You’re NOT a Feminist

Sometimes feminism gets a bad press. It’s confused with misandry – that’s a word I recently learned and it basically means ‘man-hating’ – the female version of misogyny. The fight for feminism is a fight for equality. Real feminism values men and not only understands male issues, but campaigns for them too. That’s important to me as a woman who is the mother of a boy.

Because what is the point in raising sons who are told they are not trustworthy? That men are predatory? To raise them thinking that when a sick woman makes a claim of abuse against them they should be instantly chastised and hounded for their awful behaviour purely because they have penis?

Raising my son to be a feminist

Instead, I raise my son knowing that he is an equal to the girls in his class. I teach him to respect all people, no matter who they are, where they come from, how they look or what they believe. I raise him knowing that he can talk about emotions, cry, wear whatever colour clothes he wants to and play with any toy he likes. I’m raising a son knowing that he makes the decision about his future career and that if he wants to be a Daddy raising his babies then that’s perfect too. Because women deserve a voice in the board room just as men deserve a voice in the home. Traditionally female roles shouldn’t be seen as weak, or lesser, they should be seen as strong and equal.

That’s what feminism means to me. But that’s just me. So I asked other parents what it means to them. What with us raising the next generation.

 

Feminism is…

“about recognising that women are equal to men. Not above and not below! Everyone has a place in society” – The Smallest of Things

“creating a world where women are free to lead their own lives in the way they want, whether that’s by taking on the world in a professional capacity or deciding to be a homemaker.” – Little Pickle’s Mom

“seeking equality. feminism is not making slanderous generic and unprovoked remarks about all men because you are clearly bitter about something”- Chocolate and Wine and I’ll be Fine

You’re not a feminist if…

“your feminism requires women to be ‘better’ than men. Equal. All equal.” – Life With Boys

“you act completely unreasonably and then try and use fighting for feminism as an excuse. Feminism is about equality not expecting more and does not excuse you acting like a spoiled brat.” – Real Mum Reviews

“your main agenda seems to be men hating. Sweeping, generalised statements about daddy bloggers are a case in point.” – Baby Foote

Feminism is…

“about striving for true equality for men and women in every aspect of life, including (but not limited to) our rights, our ability to parent and our professional worth.” – Surviving Life’s Hurdles

“about choice. Women should fully have the same choices as men. My mum is a feminist and so is my Dad. I get criticised a lot for leaving my career to focus on the kids – but I am a feminist and I’m pleased I made that choice. But with my first the roles were reversed. I’m no more or less of a feminist as I was then.” – Mama Mei

“about bringing everyone together. Feminism is about empowering everyone to speak up and speak out. Feminism is about me raising my son to be an epic human. Feminism is my son seeing no difference in anyone in the world around him, and for him to feel safe (and empowered) to challenge those that behave otherwise” Cheeki Mummy

 You’re not a feminist if you…

” don’t believe in equality for everyone no matter what their gender, colour, race, sexuality, age, ability or wealth etc. Feminism is based on respecting everyone.” – My Boys Club

“think women should get more than men” – LesBeMums

” use the word as an excuse to be hateful to ANYONE” – Muffin Top Mummy

“tell me your son can’t have the pram he asked for for his birthday (this was from a woman who is always spouting out about how much of a feminist she is and is raising her daughter to be a feminist but doesn’t think it applies to her son)” – Better Together Home

“are not raising your sons to be feminists too” – Thrifty Mum

 

Feminism is…

 

“about creating true equality between men and women. That includes life at home, such as little things like housework and cooking, as well as bigger things like looking after the kids equally, both having the option to do the career they want and reach the levels of that career that they want to. It is about being 100% equal in all things – neither men or women should be “above” or “below” one another.”

