Monday, 16 March 2009

Stupes and stupidity

I’ve been saving this one for a slow paranoia day.

I don’t suppose it’s going to win me any female friends at all and maybe I’ll lose some of them, but still ”Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”

One of the bitter, sick and twisted joys of chillin wiv da social conservatives is how they expand your breadth of vision.

It turns out that not only are there many, many more and much scarier liberals than you could possibly imagine. They are also everywhere.

Even in the Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail for Fox’s sake.

And not only are they very numerous and daily setting ever higher Stakhanovite production records for new idiocies, but they all seem to be possessed by what Dumb Jon (who is to my mind Theodore Dalrymple’s vicar on Earth) calls an overwhelming sense of entitlement.

Here is an article which was first published 23rd February 2009 but destined to become a classic of libtard mouth-breathing lunacy for conservative sarcasm to play with wherever two or more hardcore curtain-twitching why-oh-whyers are gathered together in His name.

Elizabeth Stewart sets out to beat John Lennon’s timeless agglomeration of concentrated and yet catchy halfwittery; Imagine, the individualist Left’s equivalent of old Alexi’s 102 tons of coal personally mined in less than 6 hours.

It’s not just the entitlement that is remarkable here but her utter lack of empathy for or imagination about how ordinary readers might react to her tale of woe.

At best, I would guess, she might be able to feel our champagne, but this is definitely not how to win friends and influence people.

Why do women feel so ANGRY? Welcome to the age of female rage
By Elizabeth Stewart

Last week, I was woken at 2am by the unmistakable sound of vomiting. For a foolish split second, I waited to see if my husband, Johnny, would get up and see to Grace, our three-year-old daughter.

I'd been on my feet for 18 hours straight the previous day, giving a major presentation to one of my advertising company's most important clients. I hadn't got home until 10pm and was exhausted. I craved sleep the way an addict longs for his next fix.

No argument – parents get tired, and fathers should help with raising the family. Take a full part, I mean; not the odd nappy change. If they’re allowed, but you seem keen enough to have him involved Elizabeth, so good on you.

Johnny, on the other hand, had knocked off at 4pm - flexible hours being one of the benefits of working in IT - and arrived home in time to spend the evening playing with Grace.

Oh, dear. Absent or uninvolved father not present in your life. Is he in danger of muscling in on you all-girl time I wonder? And to knock off early with flexi-time means he has to make up the hours elsewhere. Or is he just better rewarded per hour than you and able to work less for more? Could happen. Could he work more and you work less on the same budget?

After the nanny had bathed her and put her to bed,…


…he'd cheerfully polished off the dinner I'd cooked for him the previous day and had an early night.

I could have woken him, of course, but a few days earlier, Grace had been taken ill at her new nursery school. They'd called to ask me to pick her up, but I'd been in a wretched meeting …

Work-life balance, hey? It’s a cliché these days and could there be an underlying reason it’s a cliché, I wonder?

…and had never got the message. Grace had cried for me for half the day before falling into an exhausted, red-cheeked sleep.

No argument with your feelings there – some children can be inconsolable when their mothers leave them. It’s just the way they’re made. Poor kid and poor you.

Still racked with guilt for not being there, I chastised myself for minding about her waking me and stumbled into the nursery, where I discovered she'd thrown up, in spectacular fashion, all over her cot. I cleaned her up, stripped and changed the sheets and put her back to bed.

That’s definitely a horrible thing to have to do, and I’ve done it myself many a time but not, I have to admit, nearly as often as the Mark One Mrs. Northwester did weekday nights. But mine was the only wage packet, so it kind of fitted at the time…

An hour later, she was sick again. This time, I brought her into our bed. When she threw up for a third time at 5am, even Johnny woke up.

But while I stripped beds again, wiped up more vomit and carted another armful of sheets to the washing machine, he collapsed on the sofa and promptly went back to sleep.

