Archive for October, 2009

Sperm donors please apply…NOW

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , on October 25, 2009 by prekosifa

I was having a chat with a female friend of mine this week. I haven’t seen her in ages and she is nearing 40 and still single. I asked her why and she said that love had not worked out for her over the last two decades. On reflection there had been men that had wanted to be in her life but, with hindsight, she had hoped to find better out there and turned them down. Now she felt she was in a terrible position. She wanted kids, and a relationship, but the men that were available now were kind of the barrel-scrapers.

‘All the good ones are either married, dead or in prison.’

I agreed with the first two points but was dumbstruck by the last, then again, different strokes and all that. I felt her pain though. The dating game is scary enough for guys at that age, especially ones who are looking for a long term relationship, but the only saving grace that we as guys have is that we generally do the choosing, at least initially. Women wait to be chosen, which is great when you are younger and have lines of guys vying for your attention, but as you get older and the requests start to dwindle what can you do without looking too desperate?

What do you do if you want children and are an age with little to no chance of finding a partner?

I heard a debate on the television recently about women in their late thirties/early forties who are choosing to have children by any means necessary:

  • Some are hooking up with guys on a one night stand in the hope that they might get knocked up
  • Others were approaching long term platonic friends in the hope that they would donate sperm, and perhaps a cot to help the cause!
  • The report went further, suggesting that women of all ages were now actively looking to have children without the presence of a man at all.
Halle Berry, a 40+ mother

Halle Berry, a 40+ mother

Things were getting a little bit silly in TV town with emails flying in thick and fast from women who were eager and willing and couldn’t wait to get pregnant. I was horrified and just thought to myself, how selfish can someone be? I am not questioning the love that these women would have for a child but I think that the situation that you put a child into should be first and foremost, the most important thing. In addition I think that a lot of these women were not thinking about the child at all.

In many cases it was a case of ‘I’ve got my career, my big house and bigger salary, but something is missing.’

For others it was about ‘I just want a baby and I can raise it without a man.’ This last point for me was no boasting matter because again no one was asking the child if they want a dad around. It seemed more like a female independence point-proving exercise. So then I asked myself what kind of world are we living in where this kind of thing is acceptable? For any of you out there who are fathers you may already know the answer to this. The whole world of babies is not one that guys are welcome in. I remember buying supplies for my brand new born son from a high street pharmacy.

The negative looks I got from women were amazing!

It appeared that I wasn’t welcome in this female world and some ladies couldn’t wait to show me their disapproval. The hospital was even worse. I was treated like a second class citizen up until my child was born and I was leaving the hospital. It was as if I was baring the brunt of female hatred because of the male-dominated world we live in. In such a world, one of the only female domains left that we as men could not infiltrate was the maternity ward. Men would never be able to have babies (and would never want to..I hope.)

It could be just me but having met other fathers over the years it would seem I am not alone.

Now I’m not trying to be hard and shallow minded about the whole pregnancy thing, but to be honest, you women and guys out there that were choosy and couldn’t decide what you  wanted when you were younger…TOUGH! You should have thought ahead and selected the best of the bunch that was sweating you. Basic maths will tell you that as you get older, the number of partners you could have will diminish. Waiting until your eggs are about to dry up or you can no longer sustain a hard on without medication is a bit late in the game.

Women trying to take short cuts so that they can check off the ‘I’m a mother’ box in their lives regardless of whether or not they are building a family is just plain selfish and irresponsible even. A child needs a mum and a dad. A man needs a woman, and vice versa, in their life. A woman cannot raise a boy to be a man anymore than a man can raise a girl to be a woman.

Hard perhaps, but hey, I don’t say things to be nice. I say things to be real.

Am I too old to have a wedding?

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , on October 18, 2009 by prekosifa

As I get nearer to my fortieth birthday, the chances of me pleasing my ever patient parents with a wedding day to remember, slips further and further into the ether. It’s probably not going to happen.

Not that I have anything against marriage or weddings for that matter.

