Blogging


I’ve given this post a really crap title. It’s a title so crap that if, say, Mumsnet were to arrange a debate on it as part of their annual Blogfest, you’d take one look at the programme and think “what a perfectly ridiculous question!” Then you’d swig a bit more free gin and giggle at the famous people but all the while you’d be working yourself up into a state of ever more righteous indignation. Mummy blogger! Feminist! Pah!

Finally the time for the debate would come and you’d be ready, primed to respond to any trigger words the panel (i.e. anyone on stage who wasn’t Alison Perry) threw at you. And then it would begin! They’d say words like “jam”! And “shoes”! And then, horror of horrors, Sarah Ditum would even utter the word “university”! All hell would break loose. There’d be shouting, hissing and fury. See? You just knew that debate would be shit. It was all in the title.

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Poor Tam Cowan. The comedian – and, by all appearances, total knob – is the latest to fall victim to “the liberal elite” aka “the baying mob” aka “the media firing squad” aka [insert your own not-at-all hysterical synonym for ‘people who don’t agree with total knobs’]. Other victims include the Daily Mail, Page Three, smacking and private schools, those great British institutions which are constantly under attack from smug, privileged, obscenely powerful people who just don’t know the common man (at least, not in the way Boris Johnson or Paul Dacre do).

Cowan is in trouble – or, to use the words of Kevin McKenna, accused of “crimes against humanity” — because he wrote a pathetic, sexist little rant about women’s football. Because of this he is facing “a lynch mob” or, to use a slightly less tasteless expression from McKenna’s defence, facing one of the liberal elite’s regular “executions”. That’s a bit extreme, isn’t it? I mean, yes, he’s written a steaming pile of crap but surely he doesn’t deserve to die for it? Come on, metropolitan chattering classes, have a heart! (more…)

I’ve been away from twitter for most of the past fortnight. This is not, I hasten to add, because I’ve been off on some non-intersectional white feminist flounce. Chance would be a fine thing. I’ve been camping with two small children in rainy Wales, miles away from wifi, central heating and dry clothing. Would that I had the privilege of indulging in a modern-day cyber-sulk (I’ve had to settle for grumpily hogging most of the double sleeping bag while telling my partner, bitterly, that this was all his stupid idea).

Anyhow, I’m back and I see that people still aren’t playing nicely (to use the most condescending words possible to refer to others being genuinely upset). Don’t worry, though, I’m here to sort it out. Because I’m mega-privileged but I’m also apologetic, and that makes everything alright.

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Most people really don’t like mummy bloggers, do they? By this I don’t mean that the latter are facing intolerance on a daily basis. It’s not as though there are crowds lining up with pitchforks outside Mumsnet Towers (having said that, I’m not sure whether that’s even a real building). Anyhow, I just think that, if you asked most people what they thought of mummy bloggers, those who bothered to have opinions at all would not be expressing positive ones. 

You could say it stands to reason. To the outside observer, mummy bloggers are like Private Eye’s Polly Filla, only with less successful writing careers. They’re whingey middle-class moaners, who think their children are the centre of the universe and that everyone else should be gripped by the trials and tribulations of parenthood. They write whiney posts about potty training, behaviour management, cake baking, childcare guilt and cleaning products. They even write whiney posts about whining. Narcissists of the hearth, they’re unable to see beyond the domestic sphere and engage with what really matters. What’s more, they’re so self-obsessed that they’re even aware that this is going on (in case you didn’t check – why ever not? – all of the above links lead to posts written by me. I’m so vain, I’m pretty damn certain this post is about me). (more…)

Beneath my sharp, witty, so-damn-cool-you-wouldn’t-believe-I-had-kids exterior, I am a total mummy blogger at heart. Here are just some of the hot topics about which I’ve blogged:

When it comes to immersing oneself in a virtual “cupcake-scented world”, I’ve got it covered. All of which makes me just the kind of woman Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones would pity. (more…)

Here are some weird tips for achieving a tiny belly:

  • eat less food than you need in order to function as a healthy human being
  • think about all the food you’re not eating all the sodding time
  • feel cold, exhausted and miserable every minute of the day (and night, since hunger is giving you insomnia and when you do finally sleep, you dream of food you didn’t even like until all this started)

Eventually you will get a tiny belly, albeit one still covered in excess skin and stretch marks. By the time you get to this point, you won’t be able to stop shrinking, but you will no longer care. The person who would have had the capacity to enjoy being thin – or indeed being anything – will no longer exist. (more…)

So I’ve decided I want to sign up for The Women’s Room. After all, if there’s one thing the media needs even more than women’s voices, it’s my woman’s voice and the not-all-that-well-informed opinions it articulates. I mean, look at me: I am a woman and I feel totally under-represented in the media (and literature and religion – hell, even my own household consists of me and three males). Hence as a suitably self-absorbed, opinionated person I feel the need to do my part. The only trouble is I’m not really an expert in anything.

