My Name Is…Kate Jones
If you ask the majority of nine year olds, (and often many adults), what superhero power they’d like to have, I’ll place a bet that a lot of them will say invisibility.
An invisibility cloak. It’s a fun idea, right?
I always wanted an invisibility cloak as a kid. I was a bit of a loner at times – I think a lot of writer’s are. I would wish that I could disappear into my own imaginary world, unaffected by knocks at the door asking me to come and play.
As an adult, think of all the annoying people you could avoid if you could turn yourself invisible. The times you could edge out of a boring meeting or banal party and slip away into the night…
Anyway, when Kelly put out a call for themes for the magazine recently, I knew I wanted to write about invisibility. I still disappear into my own imaginary world when I’m writing, but my reason for suggesting this theme was much more relevant and urgent than that.
You see, I have discovered, after 42 years on this planet, that I actually am becoming invisible. More so as time passes, it seems.
I’d been stewing on this issue that has been bugging me for some time now, the past few years actually, and like many writers, the best way I could think of tackling it was by writing a story about it. That was where my idea for ‘My Name Is’ came from. I ‘wrote’ that story in almost complete form in my head one night, seething in bed because I had been ignored one too many times. It is totally fictional, of course, but the reasoning behind it is very much non-fiction, unfortunately.
You see, I could be forgiven for thinking I have actually got the invisibility cloak I dreamed of as a kid.
Many, many, (trust me MANY) times, I will be out with my family, and we will bump into somebody we know. They will stop to exchange pleasantries. They will ask my husband how his job is going. We will chat for a few minutes, during which time, they will not once think to ask how my work is going. How I’m doing. Nothing.
We used to run a successful business together, and, despite us having equal roles, I had countless incidents of customers insisting get your husband to call me and discuss it if I refused to agree to a demand. Friends and family always saw him as being the owner of the business, whilst I ‘worked’ there. This, despite the fact that we had created the business together from scratch. We were both involved in every aspect of the success of that business, yet I felt that I got no credit for the success of it.
When recently, at a party, I dared to climb out of the shell for a few minutes and join the conversation, mentioning my writing, somebody turned back to my husband and asked: And are you happy with her sitting at home and writing while you’re out working?
What the fuck?
Now, I know this might sound like I’m paranoid or bitter. I’m honestly neither. But the truth is, last year, I lost count of the amount of times this happened. Even more bizarrely, I have lost count of the amount of times I have attended events alone, and people have stopped me to ask how my husband’s career is going. After our eldest daughter did exceptionally well in her exams, I had one woman tell me you must be so proud of your daughter – she obviously gets her brains from her father.
WTF IS THIS ABOUT??
I’m positive this didn’t happen before I had children. I think that, once you take your husband’s name and become a mother, you often lose your own, individual identity. I bet most of the other mother’s at my daughters’ schools don’t know my first name – and to be honest, I don’t know their names either. We simply refer to one another as ‘so-and-so’s Mum’.
I find this so strange. I love talking to other people about what they do, I find people fascinating. But I know it isn’t just me. I’ve spoken to other women and they have similar experiences, including the fabulous editor of Sick Lit herself, which was one of the reasons why I wanted to write for the magazine in the first place – in response to her rallying cry to women.
I have to add here that I am happily married to a man who is a total feminist. I mean it. He is nothing but supportive to any venture I undertake; he never made me feel anything less than an equal partner in the business, as we are in our family life. Sometimes, I take care of the domestic and childcare more as he is working. At other times, he has stepped in and been the one to attend doctor’s appointments and school events. We are supportive of one another – and the benefit is that our two daughters’ thrive in an environment where their opinions and views are listened to, and where they know they can become anything they put their mind to.
The only response I can think of to combat this culture of invisibility is to stand up and stand out. Say what you think and feel; make sure you get people’s attention (in a positive way), ask questions of other women and make the path clear for the next generation of feisty females to feel confident speaking out.
Oh, and when I asked MY nine year old what superpower she would choose, she said, without missing a beat, shapeshifter. So, there you go – invisibility is out, shape-shifting is the new power to have.
My Name is Kate Jones, and I am a Writer, a Woman, A Feminist, a Wife, a Mother, a Dreamer….and then some.
***Kate is a freelance writer based in the UK who writes articles, including regular contributions to online women’s magazine Skirt Collective, as well as publishing life writing and poetry both in print and online. She has a passion for flash fiction and short stories, and is usually found lurking around coffee shops, writing and listening to other people’s conversations. Jones has also become a regular contributor to Sick Lit Magazine, and is a 2016 nominee for the Pushcart Prize through Sick Lit Magazine.***
She blogs at www.writerinresidenceblog.wordpress.com.
Find Kate on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/katejonespp