Media plays on Julia’s childfree status and why I am annoyed

The offending News.com.au teaser line reads

The offending News.com.au teaser line

I was so annoyed by this headline about recently ousted Australian Prime-minister Julia Gillard that I felt the need to share with you on this blog.

The headline on the teaser link says ‘Axed Gillard ‘focused on babies”. Clicking on the link reveals an entirely different headline ‘Julia Gillard ‘going fine’ after losing Labor leadership to Kevin Rudd‘. News.com.au in this case (however I found other news sources had done the same) had pulled together this little teaser thinking it would draw people in who would rightly assume Ms Gillard was at least thinking about a child of her own.

This is clear bait by the news agency who would be playing on the common knowledge that Julia Gillard has no children, and no plans of any. Certainly also playing on the past controversy when Kevin Rudd called Ms Gillard ‘childless’ as if it was an insult. Fairly desperate for clicks if you ask me.

English: Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gil...

Even if I could put aside that media will be media and bait links are part of the game I cannot look past the fact that an intelligent and accomplished woman has had the potential of her future career reduced to the size of her uterus. It is as if because she is a woman this former prime-minister and former lawyer could not possibly do anything more with the rest of her child-bearing years than get cracking and make babies.

It’s certainly not a new concept that the media has been treating Ms Gillard unfavourably. ‘Can Be Bitter’ points out in their blog post What ‘that’ picture of Julia Gillard reveals about the media’s treatment of our first female prime minister, and I couldn’t agree more that Gillard was often portrayed by the media in weak and compromising positions that they would not necessarily publish if a male prime-minister was in place. More recently, in fact only days before the spill Ms Gillard was seen in a stylised photo shoot knitting a toy kangaroo. Apparently it was a gift for the impending royal baby, but the media had a field day with it. Personally I think she looked lovely and I think it’s cool that she knits but the headline didn’t play on her generous and personal gift or her surprise hipster talent, it made a mockery of her knitting. See the photo in this BRW article where they claim that the photoshoot was a mistake.

Despite the way that the politics were played out in the first spill and now the most recent I am still proud to be in a nation where we have had a female prime-minister. I hope that it paves the way for more women in power, who can just be themselves without being subjected to stereotype based assumptions and criticisms.

No babies, except the furry kind

 

Our fur-baby Frank

Meet Frank, our unexpected fur-baby (Photo by me)

For just over a year now we have been the parents of an unexpected fur-baby. It’s actually a cool story.

We were in a taxi on the way home from a drunken night out when my husband suddenly claims to have seen a rabbit on the side of the road. I tell him he is just drunk, I didn’t see it, nor did the taxi driver. He was so adamant that we walked from our home, back to where the alleged rabbit was spotted. There it was, a cute little fluff ball just sitting on a suburban street corner like nothing weird was going on. So we collected him up and took him home.

At this stage it was just a rescue operation. I rang my little sister, a rabbit owner, trying to figure out what we could feed it. It my drunken distressed state I was crying, sure that I would end up unintentionally killing the fragile creature and wondering if it could eat frozen food. We put him in a box with some water, a blanket and the small amount of vegetables we had and then went to bed (passed out).

The next few days was spent posting flyers seeking the owner. We imagined there was a small child somewhere very upset that their rabbit was gone. We did a bit of Googling to figure out what we should feed it and how to care for it. The days turned into a week and nobody was claiming the rabbit. At this point my husband was considering that we should keep it, he couldn’t trust that anyone else could care for it anyway.

So one day we decided that nobody was claiming it, so it was ours. We assumed it was a boy and had named him Frank (Donnie Darko fans might be familiar with Frank the rabbit). We took him to a special rabbit veterinary clinic and started forking out dollars for vaccinations, check-ups, micro-chipping, toys and other pet-type stuff. He was ours. We were fur-parents.

Having a pet is more than enough responsibility for me. Having to feed, water and change the litter tray daily was a bit of a shock for someone like me who will often spend an entire Sunday in bed reading. Our first weekend away was also interesting. We planned a weekend interstate and then had the whole ‘what about Frank?’ moment. My husband then decided he would rather not go away than put Frank with a carer. I put my foot down, if having a pet meant we couldn’t go away for the weekend I didn’t want one. We found a great rabbit carer and now holidays are a possibility.