Obviously his desire for sleep and possibly to maintain his earning potential is way higher than his commitment to sharing parenthood fifty-fifty at all times with you. Perhaps you could fill us in on any agreements you made, the chronological order of your respective jobs starting, comparative earnings and the timing vis-a-vis your life together when you took the joint decision to have a child? Do such things matter at all, in any way, or does motherhood or indeed joint parenthood trump all other considerations?

Seething, I stalked into the kitchen and pulled some beef from the freezer. I might as well start preparing that night's dinner; I was too wide awake to go back to bed. I wouldn't have time to make anything that evening, since I'd promised my mother that I'd go over and help her fill her freezer.

Was it a good promise to make during the working week? Just asking, but is your mother a healthy and able one; sane and collected, or is she in some way disabled or troubled? I’d almost swear you’d tell us if she was, you know?

My mobile rang. It wasn't even light outside, but the Asian office was halfway through its business day. I was tempted to fling the phone in the washing machine with the sheets, but I can't afford to lose my job. Johnny and I need two salaries just to keep a roof over our heads.

Got to wonder how much the nanny costs and what other expenses you lump together under 'keeping a roof over your heads'. I mean, reading on later it appears that your breadline level is a little elevated compared to mine and many other people’s.

So I answered it, gritting my teeth and seasoning my stew, …

oh do tell us that you washed your hands between the vomit and the beef – it’s the cosy little domestic details that add flavour to these stories,

…wishing I could have another life, any life but mine.

Nigerian AIDs whore? Gazan child bride? Israeli orange farmer cowering in her air raid shelter as the Hamas rockets come over and make her children piss their pants again? Single mother on benefits not planning to become a meat people carrier permanently?

Any other life? Really?

Aside from my husband and baby daughter, I have a 13-year-old son at boarding school who I miss desperately and drive to see as often as the school permits...

Boarding school?

This is keeping the roof over your heads? I know that state schools are bad and getting worse, but maybe talking a high-powered sniper rifle to the National Union of Teachers Annual Conference might be fun? Nah.

…a 94-year-old grandmother in the West Country who lives for my visits once a fortnight…

You are a very good granddaughter, I admit. Really outstanding. No criticism intended here, not even subliminally.

…and an undomesticated, widowed mother.

Widowed after how long? She’s produced an intelligent daughter capable of working in business and writing lucidly (if with an autistic lack of empathy for any surviving housewives and other working mothers who might be reading the Daily Mail, I suspect). Is she sane and healthy, I ask again?

Can’t you make her a list of things to do and make her put the schedule of bills to pay, groceries to rotate, provide a recipe book and a few lessons and let her go it alone?

Switch the answer phone to silent – you’re dedicated to bringing up a tiny baby and working on your career; surely a sane and loving mother could have it explained to her…If not, what’s wrong with her? Really? Is it Alzheimer’s or inflexibility?

Or selfishness – selfishness has been known in mothers, you know.

There is an ex-husband who believes his schedule is far more important than mine and must always come first when we're divvying up our son's holidays,

Ex-husbands can be bastards this way and in many other ways, I know. And oddly enough, so can ex-wives; especially the ones with residence, but thank God for easy divorce – sometimes it makes sense to one or both parents I’m sure. Really, really sure.

Not so sure for the kids, but hey…

Also: absentee fathers who never contact their children – are they worse or better than this chap, I wonder? Just wondering.

Do tell.

and a French nanny who seems to think my job is to facilitate her social life.

French nanny. 'Keeping the roof over your heads'. Hmm.

I have a job that makes no allowances for the fact I have children who don't always get sick with three weeks' advance notice.

But you really love that job though, right?

Do you want someone too give you more money to hire more nannies or perhaps a locum to fill your desk a couple of hours a day at work. Who should pay in either case?

The boarding school and nursery assume I wait around at home with nothing to do but attend conferences and plays and sports events on their schedule.

The boarding school. Keeping the roof over your heads.

You’re not in charge of budget-setting at work, are you?

