Blogs and Girls

This is my youngest son, Isaac:

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Yes, that’s right, he’s my son. I am well aware that he is extremely pretty, and has long hair, but he is still very much a little boy (believe me, he mentions his willy even more frequently than I do), and it’s amazing how many people struggle with the concept of a boy having long hair, even in 2018.

Isaac’s hair initially grew beyond what society apparently deems ‘normal’ length about a year ago, because he didn’t want to go to the barbers to have it cut. The more we tried to persuade him that barbers are not scary people you should be fearful of (unlike murderers, tax inspectors, and dentists, for example), the more he refused to listen. It has now got to the point where, if we so much as suggest getting his hair cut (and this is not for the reasons you might imagine), he curls up into a ball like a cornered hedgehog.

The thing is, over the past year, Isaac has moved away from merely being scared of getting his hair cut; and his main reason for not wanting to visit the barber now, is that he simply adores his long hair.

True, he hates getting it tangled or matted (usually with ketchup or ice cream), and in hot weather it can become an unwanted source of additional insulation for him (to the extent he is now often seen in just his pants, with his long hair blowing behind him as he runs); but, generally speaking, he adores his mane, and it is now very much a part of him. In fact, if he did suddenly get his hair chopped, it would be some time before we adapted to his new look.

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Isaac is very much an individual and unique little boy, who doesn’t wish to conform to whatever society dictates to be the norm – and I refer here to not only his hair, but also his behaviour in general, which is best described (as I have many times before), as ‘feral’ – so if he wants to have long hair, he is jolly well going to have long hair, and fuck anyone who questions his decision. Truth be told, I admire anyone who has this attitude to life, and only wish I was so dismissive of what people thought of me.

In recent months, now that the weather is warmer, he has decided that he wants to wear his hair up more, and as soon as the ladies at his nursery started putting it in a pony tail, or bunches (and, on one occasion, a French plait – see below), this only encouraged him further. This does not mean he relates more to being a girl, or prefers girly stereotypes (whatever they may be); he merely loves his hair to bits (ketchup-encrusted bits, admittedly).

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I’m ashamed to admit that, initially, I wanted him to get his hair cut for selfish reasons, because I was so annoyed by the strange looks when another parent or passer-by in the street would overhear us call his name; or, worse, when they would actually engage with us and refer to our ‘little girl’ or ‘daughter’.

At first, I would correct them with a simple and stern ‘actually, Isaac here is a boy’, but I eventually got so sick of the confusion in their reaction – or, on odd occasions, an actual look of disapproval – that it just became easier to ignore their comment and say his name louder next time to really mess with their heads.

But now I’m getting seriously pissed off with it all.

I don’t care if he has long hair. I don’t care if he enjoys playing with his dolls and unicorns (he’s obsessed with unicorns). I don’t care if his favourite colour is pink. I don’t care if, one day, he decides that he’d quite like to wear a dress please, Daddy (although that does mean actually buying him one, and we don’t have enough space for any more clothing as it is, because 82% of our house is taken up by my wife’s shoe collection).

Who decided that dolls and unicorns are just for girls, anyway? When was pink allocated to one gender, and blue the other? Why shouldn’t he spend his birthday voucher on two rainbow-coloured teddies if he wants to?

At Ollie’s football club on a Thursday evening, there are two young girls who turn up every week with their Dads, and whenever I see them playing, I’m disappointed. I don’t imagine for one second, that there are only two girls of Ollie’s age in the whole of Sandbach who enjoy playing football, and it saddens me to think they don’t join clubs like this one, because they are either afraid or embarrassed of being labelled ‘boyish’.

Ollie has done many things that have disappointed me over his eight years on this planet. In recent months he has become extremely sulky, stroppy and stubborn. Prior to that, he started to misbehave and get into trouble at school (only for talking in class, mind), and when he was a baby, he shit on me. A lot.  But I have never been so disappointed in him, as the time he criticised his goalkeeper at football club, purely because she was a girl. Ok, as it happens, she’s not the best player in the world, but then again neither is he, and I gave him a severe bollocking for having such a chauvinistic attitude.

My grandparents grew up at a time when racism was still widely accepted, and even though society has come a long way in the last few decades, we still see racism even now – for example, we will almost certainly encounter it at this summer’s world cup in Russia.

In 2018, we are still faced with gender inequality in terms of wages, and, until this year, women were not even allowed to drive in countries like Saudi Arabia.

People are still persecuted and looked upon differently, because of their gender, age, race, religion and sexual orientation. It’s fucking ridiculous. If we don’t educate our children, now, then this will never change.

If Isaac is made to feel different, or odd, or wrong, purely because he wants to have long hair, wear pink, or play with a doll, then society as we know it is totally screwed.

