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In a sexist world, commenting on gender differences you notice is NOT HELPING

28 July, 2016

There’s something strange in the neighbourhood. It’s a resurgence in the belief that boys and girls are innately different. It has crept into modern parenting lore and it is driving me round the bend.

In the last few months I have had at least 8 different conversations with parents along the lines of “Ooh! You are so lucky to have little girls and not rambunctious boys!” – one of these conversations moments after we’d ducked away from a small tribe of girls covered from head to toe in mud intent on slinging it at everyone around them.

How has this happened? In 2016? With all the science and things?

I wonder if it hitched a ride on the tails of “natural parenting.” Perhaps the commitment to allowing children to bloom into whomever they are and the desire for mamas to be in touch with their own ancient feminine powers got all jumbled up together and out popped “Boys and girls are innately different!”

I’ve heard so many variants on it, many from parents with children of both genders. And it is tricky to have that conversation with a mama who swears she never believed in gender stereotypes until she saw proof in her own children.

When I do address it, it’s all rolled eyes and knowing chuckles. Like I’ve a bee in my bonnet and I am denying something blatantly obvious.

This is what I want to say to all the mamas out there who say this shit.

SOME FACTS:

(Taken from Pink Brain, Blue Brain, a huge book by Lise Eliot but worth the read if you are interested in this stuff. That link hooks you up with a summary.)

  • The actual differences in the brains of boys and girls are minor. MINOR.
  • We treat boys and girls differently the second they are born. YES- EVEN YOU DO THIS. In gender-disguising experiments we describe boys and girls cries differently, and we judge babies crawling abilities differently. (Unconsciously underestimating girls’ physical scope.) We all do. It’s just disturbing residue of a sexist world.
  • Gender stereotypes are intrinsically woven through our entire society. You have not bought up your differently gendered children exactly the same, despite your best efforts. They have picked up from strangers, teachers, books, movies, shops, everywhere, the fact that boys behave a certain way and girls another. Not only this, but there are certain rewards for sticking to that or disincentives for stepping out of it.
  • Throughout childhood the minor differences observed in play grow distinct distinct because of all the things they have picked up.
  • However, this is not always the case. So you still very much have boys and girls not performing according to these norms. (I think unschooled children can be a good example of this.)
  • In places where gendered roles and experiences are not highly valued the differences in adults are MINUTE. I often think of a bit in Ten Years of Slavery where it mentions as an aside how one of the most efficient group of loggers was a group of women. It stuck out for me because we go on and on about the physical differences between male and female, and there you have this female logging team being renowned for their strength and tenacity. (Kind of a sad example, but a good one as there are not too many examples of societies with records where gender hasn’t been a highly prescriptive thing.)In a misogynistic world, observations about children's gender differences are not helpful

So, if you have noticed gender differences in your children, PLEASE KEEP THEM TO YOURSELF. Here’s why:

  • Commenting on gender differences perpetuates gender differences. Every time you say “boys are boisterous and girls aren’t” boys learn to be more boisterous and girls learn it isn’t really a desirable trait. Your words actually add more strength to the little boxes that boys and girls are slowly pushed into.
  • Commenting on gender differences makes the boys and girls who don’t fit those stereotypes feel stink. It makes them feel abnormal and it asks them to squeeze into a shape they are not feeling.
  • Commenting on gender differences from your experience and treating it as fact is not a good way to live. Saying “I was against gender stereotypes until I had one of each and then WOW the differences I observed, you just can’t deny it boys and girls are SO different!!!” is like saying “I ate some custard and it gave me the runs so WOW don’t eat custard if you want solid stools!”
  • Commenting on gender differences sets up our children for exclusionary play. If you are so convinced that boys and girls are innately different then your children will pick up on that and will be far, far more likely to want gendered playdates and experiences and the exclusive, gender based discrimination women have to put up with their whole life is begun prematurely.
  • Some of the most traditional form of gender commentating is actually totally toxic – the “boys will be boys” line of thought could well be contributing to rape culture. More on that.
  • Commenting on gender differences without recognising the misogynistic, sexist, patriarchal society your children are raised within is akin to watching someone put red dye in your washing machine and then, when all your clothes come out red, saying that all fabric is innately red.

