Thursday, April 26, 2012

How stupid to claim you're too clever for motherhood

Sandra Parsons has some germane comments below but she misses out the key deficiency in the thinking of the unfortunate Lucy Worsley.  Ms Worsley seems to think that dilettantish activities are the peak of enjoyment and fulfilment.  Almost any mother could tell her that children are the greatest joy in life,  compared to  which all other things are a footnote.  Ms Worsley is not liberated;  she is lost

By any reckoning, TV historian Lucy Worsley has done pretty well for herself. In addition to her day job as chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces, the 38-year-old has written three books, made umpteen TV programmes - and has also found love, sharing a London riverside flat with her architect boyfriend.

Just about the only thing she hasn’t done is bear a child.

In an interview this week to publicise her latest programme, Antiques Uncovered, she explained that this was her deliberate choice. ‘I have become the poster girl for opting out of reproduction. I am happy to stand up and be counted,’ she declares.

All well and good, you might think. Women who decide not to have children are often made to feel somehow lacking, so three cheers to Lucy for standing up for them.

Until, that is, you read what she said next: ‘I have been educated out of the natural reproductive function. I get to spend my time doing things I enjoy.’  No doubt this was intended as a rather flip, humorous comment. It’s backfired for two reasons.

First, it’s astonishingly patronising. Does Dr Worsley really believe that because she has a history degree from Oxford, she’s somehow too intelligent for the act of child-rearing? Or is she merely saying that those of us whose brains (or upbringing) did not propel us to the dreaming spires should accept motherhood as the summit of our intellectual ambition?

Second, for someone who calls herself a feminist historian, she appears to be hopelessly confused about what equality really means. Because while it’s difficult to be a working woman as well as a wife and mother, at least being the first of these no longer precludes also being the other two.

Indeed, anyone who assumes that women with an Oxford degree have allowed themselves to be ‘educated out of the natural reproductive function’ is entering very dangerous - and regressive - territory indeed. What next? A sort of sliding scale for women to keep handy during their childbearing years? No degree at all? Excellent! Have as many children as you like. A degree from Manchester or Bristol? Fine - have two! A first from Oxford? Sorry, but it would be a waste of your brain to reproduce.

In reality, of course, there are many women just as well educated as Lucy Worsley who’ve managed to have both children and a fulfilling career. Her fellow historian and Oxford graduate Amanda Foreman has five offspring, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has three and BBC Economics Editor Stephanie Flanders two.

There are countless more who’ve made sacrifices big and small for the sake of their families, including turning down promotions, changing careers and giving up work altogether.

What I find particularly distasteful is Dr Worsley’s tone, which implies she’s too superior for the messy business of raising children. Your ability to be a mother has nothing to do with your educational attainment and everything to do with the universal qualities of selflessness, generosity, compassion and patience.

Lucy Worsley’s ambition is to make history as popular as The X Factor, and I’m all for it. But before she goes any further, can I suggest that she looks at the history of her own sex? Not so long ago, the choice was quite simple: you could be a nun, a bluestocking or a mother. You could also be burned at the stake.

So give us more history, by all means, Dr Worsley. But please make it clear that women are lucky enough today to live in more enlightened times — and whether we have children or not has nothing to do with how clever we may (or may not) think we are.


Children's favourite books removed from British library shelves after parents complain they’re 'offensive'

Public libraries have had to withdraw dozens of long-standing children's favourites after parents complained they were offensive.

Anxious adults have taken action over stories deemed to be racist, blasphemous, violent or otherwise unsuitable, a survey has revealed.

Roald Dahl was among those criticised, with his Revolting Rhymes and Even More Revolting Rhymes singled out over the celebrated author's use of supposedly coarse language.

And while young readers have been enjoying Dahl's satirical fairy tales for decades, even classics such as The Nutcracker and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves were said to be too sinister or frightening for children.

Library staff have had to investigate each of the complaints and have often ended up moving the offending books out of the children's section, or removing them altogether.

Racism was a common cause for concern, with the much-loved Babar and Tintin series accused of exposing children to ethnic stereotypes.