Okay, that’s not strictly true. I am an expert in one obscure aspect of one part of nineteenth-century German literature. I wrote a PhD and a whole bloody book on it. If ever the rest of humanity comes to realise how essential it is to know about what Goethe was doing on a Tuesday in March 1811, they’ll come and ask me. And I won’t know because my PhD wasn’t on Goethe and I didn’t even get through the first ten pages of Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre. But anyhow, I know some random stuff and have thought some original thoughts on a subject no one else has bothered with (alas, I tend to think there’s a reason for this. Everyone else, you were probably right). (more…)

Here follows a self-important announcement of little relevance to anyone but me: I am taking a break from blogging, for 10 whole days. Is it because:

  1. I am finally sick of the sound of my own virtual voice going blah, blah, blah, blah, blah?
  2. I’m trying out a passive-aggressive tactic to see if I can get more hits?
  3. I’m too upset to carry on now that my favourite troll has lost interest in me?
  4. I am leaving my partner and kids behind and pissing off for an all-expenses-paid week in the Caribbean?

To maximise the annoyance factor of this blog post, I will now reveal that it’s Option Number Four. It is a business trip – but given that my business trips in recent years have been to Corby, Chipping Sodbury and Walsall, it’s a pretty sodding unusual one. I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s the real Caribbean and not just a conference centre in Dudley that happens to be called Barbados, but we shall see. To be honest, I still can’t believe it, although I’ve known for a couple of months.

Obviously everyone around me is taking the piss out of the very idea that this is “work”. It is, mind – but it’s in the fucking Caribbean! And every night I get to go back to a hotel room – in the Caribbean! – with no kids to put to bed or anything. I will miss them, of course, but I also can’t bloody wait! I don’t think I deserve this trip – it’s just something that happened due to an accident of project distribution – but I’m gonna really, really appreciate it.

If the WIFI in the hotel is crap (and I’ve heard that it is) I might have to go without twitter, too. And I will miss people there. I was having a ponder about it today and realised that I’ve been blogging and using twitter for seven months now. In that time I’ve encountered loads of people who are not only lovely, but who have challenged me and changed my way of thinking. I think *soppy bit* it is making me a more tolerant person. Although *less soppy bit* it is also making me a rude, antisocial person who just stares at her phone and ignores actual people in her presence. Swings and roundabouts, eh?

Anyhow, enough of a rather boring but uncharacteristically positive post from me. I’m *cough* pissing off to the Caribbean! I’m outta here! Will really miss people but, um, yes … it’s the fucking Caribbean!

*swans off*

A while ago I happened to mention to my dad that I wrote a blog and that it was part of the Mumsnet Bloggers network. God knows why I did this; he’d just mentioned a piece he’d contributed to Trout and Salmon magazine, so I suppose it was a failed attempt at one-upmanship (let’s face it, if you were me, would you want your dad reading any of this?). Anyhow, he wasn’t interested in reading my posts (despite the fact that I ploughed through all of his report on trout fishing in Scotland); he merely screwed up his face and asked me what I was doing associating with Mumsnet because “the women there – they’re all just middle-class mothers!”. Then he packed up his toolkit and went back off to work down the building site (did I just write building site? I meant court – he’s a barrister, so hardly salt of the earth himself). 

I am a middle-class mother – a middle-class feminist mother, which is even worse. How bloody exclusive is that? Obviously I believe all other women are exactly like me and if they’re not, then they sodding well should be. Nonetheless, even my own parents fail to acknowledge this essential middle-classness in me. I have a theory as to why that is: I think it’s because they’re my mum and dad and therefore they think I’m nice. Plus they’re middle-class themselves, but they don’t really know that they are. Or rather, they do, but when my dad says “middle-class mothers” he doesn’t mean mothers who are literally middle-class in socio-economic terms.* He means mummies who are assimilated into mainstream culture but who nevertheless dare to express opinions he doesn’t like.
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This morning my youngest tried to go on the “big potty” i.e. the toilet all by himself. Needless to say, it all went horribly wrong. It looked like a massacre had taken place. A massacre with poo in place of blood. So then I ended up spending the five minutes before all of us were due to be out of the house crouched on the floor in my work clothes, cleaning up room and pre-schooler, all the while assuring the latter that no, Mummy wasn’t cross and yes, he was still “a big boy”, just a big boy who, at this point in time, happened to be smeared in faeces.

