Monthly Archives: July 2011

holiday break before the chaos…

I am sorry for my absence, now for a happier reason. I have been away on holiday, and will be back on Monday, with renewed energy for the blog, and moving house….

see you soon,

lucila

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Slowing down

 One of the most annoying things in my pregnancies is that my body cries out for its normal rhythm to slow down.  This is a dramatic change for me. I’m used to having a body that follows my mind, a body that is happy to be commanded by my thoughts and the urgency of performing all types of activities. However, during pregnancy the balance shifts.

 It’s my body that is in command now, and my poor mind is left alone with all its fantasies, plans and things that need to be done. My body doesn’t even feel guilty about it. Sometimes when I’m tired but I need to do something, I’m able to tell my body: “OK. I understand that you’re tired now, but we really need to finish this task, so please, help me to finish this and we’ll rest later”.

 When I’m pregnant my body doesn’t listen at all to all the chatting of my mind and turns a deaf ear to its request.  My body just refuses to move, no matter the disaster in the kitchen, the emails that need to be sent or the reading and work waiting for me in the desk.

 During pregnancy I’m dominated by the kingdom of the senses. If a smell is too strong, I need to leave the room or I vomit; if I’m too tired, my foot can go to sleep. I need to eat constantly, and food provokes either aversion or eagerness. I can easily fall into contemplation at the sight of a flower or a bird, and I weep for joy or sadness very easily.

 This is an awful state for a woman who wants to present herself to the world as fully in control and totally responsible regarding her duties. The truth is, I’m not.  I know that I’m never in total control, and that when I have this feeling of command and control in my life it’s pure fantasy. More to the point, I’m not a robot, either, that can accomplish all sort of tasks in perfect order. However, when I’m pregnant this comes as a revelation because it’s not my mind that tells me so, but my body.

 Being in such a bodily state can be a grace or scary. In my case it’s a little bit scary, but I’m trying to learn the lesson…

 Natalia

DSK o la débil línea que separa lo público de lo privado en la vida de una mujer

 Durante muchos días me he resistido a la tentación de escribir sobre este tema. Primero porque estoy embarazada y hago las cosas a paso de tortuga, y segundo porque tengo poco tiempo para hacer el trabajo que se va acumulando en la mesa. Escribir sobre este tema exige bastante reflexión, pero hoy he pensado que me voy a lanzar. Me podía la indignación.

Cuando el escándalo de DSK salió a la luz y comenzaron a aparecer comentarios y noticias en la presa sobre la camarera de origen guineano, presunta víctima de un delito sexual por parte del entonces  director del FMI, me vino a la memoria el libro de Carol Pateman, “Contrato sexual”.  

En este libro Pateman señala que la delgada línea que separa lo público de lo privado es movible y se desdibuja cuando se trata de las mujeres. Como ejemplo citaba el caso de Anita Hill, profesora de derecho que acusó al entonces juez Clarence  Thomas de  acoso sexual en los noventa. El caso fue finalmente desestimado y Anita Hill fue sometida a escarnio público. Su vida personal fue expuesta sin pudor durante el juicio, en el que llegó a insinuar que era inestable mentalmente, mientras que el juez Clarence Thomas pasaba indemne la prueba.

El caso de DSK es una réplica del análisis que Pateman hace sobre cómo afecta la división de lo público y lo privado a los mujeres. En primer lugar, la mujer guineana objeto de presuntos abusos es presentada como una mentirosa ( mintió en su solicitud de asilo) y hasta como una prostituta, al mismo tiempo que se insinúa que todo fue un montaje debido a la llamada de teléfono que realizó a una persona en prisión justo después de que ocurriera la presunta agresión.  

La vida privada  de esta mujer guineana es desmenuzada, buscando cualquier resquicio en el que se pueda sustentar la idea de que un hombre como DSK es fiel, no miente o no se dedica a tales depravados menesteres. Es en definitiva, un buen hombre blanco.

