The beauty and heartache of Mother’s Day

Bunch of glowers in glass vase with ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ in heart - shaped card. Flowers surfound base
Image: iStock

Mother’s Day is this Sunday in Australia (I’m not sure whether the US has the same day or not. Father’s Day is different… I think). Looking at shopping centres during this week, I’m amazed at the beauty of the advertising and products. Sure, Mother’s Day is  great for advertisers to pull at the heart strings of consumers. I think they’ve succeeded this year, at least in Lavington! But, to me, it also shows the beauty that mothers bring (or are supposed to bring) to children and adults.

Women, around the country and around the world, do everything they possibly can for their children. There are also foster carers, stepmothers and aunts as well as others, who would give their lives if it meant seeing the children they love so dearly, live happily.

There are also mothers who have lost babies, either through miscarriage or stillbirth. That heartbreaking moment when they are told that their little bundle doesn’t have a heartbeat. The pain must be unbearable. The little child that they never heard cry, talk or see walk will always be in their hearts as long as they live.

There are women who are either childless by choice or by circumstances (prolonged singleness, infertility, etc), who make it an imperative to be a part of the lives of their nieces and nephews. They love them as they would love their own.

Unfortunately, Mother’s Day is hard for some children and adults who have recently lost a mother. It may be their first Mother’s Day without their mother, due to death. For those who are in this situation, maybe for the first Mother’s Day, my heart goes out to you.

Despite the $2 billion industry Mother’s Day has become, I believe it’s a day of reflection and showing love and appreciation to the women that have made such an impact throughout our lives.

 

If you’re a mother, stepmother, foster carer, ‘cool Aunt”, I hope you have an awesome day on Sunday. For those who will struggle this weekend, I hope you will find comfort.

 

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Ravishly wrong about #MeToo and demonising men

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In the wake of the #MeToo, feminist site Ravishly speculates how relations between men and womwn, including in romantic relationships, have been affected

 

I usually like the American feminist site, Ravishly. I like how they allow various voices to be heard. I like their advocacy and inclusion, especially of the LGBTQ+ community.I love the way they have written about asexuality.

 

This, though, goes too far. The title itself is provocative enough: “Can Straight Couples Survive #MeToo”.The columnist, Myisha Battle starts off alright; how the #MeToo movement emboldened and terrified women about the extent of sexual assault and harassment. Women seek solace forming communities where women can support other survivors of such trauma. Great. But, after that, the article goes downhill.

Take these quotes:

How do women still go out with guys when you consider that there is no greater threat to women than men?

(said by CK himself before the accusations against him became public)

…where does that leave us with our relationships with men?

Fair or not, the biggest question that women who are partnered with men is “has he always been a good man and can I continue to trust that he will be good to me and all the other women in his life?

I imagine that people would be offended by the last quote in particular. And if it was said about any other group: LGBTQ+ people, people of colour, etc, it wouldn’t be tolerated.

Men as a whole should not be condemned for the actions of a few. Women shouldn’t feel like they tiptoe around partners, husbands, brothers, uncles, fathers, etc unnecessarily (unless there is reason to; violence, etc).

 

Another thing I don’t like about this is women perpetrators and male victims of abuse and harassment get ignored. At least one male survivors of sexual assault have  made that accusation against the movement as a whole.

The author of the Stuff article I posted above isn’t the only male that has broken his silence of abuse and harassment. Infamously, Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of assaulting him when he was only fourteen. George of the Jungle and The Mummy star, Brendan Fraser, used #MeToo to allege that he was sexually assaulted by a former Hollywood Press Association president (which the accused denied at the time the article was written).

 

It’s true that the vast majority of victims of sexual violence are women, according the the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and over 90% of perpetrators are male, according to Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA). I think we have to remember when the roles are reversed (male victim/ female perpetrator) or when men have been assaulted by other men either as children or adults.

Final thing. As a non – straight person, I want to defend straight couples. They are not all toxic. The revelations brought about by the #MeToo movement should not be treated as an indictment against heterosexuality. This is ridiculous. There are good men who love women, both their partners, other family members and friends. There are fathers of girls who adore them and would hate for any harm to come to them – especially something as abhorrent as sexual assault.

The #MeToo movement should— and I think has done so somewhat successfully— exposed men, in particular, that have been abusive. They should be held to account. Using the movement to scaremonger and demonise men unjustly won’t do anyone any good.

If you’re Australian and this has brought up any issues for you, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or 1800 – RESPECT (1800 737 732)

If you aren’t from Australia and know any helpline numbers or other contact details of organisations that help sexual assault sufferers in your country, please post them in the comments below. 

Women can drive in Saudi Arabia. But if attitudes don’t change about women, nothing will

Saudi woman driving with niqab on
Women can now drive in Saudi Arabia, although it’s very restricted and guardianship laws still apply (Image: iStock)

Laws have been passed to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia. They will come into affect from June next year.

Saudi Arabia, a Wahhabism state, has implemented a strict form of Islamic law, based on a fundamentalist interpretation of the Qu’ran. According to FutureScopes, Saudi Arabia has been only one of two countries in the world that have had a ban on women driving (the other being Afghanistan when the Taliban ruled in 1996). This ban has given Saudi Arabia a bad reputation around the world, including by their ally, the United States.

 

The excuses given to prohibit women from driving are nothing short of ludicrous. An article from The Atlantic in 2013 reported that  Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al – Lohaidan, a judicial adviser of an association for Gulf psychologists, claimed that women shouldn’t be able to drive because it pushes the pelvis up and affects the ovaries. This is not backed up by any science.

Saudi women who have dared to drive or protest the ban have also been likened to terrorists. According to India Today, two Saudi women were arrested for ‘terrorism’ offences when they defied the driving ban in 2014.

 

Earlier this year, Asma Alsharif wrote in Reuters that King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz permitted women to be able to vote. Also, this year, Saudi women have been granted the right to take up tertiary studies, access some medical care and work without the permission of a male guardian.

As I pointed out above, while much progress has been made, there seems to be ingrained beliefs that will keep women oppressed. To be frank, I doubt that the most recent change has anything to do with rights of women itself.

The reasons why this ban has been so – called ‘lifted’ is to allow women to drive to work, to help the Saudi economy. From what I can gather, the change hasn’t come about because attitudes about men and women have changed. This explains why male “guardianship” is still enforced in the strict Islamic Kingdom.

 

Saudi Arabia is also infamous for accusing and executing people, predominately women for ‘sorcery’. Sounds quite 17th century, doesn’t it? (Note: for those who are confused why I picked that century and not the first millennia, I had the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller in mind. Same diff. Outdated and barbaric beliefs).

That is why these ‘advances’ that Saudi Arabia has made has been taken with a grain of salt. The reason why Saudi Arabia has had such a bad reputation globally when it comes to women’s rights is the fundamental beliefs about them. Without changes to those beliefs and attitudes across the country, what’s to stop women’s rights to study, access medical care and drive being stripped away again? Nothing, really.

 

From the outside looking in, Saudi Arabia is an epitome of how far the rights of women has to globally. It’s not just laws that need to be changed in such countries to make long – term impact. It’s beliefs, attitudes and distribution of power, particularly between men and women. Then, maybe the world will applaud Saudi Arabia for real progress.

Have you been to Saudi Arabia? Do you live there? What was/ is it like? Feel free to tell me your experiences.