going to the carnival.

Last night I posted a link to comment is free, to an article that itself links to the carnival of feminists. If you go and read around the blogs linked, you’ll (unsurprisingly) find some great posts. There are some relating to the recent Linda Hirschman(sp?) article I linked to a little while back.

You know, this stuff irritates me. It irritates me that someone calling herself a philosopher thinks she has the right to judge other ppl’s lifestyles just because they are female. (I did a philosophy degree. I think a lot. Can I call myself a philosopher and tell you all what to do?) It irritates me to be told I should find someone older than myself to shack up with. (I did long before she told me that. I didn’t choose him because he was older though, I chose him because of who and what he is.)

Tim just asked me what I’m writing. I told him I’m writing about feminism. I’m writing about the fact that it’s ridiculous to try to change the status quo just for women and expect it to work. That it’s silly to think you can pay women more just by paying men less. It’s daft to go on working 9 – 5.30 just because that’s how it used to work. Most of us don’t really need to work those hours to do our jobs, in fact some of us can’t work those hours. Can you really concentrate that long? I can’t. And we don’t need to work in offices, so why do we commute? It’s pointless, and only adds to global warming.

So if we change the world of work, what else would we change? How about school? What is the point nowadays of a system set up to train industrial drones – it’s a post industrial world? So let’s take that apart as well – instead of strapping extra hours on to it and calling it extended school, let’s make them into learning centres and have them available to everyone. Makes more sense to me.

Wow, I’m on a roll now. What else would I deconstruct? Marriage. Now, if you’re religious, fair enough. Not going to stand between you and your beliefs. But if you’re just doing it to wear a white dress and have a party, grow up. You can do that without the ceremony, and it’s downright hypocritical to make promises you don’t intend to keep, just because you know we’ve invented divorce. Instead, let’s have childrearing contracts – it’s important to look after children, probably the most important thing any of us will ever do. So focus on it, and write up contracts that safeguard the children.

There. That feels so much better now – been trying to write this post all night, and only really got going when I started ranting after a beer. So if it’s horribly incoherent, sorry and all that, but I’ve had enough. Ranting. not beer.

About Jax Blunt

I'm the original user, Jax Blunt I've been blogging for 15 years, give or take, and if you want to know me, read me :)

(And if you like what you read, and fancy tipping me the price of a coffee or thereabouts, click here)

Or if you'd like to support my artistic endeavours, shop my photographs and art at redbubble


  1. Hi. Hope it was good beer!

    I just popped over here from CiF – didn’t quite want to put my email up for all and sundry. This should give it to you, I think – my main email account that I check more or less continuously.

    Enjoying the conversation over there!


  2. Don’t stop there Jax, have more beer and keep going πŸ™‚

    Haven’t read any of the articles that you link to so want to know what this fount of all knowledge says about shacking up with a younger man? (that’ll be me then πŸ˜‰ )

    Agree with you totally about working hours and practices – very outdated for the most part and quite frankly, incredibly detrimental to modern family life. I firmly believe though that with the wider application of current technology, eventually companies will realise that for the most part, they do not necessarily need to have all their employees in one building in order to function as a business. They may also come to the conclusion that their workers will be happier without the daily grind of commuting and choosing the hours they work will make them more productive.

    The learning centres suggestion is exactly what OH and I were discussing the other day; develop that thought, I’d like to see how you think they should be implemented.

    Maybe instead of just a childrearing contract, we should have partnership contracts that are amendable when a child enters the equation, so they become family contracts. OR at the family plannig stage, so that possibly, some parents will take their responsibilities more seriously and consider the life long commitment they are making by bringing a child into the world.

    I’ll stop ranting now and go rest my weary brain!

  3. I’m not entirely sure how a contract, rather than a marriage certificate, would make much of a difference between how people look after their children. How would it allow for parents seperating? For bad things happening? How can you make a contract with enough clauses to predict the future and account for it? Turning having children into an action of the head, when, more often than not, it’s an action on the heart, difficult to constrain in any amount of words and forethought.

  4. http://Jax says

    We manage to write up all sorts of complicated contracts in this day and age, I don’t think we should let the fact it could be complicated put us off here tbh.

    And I think you’ve cut right to the nub of the issue here, having children should be an action of the head as well as the heart. Ppl *should* consider up front how they are going to cope with all sorts of eventualities. What their joint thoughts are on child rearing, how they intend to cope with bad things happening. Perhaps it would put some ppl off having children, and that wouldn’t be such a bad result. Perhaps other ppl would realise that they could do it and have children that otherwise wouldn’t have.

    Have you read any Lois Mcmaster Bujold books? sci fi about a particular planet that has a particular life style, with occasional discussions of other ways of doing it. Her Betan society is well worth a look.

  5. http://Chris says

    I think one of the greatest threats to modern life is the blurring between work and private life that modern technology allows and home-working positively encourages. Holidays are not holidays, days off are not work-free. Business gets a workforce on demand 24/7 and shifts the cost of providing the facilities to the individual with no increase in remuneration….great deal for the worker.

    The workplace also provides an important role for human interaction. I honestly believe that my outlook on life would be narrower, and less informed if I didn’t have my reguler interaction with the cleaner who empties my bin. I also learn from my colleagues all sorts of things through those unplanned informal interactions.

    A society of insular, non-interacting, techno-slave workers seems to be a huge price to pay to reduce global warming for which other solutions should be sought.

    The bottom line is I could ‘produce’ the stuff I produce at home but I honestly believe that what I produced would be much less inferior and over time so would I and society.

  6. http://Chris says

    Given there are millions of people that don’t comprehend the eventualities of smoking 20 cigarettes a day I don’t fancy your chances of getting everyone to consider their thoughts of child rearing.

    Who are these contracts with?

  7. http://Jax says

    swings and roundabouts – if you interacted less with your colleagues, you would be around your family, friends and neighbours more. The office culture might suffer, perhaps the family culture would improve, with less requirement generally for wrap around childcare (even if children were in childcare for working hours, they wouldn’t need to be there for the commuting time).

