Monday, 24 June 2013

Politics and hypocrisy of the mothering type

Only 8 weeks to go til I have my baby girl and my burgeoning belly now feels like a time bomb ticking. I am both thrilled and terrified at the prospect of having a daughter. On the one hand, it’s what I always wanted, being a proper girly-girl myself - [def. girly-girl: noun A person of female gender who enjoys feminine pursuits i.e. make-up, nail varnish, clothes shopping and gossip] – I always imagined having a daughter who I would be really close to, who would share her secrets with me and seek advice from me. When I found out I was having a boy I was a little reticent about having to find enthusiasm for cars, trucks and brutish sports.

I am aware that there are benefits to the mother-son and mother-daughter relationships and I am SO lucky to be able to experience both. But here’s the kicker – for some reason I am more afraid of f*cking it up with a girl. I may have touched upon this in previous posts. I hope I’m not denigrating the importance of boys’ self esteem, but I just think that in our society, girls’ self esteem is more delicate. Perhaps because my son seems to have the innate confidence of his father I don’t worry about his sense of self. He regularly demonstrates his strength of character and it’s a big relief to me.

But a daughter, who stands the chance of bearing as strong a resemblance to me as my son does, faces the challenges I had to face growing up. And they weren’t pretty. Because I wasn’t pretty. Now, don’t jump to your feet to protest, that wasn’t me fishing for compliments (it would be futile if I was, since this blogging business is like shouting into the wind – I get no response or feedback and never know who, if anyone, is reading it or if they are scoffing, laughing or yawning). Let me qualify that, there are people out there who are conventionally attractive, who can get jobs as models and actors etc. and there are those who aren’t. I am in the latter category. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no pile of dog-poo to look at. But I inherited the hefty sized proboscis of my ancestry – yep I had a big shnozz. I say “had” because, at the age of 30 I had a nose-job. It was ostensibly to fix some sinus problems, but let’s face it, I just hated my nose and had wanted to change it my whole life.

I have always been painfully conscious of all of my shortcomings, but I believe in doing what I can to improve myself.  So this seemed logical to me, as my nose had long-dominated my very negative view of myself. And it was simple, I had the operation and I didn’t all of sudden become a supermodel, but the burden of that glaring physical “fault” was lifted. Now it’s important to note that I did this for myself. Although sadly my negativity towards my nose was very much influenced by society and personal experience – yep you guessed it, kids can be cruel and there were taunts at school – I didn’t have unrealistic expectations about other people’s reactions towards me post-op. I had already found love, and married him, and he had said nothing to prompt my decision. I had no expectations of career changes or advancement from it. In fact I wanted nothing in my life to change really, other than my own happiness when I looked in the mirror. And that did.

BUT… how does this reconcile with the fact that my heart will break if my own daughter goes through this? I feel such a hypocrite saying I want my children to love themselves, inside and out, when I was so unable to do so. I keep wondering what sort of example have I set them?

I can only hope they see it this way. I was not seeking a “quick-fix” in life. I was not unhappy in love, nor in my life in general. I did not expect the change in my appearance to herald a barrage of suitors, to launch a new career, to attract a new class of friends. I just wanted the inner peace of liking what I saw in the mirror. And being someone who is driven and motivated, who believes in shaping her own destiny and making her own path in life, I took action. I do not regret the action. What I do regret is that the world did not say to me “everyone is beautiful: fat is beautiful, thin is beautiful, your big nose is as beautiful as you are unique” right from birth. And although I intend to say this to my daughter repeatedly I know it may not be enough.

Now for the politics part of this post. Because almost one month after this baby girl enters the world we will have a federal election. And so my daughter may begin life in a country that has a female PM, or under the government of a man who has said things like:

I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons.

While I think men and women are equal, they are also different and I think it's inevitable and I don't think it's a bad thing at all that we always have, say, more women doing things like physiotherapy and an enormous number of women simply doing housework.

Now I know that the current PM, female or not, is not doing the best job of it, and she certainly didn’t come to power in the way I would’ve liked. But the fact remains she is a strong woman in the ultimate position of power and she is setting a very visible example for Australian women. It may be true that she isn’t well-liked. But she is a politician, and how many of them do we, the public, actually like? Sadly the less likeable, the more successful they seem to be in politics (see Rudd/Howard). She certainly isn’t the first pollie to demonstrate underhandedness in gaining power or to be unpopular amongst her caucus. But the mere fact that she is there, doing what the rest of them do, gives me, and all women of Australia hope.

So despite the atrocious odds the opinion polls give her, I hope she can hang on til after the election (and then be deposed by Rudd). I’d like my daughter to start life with as many examples of the many wonderful opportunities she will have as possible.

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