The Gender Price Gap

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http://genderpricegap.tumblr.com/

Look at that link. It will open in a new window for you. It won’t take long, and the rest of this post won’t make any sense if you don’t look at that link first.

Did you look? Are you furious? You should be!

Have you ever gone shopping found yourself accidentally looking at a shirt in the section of the store that was not intended for your gender and thought ‘Oh dear, I shouldn’t be looking at this, it is not for me’?

Have you ever picked up a toiletry product for a family member not of your gender and felt self-conscious at the checkout because someone might see it and think that you had stupidly got yourself the wrong one?

Have you ever gone shopping for children’s clothing and had an uncomfortable moment where you were not quite sure which section was appropriate for you child’s gender, knowing you could not possibly bring home a girl t-shirt for your son?

I have done all of these things. What I remember most is that feeling in my gut that someone would see me and judge me for not knowing the difference between men and women.

One time I even paid extra for black ink pens because I wanted pink and purple ones. I am not very proud of that…

It took a conscious effort to realise that you can actually buy an item of clothing from the Men’s section for yourself when you are a woman. That there are some perfectly good deodorants out there with a neutral or minimal scent that say ‘For Men’ but are cheaper than the pink and flowery ones marketed at women.

Next time you are in the supermarket, have a look at the names given to deodorant for men, versus the equivalent item for women. I did this recently, and it is absurd. There is an actual variety of deodorant marketed at women called ‘Sexy’. *shudder* These gendered labels give a very disturbing insight into how commercialism views the roles of men and women.

But to bare-facedly charge women more for an item because it is marketed at women or girls? That is reprehensible. When women go to buy toiletries or clothing or toys, does it even cross your mind to check the price of the equivalent item for men? Of course not.

Now that I know this happens, I am going to make sure that anything I buy that has been pinkified is the same price as the equivalent ‘For Men’ product. And it if is not – I will buy the cheaper one.

I don’t need my deodorant to smell like flowers, I need it to stop me from smelling like sweat and not leave residue on my clothes. And razors, not that I use them, do the same thing whether they are pink or blue. My hair is shorter than my partner’s, so why should a haircut be cheaper for him than for me?

More, more and more evidence of how we are shoved back in our gender boxes every day and women are penalised for being women.

We are taught that there are things for boys and different things for girls and we must never cross that gender line or we will be laughed at, teased, considered stupid, whatever.

But it is all lies. Gender doesn’t matter. ‘Beauty’ doesn’t matter. Just be people, preferably kind people, and we will all be much better off.

 

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What I Will Teach My Sons

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Sometimes feminist wisdom comes from unexpected places. Discussing patriarchy while on a road trip with my partner the other weekend he came out with the observation that ‘the world would be a very different place if men realised that sex isn’t really all that great’.

I replied ‘but they think sex is what makes them men, and they think that being a man is the most important thing they can be’.

He responded with, ‘they think that being a man is all about drinking, f**king and fighting. So their whole life revolves around those three things.’

‘And women suffer for it’, I concluded.

We hear the term ‘toxic masculinity’ and it doesn’t really mean much until you look at the way boys learn that being a man is the most important thing they can be, and that in order to be men they must behave in a certain way and shun everything feminine.

If boys learn that men are the most important thing and that femininity threatens masculinity, of course they are going to develop an ingrained fear and dislike of all things feminine.

And what is the most feminine thing? Girls and women.

In my house, I am no shrinking violet. I speak without fear. I call out sexist language. I point out the things that promote sexism in our society.

We also avoid most mainstream media. I don’t let my children watch commercial television. Yes, I have one child who writes comics about stick figure zombies and loves the XBox, and one who loves AFL football. But I also have an 11yo who is not worried about being seen hugging me in public and a 9yo who doesn’t bat an eyelid when his long hair and pink football lead to him being called ‘young lady’ by friendly strangers. We are making progress.

I have a few things that I constantly reinforce. One is that your body is yours and yours only. Except in circumstances where your parents make decisions for the benefit of your health (like enforcing the eating of vegetables or brushing of teeth), you get to choose what you do with your body. If you want a haircut, or want to grow your hair, you get to make that choice. If you don’t want to hug a relative, you don’t have to. I have even told my older child that if he really doesn’t want to have any more teeth pulled in the pursuit of a perfect smile, that is his choice. I know how awful it was being marched into the dentist for my extractions as a kid, and I am not going to force anyone to go through that for the sake of straighter teeth.

The goal of this is that my boys will learn to respect the physical boundaries of others, and when the time comes, consent in sexual encounters will be easy to navigate. ‘No’ will be heard as ‘no’. A less obvious ‘no’ will still be recognised as ‘no’.

The other important thing that I constantly reinforce, is that gender should not alter the way you treat somebody. In fact, gender is not really important. Being a good person is the goal. Anyone with a penis can ‘be a man’. It is not a special quality, not an achievement or something that makes you better than anyone else. What someone’s genitals look like, or what you assume they look like, should not affect the way you treat that person.

If someone is smaller or younger than you, be gentle with them. If they are up for a bit of rough and tumble, make sure you respect any request to back off or stop altogether.

My goal here is that my boys will grow up with the notion that women are people. That dominating women or treating them as objects is as unthinkable as doing the same to another male. That everyone deserves the same respect, regardless of whether they play football or netball, whether they have long hair or short hair, whether they wear shorts or a dress to school.