    I work from home a couple of days a week, and I interact hugely with my colleagues throughout, using the phone, email, and msn. It also allows me some space though to do thinking without the little interruptions that occur in the office. I might not interact with the cleaner who empties my bin when I’m working from home, but I have the possibility of interacting with the dustbin men, the window cleaner and the old man who pauses at the bottom of the drive when he’s walking his dog.

    Oh, and as for shifting the costs to the worker – not so. My company provides the technology we need – we were already set up with much of the home end, but for other ppl, their router is provided, and we work on computers based in the office anyway. Or ppl have laptops. And we save money on commuting, so we’re ahead financially I think.

  8. http://Jax says

    who do they need to be with?

  9. http://Chris says

    No idea, they were your suggestion.

    Are your working paying a proportion of your mortgage to cover the costs of the space you use for *their* work?

  10. http://Jax says

    I’m not sure why they should – like I said, I save money on petrol, clothes cost, food – it’s an awful lot cheaper to be at home.

    I would say that the contracts need to be a partnership between ppl who are starting out to have children. I wouldn’t necessarily say that is going to be only the parents, although they are the obvious candidates to begin with.

  11. Chris, I really can’t see why your work would be any less inferior, wherever you did it. 😐

  12. I agree entirely. People *should* consider all those things before bringing a child into the world. I don’t believe they should *have to*. I really don’t believe it should be somehow legislated for. That someone should have the authority to be able to control our bahaviour down to the fineprint. Of course there are some who are going to never consider any of those eventualities and some that will go over every single what if and maybe. But out of both those ends of the spectrum you will find happy children, and miserable children, children for whom life seems to have been a great success, and children who seem to have been left at the sidelines. I’m not sure any kind of contractual obligation would change it.

  13. http://Chris says

    But the danger is surely that people are expected to work at home. How does that work if you haven’t got an area in your home to create an effective working space. Why should it become the worker’s responsibility to provide themselves with a suitable working environment rather than their employers.

    Tim, simply because working out of the hospital/lab/student enviroment would diminish my knowledge/experience of the activities/people I support; my advice would be less informed and therefore inferior.

  14. http://Jax says

    Can you turn that around? At the moment the danger is that ppl are expected to commute. So having a job also requires you in many cases to have a means of travelling to it – does your company pay for your driving license, car or petrol? Why should it become the worker’s responsibility to provide themselves with a means of reaching a working environment rather than their employers?

    And I think I’ll let Tim address the other part of your comment.

  15. http://Chris says

    I agree with you Jax. I have always thought that your work should fund the full economic cost of your contribution to their efforts.

  16. I don’t understand either why work produced at home would be inferior to that in an office? My SIL has worked from home since their first son was born, so 14yrs now. She had a dedicated room in the house, with equipment provided by her employer. Two days a week she was doing site visits or actually in the office for meetings and she certainly wasn’t starved of company. She always felt that she could meet deadlines early because of little or no interruptions from colleagues but they were always at the end of a phone line or the computer if needed.

    OH’s company won’t let them work from home at all, even though it is not necessary for them all to be in the office at all times. He misses chatting with me and small person during his working day so we chat on msn, as does everyone at work – it makes for a happier workforce.

    No contract of any kind (when it comes to human relationships) could ever cover all eventualities, which is why we don’t have one parenting bible that we all consult. I don’t think contracts should be legislated but I do think that in this throw away society in which we live, where we often don’t consider the consequences of our actions prior to the event, believing that if it goes wrong we’ll sort it out somehow, a contract might just make some folks sit back and consider their motives and beliefs.

    Perhaps the conctracts should be drawn up in consultation with family and friends as well as the potential parents. It could also be reviewed at key stages in the childs’ and/or parents lives. As an example, I do know of one couple who live together and make a yearly commitment to their relationship. It works for them and their children, they are all very happy.

    Does any of that make sense – constant interruptions here 😐

  17. http://Jax says

    Guess you don’t have that dedicated space then eh?

    Made sense to me.

    Chris, work pays for the travelling by giving you a salary out of which you pay for your transport. If you aren’t travelling, presumably you still get the same salary – the proportion you previously used for commuting can be used for providing work at home facilities. Or do you somehow see ppl who work at home as getting smaller salaries?

  18. http://Chris says

    So, I save my £100 a month travelling costs and use that to build an outhouse office at the bottom of the garden, or convert the loft from a playroom to a sound-proofed office? Assuming that I am not already mortgaged up to the hilt. In other words, back to my main point, work starts impinging on my whole home-life (by changing the way I use my home and personal income) in a way that is not necessarily any better than my current arrangements. I suppose I could save some costs by sending the kids to school to keep the house quiet during the day.

    It strikes me that individuals who want to work at home, where it is not going to harm the employer, should be allowed to. That’s what the policy at my work is. The idea of it being a solution for global warming…..maybe but at a considerable cost for many people and society in general in my opinion.

  19. http://Jax says

    Why do you need a soundproofed office? Do you currently have one? In which case you are very lucky I’d say – I work in an open plan layout with up to 5 other ppl in our current room (in the last one it was nearer 20) with all of their phones and conversations going on throughout. I can concentrate in that environment, so I don’t feel the need to soundproof anything at home.

    The majority of ppl *do* send their children to school all day, and I was aiming this at the majority, rather than at our small community of weirdos πŸ˜‰

    I’m not convinced that we can allow ppl to go on going to offices, I think it is damaging to the environment and society. In my opinion.

  20. So if the contracts are not legislated for then I would assume that the people that already do take a lot of consideration when choosing to have a family/be commited to a partner would be the ones to use it, whereas the people that wouldn’t give it that much thought wouldn’t. IYSWIM.

    Is one factor in the work/home balance argument choice? I am totally in favour of employers making it easier/better for people to have the kind of working environment that would best suit them (and that isn’t working at home for evrybody) but some of the responsability at the end of the day has to lay with the employee as to which job they choose to do. Otherwise is the logical conclusion that the employee chooses the job, and the employer then bends over backwards to provide everything needed for that employee including an office within walking distance, working hours to suit, and a vegan lunch delivered at 1pm?

    OK, so not a very realistic example, but where would the line be drawn?

  21. http://Chris says

    It words such as ‘allow’ that really irritate me.

