Mother Pukka is crying in the bath. It’s not quite the proper blubs that have accompanied things like childbirth, proposals, and my steadfast inability to properly clean the loo. It’s more a gentle sniffle and solitary tear, on a par with that bit in the Pixar film Up! when the old man’s wife dies.
She’s in a tub full of suds and watching her mobile phone (I’m still not sure if this is dangerous or not, but assume that as there’s not enough juice in an iPhone to power it for a phone call of more than eight minutes, there are limited chances for death by electrocution).
Echoing down the stairs are words that I’ve read and heard a few times in the last 24 hours, as they’ve bounced around my social feeds. And in particular the phrase, ‘the measure of any society is how it treats it’s women and girls’.
It’s 20 minutes of rhetoric that tilts from chill-inducing to heart-warming as it talks about the belittling and demeaning behaviour that women and girls face every day, and the importance of standing strong and calling out such behaviour.
And when the urchin went in to see what the noise was, Anna showed her and said, ‘look, she’s amazing’ (to be met with a shrug). It’s being added to a list of inspirational-women videos that I try and get the urchin to peek at from time to time (other highlights being Kelly Holmes and her 800m, 1,500m double gold, and female astronaut Suni Williams doing a tour of the International Space Station). These too are usually met with shrugs, but I’m hoping the message will get through.
Parenting softens you up and makes you worry about the world in ways you might not have done when you were joyfully child-free. And while this year’s news has been relentlessly bleak, messages like this one are, I think, slowly getting through. People are becoming more aware of misogyny and more willing to point it out.
My social feed fills with links to videos of little girls railing against inane toy and clothing offerings in supermarkets. Companies – cynical and sales-focussed as they may be – are slowly buying in to the idea of promoting strong female images in their advertising. Barbie has been rescaled to slightly more human proportions.
My feeling is that 20 years ago, ‘it was just locker-room banter’, might have been accepted as a reasonable excuse for Trump’s ‘grab em by the pussy’ comments. Today it looks to have ended his hopes of becoming president, and that, at least, is some sign of progress.