretty silly, until you watch it played.
This sport is FULL BODY CONTACT, guys. They were tackling each other like mad. We saw at least one person carted off of the field in a stretcher, and several more down for a good 5-10 minute count. This isn’t about some silly geeks LARPing in a soccer field. It’s like Rugby with extra balls and literary roots.
While Chasers fought one-handed over the Quaffle, Beaters were throwing dodge balls at the players. Whenever one of them got tagged by a “bludger” they had to dismount and run back and touch their hoops before they could re-enter play.
After 18 minutes the Snitch returned to the pitch and then the play became (if possible) even more intense. The seekers tried to tackle the Snitch, who wasn’t afraid to knock them down repeatedly, while opposing team members tried to interfere with play. Meanwhile, the Chasers are still trying to get the Quaffle through the hoops while also helping out their Seeker.
You don’t even know what to watch – keep your eyes on the Snitch and miss another incredible goal? Or watch the Quaffle and miss the capturing of the Snitch?
We were able to stay long enough to watch Canada come in third. We had to take Owl home to bed before the final match, which the USA ended up winning (Muggle Quidditch originated in the U.S, and the page for the international association is actually called USquidditch.com, which bothers me. Hopefully as international teams increase, there will be a truly international page set up).
Some friends of ours who are both sporty AND geeky also came out to watch.
“Why don’t we play this?” one of them asked.
PH has been missing sports in his life for many years.
In his high school yearbook, you can find his face in pretty much every team photo. Soccer, baseball, football, curling… he did it all.
In University he refereed several sports. But it’s surprisingly hard to get involved in sports here. There’s a big population and a lot of demand. When we moved to B.C. he tracked down the local baseball league and was rejected several times – they just didn’t have room for more players.
He did curling for a year or two, but since he had to take what he could get, he was shunted onto a team of lackluster players who he never quite jived with. He gave up in frustration after two seasons.
So then he decided to try refereeing. He got qualified as a soccer referee, but was only every called out to a few games, earning a grand total of a hundred dollars over a whole season. The next year they only called once. He didn’t bother re-certifying the next year.
Last year he decided to get certified as a softball referee. It cost us $150 and they never called him at all.
Quidditch, on the other hand, could be a whole other ball game.
PH tracked down a Quidditch referee to ask how he could get involved and they practically leaped on him. Turns out that there was a team in Burnaby that was looking for players, and they are short on referees.
By the time we left the field he had exchanged emails with several people and they were hoping to see him on the Quidditch pitch next Saturday. Today he downloaded the 150 page rule book and began memorizing it.
Quidditch rules, by the way, are awesome.
Not only is it a delightfully geeky and yet truly challenging sport to play, it is also heartwarmingly unlike other sports.
Besides being the only sport to involve multiple balls in play at once, the International Quidditch Association is dedicated to inclusivity and equality.
Teams MUST be co-ed, and it specifically addresses transgender issues in the rulebook. The co-ed rule reads:
Each team [is] to have at least two players on the field who identify with a different gender than at least two other players. The gender that a player identifies with is considered to be that player’s gender, which may or may not be the same as that person’s sex.
That is AWESOME.
The rule goes on to acknowledge that some players may not identify as male OR female, and that is okay, too.
If that rule wasn’t enough to make Perfect Husband and I fall head over heels in love with Quidditch (we consider ourselves ardent LGBTQ allies), our hearts were entirely won over when we learned that Quidditch also had a decree called Title 9 3/4 (a play on Title IX) which is devoted specifically to gender equality in the sport.
It’s so awesome, and I’m proud that PH is getting involved. I can cheer on Quidditch in a way that I just can’t with other sports. The literary roots of the sport generate some interest in me, and the gender-equality factor makes me want to support it.
The reason everyone is up and arms about is because a news anchor whose mother named her “Candy” (a good start right there) spend a lot of time bemoaning the consequences of the rapists’ sentencing, rather than talking about how what they did was wrong.
The clip pissed me off, of course, although I do think that it may be a good idea to emphasize the consequences of raping a girl – in case the teenage boys out there need a stronger motivation than simply “because it is wrong”.
