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Sunday, 4 March 2012

Metaphors of Merit

Time to blog has been evasive of late but I'm persevering. It's been an inverse hibernation - rather than storing up sustenance in preparation for a long sleep, it has been sleeping and dreaming up ideas to nourish a reawakening instead. I have been far too reticent with the idea of blogging but I am being spurred on by wise words from Jessica Brinton in The Times back in January: 'Persistence is power: it's better to create something that isn't perfect - refine, develop, try again - than not to create at all.' Quite fitting being as this is my third attempt at a blog and the only one that has got as far as a second post.

The title of this post has been inspired by some thought provoking metaphors that I've stumbled on recently that help draw attention to experiences of modern women. Having managed to keep up with current affairs more over the last year, I have been quite surprised by some of the obstacles that still face women that had not even crossed my mind. My awakening began with reading Caitlin Moran's How to be a Woman, where she draws attention to the fact that women are still markedly underrepresented or discriminated against, in many areas of life. One of the most shocking examples I came across in the press, was the issue of sexist abuse online. One of my favourite metaphors was created in response to this by Zoe Williams in The Guardian, who explains how women online are a kind of pinata being beaten by the sticks of aborrhent web trolls. However, as she puts brilliantly, 'immediately you engage, the worst of it simply slips away. As much as I hate to generalise about them, I think trolls dislike dealing with a human being; they like a pinata, some big ugly spectre they can beat with a stick. If a pinata starts talking back, it might not increase your affection for it, but it makes you feel squeamish about hitting it in the face.' A great observation for making us recognise that we should just have the confidence to fight back rather than ignore abuse.

Another thought provoking metaphor is proffered by Gaby Hinsliff in her new book Half a Wife which I have only just started to read but has thrown up so many relatable observations on the frustrations faced by modern working families, that I am almost tempted to put Thomas the Tank Engine on repeat so that I can read on more quickly (thus completely defeating the object of the book which is to secure a more harmonious family life). On the first page, she cites the architectural concept of ' a line of desire' ... 'the route people take through public space that was never imagined on the architect's drawing'. She goes on to explain how 'There is just such a line of desire in British working life now, increasingly well trodden by parents turning their backs on the narrow old corporate career path.' She explores ways in which conventional career paths for both sexes can be redrawn to be more conducive to modern family life and the fulfilment of both sexes. I'll keep you posted on how it develops.

Meanwhile, I offer you a metaphor of my own that explains my inabilty to write more often. Amongst the clouds that make up the hectic struggle to carve out my own successful work life balance, my ideas for the blog are like planes circling above the laptop screen, waiting for clearance to land once the children are tucked up in bed, the housekeeping tamed and the work brought home to finish is done.

Reading List
How to Be a Woman, Caitlin Moran
Half a Wife, Gaby Hinsliff

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