That Marketing Punk

 

You’re not a feminist if you…

“don’t believe in equality of the sexes. It really is that simple!” – Our Fairytale Adventure

“use your gender (whatever gender that might be) as an excuse to be a bully” – Plutonium Sox

” think you are better than anyone who is not exactly like you” – Fit For Parenting

“use feminism as a badge/ free pass that allows you to belittle others. Share your views, advance the agenda of equality yes but don’t become part of the problem by putting up more walls.” – Hi Baby

“make sweeping statements about someone based on their gender alone. Just become some men, or women, do something or believe something does not mean it applies to all men or all women. Feminism for me is about equality, empowerment and treating everyone as individuals who deserve the same rights as everyone else, but are also free to make their own choices when it comes to pursuing opportunities” – Little Hearts Big Love

Feminism is…

“the fight for equality between men and women. Feminism is recognising that historically and globally, women have been/and are treated as lesser. Feminism is not about diluting the bigger picture with petty arguments about slights to men.” – Mama Cat and Baby Bee

“a celebration of womanhood; in all forms and races, a fellow being with a privileged place on this earth alongside men, children and all other living animals on this planet.” – Mum2Sons

 

You’re not a feminist if you…

“don’t believe that anyone who identifies as female suffers the same discrimination whether or not they have a vagina.” – Mama Eden & Me

“tell women OR men what they should or shouldn’t do.” – Tattooed Tea Lady

“become the one thing that feminism was created to fight against in the first place.
If you become the oppressor, the liar, the bully and the abuser in the name of feminism, you are not a feminist, you’re an idiot.” – Me Becoming Mum

“think all men are bad or that women are better. I believe that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men.” – Teddy Bears and Cardigans

“believe that you are superior to men. You’re not a feminist if you use feminism to diminish what men do, mock men or continue the divisive society that we currently have, just with a slant towards females over males. Feminism is purely about equality. It’s about standing up and saying I am as good as any man, I deserve that to be acknowledged. I’m raising my sons to be feminists and I don’t want to feel that they are being belittled by those that claim to stand side by side with them on the picket lines.”

“are a stay at home mum. Actually you are. You can be whatever you bloody want to be. That’s feminism.” – The Incidental Parent

Feminism is…

“seeing all people as equal humans, regardless of gender” – Friendly First Foods

“about everyone having the same rights. I prefer to say that I’m a supporter of equality rather than feminism purely because of the man haters who make a mockery of it all!” – Digital Motherhood

“about seeking equality. It is not man-hate nor is it idolisation of women. But equally, pointing a finger to and acknowledging the patriarchal attitudes and societal structures should be encouraged rather than shot down as man-hate. Unfortunately the latter happens a lot nowadays too.” – Wave to Mummy

 

Feminism is… Confusing…

I have to be honest and say I’m confused about what a feminist actually is? I have strong opinions so does that make me a feminist?” – Squats, Sass and Saggy Skin

“The term “feminist” has such bad connotations these days. When I first got with my boyfriend, I told him I considered myself a feminist and he said “oh great…” and then I explained my views on feminism to him and what it meant to me and now he agrees and backs me up and considers himself a feminist…Men can be feminists. Men have female friends. Family members. Wives, girlfriends. Children! Men care about women’s rights just as much as women, so if your main agenda is to slander and demonise men, you’re not a feminist. ” – Lukeosaurus and Me

I actually really dislike the word ‘feminism’ because really, feminism should be about men and women being completely equal, not one better than the other, but I think using a female sounding word gives too many people the wrong impression that feminism puts women in a higher place” – ArthurWears

I’m a feminist. I believe in equality for women and men but I’m very aware that women have experienced sexism, inequality and oppression since we’ve been recording time. That’s why I’m a feminist, not an equalitist because we need to challenge the systems and norms to be better for women before we can get true equality. For me this also includes removing stereotypes and oppression that affects boys and men too (like the whole man up/ boys don’t cry claims) because it’s all part of the same system of oppression of women and girls” – Ellamental Mama

…yet simple

“To me, feminism is simply equality.” – That British Betty

“You don’t have to be female to be a feminist, you just have to believe in equality for men and women” – My Mummy’s Pennies

“I’m a feminist. I want equal rights for my daughters, no gender pay gap and parenting responsibilities and working seen as equal.” – Corporate Dad

 

 

 

 

 

The girl who cried wolf: A tale from the other side

Something happened in the blogging world recently that threw me back to being 18, back at sixth form. One of my friends was falsely accused of rape. The accuser was a prolific liar. We all knew it was lies, but accusations have to be taken seriously. I’m still friends with the accused’s girlfriend at the time. She’s one of my best friends. I asked her to write about her experience. A woman’s point of view about that kind of lie. People that know me personally will know this story, but we have kept it anonymous.

