Archive | April, 2011

Do You Know This Man?

8 Apr

This one…

Well, yesterday, I didn’t.

The morning started off fairly normally. I was feeling a bit queasy, but a quick Google search revealed that hCG levels (the evil hormone that makes baby grow and Mum feel ralphy) climb again at about week 27. Hello, textbook pregnancy!

It was such a gorgeous day out – I was really looking forward to heading out to the top of the hill, and giving the dog a good walk. And with a view like this, who could blame me?

Upon returning to the car, I felt a bit detached from myself. I moved my arm across the steering wheel and made myself jump, as if I wasn’t expecting it there. My eyeballs were crackling, like I was struggling between the bright heat of the sunshine and the dark coolness of inside the car. I figured I was just a bit tired and hadn’t been drinking enough, got home ok, and started catching up on my Google Reader. Midway through commenting on a great post about celebrating our bodies – sorry Katie, I never finished the comment! – everything just went really, really fuzzy.

I sat still for a while, just staring at the wall. I have a recurring issue with pins and needles down my right side every few months or so, and so this started and my tongue went numb. I had a play on Twitter – maybe 140 characters would be easier to process! Yes, I have social media addiction issues. No such luck. I spent the remainder of the time until Patrick got home trying to understand why the word “afford” kept on giving me red squiggly lines every time I tried to include the letter p.

Patrick called NHS Direct and they rather alarmed us by insisting that they send an ambulance. In the meantime, I decided to try reading something again and picked up a magazine with Daniel Craig on the cover. When I read his name, it just didn’t sound right. I knew who he was – his name was right on the tip of my tongue, but I was certain that Daniel Craig wasn’t it.

The paramedics arrived and ran all sorts of tests – blood pressure, following things with my eyes, and pushing their hands up and down with mine. When Patrick gave them his name, that didn’t seem quite right, either. No major issues were found, and I had already started to feel less brain-dead, but as I’m a big fat pregnant lady and my blood pressure was slightly elevated (what can I say? I get Event Horizon flashes every time they put the cuff on) I had to go and see the doctor today.

Despite looking about fifteen, and wearing an outfit that proudly proclaimed that she was now in Sixth Form and wouldn’t be wearing uniform any longer, the doctor I saw today was absolutely lovely and seemed very proficient. I feel myself slipping into that godawful “nobody who has not given birth can possibly know anything about anything” attitude from time to time, and need to really, really check myself to make sure that doesn’t progress any further!

My blood pressure had come back to normal, and other pre-eclampsia tests came back clear. Pre-eclampsia was a bit of a concern for me, as the idea of bed rest for the next three months sounds like *hell*, and I had learnt, forgotten and re-learnt that my Mum had been a sufferer during her first pregnancy. I always remember the story of her having to switch to black coffee instead of Tab (retro!) because she didn’t like it that much, so it’d force her to cut back her caffeine intake. She’s now a ten-cup a-day lady! Pre-eclampsia could still happen, I guess, but every week that progresses before it does is a bonus. I love few things more than snoozing in front of the TV, but I spent three weeks doing that in 2009 and too much of a good thing is possible.

The official diagnosis is… Unsure. It could have been a migraine; it could have been dehydration; it could have been nothing at all! All I know is that I’m going to up my water intake and dial back my work a bit. I’ve been really reluctant to hand over my tasks to my colleagues, but it’s going to have to happen. In the meantime, I’m going to have to spend more time with my baby girl and enjoy some of this beautiful sunshine.

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Tina Fey – Feminist Icon? It’s A Matter of Taste

1 Apr

This article popped up on my twitter feed a few days ago, retweeted by the lovely ladies at Stuff Mom Never Told You. The book that I think the writer is trying to promote is not something that I would have rushed to buy anyway, but Katie Roiphe has only succeeded in further putting me off Tina Fey’s work.

She refers to a comment from what she bizarrely describes as an “anonymous (and possibly fictional) crackpot”, stating “[I]n my opinion Tina Fey completely ruined SNL. The only reason she is celebrated is because she’s a woman and an outspoken liberal. She has not a single funny bone in her body.”

Why the commenter is believed to be fictional and/or a crackpot are both mysteries to me. Roiphe’s notion that someone who does not enjoy Fey’s brand of humour simply must be either imaginary or insane is completely at odds with the next quote she chooses to use, stating that it’s arrogant to assume that just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean that it’s not good.