No wonder I'm filled with a permanent nebulous, undirected rage that my life has become a Gordian knot of obligations, responsibilities, guilt, duties and expectations.

No wonder at all.

I can't even go for a walk in the park without factoring in the needs of half a dozen people. I resent that every second of my day is owned by someone else.

I can see three sets of people you might consider extracting from your life permanently. The one with the mortarboard, the one with the starched apron and mop bonnet, and the undomesticated part of your mother. How much money to send her to cooking lessons?

Yes, I'm angry. I'm angry with a world that still doesn't acknowledge how hard women work, in and out of the workplace.

We acknowledge it.

Now, who’s the proper person or persons to pay to help you? Who is it fair to tax or whose bottom line is it fair to shrink down to help you out here?

I'm angry with men for dumping the childrearing problem in our laps.

Some men do so – many, I think.

For what it’s worth, even when the series of events that led to Mark One Mrs. Northwester acquiring that two word prefix came to a head, she never once blamed me for not spending enough time looking after Tiny Northwester. That was her task. Her only task towards the end, as it happened. She even blamed me for 9/11 during this one conversation…But not neglecting TNW: never that.

So, not ALL men, if you please.

I'm angry with women for refusing to admit it's too much, that we can't do everything all the time.

Well done, Elizabeth. You’ve admitted that you can’t do everything all the time.

Now what?

Don't get me wrong, I adore my husband. But there are times I could cheerfully strangle him simply for having the luck to be born a man.

I pleaded with Mark One Mrs. Northwester to get her very own 16-hour per day job to pay the mortgage and leave me to look after TNW 24/7 instead. Want to guess what she said? It was about motherhood being special.

"I'm filled with a permanent and undirected fury"

At 32, he's five years younger than me and, in many ways, very much a New Man. He talks about his feelings, rubs my feet, doesn't resent my earning capacity and worships the ground our daughter walks on.

But Johnny doesn't do vomit. Or nappies. Or snotty noses, chewing gum in hair, laundry, meal planning, name-tape sewing - in short, none of the dull, thankless micro-tasks that keep the family wheels oiled and running every day.

You work for an advertising agency with an Asian office. How are your negotiating skills?

Nor did my first husband, an unreconstructed City lawyer. It's as if men think the XX chromosome somehow bestows a knack for, and a degree of pleasure in, wiping bottoms and clearing up sick.

In the days when a woman stayed home to raise a family while a man went out to work to put bread on the table, this division of labour was fair enough.

I also agree that the tax and benefits system plus our awful socialized ‘education’ system have all but destroyed the possibility of being a housewife on anywhere near the incomes that working married women have. I hate it because I see the harm it does and always will do as it is presently constituted. Trashing all that via Parliament should be a priority for women such as you and many others.

So, how’s the feminization of politics going?

Okay, so you’re the bread winner. If Mark Two Mr. Elizabeth is so New Man, why can’t you persuade him to work from home part time. He’s in IT, isn’t he? He doesn’t resent your earning capacity. How are your outgoings? Any room to save a few quid so he could go part-time, or you?

But why these days, when women work just as hard as men outside the home, are they still responsible for pretty much everything that goes on in it?

How hard is it to learn to cook? (Boil the kettle, add pasta.) As that arch- chauvinist Jeremy Clarkson would say, it's not rocket science. But ask Johnny to cook peas and he'll forget to add water. I swear he does it on purpose so I don't ask again.

Ask again. Ask nicer. Ask louder. Ask through the spare room wall for night after night if you have to.

Feisty isn’t a gangster’s nickname you know.

On one memorable occasion last year, he rang me while I was in France to inform me that the dog had been sick as if I could do something about it. Two hours later, he called again to explain that he'd locked himself out of the house, with Grace alone inside. Once again I gently pointed out that I was, in fact, in another country and he would have to solve this one himself.