Sure, you are allowed to comment on your child being rough and tumble – just don’t bring gender into it. Create room for your child’s boisterousness but don’t, with your hapless words, deny him room for other parts of his personality to develop. Notice how different children are and say “Isn’t each child (as opposed to boys/ girls) so different and unique?!” Celebrate your child’s strength and sense of adventure but recognise it as part of who he is, not a gift of his gender. Do not limit the scope of another child’s play or experience by skewed observations you have made in your home.

Phew! There was my bee! It’s out of my bonnet now…

Activism

A mindful post-Brexit strategy

27 June, 2016

What a few days. I have often felt tearful after an election. I feel like I am always backing the losers. I should be used to this stomach churning powerlessness. But it’s never been this intense. There has always been the distant hope of another chance, in four years time. There’s always been a story of a climate change fighting underdog winning an electorate, to balance out the UKIP success.

I’ve never seen such a blanket of despair settle over my friends. I had to sign out of Facebook as the collective raging misery was not a comfort but a sinkhole.

People are joking about moving out here but the political situation in NZ is also bereft. (NZ is becoming scarily, increasingly right wing, media is 100% owned, there is a gaping lack of coherent criticism of government, and progressives are opting out of the system.) 

How to navigate the post-Brexit world mindfully? What are the important things people who care can do now?


Self-Care

Look after yourself friends; you are precious. You are precious to the world, to your family, and your friends. You are valued and needed and you need to make a space to be kind to yourself. Your emotions have taken a battering. You feel betrayed and disconnected, you feel angry and sad.

Right now, this moment, you need to check yourself into your own well-being spa. People who believe in, and are working towards, a fair, just, kind world need to keep their brave hearts strong and whole. 

  • Spend time with friends. Laugh, dance, try and do harmonies to Green Day. Whatever it is you do together.
  • Write a letter to yourself, validating all the feelings you have. Tell yourself it is okay to feel this sad. Tell yourself it isn’t absurd to feel all this.
  • Drink and eat well. A lack of water actually makes you more meloncholic. Keep hydrated and eat comforting food full of goodness.
  • Rest. Don’t stay up all night reading social media and getting angry, that is not for you.
  • Write a list of the things you love to do and make a plan to do more of them. (I have just begun an unapoligetecally indulgent Endorphin Experiment as the world really needs happier people.)
  • Watch all the Carpool Karaokes you can find. Endorphins etc. James Corden is good for your self care.

Acceptance

The key here is to spend some time thinking about what we can influence and doing it, and thinking about what we can’t influence and accepting it. It sounds awful, to simply accept something so abysmal but it is possible. It is the way it is now. It has happened. You can’t actually change the results. When you feel the fact of that rushing up on you, try and still your mind. Don’t deny that rush of depressed  energy in your heart, just take a moment with it. I have been trying to say “There is only now” as a bit of a mantra to get me back into the now, rather than letting anguish take over.

Accepting the new now leads you on to something really important, as Eckhart Tolle says;

“With the simple act of surrender to the inevitability of the present moment, another energy comes.” 

(Eckhart Tolle is a really, REALLY good one to read, about accepting pain. If you can come to terms with the slightly strange language. I review his book The Power of Now here.)

The “other energy” that comes after acceptance could be all sorts of things. It might look like a perspective change, a tiny, quiet hopefulness, a sense of action, a decision to take a political role, it might be inspiration about how you can use your unique talent to alleviate poverty in your community.

Empathy for Leavers

Not all Leavers are right wing dicks. Some are. But lots are poor. Some wanted change. All were lied to. Some did it because they saw a new financial opportunity for the things they care about – social infrastructure, the NHS. Like I say, all were lied to.

Many were feeling disempowered and marginalised, and now they are discovering they still are. The only thing that could possibly change that at all is empathetic listening, or at the very least trying to see the best intentions of Leavers. Non Violent Communication has a lot to offer here; Leavers would have voted out of a desire to have their basic needs met. It is the ultimate human motivation and almost every action of ours eventually comes back to it. Can you still be angry with someone who voted because they wanted a secure roof over their head for their family?

(Forgive me, Non Violent Communication World, but I still feel perfectly okay about people directing anger towards Bojo.)

