Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Do you think you might be pregnant?

There comes a time in every woman's life, especially if she is equipped with a boyfriend/husband that this question seems to be on everyone's lips. Well, let's be honest, other women's lips.

You only have to look a bit pale, report feeling queasy, or come over a little faint, you will be asked "do you think you might be pregnant?"

Obviously the reason you're feeling ill is not because of the dodgy curry you ate last night, or even the fact that everyone else in the office is coming down with the flu. No. They can have the flu, but you, my 30-something friend, must be up the duff.

Photo by Arjan Richter via Flickr Creative Commons
Unless you're a medical professional, there is almost no situation where asking someone if they are pregnant is a good idea. Here's why:
  1. Yes, she's actually pregnant, but if she wanted to tell you, she would. There may be lots of reasons why she doesn't want to discuss it. Shut up and wait until she's ready to tell you. 
  2. She's not pregnant. She doesn't want to be pregnant. Can't people leave her alone and stop telling her she's supposed to be reproducing, just because she's over 30? Mind your own business.
  3. She's not pregnant. She wants to be pregnant, but isn't. There are lots of reasons why this may be the case. Your question is an unnecessary reminder. 
  4. If she was pregnant, it probably would have occurred to her before it occurred to you, making your question pointless. Since she's successfully reached her 30s without having children, she probably knows a thing or two about contraception (and is in a far better position than you are to know if she's had unprotected sex recently).
  5. Congratulations, you just made a bad day worse. She was already feeling shit, and now she's feeling pissed off at your stupid questions too. 
Women over 30 also catch colds, and drink alcohol, and stay up late, and forget to eat breakfast. All of these can be confused with the symptoms of pregnancy. That doesn't mean they are.

The assumption that you might be pregnant, spoken or unspoken, gets to the point that some of my friends regularly state "I'm not pregnant" during normal conversation, to keep the speculation at bay. They feel they have to explain themselves. "I have to be up early tomorrow so I thought I'd drive to the pub." It is absurd.

"When you have children"

Is there a more irritating statement? As above, there are lots of reasons why you might never have children, mainly that you don't want to, or can't. It is never good for people to assume that you are going to.

Those of us that have children do like to assume that everyone who sees them instantly falls in love with our little angels and are inspired to reproduce (because why wouldn't they want one like mine?).

But no one is fooled by your son's angelic appearance. They know that sometimes he screams at you for no reason, throws food across the kitchen, that he broke your favourite ornament, and that his very presence in your life means you have said good bye to wild Saturday nights and lazy Sunday mornings. Maybe she is not pregnant and isn't going to have children, because she doesn't want to be like you.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Beat discrimination - use your boyfriends' razor

If you always suspected that women were paying more for stuff than men, then it turns out you were right. Research for the Times newspaper has revealed that women are charged more money than men for products that are practically identical. Men pay almost half the price that we do on jeans, toiletries, and even stationery.

Identical razors that differed only in colour are sold at 31p each to men and 19p to women. The difference is that one is orange and one is pink. Pink - especially for girls, see? We wouldn't want to put anything to harshly-coloured next to our skin when we are alone in the bathroom.

This is 'price discrimination' - where identical or largely similar items are sold at different prices by the same provider in different markets.
Photo by Edward Conde via Flickr Creative Commons

Price discrimination for children

The most sinister of these findings was the gender price difference for children's toys. A pink girls' scooter was found to be £5 more expensive in pink than in blue.

Discriminating against children is horrible. As a parent you may choose to buy the cheaper and perfectly scootable blue scooter for your little one. But children can put their parents under immense pressure. If she wants the pink scooter her friends have got, then giving her a blue one just won't cut it.

In the past it was more expensive to have daughters than sons, because when the girls grew up you had to pack them off with a dowry to get married, while the boys could earn their keep. Now we can all pay our way, but again girls are more expensive because their stuff comes with a higher price tag. It's another step backwards in gender equality.

What can we do?

Retailers exist to make money by selling products. They want to make as much money as they can, so they calculate their prices based on:

  1. What it costs them to make the product
  2. How much the average customer is willing to pay for the product

The price generally will fall somewhere between 1 and 2, preferably as close to 2 as possible, so the retailer makes more money. So the reason that women are charged higher prices is simply that we are apparently prepared to pay more for stuff than men are.

Retailers are discriminating against our gender, by charging us more money for basically the same products. But what makes it worse, is that we are prepared to pay the extra. If we weren't, then no one would ever buy the pink razors. So the shops would either make them the same price as the other ones, or stop selling them altogether.

Stop discrimination one razor at a time

MPs are challenging retailers about price discrimination, and hopefully this will lead to some changes. But as female consumers, we have a responsibility too.

Stop buying the pink razors. They're exactly the same as the orange ones, but by agreeing to pay more for them you are supporting the retailers in price discrimination. STOP BUYING THE PINK RAZORS.

We can't be expected to buy men's clothes and perfumes - our bodies are different. But by borrowing your boyfriend's razor you are single handedly making a stand against price discrimination, And he'll never know.
Photo by Billie via Flickr Creative Commons

Friday, 8 January 2016

It's murder on the dancefloor

I don't spend much time on crowded dance floors these days. What with being really old and having a toddler to look after.

Most of my friends have children too, so the chances of finding someone willing and able to stay out late on a day when I have a babysitter are pretty slim. If I really want to spend time in a writhing sweat-box then it's most likely to be soft play.

Photo by Derek Raugh via Flickr Creative Commons
One evening lately the planets aligned and my friend and I went out to find out if it was true what we had heard - that people do indeed go forth in the hours after the CBeebies shutdown and have fun.

And nothing much has changed. There we were strutting our stuff in a tight corner of the dance-pit, when a young man steps past me, and decides that it will assist his passage if he brings his hand into contact with the side of my body.

The passing grope

I remember this well. and another old favourite - brushing up against you at the bar. Or worse.

Wandering male hands is a hazard of crowded bars and nightclubs. These small, unremarkable but uninvited touches that men do to women when they think they can get away with it. And mostly they do. Sometimes when you turn around you can't be certain which one it was. You keep quiet or risk accusing the wrong man. If I do reprimand some bloke for touching me on his way past, he'll probably either laugh at me, or ignore me. or reproach me for being touchy about being touched. Either way, I always feel like I'll come off worst, so I never say anything,

It was a tight fit in the dance floor, but it wasn't that tight. He didn't need to move me out of the way. Neither did he look so unsteady on his feet that he needed to grab a passing girl to prevent himself from stumbling.

It's not subtle

This is the peril of going out and having fun. Probably this man/boy wouldn't dream of laying hands on me in the supermarket or at the bus stop, no matter how busy it got. But as soon as I'm on a dance floor, I'm fair game (It's a big sweatbox of inebriation and iniquity, and she probably won't notice anyway).

Well here's the thing, we do notice. It's actually quite hard not to notice some idiot momentarily resting his hand on your hip - I mean, it's your hip. You'd have to be pretty drunk to not notice and I wasn't. You don't have to be drunk (or single) to be on a dance floor. You just have to be someone who likes dancing.

And OK so maybe there's a little bit of me that's quite pleased that at 37-years-old, on a dance floor of 19 and 25-year-olds (I know because the DJ did their birthdays), some random still feels the need to grope me on his way past. But mainly I'm immensely pissed off that me and all those other girls, and eventually my daughter, are considered fair game for grabbing and groping, just because we wanted to go for a dance.