We never wanted a pet. We certainly would never have purchased a rabbit, but they have a surprising amount of personality. We love having him around and he is possibly the most spoiled rabbit in Melbourne (at least that’s what our vet says). No, having a pet has not brought any latent maternal feelings to the surface. I am happy to join the fur-parent ranks, but this does not mean I want to upgrade to a baby.

 

#14 Maybe I am selfish, but I don’t want to care for a child

Doll hanging upside down in tree

I like to do what I want (Just Hangin’ Around 13/365 by hello jenny, on Flickr)

Recently my husband and I have been sick. For about a month all together. I was sick for two weeks with a cold and recurring health problems, and unlucky for me he was interstate for work. He was sick for a weekend with a cold, and I was away interstate visiting friends. Now he is sick after getting out of hospital (just some routine surgery) and will be for about a fortnight in total. It has been a wondrous month of misery where two moaning adults have struggled to take care of themselves and one oblivious rabbit.

During my own bout of illness, as I laid in bed trying to muster the strength to get up and feed our little pet, I wondered how the fuck my friends with kids did this. I mean, I KNOW they do it, they get sick, their kids and partners get sick but that is not the end of it. They do this every single day without fail and will continue to do so for quite some time. We worry about finding somewhere to care for our rabbit when we have a weekend away, which I am sure doesn’t compare to the hassle of finding someone to look after a child for even that small period of time.

I like to be able to go away for a night, a weekend or a week with relative ease. I like to be able to go out on a whim, for a walk or a drive or a ride for an hour or several. I like to be able to sleep in on a Sunday or a Saturday or any day I happen to not be at work, and continue to lay in bed until the mood (or hunger) strikes me to get up. I like be taken care of when I am ill, not have to worry about also taking care of someone else.

That may all be pretty selfish, but I don’t think it is unusual or even unreasonable. Just because I don’t WANT to do it doesn’t mean that I don’t take it seriously when it needs to be done. I am more than happy to care for my sick husband and do all the bunny caring tasks while he is recovering. If I am home alone with our bunny he still gets fed and cared for even if I am feeling like absolute crap. If I am caring for someone’s child (it has been known to happen) they get my total care and attention until the second I hand them back. Just because there are times when I can and am happy to do so, doesn’t mean I want to make it a full-time job.

I admire anyone with the will and resilience to be a full-time carer but it is not for me. Maybe it is just selfish, but hey I get to make that choice. I make the choice to have my lifestyle the way I like it and my husband likes it, and to prioritise what is important and fulfilling for us. Having children just doesn’t fit in.

Must see video about being Childfree

I saw this video getting a lot of attention on Twitter this morning, and decided to watch it straight away. Good decision me.

I thought this was worth a blog post rather than the standard Twitter RT as it is an articulate and well-constructed rant about why people do, and should be able to label themselves as “Childfree” (Childless by choice).

If you can’t be assed watching the full 10 minutes, at least watch the first minute. Cristina Rad starts off talking about atheism (I think connected a previous video I have not seen) but quickly goes on to make interesting comparisons to other “free” choices (such as smoke-free, drug-free) and societies reaction to those.

The latter 9 minutes of the video is well worth sticking around for, whether you are Childfree or not. The Childfree will be nodding their heads in agreement, and hopefully people who have not made the same distinction in their lives will see the clear logic she lays out against some of the common ‘arguments’ Childfree people come across (otherwise known as Breeder Bingo).

I enjoyed it and will certainly be watching some of her other videos in the hope of experiencing the same witty and logical ranty banter. So check it out. I hope you enjoyed what turned out to be a mini review blog from me, and I am sure you will also have some thoughts about Cristina’s video (feel free to post in comments).

I know Mother’s day was last weekend but…

Just found some gems on one of my favourite sites PostSecret. Mother’s Day theme with a childfree twist so I just had to share. Enjoy.

PostSecret postcard "I DO NOT WANT CHILDREN. This does not make me any less of a woman nor does it make me any less of a good person."

