This novel was suggested to me by my PhD supervisor as I began my research in to the impact social media is having on experiences of motherhood. The women and mothers in this novel don’t make use of social media, nor does their author to communicate who they are so it wasn’t for that that my supervisor suggested the book. Rather it was for its precise anatomy of the struggles of women with the daily divided tertories of men and women’s work. they way Cusk describes lives where the politics of gender should be alive, kicking and screaming – but isn’t. These women are bright, intelligent but most exist as if feminism hasn’t happened. As if The Feminine Mystic, Female Eunuch, A Room of One’s Own and the many other conscious raising tracts of the politics of sexual inequality hadn’t happened nor the movements they inspired. Cusk and her characters are dissatisfied in their housework and child rearing duties and wonder what’s changed for women now compared to the past. Certainly not much as far as they see. Some accept this as the way of things. Some find it less easy to stomach. But what to do? Crop your hair the only answer one woman comes up with. Cusk relies on a conventional third person narration to detail the thought, dreams and actions of her characters with a genome scientists precision. The shopping trips, school runs, neighbourly dinner invitations that make up their seemingly similar suburban lives in desirable Arlington Park the landscape in which they must thrive or sink. As we move over the lives of these characters Cusk gives us a wide tracking shot of their lives, intercut with well place close ups – but she keeps us at a distance and at times I found myself reading on as a matter of duty rather than desire. I think the distancing effect of her writing is due it part to its eloquence. Dare I say over eloquence? Although I admire and enjoyed her prose the impact of the characters lives feels backgrounded as a consequence of Cusk’s prose style somehow. Cusk writes with acuity and if you are a wife and/or mother it is likely you will find something to recognise in these pages. But don’t expect any solutions to the problems of domestic life it raises.
Just came across this report on parenting website babycentre.co.uk. Some interesting findings clearly presented.
This report was commissioned to analyse the social media habits of mothers and how that impacts on purchasing habits. It demonstrates what you might suspect – that social networking does indeed drive purchasing decisions – and in particular the consumer habits of mothers. Well why else would advertisers pay popular bloggers, you tubers and social networking sites to advertise on their pages? Despite this obvious finding there’s much to mull over here. For example [p10 of the pdf] how women adapt their social habit when they become mothers – for instance finding themselves having less in common with friends who don’t have children and feeling more comfortable with friends that do or new friends who are mums because they can talk about their children without fear of boring the other person. Is the world really divided between those who have and those who don’t have children. I’d like to think not but i have to say this point rings true in my experience. What’s your experience? Do the eyes of your friends-without-children glaze over as you discuss little johnny or jana? Also how mothers use social media to enhance their well being by posting about personal, health or professional goals and achievements. A positive thesis. A more negative thesis – one I’ve been reflecting on these past few years is how social media increases social anxiety and stress. Perhaps these are two sides to the same coin. The anxiety or stress we might feel by seemingly not having such beautiful, ambitious, achieving lives as our peers is placated by purchasing the product and services so conveniently placed next to our social activity… mmm.
Anyways – lots more to digest so take a look and if you see anything of a similar nature on your interweb travels do share. THis is all grist to the mill of my PhD.
For a summary:
Found anything else like this? Please share and help me broaden my PhD research net!
Post a link in the comments sections below – or if you’re seeing this on my FB page share with link with #socialmediamums.
Loosing a child at any stage of their or your life is a tragedy. Loosing a child you never met or felt is a strange event. Like missing something you never had. mourning someone you never knew – but to which have a completely visceral connection. After my third miscarriage [trying to have my first child] I was referred to a consultant who made the routine investigations and suggested medical answers to my situation. If it hadn’t been for the service Petals Charity founder Karen Burgess provided at my hospital’s birth centre I might still be searching for the answers to more difficult questions. the ‘why me’s?’ How can I grieve for someone I never knew?’ ‘How long will I feel like this?’ It was a deeply isolating and sad time where everywhere i looked happy mums laughed with their healthy newborns, women blooming in late pregnancy gracefully sidled around every corner and the realisation that something I had taken for granted but now knew to be as uncertain as everything else worth having in life – having a safe and healthy pregnancy – seared, raw and relentless. My sessions with Karen helped me to come to terms with the loss and galvanised me to look to the future with a positive and mindful attitude.
If you live in the Cambridgeshire area you may need Petals services or know someone who will so please support their work by voting for them in the Lottery Good Causes. Winning would raise the profile of this charity, its work, acknowledge the emotional impact of pregnancy loss and if they win they also receive a cash award. Money that would enable even more parents to receive the support they need at a difficult time.
Please Support this charity by following the link below and voting by July 23rd.