“there is no doubt that what these teen boys did was wrong in that making mockery of someone they had sexual contact with over social media. Was it cold, was it callous, was it stupid…YES YES YES…but was it RAPE? NO. However, as a mother of young daughters and sons I am appaulled that no repermanding of the girl or her family is warranted. As a society, we have a moral obilgation to say something to a young girl or woman young or old who drinks to the point of not knowing what they are doing or sayng. To say that a 17 year old male is suppose to make the moral call and say ‘naw you are to drunk to know wht you are saying or doing” is a bit much.”
“men will be men. the more that is known the better. carry mace, dont get smashed at parties, dont walk down a dark alley by yourself. im a man and i realize that although i may not be looking for trouble walking home after a night at the bar, i better not get smashed in case trouble is looking for me.”
“What those teen boys did was bad, and they deserve to be punished, but where is her responsibility for herself? Apparently drunk women have no need to take responsibility for their poor choices, whereas drunk males will have to pay for their mistakes for the rest of their lives. So much for equality.”
“i am in no way condoning the actions of these juveniles and they should be punished. but acting like the girl had no part in her being in this situation undermines the importance of being responsible when consuming alcohol.”
“Oh, sure, what those boys did was wrong, but it’s the girl’s fault too, because she put herself in that situation.”
For all the people who want to talk about the consequences of being raped for a girl (something that gets almost NO coverage, and which I think really should be, because a lot of men clearly don’t get why it is considered to be such a big deal), there are people out there who want to talk about how stupid the girl was to be there in the first place.
And at first, I got mad.
Then I thought about it, and I realized, DUDE, they are totally right.
I mean, the girl went out and got DRUNK with GUYS around. Who does that? What normal teenage girl drinks around BOYS? Wasn’t she leading them on by simply being there, and then by becoming unconscious?
And why should we stop there?
Since the victim in the above case clearly is partially to blame for the consequences of her action, shouldn’t we be blaming MORE victims?
It’s not that I think Pixar is infallible. I don’t. Cars deeply disappointed me, being a re-make of Doc Hollywood.
Nor has it escaped me that Pixar’s ratio of male to female characters is, like, 3:1 and that in 12 films they have NEVER had a female protagonist before (You could go out on a limb and point to Mrs Incredible as a co-star, but that’s the best you could do.)
Even in A Bug’s Life, featuring ants, they made the protagonist male even though MOST ANTS ARE FEMALE.
I am not, by the generally-accepted understanding of the term, a feminist.
I would love to be a stay at home wife and mother. I like it when my husband brings me flowers and opens doors for me. I don’t get angry and aerated by the fact that most executives are men, or spend much time ranting about the glass ceiling (not that I like the glass ceiling. It pisses me off, too. I just prefer to rant about grammar).
In short, I don’t get upset when women are not treated the same as men.
But the more time I spend with Perfect Husband, the more I spend thinking about men and feeling bad for them, because they aren’t treated the same as women.
I don’t think PH actually likes men, much. All his friends are women. The ones who aren’t biologically women are transgender women, or married to his female friends. Or both.
PH thinks that women get a bum rap because feminine things are still not really being put forward as desirable or likeable.
The inherent sexism in our society is everywhere, and I hear a lot about it. Commercials like this one tick PH off to no end:
A basic summary of this commercial:
Man wants Klondike Bar. Man is willing to go through a difficult ordeal to get Klondike Bar. Man is told that he must listen to his wife for FIVE WHOLE SECONDS. He then makes an effort to focus on his WIFE (you know, his so ul mate, whom he committed to for life) for a matter of mere moments while she tries to talk to him about decorating the house (you know, because that’s all women talk about it and if men have to think about paint swatches, they’ll die). When the five second buzzer rings a party appears, thrown by several women who are much hotter than his wife. He starts dancing with them while the wife looks completely baffled.
PH is furious because he thinks those new Mint Klondike Bars look really tasty, but NOW HE CAN’T BUY THEM because all he can think about is how offensive the commercial is.
He can’t buy the new Dr Pepper, either, because apparently it’s “not for women” (seriously. That’s their tag line. WTF? Way to knock out half of your potential market there, geniuses).
The fact is that feminism has been so focused on getting the same rights as men, that we have made absolutely no headway in convincing men that being feminine is actually desirable. After all, men must wonder, if being a woman is so great, why do we want to leave the kids at home and come to work in pants, anyway?
