Thursday, August 22, 2013

In response!

Yesterday my twitter feed (@Madyline) exploded slightly. I saw someone that I follow was being attacked for having an opinion about someone else's writing. I felt there was some ganging up going on, so I went in as back up, but I didn't go in until I'd read the blogpost concerned. (Which is this one, if you're interested. Redlightpolitics )

Now,  I read the post and the first time I read it, I didn't have a clue what the author was going on about.  I honestly thought she was making words up.

It is titled "Some thoughts about sexual normativity in food writing."

Normativity?  Is that even a word?  OED says yes. "establishing, relating to, or deriving from a standard or norm, especially of behaviour:"

However, more than this, the premise of the article is that the only people who write about their family life as part of their food writing are houses where a man and a woman are married and have children. This apparently, is called a heteronormative nuclear family narrative.  (Hmmmm.  I thought heteronormative was a made up word to, but I'll define that later!)

The writer, named Flavia, then bemoans the fact that The Pioneer Woman is exactly this type of person, where her cooking is good because it is useful for the family, and not because she's good at it on her own.

Flavia also points out that the chefs with publicity are male, and although the food bloggers are female, they have to present this image of nuclear family life in order to achieve fame and fortune.  Or as she puts it "It seems that, as in any other field where women need to be "kept in their places", heteronomativity and sexual politics come with the package."

Now, I could forgive the writer the use of words like "invisiblized" which the OED says is NOT a word, because I suspect that she is not from England.  Ignoring that kind of thing, we are left with a writer with an interesting concept, smothered by her overuse of technical vocabulary.

I said that the writer wrote "like a first year student showing off all the big words she knew."  The style of the writing isn't for me.   The message is obscured by the need to sound cleverer than anyone else.  The backlash that I got from that was amusing to say the least.  Anyone who knows me, or who reads here, will be fully aware that I do not take life too seriously.  I can't.  If I did, I'd end up in the local mental hospital, and that's not fair on everyone else who has supported me through so much.  No surrender, and so forth.  I was very lighthearted in my responses, because this was all on Twitter, and let's face it, it's 144 characters of my own opinion.

The trouble is, that unless I agreed with the writer, and applauded her, and said nothing bad about her, I was not allowed to have an opinion.  I didn't argue with what she said - if that was how she felt, it was how she felt.  I may or may not feel that she is wrong and that her whole premise smacks of wounded pride and therefore being the aggressor to ensure it doesn't happen again, but that's up to her.  Opinion is opinion.

In my opinion, her style of writing was jargon-crammed and heading towards jingoistic, and in effect, she lost part of her message with her need to use words that were only understood by the radical feminist movement.  It would be a bit like if I, in my job as a primary teacher, decided that because I hold a literacy degree (part of which was in feminist literature) decided to teach all of my 6/7yr olds at degree level.  Nobody would learn anything and the message would be lost.

Now, of the responses that I got, several were rude and condescending, of the "Oh, it's clearly gone over your head, stupid you" type.  Several were of the "How dare you say she's not a good writer, worship her as we all do" type, and one was someone who was willing to respond to a request for clarification with a useful, in context, example of the words.  Thankyou @Mhari _McAlpine.

This was what she said.  "Homophobia is an active dislike/fear; heteronormativity is a passive dismissal of the other."

I asked if that meant I was heteroambivalent, as to be honest, what people do in their own sex lives is entirely up to them.

She answered with Heteronormative is more about the assumption that people are attracted to the opposite sex.  A privileging of  heterosexuality over homosexuality, say assuming that a womans partner is a man.  Heteronormativity is the idea that only people who actively say "I am gay/bi" ect are not straight and it sets up an assumption that the proper way to do sexuality is heterosexuality and that anyone who isn't heterosexual is deviant."

That is a clear, concise, helpful definition, provided by someone being helpful, unlike anyone else involved, and indeed anyone else on Flavia's timeline, who took the idea that the writing was full of jargon as an opportunity to say that people like me were too stupid to read it.  (But then I got accused of insulting her, which I didn't, but whatever lol!)

So what do I think?  Well, I don't give a monkeys what anyone else does, who they fancy, if they don't do it, do it 19 times a day, do it with 7 partners, do it with 1, do it with boys or girls or a combination. (I draw the line at children and animals, obviously)  I care who *I* do it with, and why, and so on, because it's my business.  But since when did it become my business to know what anyone else was up to?  Since when is it anyone else's right to tell me what I have to think about when it comes to acknowledging that other people have sex in various combinations, that I have to appreciate the particular combination that they have, consider it, embrace it, grok it (10 points if you get the literary reference) and make a judgement about that person based upon it.  All I wanted was the recipe for Thousand Layer lasagne.

If I read a food blog, and I do read several, I do it because I want to know about the food.  I'm not desperately keen to know who they cooked it for, and I haven't been since I stopped reading weaning books for the Adorable Child.  I revived my interest in who it was cooked for when he was intolerant of dairy, because I needed recipes and people who had the same lifestyle as he did.  It had nothing to do with sex, and more to do with sick.  I suspect that some on Flavia's site would argue that I am ignoring the issue, and I am, because it isn't relevant to what I want to know.