    Presumably we should also stop ‘allowing’ people to shop in real shops. Or watch films in the cinema. Or visits to relatives. Or watch sports in real life. All of which generate a lot of traffic and could be done via new technology. Now there’s a world I wouldn’t want to be part of.

    Soundproofed for them, not me!!!! Why should the five of them have to put up with my constant phonecalls, swearing, shouting?

  22. Chris: “The bottom line is I could Γ’β‚¬ΛœproduceÒ€ℒ the stuff I produce at home but I honestly believe that what I produced would be much less inferior and over time so would I and society.”

    Chris: “Tim, simply because working out of the hospital/lab/student enviroment would diminish my knowledge/experience of the activities/people I support; my advice would be less informed and therefore inferior.”

    You said it would be less inferior, which means that what you do now is inferior, but that if you worked from home it would not be quite so bad.

  23. http://Amanda says

    I think its very idealistic, if you can work from home & have everything you need in walking distance that’s nice. I don’t work, I do need a car though, I live in a rural area, no pavements, no bus routes, if we did’nt have a car we would’nt see anyone.

  24. http://Jax says

    Chris, I used your example, and your terminology and reflected it back on you. Allow was your word.

  25. http://Jax says

    I’m trying for some new ideas, brainstorming if you would. Amanda, if fewer ppl needed cars for daily commutes, perhaps we would end up with more car share schemes? Or perhaps we would be willing to cooperatively fund public transport schemes?

    Let’s dream big for a change. πŸ™‚

  26. http://Chris says

    The less in the first quotation was unintended it should have said more, hence the contradiction.

    I was using the ‘allowed’ in terms of authority from their employer to permit working at homeYour use of it seemed to be in terms of society not allowing people to go to offices.

  27. http://Alison says

    Jax, it all sounds lovely (and very sci-fi – I keep being reminded of an Asimov story (one of the Elijah Baley/R Daneel detective ones) where they visit a planet (Solaria?) where no one has any physical contact, everything is done by prjoecting holograms!). But how many people would actually be *able* to work at home (in theory, let alone those who would choose to in practice)? About 20% max I’d guess? Anyone who has any practical or location-specific element to their job doesn’t have that choice.

    Dreaming big’s all very well, but your vision has skipped over a few generations’ worth of change! I just can’t get too enthusiastic about that, it’s preferable to me to think about the next possible change, however small. More and more employers *are* being persuaded of the benefits of teleworking, and I think that’s great. But there are always going to be so many jobs where it’s just not practical or worthwhile – e.g. people whose jobs involve huge amounts of communication or negotiation (like C’s) who would find home-working very inefficient I think.

    I’m still trying to understand how you can work at home with the kids around, tbh, I think I’d find it very hard. When C works at home, he works all day – we really don’t see him for any significant amount more than if he’s at work!

    People want to be together IRL. A world where electronic communication overtook real social interactions would be very weird. People want to spend time with their friends – phone calls just aren’t the same, are they? When someone has a new baby, just seeing a photo isn’t any substitute for meeting it for the first time and having a cuddle. Many people do make deep long-lasting friendships at work, so telling them that if they worked from home they could spend more time with their friends might not work too well πŸ˜‰ I don’t think you can overlook people’s urge/need to gather together.

  28. http://Amanda says

    I had to come back, very interesting. Kwym about dreaming big thou. Even if we had public transport here, for us it would’nt work (I’ve 4 kids, 2 have A.S, lots of people around not good, lol). I don’t think car sharing would work for us because of the size of our family. Working from home I think depends on the individual (ie if they need interaction or not) for some jobs you do need to ‘bounce’ off other people. I see

  29. http://Jax says

    I wasn’t meaning car sharing in the sense that there would be other ppl in the car. I think I used the wrong term, I was referring to arrangements like this: Our car your car

    Alison, I also said about how I thought being at home would give more opportunity for socialisation within families and communities – communities which barely exist at the moment in many of the commuter villages around us. I don’t think we are going to get away from real life meet ups, and I wouldn’t want to.

    But I do think we need to look at the travelling that we do realistically and work out which bits we really need to do. I’m not sure how many ppl could work from home, I’m not sure whether any investigation into that has ever been done. Could we be looking at other ways of doing it? What about a remote shared office scenario, where most villages have an office block that numerous companies rent space in? So instead of going to a company office, you go to a desk in the office block in your village? You’d still get friendships growing up in that kind of environment.

    And I like to dream big. I like to think about where we could go, and then think about how we could get there. I don’t see a problem with that, and I don’t see a problem with brainstorming possibilities on my blog.

  30. I don’t think Jax has said this expressly, although I am pretty sure it has been implicit in what she has written.

    If we wish to have an inhabitable world for our children and grandchildren, we have no choice but to do something to reduce the impact we are having on the environment.

    I am no expert, but so far as I can tell, the biggest thing we can do is to reduce quite drastically the amount we use cars. At the same time, if we do not reduce car usage, then NOTHING ELSE WE CAN DO is going to make a blind bit of difference.

    So how do we reduce car usage? We don’t have usable bus services over much of the country. We tore up a lot of rural rail track in the 60s and 70s and there is no room in the South East for more. But we do have technology, a lot of technology which could help us to make the kind of drastic reduction which is needed. If people like Chris are adamant that they really have to live thirty miles away from their place of work AND have to travel there every day, then they will have to get used to going by train. As I would understand it, that is, in his case, a viable option. That cannot be said of very many of the people who are driving sometimes much greater distances each day.

    My current journey to work is over 60 miles each way, eats up to 3 hours which I could spend very much better in other ways and is a complete waste of time. I do nothing which I could not do from home were the company I am contracting with geared up to facilitate it.

    So Alison, if you want to be able to walk from your house to the beach, let’s carry on as we are. Otherwise, Jax’s “big dreaming” is not only necessary, but urgent.

  31. http://Chris says

    Get a local job then Tim.