PostSecret postcard. "I used to shave my pubes in my 20s because I thought it was HOT. In my 40s I shave them becuse of urinary incontinence since having my kids."

PostSecret postcard "I hate having teaparties with my daughter and her stupid dolls"

#13 babies are time-devouring beasties

Time-devouring beastie baby

Beware the time-devouring beastie baby! (City Square baby by vnysia, on Flickr)

It’s been 7 months and 21 days since my last post, not that I think anyone was playing close attention, so before the rumours fly I thought it would be good to get childfree ranting again.

The subject of this post ties in nicely to my excuses for having not blogged in so long. It also links in really well with why I need to apologise for neglecting my friends over this time and anyone who may have tried to contact me in this period with the expectation of a response.

In short – I have been really frickin’ busy! This year was the final year of my never-ending undergrad degree. I wanted to finish this year (NEEDED to finish this year) to recover my sanity, and to make that happen I have been studying non-stop (in addition to full-time work) so that I could enter 2012 ready to graduate.

I am not one of those Type-A personalities who can live on 4 hours sleep fuelled by their own perky-ness who seem to be able fill their day with achievement and activity and leave the rest of us feeling useless for just being alive. At least I haven’t been that way since my early 20’s. I can only fit so many things into my day and into my brain before it gets very full and at risk of exploding. This is because now I have a more demanding job (just started a new one in March), I have a husband to spend time with, a rabbit to care for (blog post on that coming), friends (one or two) to hang out with, books I want to read and up until very recently I had study to do, a lot of study (and procrastination).

I do not (repeat. do. not.) have time to be storage for a baby, let alone care for it. I certainly did not have time last month when I was tearing my hair out completing group assignments, studying for exams as well as writing business cases and presentations (you know, doing what I am employed to do). I still don’t have time now, hell – I just got my life back!

Full credit to those of you who can do it. I have friends who do it and I have the up-most respect for them. Not me though. I don’t have time for nausea, doctors appointments and limited mobility (for starters) – getting sick through illness is hard enough. I really don’t have time to push one out, breast feed, change nappies and clean it. And I really don’t have the next 18 years (or let’s be realistic, in some cases the next 35+ years) to clothe, feed and provide emotional and financial support to another human being. I just got a rabbit for crying-out-loud and that is work enough!

But I hear you say “you will make time”, “you will re-prioritise”, “once you see it’s squishy little face you will love it and wonder what you ever did before it came along”. I don’t want to make time, I like my priorities the way they are, and  I don’t want to see the squishy little face (that’s what nieces and nephews are for). I like the things I do with my time right now and for the foreseeable future would like the luxury of having the time to continue doing them without a little person coming in and taking it all.

So I apologise profusely for not blogging in so long. Now I have finished Uni and can graduate in March I have time (guilt-free time) to get writing again.

I apologise to my friends who I have neglected for not calling or coming to your parties or just catching up for coffee. I am slowly getting around to seeing you all.

I also apologise to the person who sent me a really long email a few months back which I left sitting in my inbox for ages with the intention of reading when I had time, and then accidentally deleted before responding. I feel like an asshole, and if this is you please email me again if you are so inclined… I have time now.

Finally, I apologise to my Dad. Who really wants a grand-baby and was relying on me (being the eldest child and married) to make this grand-baby for him. Sorry Dad but reason for me not to breed number 13# is babies are time-devouring little beasties… so I will not be having one.

Aside
I am a big fan of Post Secret, so was really pleased to come across this gem to share with you all…
Kid Free

Post Secret - Kid Free http://www.postsecret.com/

tips for childfree air travel

Pilotwings Resort Celebration!

Flying solo is not an option for most childfree travelers (Image by gingerbeardman via Flickr)

It’s that time of year, holiday time. Whether or not you actually get a holiday the one of the things you will notice if you step outside into the world is that there are children. There are children everywhere. Small ones, big ones, some with parents, some without, because it is their holidays too and unless you are a parent this can come as a very rude shock.

