This is not a reflection on the beautiful little schools that my kids attend. Or for my baking, crafting, loving Goddesses that come alive when they create and share. This is for my mums that I counsel because they are at their wits end. Exhausted. Defeated. This is for the inequality that I see perpetrated in everyday life. The message that a Mother's time is less valuable, more expendable.
With Mothers Day approaching, and every day, we could - we should - do things differently.
When our schools ask our mothers to bake, what message are we sending to our children?
The school is the formative place of our child's social conditioning, right? But one of the first thing that is asked of mothers as they enter the school community is that they:
1. Volunteer for tuckshop
2. Bake for tuckshop
3. Bake for fundraising
The message is.... yeh, we are all equal, and a community, but your mother is a lesser person if she does not bake. Her time is less valuable then Daddy's. And even if the written request is gender neutral, we know the reality don't we? Mums do the baking and the tuck-shopping. Mums get the beak-slap for children lunch box habits. Mums get judged.
The underlying assumption is that good mothers bake. And create. And you know what, if she has to take serapax to deal with the pressures of work and baking and volunteering and homework.... whatever. She has a responsibility to keep up appearances. For her community. For her children.
And it is so very relevant as we about to approach Mother's Day.
Ironically mothers are often conjouled and bullied into catering for the very day that is supposed to celebrate the often over-worked and over-whelmed woman of the house that is expected to have a full time job but act like a full time mother. And I find it is not the men doing this coercing. Cue the women in the wings with the subtle act of high street bullying learned in the hallowed grounds of the very institution sending out the instrument of coercion. The school newsletter. Men are conditioned to watch and condone, and throw in a feeble "I don't know why we can't just buy a pack of 12 cupcakes from Woolies," only to be countered with the acidic glare of Medusa incarnate.
I can't buy the cakes, I will be judged.
It was addressed in the 60's when public school systems looked at the need to have women 'bake' to fundraise, but hey. It's 2019 and it appears we have regressed back to the 1950's. Hooray for us.
One would think that with the rise of social media, instant messaging, online shopping and networking this archaic division of power would be long dissolved into the archives a of a patriotic time that our children now learn about in a wiki link. Additionally, with the advent of boutique based businesses, online catering and food vans that are salivating to be involved in school functions - and in turn provide revenue to the school - that there would be no need to put out a call for the 'little lady of the house' to bake for for the 'sake' of [insert pressing school resource need here]. If I ran my businesses like schools run fundraisers I would have been bankrupt 12 years ago.
I know men bake. Some men. And I also know that these men get sniggered at by the less evolved knuckle draggers amongst us. If I see it I call it out. And equally, our male bakers shouldn't have a parade from the female cheerleaders every time they get out a kitchen-maid. Unless they are really good at carrot cake - then Hunger Games salute to you dude.
The pressure to bake (and craft create) is primarily determined by what genitals you were born with. It is irrelevant that I have worked in a male dominated profession since I was 20. The Police is one of the most modern professions of our time. I now teach in the oldest profession (no, not prostitution, I just saw a glimpse into your Freudian mind). The profession of teaching self defence and mortal combat. The bare knuckle kind. Not the kind that uses technology to increase the perceived or real extension of my penis ie: guns, knives etc. It does not matter that I have three businesses and two companies, five websites, write policy and workplace training modules and sit on steering committees and educational reform groups. Still, still, I am expected to bake. It does not matter that it has been proven time and time again that sugar is sending our kids bat-shit-crazy and historically endemically fat. It doesn't matter that I don't personally eat baked goods (ok, I do occasionally. But, I digress).
I. Am. Judged. Every. Day. Because I don't fit the version of what a mother should be. And this is the lesson that we are teaching our children. We drum into them 'just say no to bullying' and 'respect each other', 'be tolerant' but what they see is the coercion of their already struggling mothers to fit the mould that no unmedicated human being can possibly fit.
Woman are judged... every day, in a way that men are not.
We have been conditioned to fail.
This is societies way of keeping women small and feeling unworthy. How on earth can they see the patriarchy for what it is, if women are up to their arms in gluten free flour, self doubt, judgement (of themselves and other women) and lacking the very basic ability to know what makes them happy. As long as your kids are happy right? No. I call bullshit. If you are unhappy then you are teaching your children a very specific skill set.
You are teaching them to be so busy that they cannot question the very system that keeps them small and feeling lesser. And this is the very definition of oppression.
Woman are judged so hard that even though I have said women are the worst at this (mis)placed judgement toward other women that I will receive loads of trolly male comments blurting, "but what about men?" I must add however, in criminal psychology one of the first profiles I was introduced to was the white middle aged woman who would also defend and cover for their son or husband's dysfunctional behaviour. For the sake of artistic creativity I call this profile 'the handmaiden' and I also see them featuring heavily in the trolling game of 'what-aboutery'. "What-about my son, brother, husband... 'such good men.'"
Yeh. But, what about? The 'what-abouters' just keep distracting from the issue of inequality and gender expectation. It's a big-baby cry for '"Hey, enough about you. What about me? Whhahhhhhh. Talk about meeeeeeeeeee!!!!" If you are asking 'what about?' change the question to "What do I condone?"
What. Do. I. Condone?
Me. I am part of the judgement, and the automated instinctual reflex to be part of the pack and keep churning out our matrix cookies to keep our children held firm in the sugar industrial complex matrix, so I can be judged by teachers in the matrix to say that my child is not fitting into the matrix.
The education system and it's endemic success to reproduce results that are failing our children is a blog for another day.
This mother's day, and every day, take the time to see and feel the pressure for what it is.
Not the, 'I neeeeeeed to heal my soul by being elbow deep in creating nutritional goodness. I neeeeddddd/ knead to make bread'. Do more of that. Do more of makes you happy. But recognise the pressure of the 'Holy shit how am I going to get to bed tonight because I just got this "If you're a good Mum you will bake" email and a facebook nudge from the school page. That pressure. It is an illusion, an illusion reinforced by our habit of behaviour. So to break the illusion, rub the sleep from your eyes and wake up.
Forward this article to your school principal. Be brave and be authentic in naming the bias for what it is. Principals and school administrators are probably asleep themselves and never intentionally wanted you, or them, to be a part of the groundhog nightmare. Give them the gift of waking up. You owe yourself this small gift this mothers day.