August 2012


There are plenty of things to worry about when you’re breastfeeding: latching on, achieving let-down, engorgement, cracked nipples, mastitis, pads that make your breasts look like archery targets, disapproving strangers, your baby “oversleeping” so that you wake up, not rested, but with rock-hard, agonizing, leaky boulders … It’s healthy, it can be beautiful, but breastfeeding can also really get on a woman’s lactating tits. And to top it off, there’s the really serious issue, the one that affects not just you but the whole of humankind: your man might not find you sexy any more. (more…)

Calling all mums-to-be! I hope you don’t mind me asking but have you really thought this one through? I know, you’re all excited about the impending birth but do you actually, honestly know what you’re doing? And yes, people might have said this to you before, but you should listen to me. I might not know you, but I’m a doctor.*

Pregnancy and childbirth can seriously damage your health. Trust me – I might turn out to have a PhD in something entirely unrelated to healthcare, but I’ve had children, so I should know. Except I don’t. No one ever went through a list of all the possible negative effects with me (and I went to see the GP loads!). In the interests of writing this post, I’ve just gone and googled a list myself. There are a lot of effects I recognise but hadn’t given much thought to until now, plus there are others about which I knew nothing at all. For instance, I had no idea pregnancy could be linked to a loss of bone calcium. And as for prolapsed uterus – well, I knew it could happen, but I had no idea that it affected as many as 11% of women. 11 sodding percent! And all that’s before you scroll down to the really serious stuff (including, naturally, death). Flippin’ heck! Do these children of mine, currently scrapping over whose turn it is to push down the lever on the toaster, have any idea what I’ve risked for them? Do they heck as like. And to make matters worse, I can’t even change my mind and undo it all. The damage has been done, both to the toaster and to me. (more…)

If the politics of envy made a country rich, we’d be very rich … Most rich people are contributing far more in tax than other people.

Bernard Jenkin, Tory backbencher

Envy – such an ugly word, and such an ugly concept. It ought to have no place in politics but there it is, all the time. Isn’t it about time we did something about it?

Like Bernard Jenkin, I would like to rid the world of politics from this terrible scourge. Hence, in order to make a start, I’d like to suggest a few people of whom everyone else  needs to stop feeling so goddamned envious: (more…)

As one of the millions of “ordinary people who work hard and pay their taxes” ™, I have a question for Chris Grayling MP: when exactly will the work I do be reclassified as no longer “wage-worthy” and be funded by benefits alone?

It’s a serious question, and what’s more, I don’t often ask serious questions of this nature. That is because I have a job and don’t want to lose it. Like anyone who is not rich, I am scared. I have seen what is happening around me and I know it could happen to me, too. The use of outsourcing and unpaid internships creeps up and up each business, like a rising flood. Whatever my own skills, I know I could be replaced by someone without a job. At least if I am lucky that person might be me. (more…)

There’s a story in the news at the moment relating to sex, reproduction and consent. Well, okay, there are several (and each is maddeningly offensive in its own special way). But this one stands out from all the others. This one relates to husbands, wives and sperm donation. A woman in Surrey whose husband donated sperm without her knowledge is calling for new guidelines to treat sperm as a “marital asset”, which would mean that in future sperm could not be donated without the spouse’s views being taken into account. (more…)

This morning I invented a new game! If you’re a parent of young children, why not give it a go? You might even get a full house (I managed it!).

Rules:

Print out the list supplied below and wait for tantrum to occur (if impatient, break TV). Once tantrum is in full flow, go through list, ticking off each moment as it occurs. This can be in any order (although list is roughly chronological) (more…)

Note: When reading this post, please hear every word as though spoken aloud in shrill, hysterical, high-pitched and undeniably female tones.

Women! Do you have opinions on rape and how it should be defined? Would you like others to share these opinions? Excellent! Here’s what you need to do: make sure you already agree with what the majority of people think, even if it’s wrong. And if you can’t do this? Well, then, it’s best to shut the fuck up. (more…)

Today’s Guardian features a piece by Jonathan Freedland advising male politicians on what’s required to appeal to the laydeez. I’ve had a good read and as a full-on, humourless feminist, I’d say it passes the test. The basic rules are:

  1. don’t be a rape-excusing, anti-choice dickhead
  2. when considering new policies, don’t forget that thing about “women being people, too”

And who can argue with that? Not me, and I tend to be someone who could get embroiled in a heated exchange with a corpse. So why is it that the piece still makes me feel so uneasy? (more…)

