I am 16 weeks pregnant, and despite the subsidence of morning sickness, I am feeling increasingly sick. I thought pregnancy would mellow me. I thought the hormones would make me all warm and gooey and peaceful. I thought I would learn to choose my battles wisely and create a relaxing environment to cocoon the little one. But no, I’m even more angry and agitated that normal. My husband calls me the ‘little agitator’ which is a moniker first thought up for Lisa Simpson. She happens to be a role model of mine so I don’t mind. Lisa always stands up for what she believes in. She isn’t afraid to rock the boat. She certainly doesn’t mind disagreeing with the adults around her.
The topics that are getting me particularly animated at the moment are the number of people who are increasingly using the differences between us for political or economical capital.
Topic number 1. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in partnership with the gutter press. Some low-rent media are obsessed with those that commit benefit fraud. Even more, cover the lifestyles of those that receive benefits, yes, even the benefits they are entitled to. They enjoy taking extreme examples and whipping the public into a frenzy about the ‘inequality’ experienced by those that ‘work for a living’ over those that ‘choose to stay at home on benefits’. An approach I find sickening given that they have no interest in whipping the public into the same frenzy over the inequality that those with long-term illnesses and disabilities face at the hands of the DWP. That those with learning disabilities, chaotic lifestyles, little support at home and sustained period of illnesses are supposed to keep up the administration required by DWP is not just naïve, but cruel. People lose out on benefits they are entitled to for not following a process that was never designed with their needs in mind, but instead with the needs of the public sector organisations that grudgingly hand them out.
That our media would choose to pit us against each other as those who are worthy, and those who are not, for benefits is sickening. What families choose to spend their benefits money on is none of our business. Just as the expenditure of working families is none of our business. For every family with parents earning high salaries eating fast food and drinking large quantities of fizzy juice, there are families struggling to get by who prioritise getting their children a balanced diet. Let’s not mention that inconvenient elephant in the room of those that are working that rely on foodbanks.
By encouraging us to turn on each other our attention is not focused on the people that are making the decisions influencing the DWP budget allocation, the UK’s resources and the way wealth is distributed across the world.
Topic number 2. The Prime Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia for trades talks. This is one of those headlines to which I had a visceral reaction. Saudi Arabia. As a woman in Saudi Arabia, I wouldn’t be allowed to drive, I would be punished if I was unfortunate enough to be a victim of rape and if the child I was carrying was a girl, her father could have her married off at nine years old. For this Prime Minister, a WOMAN, to go there and carry out trade talks, amongst other excuses for a visit, is beyond my belief. To sell this nation that has no respect for humanity weapons is an act of treachery to women, to people that value human rights and to all those nations oppressed by the Saudi regime. I cannot quite believe she stomached it. Because I can’t. And I only watched the coverage on the news.
Her decision to then stir up the fact that despite having the word, ‘Easter’ mentioned 14 times on their website, Cadburys and the National Trust have not included it in their egg hunt logo was particularly galling. People will get wound up at this and call it PC gone mad – the dilution of Christian values in a secular society. (EVEN THOUGH EASTER EGGS ARE PAGAN SYMBOLS ANYWAY). All the while distracting from what else she has been up to this week. But I am not convinced those boycotting Cadburys and the National Trust would care. They are worried about their own existence in their own little pocket of Brittania where life is picnics and bonnet-making and PTA meetings. Nice work if you can get it. I’m sure the women of Saudi Arabia would agree. Which brings me to my next point…
Topic number 3. We are all worried about the wrong things. New £1 coins. Blue passports. City centre parking charges. Refuse bin collections. Broadband speeds. The things that can make life a little easier but in no way contribute to our survival. We might refer to this as ‘first world problems’ but that would be terribly insulting to those living in the so-called first world who indeed are struggling with their survival.
Why am I finding this harder now? I feel more responsibility. I am responsible for the survival of another human being. I am bringing a child into this world. A child that I am glad to say isn’t being born in Saudi Arabia. Especially if it’s a girl. You want your child to be healthy. But it’s not always the case and so you want there to be support available if everything is not ok. You want your child to grow up in a peaceful world. You want your child to understand that people are more important than profit. You want your child to be kind to others. You don’t want them to leave kids out in the playground because of where they go (or don’t) on holiday, the colour of their skin, the country they came from, the different way they experience life, the sexuality of their parents, the sexuality of the children, the gender of the children, the differences in their intelligence. Above all, you don’t want your child to be the one that is left out. I have not met my own little human yet. I don’t know its gender or its name. I don’t know the colour of its eyes. I know though, that it is going to take very careful guidance and nurturing to make sure it has a life of love, opportunity and gratitude. I say gratitude because even now, as a tadpole on a sonogram, it’s so much better off than many of the other 150 million children that will be born this year.