(These Ten Gentle Nudges from Craftivist Collective might help you keep your activism kind and empathetic!)

Neighbour Love

Something good can come out of this. We can steel ourselves more than ever for love. Those tiny little everyday things are so, so, so radical. Our weapons in the face of hate peddlers are smiling on the street at strangers, helping families up the stairs at the station with buggies and luggage, taking the bin out for our elderly neighbour, having an actual conversation at the til when we buy our paper from the corner shop, making friends with people who are not like us, inviting people new in the area over for tea, giving someone a seat at the bus stop, giving cans to the food bank. These are not pathetic, lowly actions. They are the antidote to the racist graffiti and anonymous shouted slurs and odious, divisive politics.

Hope Not Hate

Shivers, Hope Not Hate’s Campaign “Still Believe in Each Other” is a bit of a beacon right now.

Nick of Hope Not Hate says “One thing is sure. We cannot allow the toxic Referendum debate to spill over into local communities. Speaking to those from eastern and central Europe, and indeed other immigrants, over recent days it is clear that many are worried. They are uncertain about their future and concerned about a racist backlash”

Join Still Believe here.A post-Brexit strategy 

(Thanks to the Craftivist- Collective for the creative responses to our political dystopia.)

I keep selling up thinking about Jo Cox and this post-Brexit world. What would she want? She would want us believing we have more in common than ever before.

Raising a Hopeful, Justice Loving Generation

This is a long game. I’m not offering party political advice. But I do believe in everyday politics and I do believe that raising children respectfully and kindly is a political decision. The long game is about raising generations of children who will be inclusive, because they were not marginialised as kids, who will advocate for the voiceless, because they had their voice heard when they were small, who will love radically, because they experienced unconditional love in the home, who will value the dispossessed, the marginalised, the powerless, because they were once empowered by those who held more power.

Parenting = world change

Some stuff here on Empathetic parenting and how to raise a (world changing) rebel. I discuss prejudice against children in this post on adultism and you can check out all my posts on parenting this progressive way here.

~

We’ve been spending a bit of time lately with a hardcore activist, one with a wise, kind soul; he has been fighting mining for several decades and has been through the wringer. It has been inspiring talking with him about how to deal with the weariness and desparation felt when you feel powerless in the face of f*ckwittery politics. Something he said stayed with me, about how if you can remain composed whilst in the very depths, something beautiful can make an appearance.

“Composure in the depths ushers in a composition”

We don’t know what it sounds like yet but one day we will hear the melody and recognise where it came from.

Love and solidarity to you.

xx

Activism

Arrested

24 May, 2016

Yeeesh. So many thoughts in my head. How can I get them all down? Should I get them down? I’m appearing in court on two charges tomorrow, will they say “we saw on your “blog” that you made a gag about prison food so for that you can go down for LIFE”

A huge part of me is even reluctant to write about it. When my cousin saw someone had tagged me on Facebook saying “Lucy’s been arrested!!!” she typed something like “Can’t wait to hear about it on the blog!” and I recoiled a bit inside. Honestly, I would rather just be all noble and cool about it, not even really mention it, y’know, like man I’m always getting popped by the fuzz.

But, it’s not about me, is it? It’s about a mountain. And a morally bankrupt government. And a mining company that can’t see that exploitative industries belong to the past. And it’s about a beautiful, strong group of people who believe in a future where humankind and the earth live in harmony.Anti mining protesters occupy rig on mountain

What happened?

Two weeks ago our friends spotted a drilling rig up on the beautiful Mount Karangahake, a place so precious it has been given special protection by the government. We live right at the foot of this mountain- a mountain that made some people alot of money from the gold in its guts a long, long time ago. So the gold mining companies are always sniffing around. (I give a lot of context, and show off my little cross stich protest here in this post.) We made some calls, took a hike and confirmed that yes, it was a drilling rig, it was Newcrest Mining Ltd, prospecting for gold 100 metres away from conservation land.

We organised a bunch of trips up there. It is powerful, walking 2.5 hours through the forest to a protest at a drilling rig. You get the space to consider, how much does this rig matter? How far am I willing to go?

How much does it matter?