The staff in my local Sainsbury’s are friendly and courteous enough. All the same, it’s not as though I keep a record of how many smiles they give me, or whether or not they’ve used a sufficiently welcoming tone when asking for my Nectar card. The fact is, I don’t have to because someone else – their managers, I presume – are doing this on behalf of customers like me. Right now the shelf-stackers are 100% me-friendly whereas the checkout staff – rude bastards – only come in at 83%.  I know this because it’s on a sheet of A4, laminated and propped up right in front of every checkout worker, alongside a list of values they need to project and behaviours they must adopt (summary: smile till your face aches, then smile just that little bit more). (more…)

Two days ago the “comedian”/professional arsehole Frankie Boyle sent out the following tweet:

My advice to people with depression is to keep it to yourself, maybe just fuck off on your own when you’re down, it’s a bit of a drag.

As someone who has suffered from depression, I’m not about to get all upset about this. I know there is genuine prejudice surrounding mental illness. However, I doubt many people will read Boyle’s tweet and think a) “hey, perhaps he’s got a point” or b) “ha ha, that’s hilarious”. If anything, I’d like to think Boyle might giving those who seek to raise awareness a helping hand. After all, “Frankie Boyle” is synonymous with “person who says shit things just to be offensive”.  Thus bullying the mentally ill can be placed alongside laughing at rape victims and mocking the disabled as something you only do if you’re a total bastard with a career that’s completely reliant on desperate, toddler-esque boundary-pushing. (more…)

Mummies! You know how it is – you’ve just had a baby and sure, it’s the miracle of life and all that, but just for one moment (during nap time, once you’ve set the washing machine to ‘delicates’) let’s all take time to consider your tummy – that tummy which, for the past few months, has been glorious and drum-tight – and let’s now focus on how terrible it’s looking. One big mass of shapeless, useless flesh, brimming over the maternity pants you thought you’d never be wearing by now. Urgh. ‘Baby weight’ is far too cutesy a term for something so repulsive, is it not? Look, I’m not asking you to feel ashamed. On the contrary, it’s far better just to be honest. Say it loud, say it proud: “I look shit! And I hate all those women who snap back into shape in five seconds flat! The bitches!” Come on ladies, out with it! It’s the perfect post-feminist rallying call. No longer do we have to rely on men for misogyny. Independent and resourceful, we’ll make our own! (more…)

On Sunday my eldest child will turn five. To put this another way, on Sunday my eldest child will be halfway to reaching ten. To put this yet another way, on Sunday my eldest child will be one quarter of the way to reaching 20. In short, give or take a decade, my son is practically an adult.

Obviously he’s excited about his birthday, and especially enthused about the Jabba the Hut cake which I have no idea how to make but will somehow magic up in two days. Every day he remind us that his birthday is coming (and, to his younger brother, he will add with particular glee “and yours isn’t!”). As his mother, I have to say I’m less pleased than about this forthcoming event. It’s not because I think he’s missing his milestones (since I haven’t a clue what the “turning five” milestones are). It’s not even to do with the flipping cake. It’s because the older he gets, the more likely it becomes that I will have to cease being Mummy. (more…)

Calling all non-male occupiers of human bodies! Have you ever stopped to wonder whether each constituent part of the organism in which you reside is being owned and deployed in the most efficient manner possible?

I have been performing an audit of the heap of flesh and bones which, using a somewhat inaccurate shorthand, I happen to call “me”. It has come to my attention that the multiple ownership of “me” is becoming unwieldy, leading to serious concerns about productivity. In order to provide a template for other non-male body occupiers wishing to perform a similar analysis, here’s where I – or should I say “I” – find myself in terms of body distribution and possession: (more…)

You know when you see something crap that has nonetheless made the originator masses of money – the latest Turner Prize-winning sculpture, or Fifty Shades Of Grey – and you can’t help thinking “bloody hell, I could do that!”? Well, I do that all the sodding time. There are a billion and one things I could have done to make my fortune. Of course, I haven’t done any of them, although I’d like to think it’s because I’ve had better things to do. After all, what’s writing a bestseller compared to reaching the final level on Jak and Daxter 3?

