No Complaints #3: Myelin, Mildred Hubble and Feminine Mystique

I seem to have mostly been reading grim things this week, about creepy external wombs and murdering grandmothers. Enjoy!
 

Things to read

“What if we decided to be the generation of grown ups who built Lego robots just for fun? What if we ran, not to lose weight but to chase each other round the park, laughing and shouting, “You’re it!”? What if we wrote poetry to express our frustrations instead of just swearing at strangers on Twitter? What if we started a website called TheFridgeDoor where we could hang our drawings?”

 

An interesting take on why children draw and run and jump and sing, yet adults aren’t willing to attempt things they might not yet be good at.
 

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“Being taught by nuns is a form of feminism without realising it. We were their job, they didn’t have a family to worry about. From the minute we got there until when we left we were their task, they had nothing else, they were completely concentrated on educating us and we were girls too and it never occurred me that I was inferior to anybody at all.”

 

—I’m not sure why this is billed as an “oral history”, when it’s clearly an interview. But anyway, my labelling quibbles aside, this is really nice little interview with Worst Witch creator Jill Murphy, in which she talks about writing, witchcraft and girls’ education.

 

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“If ectogenesis, a fancy word for the use of artificial wombs, ever happens in the real world, it will be a more banal next step from the technologies that already keep premature babies alive. Ectogenesis will start out as a way to allow older women to have children or to abet pregnancy for women who would otherwise be unable to carry children. Eventually, it will be considered safer to have children via ectogenesis than the old-fashioned way, and the practice will spread far and wide.”

A terrifyingly pragmatic piece putting the case for artificial wombs. If pregnancy is at the root of gender inequality in the workplace, it makes complete sense to seek an external solution, even if said solution is something out of science fiction.

 

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“Anyone who thinks Hugh Grant is not an accomplished actor is surely underestimating how difficult it is to do light comedy. It's harder than drama, but the secret is making it look effortless, and effortless performances are rarely appreciated – it's the showy mannerisms and thundering speeches that win awards, not comic timing (which you only notice when it doesn't work), casual asides and ironic self-deprecation.”

Anne Billson makes a compelling case that Hugh Grant is the most undervalued actor of his generation. No, really.

 

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“Grandma’s expertise in nutrition dates back to the 60s. By the mid 70s, she had written several self-published mimeographed books on nutritional intake and vitamins. Around then or possibly earlier, I think, she started to poison people. I can’t pin down exactly what she did with what ingredients. I can’t even be sure that she really did the things I think she did. All I have, really, are pieces of circumstantial evidence and hunches that have coalesced over the years. In my narrative of suspicions, she preferred to use vitamin A (which can cause sleepiness, blurred vision, and nausea, among other things), then she used laxatives, and then, as she got older and lazier, she moved on to prescription drugs.”

What do you do when you think you have a murderer in the family? The title says it all with this one, really.

 

Things to listen to


The BBC are currently repeating their series Feminine Mystiques from last year, for which they asked writers to produce short stories inspired by Betty Freidan’s 1963 feminist text. Marina Warner’s Mink was my favourite – it reminds me a lot of Angela Carter. Listen here.

 

Things to watch

Robotic vacuum cleaners perform a Viennese Waltz.

The “Czech Schindler”, Nicholas Winton, meets some of the people whose lives he saved.

“Shia Labeouf”, the true story of an actual cannibal.

 

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

We will all die.

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The guest gif

Thanks, “Anon” on Tumblr. We’ve all had days like this.


THE END. See you next time*!

*Next time will probably be next Friday. If you want to suggest things I should include in the next one of these, please do reply and send me links.