Let’s talk class

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I am, by birth, a middle class women. My parents both went to uni, as did I, and come from a line of house owners and good earners. This middle class up bringing has allowed me opportunities like holidays when I was growing up, money from relatives when in a tight spot, access to a lifestyle that probably promotes wellbeing and health as there was money.

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I’m thankful that with this middle class upbringing I had open minded (labour voting) and worldly parents who promoted a great belief in socialism and creativity and a belief in the equality of all people. Therefore I had access to experiences that educated me about other cultures, a value placed on seeing & learning music and art, I was encouraged to be whoever I was and this was actively promoted by sending me to the local comprehensive school to be a local member of my community.

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My middle class upbringing wasn’t without stressors. Much of my blog has been about my mums life with Bipolar. This was not an easy experience.

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I’m now a 37 year old mum of 3. I married a working class northerner. His upbringing and mine were absolute extremes of one another (except we attended the same school). So our children were always going to have both influences.

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How are we living now? I work hard, like so many women, in a job I love, but that isn’t seen as a profession. This means the pay has been low and there is little career progression. I do it because I’m great at it, because it’s so important and because I always said I would work doing what I loved (a decision made when I was young and naive).

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My husband is an artist, again a valued and important role that isn’t recognised enough and doesn’t bring in high earnings.

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We rent our home. We have never seen a way to anything but rent. Low incomes and kids by 24 mean our money went on rent and food and saving is a hilarious suggestion. (Don’t get me started in the unfairness that if we could have a mortgage we would pay substantially less then rent).

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We barely survive monthly. We are struggling to live within our earnings despite both working and living frugally. We have seen the cost of life rising around us over the last decade and feel we are hanging on by our fingertips to ‘normality’. We do not qualify for many benefits any more because according to the fuckwits running the country our earnings are fine (despite no consideration of our outgoings; rent and bills that are astronomical). We recently were evicted from our long term private rental by the landlords who were selling (cashing in on the recent gentrification of the area we live in). And we were saved by my middle class background; family who could financially help us move to somewhere else. That was what stopped us being classed homeless. Social housing is in such a state of high demand that we are clinging to surviving because the wait is so very long and we can make it work, just.

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Our kids go to local schools and we chose, when we moved to Bristol, to live in an area that was both culturally diverse and economically disadvantaged (both important to us). The area has changed, hence our rent becoming insane. We have to budget within the pennies to ensure a food shop at Aldi can happen. Our clothes come from charity shops (which I love). We live in dread of something breaking because there is nothing to replace it with. I delay my own dental needs to fit in with an easier month so that we can still do food shops or school shoes.

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I believe that both my current living situation, my stressors from my mums life with Bipolar, and my working life centred around communities in poverty, supporting women living with DV, homelessness , substance misuse, poor mental health all give me an understanding of how fucking awful life is for so many working class families/communities. I don’t think I’m blinkered. You can read posts about our fucked up society. (Important to note that whilst I struggle daily financially, I am not even close to how bad the many have it and I recognise that this is down to my white middle class privilege)

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I started using Instagram to promote my blog. I’ve not hidden that I think there’s many positives about social media; learning and educating myself through others, gaining virtual support from a whole new community, talking about difficult topics. I also love pictures and colour and pattern and little squares of these suit my mind.

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However i feel I’m constantly having to adjust my feed to avoid feelings of inadequacy and bitterness. And this is the middle class contingent that I invariably end up following because of course I can relate and they talk about things I want to talk about. But there is so much to see of having nice things, talk about doing fun stuff, appearing to live in very nice worlds. And when you can’t or don’t it’s shit. And I’d like a more realistic take on the world we all live in.

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I need to take responsibility and ensure I follow brilliant people (like @CashCarraway on instagram) so that my feed shows reality. But we also need to ensure that the positive sense of community that is talked about with social media is a community that respects and supports all. When I’ve talked about small campaigns like #thereforher I’ve meant: I’m there for all women. Not just ones that I look like or that I live like, or that make me feel comfortable. (I have not forgotten someone approaching me and saying ‘oh hi, I think I unfollowed you because you were talking a lot about some really serious stuff and I found it pretty depressing’ . I know that we live in a world where there are many communities, and we won’t be part of them all. But I also want to believe that when there is injustice or wrongdoing, we will, regardless of community, challenge it and shout about it. We will demand and expect better.

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#forthemanynotthefew

2 thoughts on “Let’s talk class

  1. Another brilliantly, poignant, thought provoking, emotionally intelligent article.

    You write with a passion and understanding that I hope people really take note of.

    Like

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