On Gay Marriage

Currently in the UK the big debate is over gay couples getting married in religious institutions. Earlier this winter the proposal for women bishops was defeated by a measly six votes so it would be nice for the church and other religions to catch up with the modern world and support equality and tolerance.

One argument against gay marriage is that historically marriage was between heterosexual couples. This argument is invalid.

  • Historically women couldn’t vote
  • Historically men under 30 couldn’t vote
  • Historically British people had to pay for healthcare
  • Historically you had to come from a wealthy, respectable, well-bred family to get anywhere in life (although it could be said this still holds true)

It doesn’t mean it’s right or should remain the same.

Gay marriage will not undermine the traditional institution, in fact it might strengthen it. The divorce rate is steadily increasing, single parent families are becoming more common so why shouldn’t two men or two women marry and raise a family? Surely that is both more stable and beneficial for the children than a heterosexual married couple who argue all the time.

Why can’t someone choose to be both gay and Christian? Or lesbian and Hindi? and be faithful to their religion by marrying in the eyes of the church/temple etc? I don’t claim to be an expert on the Bible but surely they advocate tolerance and equality? That seems to be the moral thing to do. It’s time to enter the modern world and start creating   harmony instead rifts.


Dear Mum and Dad (here we go again)

I got into a bit of trouble yesterday after the parents read my ‘Dear Mum and Dad’ post. Well not trouble exactly. My Mum thought that if it got things off my chest then fine, but my Dad decided to take it far too seriously which is strange really as normally it would be the other way round. It wasn’t meant as a joke really, but it wasn’t there to offend and it certainly wasn’t there as a means of complaining about the parents behind their backs (unlike the two of them this morning discussing me right outside my room when they thought I was sleeping). I know they follow via email so I would have to be pretty stupid to think they wouldn’t read it.

So, after getting up in a pretty bad mood I have some more points to add:

Dear Mum and Dad,

  • Firstly, I would like to say that it is not my fault I am ill. In fact, it annoys me a lot more than it does you – think on that for a while.
  • I love you
  • Mum, you wouldn’t be my Mum if you didn’t get stressed occasionally or sulk when Dad and I tell you off for complaining that Dad is messing around when it was the little brother in the family who started it but gets away with it because of his ‘puppy-dog eyes’
  • Dad, you wouldn’t be my Dad without your bad jokes, constant teasing and perfectionist ways
  • You’ve always encouraged me in my endeavors, whether that is academic or otherwise
  • Mum spends days with me shopping or crafting which I do appreciate
  • You both work hard so we can go on yearly holidays
  • Dad may roll his eyes but allows me to keep half-made bags and cushions in the sitting room
  • Neither of you mind setting me free in the kitchen and creating a load of washing up
  • All parents annoy their children and all children annoy their parents – it’s a fact of life
  • In fact, considering the little brother and I get along and hardly ever fight you should feel lucky. When I think about other families we know, who bicker and don’t seem to spend a lot of time together, we are all rather close and this should never be taken for granted

(Do you feel better now?)