One thing I still think I could do – and just might – is write a diet book. Whereas mommy porn is probably much harder to write than you’d imagine (I got stuck on “oh my” and “oh crap”), I reckon diet books are a piece of piss. I’ve invented loads of diets in my time and most of them have worked. Any diet works as long as you can brainwash yourself into thinking entirely fucked-up thoughts. (more…)

Following my recent post in response to West Mercia Police’s Safe Night Out campaign, I am wary of gaining a reputation as someone who simply goes around having lots and lots of rubbish sex. This would be reductive and untrue; I’ve had lots of good sex, too. But it’s fair to say I’ve been the participant in many a rubbish shag. What’s even worse is that it’s frequently been my fault. (more…)

In response to some comments added to this post (see end) I’d like to add some clarification regarding the article under discussion. It was written by the Dating Divas in response to “a lot of emails from women who wanted ideas for after the baby came. They wanted to know how to make the father feel more included as well as creative sex ideas”. Evidently there is a demand for this and I am sorry for failing to acknowledge it (I nevertheless believe the response that was offered by the Divas still leaves much to be desired).

New mums! Have you noticed that, at the end of practically every guide to pregnancy and birth, you’ll find a section on “Daddy’s role” in all of this. This is because fatherhood is really important and needs, ooh, at least three pages of coverage to set against the four hundred that Mummy has had to wade through. Admittedly it’s still actually Mummy who’s meant to be reading the Daddy pages – after all, men are busy, aren’t they? So Mummy might as well read up on how to manage Daddy. She’s got sod all else to do.

I have always found these “Daddy’s role” sections profoundly irritating, for two main reasons:

  1. the author tends to assume that you are married to the father of your baby
  2. the author then assumes that your husband is in fact a self-centred knob

Time and again we are told that the arrival of a new baby can make Daddy feel “left out”. If you are anything like me, you will read this and think “sod off. I am too tired to deal with a grown adult feeling ‘left out’. We all feel ‘left out’. That’s because babies are really shit when it comes to empathy”. And then you will look at your partner and feel glad that he (or she) isn’t one of those self-centred knobs that the book describes. At least, that’s what you’ll think. But hey, you might be wrong. Daddy might just be hiding his true feelings from you. (more…)

Planning a trip to a theme park? Here is my top tip for having a brilliant day: go to Disneyland Paris in early December. Do not, whatever you do, bring any children with you. At this time of year you’ll be able to go on all the rides with a minimum amount of queuing and since this is not America, you’ll be able to drink beer and wine in the actual park. Without any children to stress you out, the combination of Christmas spirit and Disney artificiality will prove utterly intoxicating. You might look like a self-indulgent kidult on your own but believe me, the minute you add genuine youngsters into the mix, it all goes horribly wrong. (more…)

A-level results are out and for the first time since the A* was introduced, a higher percentage of boys than girls have been awarded the top grade. Way-hey! Bring on the photos of uncommonly attractive boys whooping in celebration! Yeah! Ahem. On a more serious note, I am relieved to note that the natural order of things has finally been restored. At long last it would appear that examiners are asking the right questions and getting the correct results. (more…)

In 1987, the year in which the film Wish You Were Here? was released, I spent most of my time in a mental hospital. I was 12 years old and suffering from anorexia. For most of the summer and a good part of the autumn I was on on bed rest, intermittently awarded and denied “privileges” based on weight gained and lost. For several weeks I was denied visitors, phonecalls and reading material. Fortunately, one day I found a copy of 19 stuffed down the side of the bed. For a long time the magazine was all I had to look at, other than the carpet, the wall and the ceiling. So I read it again and again. (more…)

Nike Gold Digging Shirt: Funny Or Offensive?” asks the Huffington Post. Well, let me think. They made a pun based around women being gold diggers! Just in time for the Olympics! Ha! Hilarious! So what if it equates the ultimate female sporting achievement with becoming a WAG? Who cares? Not the majority of respondents to the HuffPost’s poll, who at this point in time are clicking away on “Nah! It’s just a playful joke”.

Playful or otherwise, I don’t tend to wear jokes on my T-shirts, not even if they’re good ones. A humorous slogan might amuse someone the first time they read what’s emblazoned across your chest, but if you’re with them for any length of time, you start to look miserably over-persistent, unwittingly telling the same joke over and over again – is it funny? Is it funny still? And it wasn’t even your joke to begin with. To make matters worse, you might wear that same T-shirt around the same people more than once. If that happened to me, I’d feel huge pressure to be a comic genuis, coming out with endless one-liners just to show that my humour extended way beyond “But what if the Hokey-Cokey is what it’s all about?”. Of course, it wouldn’t work and I wouldn’t be funny, just socially inept, if not actively frightening. So anyhow, that’s why I don’t do jokey T-shirts (plus I’m rather top-heavy, meaning some slogans get partially lost underneath the “shelf”, as it were). (more…)

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