Monday, September 14, 2015

Who's the Mummy?

“I am not a biological parent, but I am a parent. I have young actors and actresses that I mentor, I have nieces and nephews that I am very close to,” she tells host Jane Garvey.
“There is a way to become a mother in this day and age which doesn’t include your name on the child’s birth certificate. You can express that maternal side, very clearly, very strongly. It feels very satisfying.
“I didn’t change nappies, which is okay with me, but I did help my niece get through medical school. I did sit down with my nephew when he was [going through] a very tough time to join the army. And those are very motherly things to do, very nurturing things to do.”
Thus spake Kim Cattrall on Womens Hour. Is anyone else reminded of Rachel Dolezal, the white American woman who 'self-identified as black'? Kim, you are a mentor, and an aunt, and I'm sure you're very good at both. That doesn't make you a mother, just because you don't like being described as 'childless'.
At what point do words cease to mean anything, because the arbiter of meaning becomes our emotional response to them, rather than their factual content? If I self-identify as thin, because despite the fact that my BMI is 26.9, telling me I'm fat upsets me, then am I thin, or fat? Do I describe my body as thin, my parenting status as a mother, my relationship as a marriage and my tax dealings as honest, because that's how I like to think about myself? Or is there an actual measure outside of my narcissistic little world that gives either an agreed meaning, or an objective standard, to these words? If not, then we may as well go back to grunting at each other, because that would carry about the same amount of shared meaning.  
Does this mean anything to you, or only to me?


  1. Agreed meaning for words is important I think. To say 'I am not a biological parent, but I am a parent' would only be true if Kim Cattrell were an adoptive mother or even - at a stretch a foster carer. I assume she wanted to assert her motherliness, her nurturing nature which she expresses through mentoring and in role as aunt. Is the underlying problem that there is still an idea around that not to be a mother is somehow to be less of a woman?

  2. Well... what would feel about someone who redefined "mother" and "brother" to mean "anyone who believes in me"? Who redefined "family" to be a community that did not have to have biological bonds? Just a thought. Andy Griffiths,

  3. You're wrong in the eyes of the law.

    I am English, as far as is possible to be, but I have a beard. When a bunch of kids attacked me and called me (excuse language) a "fucking ginger Paki bastard", because they could see the beard but nothing else about me, the law says that they committed a racial hate crime. In the eyes of the law it is their perception of my race, and what they did as a result, that mattered.

    (oh, and I'm a non-biological father too)

  4. For goodness sake. 26.9 ain't fat. Tiny bit bigger than health officials suggest, but not fat.

  5. It certainly doesn't look a 'tiny bit bigger'!

  6. To be a mother (or father I guess, from what I've seen) is life changing - your priorities change overnight. Beforehand, I thought it would just be a new little person in my house, but in reality something fundamentally changes in you, which means you put that little person above anything else. Although being a good aunt or mentor is fantastic, and very worthwhile thing to do - I don't think it can be the same as being a mother (the experience has allowed me to witness God's love in a whole new way, experiencing the love I have for my child, and his reliance on me/his father)