Dear Mum and Dad

  • No matter how many times you ask my room will remain messy; clean but messy. I need half of my things to be in my house at uni for there to be adequate storage space overall.
  • If I appear in the kitchen earlier than usual I do not appreciate the “who’s this!?” exclaimed with a dramatic stare at the time. In fact this reaction encourages me to stay in bed for a little longer if I can’t be bothered to deal with the sarcasm.
  • Don’t mess with my hair; it annoyed me when I was 10 it will annoy me when I’m 100. (Although you may be wearing me down on this issue – slightly)
  • If I’m on the laptop when you come home it does not mean I have been on it all day (same goes for sitting in the same chair or watching TV)
  • If you look over my shoulder I will hide what I’m doing, if you ask nicely I will show you – manners people!
  • If I go to bed early I might not be ill or tired – I just can’t be bothered to watch more rubbish on the TV
  • Every time you ask me how I’m feeling the answer will be ‘fine’ – just back off and I will inform you if I feel ill
  • I happen to enjoy nice, gentle murders like ‘Murder, She Wrote’ – I don’t care if they’re sponsored by denature accessories or support chairs for the elderly
  • Just because I’m 19 doesn’t mean I want to stop bouncing on the trampoline or messing around in a paddling pool or watching kids Disney films
  • Just because I’m not up when you leave the house doesn’t mean I’ve been in bed all day, more often than not I get up 10 minutes after you’ve left (refer to point 2)
  • Yes, I buy lots of shoes, but at a fraction of the cost of Mums’ (same goes for clothes)
  • There is a reason I don’t like catching the bus – it’s always late and there are too few (one an hour) to warrant a quick trip to the pharmacy, I’d be standing around all day waiting to come home
  • The Wii fit does count as exercise!
  • Stop getting stressed and snappy when I offer to help but then start complaining that no one helps around the house (yes Mum, this is aimed at you 🙂 )
  • Updating a new blog post does count as an accomplishment, it is not ‘nothing’
  • Ok, so I come downstairs and straight away its moan, moan, moan, I don’t care if it’s half in jest. I was in a good mood until I got downstairs, now I’m annoyed, made worse because I’m annoyed that I’m annoyed. I prefer a nice quiet kitchen when making breakfast (point 10), at least let me wake up before counting the number of my shoes by the door or the number of napkins in the sitting room. A simple old-fashioned “good morning” will do.

Dear Mum and Dad, I love you very much but I can’t wait for uni to start-up again.

Anybody else have any ‘Dear Mum and Dad’ messages? Let it all out 😀

Felt Rug

Jacob Sheep Fleece

Another mother and daughter project. We did this on an extremely warm day (well for England anyway) and rolled it out on the trampoline.

The rug is made from a Jacob sheep’s fleece I brought at the Woolfest, felt fibres of a similar colour to the fleece are laid on the back – or inside – of the fleece. The net is then placed over it and wetted.

Covered with netting

Unfortunately because of the thickness of the fleece it just wouldn’t soak though so I had the brilliant idea of spraying it with the hosepipe. After spraying myself to cool down, the fleece was finally wet. It then needed rubbing to make sure the fibres were stable before rolling. We then washed it in several changes of water, it’s surprising how heavy it gets and how dirty the water is, before putting it in the washing machine.

It took all day and is more tiring than it looks, especially in the heat. Anyway, here’s the finished product, I particularly like the mottled effect of the fleece – not a bad buy for £4.

Socialisation: Part One

I split this post on socialisation into two parts to make it easier to read as the second half is rather long.

Socialisation: A lifelong process through which people learn appropriate attitudes, values and behaviours in a particular society or culture. Socialisation helps people learn skills and abilities used to interact with others as well aiding them in understanding what kind of person they are. Individuals acquire their culture and become aware of their individuality i.e. as conscious, reflective entities. They develop a self-identity.

Forms of socialisation

  • Primary socialisation – the foundation for all later learning, beginning in infancy and childhood (typically within a family or household of carers).
  • Secondary socialisation – takes place in later childhood and continues in later life when the individual acquires a broader range of social skills and a more detailed knowledge of roles outside the family.
  • Re-socialisation – a specific form of secondary socialisation. It involves discarding former behaviour patterns and accepting new ones as a part of a life transition. Typically involves considerable stress for the individual, much more so than socialisation in general. E.g. prisons, religious conversion, therapy groups, dramatic changes in people’s lives.

Agents of socialisation
Each agent can be analysed deeply, these are just a quick overviews.

