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Zoe Williams - Live webchat, Thursday 14 June, 1-2 pm

(102 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 12-Jun-12 11:42:22

Journalist Zoe Williams is joining us for a webchat at MNHQ on Thursday 14 June at 1pm. Zoe's latest book, What Not to Expect When You're Expecting, is a refreshing antidote to the standard pregnancy and parenting books. It considers issues such as the overbearing public guidelines on what not to eat or drink and weighs up the relative merits of different childcare routines - 'It doesn't make any sodding difference.'

Zoe is best known as a Guardian columnist, where she once wrote: 'They are brilliant on Mumsnet. They know everything. If you wanted to know how soon you could breastfeed after taking an E, someone on Mumsnet could probably tell you.' She also writes for the New Statesman, The Spectator, NOW Magazine, London Cyclist and the London Evening Standard.

She lives in London with her partner and two children.

Join her on Thursday at 1pm or post a question to Zoe ahead of the webchat here.

iexist Thu 12-Jul-12 20:40:04

Hi Zoe,
- Always find your articles v funny and well observed - I remember you from G&L (year below I think)- you were funny then too.
Have had 4 babies since - started early (ish) but wish there had been more commentators with irreverant voice and comic take when I was deep in the quagmire of milk and shit that is new motherhood.
I am now a newbie blogger with an eye on the school gate - hoping to raise some smiles in the, rather too earnest, world of Mummystuff. (just got blog of week from Mumsnet - Whooo Hooo, Get Me!)
Check me out if you have a second - http://chroniclesofdomesticdisaster.wordpress.com/

SweetTheSting Thu 14-Jun-12 14:34:04

Good webchat, thanks!

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 14-Jun-12 14:25:24

Sorry, Zoe's had to finish up (only scheduled to last till 2pm). Thanks for all your questions - and thanks to Zoe for all her answers.

Bitzer Thu 14-Jun-12 14:19:37

quick question if there's still time. Since you mention CiF, how do offensive responses to your articles affect you? I'm regularly horrified by how vicious people can be - does it ever get you down?

raaraathenoisyleo Thu 14-Jun-12 14:14:48

Zoe, you're right about the mumsnet cocktail party, I tend to see the rest of the internet as a succession of old school pubs now, full of middle aged men and teenage boys.

Bitzer Thu 14-Jun-12 14:11:34

Yup. That's me :-)

nethunsreject Thu 14-Jun-12 14:10:08

loveroflife, 'pushing' isn't the same as supporting. UK has high initiation rates for bfing, but they reduce rapidly.

I agree with Zoe wrt public health messages actually. My issue is that they are merely stated, then not backed up with support. I disagree wrt evidence in this case (science grad emoticon wink), but actually, on the whole I agree with the general ethos of what ZW is getting at.

I also agree that people shouldn't be dictating to others, but this happens in a more insidious fashion from big business and undermines women in particular (imo) when it comes to infant feeding choices, childbirth, etc.

ZoeWilliams Thu 14-Jun-12 14:09:31

Thanks for all these really interesting questions. It's genuinely like a cocktail party, isn't it, Mumsnet? I love it. Going into Comment is Free on the Guardian is like walking into a boozer full of football hooligans.

ZoeWilliams Thu 14-Jun-12 14:08:16

loveroflife

Hi Zoe,

I'd like to know what subjects you love writing about the most? What really is a joy to write about and what is not. Are you fully responsible for deciding what your weekly subject matter is your column or do you act on a editors instructions?

Thanks - keep writing and I'll keep reading

loveroflife

That's funny. I was just about to answer the question about tops over leggings (i had this minging dress from Topshop that smelt like a rag).
At the moment, I do pretty well what I want, except on Saturdays, when I have to go round the country finding something currentaffairsy to ask people questions about...
Feed your child!
x

ZoeWilliams Thu 14-Jun-12 14:05:46

Bitzer

Zoe ? FWIW I loved, loved your backlash against breastfeeding piece. I'm absolutely pro BF but felt everything you said badly needed saying.

Thank you. Are you named after Bitzer Maloney from the Hairy McClary books?

ZoeWilliams Thu 14-Jun-12 14:05:09

ThisAintKansas

Yep. Lots of snidey 'a bunch of stay at home yummies' comments when you mention MN. Depressing.

So true! I think really what they want to say is "bloody women" but they know they're not allowed

ZoeWilliams Thu 14-Jun-12 14:04:19

mydoorisalwaysopen

Hello Zoe
I'm sorry I'm not a guardian reader so don't know your work or you book. How do you find bringing up kids in London? Did you grow up in London yourself.

I grew up in London so it seems normal to me. But then they're not teenagers yet. Ask me again when they start smoking at the age of 8

LucyBTA Thu 14-Jun-12 14:04:03

Absolutely, Zoe, it is your job as a journalist to question the advice that's out there, however annoying that might be to groups with entrenched views when what you're saying doesn't fit with their view. If people feel undermined by that, then that is their problem and not yours. I personally find it rather empowering when I investigate an issue and find that it's more complicated than it first appears.

loveroflife Thu 14-Jun-12 14:03:40

oh no my question wasn't answered <off to feed child now then>

ZoeWilliams Thu 14-Jun-12 14:02:18

cerealqueen

Hi Zoe
What aspect of Motherhood have you found most challenging?

For me, coming to it a bit later, it is the lack of me time, being able to do whatever I wanted whenever and (while I have two young ones at home) the ability to leave the house on a whim, not like its a military operation. smile

Yes. Same. But I also have a huge problem with getting mine to do what I say. It's like I'm a cartoon that they watch when I'm being amusing, and just wander off when I get tiresome.

