Lice – that loathsome insect that mentioning turns everyone into hysterical head scratchers. Just typing the word makes me want to shave my head. Whilst scratching and googling illegal pesticides. Just in case.
I can’t adequately express how much I loathe lice – the hours of my life I have wasted combing through my children’s hair in a desperate attempt to find that one last louse who is on a mission to repopulate the universe (or just my kid’s head).
I have done all the treatments: vinegar (made the kids scream and me hungry), gin (made the neighbours look askance), olive oil (went every where), and the full range of “essential” oils from tea tree to peppermint. Mostly, they made the kids smell like they’d been lost in a bubble gum factory. I’ve wandered around muttering: lice don’t care if your kid’s hair is clean or dirty. I’ve tried every lotion and spray. I have memorised the NHS advice on how to treat lice and bought every type of comb going including one that supposedly killed lice with an electric shock. I’ve done it all and the only thing that works is spending hours combing through wet hair.
I celebrated the Christmas holidays by chopping off all of my children’s hair. I became that mother – the one who lost the plot. The thought of spending hours combing my children’s hair in a desperate attempt to find that one super-fertile, camouflaged louse was too much. I actually hacked off my daughter’s ponytail rendering her once waist-length hair into a bob around her shoulders.
It was Christmas and everyone was scratching. I couldn’t bear the thought of getting out the nitty-gritty comb. Again. Now, we’re all sporting short hair (some of us with less grace than others and some of us with straighter edges than others).
Most children get lice at some point in their lives, but it doesn’t matter how many times I read those official NHS guidelines about how, I still feel embarrassed when my kids catch them. There is a shame involved in being the mother whose children have lice. And, this is why lice are a feminist issue. It doesn’t matter how often you hear about equal parenting, it’s always mothers who end up responsible for lice.
It is mothers who are responsible for spending hours every week combing their children’s hair. It is mothers who are responsible for taking their kids to the hairdressers with the inevitable embarrassment of being sent packing when one louse pops out from behind the kid’s ear to wave hello. (And, why is it normally impossible to see them on your kids head but they turn a shade of glow-in-the-dark lime green with a penchant for the Macarena when in proximity of a hairdresser?)
Lice are a mother’s shame: if only they were a better mother; a more observant mother; one with hours of free time to comb through their child’s hair (assuming the child would sit still through this process happy as a lark).
Lice are just another form of wifework – one which women are shamed for performing and are then shamed for missing. Combing hair for lice is time-consuming and excruciating for both mother and child. It is also used as a way of shaming poor mothers. You see, white middle class children only get lice from one of “those kids”. These children are always the victims of lice infestation and never responsible for sharing the blighters with other children. Instead, we sit in judgment of bad mothers who don’t own a microscope they can jam their kid’s head.
I have yet to meet a father who spends his evenings combing through his kid’s hair. Or, a father sent home from the hairdresser in disgrace. It is not father’s desperately trying to pretend they didn’t see the louse which just plunked an “I am here” flag in the middle of their kid’s head.
Lice are a feminist issue because it is mother’s who are blamed for an infestation that is a pretty normal part of a kid’s life: like chicken pox, skinned knees and nose-picking.
The next time you see a child with lice-infested hair spare a thought for the mother spending her precious time and money desperately trying to eradicate the lice. Don’t judge. Just give a quick thanks that this time it’s not you. Because lice are definitely one of the worst bits of mothering and mothering is always a feminist issue.
Currently the Office for National Statistics cap the number of crimes that one person can report at five. The Office insist the cap is necessary as
As research by Professor Sylvia Walby evidences, there is only one crime that would be impacted by lifting the cap: domestic violence. Lifting the cap would make the ubiquity of domestic violence and the consistent failure of successive governments and police forces to deal with the issue clear. It would have long-term consequences on financing of policing, housing, and healthcare and would make women’s secondary status in political life obvious. The cap disproportionately impacts women who experience the vast majority of domestic violence and erases the sex of the perpetrator: who are overwhelmingly male. The decision to create a cap was not to make it easier for statisticians, but a clear policy of eliding the reality of all forms of violence against women and girls from public awareness.
