We dont live in a bubble.

Right, thats it. Im stepping into the ring. Time for a blog post outlining my views on the transgender/transactivist movement.

Those of you that follow me on Twitter @OliveOylNW will have noticed that I do get a tad political over there, and you would have also noticed I am a great big feminist.

So I read my latest copy of Just 4 Her Magazine -this magazine is aimed at the ladeez of all those military folk. In this issue there is an article titled “Gender Fluidity”.  I tried to read it with an open mind, with my milennial, liberal, scientist, psychologist hat on. And I got just a tad wound up.

Firstly, let discuss what it means to be masculine or feminine. According to the article, the authors friend, a male would go “bare faced” when he felt more masculine and “on days when he felt more feminine he would apply a flick of eyeliner”. Good for him. Couldnt care less.

I read the above, whilst sitting in my dining room with my coffee- shock horrow- BARE FACED. I had no idea this meant I was being masculine. I take umbridge with this.

I am a feminine fucking flower whether I have a full face of slap on or not.

Cheezburger Image 2148919552

Next point that pissed me off- parents that choose to dress “their girls in blue or yellow” are NOT being “gender diverse”. What a load of tosh. Same goes for the “non gender specific toys” they mention. Utter utter bollocks.

There is no such thing as gender specific toys. There is no such thing as gender specific colours. Kids can play with whatever they want because they are toys. People can wear whatever colour they want because they are colours.

Image result for girls toys boys toys

 

This is not gender diversity. It is abolishing sex based stereotypes and its a good thing.

Children have sex based differences, but they dont have inherent gender based differences. They are not born with a preference for pink or blue or hammers and prams.

Gender preferences are social constructs. That means that society is built and has evolved in such a way that means that sex stereotypes are still being perpetuated. THAT is why we see more boys playing with cars and girls playing with dolls. (Although thats a load of crap really when you think about it, as women drive cars and men become fathers).

It is SOCIETY that perpetuates gender stereotypes. Not some intrinsic internal child knowledge of what is a “girls toy” or a “boys toy”. It is the adult around them that reinforce gender roles, not the children. Us adults have a responsibility to them to teach them that all this girl stuff boy stuff is a load of crap and they can wear and play what they want because its their fucking childhood for fucks sake.

Moving on. I literally cannot bend my Master Degree level educated woman brain around the next bit of the article, apparently young people (not us oldies) are “embracing the gender diverse nature of their emotions”.

What. Just, what. I cant. I dont get it. <breathe Olive>

Do males and females have some kind of separate list or range of emotions??? I obviously didnt get the memo at birth. My bad. I also forgot to let my two daughters know that there is a prescribed emotional repetoire they must not deviate from unless they are actually boys. In which case they need to consult the Menz List.

It is utter shite like this that has lead to boys feeling unable to express their feelings and may contribute to the higher rate of suicide amongst young men. Because they cant access the feminine list of emotions. I would laugh if it wasnt so scary.

EMOTIONS ARE NOT DEFINED BY SEX OR GENDER.

Image result for male suicide rate uk 2017

Luckily, over half way through the article there is one point I do agree with. “Gender is not defined by biology”. Bravo! Good work!- It isnt!

Biological sex- by that I mean male/female- IS defined by our biology. Gender on the other hand is merely a social construct that varies dependent on culture, time and social norms.

Gender CANNNOT and does not change someones SEX.

Image result for sex not gender

The article references Mermaids UK. For those not in the know Mermaids is a transgender support charity for “gender diverse and transgender children”. Children. Children. Mermaids go into schools and talk to children, who are cognitively vulnerable compared to adults, and educate them about being transgender. And probably confuse the hell out of a lot of them.

Imagine boys who like pink- suddenly, instead of being a boy that likes pink- he may now begin to question his gender identity. Instead of questionning why society thinks that certain colours are for certain sexes. Instead of challening gender stereotypes he buys into the thought process that certain behaviours are for men and some for women. Deviate form this and you must be trangender. Not just a boy that likes pink.