  32. http://Amanda says

    Whoops, this is the problem with electronic comuunication ;0)
    Sorry I got car sharing wrong I was being literal! I have’nt heard of that scheme. FWIW working from home or as you have suggested a shared office is possible and maybe this will become more popular, but still not possible for everyone. I don’t think rlf are a problem – as most people seem to seek out their own communities (either at or away from work).
    I do see what you mean about travelling, when the kids were at school my weekly mileage was 200 miles per week, I do lot less now that we h.e :0) But if I’m honest I would’nt want to give up my car, I like having the freedom to think today I can go here if I want to.
    Nothing wrong with dreaming big, or brainstorming if I came across critical I apologise, I was just looking at my own current situation in that senario. This is thinking big, and out interest how would you start this on a small scale?

  33. http://Jax says

    nah, you didn’t come across overly critical Amanda, I’m just feeling a bit beleagured attempting to defend something that made great sense last night, but probably wasn’t as coherently put together as it could be.

    In the first instance, letting ppl know that homeworking is feasible, by talking about it. I think that the government should consider tax perks, in the same way that they support the use of more environmentally forms of transport, maybe benefit companies that support truly flexible working. They already support flexible working for parents with children under the age of 5, I think that should just be extended generally.

  34. Chris, that is precisely what I intend when this contract finishes in three weeks time.

  35. http://Alison says

    Sorry Jax, didn’t realise you weren’t offering your ideas for debate πŸ˜‰

  36. http://Amanda says

    fwiw I do think it makes sense, I suppose its a case of small steps really. Yes and flexible working for ALL parents would be nice.

  37. The only thing i can possibly add to this is that, as a work at home mum and as the child of a working at home parent, i know damn well that what would take me an hour when Max was here caring for the children, takes me 3 protracted days where i get irate, the kids get irate and nothing gets done properly.

    Working from home is an utter compromise in my opinion and i do utterly trivial things when i am in full charge and save the important stuff for when Max is here – which is why i am always behind and my business is a tenth of what it could be.

    So no, i don’t think your utopia would work really, it didn’t work that well for you did it? Honestly? (Or am i missing the point again?)

    As for decontructing marriage; well, i got married because i have some beliefs and because a solemn occasion, making binding promises in a conventional way was important to me. But at the end of the day it is just a contract. I can well imagine child rearing contracts, in effect a civil marriage, being something with a nice outfit, a party and some flowers, in which case what, quite frankly, is the difference????? It would still be a step to commitment written down on paper, which is what marriage is and unless you really are the kind of person who would, at the end of 18 years or so say “okay the kids are done, i’m done with you” having never mentioned that contract to anyone up until then, i can’t see the point. Even assuming they managed to legislate it in a way that was more effective than the current debacle, the idea of it is just cold. What on earth is wrong with keeping some romance and gentleness in the world?

    Rant over πŸ˜‰

  38. hmm.
    marraige, well I’m not religius, took 9 years to get married, was as commited before as after. BUT it was good to stand and say in front of family and friends this is it. was done in a hotel, no white dress, and exactly as we chose. great day. nicer than a notary contract, and equally meaningful in law.
    I just don’t see the problem with marriage if you want a contract, and nothing if you don’t.
    I think the possibility of homeworking should be more widely considered, but as Alison says, this just isn’t an option for most people. Not for me certainly! When I have to write a paper etc at home, I find it near to impossible to concentrate with the girls around me. This may be though, that usually work and home is cleanly divided, so that neither they nor I have adapted to the mummy is working thing.

  39. “Could we be looking at other ways of doing it? What about a remote shared office scenario, where most villages have an office block that numerous companies rent space in? So instead of going to a company office, you go to a desk in the office block in your village? YouÒ€ℒd still get friendships growing up in that kind of environment.”

    That is exactly the kind of scenario we examined on my degree course and you have pinpointed the exact answer, which is, incidentally, occuring in small pockets around the UK. Homeworkers, primarily those that are self-employed, are joing forces with others in the same boat and using their village hall as an office during the week. With govt funding (for rural communities) providing the equipment they cannot afford or do not want to invest in at home, they all meet up for coffee, photocopying etc. I presume this is still happening as it’s been a while since I did my degree…..

    I like the tax break idea for homeworkers Jax πŸ™‚

    Giving up the car is not really an option for us either, especially carting horse stuff around – you can’t take 9 x 20kg bags of feed on the bus! Also, visiting some friends would prove to be nigh on impossible or the travelling by public transport would take up most of the day. What I would like though is to cease these out of town developments (that are putting our local shops out of business) where you have to travel by car as there is no bus service!

  40. oh, and i still do intend to keep, and hope I do our marriage vows. the fact that I know divorce is there is irrelevant. Its not hypocritical to go into something with the absolute best of intentions

  41. And actually, just to get it out of my system, as a happily married person without massively strong religious beliefs, i do rather resent the “grow up” bit contained within your marriage paragraph. Who on earth made your way the more ‘grown up’ way or the right way? Several hundred years worth of history may possibly have had a point, wherever marriage is originally from and whatever strings it had attached.

    I was VERY grown up when i decided to get married and have the wedding i did; i did it for particular reasons and with particular conviction that that was right for me. Now if i was ideologically opposed to marriage, possibly it would have been slightly daft to do it, but in fact, for reasons as much personal as religious, if not more personal, it was right for me. I added my own twist admittedly, walking down the aisle in (off) white with my 6 week old baby carried behind me, but in a sense i was making a point of my own, that i could be me AND conventional, from the outset, that i was stepping out from childhood and putting my foot on a new path.

    It was phenomenally important to my parents and particularly my grandmother that i got married, more so than it has proved to be for my sister who is still unmarried and about to be a parent for a second time. Partly, i gave them a day that made them comfortable and feel good about my future security, partly Max got to demonstrate to them that he was going to be there for me and Fran for as long as he lived, partly we got to ‘say’ that we were doing things our own way and not bound by convention in some ways but nonetheless proud to be part of the way our families did things. And those are all very complex and intertwinned things; my sense of identity with my parents is very strong and to choose to stay unmarried would have been to thumb my nose at how happy they would be for the sake of it. As i said in my post the other day, marriage has been about creating a trust and bond for us and it is a GOOD thing for US. My parents have vhanged since them and my sisters choice to stay unmarried has been met without a murmur, but i was different; the oldest, the way changer, the boundary breaker and a different person to her anyway. They would not have been who they have been with her, had i not gone first. There are pros and cons to being the eldest, but i accepted small changes as my contribution to a change in order that has occurred.