Womanhood – so awful, even women don’t want it.
That’s a tagline worthy of Dr Pepper.
Women have spent years fighting for the right to be treated as equals to men, and that’s good. Thanks to them I can vote, I share equal ownership of my house and finances with my husband, and I can learn anything and be anything I want to be.
But no one has been fighting to give the men the same options.
Girls keep stealing the boy names, and then mothers of boys can’t effing use them.
Girls can be (and frequently are) named things like Carson, Taylor, or Ryan. Hell, I could probably name my daughter Gary or Fred and people would tell me “oh, I love that for a girl!” But when you are looking for a name for your son, do you consider Stacy, Leslie, or Shirley?(note: Anne of Green Gables named her son Shirley – have we gone backwards socially?)
It’s not fair.
As it is, even names like Alex, Cameron, Jamie, or Sam are considered borderline. Once the girls appropriate it, the boys can’t use it any more. Why?
A little girl can go dressed up as Batman for Hallowe’en, but why aren’t there more little boys dressed as Catwoman? I can go to work in pants and sensible shoes, but what if my husband showed up for work in heels?
That’s PH’s big beef.
Not that he wants to go to work in heels (after all, he takes an hour and a half of transit each way. That’s a lot of walking) but it strikes him as wrong that men CAN’T (by the same token, if someone said I couldn’t wear dresses I’d get ticked off, even though I hate the damn things).
Men are just as constricted by gender as women are, really.
Canada offers ‘parental leave’ to either parent, usually at a rate of 55% their regular pay. Some companies, like the one PH works for, will “top up” women’s maternity leave, providing the extra 45% so the woman gets full pay. It’s a benefit they offer, but they only offer it to the women. If PH had chosen to go on parental leave, not only would he have been under some serious scrutiny by his bosses, but he would not have been eligible for the top-up.
Of course that, in turn, limits women’s choices, because it meant that it basically wasn’t a financial option for us for PH to stay home. That was fine with me, but what if I had wanted to go right back to work?
Even with that in consideration, the fact is that I can wear men or women’s clothing, I can work or stay home, I can vote, and I can get elected to public office. I can call myself Ryan, I can do any and all things that men can do, AND I can bear children and breastfeed.
Men can’t wear dresses unless it’s Hallowe’en or unless they want to be the butt of a lot of jokes (PH once heard two coworkers joking about “she-males” and nearly ripped them new cloacas). Men can’t have feminine names. Men can’t stay home with their children without being penalized financially and socially more than women. Heck, the idea of a male childcare worker is so strange to us that it was the focus of an entire Friends episode.
Jason Alexander, in a recent apology for his joking that cricket is “gay”, asks us why accusing something (like sports) of being effeminate is still considered so offensive.
There’s no good answer, except the truth:
We still think that it’s bad to be effeminate. It’s associated with homosexuality, which is stupid – after all, most cross dressers are completely straight – and homosexuality is still considered bad, too.
“Gay” is an insult.
“Girly” is an insult.
My old boss used to tell dogs who weren’t tugging on their tug ropes hard enough that “that’s a little-girl tug!”
Men who can’t pitch are told that they throw like girls.
This is the society that we are bringing Owl into, and it concerns us.
It doesn’t concern Owl, yet, though.
He so far hasn’t really figured out that he is male. When I call him a “little boy” he looks at me like I’m an idiot, points to himself and says clearly, “BA-BY!”
He knows he has a penis, but he isn’t too concerned by the fact that I don’t. He seems to think it’s tucked up in my belly button somewhere.
….And about twice a week, when I show up at daycare to pick him up, he’s in a dress.
This is how I roll
Not just any dress. It’s a sparkly blue fairy princess dress. The boys wear the blue one, because blue is for boys, don’tcha know. The girls get a purple one.
I rarely see any other boy in the blue dress, though. It’s mostly Owl’s.
Apparently he drags Daycare Lady or her daughters to the place where the dresses are kept, insisting “dress, dress” until they put it on him. Sometimes he won’t take it off when it’s time to go home, so I just bring it back the next day.
The other day he spotted it on the shelf the morning after one of these comes-home-in-a-dress days and screeched until Perfect Husband put it back on him.