Heaven forfend that a boy should like pink. Or a girl wants to play football. *Barf*.

Can’t people see that this is MASSIVELY reinforcing gender stereotypes??? Leave the kids alone with all the toys and all the colours and all the sports!!! They are children! Concerns about sexuality have NO PLACE in a childs mind.

Gah, sorry for the rant but that shit really boils my piss.

Almost there Olive. Keep going.

Lets talk about the latest buzzword being hefted on people. “Cisgender”. Being cisgender basically means a person who’s biological body matches up to their “gender identity”.

I find the term very offensive. I am NOT “cisgender”. I am a woman. If I choose to become a mechanic, grow my body hair or pee standing up (messy but do-able), I am STILL a woman. I wont be forced into some box that reinforces the idea that there are distinct male and female behaviours that are incompatible with my biological sex. 

Image result for i am not cisgender

I vehemently disagree that (as the article states) you can “pick and change what bits of each sex work for you”. You just cant. Chop off my boobs, im still a woman. Have a hysterectomy. You’re STILL a woman. Shave my head head and yes, you’ve guessed it, still a woman. Because, well, science.

You can pick and choose whether to wear pink or blue, wear makeup or not, grow body hair or not. Fine. Totes fine. You can even lop off your penis or have one made for you. Doesn’t mean you or I can change our biological make up.

Men and women can behave in ways that dont conform to gender stereotypes and thats ok. Thats how stereotypes change over time. 

Time for the stuff thats going to get me a kicking on Twitter. Yet im doing it anyway.

Transgender people can never truely experience the opposite sex experience. Nature and nurture are unable to be separated. They are undeniabley linked. This whole issue cannot be looked at in a bubble. Boys are socialised into X stereotype, girls are socialised into Y stereotype. We can work against it, and it will and does change over time (holla 1950’s anyone?). Boys who grow up to be transwomen have still grown up in a society of male privieledge, “boys” games, “big boys dont cry” etc. Girls who grow up to be transmen have not shared this male experience. Girls will have experienced everyday sexism, witnessed the wage gap, the glass ceiling, the sexual objectification of women.

All because of their biological sex. SEX MATTERS. Sexism does happen, against both sexes. Lets not stick our heads in the sand. Its a real problem and it is happening every day in tiny little ways.

Transwomen (biological males) will never fully understand things that women have gone through since birth. Being given dolls to play with, being called bossy when they are being assertive,the fear of walking home alone, behaving sexually because you’ll be called tight if you dont. Being called a slag if you do. They wont know how degrading and scary it was at the age of 13 to be whilstled and beeped at by men in a van. How you try to make the rustle of a sanitary towel as quiet a possible in the loos at school. And how it feels to have every academic and sporting achievement overshadowed by how “pretty” we may or may not look. Since infancy.

Image result for female socialisation

 

As I said, you cant look at the gender fluidity or transgender movement in a bubble. Context is key to all of this. We live in a world where the overwhelming majority of violence and sexual violence is carried out by biological males.

The proposed changes to the Gender Reform Act (GRA) mean that anyone can identify as any sex. Just on a whim. Call me cycnical but I am pretty sure this would be expoited by abusive, predatory biological males, posing as transwomen. I am NOT saying that transwomen are a threat to anyone.  Im saying that if any old perve from down the pub can tell the world hes a woman this will be exploited by some sickos. Not by actual transgender people.

If the proposed changes go through then biological males who identify as women will be able to access changing rooms, toilets, religious spaces, sporting events, domestic abuse refuges, perform body searches etc etc where there will be women (and probably children). As my mum says they will “ruin it for the rest of us”. For true trangender people and for vulnerable women, people with certain religious beliefs that require women only spaces and for children.