It’s just that for the first 30 years of my life I couldn’t imagine getting married to anyone and now that I have got my head around the idea, I think I’m too old to do it as I would have liked to have done it in the first place. Silly, probably, but that’s how I feel. I think I have bought into the romantic idea of marriage – beautiful bride in a flowing white gown, dashing groom in a swank suit, the ugly bridesmaids dresses, cute child as ring bearer, the drunken speeches, and even the tossing of the bouquet for all the single ladies who want a ring on it. The works.

That traditional version of events makes it near enough impossible for me to imagine doing it any other way because frankly I feel too old now. In my opinion if you haven’t gotten married before your children, then don’t bother. It can’t happen like that unless it’s your second or third marriage.

I think there is too much focus on the wedding event.

Granted it is an important day and one that we will remember forever so it has to be somewhat perfect. From the dress to the food, and even the guests…perfect. A lot of money is spent on wedding planners, venue planners, cake tasters, dress makers, and anyone else who is smart enough to make a healthy profit from other’s people’s angst for perfection. You can even have your pick from a whole load of wedding magazines giving you information about… weddings.

Weddings are clearly big business but where are the magazines on marriage?

You know, the ones to tell you how to act after the event, when real life kicks in. A quick guide on what you need to know, the tax implications, what happens when the kids grow up? Basically what it really means to be married.
You may have noticed that I switch effortlessly between the terms ‘wedding’ and ‘marriage’ as if they are interchangeable. I do this to see if you the reader knows the difference between these two related terms.

The difference between a wedding and marriage

Picture 12A wedding is the ceremony in which two people are united in marriage or a similar institution. A Marriage is a social union or legal contract between individuals that creates kinship. A marriage is also a legally binding contract and it is here that the cynic in me comes into play. I have nothing against being with someone for the rest of my life, sharing the good and bad times, raising children together and living a full life. However, the term contract frightens the shit out of me. Usually when you see that word, it’s no longer about just you, somewhere lurking in the shadows with notepad in hand, is a lawyer waiting to pounce when things go wrong.

Back in the day, if you wanted to spend your life with someone, you both jumped the broom and that was it. What was yours was now hers. You tried to make it work and if things didn’t work out you snapped the broom in half and found someone else (I am guessing at this bit!) Then marriage became ’an institution’ that said wait a minute, ‘all these people getting married and we ain’t getting paid, we need a contract!’

And so the marriage contract was born.

A piece of paper that declares you are legally married. Legally married because you can actually be non legally married if you choose to pay the ‘wrong’ venue. And the fact that it is a contract meant that you had to pay for the privilege in some way. Government happy, church happy, solicitor happy, everybody happy right? Right!..that is until the divorce.

It all becomes clearer when you look at what happens when you want to end the marriage. That’s when you remember that you are in a legal contract and you need to pay someone who understands the contract to help you escape. Enter the overpaid lawyer…

divorce_pic

Divorce is the final termination of a marriage, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between two persons. In short even if the two of you agree it’s over, it ain’t over until the law says it is.

My take on the institution of marriage

Most of us mistake the wedding for a marriage. In reality a wedding lasts about 12 hours, a marriage hopefully a lifetime. A wedding is two people in front of a group of spectators; a marriage is just the two of you after the spectators have gone home, having taken bets on how long it will last. A wedding on average costs twenty grand. A failed marriage can cost you a hell of a lot more. Too many marriages fail within the first two years, once the honeymoon period fizzles out and the real work of being married kicks in. Why? Because people buy into the romantic side, the wedding, and not the actual marriage itself. By the time marriage starts failing, it’s too late to start thinking about what the legal contract really means.

So am I being cynical? Perhaps.

If you do plan on getting married, at least check out the contract and the real not just romantic implications. Like buying a car or signing up for cable TV, read the small print and understand what is expected of you. Don’t walk down that aisle in ignorance because it will not be bliss.