DSK no ha sido ni con mucho sometido al mismo tratamiento. ¿Nadie se pregunta si el ex-director del FMI ha mentido alguna vez y probablemente por motivos mucho menos dignos que por salvar la propia vida para salir de su país? Aunque todo el mundo se cuestiona y rumorea sus devaneos sexuales, estos son presentados como “devaneos”, “posibles líos de faldas”, nunca como la conducta sexual de un tipo que a todas luces cree y practica el derecho de pernada ( y que conste que no lo digo yo, sino Vargas Llosa, que aunque no es políticamente santo de mi devoción, escribió un artículo excelente e impecable a este respecto en El País).

La cuestión bajo mi punto de vista no es tanto si la presunta víctima de un delito sexual cometido por DSK miente o no miente, tiene una vida “disoluta” o se dedica al tráfico de drogas en sus ratos libres. La cuestión es si DSK abusó de ella o no. ¿Por qué hemos de juzgar primero la vida privada de la víctima para concluir si hubo o no delito?

Es curioso que este tipo de necesidad de testar la credibilidad de la víctima se de sobre todo cuando las mujeres acusan a los hombres de delitos sexuales. El caso puede venirse abajo perfectamente, pero no olvidemos que la camarera del hotel presentó después del encuentro sexual con DSK hematomas en la vagina y un hombro dislocado. Curiosa manera civilizada de hacer el amor por parte de un hombre que declara “Si, me gustan las mujeres., ¿Y qué?”

Entre la chulería altanera de quién se cree intocable, y la acusación de perpetrar un delito sexual hay un buen trecho, que espero se recorra con el respeto y la dignidad que las mujeres nos merecemos, seamos putas, camareras, traficantes, refugiadas o madres solteras. 

Natalia

New addition to maternalselves

My life has been quite hectic in the last three months. I used to be an organised, efficient and energetic person and I’ve become slow, disorganised and low in energy. The reason: I’m pregnant with my second child.

When I told my close friends and family they looked at me in surprise when they realised I was not especially happy. Some people asked me: Was the pregnancy an accident?

Well, let me tell you that it wasn’t, but the fact that I have spent three months vomiting morning and night and with constant nauseas hasn’t help me to create the sort of exultancy that is expected from all mothers to be. I haven’t been able to work, not even to write this blog, and I’ve been quite sad and depressed as I’ve been feeling sick all the time.

I haven’t even been able to be happy with E. and my partner. I just want to be left in peace, in bed and with some food ready to eat. So how on earth can people expect me to be happy?

I am lucky enough to be able to talk with total honesty to Lucila, my mum and my partner about the fact that I’ve been feeling bad and wondering if going for a second one was a good idea at all. However, in front of most of the people I try to say that we’re very happy although I’m feeling quite sick.

The pregnancy planet is a strange place. Right after the fifth week I had a bit of bleeding, so I was referred for a scan. When I heard the heartbeat of our baby I cried. It was as if waves of feelings were passing through my body. Most of the time during this pregnancy it has been like that, like a roller coaster on which I cannot decide why I am so happy or so sad.

I’m still feeling all these contradictions. How am I going to manage a second child, now that I’m starting to get back to work again and have a lot of professional plans for the future? How is the new baby going to affect E.? Am I going to love this baby as much as I love E.? Do I love this baby enough?

I think all these contradictions that crucify me with E. are stronger with this pregnancy. I’ve been there before; I’ve been on a long maternity leave and I’ve struggled with a baby that refused to sleep at night for the first 10 months, plus all the work and effort that the first year requires. Although I want this baby and we were really looking forward to this second pregnancy, sometimes I wonder how I’m going to cope.

I’ve just realised that this post in not in the positive tone that an announcement of pregnancy should be, but this is how I feel today and I didn’t want to fake it. So yes, I’m pregnant, and sometimes I’m very happy, but I’m also very scared, very worried and very tired.

Natalia

little nagging things

As I feel my energy returning, I feel the urge to write here, but because I have not been writing much, I start to feel certain internal pressure to write an amazing post. But this only works to stop me writing anything, so I decided to take the pressure off and slowly warm up again, and write something, you know, light. Here it goes.