The cap also functions to inflate the number of men who experience domestic violence making the 1 in 6 men statistic a misnomer. It also includes incidences of retaliatory violence, aka self-defence, where a woman lashes out at the male partner who is physically harming her causing injury to his person, such as a woman scratching a man whilst he attempts to strangle her. The victim, therefore, becomes a perpetrator of domestic violence. In this case, the man’s one experience (caused by a woman defending herself which should not included in statistics) is given more credence than a woman who may have experienced 365 separate incidents of which only 5 count in official statistics. Conflating retaliatory violence with the pattern of coercive control that is domestic violence harms women as a class and makes it more difficult to campaign for specialist services for women. The cap makes domestic violence look ‘gender-neutral’. …
Geraldine Newman was murdered alongside her two children Shannon (11) and Shane (6). Two days later the body of Paul Newman, father of Shannon and Shane, was found in North Wales. Police believe Paul committed suicide after killing his ex-wife and children. The police have also claimed this was a “domestic incident”.
The murder of a Geraldine, Shannon and Shane are not ‘domestic incidents’. Burning dinner is a ‘domestic incident’. Making the choice to kill your ex-partner and children are criminal acts predicated on a patriarchal culture of male entitlement and male ownership of the bodies of women and children. Using the term ‘domestic incident’ minimises both Paul’s personal responsibility for his choice to perpetrate domestic violence, which resulted in a 17-week custodial sentence in 2013, as well as his choice to kill. It is crucial to recognise that the man is the risk factor: not the relationship or the woman. Focusing on the victim implies that they are responsible for the actions of the perpetrator.
Obviously, the police want to allay fears in the wider community, however the correct statement is NOT: “We believe this was a domestic incident and we are searching for only man known to the family”. It is “We believe these murders were perpetrated by a man known to the family and we do not believe he is a risk to the wider community at this moment”. …
UPDATE: Following discussions with Ecotricity’s legal team, I am required to post this note: “Ecotricity’s tweet regarding Julian Assange on 5 February 2016 mistakenly gave the impression that Ecotricity appeared to support rape culture, which it does not. Ecotricity were unaware of the legal circumstances of Julian Assange’s various court appearances in the UK or that he had not claimed to fear extradition to the US in his appeal to the Supreme Court.”
We’re not entirely sure when ecotricity – an energy company – became experts in international criminal law but they’ve certainly come out in support of rape culture by suggesting that men who are under investigation for sexual assault should be allowed to dictate the parameters of the investigation AND international law.
I suppose in the current economic climate all corporations need to diversify. We await with bated breath N-Power’s diversification into training competitive figure skaters.
This tweet was posted on your official twitter feed on Friday February 5. We would like assurances that this tweet does not represent company policy on allegations of rape and sexual assault. If supporting an accused rapist who is hiding in an embassy in an attempt to wait out the statute of limitations on a serious criminal investigation is company policy, then it should be the subject of an official statement so that customers can make an informed decision whether or not they will continue to support your company. If this is not official policy, then a public apology and a donation to a rape crisis service would be an appropriate response.
RESPONSE TO EMAIL FROM ECOTRICITY:
The tweet very clearly relates to efforts by the USA to extradite Mr Assange from Sweden to the US, it also very clearly does not take a position on the merits of the allegations themselves.
We don’t believe he is hiding from these allegations as Mr Assange has made it clear he would willingly go to Sweden to face the allegations, if Sweden guaranteed they would not extradite him to the US. Please be assured that is the point of the tweet. We believe it is very clear.
ACTIVISM: Ecotricity’s contact details are here for those who would like to express their displeasure.
** The report into this was recently released and I have not yet had a chance to read it.
Mother Jones has published an extremely problematic article on integration in schools, which talks of the benefits to middle and upper class children, without once recognising the impact on Black and Latino children. These are the 3 outcomes which ‘prove’ that integrated schools are better for white children:
1. White students’ test scores don’t drop when they go to schools with large numbers of black and Latino students.
2. Diverse classrooms teach some of the most important 21st-century skills, which matter more than test scores.
3. Graduates of socioeconomically diverse schools are more effective in the workplace and global markets.
The second and third point state that it is better for white children to be exposed to Black and Latino children and those living in poverty because it will make middle and upper class white children to be better and more successful people. Apparently, raising children to be kind, compassionate and responsible is no longer necessary. Now, we just need to teach them how to talk to Black and Latina kids so they will feel more comfortable being their boss in twenty years.
Comparisons between race and gender make me deeply uncomfortable as they are inevitably comparing Black men to white women – completely erasing Black women’s experiences of misogyny and racism. In this case, there is a valid comparison to be made about the rhetoric of single sex schools.