Librarians in East Sussex removed copies of Babar's Travels, in which one of the cartoon elephant's adventures finds him faced with 'savage cannibals'.

Those wishing to borrow it must now order it specially, after staff upheld a complaint that it contained offensive stereotypes of black Africans.

A similar complaint saw staff in Lewisham, London, remove Herge's Tintin in the Congo, while elsewhere the title has been transferred to the adult's section.

Children's author David McKee, creator of Elmer the Patchwork Elephant and Mr Ben, attracted more complaints than any other writer.  Parents claimed Tusk Tusk - his book about a dispute between black and grey elephants - was racist, while the wealthy main character of Denver was said to promote the idea of an unfair gap between rich and poor.

Meanwhile, the insults hurled between the characters in Two Monsters - such as 'twit' and 'dumbo' - were thought too aggressive for young ears.

A surprised Mr McKee told the Sunday Telegraph his books were meant to celebrate the differences in society.  He said: 'I think the complaints seem to come from the parents rather than the child. 'Children often seem to get the point. It would be rather boring if all books simply started "once upon a time" and ended "happily ever after".'

Nicholas Allan's More and More Rabbits, about two rabbits who can't stop having babies, has been praised for teaching numeracy and broaching the difficult subject of where babies come from.

But librarians in West Lothian pulled the book after one anxious parent said it the content was inappropriate.

The gruesome Horrible Histories series - which seeks to take the stuffiness out of the subject - was said to celebrate and trivialise violence, while one reader feared its sister series Horrible Science would encourage children to carry out dangerous experiments.

Parents worried that titles such as The Big Ugly Monster and the Little Stone Rabbit - in which a lonely monster fashions friends out of stone - would damage children's self-esteem.

And staff in Newcastle library removed Flabby Cat and Slobby Dog from the health and wellbeing section after it was said to give a negative message about obesity.

The survey of 98 library authorities took in more than 300 complaints from the last five years about 'unsuitable, inappropriate or offensive' works. Half of them were about children's books.


An angry retort to Bettina Arndt from a feminist

But she ends up agreeing that Bettina has got her facts right

If you read this weekend’s Sunday papers, you will have been thrilled by an incredible piece of news: Bettina Arndt is the first human being to have visited an entirely different universe.

The voyage happened during her piece, Why women lose the dating game; Bettina visited the universe - hitherto only speculated about by astronomers - and found an alien entity who, coincidentally, was called Clem Bastow. This alien entity reached the end of the article and found herself nodding in cautious agreement.

FOOLED YOU! The alien was me! And I have been struggling with this strange new sensation for the past day: what does it mean for you when a large part of a Bettina Arndt article rings true?

First things first, in case you think this article is being written by my dog and I’m actually chained up in a basement somewhere: there’s plenty she didn’t get right, namely, women’s role in the dating game. “Many thought they could put off marriage and families until their 30s, having devoted their 20s to education, establishing careers and playing the field,” says Arndt of silly women nationwide. “But was their decade of dating a strategic mistake?”

Sometimes you just gotta wonder if Bettina even likes women. She seems so determined to decry feminism - even when, as she’s done here, she doesn’t expressly say as much - and defend the plight of the poor men left sobbing in the movement’s wake.

However, on the topic of the misogynist cesspool that is the “dating scene”, unfortunately, she’s spot on.

I used to laugh about things like The Game and the idea of “pick-up artists”, dismissing them as little more than a horror story from across the pond, but then I was hypnotised into a relationship by a 38-year-old Darth Vader impersonator who sidelined as a counsellor who helped young men pick up chicks.

He worked as a ‘guest lecturer’ - or something - with a lifestyle coach who taught meek dudes things like “same night lays” and how to avoid “the verbal leakage of power” (no, I don’t know what that is, either).

These blokes weren’t really interested in actual relationships, and they didn’t have to be, because there were always going to be more single women who were willing to step up to the plate if another demurred.

By that token, the census analysis Arndt quotes - “68,000 unattached graduate men in their 30s for 88,000 single graduate women in the same age group” - isn’t surprising.