Why am I telling you this? Well, partly it’s because it’s one of those madcap mummy mayhem moments that we all love to share (regardless of whether anyone wants to listen). And partly it’s because I would have announced this earlier on Twitter anyhow, only my phone isn’t working and my netbook’s not as practical for such on-the-go tweeting (it takes ages to get going and I’d have only got poo on the keyboard). (more…)

Is writing articles about feminism a complete waste of time? Certainly for me it isn’t (I might not influence anyone, but I do find that WordPress controls my Ebay addiction). But for people in general – and proper writers in particular – what does writing a feminist piece achieve? It might earn you money, but will it change the minds of the people whose minds you really want to change?

Today I read two articles – one by Deborah Orr on No More Page Three, and another by Dina Rickman on Everyday Sexism – both of which I thought were great. I wouldn’t expect everyone to agree with them, but in many of the online comments it was clear that some of those commenting hadn’t even bothered to read the pieces. For them it was simply a matter of honing in on the subject matter and trotting out a pat anti-feminist retort (even if it completely misrepresented the writer’s position). And I couldn’t help thinking “what a total waste of time – for everyone involved”. And then I wondered whether these people wrote their comments – at once so offensive yet so familiar – from scratch. Because that’s perhaps the biggest waste of time there is. All the retorts are the same. How much more efficient would sexists be if they could streamline their article-commenting technique? (more…)

I’ve been tagged in a meme by @babberblog. I’ve never been tagged in a meme before! Way-hey!* Best of all, it’s to do with writing a list of wants – and I’ve got loads of them! Want, want, want, that’s me. So I might as well get started:

<Drum roll>

I want…

Fairness

In a lefty feministy sorta way. I’d have to leave someone else to make all the finer decisions about this because I am, on a personal level, a selfish sod. But globally, I really believe in fairness. Hey, it’s a start. (more…)

It’s SO unfair! I’ve just had yet another comment left on my blog accusing me of “whining”. Me? Whine? How could anyone write such a thing? That is just MEAN and WRONG and I’m NOT going to talk to ANYONE EVER  AGAIN.

<stomps off to listen to Joy Division in darkened room for, like, ten million years>

[ten million years later]

Right, okay, I’m back now. I hope everyone’s sorry. As you can see, I just don’t do whining – passive-aggression’s much more my thing. (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…)

I am having a moral dilemma. Well, to be honest, it’s not much of a dilemma. I know I am doing something morally unacceptable. I’m just trying to work out how prepared I am to do something about it.

I do try to be good. Whatever else I might think about myself – that I’m unattractive, stupid, lazy – I would like to think I try to do the right thing. For years, however, I have attempted to convince myself that part of doing the right thing involves getting over-familiar those who do the wrong thing. And thus I’ve sought to justify endless hours spent reading hateful nonsense, both online and in hard copy. (more…)

Whenever I see I’ve got new mentions on twitter, I’m overcome by a feeling of dread. You might call it having a naturally guilty conscience. I invariably think “oh shit, what have I done / what have they found out now?” It doesn’t make much sense – no one has ever tweeted anything nasty about me (yet). But I have this sense that one day I will be “found out” – over what, I just don’t know – and everyone will then know “the truth” and I’ll be publicly named and shamed.

Well, enough about me and my idle, self-important paranoia. I have just spent the evening witnessing someone else take their place in the Twitter Hall of Shame (I have also been watching Snakes on a Plane, but hey, I’m versatile – I can do both!). And by “someone else”, I mean the Tom Daley troll. I’m not quite sure why I’ve been watching this. I suppose I’ve never before witnessed someone having so complete a meltdown into violent, hate-filled, furious threats. I’ve never really seen so much real-life anger being spewed out, live, in real time, while I sit comfortably in a position of safety. I can just watch and watch. And so I’ve watched, as have many others (not that this excuses my own voyeurism – that’s down to me alone). (more…)

Once again, I am late in following a trend. Having totally failed to acquire a troll collection back in the 1980s, when it was trendy to bring flourescent-haired plastic monstrosities into school, I suddenly can’t seem to move for trolls. What’s more, these are my very own trolls. I didn’t even have to nag my mum for months on end – they just came straight to me. Thank you, trolls.

Of course, I don’t know what these trolls look like. They may well not even have flourescent hair (although I picture them having it, obviously). They just seem to hang around in the ether, waiting to comment on things I write in the most obnoxious way possible. As activities go, it seems pretty unrewarding, and rather pointless. I worry about my trolls. They don’t have much going on, and I’m concerned that even their trolling careers might be taking a wrong turn. (more…)

Last night I scored my first “proper” full-on misogynist blog comment. It was, to put it mildly, a shock to the system. While up till then I’d had the odd attempt at a sexist put-down – “no sense of humour”, “PMS”, even the word “feminist” itself – this was something else. Although not remotely on the scale of the misogynist taunts and threats I’ve seen hurled at other women on Twitter, this upset me. Thankfully some lovely tweets and comments from some lovely people soon put it right. Oh, and some wine – that helped, too.

