baby ivf

I can’t remember who exactly said it or when, but I’m sure it’s been said to more than once. I’ve been accused of being ‘sheltered’.

It’s not intended as a compliment obviously. It’s usually said with a bit of snark, or a lot of snark – or sometimes lovingly but patronisingly.

You haven’t been out partying, or had sex, or tried alcohol, or smoked a bit of weed or had someone attempt to sell you weed, or been invited to join a local gang. You weren’t allowed to stay out past midnight age 16. You weren’t allowed to have a boyfriend. Your parents monitored what you watched on television. You weren’t allowed a computer in your room. You weren’t allowed to hang around with certain people. Add on to the list.. View Post

rosaparksnah

Now I don’t advocate it, but watch any Tyler Perry movie and at least once, the “strong black woman” will pop up.

Typically the strong black woman has been through the fire, the flood and the broke black man. And the absent baby daddy. And the son who is a drug dealer who gets shot and gives his life to Jesus at the end of the film as he limps down the aisle while the strong black woman (who on top of her many responsibilities, also leads the church choir), sings her heart out.

You’ll often find this phrase circulating in memes round the internet. Black woman are STRONG. We are the originators of human life. The incubators of resilience. Black men ‘need’ a ‘strong black woman’ to lean on. White men who make videos about how much they love black women make various allusions to their ‘strength’.  This is seen as a positive thing. After everything we’ve been through, the double oppressions of racism and sexism, the constant invalidation and erasure, still like the phoenix, we manage to rise from the (strong) dark ashes.

Can I be honest? I think the ‘strong black woman’ stereotype/archetype is actually emotionally, spiritually and physically dangerous for black woman. View Post

forgive

 

I was chatting to a friend yesterday about forgiveness. We were talking about people who we felt had wronged us and as we both laughed, kissed our teeth and occasionally admitted to still feeling hurt, I thought about the process of forgiveness.

You will never really know how unforgiving you are until someone does something to you that makes you feel morally superior. It’s a lot easier to forgive the things that we could see ourselves doing.

For example, I’m chronically late. As in, I’ve actually googled whether my lateness, general forgetfulness and my complete lack of any sense of geographical direction is a genuine psychiatric condition and not just another one of my many flaws. (I have self diagnosed with a combination of low level dyspraxia and adult ADHD, but my Mum just thinks I’m scatty, despite the fact that dyspraxia and adult ADHD are vastly underdiagnosed.) Needless to say I’m VERY sympathetic to other people who are late, forgetful and easily get lost. Keep me waiting for 30 minutes and I’ll likely be extremely forgiving and warmly accept your apology, if by some freak chance I’m not 30 minutes late myself. View Post

abortion(10)

There’s nothing superficially controversial or disagreeable about the sixth commandment. Thou shalt not kill. Pretty self explanatory, right? And pretty much everyone – Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic, humanist,  or atheist would say that on a day to day basis this commandment not only makes perfect sense, but is easily kept by all of us who haven’t been arrested for manslaughter recently.

It’s never that simple though, is it?

In fact, for a commandment that on the surface would appear to be one of the most unifying across faith or non-faith practices, it’s perhaps the most divisive.

I’ve never really given much thought to whether this is a commandment I keep or not. It’s one that I tend to think I can comfortably tick off my “generally good human being by other human being standards” list, and concentrate on the more tricky ones like not coveting my neighbours stuff.

For some reason , when I thought about this post though, the phrase that came to me was ‘self harm’. Not self harm in the literal physical sense, which is generally precipitated by psychiatric illness and is tremendously distressing both for both those who self harm and their loved ones, but self harm in a a completely different sense. I thought about all the times that I’ve quieted the voice inside of me that knows the right thing to do. The times when God, my conscience, and all the warnings of my those who are maybe a little wiser and older than me sound in my head, but I quickly push them into that dark space that quietly lingers when you’re in the middle of some mess you know you shouldn’t be in the middle of. Because those are the times when little pieces of you die. Those are the times when in some form, you allow that self destructive side of you to win.

And it dawned on me that a simplistic understanding of ‘thou shalt not kill’ only focuses on abortion clinics and serial killers whilst completely missing the point.

I don’t want to think about this commandment only in the negative. I want to ask myself, how do I aid in the Divine willing to affirm life in every human being, including myself?

If I care about aborted fetuses but I am unmoved by police brutality or Syrian refugees, and have no compassion for a single mother on benefits, have I understood this commandment? If I care about Syrian refugees, but I find it easy to destroy someone’s reputation with gossip, have I understood? And if I appear saintly to others but secretly allow habits and behaviours to creep into my life that are destroying me from the inside out, have I understood this commandment?