Prime time racism

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , on October 11, 2009 by prekosifa

Prime Time Racism on British television has reared it’s ugly head again, this time on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing show. Contestant and potential future host, Anton De Beke called his Asian partner, Laila Rouass ‘a paki’. Whether it was a slip of the tongue (possibly), an ill conceived joke (mmmm), just plain public schoolboy ignorance (probably), or just someone showing their true colours, it went down like a lead balloon. The news media quickly got wind of it and the BBC, that TV station that we all seem to pay for but have no say over (like taxes), acted quickly to brush it under the carpet. Du Beke apologised, Rouass accepted. Storm in a teacup over, right?

Wrong.

The public were unhappy and phoned the BBC in their hundreds to complain. Celebrity whites and Asians added their two pence worth to the debate, as did some famous blacks, by providing some ‘useful’ soundbites. Cries of ‘Double standards are afoot!’and ‘He should be sacked!’ dominated the papers for a few days. What about Carole Thatcher who was sacked for saying Golliwog?said The Sun newsaper, and that football bloke, Ron Atkinson, who used the term ‘lazy nigger! They got sacked for their badly timed use of the English language, so why not this guy? They were baying for De Beke’s blood but the BBC refused to be dictated to by the ‘moral’ majority.

Picture 2

There seems to be a belief that racism just vanishes over time, like a bad smell in a ventilated room. But how the hell can something just disappear? Where does it go? If there is one thing I learned from a semester doing Advanced Quantum Physics at University, it was that matter doesn’t disappear, it just takes on another form. So a racist who cannot open his mouth to air his true opinions becomes a frustrated, aggressive individual who perhaps secretly vents his anger on the innocent non-white people who work under him (is that why I didn’t get that promotion?) or worse still channels that anger into something positive and gets into politics perhaps eventually running his own right wing party, followed by like-minded and frustrated people.

Is that where the BNP came from?

Unless you challenge something it cannot even begin to disappear. Racists, famous or otherwise, and their views must be challenged not hushed up otherwise their views will simply remain the same and the knock on effect of this is one where children are taught the ill thought out beliefs of their parents. Now I am a realist, and in my world everyone is ‘pro what they know’. In my time on this earth I have probably laughed at jokes about whites, Asians, Chinese and a whole manner of nationalities in between. I laugh because I find that kind of observational humour funny but I will also chuckle at jokes about Nigerians, Jamaicans and anyone else. If this makes me a racist the I will voluntarily surrender my Benetton card.

We fear what is different before we embrace it, finding humour where possible and there is nothing wrong with this – it’s a perfectly human response to the unknown. If someone explains something to us or allows us to experience another culture we are in a better position to understand and perhaps, accept it. Where a lot of people cry racism it may actually not be the case and I don’t think anyone really understands what racism is anymore.

Inflammatory headlines in the media probably do not help.

When I was at school there were very specific forms of racism: generally the whites hated the blacks and the Asians, blacks hated whites but tolerated Asians, Asians tolerated whites but hated blacks and the Chinese kind of worked around everyone else.  The terms Negroid, Caucasoid and Mongoloid formed the basis of this racism and so the term race was synonymous with having certain features like thick lips, slanted eyes and big noses. As time has gone on racism has been used to describe hatred between different nationalities and even areas within a country.

To be honest, a Brit hating a Frenchman isn’t really racism to me.

In a society where we regularly laugh at and ridicule things that are different, isn’t laughing at another race just that – just laughing at something different. I find many cultural differences amusing but would I say them out loud even though they are funny? Hell no, not unless I was surrounded by like minded souls! Funnily enough I had a weird conversation with a white guy who was doing work on my house. We got to talking about holidays and he told me he regularly went to Jamaica and loved it out there. So far so good. The conversation then turned to where he lives and he informed me proudly that his area was full of Africans. He then told me, whilst laughing out loud that he and his friends called them ‘spearchuckers’ and ‘kaffas’. He said these things to me, a black man, and seemed very comfortable saying them.

It finally clicked that he assumed I was a Caribbean and therefore anti-Africans, like him.

