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08 January 2009


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Thanks for this Josie - it's fascinating and raises so many questions. I think I might post on it myself.
I would like to say that embarrassing photos may be an essential element of family life and growing up ;-) (not to say we should post them on the Internet). Imagine how bereft we'd feel if our parents left us no reason to castigate them in our teens!
What struck me was the different perspectives on this: that of others on the taker/poster/mother and on the child; that of the child on viewers and on taker/poster/mother; that of the taker/poster/mother on others and on the child. Quite a triangle of relations!
I had only posted scanned black and white photos publicly (deeming them safe by age). Recently, I felt safe to post some pics of my own children at http://www.flickr.com/photos/francesbell/sets/72157604740766968/ (now adults) after they had scanned and uploaded images to Facebook. That seemed to render it safe, though I have detected a frisson of sibling teasing around one or two images.

Thanks for your comments and I very much appreciate your pragmatic approach to embarrassment - I have the same feeling about ensuring children are subjected to reasonable amounts of dirt & germs :) For myself, the issue has made me feel extreemly guilty about my thankfulness that my own mother is not online, posting pictures of me & telling people 'what I am really like'. (Btw if you are reading this I do really love you mum x)

Throwing in this link to a really interesting story on a Twitter mother who recently posted about feeling frustrated about her daughter and the communities response to it - it includes another dimension/stigmatized identity, that of mental health.

One of the things that surprised me coming back to work after having my kids is how unacceptable it is to talk about how having children influences affects your day. I can be in a meeting with a group of women I know all have small children, have probably been up half the night, have anxiety about who is looking after them as we talk, and yet it is not mentioned. I always try to make this public. Parents (especially women) are in the workplace and how our parental responsibilities affect our work should be recognised. I find it so disappointing that in 2009 we are still cautious of exposing our parental responsibilites for fear it will influence peeople's opinion of our ability to do our job. Shouldn't we be standing proudly and showing everyone how you can combine kids and work?

Thanks for the comment Rhona. I totally agree. The crux of the matter for me is: we need to protect individuals, for all kinds of reasons, but its also essential to make sure that social disadvantaged/less powerful groups have a voice. There is a risk that decoupling individual, specific examples from broader categories means that the representations of these categories either falls into the realms of the idealised or stereotyped, or privileges the the already more secure members of those groups. I think this is an important area for anyone concerned with social change or meaningful social engagement needs to be thinking about.
Going back to the feminist issue (which doesn't exclude men in the same situation since they are subject to the same kinds of discrimination/issues attached to what are perceived as female roles) - it is still a bit depressing that having children and parenthood are perceived as competition by the employee rather than what it actually provides them with: someone who can work flexibly, responds well to change and understands prioratisation and the importance of compromise backwards :)

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