The rig is on a narrow bit of land that makes up a really important ecological corridor, connected Mount Karangahake to the rest of the Kamai Ranges. This drilling rig, although on private property, is more then welcome to dig down, change direction and then go right into the mountain itself.

Ecologically, this rig matters alot.Anti mining protesters occupy rig on mountain

The big picture too is that our government has actually sold the full mining rights for Mount Karangahake to another gold mining company – and this company is just awaiting official approval for their traffic management plan for their drilling this conservation land. Not kidding.

It belays the disturbing tendency of this government to chose business over sustainability. (I’d say “profit” but the fact is that very little comes into NZ by way of these industries- profit is exported and most jobs, apart from the most temporary and low paid, are given to experts from overseas.) It is about this government saying one thing and doing another. it is about this government acting utterly undemocratically.

So on a political level, this whole drilling around Karangahake matters alot.

Since the drilling began two weeks ago we’ve been hearing it night and day, feeling its vibrations. The day the drilling began all the ruru (little native owls, often called morepork) stopped singing and began to screech. They screeched for a few days, and then they went silent. We used to lie in bed listening to the sound of the ruru calling to each other. We haven’t heard their song since the day the drilling began.

We moved to this place so we would be surrounded by conservation land, so we could be amongst the beautiful native birds and wildlife. And gold mining, despite their talk of rehabilitation, has a devastating impact on the natural environment.

So, you know what? On a personal level, it matters alot.Anti mining protesters occupy rig on mountain

It matters enough to join with a crowd of bravehearts and sit it out in the wind and the hail and see them all trespassed and moved off the mountain. It matters enough to stay, when the police ask me to come down.

So on Sunday 25 people headed up the mountain together. We took wool and yarnbombed the rig. We sang and huddled against the wind. We took samples of the sludge dripping down the bank so we could test to see if they were leaking toxins into the earth. When the hail began some made their way down the mountain. Others stepped inside the rig and we awaited the police together. The police arrived. The drilling had been stopped for three hours. After being issued trespass notices, and court summons, the group had to leave the mountain.

I was still on top of the rig and felt so strongly that I didn’t want to move. I wanted to stay and bear witness to the hopelessness of destroying something so precious, something given to us to preserve.

The cops told me to come down, I refused and then my phone rang and it was NewstalkZB wanting a live interview for radio, so I tried to make as much sense as I could about the ecological corridor as the police officers climbed up the rig and began to hustle me down. One of them grabbed my phone and said Thank you for your call before he put it in his pocket. Good manners right there.

I was pretty emotional. I wanted to stay. I wanted to stick by the mountain, just for one more minute. They were some of the most intense, vulnerable, determined minutes of my life.

The drill workers were laughing and yelling and taking videos of my undignified descent so I sat down stubbornly in the mud.

Alas, police officers have their way of getting you into their car. (After pulling me off the rig the Police Officers, like so many of that trade, were awesome. They were kind and did their job well, they even seemed, dare I say it, supportive.)

We went to the police station for finger prints and a mugshot. It’s not really a process meant to make you feel human.

Tomorrow I’m in court for wilful trespass and resisting arrest.

I don’t want a clap. (Just chocolate in the post please)

Some of my heros are those who have embraced civil disobedience in the name of environmental and social justice. (I admire lots of non felons too)

Now I wonder if perhaps most people would be willing to risk arrest if they felt two things come together – anger or concern about something and a belief that you could bring change with a certain action.

What a great joy though! You don’t have to get arrested! You can simply head here and check out the Facebook page, share a few links and sign our petition:

Protect Karangahake on Facebook

Sign the petition to help protect the Karangahake Gorge from mining

So yeah. Arrested, hey? There’s a first time for everything…

Activism

This Update Is Very Important 

17 May, 2016

This time last week I was up the mountain with Tim and the girls and some other earth lovers, stopping a drilling rig prospecting for gold on the edge of Conservation land. I wrote about them trying to mine the mountain a couple of weeks ago, and a few days after that some friends spotted the rig high on a ridge over the river from us. (There is a time for writing and a time for civil disobedience.)
It’s a five hour return trip, so it’s a leg aching protest but there is something powerful in walking through the forest we are trying to protect. By the time you arrive at the rig you feel like the mountain is urging you on, strengthening your bones to stop the mining, whatever it takes. 

