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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Little Girls and Big Buggies

I like to think I'm not sexist. And a bit of a feminist of course. But two recent online articles I came across have made me question whether I'm really as non-judgemental and non-stereotypical as I'd like to be.
 
 
source
 
I am so guilty of this. Teenage girls - fine. I ask them about their career aspirations, schoolwork, part time jobs, hobbies. No problem. Younger girls - not so much. I'll be honest and say I struggle to converse with young children anyway, but part of my job is to go into schools, so small talk is inevitable. But what is also inevitable, is that if that small talk is with a girl with sparkly hair grips, painted nails or cute pigtails, sure as hell I will mention those sparkly/painted/cute things. Shocking really. Not so much the fact that I do it, but the fact that seemingly tiny, unconscious slips like this are what help keep society focussed on female appearances. Girls under six thinking they're fat? That's obscene.
 
I love the conversations in these articles, which show how easy it is to talk to a little girl about her mind rather than her looks. So bloody simple. And next time the chance arises, that's exactly what I'm going to do. Put a bit of thought into what I'm asking and see what happens.
 
 
 
source
 
I must stress I am not a Motherist per se, and I have nothing against stay-at-home mothers. I have the upmost respect for anyone that chooses to reproduce, however I am most definitely guilty of point number one - buggy bashing.
 
Not literally - I'm not in the habit of bashing anyone, least of all babies. But I do hate big buggies. And it's just occurred to me that perhaps I'm being a bit of an arse here.
 
If someone is coming along the pavement towards me in a wheelchair, I move aside without so much as a second thought. I get out of the way, whether that involves stepping onto the road, or squeezing myself up against a wall. They can't help being in a wheelchair and therefore can't help getting in the way, so to speak. Out of decency and respect, I move aside.
 
I move for buggies too, but often, I'm seething inside. Does it have to be so big? Surely that child should be walking by now. Couldn't she just move over a bit? Do they have to push their buggies side-by-side?
 
Yeah, I'm very sisterly.
 
But as the article points out, why should their precious child be jolted by a pot hole or a kerb just so I can stride on by to the post office/supermarket/pub/wherever. And as for two mothers walking side-by-side with their buggies - if speaking to each other is the only chance they've had to talk to another adult all day, can I really blame them for making the most of it? They're not assuming they have a God-given right to the pavement - they simply have a right to the pavement, as do I. But they're pushing a small human being in a pretty bulky item that is probably a nightmare to manoeuvre, will it kill me to get out of the way and be happy about doing it?
 
Let's face it, no one is perfect, but do you harbour some prejudices, or feed into some stereotypes that you're not proud of?
 
 
 
 

11 comments:

  1. Ooh, I've read the first one before and it was very thought provoking.

    As for buggies, I don't have a problem with buggies on pavements for exactly the reasons you mentioned but one of the reasons I do so much of my shopping online is that I hate trying to navigate narrow shop aisles which are filled up with buggies. I find myself muttering, "Haven't they ever heard of the internet?" and comparing the cost of a babysitter to the cost of the armload of party frocks they're wielding.

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    2. (yes, I went for the most frivolous example I could come up with there to make my point; sometimes it's boring things like socks)

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    3. Yes! And on public transport - surely they don't WANT to be manouvering a pram and possibly extra kids onto a bus? Then talking at the top of their voices and having us all listen to little Johnny's musings on everything we pass by? Fuck right off. (I'm sorry, I hate young children. And self righteous mothers. Of which there seems to be a lot...)

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    4. Ha ha! There does seem to be a lot of self righteous mothers around - I try not to pass judgement because I'm not a mother myself but its so hard not to. I'm not a fan of young children at all either - I have no idea how to talk to them.

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  2. I'm afraid I'm a buggy hater - either the mothers in my town are particularly heinous or it's just my skewed judgement on size but... to use your example about pushing their baby over a pothole, why should I have to step in/jump over a pothole to accommodate their bulkiness? Or as is usually the case, onto the road? I don't tend to go through the town at busy times if I can help it, but on the odd times I have to it's the buggy pushers that seem to be the most ignorant pedestrians. Even worse than the oldies, although I'm willing to let them off in terms of speed ;)

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    1. I don't understand why buggies need to be so big. I pushed one once, and I could hardly move the thing. Mothers must have arms of steel!

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  3. Interesting points of view! It's good that you have assessed how you talk to young children and are considering making changes, i always think it's great when we question ourselves and try to make changes. I love talking to young children and find it much easier to talk to young children than older ones. Does make things awkward though, as then they don't want to leave the room when their mum or dad is having a massage!

    As for people pushing buggies, i am happy to move for them, however i am not happy when two are walking side by side, it wouldn't matter if they have a pushchair or not, if i am pushed onto the road because people do not have common courteosy to go in single file so that all people can remain on the pavement, then i am peed off! I think it is respectful to think about those walking towards you and not expect them to step on the road or to move for you if there is room on the pavement. If it's there only time to catch up, perhaps they should stand still for five mins and have a chat!!

    Like i said, that goes for anyone it doesn't have to be someone pushing a buggy! Although sometimes parents do bother me, especially as we are near to the back of a school and for some reason parents feel that they would rather use the road to walk down instead of the pavements on either side. They don't seem to care if you are driving down the road in your car whilst they walk in a row of five, they may eventually reluctantly move for you;-)

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    1. Two buggies side by side is definitely a pet peeve of mine but its one I'm trying to overcome. But like you said, good manners work both ways!

      Ooh, don't get me started on parents at schools! The house I just moved from was opposite a school, and the traffic in the mornings was scary. Cars and children and parents all over the place! I dreaded trying to drive my way out of it to get to work.

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  4. I get this ALL THE TIME. I think "oh my gosh I'm supposed to be a feminist and I just *insert non-feminist act here*" I especially do the thing with talking to little girls about how pretty they look or whatever, and I hate that. (Like you, I also find it difficult conversing with children in general haha). But I think the good thing is that you are totally aware that your attitudes/behaviour don't match your principles and you're willing to change it. As long as you're reflexive, I think it's fine. I LOVE America's Next Top Model, and it's the least feminist show on earth. But, I can continue to enjoy it because I am aware of the issues the show presents and aware that I would never want to treat anybody like that. It's purely entertainment.

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    1. I suppose feminism is more a state of mind than anything else. I know I do other things that I'm sure 'real' feminists would balk at, but at the end of the day I suppose we're just human and its so hard to get everything right. And as you said, its good to be aware we're not perfect, and as much as I'm willing to harp on about things that matter to me, I'm more than happy to admit my flaws too :)

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