    Some opinion poll on the BBC the other week on happiness seemed to list married as the happiest people and the most likely to stay together, which might say a lot of things, but it might say that it is because it affords people a safety net of trust. I don’t see marking the start of that with pomp and ceremony as anything too awful tbh; and certainly not something i need to grow up about.

  42. http://Jax says

    you know what? The next time I want to brainstorm after a beer, I’ll do it somewhere else under another name.

  43. I’d LOVE Dh to work from home, but it’s somewhat problematic in his line of business πŸ˜‰

    As someone who has started to dabble in family history, I am very glad that there is such a thing as marriage, and marriage records – they give so much useful information for further research, so for that reason I hope it continues.

    What would the difference between a civil marriage and the contract you are pondering be?

    As with all things though, it must always be a matter of choice. To force anything, no matter how noble or worthy it may be, on anyone, is just plain wrong.

    Oh and don’t brainstorm somewhere else, it’s interesting πŸ˜€

  44. Claire, it made me giggle that you need to have a car because you have a horse. Surely having the horse should mean that you don’t need a car?

    You don’t need to have a car to get your horse feed to your horse, you could get it delivered straight there, or you could get a trap, and bring the horse to collect the feed?

  45. yeah jax, don’t brainstorm eslewhere – you’ve had 45 comments!!
    we don’t have to agree on marriage to like each other!

  46. oh, and my job had a 10 mile clause in it – Ie I had to agree to live within 10 miles of my workplace. 15 mins – not so dreadful on carbon fuels. many of my colleagues live closer.

  47. Jax, for heavens sake, what did you expect? You effectively attacked quite a lot of peoples way of life and you’re post was quite aggressive in many ways… surely you expected a response? Did you think we’d all say “yeah, you are right, we all suck.” If i’d said “come on co-habiters, grow up and get married” would that have been reasonable?

    Still, on carbon footprints, we do okay. Max cycles to work and while he makes engines, which the world probably can’t do without now, he is actively involved in the process of making them greener and more efficient. In fact, despite working from home, mine is probably worse; internet, bubblewrap, plastic envelops and plastic products… hm… bio-degradable hama beads? Dunno… they are pvc free, does that count? πŸ˜‰

  48. http://Nic says

    I’ve been pondering this one ever since I read it shortly after you posted it. I was initially really quite personally offended by the marriage rant and I have to say that the businesses of my parents, pretty much every job I’ve ever had and certainly Ady’s current employment would all have been utterly destroyed without vehicular transport or the need to work on site. I left it alone because I have the odd fairly radical idea of my own from time to time (although I don’t actually blog them very often) and actually what I stand for over and above anything else is choice and tolerance.

    But I came back because I felt I had to add my voice really, in defence of marriage – because IMO whatever reason people choose to get married for is not really anyone else’s business and if it’s a good enough reason for them then who the hell has the right to question it or judge them? But Merry has already said, very well, exactly what I would have said on that matter.

    WRT the childrearing contracts that simply made me laugh. I disagree that having children is the most important thing I’ll ever do. I don’t think having a contract would make me any more or less efficient at it and frankly for me at least motherhood has bugger all to do with efficiency and everything to do with loving my children and instinctively doing what I believe is best for them. In the same was as the anti-marriage brigade claim to not need a piece of paper to prove their love and commitment I certainly don’t need any sort of contract to cover that. Ady and I did discuss parenthood for years prior to going ahead and had had fairly lengthy chats about how we would tackle certain issues and what stance we would take on situations. We laugh now at how foolish we were! πŸ˜‰

    I don’t know how we decide what is and isn’t ‘essential’ travel really. In the last week we’ve clocked up over 1000 miles travelling up and down the country in a big circle visiting friends. Sure they are all people I have online relationships with but a hundred brackets round my name in an email from one of them is worth less than one minute in their actual company or a real life hug from them. Humans are social beings, in every job I’ve had I’ve made friends. I don’t want all my social interactions to be with people in the same town as me herded by demographic into a ‘local office’ – that’s one of the reasons I don’t send my children to sit in a classroom for 7 hours a day, why would I choose it for myself?

    I don’t think you have the answer Jax, but I would hate for you to stop asking the question, so please carry on. This has been a very interesting debate. πŸ™‚

  49. http://Jax says

    I don’t think there is any single answer, and I’d be amazed if I could come up with in on a single beer.

    If it’s any consolation to those of you offended by my anti-marriage stance, I’ve frequently been offended by ppl refusing to understand why I might not want to be married although I am committed to my relationship and my children. And the deconstruction wasn’t aimed at anyone actually making a commitment, it was aimed at the white dress/party brigade, and if none of you know any of them, then you are obviously moving in radically different circles to me.

  50. Actually Tim, you make very good points. I would have the feed delivered to the yard but there is sadly nowhere to keep beyond one bag and as they only deliver once every 6 weeks, I have to order x number of bags at a time.

    I would love to have a trap but that is an even more dangerous way to utilise a horse than riding it and legally you are supposed to have two people in a trap at all times (for safety reasons). More deaths and serious accidents (to both horse and rider) occur when driving as opposed to riding.

    Jax – brainstorm away. It’s *your* blog, you can say what you like. I don’t think anyone is so highly offended that they will never speak to you again. This is how ideas are formed and cemented for people, its the modern day debating societies. And I think the responses show just how individual we all are and how one set of life rules can never work, because they could not ever take into account all the eventualities. If we all lived exactly the same way, we would be drones. God help us!

    WRT to marriage: I witnessed my parents extremely happy marriage (40 years long) and they set an example to both myself and my brother. I always used to say that if I couldn’t be as happy as them, I would never get married. My bro did the big white wedding thing and they have been married for 18yrs, have two fantastic sons and still seem happy. That wedding set a precedent for me: I was expected to follow suit and I have to say, both my parents died disappointed that neither of them managed to walk me down the aisle. My father reminded constantly of his disappointment right up until he died as he felt it was his ‘right’ to give me away and I shouldn’t deprive him of that.

    Dave and I have talked about getting married, but have come to the conclusion that we do not need to be married to trust one another, or to show anything to the outside world about our commitment to each other. We are as committed as can be whether married or not.