  
(Protect Karangahake is on Facebook if you want more info on those efforts) 

Right now I’m writing from a bus on the wild West coast of NZ. Our cups are all full to the brim after four days at the Autumn Unschooling Camp and we are having a bit of a holiday – it’s felt flat out for months now. 
We are parked up in a village with a few other families on the road in buses, unschooling with their kids. Lots of different ways of doing life, hey? Don’t believe any one who tells you contentment is only found in jobs and a mortgage… (Brick walls – so overrated hehe.)

We’ve still got a few basic amenities missing at our place, heating, hot water etc but we’re working on it. We do have a grand deck so at least we have an island floating on the mud that surrounds us. April has been a forgiving month of weather after rain-every-day March. We’ve had sun and warmth and we’ve felt so so so happy in our palatial tent at the foot of the mountain. The family we share the land with have fully moved in now and we are loving it, making plans for the farm and having a lot of fun together (although this fun pales in comparison to the fun our kids have as they spend hours on mud missions/ hanging upside down as Vampire Bats in their collective imagination…)

Do any of you get The Green Parent magazine? I’m stoked to tell you that I have a new column in there – each season I will be telling some stories about our off the grid lives here. I’ve always loved The Green Parent, in fact I did my apprenticeship in Attachment Parenting in the online GP discussion forums (or so it seems- I asked those good folks about three questions a day when I first became a mama) and it feels like a real *stars align* thing to be a part of that team. 

For a few days now I’ve had a chant (or something) floating around in my mind. I think it was spurred by a Momastry post- about how every day as you go about your life people will be calling “this is important!” “THIS is important” “look! This is important!” And you need to put your hand over your heart and say “no, THIS is important”… 
I thought it was totally lovely but a little bit of me did go “Oh, yikes, I am one of those people saying HEY LOOK IMPORTANT THING HERE!” All my life I’ve been one of those people.

But, thinking on it, we don’t need LESS people saying “This is important!” because there are lots of important things and all those people pointing out the important things are simply inviting others to join them in stuff that will often bring joy, peace, the privilege of knowledge/ changing someone’s life/ restoring dignity/ protecting the earth – all good things. 

What we need is MORE people putting their hand over their heart and following the lead in there. 

So the saying that has been tripping over my mind and laying itself down, draping itself over all the small actions of my day has been:

Pay attention and your heart will show you what is important. 

I’m so often away with the fairies, in one place with my head and another with my hands. Thinking about last year, next weekend, what I felt when this happened that time when I was 19 and how much stock I have left for tonight’s soup. 

More and more I’m trying to be faithful to each moment as it happens, to really be there in each now, to pay attention with my whole body and mind. I reckon that if I make a habit of this,  when it comes to making decisions about how much energy to give to each important thing, the way will be clear. When I am figuring out how many times to climb the mountain to stop the drilling, and exactly how much mischief to cause while up there, I will just know

So yay, for important things (mundane important things and adrenalin spiking important things) and hearts that can so clearly urge us into the right way.

Back soon with another Really Important Thing!

Activism

Mining and Me

3 May, 2016

My Nana’s dad, Grandad Tom, was a miner in Maesteg, in the Valleys, Wales. My Grandma’s dad a miner in Mexborough, Up North, as we say, in a funny Northern accent. I can mimic a Yorkshire accent without mocking because I had one so broad that when I was seven and moved to London I had to change schools within two weeks because my teacher couldn’t understand the long, cheerful vowels of my Yorkshirish.

My mum grew up in the Valleys, along the road from the mine Grandad Tom tunnelled into. But her dad, my bottomlessly jolly Grandad Derrick, wasn’t a miner but a minister to the miners, a chaplain. My mum’s family lived and worked in the village below Aberfan at the time of the huge slip that poured slurry into the school, unspeakable tragedy.

My mum and Aunty and Uncle went to another school, but the sorrow soaked into their lives, seeped through the Valleys. My Grandad stayed up for three days and three nights, laying out the bodies in the church hall. 116 children and 28 adults.

My parents became ministers and years after Aberfan, found themselves embedded in the mining communities closer to my other Great, Great Grandad. My sister and I were toddlers during the Miner’s Strikes, our nursery rhymes were chants about putting Maggie Thatcher in the bin.

