As children we tend to believe adults know everything. Parents and teachers perpetuate this myth as it benefits their objectives of control and nurturing. I mean this in a positive sense - I have the best of intentions for my stepkids but they need the stability of my authority being unquestioned (something achieved by my being in cahoots with their mother and father). But as we grow up, we begin to appreciate the shortcomings of those that once dictated to us with ease.

I’m fairly rare in that I never really argued with my mother. For me, the mother-daughter relationship was largely peaceful and from a very early age we’ve done lunch, gone shopping and taken trips. My teenage angst was directed almost entirely at my father who as a little girl I hero worshipped to the extent that I struggled to adjust to him being a typically flawed individual. I owe a lot to my father, he was the one that pushed me so hard to achieve, but as I get older I appreciate more and more the lessons I learned from my peaceful mother. My mother is the kind of person that will sit somewhat in the background in order to obscure the fact she rules the world.

For a long time I didn’t realise she was a feminist. My parents were a little bit Mad Men with my dad the exec type that pursued, seduced and married one of his secretary’s. I loved that story as a kid and dreamed of inspiring the adoration my dad held for my mother until his death but given the choice I wanted his career success not the rich husband.

My first true lesson in fighting my corner related to school uniform. My high school had a rule that girls couldn’t wear trousers or long skirts. Long skirts we accepted but trousers seems utterly unfair in the freezing Northern winters where we were forced to endure break times locked out of the main building. So we planned a protest but I had no black trousers and it needed doing right. So my mum wrote me a note and instead of taking me to the dentist took me into Harrogate to go clothes shopping. She took my side and made me feel my views were important.

Feminism is about choice and equality. I wear a dress and heels every day, I pride myself on cooking for and caring for my family and I don’t think I could be truly happy or fulfilled without a man in my life. But I’d fight to defend my right to wear less girly clothes, to cater via microwave meals or be a completely relevant and important member of society as a single woman. I won’t be dictated to and I owe that to my mother.

So take ecstasy.

That’s a context leap even for me but one that is highly relevant. In one of the largest studies of the effects of the drug it is claimed that there is no evidence that ecstasy causes brain damage. Now there are plenty of reasons not to take the drug, my personal one being that I like to know what I’m taking (the label on my bottle of wine says Chardonnay-Voignier). Call it the marketer in me but I like packaging; I’m not such a fan of unidentified substances.

But even acknowledging the contaminants in the tablets, it seems that ecstasy isn’t so bad after all. If we could clean up distribution we could enter a brave new world of population control; so far so soma. So what’s preventing this? Oh, something or other.

Do I sound blasé? Well that’s my point. Going back to school for a moment, I remember realising I was smarter than most of my teachers. There were two ways to take that knowledge; I could stop learning from them or I could learn an important lesson about the world. With the exception of the needy Biology teacher who flirted to bolster a fragile self esteem and who I was horribly cruel to through a combination of boredom and a fragile ego of my own, I recognised that life isn’t about what’s right or wrong but about power. My teachers had power over me so I obeyed them, worked the system and moved on.

So too with the government. This isn’t about the powers being right. On the topic of ecstasy it seems they’re probably wrong. But they are in power. The issue is whether or not they are right but how you want to react to it.

It seems to be a big idea for some people as there is a notion that somehow if the truth is know, good will prevail even among those who have outgrown their god delusion. Truth has little to do with it, it’s about agendas.

Everything is about agendas. Again this needn’t be a bad thing. My personal agenda is to own a great house (remember Who and how to judge? Today is day 40!) and promote my centre of employment. I do things that aren’t totally nice - I badger my mortgage broker and coin terms like mobrocide (the murder of one’s mortgage broker) to deal with my frustration and I focus on narrow aspects of a fantastically diverse visitor attraction based upon what elements I can sell to editors. These are largely good things, I’m not giving up on something a bank has no grounds to deny me and I’m doing pretty well at work.

It’s big picture stuff and agendas are funny things. Our parents had them, our teachers had them, our employers have them and the government has them. But so to do our friends have them and our partners have them and when my stepkids say they love me I know they mean keep the chocolate and the cartoons coming.

I think the ecstasy question is interesting and I’ll follow any developments with interest but keep it in context. There will always be many factors at play.

Andy D
2/28/2011 11:50:01 pm

Married his secretary's what? ;)

...and I thought you were special. :(

On topic, I've never subscribed to the whole Daily Fail "Oh noes! If you take ecstasy you will drink 27 gallons of water and your brain will swell and you will die" view. Sadly, the backlash over the Leah Betts story has meant that this is still a commonly held view by the majority of "normal" people. Speaking personally, I found Ecstasy to be a great drug. I haven't taken any for a good few years, but that's not to say I won't in the future. I'll make an informed choice should I need to, which is precisely what everyone should do. If it kills me (a lottery win is more likely), then I only have myself to blame.

3/1/2011 01:03:18 am

When I edit, I'm thorough. I've been tempted several times to leave the column, edit it and post it the next day but it's a slippery slope. I would however, point out that when I have typo's pointed out to me I always want to point out all the others that were missed! ;)

My big issue with the panic and overreaction surrounding drug use is that it means people are more likely to ignore all advice. I wonder what I'm going to say when my stepsons are at an age when it may be something they're considering.

Take sex as an example. The fiancé and I have discussed how our views fit within society and our stance is that safety and respect are what we'll stress. Essentially, strap up and be a good person. Likewise, I was allowed alcohol at home as a teenager and we feel letting the boys get familiarised with the stuff in a safe environment will hopefully see them treat alcohol as a potentially dangerous substance.

But drug use is made to be so utterly out there. I've a good friend who I will no doubt consult when it comes to illegal substances but it'd be nice if there was mainstream advice. I refuse to look the kids in the eye and lie to them because they'll know I'm lying and at that point I'll damage their ability to trust me and should something bad ever happen to them, be it crime or to do with sex, drugs or alcohol they might be less likely to confide in me and thus let me try to help.

4/1/2011 05:03:27 pm

Drugs are bad... mmmkay...

Just thought I'd raise the level of the conversation... :p


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