    It is my personally held view that if folks marry for the right reasons ie *they* want to and not because it is expected of them or even more flippantly because it seems like a good idea, then fine. If marriage isn’t right for you for whatever reasons, then don’t. If you want to show your commitment to each other without a marriage, have a Humanist celebration. I stress, this is only my opinion and certainly not intended to offend anyone πŸ™‚

  51. Interesting then Jax, because honestly, i never question co-habiting as a valid choice – i did it for 3 1/2 years and briefly as a parent; my sister does it, both my cousins did/do it, a variety of my friends do it. I know and respect as many cohabiting partnerships as i do married ones probably, albeit within my own generation, rather than the generation that role-modelled for me. Neither Max nor i harbour any expectations that our girls will marry; we do hope they will find love and security for themselves if that is what the wish. I’ll be delighted to be a mother in law, but just as happy to be a mother not in law.

    On the other hand i’ve been attacked for apparently walking into marriage ‘blindly’ on a huge number of occasions, or betraying womankind by wearing a ring, or changing my surname. And i have to say, it annoys me greatly, because at least i’ve done both and i can therefore make a reasonable judgement on which suits ME best.

    Regarding the white dress and party brigade, who are they exactly? Is the dismissal limited to people who get divorced within a limited amount of time, or people who spend x amount of money, have a frothy dress not a cream suit, say vows when one or both of them are unsure as to whether they truly believe in the deity they invoke? If i’m still married in 25 years will i have earned my right to have got married?

    I had a cream dress and party and my dad, bless him, paid for it largely – but i did put in a huge amount of effort to plan it so it was as cheap and cost effective as it could be. All of the 80 people who attended had a lovely day, it is still talked about in my family as the most fun and original wedding to have happened amongst us and if 80 people had a great and feel good day, then it was a great party and worth having. That is before you add in the extra 100 or so who turned up bringing drinks, girlfriends, boyfriends, food and presents in the evening and celebrated my happiness and the birth of our daughter with us.

    It would be wrong to say “don’t knock it till you’ve tried it” because that isn’t what i think, but i do think that people who choose to get married and stay married deserve credit for that committment, in just the same way that people who make a success of cohabitation do.

    For what it is worth, i think if my marriage continues to be as good as it is now and Max and i stay together as i believe we will, then i will have done something in my own way for equality and feminism. My children will snort with derision at the idea that marriage puts a woman in the charge/care of a man or condemns them to second place. That much, i can be quite sure of. My children will grow up fully aware that men and women are equal in personal partnerships (but that the women are probably going to get their way πŸ˜‰ )

  52. Marriage? Tried it once. Didn’t like it. Didn’t stick.

    Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do it again, although I do think that the ’til death bit, when 40% of weddings fail, is maybe a tad silly, and I do think think that something radical needs to be done to fix the utterly random, utterly grotesque, ridiculous unfairness which so often accompanies divorces. If that means that people end up choosing from a variety of forms of contract then that is fine by me.

    Marriage may be great for most people (I am sure it is for quite a lot of people, for all sorts of reasons and in all sorts of ways), but trust me, divorce pretty much always really, really sucks and I do think something needs to be done to provide sense for the 40% of the time marriages end before the ‘contract term’ is up.

  53. http://Nic says

    I doubt that 40% of couples stand making those vows knowing that they will be breaking them some time down the line. Do you really think it would be any less messy to break up a co-habiting relationship with children involved and dual ownerhip of property and other belongings?

    And yeah, I must be in a radically different circle to you as I don’t know anyone who was only marrying for the dress and the party (let’s not forget the presents and the jewelry! ;-))

  54. http://Nic says

    Oh and in conclusion:

    Love and marriage, love and marriage
    go together like a horse and carriage!


  55. http://Chris says

    Well I only married Alison so I could ‘make lurve’ to her…..

  56. http://Alison says

    It’s an institute you can’t disparage …

    Top marks to old Frankie there for getting “disparage” into a song, quite impressive.

  57. http://Nic says

    Time for bring Frankie into the noughties then?


    Love and co-habitation, love and co-habitation
    go together like online friends and IM conversation
    this I tell you male sharing my genes
    One without the other is simply obscene

    Love and cohabitation, love and cohabitation
    The perfect 21st century alternative to nuclear family situation
    Every gets to keep their own last name
    And sales of wedding cakes have never been the same

    try, try, try and separate them
    ItÒ€ℒs an illusion
    Try, try, try and you will only come
    To this conclusion

    Love and cohabitation, love and cohabitation
    All the perks without the female degradation
    Dad was told by Mother
    **** you mate, youÒ€ℒre a generation too late, IÒ€ℒm not you wife IÒ€ℒm just your significant other!


  58. ‘Wot Merry Said’ really – seeing as she has pretty much said what I would have done. Helen had cream trouser suit, we had civil ceremony – with our own additions in a hotel to outselves- but we did have a great meal and party. It was a wonderful day, and we meant every single word of the vows we made.

    What intrigues me, and this isn’t directed particulary to anyone here, is why those who are critcal of marriage care about us who are married.

  59. It intrigues me that anyone would be uncritical, of marriage, or anything else, for that matter. I don’t know that anyone who has contributed here has expressed a view that marriage is perfect. If it is not perfect, that means that it is capable of improvement.

    I think that marriage is part of the fabric of our society, as such it is important that it work to promote our collective happiness and wellbeing. I am interested in the new civil partnership as I believe it adds a new dimension.

    What is important to me, and what I care about is my family, and that is defined not only by ties of blood but also by ties of marriage (and in some part by ‘informal’ relationships). So how marriage works is important to me, because it effects the people I care about, and when I see it work badly, I wonder how it could be improved.

    Maybe I shouldn’t be concerned about the hurt and damage that is suffered by people whose marriages fail, or their children, or the cost in every sense to society, so perhaps I shouldn’t wonder whether there are not changes which could be made to help make those people suffer less and be happier. Maybe I shouldn’t care, Chris, I am sure you are right.

  60. http://Chris says

    I dunno Tim, perhaps some people have got more important things to worry about?