Transgender people are not required to have a sex change in order to identify as the opposite sex. Infact most transgender people keep their biological genitalia intact and only a small percentage have a full sex change. So thats not an indicator that can be used to sort the real transgender people from others who may seek to exploit these liberal and (on paper) progressive proposals of the GRA.

I think the GRA proposed changes will dilute the transgender voice and the voice of women. I think more discussion needs to be had before these changes come into place.

The real problem here is that gender stereotypes are not being dismantled, they are being upheld and maintained. Because they serve the patriarchy we live in. This is a huge threat to our childrens mental health and to achieving equality accross the sexes.

Image result for fight the patriarchy

Right, im off my soap box now.

Please read up on all this if its sparked any questions.

If you are concerned about an imbalance of information being delivered about gender identity in schools then transgender trend provide information for parents for children that are questionning their identity.

In addition I urge you to look at Womans Place UK they run talks about the proposed GRA changes and the impact they will have on women and childrens ability to access safe spaces. Ive been to one of their talks and it was ace- theres some hate out there from transactivists about them but they are peaceful and measured in their debate.

Also the Mumsnet Feminist Board has facts and stats about all the above and is one of the only places left on the internet where concerns about all this stuff can be discussed in relative safety. Join the discussion!

Well, time to post the blog- lets see how this goes down *ducks for cover*.

Muchos love, Olive x

 

 

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Eating cake in the name of charidee

This Saturday just gone I put on my first charity coffee and cake fundraiser for the fabulous charity Little Troopers


It was a total success and we raised a fantastic £120!!! 

#proudface all round.

There were, of course a few hiccups on the way. Including the first (and only solo) attempt at baking I did. That resulted in a whole batch of “fugly” cupcakes that we sold at a discount, because hey, fugly cakes need homes too.


We were given a mahoosive stack of boxes of cupcakes from Morrisons that were absolutely delish and had been baked fresh in store the day I collected them and hand decorated so beautifully- totally put my fuglies to shame tbh but I’m OK with that as it was for charidee.

Big props to Chris from Morrisons in Portsmouth for sorting us out with that scran. You are a legend and totally squared us away.

Other shout outs are needed for the lovely lady in charge of Cockleshell Community Centre- Kerry. Who set up the room the day before, sorted out the raffle tickets and showed up with a large amount of meat even though she had a horrendous migraine. Nails. 


Not forgetting my civvy best mate Aime for her amazing face painting skillz including the full range of spider man characters including actual venom omg.


My NWBFF Emma and her hubby Dai (off of Wales). They turned up the day before and sorted out my crap baking skills and helped me learn to weigh my eggs and how to pipe buttercream. They also taught me that cocoa powder is not the same as hot chocolate.


And that it is especially not the same as hot chocolate that went off in 2014.
And the awesome Charlotte who rocked up bang on 9am when I was running shockingly late (I managed to get lost on the way- even though I’ve been there several times before- don’t ask). 

Now I had never ever met Charlotte, but in true Navy wife style she surveyed the thinly veiled chaos I had created and calmly asked me how she could help and got on with cutting out prices and signs and stuff. She was un-flusterable and for that, I salute you.


Me on the other hand, I was not quite so calm. I arrived shockingly late,  met my baking gurus Emma & Dai standing outside looking a tad perplexed as we couldnt get in yet.

Cue pacing and phoning and my hair getting more and more sweaty. We got in and got set up just in time. All thanks to the fantastic team of people who got stuck in. I’m not exaggerating when I say if had been all down to me it would have been a bit shit. It was a real team effort and it was So. Much. Fun.

We ate a lot of cakes. 

We drank a lot of coffee.

We swapped navy horror stories.

We may have swapped incompetent husband stories. But the feminist in me won’t admit to that.

Helen went home with a big piece of meat. She was very happy with this.

I met up with loads of the wives from Popeyes old ship. It was FANTASTIC to see them all again and has inspired another NW Night Out soon.

My kids ran around screaming on a sugar high with face paints. Actually everyone else’s did this too, to be fair. 