  • Family – the lifelong learning process begins shortly after birth, since newborns can hear, see, smell, taste and feel heat, cold, pleasure and pain; they are constantly orientating themselves to the surrounding world. Human beings, especially family members, constitute an important part of their social environment.
  • School – like family, schools have a responsibility to socialise people in the UK to the norms and values of British culture.
  • Peer group – as children grow older, the family becomes less important in social development and peer groups increasingly assume a more significant role – that of ‘significant others’ (individuals who are most important in the development of self). Within peer groups, young people associate with others who are roughly their own age and who often enjoy a similar social status. Peer groups ease the transition to adult responsibilities, although they can be the source of harassment as well as support.
  • Media and technology – in the last 80 years media innovations – radio, cinema, music, TV and internet – have become important agents of socialisation. TV in particular is critical in western societies. Also, the internet leads to globalised socialisation with the same resources available world-wide.
  • Workplace – learning to behave appropriately within an occupation is a fundamental aspect of human socialisation. Socialisation in the workplace changes when it involves a more permanent shift from an after-school job to full employment. Occupational socialisation is most intense during the transition from school to job, but it continues throughout a persons’ work history. Technological advancements may alter the requirements of the position and instigate a degree of re-socialisation. Today people change occupations, employers and places of work many times during their life so occupational socialisation continues throughout a person’s years in the labour market.
  • The state, institutions, politics – the state has a noteworthy impact on the life course by reinstituting rites of passage that had disappeared from agricultural societies and during periods of early industrialisation. E.g. government regulations stipulate the age at which a person can drive a care, drink alcohol, have sex, vote in elections, marry without parental consent, work overtime and retire. These regulations shape the socialisation process by affecting the life course to some degree and by influencing our views of appropriate behaviours at particular ages.

There are many issues with socialisation, if a child is raised by neglectful or abusive parents this affects their socialisation. However, you cannot stereotype and say a child will grow up repeating their parents’ actions; they could take the complete opposite path. Similarly, just because a child grew up in a well-off background with loving parents does not mean they are unable to go spiralling down a dangerous road due to negative influences beyond the home. So which is more important, primary or secondary socialisation? Can secondary socialisation ever correct problems (or endanger positive events) which occurred in primary socialisation?

What have been your experiences with socialisation? Is it a positive or negative phenomenon? Or is it merely a necessary evil since you cannot help but be affected by your surroundings?

To end part one: a word of warning – influences such as the media, politics and institutions should be looked at from a distance since they all have their own agendas and so their truths should not be considered the only answer.

Single Mothers and Problem Families

In the 1980s Charles Murray, a new right thinker, stated poor educational attainment and an increase in crime rates was partly due to a decline in traditional family values and the rise of single mothers. Over the intervening thirty years the problems identified by Murray still exist.

It has been suggested some young girls choose to have children because they wish to experience the unconditional love they were denied in their own families. Others see children as a way to claim more benefits. Of course this doesn’t apply to all families or single mothers as the decreased stigma against lone-parent families allows parents to escape abusive partners without being excluded from society, as they would have been in the 1940s/50s.

Louise Casey, head of the Government troubled families unit, claims it is irresponsible for families to continue having children when they already can’t cope. She calls for harsher treatment to curb the habit of problem families having too many children (a fifth have more than five). Casey visited the country’s top 16 problem families who cost the tax payer £200,000 a year. She says that although we need to help these families, we shouldn’t use the “soft-touch” approach.

Louise Casey, head of the Government troubled families unit

Now, I don’t usually agree with the right-wing point of view, but in this case it makes sense. Obviously “soft-touch” policies haven’t made a difference, so a new, harder alternative must be found.

I remember a few months ago, I saw a TV programme about social care for children and there was one woman who had already had one child taken away from her (now in the care of the mother’s mother) and was fighting to keep a second child. She was allowed to see her baby girl three times a week under supervision and if she proved she, and her partner (not the father) could stay off drugs and find work they could have the baby back. It all seemed to be going very well, with both of them co-operating with the social workers. However, in the end the little girl went to live with her grandmother and sister. To make matters worse, the woman was pregnant again and was yet again preparing to fight for custody of this baby.

From what I saw she seemed to be a good person – not violent or anything – but she just couldn’t stay off drugs or find the motivation to find a better life with her children. Personally I can’t understand this. Casey is right, these parents need to think about the child they’re bringing into the world and not be so selfish.

Am I being to harsh? Are these families just stuck in a rut so deep they can’t see a more rewarding future? What can be done to stop problem families having more children, short of neutering them?

Being more strict on benefits could help. On the other hand, cutting benefits to single mothers is probably not going to deter these women from getting pregnant for purely selfish means. It will only punish the women who work hard to bring up their children and provide for them on their own. Also, there was talk in the papers about women having to pay to have the child’s father found and made to pay child care contributions themselves. This is not right, won’t it only encourage more unwilling fathers to disappear and leave their children without a backwards glance?

What’s the solution to this issue which has lingered for over thirty years?