Love someone? Make sure you tell them why they’re so special

I read The Observer’s article remembering George Michael today with great sadness – and not just because I liked him.

It also reminded me that – so often – it takes someone to die before we talk about how much we loved them and what was so special about them.

The Observer feature has Elton John saying “he was one of the kindest, most generous people that I ever met in my life” – I hope he got to say that to George, because everyone needs an ego boost every now and then.

My point? Today, think about someone you truly care about and make sure you tell them why they’re so special. None of us knows what could happen tomorrow.

Why no woman should want to be referred to as ‘female’

Our cultural norms are generally something we don’t give a lot of thought to, but when they affect 50% of people’s everyday lives, without us realising, then it’s time to stop and reassess.

I’m currently reading Cordelia Fine’s excellent book Delusions of Gender and she talks eloquently about the loaded nature of the words ‘male’ and ‘female’.

Essentially, as soon as someone associates you with one or the other, you’re automatically stereotyped, regardless of your personality, qualities and achievements.

When we categorise someone as male or female, as we inevitably do, gender associations are automatically activated and we perceive them through the filter of cultural beliefs and norms. This is sexism gone underground – unconscious and unintended – and social psychologists and lawyers are becoming very interested in how this new, covert and unintended form of sexism disadvantages women in the workplace. There’s little doubt that this new form of subtle discrimination is important and does hold women back, especially, perhaps, mothers.

Food for thought.

Why kids make us smarter

We were walking down the high street yesterday when we passed a group of Free Palestine protestors. My daughter naturally asked what they were doing.

Perhaps foolishly this lead me to try and boil down the Palestine/Israel history into something that wouldn’t make my 8yo switch off within 30 seconds.

Shortly after sidestepping the Balfour declaration, I started to consider how great it is to have kids around to force you to confront your own beliefs and – quite often – ignorance.

When children ask questions about things we blithely take for granted – why is the sea blue, for example – it’s tough to admit you don’t know the answer.

Children aren’t scared of asking ‘why?’, a truly powerful question that, as we grow older, we tend to suppress using.

And it’s this lack of fear we should try to embrace to make sure we don’t accept the status quo, look for information and come up with our own answers.