New Man in what sense? Does he rub your feet because he thinks he’ll get lucky as that’s where babies come from, or does he think you’re a magic lamp or something? Are you sure he’s in IT, or does he just work shifts at Game between bouts of Tomb Raider? I think there’s something you’re not telling us or, much more likely, yourself.

But it's not Johnny I'm really angry with.

Maybe you should. Or maybe not. Maybe there’s something else or someone else or both to be angry with.

He's a loving, supportive, wonderful man.

Who won’t cook and who phones you in another country when there’s a locked door between him and Grace. Just who are you trying to convince here?

Perhaps I wouldn't mind his domestic helplessness so much if I wasn't being torn in so many different directions all the time.

We can see all that. But what recipe are you working to?

My job as a managing partner at a major advertising agency demands a huge amount of commitment, particularly in these tough economic times.

Ingredient number one.

Because I want to spend some time with my daughter lest she forgets who I am, I cram five days' work into four and take Friday afternoons off.

Ingredient number two.

In theory, that is. In reality, I find myself on a conference call to Chicago as I try to prevent my daughter pushing six eggs, a fistful of blackberries and half a carton of juice into the DVD player.

Ingredient number two again.

I feel guilty that I'm not pulling my weight by being at the office –…

Ingredient number one again.

…even though I work just as hard and long as anyone else

Ingredient number one again.

- and I feel guilty because I'm not giving my daughter the 24/7, one- on- one time a fulltime mother would be able to.

Ingredient number two again. Is there a pattern here?

My mother grew up in a wealthy family who had servants to do all the boring tasks such as cooking and cleaning. She had enough sense to send me on a cordon bleu cookery course for a year before I went up to Oxford, which means that I often end up cooking for her, too.

Ingredient number three.

See my advice about her above and compare it with your previous sentence. I can’t help feeling she’s missing out on some fun new learning experience here.

Not that I mind, which, as Johnny is quick to point out if I complain I'm overwhelmed, is part of the problem.

Ingredient number four.

Unlike a man, I just can't seem to find it in me to say 'No'.

Ingredient number four. It’s the one the final Mrs. Northwester pointed out having read your article. She’s a self-conscious and determined feminist and I take her at her word on such matters as she’s the most honest person I’ve ever met. Saying ‘No’ is a skill you need to transfer from work, I think. You do have to say ‘No’ in advertising from time to time, don’t you?

One word answer only, please.

I love my mother. I want to help her. But there are times I wonder if she grasps just how complicated my life is. She never had to juggle work with a family and husband.

Ingredient number four.

I know I've had fantastic opportunities that she's been denied, but in some ways, it was much simpler for her.

Ingredient number four again.

My generation of women aren't having it all - we're doing it all.

Ingredient number four again.

It's a constant struggle to meet the demands of my various roles as wife, mother, daughter, colleague, lover, friend. I feel as if I short-change everyone all the time.

Ingredient number four again.

I never have a moment that's just mine.

Ingredient number four again.

Someone always wants a piece of me.

Ingredient number four again.

Yesterday, in the middle of a bikini wax,….

And yet, despite all she’s written so movingly so far, I almost lost my capacity to give a toss at this point.

Did you, dear reader?

…I had an urgent call from the office and had to orchestrate a crucial meeting on the other side of the world, biting my fists to stop yelping at the wrong moments.

That’s not an ingredient; it’s the penultimate course of this particular banquet, I’m afraid.

Frequently, as I reach for a file from my bag in the midst of a presentation, a pair of baby pants or a lollipop falls out. It hardly helps my image as a cool, collected professional. I watch the smug glances of the men around the table and want to slap them.

Let’s try a little mind game here, just to see what’d happen.

You’re feeling as you do and living as you do one day and it’s first thing in the morning after a sleepless night.

You have three containers which we will call: briefcase, slow cooker, and crib.

You have three items, which we will call: laptop, baby, and leg of lamb. Quickly and without thinking – are they in the right order or not? Hurry!