If they grow up with this attitude, encouraging them to speak out when their peers say things that are disrespectful to women or girls should be easier. Because they will recognise sexism and know it is wrong.

Some feminists say ‘teach boys not to rape’. I say ‘teach boys that women and girls are people, and all people deserve the same respect’. For when boys grow up to see girls and women as equal and fully human, not as sex objects or inferior beings, not as something to be attained or achieved, not as a tool for their entertainment, they will find the idea of harming, dominating or violating a woman as abhorrent as the idea of someone harming, dominating or violating them.

And if they grow up without the notion that ‘drinking, f**king and fighting’ are the most important things, they will have plenty of energy for less destructive pursuits.

 

642 Days…

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That’s how long Sienna was in milk for. 642 consecutive days of milking. Over one and a half tonnes of milk.

Not bad for an undersized Anglo Nubian doe with dangly teats.

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Sienna with her newborn triplets.

It all began on 11th July, 2013, when she kidded her second set of triplets. I had been in hospital having my pacemaker replaced only a few hours before Sienna went into labour, and it was a very long night waiting for her to kid, but she eventually got all three kids out without any drama. Thankfully this time one of them was a doe kid, a very cute little spotty brat who we named Juno. Twelve days later I thought that doe kid was lost when Sienna came back to the barn without her baby. I assumed a fox had taken her and I was devastated. The next morning my neighbours brought a very hungry Juno home after finding her in with their Suffolk lambs.

Sienna’s kids were all bouncy and healthy, and after the two boys went to another home as bottle babies, she settled into life with her doe kid. She came in with loads of milk, producing a huge five litres per day in the beginning. Her body condition fell away due to her being such a fussy eater, and by the time she was balanced again she was producing a steady 4 litres a day. I left her kid on her and took whatever excess milk she had in the morning.

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Sienna down the paddock with Juno

This was my first attempt at herd recording, which requires monthly reporting of milk production and testing of butterfat and protein. Sienna’s herd recording results slightly edged out her bigger half-sister Meredith’s in the first six months of her lactation.

I took Sienna to the Ballarat Show that year as a second lactation doe, and mentioned to judge Alda Jackman that I was planning to give her a year off to grow out a bit more after the huge effort she had put in birthing six kids in 13 months and milking heavily. She suggested running her through; continuing to milk without kidding. Sienna had shown a tendency to milk on in her previous lactation, so I figured it would be worth a try.

Meredith and Sienna were still very close in their herd recording results when, in kid again, Meredith stopped milking after about nine months. She achieved her standard for age in herd recording, and in her following lactation she gave over five litres at an official test, qualifying for a * award and just barely missing out on a *Q* award.

Sienna kept on producing. When the other does were drying off, she dropped her production to around three litres and continued at this rate for the next five months. Over the winter she dropped back to two litres, which she kept up until recently when she started to dry off. Having fresh milk through winter was wonderful.

In the first twelve months of her lactation, Sienna produced 1152 kilograms of milk, achieving the production award F115.

With that award to her name, and my A-team of does sidelined due to illness and injury, Sienna did the rounds of the shows with me in the spring of 2014. She did Type and Production – Herd Recording classes, where she was not only the only Anglo Nubian entered, but often the first doe to receive that prize at a particular show in several years. She won the special award at the Branch Show in Bendigo for Type and Production Anglo Nubian. Sienna brought home her first tricolour sashes since being Champion Kid at the Branch Show three years earlier.

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With her spoils at Ballarat Show, 2014

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At the Vic Branch Show, Bendigo 2014

She stood beautifully to be milked out, and paraded like she wasn’t having a completely terrible time. This was a huge improvement from the sour, crabby, stompy little goat she had been in her first lactation.

While the other does were birthing kids, Sienna milked on. Her coat was glossy, she maintained good body condition, and developed into a much more mature doe with good bone and depth of body. She was giving the same amount of milk to the house as she would have if she had kidded, but without the burden of producing a litter of kids. Her daughter Juno kidded twins and raised her own daughter, a sturdy yet feminine kid with great Nubian type, who we call Lizzie. Lizzie is now nine months old.

Juno with her newborn twins, Abel and Elizabeth

Juno with her newborn twins, Abel and Elizabeth

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Sienna’s granddaughter Lizzie (Elcarim Elizabeth)

Towards the end of her lactation, with her milk volume dropping, the protein and butterfat content rose. This resulted in me creating some amazing cheeses and fabulously creamy yogurt. Where four litres of milk would normally yield about 800g of chevre, I was getting closer to 1200g. My hard cheeses were turning out bigger too, and I made some amazing camembert. Late lactation milk is great stuff to work with.

So finally, five weeks after being bred, Sienna has dried off. I definitely intend to run her through again. In the meantime, her daughter Juno has been in milk for nine months and after weaning her kid she is still producing steadily. After kidding a few days after her first birthday she will need the year off to grow and catch up, but if she will give enough milk to keep the kefir going through winter that will be a great help.

Not a lot of Anglo Nubians will run through, and I am proud of my little doe and her achievements. I will run her through after this kidding as well, try for a 24 hour production award, and give herd recording another go. Her full sister Hera will kid this season too, and it will be interesting to see whether Sienna’s sisters and progeny also have the ability to milk through.

It just goes to show that it doesn’t take a big, flash doe to produce a lot of milk. And that sometimes a little Anglo Nubian can milk like a proper dairy goat.