Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Irate Ennui - Gina Ford, again

Gina Ford VS Mumsnet Again

Gina Ford’s listed “Public Enemy Two” Perwari says everything I’m about to process more succinctly. Please visit Perwari’s erudite illuminations.

I have to honest. This whole waste-of--taxpayer’s-money by one prosperous author had slipped my mind. As you can tell from previous posts, I’ve been busy transforming the lives of children in positive ways. I have been so immersed in a day-to-day commitment to support and empower children while at the same time trying to support and empower my own children. Regretfully (or not) , Gina Ford’s vendetta against Mumsnet and other small, organically grown voices and support systems for women slipped my mind.

Then suddenly - my inbox reminds me that a particularly vindictive and egomaniacal soul still troubles some women I greatly admire. And at this point, I must respectfully thank Gina Ford for increasing traffic to this tiny little corner where I contemplate, evaluate and share the conundrums of modern motherhood with a few souls who are kind enough to think I have something of value to share. And I tip my hat to her for citing me as a worthy adversary. I am honoured and privileged to be cited unfavourably by you. Makes me think of Emily Dickinson.

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you—Nobody—Too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise—you know!


The answer to the first stanza is - yes. In this digital age, Gina Ford is a nobody who advertised. She told; she advertised and now she is open to scrutiny.

How dreary—to be—Somebody!
How public—like a Frog—
To tell one's name—the livelong June—
To an admiring Bog!
(1)

Both of us are nobodies. But, like the first stanza, I want to keep it secret because as in the second stanza, it is dreary to be “somebody.” Gina Ford wants to be a “somebody.” Unfortunately, it involves responsibility, scrutiny, acceptance of feedback and most awful - continual justification of your beliefs. One must after all - cultivate “the admiring bog.” I’d personally rather seed a field and move on just as the wildflowers start to bloom. But - this is all irrelevant.... or will be ... as when as Neruda so aptly says “

“What we know comes to so little,
what we presume is so much,
what we learn, so laborious,
we can only ask questions and die.
Better save all our pride
for the city of the dead
and the day of the carrion:
there, when the wind shifts
through the hollows of your skull
it will show you all manner of
enigmatical things, whispering truths in the
void where your ear used to be.”
(2)


“What we know comes to so little, what we presume is so much, what we learn, so laborious, we can only ask questions and die.” Yes! Yes! And yes! It takes a poet to state it all so simply.

But, I digress again. I could care less about her books or her philosophy. They have no meaning to me. The only relevance they have is in relation to the context of my life’s work. I never forget those who have been left behind. (As if I have to actually take responsibility for some 300 million people.) But, still, I hold them in my heart. Every parent who tries and fails using her methods is a failure on my part....I did not do enough to spread the word about alternative methodologies. For every parent who tries her ideas and succeeds, CONGRATULATIONS!

What everything essentially boils down to is the fact that every parent has to take actions which resonate inside of their own individual heart chambers. But - most importantly - they must be able to make an informed choice. Their choices should be backed by research, scrutiny of prevailing trends, tangible scientific and academic statistics pertaining said trends and what their hearts say. Informed choice occurs in the context of having all of the relevant and pertinent information, whether scholarly, scientific or anecdotal.”

But, this war. This awful, heinous, ugly “War Against Mothers and Children’s Voices” rages on. Mea culpa, I am simply a lieutenant marching to the orders of a higher universal truth. I get sucked in to these battles. I win them...one child at a time...and then I move to the next most strategic vantage point. I am so in “the trenches” I’ve forgotten the reason I came to be in this place.

This place - this exhausting place wherein the larger picture is plastered against the eyelids like Generals post world maps on a conference room wall. This place where a terrorist whose sole aim is to muzzle the mouths of mothers wins a victory because the resources of the freedom fighters are few. And, yes, I stand by my definitions. I’m happy to recap them below.

1. Fact. On two separate occasions, Ms. Ford has attempted to silence women who wished to express negative opinions about her work.

2. Fact. She does this by attempting to hold the owners of web sites which provide a forum for mothers liable for the contents of the site.

3. Fact. Ms Ford prevents mothers from discussing her by having the web sites enact bans on all posts which mention her or her methods.

