The virtues of Mothers

Mothers have been esteemed throughout history. They are so powerful an influence on their children, that their sons, when grown men, call for them as they die on the battlefield - I say die, but not in despair - because they know there is one who loves them, and who would risk her own life if she could, to come to his aid. Whilst a career might have worth, might generate benefits for society and humanity, who knows whether any successes really depend on the individual, or whether in fact someone else might do the job as well, or perhaps better. There may be exceptions, but if so I suggest they are rare; women like Florence Nightingale come maybe once a century, equally great men are as rare, perhaps even rarer. But a mother, no-one can replace a mother in a child's heart. A mother who has cared for a child through his or her youth, a mother who can never be replaced in the child's affections, as the opportunity to play the role is never again offered - that is a unique and special role. No-one can step into her place, as people are regularly replaced in the professions. Yes, a mother's importance and unique contribution stands well above that of any career women, and that is perhaps why they are revered so highly, why their good opinion is cared for so much, why they have so much influence on not just the child, but the adult.

Is it wrong to call a boy a girl?

There is much fuss at the minute about name calling. I certainly agree that calling people names in an attempt to demean them is an unpleasant act, and one that should be discouraged. But in recent debate I have noticed that people are getting very upset about statements such as "you throw like a girl" etc. The implication is that this is demeaning to girls. I wish to argue that until recently, that has not been true. Furthermore, it is suggested that such statements are made by boys and men as a means of degrading girls and contribute to misogyny. I don't think this is true. I will tell you why. Firstly, I grew up with a slightly older sister - whom I adored. So I did anything she asked (although I stopped at eating poo out of the toilet which she insisted to me - when I was around 3yo - that it was chocolate). But at one stage when I was about this age, she and my rather young aunt played a game where they put me in a dress. A photo was taken. For the rest of my life this has been used to humiliate me at family dinners, when guests come, etc: how I wore a dress. I also liked the colour pink when I was young - not at the time being aware of the gender ban on this like - this also for the rest of my life was used to humiliate me at family dinners, etc. So there are two things about this - there is nothing embarassing for girls about wearing dresses and liking pink, but there is for boys.

The problem is power, and our failure to learn

A couple of years back a Vietnamese colleague of mine told me how his father had to flee from Vietnam (after the war I believe). I asked about his family, and apart from his father, who was an academic, the rest were all farmers. Curious about how bad things really were in Vietnam before the war, and in so-called 'poor developing nations' in general, I enquired about the standard of living of his farming relatives, in particular his uncle - whom we were discussing. The first question was "Did he ever go hungry?". The answer was a no, hunger was never really an issue. The next question was "How hard did he work?" Here I was imagining dawn-to-dusk drudgery in the fields. My friend's reply was 'about four hours a day". At the end of this conversation life as a peasant farmer in Vietnam didn't seem too bad, debt free, and no (or little) risk of hunger or unemployment. However, I was suspicious if this was true generally. So I asked my uncle - who fought in Vietnam - telling him everything that I had heard. "Rubbish" was effectively his reply. Ah hah - I thought, now I will get to hear about the poverty and misery and long hours of drudgery. But my uncle continued on to say, "The men did no work, the women did it all".