Recently, the Children's Society published a report lambasting modern women for being too selfish to be good mothers.

Are they kidding?

Perhaps not. Perhaps not. And yet…

I'd like to see the authors spend a week in my shoes.

Very cheap shoes, are they?

Most of my days are a near-precipice experience.

Ingredient number four again.

I'm so close to the edge that I'm in a semi-permanent state of panic. I have a constant list of things I have to do running through my head like a stock market ticker-tape


Is that ingredient number four again, or are we at the coffee and mints stage now?

What must it be like to live without the tyranny of the list? To sink into a bath and not be mentally composing tomorrow's agenda? What is it like to be a man and have nothing to think about but the task in hand?

No wonder the vast majority of our great scientists, thinkers and artists are men. Think how much room they must have in their heads without all the domestic clutter their wives are taking care of.

Am I angry? You haven't heard anything yet.

See, I’m a first husband myself and I bet my readers can infer part of why that might be by now.

They might be right.

But still and all, let’s assume that someone unconnected with your life and marriages was to come along and sincerely try to help you with it all and who didn’t want you to be stuck pregnant, barefoot and chained to the sink. What would they say? Someone whose patriarchal capitalist meme wasn’t to keep women down as cheap labour and out of the neo-colonialist phallocentric property-owning bellicist power structure. Another mother, perhaps. Not yours, obviously; but a working mother and professional such as my late mother was.

Or let’s pretend I’m that charming black bloke off the telly who sorts gormless peoples’ financial messes out for them.

Here’s a list that might just help.

# How big and expensive is your house and mortgage? Is there anything a clever professional couple can do about it?

# What’s the nearest good school where your son might commute to and still get an education? Is he truly happy out there in the countryside?

# Your husband won’t cook and phones you in another country when there’s a locked door between him and Grace.

# He’s on flexi time.

# You're an managing partner and business high-flyer. Does this indicate that you are persuasive at all?

# Your undomesticated mother sent you to school to learn domestic skills. She no longer has servants. Join the dots, girl.

# Apart from school fees and nanny’s wages and nursery fees and mortgage what do you both spend your money on? How many holidays and cars, and what sorts?

# Are you making pension contributions or are you planning on working forever?

# Is there any way of cutting costs, or rearranging some of your priorities or Johnny’s or both that might help you all somehow?

A New Age counsellor: bead-decked and organic vegan lentilled in all her hand-knit rainbow striped glory might ask:

* Are you treating anyone as other than a child here?

Your husband, for example: can he be trusted to react to reasonable requests for help without petulance, adultery and divorce?

Your mother?

Your nanny?


* Have you chosen wisely in all things, I wonder? Got your priorities right? Wanted it all, all at once?

* Nobody’s indispensable, dear, but how would all these pampered children cope if you collapsed from stress right now, and how would little Grace and your boy manage once the insurance paid out?

And a nasty social conservative like me might ask:

~ What are you like to work for Elizabeth if you feel the way you do? Fun in your office, is it?

~ Have you bitten off more than you can chew following the Cosmopolitan feminist dream?

~ Are you sure that high-paid work for you with all that it buys is better than less well paid work and an absence of guilt?

~ You’re a moral agent, an adult, and not a child. Act accordingly. Try saying ‘No.’

~ And if you’re right all the way through and the world does owe you everything all at once, including the ability to achieve superhuman acts of balance and strength, by whom and how is the world to compensate you for your loss?

~ How does Johnny feel about being exposed to the world by your article, and your mother and your son? Bet they all can read. But sometimes, you’ve just got to let it all out, right? Especially for a fee…

~ If you say you can’t do anything differently because you need it all and it’s unfair of a man to ask you to give something up, well okay then. Can we test that with another little mind game?..