 

 

I would like to start this by saying I am not a writer. I am not a blogger, or even a tweeter.  I am writing this as the ex-girlfriend of someone accused of sexual assault. I am writing this for everyone who has ever been accused or insinuated against falsely. For their friends and family who it has affected, without even having the conscious realisation that one little exaggeration or one misinterpretation can damage a life irrevocably.

I can only tell you the story from my side, how it affected me and how I feel it affected those around me… but here goes. I would also like to add retrospectively that I had tears in my eyes writing this piece even 11 years on – tears for the boy I loved and was never the same, for the girl I was before. And also pride, for the people that stood by us and the way we got through it.

 

We were only 18

I (A) was starting to date a lovely guy (B) from a good family. B was on course to do fantastically in his exams, high hopes for a career in law. He had it all planned out, right down to his 15 year plan – including his own practice and judgeship and all those kinds of things. Then some girl he had fancied before me (C), decided to accuse him of sexually assaulting her.

 

Idle whispers to police investigation

This started out as just a few comments to mutual friends at school. That C and B had got together just as me and him did, and that in the past it had been more than just flirting. She just appeared to be jealous of him and I having a real relationship, so wanted to make out that I was second best. This was water off a ducks back, didn’t bother us at all and we fell in love… but this didn’t go down well.

The story then developed into it being unwanted attention, that she wasn’t interested and his flirting was not reciprocated. Then that he had assaulted her whilst driving her home one night. This got around the college. It got to the teachers, who called B into the headmasters office where the police were waiting.

He questioned his character

This amazing guy, who had been nothing but patient and sweet with me, was an outgoing, fun guy. He was great to be around and had loads of friends. Suddenly he was hauled out of his class in front of everyone and questioned like he was a criminal. He was suspended from school pending investigation. Meanwhile C still got to swan around the school making sly jibes at me and trying to turn people against B. He became withdrawn. Worried how it would affect his career and his hopes. Scared of how people at school would be talking about it and would think he had done it. We knew he didn’t. Everyone knew.  But the thought was still in his mind.

In the early stages of first love and lust, its supposed to be amazing and flirty and realistically, kinda hot – but this was really hard when he was worried what people would think. He even started to question himself and worry that if he kissed me, if it all went wrong, I could say something bad too. I was his girlfriend – we were inseparable – and yet he was afraid to touch me without my explicit permission, which in all honesty is a bit of a mood killer!

Disproved accusations

Thankfully, the police and school didn’t take too long to disprove her accusation of the sexual assault, but the damage was done. The rumours around the town were still in existence. I’m sure if you googled it you would have come up with a few bits, and this was in the days before Social Media was huge like it is now. I hate to think the impact this could have had if it was even more widespread. Even localised, this destroyed a young man’s college experience. It prevented him from having the confidence to go for law firm internships and work experience. It eventually broke down our relationship.

I know after us, he didn’t date for a long time, and any time anyone tried to get close, he would back away, would orchestrate so he was always in view of a camera or other people. This INNOCENT guy had to find ways to make sure he always had an alibi, as every now and again, C would pop up and try ruin things.

It hurt me, to see him so upset, to be seen as the “silly girl standing by a rapist”, a few people even said I was in on it all and protecting him. That I should stand up for women and not be another victim. I am not a victim. I never was. And I was standing up for women, for my friend. I am 100% in belief that if true, this kind of thing is absolutely horrific, but it is stories like this which stop real victims being believed and scared to come forward!

It affected his friends and family too. Being his defender, being there to help him rise above the whispers, to fight back with his suspension and keep on top of school and work and everything else a teenager has to do.

 

And all of this, stemmed from either jealousy, a misinterpretation, a girl who liked attention and wanted it however it happened.

