gender creative.

I was really flabberghasted to read the story about the 4 year old Albertan child being ordered by two judges not to wear so-called girl’s clothes in public. There are clear problems of transmisogyny, of gender stereotyping and misogyny here.  But even if you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about those issues, you’d still wonder, « Hey, what year is this?! And why do grown ass men care so much about how kids dress? »
I for one am stumped.
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When my kid started out at a new daycare, I spoke to his main provider about him being gender creative. I gave examples. I said we made an effort, in our home, not to needlessly qualify with « girl » or « boy » when we mean « child, » because it’s limiting (i.e. « those are big boy scissors! » implies that both male babies and girls shouldn’t be handling the scissors. The sentence is inexact and sends the wrong message.) I said in daycare, that might mean not telling boys and girls to line up in separate lines. I probably didn’t communicate this example very clearly because I was asked if I wanted them to let him choose his line up when they do this or if I wanted them to correct him if he went in the girl’s line. (And I know now that they asked me because other parents have insisted that they « correct » their child when they go to the « wrong » line).
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It made me wonder what would happen if I asked the daycare providers to force my left-handed child to use his right hand instead of his left when they do group crafts or play instruments. Being left handed, much like being gender creative, is a bit of a hassle in this world. Needing different sets of scissors or a differently strung guitar, much like having to have redundant conversations about his sex with complete strangers and well-meaning relatives, is just not that much fun (I dread these conversations, actually. For the record).
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Just the other day, I saw a pair of discounted speciality scissors, the kind that cut in zigzags and I bought them, eager to have good fun with my kid, remembering how much I loved these when I was younger. I totally forgot that it would be near impossible for my child to use them without getting hella frustrated, as they’re totally meant for righties.
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Despite the fact that it’d be easier if all of the children learned to use right handed scissors, I doubt a child care centre would force a left handed child to use his right hand even if the parents asked them to. How long did that shift take, I wonder–between feeling it was a-okay to whack a child using their left hand and teachers refusing to force kids to use their right?
How long will this shift take?
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In the meantime, pray tell, are these yellow trousers, ‘boy’ enough?
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(A big high five and tearful hug to all the adults out there being stellar advocates for kids. It may not always be make or break, but I feel learning at a young age that people can change systems, that some rules shouldn’t be followed, and that some people will have your back when it matters, that is priceless).
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big digs for new digs

And so it began.

 

A day late and right before heavy rain forecasts, but odds are it won’t be wetter and damper than it’s been. And we may just get that moat after all.

I’m grateful the kids are 1 and 4 (instead of say 5 and 8) and can easily be kept out of the moat trenches. Also grateful to start my day off with a heated debate about the differences between ‘un tractopelle et une pelleteuse’ (a backhoe and an excavator).

 

 

In other news, Ursula is much happier since the arrival of Jo Petra. Jo Petra is getting used to this place and appreciates her routine. The hens are fluffy and well. And George, the angus twin who was abandoned by his mama and promptly adopted by Jo Petra, is big and strong (and enjoys hiding in the pig houses left in the pasture). La vie est belle.

 

house work.

 

Tomorrow is the big day. A digger is going to dig a moat all around our house.

Like this.

castle-moat

 

Except we’ve been here before, and we know it’ll look more like this.

 

 

Tile drainage will be installed, and a waterproof membrane will be stuck to the outside wall of the house before being backfilled with sand and rocks.

Our back entrance (the only one we use) will need to be dismantled, and we’ll be living in a mud pit until next summer, probably.

For the sake of before and after shots, here it is, our tired bungalow, complete with cracked foundation and broken bricks.

 

 

It’s the basement before and after shots that will be the most thrilling. Here it is now, a day after heavy rains. (I forgot to take a picture the day of this heavy rain, but imagine a dozen little streams heading towards the middle of a cement floor.) Water seeping in at the walls, pretty much all around. Needless to say, our dehumidifier now works overtime.

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Looking forward to dry floors and if we play our contractor cards right, a toasty basement soon enough.  .

safety work.

 

I just stumbled upon a concept that is helping me make sense of ideas that have been percolating for a long time : safety work.

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When the shooting happened in Orlando, I sat in front of this screen for long evenings trying to find the words. I didn’t find them.

Besides the actual tragedy, what I found so fucking heartbreaking about it all, so hard to carry, was the knowledge that so many people’s energies are used up by safety work. That is, so many people have to use so much of their head space, their time, their energies, and their money to ensure their physical safety. Whether it’s planning a different route or mode of transport because you’re out later than planned, keeping the windows of your car closed despite the heat because you’re sick and tired of old dudes on their motorbikes telling you to smile, or letting go of your partner’s hand when you walk past certain streets because of the threat of violence, this is all safety work.

I just read this piece entitled, « Have you ever wondered how much energy you put into avoid being assaulted? It may shock you. » The author, Fiona Vera-Gray, a Research Fellow in violence against women at Durham University writes,

The public conversation on violence against women tends to focus on sexual assault and domestic abuse. We talk less about the routine intrusions women experience from men in their everyday lives, even though this is the most common form of sexual violence.

My recent research looked at how women navigate interruptions, intrusions, and harassment from unknown men in public. What was most surprising was how all 50 of the women I interviewed significantly underestimated the amount of work they were putting in to avoid intrusions by men in the street, and the impact this had on them.

 

With every story of systemic and structural violence against people of colour, against Indigenous people, LGBTQ, or women, I think of all of the contributions we’re all collectively missing out on because so many brilliant souls are fighting for their safety, are busy calculating what they need to do to remain unscathed. It makes me so angry. All of the missing inventions, the missing novels, the missing legislation, the missing movements. (And all of the missing every day tender moments.)

And it makes me angry at all the banked hours of safety work I’ve put in. Especially because I want to say, « I’m through with it! », but I know I don’t actually want to override my body’s instinct to keep my person safe.

 

A useful concept for thinking through.