In most public spaces the exits are not only clearly marked but you can make use of them at any time you see fit (I do see leaving as a last resort, but it is always a viable option). There is one circumstance which I have frequently experienced where exits are clearly marked, but you can’t just leave whenever you choose, you know what I’m talking about, it is the airplane.

Childfree flights have been topical for a while now and unless Ryanair makes good on their April Fools Day promise they only way to get a childfree flight is probably by chartering a flight or flying your own plane. Personally I enjoy flying and do everything in my power to optimise the experience and I have some tips to share with childfree travellers on how to get the most out of a flight where there are children on board.

- Ear plugs: For unrelated reasons I always have ear plugs on hand, I can even recommend my favourite brand (Cabot Safety Corporations Classic Platinum). It’s not rude to plug your ears, it makes sense especially if you want to catch up on sleep.

- Noise cancelling headphones: This is not something I have yet acquired. When I get some I will go for a hardcore Bose pair (cannot justify the expenditure at the moment, they aren’t cheap). However if you like your tunes and hate the noise there are a number of great brands with various degrees of noise cancelling ability, they aren’t all expensive and good ones will come with the airplane adapter plug.

- Headphones: If you can’t get awesome noise cancelling headphones then make sure you at least have a normal pair, even if it is the one provided by the airline.

- Electronic entertainment: I never rely solely on in-flight entertainment. Whether it’s an mp3 player, dvd player, net book, iPad, Laptop, Nintendo DS, anything that you can plug headphones into will do the trick. If you control the entertainment you can always be blocking out the external noise. It also means you are covered in case of in-flight entertainment failure. The key times that you are going to need electronic entertainment are ascent, decent and turbulence when babies tend to get ear pain and kids in general can play up.

- Pick your seat carefully: Most airlines at some point give you the opportunity to choose your seat. I recommend picking a window seat. You may be trapped however you wont get disturbed by a  parent wanting to get up and change, nurse or entertain a baby. If you are traveling with someone else, pick a set of seats that will fill your row if possible, i.e. if there are two of you and there is a row with two seats, grab it as there will be no one right next to you.

- Caffeine: Not for everyone I know, but whether it is a strong coffee before you get on the flight or a cup of tea during service caffiene can really take the edge of and make you less susceptible to being annoyed by children

- Alcohol: Again, not for everyone but can really take the edge off if there is a teething baby in the seat behind you.

- Sleeping tablets: It may appear that I am condoning drug use… okay maybe I am. If you have trouble sleeping, and are on a long flight, and need to catch up on sleep anyway under your doctors direction this may be an option.

- Fly Business or First Class: Can’t say I have done either as much as I would like to but if you have the dollars or the option go for it. Better service makes for a happier flight and because of the cost the odds are good for no children behind the curtain.

-Move seats: If you flight is not fully booked and you find yourself jammed in with a stressed looking parent and a handful of kids, move seats. You will be further away from the source of the noise and will find that the parent will be grateful for some extra breathing room.

- Car Keys: Many of you will cringe at this one. It may even generate a few comments but I got through a flight when there was a 18 month old on the lap of the lady next to me by jangling my car keys. If you don’t like kids don’t do it. If you don’t want to talk to people don’t do it. However if you are in the mood and adverse to crying kids this is a great trick.

-General comfort: The more comfortable you are the less you will notice annoyances on your flight, to a certain extent anyway.

- Understanding: I like to think that most parents have good intentions and don’t really want to make your flight hell. Unless the child is massively out of control I think its nice to have a little bit of understanding (hence my car keys tip) and there is no reason to get aggravated.  If you know any parents or happen to be one then kidspot.com.au have some great tips for how to travel well with children.

A note for smokers: I fully encourage you to quit smoking, no question there. Having said that if you have recently quit and about to take a flight longer than an hour get some patches or gum to help you on the flight.

I hope that your travels are trouble free and that if you are childfree you can use my tips to make your flight more enjoyable. If you have any tips you would like to add feel free to do in comments below.

she’s getting clucky

Hen with chickens in native breeding

Cluck, cluck, cluck..... (Image via Wikipedia)

As a childfree woman I am surely not alone in saying that the words “she’s getting clucky” send to grate like nails down a blackboard. For me it’s right up there with “she must be getting her period”.