 

Now I will say, I am ashamed in a way, but I do still hold a grudge against C for ruining what should have been a fantastic time in my life. Visiting my home town every now and again, I have bumped into her. She tries to be friendly but I cannot ever forgive what she did. Not for me. Nor B. Not for any of the women who’s experiences she has belittled and given doubt to in real cases of sexual assault etc.

Two sides to every story

Not having the knowledge of what really happened can ruin lives. It is so important to remember that there are two sides of every story and the impact this kind of suggestion or accusation can be devastating for all parties involved, not to mention their wider circles.

 

 

This account is not related to any bloggers, it is an account of an old school friend. The names of all parties involved remain anonymous.

 

anneliese phillips photo of two people in meadow surrounded by mountains

 

 

 

Play Date Etiquette : A Beginner’s Guide

Since Oliver started preschool I’ve had to be a little bit more sociable myself. I’ve suffered with school gate anxiety since before he started. On the one hand I was excited that there would be a group of adults that I would be in regular contact with. On the other hand there would be a group of adults that I would be in regular contact with!! What if they hated me? I had no doubt Oliver would make friends and that play dates would soon feature. So that got me thinking about play date etiquette. For the socially anxious, sometimes a little guide can be helpful. So I asked other parents who blog, here are their top tips…

Firstly, it starts before you go. Be prepared.

“I always jokingly mention that my kids can be a handful prior to the playdate. It’s not false but I have this fear that one day everyone will see how badly behaved the kids can be and I’d rather prewarn them! This then leads to the ‘your kids are so well behaved’ comment if the kids haven’t managed to put each other in bad moods!!”
– Carla, Random Thoughts of a Twenty Something 

 

“Unless you are driving, take a hip flask. Take sneaky nips as the house is trashed around you. Mutter that’s your child isn’t like this at home, it must be because they get on so well. Stagger home 2 hours late.”
– Naomi, Tatooed Mummy

If drinking on the job isn’t your thing, at least prepare yourself mentally. And drown yourself in tea. But probably not too much if you’re a nervous pee-er.

Then there’s the protocol for arranging play dates with a parent of the opposite sex

“When you’re a dad arranging a playdate with a mum, it can feel awkward – like you’re asking them on a date! So if you’re arranging (or on) a playdate with a parent of opposite sex, mention your partner lots so you can be sure they don’t get the wrong idea. Unless you want them to get the wrong idea”
– Simon, Man Vs Pink

Food is a minefield. There are so many differing opinions.

The thing I always struggle with is “are you kids allowed to eat cake” or “mine only drink water” issues… and then the fall out from some kids having juice and others allowed only water. I once gave my kids squash at a house where the kids didn’t drink squash and it caused WW3! So my tip would be: never get enticing snacks out of your bag without checking with the other parents! No one wants to cause a snack related meltdown!”
– Amy, 2 Boys, 1 Mum

 

If your child is a fussy eater (like mine!) don’t stay for lunch or tea when going on a play date. The food will invariably be ‘different’ (even if it’s exactly the same as what you make at home) and you want to avoid your child telling the host that it’s ‘yucky’. Embarrassing”
– Amiee, Mum Amie

 

photo of chocolate cupcakes with a caraffe of milk and milk crate, wooden spoon and mason jar style glass to style the photo. Quote included as "Always bring cake to a playdate" from Natalie at Plutonium Sox . com

 

“I have a huge thing about bringing things eg cake. Loads of people do even when asked not to bring anything but I find it really annoying: if I’m hosting I have bought everything so it doesn’t get eaten and I just end up eating it later and feeling unhappy about my weight and secondly play dates should be a cheap way to meet up with people if both the host and visitors are spending money on things it’s cheaper to go out. When several people go round and I’m the only one not to bring anything I feel rude.”
– Kate, Counting To Ten

 

“Always take Cake or posh looking biscuits…”
– Rose

 

“Chocolate biscuits and cake!!”
– Lara

 

“Sometimes I take cake but I also don’t want them to feel that is necessary if they come to ours, so I make that clear! I just love cake 🙂 And I don’t do it if I know that person is trying to be healthy!
If I take snacks for my little one I make sure I take enough to go around as the others will naturally want some too! I try to make them as healthy as possible so as not to put any parents in awkward situations if they’re not comfortable with less healthy options (our snacks our generally healthy anyway but I do allow a biscuit if we are at someone else’s and it is offered.)”
– Rebecca, Taylor Made Ramblings

 

My suggestion – have something, but perhaps leave it in the car or your inevitably large handbag until you know the time is right. If the time isn’t right then just eat it when you get home.