Although only my daughter decided to pull her trousers and pants down in the middle of the room in front of everyone shouting “I NEED THE TOILET NOWWWWW”-( hey you can’t win them all).
It was great and I’m sure I’ve forgotten lots of stuff. I want to do another one before Christmas and vary the location to get as many people as possible involved. 


So keep your eyes peeled as I will be cobbling something else together in December- 

Hope you can make it!

Muchos love,

Olive x 

My denial dinghy.

Popeye leaves for his 9 month deployment very very soon. Obvs can’t mention dates etc but let’s just say we aren’t talking weeks here.

He’s said his goodbyes to the outlaws and is gearing up to say tatty bye to our daughters. And I guess me too but I can’t even go there right now.

Each deployment is different. Usually I’m a sobbing, snotty, puffy eyed wreck (attractive). This time however I’m like totally numb. I’ve zoned out and can’t even get words out of my mouth when we talk about it.

 I have no idea why my brain has done this but all I can guess is my minds gone “no, no. Nope. Can’t handle this. Too painful. Too much. It’s too much! I’m checking out. See you later  conscious brain. Catch you laters!”

So I am calm. I am dangerously calm. Like  the normal emotional reaction is a rip current but I’m happily bobbing about on top on my dinghy. Probably doing a sudoku.

 My little escapist, denial dinghy that I’m fairly sure has a puncture. 


It’s going to deflate at some point and then I must face the depths of this. 

For instance, certain questions I should be addressing such as- 

How do we explain this to our two year old? 

My brain: No idea. We’ve got nothing here captain (plays magic roundabout theme tune loudly on repeat whilst doing some thing Pinterest fail-esque). 

Have we got all the grown up pre deployment shit sorted out? Like making sure his Skype account and mine are good to go. The emergency numbers and his phone card numbers are taped to the fridge, and the Christmas decorations are down from the loft.

My brain: yes, really should do this. Got loads of time (we don’t). Will just do this first (gardening/drinking wine/ starting a quilt). 

Spending quality time together.

My brain: so, it looks like date nights been a bit of a fail. Hey I know why don’t I write a blog post all about it instead of putting my phone down and giving it another shot. Genius.

Capturing each precious memory of the last week on film.

My brain: hey let’s leave the phone at home so you can’t take any pictures. Nothing like a bit of self sabotage to really help your early deployment mental health. Don’t want to make this easy for myself after all do I?

these photos were brought to you by random iphone gatherings over the summer.

I didn’t really know how to end this blog post (I blame my obviously faulty brain at this time) so I read it to Popeye and he said it’s because this time it’s not just about me and him. 

This time I have two children to care for. Two small people’s brains who are looking to me to see how to cope with this. 

This time is longer. 9 months is such a massive chunk of time when I think about it it makes my head go fuzzy and I start laughing in a slightly unhinged way.

This time it’s not just a couple saying goodbye, but a family saying goodbye. 

My family. 

Shit.

Normal service will resume shortly

My Little Troopers

So we have survived the first longish stint of Daddy Being Away.

It was only about a month but Im feeling bloody proud that I have managed to keep both children alive with very little outside help and snotty colds and 8 week jabs. Im also a tad relieved that I haven’t lost it and left them at a nunnery. (And no this is not just because I don’t know any Hampshire nunneries). 

 Ive had quite bad mum guilt that I didn’t try to do more wholesome “making memories” shit. I didn’t even attempt any baking and I can safely say that the iPad is partially raising my toddler. We have watched a lot of Disney.

But they are alive so I’m chalking it up as a win. 

Whilst Popeye was stuck down in Plymouth  (because his ship was buggered-giant surprise) we were able to finally try out the separation pack we had been given from Little Troopers . 

This helped with the mum guilt because I was getting so fed up of this:

Sweetpea-“where’s Daddy?”

Me-“on his boat.” 

Sweetpea-“[see] Daddy soon?”