Bitzer Thu 14-Jun-12 14:02:04

Zoe – FWIW I loved, loved your backlash against breastfeeding piece. I'm absolutely pro BF but felt everything you said badly needed saying.

ZoeWilliams Thu 14-Jun-12 14:00:05

ThisAintKansas

The Sisters Brothers is next on y reading list, now, thanks grin

As an aside: How the hell do people lose weight while breastfeeding? I was totally mis sold on that front. I thought I was going to be skin and bone from having the very life sucked out of me and all the raging hormones and 'insert sciencey bit' stuff going on. Instead, I was stuck on the settee watching way too much 'Escape to the Country' and inhaling bourbons. I have never been fatter.

Bit like the 'It just falls off once you're running around after your toddler' bollocks. My oldest was a Usain Bolt in the making at 10 mths and I was still a fat bloater.

Going back to work. That does it.

me too. never been fatter, never been hungrier.

ZoeWilliams Thu 14-Jun-12 13:58:59

nethunsreject

Thanks for answering.

Badinter works for a formula company.

I still don't see how you are doing anything other than fueling the old 'mommy wars' debate though, sorry, though I accept that is the opposite of what you meant to do.

Also, I don't think infant nutrition can be compared to choosing nuts over cheese. It's a pretty big public health issue dressed up as a lifestyle choice, because that's easier than actually dealing with supporting parents.

I have to say that I read your article as pretty undermining, especially to people who are stuggling with breastfeeding.

Fwiw, I have one of each (ie one bf, one ff). I have no problems with the informed use and choice of formula - it can be the right choice. However I do have an issue with the appalling lack of support for breastfeeding women in society and in the media.

Mmm. I did quote from Badinter's book, that's true. I think if I'd known she worked for a formula company, I still wouldn't have mentioned it, because the inference would be that she was being paid to have those views. She's a philosopher and a feminist. I don't think there's any doubt that her views were authentic.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter whether you think breastfeeding is more or less important than nuts and cheese. You do what's right for you, if you ask me what I think, I'll tell you I think breastfeeding is great. The problems start when people try to dictate to one another, either culturally or in public health messages. Sure, give out a public health message that's correct, but it has to be correct. I don't think anything is improved by overstatement.
I wasn't trying to undermine anybody.
I've got Widders dictating her answers behind me! It's a bit surreal.

loveroflife Thu 14-Jun-12 13:58:53

"However I do have an issue with the appalling lack of support for breastfeeding women in society and in the media."

I don't think that's fair nethunsreject.

I don't remember any bottle feeding support groups, BF is encouraged at pre natal groups, health visitors push for it, in hospital straight after biirth, there's plenty of areas/rooms for mothers in shops, restuarants, posters for breast feeding in doctors, childrens centres etc...

If anything I found bottle feeding was never encouraged..(rightly or wrongly)

nethunsreject Thu 14-Jun-12 13:54:32

QUeenOfFlamingEverything made a far more eloquent job of saying what I wanted to say last night.

ThisAintKansas Thu 14-Jun-12 13:54:26

Yep. Lots of snidey 'a bunch of stay at home yummies' comments when you mention MN. Depressing.

ZoeWilliams Thu 14-Jun-12 13:54:14

manfrom

Hi Zoe

You wrote recently about social mobility and said that one of the great problems was a fear of slipping down the class ladder. Is this a personal fear you have as well for your children? You had the benefit of a great education which I'm sure helped you get your job at the Guardian - and presumably you'd want your DCs to have the same opportunities. I'm interested as there's a fairly lively debate on MN about private education.

Oh crikey. Yes. I can see that private education is a huge fissure at the moment. It's not something I'd ever choose, but that's as much to do with how I hated it myself as it is to do with a political stance on how divisive it is.
I was talking to this amazing social geographer who said that at times of great inequality, the people who suffered most anxiety, paradoxically, were the ones at the bottom of the top bracket - because the consequences of slippage were not as they were in the Seventies (when there was a 6:1 wage ratio between the top and the bottom), but rather, a life of radically different (by which I mean fewer) opportunities. Dorling found this a plausible explanation for the fact that mental illness is much higher in unequal societies, across the board, not just at the bottom. So I guess if you were to ask me my worries for my children, living in a very unequal society, it's that the anxiety gets to them. I don't think private schooling is a very good answer, even, in fact especially, for the people who can afford to go to private school.

nethunsreject Thu 14-Jun-12 13:53:27

Thanks for answering.

Badinter works for a formula company.

I still don't see how you are doing anything other than fueling the old 'mommy wars' debate though, sorry, though I accept that is the opposite of what you meant to do.

Also, I don't think infant nutrition can be compared to choosing nuts over cheese. It's a pretty big public health issue dressed up as a lifestyle choice, because that's easier than actually dealing with supporting parents.

I have to say that I read your article as pretty undermining, especially to people who are stuggling with breastfeeding.

Fwiw, I have one of each (ie one bf, one ff). I have no problems with the informed use and choice of formula - it can be the right choice. However I do have an issue with the appalling lack of support for breastfeeding women in society and in the media.

loveroflife Thu 14-Jun-12 13:50:50

Oh Christ - please don't ThisAin'tKansas...

My friend said to me the other day (who I hadn't seen for ages) after looking at me sadly thinking 'Jeeeez you've not lost a pound since he was born and he's now about to start nursery' "Oh I like your dress over your leggings".

I just couldn't bring myself to say - "What this old dress, it's only my fecking stretched and out of shape maternity TOP!!!" rewashed and not going anywhere>

P.S Going to Next would mean actually shopping for clothes rather than bunging some shapeless tents into the trolley with the rest of the weekly shop - again far too traumatic...

Sunnywithachanceofshowers Thu 14-Jun-12 13:50:44

The irony is that many of us aren't mums! Hello Zoe

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