Then he walked around going “pwetty, pwetty.”
I feel pretty, OH SO PRETTY
The neighbours say “is he in a fairy dress??” and we all have a good chuckle. I make it clear that he chose to be in it, so they don’t think that I’m one of those weird parents who try and de-gender their child. Gender isn’t bad.
The funny thing is, I would have been horrified if I had a girl and she had turned up in a princess dress. I’m afraid for a daughter – I wasn’t a girly girl and I don’t want my future daughter buying in to the look-pretty-for-the-men media crap.
But that dichotomy made me re-examine my own biases. Owl isn’t acting on any kind of media pressure, so neither would a little girl at this age.
This is purely about a small child liking something pretty, and not realizing that society has deemed it unfit for him.
I know that one day he’ll realize that he IS a little boy.
I know that one day he’ll understand that dresses are for girls.
I know that the day will come when he will reject all things feminine, and scorn them as he has been taught to do by his peers and by the media.
When that day comes, I will sigh and feel sad. But in the meantime I can pretend that we live in a better world, and my neighbours can continue to get a good laugh.
(A note about spoilers: I will keep Harry Potter spoilers to a minimum, only letting go the kind of information that you could pick up from your standard movie trailer and have probably picked up on already, unless you live in a world without other people. Twilight spoilers, on the other hand, abound, because I can’t “spoil” Twilight any more than I can “spoil” a compost heap.)
The main protagonist of Harry Potter is a boy, while the protagonist of Twilight is a girl, so you’d think that Twilight would be more feminist in its message.
But anyone who has read that series would laugh hysterically at the suggestion that it was anything other than unempowering anti-feminist sludge. Well, anyone except the author.
Can you FEEL the girl power?
Stephanie Meyer doesn’t agree with the rest of the Western World that Twilight is sexist codswallop.
Sure, Bella is pretty weak and useless. And sure, Edward tends to make all of the decisions. And yeah, Edward frequently ignores Bella’s preferences (drags her to the car/prom/house/birthday party/altar against her will, hides information that he doesn’t think she should hear, steals the engine out of her car to keep her “safe” from his rival…) in the name of knowing what is best for her.
Well, and ok, she is constantly needing her butt saved by someone, and she does do all the cooking and shopping around her house (because her father, after being a bachelor for 16 years, can’t even cook pasta, apparently). And she does attach all of her life’s value to the presence of a man.
Harry Potter and Twilight are often lumped into the same category by two groups of people: People Who Haven’t Read Harry Potter and Idiots.
JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer are both thirty-something mothers who wrote a story and hit the jackpot.
Neither of them was a professional writer before they hit it big, unlike authors like Stephen King, who carefully carved their way into the writing business short story by short story, edited paper by edited paper.
Both of them got the idea for their story seemingly by divine inspiration: Rowling with a mental image of a boy wizard on a train, and Meyer with a dream about a horny vampire.
Both series deal with fantasy.
Both series are attractive to young readers, and were excellent at getting 12 year olds to turn off their Xboxes for a while.
Both series have spawned a set of hardcore fans who are, quite frankly, a little odd and fanatical (although Harry Potter fans argue that they use much better grammar than “Twihards”).
Both series have spawned extremely popular and high-grossing movies, moving the phenomenon out of the bookstores and deeper into pop culture.
The exterior similarities are such that those who have read neither series tend to view both as pop culture nonsense; so much litarary slush blown far out of proportion to their worth.
These people are only half right.
Twilight is all of that. With writing reminiscent of fan fiction, and less polished than you would find in your standard Harlequin romance, Twilightis slush. I congratulate Stephenie Meyer on her success, but slush it is none the less.
The Harry Potter books, on the other hand, are modern classics which belong on the shelf next to The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia. If anything, I find them more entertaining than Tolkien and richer (and less didactic) than Lewis.
The only thing that Stephenie Meyer shares with C.S. Lewis and (sometimes) Tolkien is sexism.
So that will be my focus of my first rant.
Oh yeah, well, I tried to write a single post about all the ways in which Harry Potter is amazing and Twilight is not, but it was like trying to cram the UNIVERSE into a teaspoon.
This is the best I could do:
So… yeah, I’m going to be breaking this up into several rants.