Let’s assume some state in which you have it all. Your work/life balance is fine, your husband is taking his share, the office has adjusted to your odd hours and your mother’s remarried to competent cook and book-keeper. The new headmaster’s a sweetie who only bothers you when you have the time and your ex husband wins the lottery and so can fit in with any holiday plans of yours for contact with your boy. Time is tight but you’re well organised and you and Johnny even have a few hours’ privacy a week to get you several of the things that you kindly haven’t been mentioning so far. All is well.

Is it possible for you to mess it up with one more pleasure/demand on your time and energy? A horse of your own, perhaps, or a lover? Another baby? You do know where they come from, right? What would make you entitled to more under those circumstances, and who would have to copper up to support you?

~ So if it's theoretically possible to make a perfect life worse by asking for too much from it in the future, what’s to say you haven’t already done it now?

Oh, and to go all Jane Austen for a moment…

You’re wearing yourself out trying to do it all: sleep deprived and you sleep alone sometimes and you’re out of the house a lot of the time. Your husband’s on flexi time, five years younger, not knackered, and you have a French nanny around the house?

Do try to keep up.


This is my most frequently-read post to date, and fans of social schadenfreude might want to read this one, too.


JuliaM said...


James Higham said...

LOL - that sure ain't gonna win you no friends. :)

Anna Raccoon said...

But Johnny doesn't do vomit. Or nappies. Or snotty noses, chewing gum in hair, laundry, meal planning, name-tape sewing - in short, none of the dull, thankless micro-tasks that keep the family wheels oiled *******************
What's the betting you don't do oil changing, lawn mowing, bringing the logs in on a dark night, sorting out the TV aerial when a storm blows it over in the middle of your favourite film, listening to your endless whingeing when you're feeling stressed.......what's the point.

You are determined to feel sorry for yourself.

Generations of women have crossed the Americas, given birth in the desert, sailed single handed round the world, but you are stressed by your nanny filled, well remunerated, life-in-the-second-millennium with more labour saving devices than our Mothers had ever heard of.

Thank-you for reminding me why I stopped reading the Daily Mail.

Sue said...

What a snotty nosed pratt of a woman. We had two kids, I stayed at home till the last one went off to school. No nannies, no boarding schools, we had a reasonably comfortable life, didn't do without but no real luxuries until I went back to work! That's life, that's having kids.

My husband worked, I did everything else. It was my job, he did some of the yukkier bits when he felt like participating but I enjoyed looking after my children or I wouldn't have had them!

If women want careers and children they shouldn't moan about how stretched they're feeling.

Being a housewife and mum is a full time job.

Sue said...

She didn't actually get an awful lot of sympathy from the Daily Mail readers :) some of the comments are quite cutting. She should live in the real world of struggling to make ends meet.....

Jim Jay said...

"I'm angry with a world that still doesn't acknowledge how hard women work, in and out of the workplace."

Which probably explains why she thinks it's alright to slag off her nanny.

"I'm angry with men for dumping the childrearing problem in our laps."

Except we've already heard that he spent "the evening playing with Grace." And I bet the nanny does more child rearing and name badge sewing than she does anyway.

Basically any work that she doesn't do doesn't count in her book. She also appears to resent any time she spends with her kids. Having to clear up sick goes with the territory - it's not torture or abuse it's part of being a grown up.

Perhaps, in between her high powered bikini waxings, she could make more time for herself by cutting out all the complaining - I bet that would free up hours of her day and certainly make her a nicer person to be with.

North Northwester said...

Thank you all for visiting and for your comments.
I thought that this one needed answering in some detail as she has taken a modern dream [ and a very old longing] and made a dog's breakfast, if not a nightmare out of it.

My conservative view is that she is at best a self-victimizing fool, and at worst slightly villainous in her unwillingness to think of her serial stupidity's effect on others.

Mrs. Northwester, a Lefty-liberal, pointed out the harm her rant might do to son and husband. Now I think of it, to mother and maybe grandmother too.

Jeez; imagine seeing that written about yourself in a mass-circulation national tabloid.

And this is the class that will produce the wealth to get us out of the depression?


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