He may grow out of this phase of his life, he may not. I frankly couldn’t give a shit either way, so long as he’s happy, and so long as – if he does choose to pursue what society deems to be a more boyish lifestyle in the future – he does so for his own reasons, and not because of peer pressure, or, heaven forbid, bullying.

Look, he’s not perfect. In fact, far from it. There are very few days where I don’t end up telling him off, for one reason or another; but I still love him, and that will never change no matter what life he chooses for himself, and no matter how much he morphs into Drew Barrymore from E.T.

So, next time you see a young child in the street (or an adult for that matter), don’t automatically make assumptions about them and their life decisions. They may be very self-conscious of their appearance; but, hopefully, if they are anything like my son, they won’t give a flying fuck what you think.

And I think we can all learn something from an attitude like that.

Thanks for reading x

 

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In The Blog House

Life can be tough sometimes. But who has it harder – men or women?

If you ask a man that question, he will either make a feeble and unconvincing case for the male half of the species getting the raw end of the deal, or (if his wife, girlfriend, or any female member of his family is nearby) he will gallantly admit that it’s ladies who face the greater struggles in life. Of course, he only does this to score points with said female, hoping to be rewarded with a nice birthday/Christmas present (if the female in question is a family member) or some bedroom action (if it’s his girlfriend or wife). Neither will ever materialise, but men are optimistic beasts.

Women, on the other hand, will rarely surrender the argument. In fact, if you put the same question to a woman, she will immediately insist that females have a much harder time, and will reel off a (seemingly endless) list of examples to reinforce her position. It’s as if she has been preparing for this argument for years – which, as it happens, she has. Fortunately, men have the attention span of a goldfish, so we’re more than likely back to thinking about food or boobs before she’s even stopped to take a breath.

The man vs. woman debate cropped up recently in the office, and it got me wondering if there is any kind of scientific basis with which to settle it. It turns out there isn’t, as far as I can tell, so I decided to devise one myself.

After some in-depth analysis, I have created a list of the ten areas where I think men and women differ the most, with the objective of answering the question once and for all. To illustrate my points, I will use two characters: ‘man’ and ‘woman’. I should stress that these characters are in no way representative of my wife and I – or anyone else I know for that matter – and are just a sweeping generalisation of humankind. They are stereotypes, nothing more.

I am, however, conscious that my readers are predominantly female (and most of the men probably stopped paying attention when I mentioned boobs earlier), so I run the risk of that number dwindling, not to mention getting a clip around the ear from my wife, if I appear biased in any way (hence the title to this entry). I promise, therefore, to be entirely impartial….

1. Puberty

A flying start for woman, as this one is a no brainer. Sure, man has to deal with things changing and getting hairier, not to mention the embarrassing ‘voice breaking’ fiasco, but this is nothing, and I mean nothing, on suddenly discovering that you’re going to be bleeding once a month for the foreseeable future. Yikes.

Man 0-1 Woman

2. Growing old

Man quickly draws level. Ok, there will be members of both sexes who look good for their age, but it’s when the ageing process doesn’t go so well that man really suffers. Everyone has to deal with going grey and wrinkly as they get older, but man has the additional struggle of his hair suddenly succumbing to gravity, so that it disappears from his head and travels to a more southerly facial position – usually the ears and nose.

Also, whilst no one likes putting on weight as they age, it is man who is more adversely affected, as he slowly loses his lifelong battle with the beer belly. This is not to say the larger man isn’t sexy, (although, I should make it clear that I do not find large men sexy myself), but there is nothing more depressing than the first time man looks down towards his feet and realises he can no longer see his genitals.

If there was any lingering doubt over which gender suffers more with the ageing process, consider this: When was the last time you heard about a woman turning 40, going bald, and buying a convertible?

Man 1-1 Woman

3. Clothes

This is a tough one. You could argue that man has it easier, since he only needs around twenty items of clothing to survive (excluding pants and socks – he can never have too many pairs of those), whereas woman would struggle to stick to twenty items of clothing a week, but that’s her decision.

The important distinction here is that man needs clothes, while woman wants clothes. Woman could easily survive on twenty items of clothing if she wanted to, but argues that she needs lots of clothes to feel good about herself.

The same goes for shoes, of which man requires just three pairs (‘smart’, ‘trainers’, and ‘smart trainers’), whereas woman needs at least three pairs (‘flat’, ‘slight heel’, and ‘unable to walk more than twenty yards’) in every colour imaginable.

Then there are pyjamas. Unless he is sleeping au naturel, man requires two pairs of night garments (‘wearing at the moment’ and ‘somewhere in the region of the washing basket’) but woman insists on acquiring more pairs than she can ever possibly wear. Woman is addicted to pyjamas.

So woman certainly spends more on clothing and footwear, but man cannot be held accountable for her insecurities/addictions, so it cannot be said that woman has it harder.