  61. Cohabitation isn’t perfect either – getting them to put two surnames on my council tax bill took, 3 years and even now they refer to me as Mr πŸ˜‰

    Lol at Nic πŸ™‚

  62. http://Alison says

    But shouldn’t “when marriages fail” really be “when relationships fail”? Or do you truly believe Tim, that if you and Jax split up it will be far easier to deal with practically, and far less painful emotionally than if C and I split up? I just can’t see that mnyself, and I can’t see a contract helping either.

    We got married because we wanted that whole public declaration bit. And we did it in my old college chapel because it’s a nice place – probably just as shallow a reason in many people’s eyes as wanting a white dress and a party. I’m no apologist for marriage, but I don’t think that insulting your readers is going to bring them round to your point of view πŸ˜‰

    And Merry, lol, I’m Mrs on our Council Tax statements, despite never having referred to myself as Mrs in my life!

  63. That would be Mrs Cooth i presume πŸ˜‰

  64. “So how marriage works is important to me, because it effects the people I care about, and when I see it work badly, I wonder how it could be improved.”

    I’d say the same about cohabitation too, btw. At the end of the day, married or partnered, relationships are about honesty, togetherness, mutual trust and responsibility, being able to talk and to listen, having fun, being happy, love, committment, trying to make it work beyond the point where it would be ‘easy’ to just walk away, honouring the other person so that what they want is valued, even if it isn’t so important to the other person and, if you choose to have children together, being committed to them long term and supporting each other as parents until those children are grown and whole, undamaged by whatever your relationship is or has been.

    Personally taking the time out in my life to put those things into words, stood looking into one anothers eyes and meaning every word of it, with people who loved me witnessing that committment to one another, having put love and thought into making that day worth it was worth every penny and every ounce of us that it took. And it has never meant so much as it has recently, when we made terrible decisions about our future, ones that neither of us really wanted to have to make, but trusted one another that the love we had committed to was going to be enough. Had i not believed completely that Max was prepared to be with me in sickness and in health, had i not trusted those words and believed in his total determination to be here for us and for me, providing for us, caring for us and being part of whatever life brought for us, i couldn’t have got through it.

    But that is us and i think that i have the same feelings about the partnership of marriage that many of my friends do, judging from the comments here – and so long as you and Jax have the same in your relationship then none of us have anything to apologise for or fret about. It isn’t the institution of marriage that damages lives, it’s each other.

  65. Alison, I am divorced and my experience was that the mechanics of going through the divorce made everything much harder than it otherwise need have been. Yes, I definitely do believe that if Jax and I split up it will be practically easier and emotionally less painful than if we were married.

  66. http://Alison says

    Oh Tim, but now aren’t you just playing into the hands of the right-wing conservative types who want everyone to be married because it’s easier to walk away from a relationship otherwise? πŸ˜‰

    I dunno, I’ve not got experience of either with house-ownership and children involved, but given those two I would imagine both situations could be fairly complicated. And I don’t think not getting married because the divorce might be messy is really the logical option πŸ˜‰ I guess a divorce is as nasty as you both want it to be, I don’t remember my parents’ divorce as being a really big deal; all the major stress had been gone through months earlier when they separated.

    Merry – talking of terrible times – obviously we didn’t have children then, but when C and I were really going through it just after we were married, I completely believe that if we weren’t married we would have split up. Things were just too difficult to think of anyone else, and I was very relieved that only days earlier C had promised to be there: it gave me a safety net, room to relax. I’m sure (and was sure then) that if we hadn’t been married, I would have asked him to go.

  67. http://Chris says

    I guess *if* you and Jax split up you will be in the perfect position to compare and update us πŸ™‚

    Don’t unmarried fathers have less rights (wrongly imo) than married fathers unless there is a ‘Parental Responsibility’ agreement? If partners didn’t have one isn’t there the risk that those lack of rights make things worse and more painful?

  68. In a divorce custody, care and control are awarded to one parent, joint custody has no real meaning except to make the other parent feel better.

    In practice, we are mostly talking about mothers being awarded custody. In practice, if they choose to deny the (married or unmarried) fathers rights there is very little to prevent them succeeding.

  69. I’m totally with you Alison. I know there have been times when it has been the thing that made me stop and think. There have been two occasions in our relationship when i have been at walking away point; once before marriage and once after. The first time only the fact that he came looking and apologised saved us, the second time it was a friend telling me very clearly that i believed in my marriage and would be a fool to walk away from something that was so good and that i was so committed to.

    Fran had to be re-registered after we were married (it took us 5 years and 3 more children to get round to it!) during which time Max had no parental responsibility for her and couldn’t sign her operation consent forms. In fact, had i died, my parents could probably have fought him for custody of her if they had wanted to. Once there were other children who were legally bound to him it would have been less likely they’d have won, but while we just had her, they’d have had a case i believe.

  70. Picking up on a few poinst here I think. I’m with Alison and that it’s really about the relationship rather than the marriage failing. I think you may be right Tim, in that it maybe be easier for a cohabiting couple to split up , than amarried one, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Ignoring the children side of things, the key difference seems to me to be that the law has somethign to say about a marriage splitting up (dividing assets etc.) where it doesn’t really for cohabiting couple. OK you can tinker with what the law exactly says, but in the end I don’t think the law should just let you walk away from a marriage – You enter into legal state when you get married and it’s right that the law says soemthing about what happens when it ends. If someone doesn’t want that then they are free not to get married.

    Re the reamrks about ‘critical comments and caring’. If the critical coments I read about marriage were offering constructive ways of chnaging it then it would be fine (though not sure what thosw would be, as opposed to just not having the status of marriage). But that isn’t what I see. Generally criticisms are more along Jax’s line in her post – not just criticisng marriage, but criticizing those of use who choose to get married – and usualy offending me as well, since there is an assumption that we don’t me the vows we take, when I’ve never meant anything more storngly in my life. So what I really menat was why should people who don’t believe in marriage care about what I do, anymore than I should care about what someonen who decides to cohabit does – with the potential

    We didn’t have to get married, we’d been together 9 years when we did, we could have just had a ‘DIY’ ceremony, but there seems to be more to it than that. There is something about standing up and signing up to the social institution of marriage as well that is important to some of us. The same desire is one of the reasons underlying the creation of Civil Partnerships surely?