Evidence suggests that girls perform better at single sex schools. These tend to be private schools and, in the UK, tend to be predominantly white and wealthy, which does impact on attainments. Boys do better in mixed sex schools.* The argument for mixed schools requires girls in order to socialise boys and improve their academic records. The implicit message here is that the education of boys is more important than girls so it’s okay to force girls to deal with sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviour from male students. Boys aren’t held accountable for their own behaviour; parents aren’t held accountable for raising entitled sons with serious behavioural problems;** and schools aren’t held accountable for their misogynistic practises. Girls are treated as nothing more than tools in the education of boys; no different from computers and chalk.
This article published by Mother Jones treats Black and Latino children as teaching tools for white, middle class children. There is no real mention of the academic achievement of these students and the impact caused by the daily micro-aggressions of a white supremacist, capitalist-patriarchy. It ignores the systemic racism and classism in American culture which sees schools in lower economic areas and those with predominately Black and Latino students receiving less funding. There’s no mention of cuts to arts and music that disproportionately impact ‘bad’ schools – cuts that have serious negative impacts on children’s academic achievements and emotional health. It ignores the number of children going to school hungry because of economic policies which punish families who don’t have trust funds. And aren’t white.
The argument for diverse schools works only if we treat ALL children as worthy of an education and emotional health. Sending white children to predominantly Black and Latino schools to make white children ‘better’ people is racism. It erases Black and Latino children as people; just as the rhetoric around mixed schools holds girls accountable for the behaviour of boys.
We need greater investment in schools to support all children; not use them as specimens in petrie dishes to promote the welfare and entitlement of white, wealthy children at the expense of everyone else.
*I’ve not seen research on this which accounts for class and race in attainment since teachers are not immune from white supremacist thinking and it is clear that many teachers expect better results from white children and mark poor children and children of colour lower than white, wealthy children.
** This point is about neurologically typical children and not a reference to children with additional support needs who find schools difficult spaces to navigate.
News.mic engaged in some fantabulous victim blaming of Emma Watson this week for daring to point out that Alan Rickman supported feminism. Apparently talking about a man you’ve known personally for a significant chunk of your life and recognising the importance of activism in his life is a ‘gross and flagrant misstep’. Oddly, no one is saying this about those who have spoken publicly about Rickman’s support of Palestine.
These are the tweets that news.mic used to support their ‘gross and flagrant misstep’ argument:
The responses to Watson are misogyny 101: both the trolls abusing her and news.mic. Dismissing Rickman’s support of feminism is all about silencing women – the fact that it also erases Rickman is completely irrelevant to misogynists. They don’t actually give a shit who Watson was mourning – they are only in this for the opportunity to abuse women. After all, more people are angry with Watson for recognising Rickman’s commitment to feminism than they are with (insert name of any male celebrity here) for their well documented history of violence against women and girls.
And, now, news.mic has blamed Watson for the abuse and harassment she has received. This just shows what news.mic thinks of feminism and women’s rights to live a life free from male violence – they could do with checking out Rickman’s actual statements on the subject, but blaming and shaming women gets more hits from misogynists than reporting the truth.
Frank Maloney has a history of domestic violence. Quite a few people seem keen to forget this fact in their rush to deify him since transitioning. Today’s erasure of male violence comes from Polly Toynbee in her article ‘Here’s why feminism must embrace transpeople’:
there was also the jolt of a macho boxing promoter emerging like a butterfly as Kellie Maloney.
Granted, anyone who refers to political disagreements between women as ‘catfights’ isn’t exactly practising feminism, but completely erasing Maloney’s history of violence is inherently anti-woman. Transitioning does not magically make one a better person. And, it helps no one to pretend it does.
According to Salon, Leonardo DiCaprio “won the internet” for his Golden Globes speech because he spoke out in support of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. It’s incredibly important for people in positions of power to speak in support of marginalised communities (as opposed to speaking for them), but this does not make them ‘good men’ or awesome human beings. It is the basic requirement of not being an asshole.
As Alice Walker says, ‘activism is the rent (we) pay for living on the planet’. A 30 second snippet from a man worth more than $200 million in US is not good enough. DiCaprio does have a history of environmental activism, which is commendable. He also has a history of misogyny. One does not wipe out the other. If DiCaprio is truly concerned about the plight of Indigenous Peoples, he can start by reaching out to communities and offering financial support. Funding services for Indigenous women who have experienced sexual and domestic violence at the hands of white men could be a start, particularly since a legal loophole preventing Indigenous communities in the US from prosecuting white men for domestic violence has only just been overturned. Or, DiCaprio could build on his environmental activism by recognising that Indigenous women are most at risk due to climate change. Funding grassroots women’s groups would be the mark of a good man.
Words, though, don’t count. Not unless they are backed up by activism. And, “winning the internet” is not activism.