It was International Women’s Day this week, which gives us the opportunity to stand back from the mountain, look up and say ‘Bloody hellfire, there’s still a fuck of a long way to go.’ So that’s fun. Equal pay, anyone? No? Thought not. Maybe next year…
And some of the distance is, I think, illustrated by the apparently not ironic notonthehighstreet.com catalogue I received in today’s mail. (Yes, a virtual store is sending out a print catalogue, which kind of screwed with my head a bit. But anyway). It seems that it’s Mother’s Day coming up in the UK, so the mother-focused displays are up in all the shops, with the same old unimaginative tat as is found every year. Getting in on the act, notonthehighstreet has put together a selection of appropriate gifts.
Now, admittedly I’m not a mother and the only gift I stand a chance of receiving is a dead rodent. Although, considering the options on display in the catalogue, a dead rodent is actually pretty up there in terms of acceptable gifts. Still, had I been transplanted here from another planet and were I attempting to figure out what being a mother means, this is what I’d have gleaned from the catalogue:
- She’s mostly in the kitchen, wearing a personalised apron and making cookies for the kids, using her retro scales to weigh out ingredients.
- She does a lot of tidying up, but mostly that’s organising the kids’ stuff in their personalised bags, boxes and pencil cases.
- She is identified predominantly by means of her familial relationships: jewellery or photo frames are excellent gifts, but only if they incorporate the names of the children or the date of her wedding.
- For frivolity, it’s fine to tease her about drinking wine or eating chocolate, which are her only non-family related activities.
- The role will gradually transition into that of grandmother, which provides the opportunity for a whole new load of personalised aprons.
This seems to me to be peddling a fantasy. It isn’t any of the mothers I know, all of whom have more to them and of whom I am in awe for taking on a role I couldn’t do, while doing everything else as well. And it is all of that, their jobs, their sports, their outside the home activities that make them the great role models they are for their sons and daughters. Why is that less important than home made cookies?