4. Fact. "A statement that amounts to an insult or is mere vulgar abuse is not defamatory. This is because the words do not convey a defamatory meaning to those who heard them (simple abuse is unlikely to cause real damage to a reputation)." In the Mumsnet case discussing the comment about WMD, this was an insult - not slander. as defined by YourRights.org

5. Fact. Ms Ford expressly chooses web sites which are unable - for financial, not legal reasons - to fight back.

6. Fact: Ms Ford's behaviour falls quite neatly into the definition of terrorist under Psychological Impact and Fear. "The attack was carried out in such a way as to maximise the severity and length of the psychological impact. Each act of terrorism is a “performance,” a product of internal logic, devised to have an impact on many large audiences. Terrorists also attack national symbols to show their power and to shake the foundation of the country or society they are opposed to. This may negatively affect a government's legitimacy, while increasingly the legitimacy of the given terrorist organisation and/or ideology behind a terrorist act. "

In the words of one of my favourite poets, Ernie Cline, my ideas - like Gina Ford’s - are summarily reduced to “Exhibit A: Monkey making noise.”

“Nietsche was just another fucking monkey.” (3) But, at least I know I am a monkey making noise. And I don't take myself so seriously that I offended or need to silence anyone with a dissenting viewpoint.

I have 20 years of parenting which have worked for me. I have 15 years of youth outreach work which has benefited those who have participated and been empowered by my philosophies. (I might add, these philosophies are not mine....they are the result of critical readings, analysis of scientific documentation and following in my heart what works for me.) I am not - nor would I ever hold myself up as a guru. My experience is inconclusive. My data shows ups and downs. It incorporates that intangible and undocumented process called “life and all its variables.”

And noise do I - this monkey - make! It is these tiny battles which make us loose sight of the war. Walking into a PRU filled with children who a afraid of being seen and making them desire some sort of recognition for their inner brilliance - is a tiny battle. Walking into a PRU with a child who bears the label ADHD like a swastika in a Post WWII world - then - teaching her how to be energetic and “seen” in a positive manner is another battle. They are worthy battles. They are child-by-child battles. They focus on the individuality of the human being this underage human is and could become. These battles bring me joy. I win some. I lose a lot. But, mostly, I have been present in the process.

Query: I’d like more information about her credentials as an “expert.” I define expert as:
1. earned degrees from a recognised university;
2. academic or scientific support for theories;
3. distinguished and documentable anecdotes regarding field work.


But, even more important than these irrelevant items would be her answers to the following questions:
1. Do people have a right to freedom of speech?
2. What place does satire have in modern discourse?
3. What exactly is the value of an individual’s experience? And at what point do we have an obligation to silence their right to express that experience? Does an individual’s credentials limit their right to speak freely?
4. Should celebrity status circumvent people's right to discuss issues freely and at length.?
5. What responsibility does a public figure have to his/her constituents?
6. What penalties and damages are parents entitled to expect when “experts” are proven wrong experientially, scientifically and academically?

Ultimately, every parent makes the best choices for their children using the information they have available to them at the time. My way is not the only way. And this is where I have issue with Ms. Ford. Women talk. We kvetch, moan and carry on. Ultimately, in spite of pettiness, judgement, and proselytising; we find some precarious balance in which we find within ourselves the power to provide quality care for our children whilst honouring our own experience as valid.

Many of us were highly valued professionals before our birth canals derailed or delayed our careers. We need each other. We need to - as poet Sara Holbrook says in “Chicks Up Front” -

resuscitate each other
in ways which only women do
mouth to mouth


or in this case...key to mouse to key.

Have you felt this urgency, Gina? Have you felt your sanity hang on the edge of an electronic connection? Has your frantic worry about a sick child been solved by a woman hundred of kilometres away? If yes, then why begrudge us resuscitating each other in that way women do...key stroke by keystroke. And if not,

then leave us. In peace.


1. Dickinson, Emily, http://www.bu.edu/favoritepoem/poems/dickinson/nobody.html

2. Pablo Neruda, Five Decades: Poems 1925 - 1970, ED: Ben Belitt, Grove Press, 1974, Pablo Neruda, “Flies Enter A Closed Mouth,” pg 201 & 202

3. Cline, Ernie, Dance Monkeys Dance, http://www.ernestcline.com/spokenword/

4. Chicks Up Front, Sara Holbrook, Cleveland State University Poetry Center; 1998

1 comment:

Jax said...

Are you dead chuffed to have a worldwide audience then?

Getting much traffic from it?

Excellent post btw.