The realisation that I was in fact an African forced him to reassess his beliefs on what he thought  ‘Africans’ looked and behaved like. In short, he got an impromptu education which helped him to review his opinions, not the  ‘savage’ beat down of his ignorant imagination, which would have only reinforced his views. Does any of this make what Mr Du Beke said acceptable? Probably not for those who are offended and hurt by his comments. However it can offer some pause for thought on what drives bigotry and perhaps even  an alternative moral platform to stand on before you decide for yourselves.

Ignorance is bliss only for those who are ignorant. Anon

Religion, schools and being a father

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , on October 4, 2009 by prekosifa

My son goes to a Catholic school. He is seven years-old and about three yearsbible ago, his school was the best option for the area we lived in. Catholic schools have a certain reputation, and most parents, Catholic and non-Catholic accept that they provide a superior academic environment. My ex partner is Catholic and I only agreed to our son going to this school as long as it did not affect me in any way. That is, I didn’t want to have anything to do with the ‘religious’ part of the school, but would happily benefit from the perceived or real superior ‘schooling’ side.

My negative beliefs around religion are long established. I grew up in the Church of England, which  in our house meant no religion. I vaguely remember going to Sunday school when I was a toddler but I think that was more because it gave my parents a few hours alone on a Sunday, than for anything it taught me about the Sabbath.

My major issues with the Catholic faith stem from three areas:

  1. The way in which members of the church community seemingly look down on other religions or non-religious people,
  2. The blatant amount of religious books in this country quite often using a white image of Christ,
  3. And the fact that I don’t like organised religion in general, or the convenient subjugation of women in particular.

churchSo three years in my son has to start attending communion classes and church on a regular basis. My ex gave me the news a few weeks ago and my first response was , Hell No! I am not getting involved, I told you this back in the day etc etc etc. Not surprisingly this has led to a number of arguments.

Her perspective: ” He enjoys it” and therefore I should support it.

My protest: “I don’t enjoy it, and if I act like I do, then I am being a hypocrite! I am not teaching my son that!”

Lines were drawn in the sand, sides taken and the proverbial horns were locked. I was adamant not to give in, she was adamant to be adamant. The person who it affected was kind of stuck in a vacuum, unsure of what was going to happen next. One thing we all knew for sure though was that he would be going to church, it was one of the schools rules, and one day when I started arguing this point gain for the umpteenth time, this simple fact dawned on me.

I had already agreed to this years earlier when I agreed to him attending the school in the first place. If I had a major problem with the church why would I agree to him attending that school? My fight wasn’t big enough – she knew it and he knew it. Instead of showing him another way, I was shortsightedly teaching him how to act spoilt when you don’t get your own way. Someone had to get used to my son attending a church school and it wasn’t either of them!

The next dilemma was how to show him what I believe in whilst respecting the choices his mother and I have made for him. A simple chat with him resolved that issue. He asked me why I didn’t go to church and I told him why I, as an individual, didn’t go to church. Before I had made it a global issue, ‘we must all be against the church’, now it was a more personal thing.

There must always be a struggle between a father and son when one aims at power and the other at independence.

~ Ibid

I gave him the space to come to his own conclusions and opinions and to understand my position. He goes to church, enjoys it and has a mum who also enjoys it and a dad who chooses not to go. No one is making anyone else wrong for their choice. Above all I am not having stupid arguments about a redundant point.

I asked myself, what kind of a person I want to help raise  – someone who listens and does what others tell him, or someone that listens to other opinions and then makes the best decision for himself? My answer wasn’t too hard to reach – the latter prepares my child to cope with the world and the former would create a monster who is never happy with the world unless it is going his way.

As a parent I must constantly find a way to engage and interact with my children. As I get older I become more fixed in my ways and sometimes I don’t even notice that I am doing this. I am happy to hold on to some beliefs I from my own childhood and to pass these onto my son. I also have to be open to learning valuable lessons from my son, such as the lesson on comprise this week.

I can’t wait to see what next week’s lesson will be.