Sunday, January 09, 2011

Class-ification

"...lets flaunt our class privilege by mocking poor people and judging what they decide to put in their shopping trolleys. The whole world doesn't live like you."

Some of you might recall the above comment, which was left on this post quite a while back - and no, I haven’t been stewing over it ever since; I was just reminded of it the other day by something I read, and so here are my thoughts:

Let’s talk about my “class privilege”, shall we? Here’s another case of someone making sweeping assumptions about me, probably based on one (tongue-in-cheek) post. What? Does she think I was born into a well-off family in the leafy suburbs, attended a posh private school and never wanted for anything? Mummy and Daddy must have given me their secondhand Beemer for my 18th birthday and then coughed up a huge wad of cash as a wedding gift so we could buy our own home.

Let's leave la-la land and return to Planet Reality, shall we?

I was born to very young parents who struggled constantly to make ends meet. They never expected to have three kids by their third anniversary, but they made do – my father worked two jobs and my mother continued her trade as a fashion designer and dressmaker from home, mostly making wedding dresses and special occasion outfits. They built a very small house in the far-flung outer suburbs, where land was affordable (but the roads were unmade and there was no gas). When I started school, Mum went back to full time work in a factory manufacturing ladies’ wear – and was looked down upon for doing so by most of the neighbourhood – while Dad worked night shift as a taxi driver.

When my parents split up, I was only about six. There was no single parent’s pension and women did not receive equal pay, so Mum supported us and somehow managed to hang onto the house on a very low wage. My sisters and I never realised we were poor, which is a credit to my Mum’s financial management skills. She brought home fabric offcuts from the factory where she worked and made us beautiful outfits. Once I remember my sister and I needed ball gowns (in primary school, can you believe it?), and she cut up a couple of her old dresses and remade them into stunning full length outfits for us. We had enough to eat, but there were no takeaways, no soft drink unless it was a birthday party, and if we wanted a snack, we were pointed towards the fruit bowl, which was likely to be full of home-grown plums or apricots or other fruit given to us by friends or family.

I can recall both the water and the power being disconnected because there wasn’t enough money to pay the bills. I also remember the mortification in my mother’s voice when she answered the door to a debt collector who was chasing an overdue rates payment.

Mum remarried and things were a bit easier, but there was rarely any money to spare after the essentials were paid for. School camps were a strain on household funds, but we never missed out. Brownies, ballet and piano lessons were somehow paid for, even if Mum went without new clothes or fancy hairdos. Most of our veggies were grown in the backyard, and if we went on holidays, it was usually camping or staying at a friend’s beach house. We went to the local state schools and all did well – because we applied ourselves and worked hard, as our parents had taught us to do.

When I left school, I did as my parents did: worked to support myself. We did not spend a small fortune on our wedding – we both considered that to be a stupid waste of money. Instead, we did the whole thing on the cheap, calling in favours from family to help out with flowers, dresses, rings, invitations, cake and more. Then we saved and saved so that we could put a deposit on a house in a decidedly un-trendy outer suburb six months after our marriage.

When each of my children were born, I went back to work when my maternity leave ran out. Not because I don’t care about my kids, but because keeping a roof over their heads and food in their bellies was kind of important.

We lived in our tiny, 11 square house for 22 years, before upgrading to something bigger (still in the outer boonies), and the move was not without its financial sacrifices. I first went overseas when I was 37 – and have left Australia exactly twice. We don’t have holidays regularly unless we visit relatives, we drive old cars, and pack our lunches to take to work every day. We build things ourselves, shop at factory outlets and generally save as many $$ as we can, not as a hobby, but beause, like most families, we need to. We don't have a pool, a boat, a holiday home, a stockbroker ...or a butler, dammit.

I’m not complaining about my lot; I have a very happy life with a loving family, a nice home and enough food to eat, even if juggling the bills is sometimes a challenge. And I'm well and truly grateful. But don’t DARE accuse me of having “class privilege”, whatever that is, let alone flaunting it. I’m an honest working girl who’s earned every single material thing I have (little though it might seem to some).

I don’t sit around doing nothing with an expectation of receiving handouts. I don’t have a sense of entitlement and I despise people who do. If you don’t like where you are right now, get up off your arse and work for what you want.

And by the way, that goes for fitness or weight loss goals as well as financial ones. Nobody is going to do it for you.

Oh, and don't make snap judgements about bloggers and their lives either. Chances are, you'll be way off the mark and you won't be making yourself any friends.

7 comments:

Sue said...

Nicely put Kek.......... now can you fix my behind? LOL

Kek said...

Sure, Sue ...what's wrong with it? ;)

linda said...

Phew! Well they say venting it good for the soul. Well done and well put. It's so easy to misconstrue what people write on here and to make assumptions that are just not correct. Have a good day and enjoy your new toy (PH)

Kerry W said...

Touché!

Kek said...

Thanks ladies, and Linda; note that in keeping with my frugal policy, my new phone was FREE... LOL

Sassy Sassy said...

That's crazy that someone would actually say that to you!

It seems as if THEY have issues will stereotypical class roles, and they're just projecting onto you. They're just ignorant. I'm glad you didn't stew over their comment.

Penny said...

Whoo hoo! Love it Kek!

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