Friday, 2 September 2011

What women are supposed to know

Have you ever noticed that there are certain bits of knowledge that are presumed to magically arrive with the birth of your first child?

You know. There is the mum wisdom that you will have acquired or at least you must pretend that you have. I'd like today, Feminist Friday, to address these issues. If we can debunk these myths, maybe it'll help us step towards a slightly fairer society. And I know not all women are mothers, but all mothers are women.

Mothers all know:


How to clean things. This includes getting stubborn stains out, understanding which wash to put things in at and how to deal with unfortunate carpet incidents. We should somehow be able to instantly remove evidence of gravy or curry from ties and mildew from tiles. 

In truth we are no more likely to be able to create hygiene and the smell of spring meadows than our male counterparts. They watched the adverts too. There's an idea that men are immune to smells, mess and dirt, but that's one of their myths.

How to cook things. If you don't like cooking and don't care enough to learn then giving birth is not going to change that. Theoretically anyone who can read can cook, but then the same must apply to gardening and a look out of my window disproves that in an instant. On the other hand, it really doesn't matter, knowing what we should be eating for heath is more important and reading about that isn't restricted to those with a recently vacated uterus.


What's wrong with the baby. Just because we gave birth to the thing, doesn't endow us with any mystic understanding why it's screaming at us. We can have a good guess, but then again so can it's other parent. Confident trial and error is the best tactic, oh, and working through a check list.


When to dish out love or punishment. Somehow we are supposed to know when our child needs a hug, when they need a telling off, a star on the chart or some time on the naughty step. How are we supposed to know this? There is no app for it. The only person who always gets this right is Supernanny and she doesn't have any children.


What to put in their bags for every eventuality. "Oh, Ellen will have one because she's a mum." Yup, I've heard this several times at work when someone - usually a middle aged man - is looking for something like a wet wipe, a tissue, a needle and thread, some paracetamol. Why the heck would I have one just because I have children who are at school/nursery/the childminder? Although rather irritatingly  I often do have the thing they need. 


What to do in a crisis. It doesn't matter what's gone wrong, you, the mother, will know what to do next. Of course you will. You will know who to ring, where to go and what to say. You will be unflappable and sensible - because you are a woman who has bred. Anyone know why?

Where to find things. If you don't know where something is, ask a mother because she will know.  Doesn't even matter if she has never clapped eyes on the thing before and doesn't even know what it does. She will divine - by means of her stretch marks probably - where it is.


I know there are man myths too - apart from the one about them liking mess - that they can do stuff like change tyres and fix leaks. Oh and that the poor dears can't do two things at once. These are also cobblers and, in any case, because we sisters were so keen to have it all we learnt DIY and car maintenance too. 






10 comments:

  1. I think the feminist issue here is not that these are myths but that they rapidly become the truth. Why is it that it _is_ usually the mum and not the dad who has the handbag stuffed full of wetwipes even if you both work and are going out together at the weekend etc etc etc?

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  2. The sad truth for me, is that I actually ASPIRE to be that person you describe above.

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  3. Solnushka, You're right. It's the assumption that the mum will have these competencies.

    Luce, I did too once, but I got over it! ;-)

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  4. Yes - Women have handbags, changing bags etc. Men put their phone, wallet and keys in their pocket and they ready to go - I am going to attempt to try this weekend and see what happens !!

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  5. Lynn, do try it. Go out with just your phone and your purse and say "sorry, didn't you bring the wipes/plasters/emergency toy/spare batteries/etc". Please report back.

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  6. I really don't agree that Supernanny always gets it right. Some of the stuff she comes out with is just nonsense particularly as regards sleep training and the like.

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  7. Caron, You're right about SN, but she always knows an answer, even if it isn't the right one.

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  8. NotBlondeHusband cooks in our house. I was really disappointed when approached about a cooking event I was told it was for "Mummy Bloggers" not Dads.

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  9. I had never thought of it like this...oh the pressure!!! I ama wife and a mother and do not know any of these things!! Is there some sort of course you can go on?! ;)

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  10. "What to put in their bags for every eventuality." I love this it really annoys me when my hubby hasn't bought one thing for the kids then just assumes I have remembered everything! (Although like you I usually have - go me!) :-)

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