Sunday, 22 September 2013

Emphasis is Everything

Hey folks

So - I wrote a blog the other week about being a woman and there was quite a lot of response to it, some of which was a bit baffling...

I felt like I had said "in my opinion this wall is painted yellow" and then people kept saying "DON'T assume this wall is not red!" and I was didn't say that...and revisiting the blog to try and figure out why and how a totally different message was being read in what I had written. I was utterly confused until I spotted the following example of why the English language is both beautiful and stupidly complex at the same time.

Near the end of the post as a defining point, I had written the following sentence - the emphasis in capitals is where I meant it to be:

"our lives are not EMPTY because we don't have kids, our lives are wonderfully full"

But it seems that just by shifting the emphasis on to a different word this sentence caused offence and seemed very provocative - it was being read, I believe, like this:

"our lives are not empty BECAUSE we don't have kids, our lives are wonderfully full".

Can you see what I mean?

I was confused as to why people kept saying that I had inferred that it was impossible to lead a full life WITH children when my point had been that it was totally possible to lead a full life WITHOUT them. 

Anyway, I am still mulling on whether to edit the post to put the emphasis where it should be. I probably will because I don't want future readers to think I meant the second message and not the first. 

It just goes to show that no amount of proof reading can prevent an unexpectedly reversed interpretation. It's all part and parcel of daring to say what you think online I guess and it is a minefield. 

Monday, 9 September 2013

Ignoring Protocol

I am not a girly feminine girl by any stretch of the imagination. When I was a small child I did not play with dolls, in fact I had no interest in dolls whatsoever, it was all about stuffed animals with me. I never owned a Barbie or wanted to. I disliked dresses (I still do) and preferred trainers to heels until I was about 20. Then I decided I do kinda like heels sometimes, maybe 1 day in 50 but only if I don’t have to walk anywhere in them.

I have spent my entire life studiously ignoring what the world tells me I should be and do because I am a woman. I got married in a trouser suit (and anyone who remembers the trauma of trying to find a dress will smirk in reflection of the horror – it was not a smirking occasion at the time, I can tell you). I did not have bridesmaids either or a hideous ‘L plate’ hen do.

I do not wear make-up unless I REALLY have to and then I sort of resent it. This worries me as I am getting older and starting to realise that unless I start learning how to put make up on properly and on a daily basis my face will really start to resemble a bag of spanners all the time whereas up to now I have pretty much got away with just not bothering at all. I am basically useless at applying make-up when I can be arsed, which is thankfully not very often.

I do not understand how anybody can take longer than 30 minutes from bed to door in a morning. Thankfully my disinterest in cosmetics helps with this. I can shower and sort my hair out in around this timescale but I will never be cheerful in a morning, I like my sleep too much which is why I am the master at getting ready in the least time possible.

I get my eyebrows waxed every few months (I currently have not had them done since we left the UK in March though) and I get my hair cut and coloured every couple of months too – these are really my only concessions to ‘female’ routines.

I have always had close friends who are men – I find them so much easier to relate to than women and less bitchy. I naturally feel relaxed walking into a pub on my own and I do not need any guidance to place bets on sport (although I usually take it from my husband as he has much better gambling instinct than I do).

Thankfully, I landed a husband who loves me for the fact I am not concerned with traditionally female whiles. I think he would have an almighty shock if he realised how much time and money I could feasibly spend on adhering to such things but I have no intention of doing so (aside from the worrying fear of HAVING to start wearing make up every day or even just more often).

None of this is learned behaviour – I just really have never naturally had any desire to go down that path and likewise I don’t like children or baby related things and have never really wanted to be a mother (shock horror etc).

Now you would imagine that those that I have grown up close to and who know me well would accept and understand that this is just me, just who I am, just how I am. On the whole they do. My exacerbation at the world mainly comes from interaction with other women who I don’t know so well that like to point out that I don’t have a CLUE what I am doing with my life and need to be careful I don’t make a massive mistake.

It is this attitude of overwhelming arrogance and adherence to social ‘norms’ which frequently makes it difficult for me to build meaningful friendships with other women because they judge me for not liking children, not wanting to throw my life away on them, not planning fastidiously when to fire up the baby machine. They assume that I will, at some point, realise that I have ‘missed the boat’ with the kids thing, now that I am nearly 35 I should be starting to TICK, goddamnit!

And I am socially adept enough to smile and let it go over my head most of the time and I adhere to the fact that it is not socially acceptable for me to point out to someone who defines themselves primarily as a mother that I personally disagree with that life-choice. I refrain from telling them I think they made a huge mistake in sacrificing their free time, disposable income and identity for this small, whining monster even though they make no such allowance for me and my choice not to procreate.

Having kids is a choice. Once you make it you accept that your life will change irrevocably and if that’s your thing and it’s what you want to do then – hell yeah – go ahead and do it. I will be joyous for you, celebrate it with you, remember your kid’s birthdays and mentally cross you off the list of people we socialise regularly with. But please don’t try to ram it down my throat as though I am some kind of slightly idiotic moron who does not know my own mind.

I am SMUG about not having kids because my free time is my own, I share it with the one person I want to in the world, I read, sleep, work out, socialise when and how I want, we travel, plan adventures together; our lives are not empty because we don’t have kids, our lives are wonderfully full.

Now, can anyone teach me how to apply foundation without looking like a pantomime dame? That would be a USEFUL thing for me to learn from another woman.