Likewise, the experience of Gail - who found that men her own age on dating websites were only interested in younger women - rings true. I am still half-heartedly engaging in the sisyphean saga that is “looking for someone nice to go on dates with”, and now that I’m 30 (well, almost), I find I am almost exclusively contacted by men who are 15 to 20 years older. Who’s contacting the women who are 45+?

In short, it’s hell out there. But here’s where I begin to become human once more, and remember what it’s like to disagree with Bettina Arndt: why do we carry on as though these women who have reached their late-30s and early-40s and found themselves (“still”) single have thrown their lives away?

Yes, it’s nice to share your life with someone - all but the most misanthropic or committedly lone-wolf-ish of us know that. However the tone of Arndt’s piece suggests that we should capitulate to the good-enough husband (even trotting out Lori Gottlieb’s Marry Him!, which was listed as a favourite text in the online dating profile of a man I recently encountered who insisted that “[his] crotch!” wanted my phone number).

As Arndt puts it, “many women are missing out on their fairytale ending”. As someone else in the article, Penny, puts it: “We were told we were special, we could do anything and the world was our oyster."

Hate to break it to you, Penny, but all of that is true - provided you don’t need the pearl inside that oyster to be a man.


Proposed Ordinance Would Force Kansas Churches to Host Gay Weddings

According to advocates, religious freedom may be under attack in Hutchinson, Kansas. There’s a controversial ordinance being considered in the local community that would force churches to host gay weddings and parties.

According to Fox News’ Todd Starnes, the Hutchinson City Council is going to consider whether sexual orientation and gender identity should be added to the city’s human relations code. If this action is approved during next month’s expected vote, churches may find themselves in a tough position.

Hutchinson Human Relations Commission has explained that, under the new regulations, churches that make their buildings available for the general public would not be able to refuse gay couples. This essentially means that churches would be forced to, via rental agreements, support gay nuptials.

“They would not be able to discriminate against gay and lesbian or transgender individuals. That type of protection parallels to what you find in race discrimination,” Meryl Dye, a spokesperson for the commission, said in an interview with Fox News. “If a church provides lodging or rents a facility they could not discriminate based on race. It’s along that kind of thinking.”

But Matthew Staver, chairman of the conservative Liberty Counsel Action, said that the proposal isn’t in line with American values.

“It is a collision course between religious freedom and the LGBT agenda. This proposed legislation will ultimately override the religious freedom that is protected under the First Amendment,” he proclaimed. “What we are ultimately going to see is churches forced to confront this law, forced to do things and allow their facilities to be used by people and for events that diametrically undercut the mission of the church.”

So, let’s say the ordinance passes and a church refuses to comply. Unless there’s an exemption for houses of worship when the measures passes, a discrimination complaint can be waged by gay couples or individuals who are refused rental service. If churches are, indeed, found guilty of not complying, fines and other penalties would come into effect.

But, as Starnes notes, it’s not just churches that may be impacted by the proposed ordinance:
    The Hutchinson measure would also have a major impact on private businesses and landlords. Restaurants, bars and retail shops would be required to provide special bathrooms for individuals who may have male body parts but identify as a female.

    According to a FAQ sheet provided by the city, employers would also be forced to allow workers to dress based on their gender identity…

    “Dress codes would not be precluded as long as an employer allows an employee to appear, groom and dress consistent with the employee’s gender identity and gender expression,” the FAQ stated.

    As far as bathrooms, the city FAQ stated, “A transgender person must be allowed to use restrooms appropriate to their gender identity rather than their assigned gender at birth without being harassed or questioned.”

    The city’s revised ordinance would also require transgender individuals to use the locker room and shower facilities of their choosing.

The FAQ document that highlights all of the information presented within the provision can be read here. There‘s no doubt that religious freedom hounds will be monitoring the vote to assess churches’ rights and to ensure that the government doesn’t overstep First Amendments bounds. On the flip side, supporters of the ordinance will surely fight on for what she see as equal rights in its passage.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.


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