So it is that for much of my life, the word “miner” has felt like mine; part of my heritage, my family, the people I stand with. And yet, this week, when I took my daughters for a foraging walk in town (we’d heard there were whole hedges of enormous, juicy feijoas and great trees scattering walnuts) my youngest clung to my legs and wouldn’t walk. She was afraid. “The miners are gonna grab me, take me away.” The walk was around the rim of Waihi’s Martha Mine, the fruit trees are those left over from the backyards of the houses demolished as a small mountain was scooped away into a huge gaping hole.

“Miner’s aren’t bad people, my love. They can be nice! Like my two great, great Grandads and my old next door neighbours. The companies they work for tend to not be very nice…”

It’s a subtlety lost. The anti-mining protests and the slogan-writing sessions we’ve been involved with have left their mark. In trying to help my family understand why I cared so much, I’d once described mining as modern day privateering, pillaging for gold. My daughters were left with sense that miners had hooks and fiercesome facial hair. And that they wanted to kidnap young children whilst they were busy licking feijoa from their fingers.

You see, we live now in New Zealand, at the base of a mountain, Mount Karangahake, the northern peak of a blanket of mountains, the brood of ancient volcanic release.
on land- Anti Mining New Zealand

When you climb it, 5 hours there and back from our gate, Tim and I did it to celebrate ten years of marriage, you have to stick to the path in case you fall down a mining shaft. The whole thing is like honeycomb, riddled with tunnels from which some made a fortune back in the 1880s.

This holey mountain is not mine in the way that it is anothers, a more indigenous people’s. But I belong to it as I belong to every part of the earth. Something of its dirt is in my bones, these days it is stirring from a lifelong dormancy.

At one recent protest to protect Mount Karangahake from the fate of Mount Waihihi a representative of the local Iwi spoke of how his ancestors would be down at the river, the Ohinemuri, swimming, washing and fishing, and a bell would ring and they’d all climb out. With a huge gush the miners would empty their tunnels into the river and the water would turn black with mercury and cyanide and they’d wait until it seemed clear enough before carrying on with the day to day tasks their village had been going about for a thousand years.

(Even today, one of our neighbours tells us that one of the ponds up there can’t be fished because the water is still so toxic.)

He spoke with anger that a mountain so honoured, and these days so officially part of conservation land, has been handed over again to goldspinners. He reminded us that the Martha Mine was also once a sacred mount, source of life for Maori. And now it is a gash that makes your jaw drop when you view it on Google Maps.

(A government website describes Waihi in 1884, just before the first mine was established as “a bare knoll with a nearby hotel.” The government, since forever, forsaking the truth of a place.)

Tim’s great, great, great, great Grandad and his brother  were some of the first to discover gold in these hills. Sons of Mere Tipona, Maori boys in Victorian waistcoats, reaping in colonial ways.

But perhaps it wasn’t such brazen desecration back then. Or perhaps it is simply that the ends justify the means. Loving hearts, destructive hands. Then and now.

I’ve been at an anti-mining strategy meeting where another young Maori man has clenched his fists and spoken of the betrayal of elite Maori who gave permission to the government to sell the mountain’s innards all over again.

It is hard to believe there can be anything left, but we’ve seen the massive graceless drilling machines that they’ve just rolled up the Gorge and we’ve read the District Council’s approval for the mining company’s traffic management plan. They mean business.

Of course there are Maori for the mining. For Maori, it is people that trump all else, and they’ve been hammered with the vision of more jobs – if mining means their people can make ends meet than of course they must welcome it.

And then there are Maori who see that no one can thrive when the land under your feet is being torn apart. The local iwi vow to stand by the mountain.

The whole town is divided down these lines.

One half hoping beyond hope that the sink holes in the netball courts, the cracks in the pavement, the noon explosions, the collapsed houses, the open sore, the weekly evacuation siren tests, that it will be worth it for their families, in the long run. That they will get a taste of the wealth. This in a region where joblessness hovers as tangibly as the North Winds it is named for, where literally as I type here in the library a couple next to me discuss the redundancy package the supermarket has just offered them.

The other half believing that, even in this landscape, they can protect what has been entrusted to them.