Shoes off or shoes on?

“I never know if to take my shoes off in other people’s houses so I do anyway but always make sure to wear socks as I hate my feet out.”
– Jessica, Beauties and The Bibs

Shoes on or off is a huge thing for me, at home I wear enormous slippers and have carpets, if I go to a house with wooden or tiled floors my feet freeze because I have raynauds. So if you invite me over don’t be surprised if I’m wearing woolly socks and/or bring massive slippers. Or put the heating on ready for my arrival! Haha.

One thing is for sure, DO NOT TAKE A POORLY CHILD

“1) Taking a poorly toddler round someone’s house is like taking a dump on their doorstep. Don’t do it. 2) If they’re potty training get ready to grovel when they pee on their carpet. Yes this has happened to me.”
– Frances, Whinge Whinge Wine

“Oh yes, definitely agree with not taking a poorly child. In the past I was almost lynched for declining a toddler who had been puking for the entire morning but “had stopped now”.”
– Sophie, Sophie and Lily

But what about kids behaviour?

“The thing I find the hardest is their TV’s and DVD players etc – my son goes straight for them so I usually spend most of the time removing him from those areas….with that in mind always take a favourite toy with you as a ‘distraction’. Last time we had a big group play date Arthur bit another child when they tried to take a toy he was playing with….it was a really difficult situation and I ended up reprimanding him in a way that I wouldn’t usually do just for the benefit of the other parents….now whenever we go anywhere to play I am constantly watching him just in case he does it again…although since this incident we haven’t actually been invited back”
– Sarah, Arthur Wears

Sharing is a huge talking point…

“Try to relax with regards to sharing. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with your child if they don’t want to share! They go through phases and they will learn. I used to get so embarrassed and flustered when Ernie went through his phase of not sharing. I thought it was something I was doing as a parent but it really isn’t! They all learn eventually and will still have their moments even then!”
– Rebecca, Taylor Made Ramblings

Child looking at transformer toy on table quote saying to put away your kids favourite toys and put out toys that area easy to share

“People always expect children to be great at sharing, but they’re not! So if we’re having a play date at our house I put away any of the kids favourite toys (like the soft toy that they sleep with or a brand new Paw Patrol toy) and put out toys that are easy to share like the train set or Lego.”
– Niki, Play and Learn Every Day

Be aware of quietness

“My tip this: if you think your just turned three year old is being suspiciously quiet go and check she’s not been enticed to open every single drawer at her friends house and emptied out all her clothes. If this happens the next time she has a playdate at home she will repeat this new trick”
– Lauren, Belle Du Brighton

How would you feel if they did it at your house?

Be responsible for your child’s behaviour, it is not the host’s responsibility to discipline your child. If they wouldn’t do it at home, it’s in everyone’s interests if they don’t do it in someone else’s house, otherwise things can get awkward and you may find you don’t get invited back. I have had parents tell me that they think other people should be able to tell their child off if they do something wrong, as it teaches them social skills, or something, but no one actually wants that job, it’s yours!”
– Lucy, The Parent Game

 

“Don’t take a ride on toy for your toddler to play on, especially if your friend has real wooden floors; ESPECIALLY if her baby is only a few months old and sleeping in a basket which your toddler keeps bumping. Also don’t let your toddler use your friend’s sofa like a trampoline, particularly if your friend is breastfeeding her preemie on the same sofa. Most of all, don’t do these things on the same occasion. (We’re still friends, but I’ve never invited them back into my house.)”
– Kate, The Less Refined Mind

Last but not least, TIDY UP!

Nearly all of the parents who contributed to this blog post mentioned tidying up.