  71. Jax’s view on marriage and mine are different, so I can’t speak for her, although I don’t think she intended that her remarks be taken as a general criticism of everyone who gets married.

    If everyone who got married stayed married, then I don’t think there would be much of an issue to discuss as any problems would be resolved, for good or ill between the parties. So in the end, I suppose my problem is not with marrriage at all, it is with divorce. But that is what happens, a lot of the time.

    If you want some suggestions. First, I think the State and the Church elements need to be decoupled. We have an established Church and the current legal status of marriage is tied in with the current Anglican view of marriage. I think that in a multicultural, multi-faith society that is inappropriate.

    I think that legal marriage should be nothing more than a contract between the two parties, and it seems to me that there is no reason why there could not be more than one legal form of marriage available for people to choose from. If people then wanted to make religious commitments as well, then that would be up to them, but they would have no legal effect. I can see no particular reason why the legal contract forms need require that parties be of different gender, nor any particular reason why there could not be more than two, it would after all be just a matter of law, not of morals.

    The State would have plenty of scope to intervene by Statute, for example, by restricting tax breaks to contracts which complied with specific statutory guidelines. The State might well have things to say about age limits for contracting parties, rules on consanguinity and so on. But I see no reason why individuals should not be permitted to draw up contracts which suited them and their circumstances rather than having the current one size fits all approach.

    At the same time, as with any other contract, you could write in terms specifying how the parties would behave in the event the contract be terminated. Notice periods, division of assets and so forth. Maybe you could include annual holidays and bonuses. πŸ™‚

    The tough bit, of course, is how you deal with children, what rights they have and what responsibilities adults who are their biological or legal parents have toward them.

  72. Oh yes, one more thing about children. There has been a recent case where a couple had created embryos together and the father later withdrew his consent to their being used. I can’t see why there is not scope to have a range of specific legal forms which would have some but not all of the charaterisitics of a legal marriage, and which would specifically cover these sorts of issues. The reason I suggest this is that, in the case I have seen in the news, there did not appear to be any resolution which did not result in injustice to one or the other party.

    72 comments. Is this an Otherwise record?

  73. http://Nic says

    For me the problem with the suggestion of contracts is that it does assume possibility of ending the contract, particularly if you start putting in notice periods ;-). I would imagine that with a few very odd exceptions no one gets married with any intention of breaking the marriage. The fact that the statistics show they some people are wrong in that assumption is not enough of a reason to not do it in the first place.

    Ady and I were together, with a shared mortgage for over six years before we got married. We had a variety of reasons for doing so but the key thing was that every single word we said in our vows was from the heart – said with meaning and abided by ever since. We both intend to forsake all others, to remain together in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer (particularly pertinant currently! πŸ˜‰ ) til death do us part. I’m not saying I do so because I am marrried, I am saying I married because that’s what I intend to do. It was wonderful to have those thoughts witnessed by others at our wedding, to have family and friends celebrate the fact we loved each other deeply enough to make those vows afterwards and I personally frequently recall the words of the man who married us (he told us to never let our wedding rings only mean we were married, to every time we look at them to remember how much we loved each other on our wedding day, to always be best friends) and take great comfort, pleasure and enjoyment from being married. I wanted to take Ady’s name, I wanted our future children to have the same name as the two of us – I happily moved from being part of my parents family to being the beginning of my own but more than anything else saying those words to Ady and having him say them back will always be one of the most important things I ever did.

  74. Nic, what you are talking about is a spiritual commitment between you. One which the law won’t enforce anyway. If what I suggest were done, there would be nothing to prevent you from going to church as before, and making any vows you fancied.

    They would just have no legal force at all (same as now really). The legal contract would be something different and separate.

  75. http://Nic says

    Except of course neither of us holds any religious beliefs whatsoever! πŸ˜†

    I guess I am a romantic really – I hate the idea of pre-nuptial agreements too. I am not giddy enough to not realise that relationships do break up and can get horribly sticky and painful particularly when trying to seperate assets and split all the sundries that go with a relationship, but I suppose never having been through a divorce, and hoping I never do I don’t give much headspace to the practicalities of one and whether society should put procedures in place to make disolutions of relationships more straightforward.

  76. I am agnostic, but this is the view of marriage I was raised with and which is still embedded somewhere:

    The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony

  77. I’ve been married, divorced, co-habitated and now considering a Civil Partnership. Divorce isn’t pretty but then again as well as dealing with divorce every day in my work I also deal with almost as many separations of co-habitees. I can tell you that whilst some of those can be as ugly and as messy as divorce, generally even when children and jointly owned assets are involved, the parties seem far more able to be pleasant and resonable.

    There is something about marriage – particularly those that last around 7 years or more and those where there are children that makes people behave horribly. Any solicitor will tell you that!

    I prefer to deal with non-marriage separations because I know if I pick up a file where the parties were married, I can pretty much guarantee that most of my time will be spent reading their arguments that last on average 3 years!
    Most other splits take around 12 – 18 months to resolve even with property and children involved.

    Don’t get me started on the morons who fought for 8 years over the pet hamsters, horses and dogs! 8 years of public funds wasted imo. That was one hell of a file to deal with.

  78. you have gone on about seperating church and state from marriage, but it is done already!
    we had a CIVIL [in all senses!] marriage at a jacobean manor house
    [unmoderat me please!!]
    btw, loved your venuse alison.
    we had no religion in it at all, meddled only marginally with wording. lovely music, 3 friends reading and that was that -2o mins max.
    BUT we met the night before for a meal, and ghatted laughed and danced the whole day.
    not a wisp of religion, but full of meaning

  79. Helen, what I was trying to get across is that you may meddle with the wording, but you cannot escape the statutory legal framework within you say those words. If it is a marriage, then it is subject to the law, and the law is written from the perspective of the established Anglican church. Not RC, nor Muslim, nor Mormon, nor Jewish, – whichever faith ( or none ) you get married under, you are stuck with an Anglican law.

  80. http://Nic says

    Unless you get married abroad surely?

  81. No, any divorce would still be dealt with under English law if you live in England.

172 queries in 0.441 seconds.