Ultimately, the deciding factor is that woman can wear what she wants, whereas man cannot. She can wear trousers, but he cannot wear skirts (unless he is Scottish). If woman chooses to sleep in man’s shirt, this is considered sexy, but if man climbs into bed wearing woman’s dress, woman thinks they ‘need to talk’ (again, I must stress that this is just an example, not my personal experience).

Woman also gets immense pleasure from shopping for clothes, whereas man does not.

Man 2-1 Woman

4. Physical pain

Man makes a feeble case for the fact his most sensitive area has been cruelly stuck on the outside of his body, making it susceptible to door handles, toddlers, and footballs (to name but three potential hazards), but knows full well that woman is going to play her ace card at this point: childbirth. Woman will never know the pain of a well-struck football to the squishies, but when she asks man to envisage pushing a water melon out of his ear, he has to accept that it would sting a tad.

Man 2-2 Woman

5. Getting ready

Man has mastered the art of getting ready to go out, to the extent that he can complete the ‘Three S’ regime (shit, shower, shave) in well under half an hour. In that same time, woman still hasn’t got off the phone to all her friends to find out what they are wearing. She must still shower (which involves, on average, seventeen different products), shave her legs (even if she plans to wear trousers), apply make-up, and work out what she is doing with her hair.

When it comes to hair, the rule for woman is simple: she wants whatever hair she doesn’t have. If she has been blessed with straight hair, it must be curled. If she has curly hair, the straighteners come out.

There then follows somewhere between three and six costume changes, before woman finally settles on the first outfit she chose, and is ready to leave the house.

Woman certainly struggles more with getting ready. Man tries to argue that this is her own doing, but woman counters by asking if man doesn’t want her to look nice. Woman’s lip wobbles. Man concedes the point.

Man 2-3 Woman

6. Work

Woman argues that it remains a man’s world, and there are certain jobs where she still faces discrimination, but man suggests this is the same for both sexes. They agree that no individual should face discrimination in the work place, but even in modern society it is still typically the woman who is affected more by having children, and some employers see this as detrimental to her prospects of progressing in her chosen career.

Man 2-4 Woman

7. Parenting

Woman has an instant bond with her baby, which man cannot replicate, and this is even more apparent if woman has chosen to breastfeed. Man has to work harder to form a bond with his children.

If man has a daughter, he has the additional pressure of watching her grow up (keeping a close eye on any boys she is in contact with), and if said daughter chooses to get married, custom dictates that he should embarrass himself by giving a speech at the wedding, during which he must cry.

Woman has an innate and natural ability as a parent. Man is generally useless, and must work very hard to be a good parent.

Man 3-4 Woman

8. Illness

Man not only has the potentially lethal ‘man-flu’ to contend with, but is also denied that most perfect of excuses to call in sick at work – ‘woman troubles’. If man were to phone his employer and suggest he has ‘man troubles’, said employer would assume it has something to do with his car and will want specific details. Woman, on the other hand, can refer to her ‘troubles’, and if her employer is also a woman, she receives a knowing and comforting response, with confirmation that she can take as long as she needs. If woman has a male boss, he is scared shitless by these two words and can’t get off the phone fast enough.

Plus, it has already been established that man’s pain threshold is lower than woman’s, and it is the same with his ability to deal with illness. Man is a wimp.

Man 4-4 Woman

9. Going to the toilet

Now, the last thing I want to do is drag this blog into the gutter – ok, more into the gutter – so I will be focusing purely on going for a wee (although woman would argue that man apparently never focuses when going for a wee). Besides, I assume both genders ‘unleash the brown bear’ in much the same way – not that I have ever watched a woman do so, and have no desire to for that matter.

The main difference between man and woman is that man (unless he is tired or drunk) will stand up to wee, whereas woman (unless she is tired or drunk) will sit down. This causes woman some issues. Firstly, if she is away from the comfort of her own home, her toileting options are limited, as not only must she seek out a suitable convenience, she must then check it is clean enough to be graced by her derrière. Man, in contrast, will only risk contamination of his footwear in even the vilest and most badly kept public toilets – such as at festivals, football grounds, or dodgy pubs.

Another difference is when man and woman are out with groups of friends. Even if man is desperate for the toilet, he will wait to ensure all other men from his party have returned from the bathroom before he will go, to avoid any awkwardness. In contrast, even if woman is bursting for the loo, she will have to wait until at least two other friends are ready to go, so that they can go together in a group.

Man 4-5 Woman

10. Arguments

Man will never, ever win an argument against woman.

Man 5-5 Woman

Conclusion

So, somewhat diplomatically, it’s a draw. However, when we take into consideration the final category, woman will always win an argument against man, even when she is wrong, so woman must be declared the overall winner. This is entirely unfair on man (and makes the whole exercise rather pointless) but therein lies the gender paradox – man can never win against woman, yet somehow it is woman who has the harder life.

No, it doesn’t make sense, but that’s women for you.

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