I so wholeheartedly believe that God wants us to see more than murder in this. That more than the command to not kill (the most accurate translation is actually “thou shalt not commit unlawful murder” – there are far too many grisly bits in the Bible for it to mean anything else), is the command to seek the source of life and love, and then share that with those around us in the way that we live.

“Whoever drinks from the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst again. But the water that I shall give him shall be a well springing up into everlasting life” ~ John 4:14

How are you affirming life today?

gender-roles

I grew up in a household where my Dad is about as feminist as a conservative Christian man can be.

On women’s ordination: “Your Mum would probably make a better pastor than a lot of men I know”.

On stay at home parents : “If someone needs to stay at home, whoever earns the least should stay at home, and if that’s the man, tough luck for him“.

On earning more than a man: ” Never be dependent on someone”.

This was, however, inevitably interrupted with the proclamation “I AM THE HEAD OF THIS HOUSEHOLD!” at various critical moments in my childhood.

Despite that, the overwhelming ideology I grew up with was the idea that although men and women were different and that my faith called for different roles within the family, outside of the home I was destined to be a super-duper CEO/Prime minister/consultant neurosurgeon, large and in charge and no one, certainly no man, could tell me anything.

I still passionately believe that having women at the top of their profession is not only positive, but necessary, and I get more than a little bit excited when I see women, especially black women, running companies, heading businesses and being exceptional in their field.

In a relationship though, I like the man to be in charge.

And it’s not a reluctant acquiescence or a part of my faith that I struggle with. People that suggest that every woman SHOULD stay at home and look after children and that their primary function in life is to incubate and birth offspring? Yes, I find that insulting (especially to women who will never get married) and frankly, silly..But the man being the ‘leader’ in the relationship? Nope, it actually comes as a massive relief.

Being the type of women who is relatively successful in most people’s eyes, and has had the privilege of a good education and hopefully a developing career, I actually welcome having someone make decisions on my behalf sometimes. Of course I want a partnership where there is mutual respect and admiration, but I choose to be in partnerships where the man takes on a leadership role. That’s just me. I simply cannot abide passive men who let me drag them through the whole relationship by the scruff of their skinny fit jeans. Simply put, I need Tyrone to get a spinal cord and some vertebrae to go with it. A spinal cord that I cannot easily crush with my manicured hands.

Now, I’m sure some feminists will see this as a level of Stockholm syndrome. Perhaps I’ve been so indoctrinated into viewing women’s role as being naturally in subjection to men, that I’ve not only accepted it, but begun to like it….and I don’t really care.

In fact, my brief internet browse on this topic didn’t yield much apart from a lot of articles where feminists were in a quandary about whether the fact that they liked men to dominate them in the bedroom made them somewhat un-feminist. Most of them (inevitably) concluded that as long as they had decided that they liked it, it was fine. Obviously I’m biased, but I’m inclined to think that part of the reason some women feel drawn to these sexual behaviours is because we’ve managed to erode so much of what I believe are natural roles within male-female relationships. Men and women are different – yes, biologically different. Their brains are structurally different. We’ve had a tendency to exaggerate these differences and use them to state that women are incapable of certain things, but the solution to this is not to deny that differences exist, the solution is to redress the imbalance.

We’re scared that if we adopt traditional gender roles at home, we won’t be able to switch it off at work, and we won’t be able to fight the continuing battle against unequal pay, sexual harassment in the workplace, and the massive glass ceiling that exists for women.

I’ve become very comfortable in my own gender ethics. I’m perfectly happy being a super-boss in the workplace and having a traditional home life. I don’t find it contradictory or confusing – the office is not my living room.

The problem is that the majority of women want to be romanced, have men open doors, buy them dinner on the first date and all the other things that 13 year old day dreams are made of. If we are striving towards a form of egalitarianism proposed by some branches of feminism that eradicates gender norms, then of all that has to go with it. At the very least those practices can’t be gender specific.

I don’t feel bad about demanding equal pay for equal work while wanting someone to pay for the first or second (Or all?) dates and eventually coming home to scrub his shirt collars. It’s my belief system, it’s my choice.

There’s no need for all this wrist-wringing – just relax and release. You can lean in at work and then come home and lean over the hob if you want to. With no apology.

Ladies, what’s the deal? do you like men being in charge? What do you believe? Men, do you like being the ‘leader’? Or do you  think it’s unfair to burden you with that responsibility?