As I stood on the rim of the Martha Mine, one tiny daughter still clutching my skirt to her face, fear set in her bones, the other daughter biting the tops off the feijoas and sucking out the middle, I felt myself a kind of leaden terror.

At 5am that morning, seven hours before, there had been a slip – two million tonnes of rock roared down the northern side of the open pit. Chunks as big as houses, obliterating the pathways carved into the sides, upon which we’ve previously watched small trucks glide along. Anti Mining New Zealand

A laminated sign had been pinned to the fence “this slip was not unexpected” – their monitoring supposed to assuage a sense of wrongness.

The week it becomes clear that mining in the area will continue with fervour, that drills will burrow unabashedly into one of New Zealand’ most important ecological corridors, the earth heaves and a quarter of the local pit collapses.

Maori folklore depicts the mountains here as warriors, fighting for kingdoms and creating rivers from their restlessness.

That morning a warrior, body broken, spits in anger.

The spill can’t go far, only back into its wrathful, dying mouth.

We climbed into the car, drove back to Mount Karangahake, a few miles along the Ohinemuri, the girls with a small pile of feijoas on their laps.

No walnuts though. They were black on the outside and black on the inside. When you squeezed them between the heels of your palms they exploded into a cloud of black dust.

I am thankful to the Craftivist Collective for providing a way to take action on an issue that can be done in the slowness of my life, that can sit amongst the song of the trees. This cross stitch is on the path up the mountain and I hope it makes people wonder – could they possibly be gold mining this conservation land?

Please help us protect an ecological important and beautiful New Zealand most mountain by signing the petition.

Anti Mining Craftivism New Zealand

Craftivism on Mt Karangahake

References:
Local Iwi vow to fight for mount Karangahake
Sinkhole in the netball courts

Feminism

International Women’s Day 2016 Blog Link Up

7 March, 2016

It is International Women’s Day today And this is the main page for the International Women’s Day Blog Link UP! Scroll down for to read the awesome collection of blogs.

My parents are over from England at the moment so we have fetched up at a beach for a few days, leaving my husband at home to get on with sorting stuff out. (Basics like, er, hot water…)

On the way up we stopped in at the library to pick up some reads and my eyes glanced the title “Women can’t park, men can’t pack” and my chest spluttered with a sort of ironic/mad laugh. Seconds earlier, just before popping into the library, I had spotted my rucksack in the boot, and sub consciously registered that my husband had repacked it. (There shouldn’t really be a “re” in there because what I had done was grab all our stuff and then shoved fistfuls of it into deep dark corners of the bag, and then realized it wasn’t going to fit in enough to do the zip up, so instead I had just pushed it up against the car window and piled other holiday flotsam around it to stop our clothes spilling out.) And there it was now, my ruck sack, all zipped up, our stuff all sorted.

He packs like a boss. And does dishes like a boss. And laundry too. He is a domestic goddess.

I, on the other hand, am the actual opposite of a domestic goddess… which, I guess, ah, makes me a domestic devil.

Or perhaps mortal. Perhaps we can go with domestic mortal.

(Although Domestic Tasmanian Devil is probably the thing that sums me up best… five minutes before people come, rampaging around the house throwing things behind sofas and into baskets and pushing toys under the bed and draping beautiful throws over The Piles. Followed around by two even wilder baby Tasmanian devils doing their own Special Thing.)

I may be a domestic Tasmanian devil but I park like a boss. I am renowned in our local town for it. The people on the street, when I’m lining up for a parallel park, often pause as they walk along, just to observe my skill. As I swiftly (but with matchless ease and care) maneuver into a seriously tight spot I hear their murmurs “She’s done it again! Cracking job.”

There are so many ways in which almost all the men and women I know blow gender stereotypes out of the water. But yet people keep on keeping on with their ideas about certain things coming naturally to women or innate in men.

