Friday, 25 May 2012

This means war.

It's Friday! Let's talk about something light and fluffy, like misandry. It's my new word. If you want to look it up, I'll save you some time. It's a noun meaning the hatred of men by (but not limited to) women.

I'm not talking about a woman letting off steam about the man in her life who lets her down in numerous, heartbreaking ways, and who is possibly the latest in a long line of men who have treated her badly. In my opinion, this is not the same thing. (In some cases, no doubt it leads to hating men. But that's not what I'm interested in).

There seems to be a trend in advertising and the media to portray men in a less than favourable light. From  a recent campaign by Boots in which two women are discussing their numerous tasks for the weekend, all to be completed whilst bravely soldiering on with the flu (whilst their partners are in bed with a cold), to this article in the Telegraph here, in which the paper conducts a straw poll, the message is simple: men are a little bit useless.

Why is this acceptable?

The implication of the question, "If you are a woman, would you trust a man to take the male contraceptive pill?" is that men are inherently more unreliable than women. Where is the evidence for this? Do we ask men if they trust their girlfriends/partners/wives to take the pill?

I've been so busy thinking about the example I set for my son that somehow I hadn't really noticed this stereotype, persistent and reinforced at every turn. I can see that it's not enough to watch my colour choices, or encourage him to play with both cars and dolls, or to try to model equality. I will have to be alert to these kinds of negative messages which tell him that because he's male, he's not expected to be reliable, or capable, or any any other positive character attribute the media deems unnecessary based on his gender.

I was sort of prepared for the nappies. (Ok, that's a lie.) I wasn't really prepared for this. Nonetheless, as my title suggests, this mean war.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Should it stay or should it go?

Moving house is one thing. Moving country is quite another.

You haven't truly decluttered until you've stared down the barrel of a miscellaneous toiletries collection and agonised over the destiny of each item. Is it: a) in date, b) worth using up, c) worth giving away, d) worth shipping over, or e) none of the above? All those bits and pieces carefully stockpiled during Christmases, birthdays and special offers on Soap and Glory at Boots, then hidden away and forgotten about until newly purchased, identical products join them in the darkness. Not for me, the luxury of shoving it all into a box and shifting it a few miles down the road. I now have to make a decision on every single thing I own. Every. Single. Thing.

Never mind the bath bombs. What about the books? Trinny and Susannah's sage words may have languished in the garage for many a year (we never did get around to installing a bookcase) but what if I need to identify the shape of my bottom at some indeterminate point in the future? It may be a life or death situation (sartorially speaking, of course) in which access to that particular book is crucial. Do I take it? Do I store it? Do I give it away? You can see the bind I'm in. Likewise with my collection of cookbooks. I imagine I could be the sort of person who enjoys entertaining (still waiting for that personality trait to emerge) and naturally, I don't need to tell you that it would be beneficial to have a little bit of Nigella on hand to see me through.

Nevertheless, we have to be ruthless. There is no point in taking two sets of salad servers, regardless of the fact they were both gifts, as I have maybe used a set only once, no doubt trying to impress upon a hapless dinner guest that I was indeed a seasoned giver of hospitality. So, neither will make the journey. The same fate awaits the cast iron tea press, the crystal candle holder and the red faux leather magazine basket I was so chuffed to find as it matched the rug, giving the illusion of a co-ordinated design effort in the lounge.

In stark contrast, all of M's possessions will go with us, including a wardrobe that would put Derek Zoolander's to shame. In starting our new adventure we may have nary a scatter cushion between us, but our son will look fabulous. That's all that matters, surely.