I always tidy up after ourselves, 9/10 the room was already untidy but we always leave it tidy”
– Jaymee, The Mum Diaries

 

“I always take my shoes off, always always always tidy up before we leave and I always being either cake or lunch (even a contribution towards) depending on when we are going to be there”
Katy Gibson

 

“I always take our shoes off immediately and I make sure we tidy up as best as possible before we leave.”
– Rebecca, Taylor Made Ramblings

 

” I heard a horror story of someone turning up at 10 and not leaving until 5. Don’t over stay your welcome and offer to tidy up even if they say no”
– Emma, Farmers Wife and Mummy

And if it all goes tits up? Try not to worry too much, you could still be friends

“First play date I took my son to, was a lady I had met through playgroup, older than me, walks into her house, cream sofas and so neat. She was fine letting my then 18month old run about and climb, as much as I pulled him off sofa. Knock on the door her mam, so I was introduced, my son took the whole of a few seconds to climb on the sofa, throw up and proceed to play in it. Never been so embarrassed!! Was really lucky she laughed and we’ve actually become best friends! ( the next time I went alone for a vodka, I ended up tipping my vodka and coke over the same sofa 😳) were still friends she just covers them now!”
– Jo, First Time Valley Mam

text only - play date etiquette - a beginners guide. From parents who blog

 

Do you have any play date etiquette tips? Or do you have any play date wins or horror stories. I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Overcoming School Gate Anxiety

One of the problems with being a parent is that you’re thrown in to this role as not yourself but your child’s mummy/daddy.  Nobody asks what your name is when they meet you, they ask your child’s name.  You become known as “Oliver’s mummy”, “Will’s Daddy” etc.  Eventually it reaches a point where it feels rude to ask the other person’s name because you have ‘known’ them for so long even though you’ve only said ‘Hi’, ‘Bye’ and spoken to them through your child because you’re terrified of rejection.

Do as I say not as I do…

Thinking back, I expected it to be easy once Oliver started pre-school.  I figured that because we were settled and seeing the same people every day I might feel a little more confident in talking to some of the other parents.  I was so wrong.  I was like a rabbit caught in headlights.  There were times at the door of the preschool when everyone would be standing in silence and it’s hard to break that.  Or you see a group of mums who have known each other for ages and you worry they don’t want another friend or tag-a-long.  Meanwhile, your child is making friends with their children by just going over to them and talking to them.  Introducing himself, the way YOU taught him to.  

oliver holding hands with henry

You are not alone

After talking to other parents online, it seems I’m not alone.  I recently shared a ‘social anxiety win’ on twitter and several people congratulated me.  It made me wonder if the majority of us are in the same boat.

 

 

‘Once you pop you just can’t stop’

After I had swapped numbers with Oliver’s friend’s mummy (who has an actual name, but is in my phone as ‘name – child) I felt slightly better.  I hadn’t been rejected, in fact she had basically invited me in to her entire group of mum friends.  A few days later I had another win with another preschool mum after one of the teachers encouraged me to swap numbers.  James, Oliver’s BFF from his first day at school was going on holiday then to ‘big school’. It was now or never.  I feared that rejection most because James and Oliver had got on so well.  He was basically the reason that Oliver settled in to the preschool and the reason he happily left us most days.

 

On the last day of preschool Oliver had been telling me about his new best friend, Ben.  “Ben’s going to big school” he had said, so I figured out who his parents were and spoke to his Dad at pick up.  Ben actually isn’t going to ‘big school’, he’s the same age as Oliver and has another year at the Montessori.  I mentioned the playdate in the aforementioned tweet at one of the local parks and gave him my phone number.

 

Winning the war on anxiety

I feel like I’ve managed to overcome the majority of my anxiety.  I’m not fearing the rejection quite as much.  I also felt like I had won when Oliver got an invitation to a birthday party over the holidays.  I know that technically Oliver got the invite and not me, but that’s totally a win, right?

 

I’m ignoring the fact that we have to do this all again in a few days when Oliver goes back to preschool and most of his best friends have gone to Primary.  Maybe I will be the mum to start conversations at the school gate…

 

Do you suffer school gate anxiety? Or do you have any tips to overcome it?

 

overcoming school gate anxiety written on chalkboard