So today I was thinking about our house move, and how I could decorate r’s room. We have been toying with the idea of a seaside theme, since r. LOVES fish and anything sea-related, and we are going  to be living by the sea. All well and good until I get this nagging and stupid, but real, thought: but it is going to be BLUE, and that is more like a boy’s room. And it actually makes me wonder if we should not keep the room as it currently is, with reds, oranges, purples, and more forest things like owls, elephants, mice and butterflies things.

But actually, this is not the first time that this stupid normalising, colour-coding hegemony thought came to haunt me. When we were thinking of decorating the nursery for the first time, I went for what I like. As I said above, reds, oranges, purple, green, rather than pink. First, because I am not a fan of pink, especially the pastel version of it, fuchsia is more of my taste, but I thought it might be bit strong for a baby’s room. Second, pink is not such an easy colour to combine, so almost everything has to be shades of pink and white. And that would be too much (for me). Third, all the stuff that was pink is mainly fairys, and ‘cute girly’ stuff, and I wanted to expand her senses, her colours, her themes, before (and if -here is me hoping) the marketing machine got us. I figured that if later on she wanted a pink room, with barbies hanging as mobiles, we could think about it, but for now, I chose what I was most comfortable with. But I had some moments of doubt.

And here it is again. Me, a feminist mother, stopping to think that I am making her room like a boy’s, just because it is blue. And the doubt is a kind of guilt at not creating her a ‘feminine’ room, and instead creating one that might be confused for a boy’s room, horror of horrors! And I had to stop and think what was I guilty about. Because I was not depriving her of something she wanted, on the contrary, she loves the sea and its creatures. So, why the guilt, the nagging feelings and thoughts that come unnanounced?

I think this unguarded thoughts reflect how categories such as colour coding become so entrenched that doing something different, even such as small thing as decorating a room, can bring about these beliefs and values that come attached to gender, and to being a good mother at the moment we are living, even to someome used to critically examining these issues. Have you found instances such as this one happening to you?

Lucila

Am I too soft?

When it comes to E.’s education, I’m often accused by my partner of being too soft. The reason for this is that we come from backgrounds with different educational models. He is more traditional, and I’m trying to do things a bit differently. For example, if E. doesn’t want to eat his food (which happens now and again) my partner’s approach is not to give him any other food until he eats what’s in front of him, whereas I’m happy to move on to the dessert and the yogurt and, if he is ill or unwell, to make something different.

My partner is more confrontational, whereas I try to negotiate with E. However, I have my doubts.  Am I teaching him to believe that he will always have the possibility of choice?

Most of the books I read emphasise teaching children to choose instead of using an authoritave approach in which no choices are given at all. But what about a combination of the two approaches?

My concern is that by putting a lot of emphasis on choosing, on freedoms and rights, I’m not teaching him that sometimes in life there is no choice and you need to deal with the situation the way it is and to accept it.

 I see this when I’m teaching at the university. Many students claim their rights without paying much attention to their duties. I believe that in education and any process of learning the student needs to trust the teacher or carer, sometimes accepting what he/she says even when he doesn’t understand it. For me this is part of the process of learning.

The difference with my partner is that although I was educated in an authoritative system I see the pitfalls. But  sometimes I have doubts about whether I’m going to make E. a very demanding person in terms of his rights and not in terms of his duties: someone unable to accept certain things in life.

I feel that in our Western world we praise rights, freedoms and choices and we love reforming and changing situations, whereas in Eastern cultures people learn to accept life. I’m not saying that this is good all the time, but there are certain things that cannot be changed (you get old, you die, you get ill, loved ones pass away, etc.).

Can you believe that it took me an hour and a half to fall sleep last night thinking about this?

Natalia

I second that…

I am really sorry, it is really not so good when both of us are feeling totally wiped out! If you add the night struggle and the load of struff I need to ge tdone at this time, I just feel underwater…I am really sorry for the silence, I really miss it here.

Lucila