Me- (silent sob) “no see Daddy later. Daddy gone night night on the boat.” 

Sweetpea-“bye bye Daddy” 

Me- “yes that’s right, bye bye daddy.”

Talk about heartbreaking! And, after the gazillionth time, dare I say, a little bit annoying? 

That’s when the separation pack really came into play. It actually helped Sweetpea grasp what was going on and helped me not lose my mind from having to explain it to her over and over again. 

It gave the whole downer of being separated from Popeye/Daddy an actual positive vibe and I can’t recommend it enough. 

What is it? An A4 pack of resources and ideas of things to do to help your children cope with a parent being away from home.

First I chose an area in the house to put it all up. I didn’t want to to be too prominent in the house- I didn’t want her to be reminded Popeye was gone all the time- I also chose somewhere quiet so she could go there to think about Daddy when she needed to. 

( I also wouldn’t put stuff on the wall above the dogs water bowl if your child likes water play and pulling things off of walls. 😑)

I found an OK photo of Sweetpea with Popeye and put that in the special “Hero” (a bit cheesy for me but v sweet for children) frame. This gave Sweetpea something to focus on and she could go and kiss the photo good night or we used it to talk about Daddy from time to time too. She also put it down the loo at one point but I’ve told Popeye  not to take this personally. (And photos don’t dissolve if you antibac them btw- who knew?)

 My favourite thing about the separation pack was the chuff chart. It’s supposed to be for the kids but to be honest I was using it just as much as the Sweetpea. 

The chuff chart is really practical- you can adapt it for any length of separation-you just add another calendar sheet if you need to. You can decorate or colour it in and there’s a “notes” bit if your trooper needs to jot anything important down. You can put stickers on it if you’ve been on day trips (not that we did lol) and really adapt it for your family. 

As Sweetpea is quite little we did a ten day countdown as she only knows up to number ten. By the time we got halfway through she was getting the idea. She was running up to it first thing when we came downstairs ready to cross off another “sleep”! (Not sure if this is because the pack is really good or my daughter is a child prodigy/genius. Ahem). 

  

  
There’s a little instruction leaflet that was brilliant for people like me who are permanently exhausted from single-parenting-without-the-benefits or (also like me) have the creative ability of the DVLAs phone system. 

We did one of the ideas from the leaflet- we made a Post Box for all of the art Sweetpea did whilst Popeye was away. 

 

#fathands
 
It worked really well when he got home and they opened the box and she could show him what she had made for him. 

 

an original piece by Sweetpea. Inspired by the Twirliwoos.
 
If he had been away longer we would’ve posted them out to him. I really wanted to do the “send a hug” idea too but Sweetpea would not lie down and after trying and failing to pin her down to draw round her outstretched arms with a felt tip between my teeth I admitted defeat. Maybe when she’s older or when she’s asleep. 

In general the activities and ideas are really varied and can be adapted depending on the age of your Little Trooper or what interests them. 

There is a big map too where you can put stickers of where you’ve lived, where you’ve been on holiday and where your service person is. This was great but I felt it was a bit geared towards army families and soldiers that are based in one place for a long time, so to cater to our situation I cut out a picture of a navy ship from the patterned writing paper in the pack, and moved that around the map. You could get a photo of the ship for longer deployments but doing this worked fine for us. 

  
There’s a bit in there that explains why the official flower of military children is a dandelion. Not going to give it away here but it had me in actual proper tears and I’m now thinking of getting another tattoo this time of a dandelion. 

All in all it is a really useful little kit. You can join an online community of Little Troopers and they do meet ups, camps and events, so that your children can get to know other military children. This is especially useful to families like ours that don’t live in married quarters. And they are a charity so they do lots of fun fundraising stuff too. 

If you want to find out more visit their website http://www.littletroopers.net

P.s they do a bracelet too that I have nicked from Sweetpea to remind me which boob is next for feeding Sproglet. 

#livingthedream