I don’t like it when I’m having a bad morning and people assume I am menstruating. I take offence to the assumption that if I am feeling nauseous before midday I might be pregnant (it is much more likely I am hung-over). It is utterly frustrating to not be able to hold my nephews or admire a friends new baby without being accused of being “clucky”.

What is it about people that they need to attach a deeper meaning to the mundane? More than that, why is it that people  feel completely comfortable leaping to a deeply personal conclusions rather than: a) a more simple conclusion or b) simply not saying anything and minding their own freaking business?

Why couldn’t the answer be that I was simply having a bad day, or was un-caffienated? Why can’t nausea in the morning be a symptom of a food-borne illness (statistically much more likely)? Why could I not admire my new friends baby because I am proud and happy for them?

I have been astounded over the years by the absolute gall of people who feel comfortable making commentary about something as personal as the desire or ability to have a child. Years ago an older male co-worker made a comment about me being next in line when several colleagues consecutively became pregnant. It was hardly appropriate conversational material for two co-workers (we were not friends). For all he knew I could be incapable of having children, or in the process of trying, or more correctly not wanting to have children and not wanting to discuss it with him. Even more than that one of our colleagues was in a position where she could not have children, and had to endure being audience to his thoughtless comments.

As I did with that particular co-worker I have made my thoughts and intentions painfully clear to those around me. As I have done this the incidence of off-hand comments such as these have decreased significantly. If I hear these things now it is usually someone stirring me up with full knowledge of what the response is going to be. I don’t know if that makes it more or less acceptable.

One of the big things that consistently bothers me about the assumptions, generalisations and societal pressures associated with what constitutes a full life. That I couldn’t possibly feel fulfilled as a woman if I don’t want to have children. That I must ache or yearn or pine for children and eventually have as many as I can in order to one day look back on my life with satisfaction.

It’s such a small thing when I think about it in comparison to the problems and prejudices that still exist in our “modern” society. It does remind me that we have come a long way that I don’t need to feel like an alien for not wanting to start popping out babies. It also shows that we do still have a little way to go.

For now people will continue to make off-hand and thoughtless comments, I will continue top give rude and sarcastic responses, and life will go on.

#12 i should not get to name things

I joined the twitterverse and began blogging to share my thoughts, ideas, complaints and general rants with others. Often a random tweet from a fellow twit will spark a seed in my mind and @SquigglyRick did so (kind of) recently.

@SquigglyRick “A hint, you shouldn’t want me not to have kids because I’m gay. It should be because I would like to name them after Lion King characters.”  Monday 24 January 17:49

If I had kids I would be one of those people. One of those people who would name their baby after a character… a celebrity, an inanimate object.

Years ago my then fiance (now husband) and I had a conversation about what we would call children if we had them. He wanted to call our hypothetical offspring Wolverine, as in X-Men. I was horrified, I kicked up a stink and talked him down to Logan Wolverine as long as he agreed that I could choose the name of the hypothetical girl child and that name would be Lenore Blossom (after the Roman Dirge comic character and the PowerPuff girl). Yeah I had no right to be against baby Wolverine.

So what are the obvious concerns here? Hypothetically unlikely child may get teased at school. What if they want to be a politician or some sort of professional? Good old Shakespeare says “What’s in a name? that which we call a (Sunday) rose by any other name would smell as sweet”

Simba

Simba... son of @SquigglyRick ? Image via Wikipedia

What is the big problem? Celebrities are calling their kids crazy names all the time. One of my favourite Seinfeld episodes is when George loses his choice baby name to a couple with a new baby. Personally I preferred Soda over Seven. It’s not just different words either, but different spellings and pronunciations, all in the search for individuality or a deeper more personal meaning.

The concern is, that the most interesting thing I can think of to do with a child is name it after my favourite comic/cartoon characters… and clearly my husband is on the same wave length. Beyond that I really lose interest. Not to mention the fact that every pet I have owned I have given a weird name and it has died (so they were mostly fish, but it’s still a worry). Perhaps reason number #12 is a better reason not to have kids than you would first think…. I should not be allowed to name things, especially people.