Let’s take a step back to the real world. Criticising anything relating to taste is always going to be a tricky area. My husband and the rest of the world hail John Lennon as a genius, and Cirque du Soleil is immensely popular; I genuinely believe that LOVE will be played in hell. I can wax lyrical about the excellent and thoughtful writing in Buffy the Vampire Slayer; my Dad would berate me for the “trash TV” I was watching.

We are inherently lazy, and our response is generally “I like therefore good” or “I dislike therefore bad”. If we met the subject of our criticism in person, we’d probably either lie, or say “it’s not really my thing”. The internet allows us to dispense with niceties and just be as mean to each other as we like. Rather than acknowledge these facts, Fey chose to build the biggest straw person she could muster and turn it into a bad feminist rant:

“Huzzah for the Truth Teller! Women in this country have been over-celebrated for too long. Just last night there was a story on my local news about a ‘missing girl’ … and I thought, “What is this, the News for Chicks?” Then there was some story about Hillary Clinton flying to some country because she’s secretary of state. Why do we keep talking about these dumdums? We are a society that constantly celebrates no one but women and it must stop!”

Wait a minute, what? Let me reread the comment. Did he say anything that would suggest he thought women’s issues were irrelevant, or that women shouldn’t feature in mainstream media or be celebrated? Um, nope. “Responding to a situation with humor”, as Roiphe puts it, can be an effective tool. This is not that – this is schoolyard bully tactics; this is the scene in Mean Girls (see what I did there?) when Cady, accused of considering herself pretty, is stumped and thinking “that’s just not what I said”.

When my sister first learnt about racism at school, she was about 9 or 10. She came home, fixated upon how being a racist would be the worst possible thing in the world, and determined never to be one. Every single non-white woman on TV or in magazines would be “so beautiful”, even if she occasionally noticed one who, well, wasn’t. This example is cute and silly and harmless, but you don’t have to look far to see the “I’m not bigoted, see!” behaviour and positive discrimination around us today.

From the constant need to refer to “female director” Kathryn Bigelow (look! A woman! Directing!), to the South African rugby team that has to be completely reshuffled if there’s an injury, it’s here and in both legal form and social norms. Obama will always be the first “black” president, and many people who criticise him are quickly denounced as racist.

The idea that Fey, as a woman, has been adopted by “I’m not sexist, see!” types is not one that’s far-fetched. Her inoffensive attractiveness endear her to those who find Chelsea Handler too sexy and crude, or Rosie O’Donnell too fat and angry. Men can use liking her as a great pulling technique – it’s the comedian equivalent of picking Miranda as your favourite Sex and the City girl.

We don’t get SNL here, or if we do, I haven’t been able to find it on any of the channels I have. The best we can hope for is finding random bits of sketches on YouTube. The Sarah Palin sketch was reasonable, but Mama Grizzly herself really deserves most of the credit for providing the material. The Lonely Island sketches are hilarious, but are nothing to do with Fey, and if taken with a truckload of salt, some of the celebrity appearances can be amusing.

I had the misfortune of watching Baby Mama on a plane, having heard wonderful things about Fey’s work. She cannot be blamed for the writing, but the decision to indulge such a lacklustre project, in which all female characters are either humourless shrews or amoral dimwits, was not that of a comic genius.

I honestly thought that Mean Girls was written by a man – someone who had a few memories of how girls behaved when he was in high school and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d it out into a screenplay. He might have consulted a sister or distant cousin, but the gaps between the insightful moments are too wide. And, speaking of too wide, the promotion of the myth that tampon and vagina size are related is not the work of a feminist, but an ill-informed, irresponsible moron who has probably caused half a generation of girls to have to change their tampon after every lesson for fear of someone judging their tampon choices. Casting La Lohan and the magnetic, charming and captivating Rachel McAdams together would guarantee box office success even if they were reading a legal document out loud.

30 Rock just hasn’t been successful here. It might just be that a lot of the in-jokes about regional accents and SNL itself don’t translate well across the pond, but we manage to understand and enjoy the majority of American sit-coms that are shown here. I have given it a go, but found the humour brash and clumsy, relying heavily on one-dimensional caricatures of race and gender. A confused Tina Fey stands at the centre, dealing with stereotypical older women’s issues – watchable, but not exactly trailblazing.

So, let’s appreciate Tina Fey for who she is – a comedian and writer. Not the new Germaine Greer, who, incidentally, is an extremely funny lady.

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