Stereotypes like this are so, SO much to do with keeping women in their place and we need to dismantle them! Even if it involves taking a stupid stereotyping book up to the librarian who is already grumpy with you because you let the overdue fines rack up! (I’m totally doing them a favour right, letting books go overdue and paying them money? Hellooo)

They start when our children are tiny! Just yesterday in the swimming pool a mum of two boys said to my mum who was sitting with my two girls “I’ve told my boys that they have to watch out around your girls, I’ve told them girls aren’t boisterous like boys!!” I overheard my mum saying something back about Ramona and Juno being able to stick up for themselves which was great (and did also make me feel like she was egging them on a bit, verging on  I’ll put a tenner on Juno being able to knock your wee fella out)

If a whole society believes that one gender is brilliant at doing gentle things in the home and another gender is best  at doing all the boisterous “out and about” things then everything will continue to be set up to support that.

Workplaces will continue to not let men cut down their hours so they can share in childcare.
Governments will maintain forty year old parental leave policies.
Homes will continue to have a gendered division of labour.

What a load of crap.

We need to come up with a few succinct phrases we can spill when someone pops up with a stereotype like this.

“Oh ha, yeah ha ha (BEGIN WITH A BENIGN CHUCKLE ALWAYS) actually most scientific evidence suggests the differences between the male and female brains are negligible”

“Hehehehe the thing with stereotypes like that is that they perpetuate the patriarchy and therefore contribute to things like women getting paid less than men in 90% of sectors, rape and even human trafficking”

“Hahaa there’s absolutely no way on earth you have bought your child up gender neutrally and seen innate gender difference emerge! As soon as a child is born they are labeled one or the other and treated as such in every minute of everyday SO DON’T TELL ME IT CAN’T BE DENIED THAT BOYS JUST SIMPLY LOVE WHEELS WHEN MY LITTLE GIRL IS WHEELING A TRUCK AROUND OUR FEET AS WE SPEAK COS IT MAKES ME FEEL LIKE YOU ARE WANTING TO LIMIT MY DAUGHTER AND HER ACCESS TO THINGS AND SHE’S ONLY TWO!!!!”

I totally suck at those information filled yet snappy retorts.

So yeah, there I was in the library, feeling firey, ready to rage, but when I opened it, I saw it actually wasn’t a Venus vs Mars book, but a look at stereotypes and why we are so ready to believe and perpetuate them. Ah. Saved.

I’ll be ready to go the very next time though. Me (also known as Tasmanian Devil Parallel Park Rockstar in some circles) and my two fierce girls.

~

Iwd 2016 blog Link up

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY BLOG LINK UP
Today is International Women’s Day and over 30 awesome writers joined up as part of a blog link up. The theme for International Women’s Day 2016 was Pledge for Parity and there were contributions from so many areas. I began pulling these together by saying “this brilliant post” and “this fascinating” but I discovered quickly that I would soon get monotonous in my use of adjectives! So please just trust that each one of these contributions is BRILLIANT! Hehe.

I really enjoyed the posts that described influential women, either relatives or well known women. These are always an inspiration to read. There was this powerful story of a mother and daughter, Becky looked at Rosa Parks, Federica described her Grandmother’s life, as did Slummy Single Mummy, Ali garnered opinion on a few heroines, also, some of Baba Fi’s heroines are fictional but STILL INSPIRING okay!

There were quite a few contributions about empowering our children. This epic post from Sacraparental included 38 MUST HAVE phrases for a feminist household, also Rainy Day Mum and Emma and 3 discuss practical ways to raise both boys and girls in an empowered way, the way that IWD is experienced differently as a mama to a little girl compared to a little boy, and you’ll definitely appreciate the post Parity, Penises and Parenting!

There were some great ones on steretypes, Lorna, mum to three girls here, and Madeline on raising a boy that doesn’t fit society’s expectations, and the challenge of gender neutral clothing.

There were fascinating insights on some of the global issues facing womankind – maternal health and the way that poverty is sexist, the nuances of the gennder pay gap in NZ, a showcase of some awesome woman-empowering clothing.

I loved this scathing look at the visual expectations of women, which also reminded me of Lissa’s poem about needing to simply just be US.

We followed one woman through IWD as it happened, a look at how quickly the “Crazy Lady Card” is pulled out, and got some insight into the sexism throughout the STEM industry.

And some of my faves were on the topic of parity beginning at home- Owl and the Accordian, Seeds and Stitches, Mel Wiggins, and Jenny from the Block. Along these lines too was a really intriguing look at an exhibition of the lists we make!

THANK YOU so much to all those of you who joined in.