I’m not going to write a long post about this because other women have experienced far worse and have far more revealing stories to tell. What I am going to write about is the one remaining type of sexist comment I’ve received, the one that actually amuses me. I call it the Men’s Rights Flounce. (more…)

Official statement:

Following several in-depth pieces of quantitative and qualitative research, backed up by the findings of a focus group (all of which took place in my head), I have decided to reposition the Glosswatch blog brand. I do so not without serious misgivings. The overall brand identity – and the feelings of familiarity this can inspire in loyal followers – is not something with which I would wish to dispense. However, I have, for quite some time, been thinking that my blog looked a bit shit and furthermore that the rubbish design may even have led some to assume that I’m more of a twat than I actually am.

Basically, I have changed the theme and tagline of the blog. And I am really, really embarrassed about having done so, because it looks like, you know, I actually care about this blog. Whereas what I’d want people to assume is that it just kind of “happens”. (more…)

Do you remember that version of Do They Know It’s Christmas which came out in 2004? The one with the Sugababes and Dizzee Rascal taking the place of Bananarama and Tony Hadley, and everyone in the video competing to look the saddest when faced with footage of starving children?* It was shit, wasn’t it? I mean, they hadn’t even bothered to improve on culturally patronising and offensive lyrics written twenty years ago. But if you’d been a pop star and they’d asked you to be in the 2004 version, you’d probably have said yes, right? Because otherwise what sort of a cunt would that make you?

Since I often picture myself as a pop star I thought a lot about this particular dilemma (in case you’re wondering what kind of pop star I am, I’m the female Morrissey, only I’ve not gone bitter and racist. On the contrary, I’m a moral beacon. Plus I don’t need a Marr; I’m my own Marr, and I can play the piano too, for my more mellow numbers). Anyhow, Morrissey-me would worry about using Band Aid 20 in a self-serving manner and question how much her contribution would actually ease suffering in Africa given that greater structural changes are needed. She’d worry that the song and its message were in fact counter-productive, dehumanising a vast proportion of the human race by lumping them together as the apparently ignorant-of-Christmas Africans. She’d consider doing her own cover version of Flag Day by The Housemartins, with all proceeds going to a charity with a real edge. But then she’d worry that that was even more self-serving, and perhaps also a bit chippy, a needless slight against other pop heroes only doing their best. So in the end she’d think “fuck it” and do that line about how “in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy”, as that’s relatively inoffensive (and Morrissey-me is a megastar, so she gets to choose which line she does).

Anyhow, I went through that moral maze eight years ago, albeit in a completely imaginary world (one in which I was also struggling to cope with a love quadrangle involving me, Bernard Sumner, Jarvis Cocker and someone who looked like Morrissey but obviously wasn’t because in this world Morrissey never happened, at least not until me). I’m reminded of it now though because it’s kind of how I feel about charity or political blog hops, at least in part.

I do take part in them, but I feel a total cow for doing so. Like, who do I think I am? Not an expert on massacres, or infant mortality, or sexual exploitation, that’s for sure. Am I really doing this out of the goodness of my heart, because I’ve got something useful to add? Or do I just want to increase traffic to my blog? I don’t think it’s the latter (I get far more traffic to my blog when I upset people, which is just fucking great). But I do worry that I’m jumping on the bandwagon, a bandwagon started by people who know what they’re talking about whereas I don’t.

But then here’s the other side: even if I feel a sell-out, or than I’m ignorant, or that I’m posturing, does that actually matter? Indulging personal qualms about the exact positioning of my post within a wider drive is, let’s face it, a total luxury, and a total irrelevance. Who am I to decide charity isn’t “my thing” and that maybe it’s a bit cringe, or a bit compromised, and maybe it’s best to stay away? If I was doing something else of value, that might make sense. But generally I’m not. Ranting on this blog is the closest I get to activism. And given some of the rubbish I write, it’s a bit self-serving to get all protective about that.

If I’m 100% honest, I am a bit cringed about the post I wrote on Houla yesterday. I’m uncomfortable, for instance, with the fact that I mentioned visiting Belsen. The sentiments were sincere, but it also feels a little like I’m cynically raking through my past in search of a moment which allows me to portentiously say “I, too, have pondered man’s inhumanity to man”. I mean, I have. But not in a way that adds much value. But still, “a bit cringed”. On all possible scales of human suffering, it is nothing.

* Admittedly Bono was still in Band Aid 20, singing exactly the same line about thanking God “it’s them instead of you”. Disappointingly, though, Sting wasn’t. Is it just me, or did you find it weird that he got the line about “the bitter sting (Sting? me?) of tears”?

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