Monday, January 16, 2006

Sister talk

Thank you for your comments, I needed some opinions there.

My childhood friend has just called to say she's pregnant again, with her second, and feeling fraught. So am I. Two of my old friends have been pregnant since I had Jen; one cot death and one stillbirth later, I have no old friends with babies around Jen's age, and I no longer receive the news of a pregnancy with the expectation of seeing a baby at the end of the day. This is not something I can say when I hear the news, of course, but it makes me quake. This business of bringing a life to earth is very tricky. Nor had I ever heard of a baby's loss in my circles until I embarked upon motherhood myself.

My sister came round for a natter today and, interrupting herself briefly to scream when Jen slid to the ground off her knee and walked off across the kitchen, embarked on a rumination on the state of all our contemporaries' relationships that we know intimately. This is limited to people whom we know well enough to hear about day to day progress - have you ever noticed that usually what you know of a relationhip is either that it's working or it isn't? It's actually really difficult to get a true look at how any couple makes it work.

My sister's on her first ... basically I'd say her first relationship with a chance of happiness. They are equals, they are both giving each other a proper chance, and they have terrible arguments at what we both feel are annoyingly regular intervals. This is also true of her best friend, who has been with the same South African guy for 3 years now, breaking up and getting together again, and now settling in for the long haul. Her other best friend is a young Nigerian woman who's single, and simply can't see the point in living through even one argument, she says her mother put up with enough bullshit for both of them and she won't fight, she leaves. She's been single a long time. My father's four sisters are all similarly darkling about male tempers, and have all brought up their children alone. We don't want to do that. From 20 years' observation of our mothers we think the problem was lack of self assertiveness, caused by lack of a power platform to negotiate from. There's a major difference between assertive and aggressive, as anyone in customer services today should be taught in their workplace violence courses. We've found guys who can grow, and we want to make it work. I don't think there's another way to make it work, or is there? You have to shake down together, and on the ground that means teaching anger management.

There's got to be a middle ground here. Why do guys lose their tempers so calamitously, and how can we bring up our sons to be more like women? Because we don't lose our tempers so completely, do we? I myself am a model of recitude and never say a thing that I regret later; ok, small exaggeration, but I just don't lose my rag to that degree. I don't want to spend the next three months of my life tiptoeing about making amends. I don't need to do something unforgiveable to know how to define 'crossing the line'. Why can't a man ... be like ME?

I think that opinion is slowly gaining ground in the world; one of my colleagues at work, a Kenyan Asian, asked me who my daughter looked like, me or my husband. He added, I hope she's like you, please say she's like you, it's always a disaster if children are like their fathers. 'Why?' I asked. 'Because we men cause all the trouble in the world,' he explained. 'We start the wars, we make people poor, we insist on polluting the world to make money. Women are more sensible,' he said briefly.

I watched a bit of The Corporation on telly the other night, and I have to get it and watch it a few times. It features among many fascinating tidbits, a Michael Moore soundbite about how the world is controlled by rich white men in charge of the major TNC's, and most of the human world is women, not men; most of the world is poor; and most of the world is not white. Are you girls out there listening? It a should be a major preoccupation for more women, to get more power. This includes stamping our footprints on relationship politics, making female approaches to conflict the norm.


At Monday, January 16, 2006 , Blogger pie in the sky said...

Great post

At Saturday, June 17, 2006 , Blogger sokari said...

Hi, I have set up an African Women's Reblog at:

Myself and Mshairi are hoping to develop the REblog into a space for African women - we are not sure what yet but would appreciate it if you would have a look through the reblog and add a link to it on your blog.

many thanks

At Saturday, June 17, 2006 , Blogger MBALI said...

Sister, I am looking for writers for my new Pan-African magazine called MBALI. If you are interested, please e-mail me at

At Thursday, July 06, 2006 , Blogger MBALI said...

MBALI Magazine says - Oops, that should be


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