Sunday, 30 September 2007

Advert Rant 1: As if we hadn't enough to worry about.

Advertising is a particular bugbear of mine. When I'm not avoiding being advertised to, I'm often to be found ranting about ads; their intrusiveness, the inanity of their content, etc. And tonight I got drawn in again.

Those kind people at Dove have hit on the idea that women of a certain age have nothing better to do than fret and fuss over the state of every last inch of their skin. They've even brought out a 'Pro-Age' deodorant to help with the bits they didn't realise they should be fretting about. Now, I'm some years away from the 'Pro-Age' target demographic yet, so I guess Dove don't care if I shout at their ads, but come on. Armpits?

I don't know about you, but if I find myself in a position where I'm wondering how old another woman is, I don't usually find myself tring to sneak a peek at her armpits when she's not looking. And, just in case any of you were wondering if attention to armpit detail affects your ability to attract men, consider this. When was the last time you saw a bunch of men sat in a bar/on a building site/hanging out of a white van shouting 'Look at the pits on THAT!'?

I rest my case. Armpits only attract attention when they contain more hair than is considered usual here.

You don't need it.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Other Mothers Are the Enemy

Before I start on this one, I just want to make it absolutely clear that the above statement does not apply to the circles of mums in which I socialise in real life.

I think I might be one of the lucky ones. Fairly early on in pregnancy, I started noticing that something that should be one of life's great levellers - an experience to unite women from all walks of life - seemed to be having the opposite effect. Yes, I had started looking at the internet forums and discussion groups for pregnant women and mothers.

Perhaps it's just a reflection on my own failings, but I really cannot bear these sites. For some reason, most of them seem to degenerate fairly quickly into vicious online cat-fighting. Let me give you an example from a recent one:

"Well, the reaction of the usual suspects to this article is to demonstrate how being a stay at home mother makes you totally lose your sense of humour and become a vicious, bitchy, judgemental old nag."

"Of course housewives are hugely dull. It's why most alphamummies can think of nothing worse than chatting to them...The yummiest mothers of all are those with careers, a life apart from (and also with) their children, a place in the adult world and the money to dress themselves rather than having to part their legs and iron his shirt in return for the allowance that pays for their leggings and sweat shirts."

"So those women for whom spending time in the office is more important to them than spending time with their children, won't get the slightest upset at being told they are selfish, self-obsessed cows who don't give a toss about their children, who measure their value by how high up the male corporate hierachy they've clawed their way, and whether they..."


And that's one of the better sites - when I say better, I mean the spelling's good, complete sentences are used, and there is no txtspk or 'lol'-ing. The sentiments are just as awful as those found on the more widely used sites.

As a woman, I find it deeply embarrassing that fellow women can carry on in this way. Does it happen in real life too? My mum-friends seem to get on really well, despite the usual differences - work/stay-at-home, routine queens/attachment parents, green/convenience products etc. Maybe they do go away and slag each other off online, but I'd like to think not. As far as I can see, they're all bright and secure enough to have realised that there is no 'one-size-fits-all' template of unquestionable correctness. I think they realise that if someone makes a different choice, it's not to cause personal insult/damage the feminist cause/irreversibly damage their child; and they don't need stamping all over and publicly humiliating until they concede.

We hear so much these days about online bullying, and it's usually in reference to those still at school. Why is it then that men seem to grow out of this habit, and yet some women still want to sit at their PCs and fling vitriol around like monkeys flinging shit in a cage? Shame on them.

Friday, 28 September 2007

The Price of Milk

I had a letter this morning from the very large organisation that employs my milkman saying that the price of milk is going up. Amongst the usual platitudinous CRM-based nonsense was this paragraph:

"The main reason for this increase is a world shortage of milk, which is affecting the price of all milk and dairy products. This comes at a time when the British dairy industry is also experiencing significant change. The soaring cost of animal feed and poor weather over the summer has led to lower amounts of milk being produced and some real difficulties for many of our farmers."

Oh come off it. I'm no investigative journalist, and I don't have the time to present a watertight case here, but this smells of something else to me. It's been several years since we first started hearing that UK dairy farmers were going out of business at an alarming rate due to the aggressive purchasing tactics of the major retailers. More recently we've heard the allegations of price-fixing of milk and cheese. And now we're short of milk, and it's going to cost us more money.

Did no-one else see this coming? I predict that it's time to start looking very hard at our budgets and what we consider important. I have a feeling that our current fixation with cheap commodities is going to prove itself unsustainable and consumers are going to get a good hard bite in the arse in the next few years. Milk is only the start.