Am I a feminist?  I don't know.  I don't think about it.  I've never felt oppressed.  I own my own home, I can do anything the average man can do.  Yesterday I finished clearing my own garden, using *shock horror* a saw! (I took a  couple of 20ft trees down, nothing major!) This was after using power tools to sand the rust from the poles for the bunks for my beloved camper van, and repainting them with smoothrite, and knowing which thinners to use to wash out the brush.  In the evening I cooked tea for us all, and then did some cross-stitching.  Perhaps I am all things lol!  I am proud of what some would dismiss as my skills at womens work, done because they needed doing and for the enrichment of my family.  I am proud of my more manly skills, done because they needed doing and for the enrichment of my family.  I am proud of the bits I did just for me.

As for being kept in my place, I don't feel that Jamie Oliver does that, nor does he use his family so to do.  Do I feel that Delia does that? Nope.  Nigella? Nope. Going right back as far as Fanny Craddock and as recently as Lisa Faulkner, I have not felt either repressed or emancipated by a female or male tv chef. (inadequate in a cooking sense, yes, but then I'm not a brilliant cook!)

I am saddened in some respects that I got caught in a twitter storm, but I appreciate what I have had the opportunity to think about.  Sometimes we all need to think a bit more, and ridicule a bit less if we want to get our point across.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone so don't mock the spelling and I'll be back later to sort the layout!

Monday, August 12, 2013

When Police Cars Make Me Cry

There is a Police car sat in the layby outside the house.  I opened the curtains, saw it, and cried.  I was surprised as well.

I was surprised by the fear that ran through me, by the way I couldn't catch my breath, by the way my eyes filled with tears that rolled down my face.

They are still sitting there.  They have no idea what their presence is doing to me, and yet I cannot ask them to move, I will not.  Who am I to be afraid of a Police car?  It contains two lads, both late twenties, early thirties, trying to work out how to use the iPad type thing they have.  They don't know that I am typing on here to try and calm myself down, so that the words on the 'paper' can be seen for the daftness that they are.

I am flinching every time I hear a car door.

I can see the reflection of the Police car in the side of the milk snake tank. I had to force myself away from the window to sit down here on the sofa.  I cannot stand at the window and stare at these poor lads, laughing at each others mistakes on the device they hold.

I am being ridiculous.  This isn't the first time they have parked there.  I have noticed that every time I see them, the reaction gets more on the outside of me, and less on the inside.  This is fine - it stops me wallowing in it.

As a small point, we have had Police in school every 17th of July that has been a school day since Rich died.

And they have gone.  Off to carry on doing whatever it takes to fight crime and keep us all safe and so on.  Catching criminals.  Investigating accidents.......

I'm going to make a cup of tea.

Tea solves everything......

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wednesday Words - grief quote

“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” 
― Anne Lamott

Now, I don't know who Anne Lamott is.

I could find out, but I'm not going to, because I want to think about her words first.  This is the first time I've come close to finding something that describes how my grief has been.

I have learned to dance with a limp.  I have learned to love again, knowing how much it will hurt when something happens to him.  I have come through into the sunshine (but with a pacamac in my bag)


Anyway, this is part of the Wednesday Words link up, which I have not taken part in for a while.

Crazy With Twins

Wednesday words is the brain child of CrazyWithTwins.  I'm guessing she's still adorable, I haven't been to her blog in a month because I've not been doing anything for a month.  I shall amend that now, so don't tell her I haven't been, ok?

Quietly ......... something

I don't know how I feel at the moment.

Last night, the boychild and I were on Look East (regional News programme) and it was so good to be able to get the shout out about Scotty's, and about what it has done for the AC and I.  We were interviewed whilst we were staying at the lodge, and we met Alex Dunlop, who brought his cameraman and who was so lovely and understanding.  They interviewed the AC about life after Rich.  They interviewed me about carrying on.  It was awesome, and it's available on iPlayer.  But always, always, there is the knowledge that yes, all of this is awesome, and AC doing fencing/archery/targetshooting/swimming/aquajets/seeingseals amongst the other stuff whilst staying at a £1k a week lodge for nothing is awesome and I am so grateful it's untrue, but there is always the knowledge that we can do this because Rich died.

We came back from the lodge on the Friday, and the Sunday was the anniversary of his Celebrations.  It's been a weird anniversary time so far - unlike other years I made it through the 17th without crying.  I made it through the end of term without crying.  I made up for it on the anniversary of his Celebrations and cried like a tsunami was coming out of my eyeballs.

Seriously. They almost had to launch lifeboats.

(Ok, maybe not lifeboats.)

It struck me just how weird grief is.  How I thought I had a handle on it this year, and how it has changed again.  There has been no public grief this year, (unless you count almost crying on Look East in front of half a million people) but the private grief has been immense and sudden and then gone again as swiftly as it arrived.  It has come in waves - rather like my tsunami analogy - which was supposed to be joking and actually is very accurate.

In other news, it is, at last, the holidays!  I shall post about what we are up to and so on, but I wanted to get this post out of my fingers.