I don’t want to be the party pooper on the great victory for women here, but the recent events that have elevated women to Kings of the Castle are not necessarily the wimmin’s triumph many believe is inevitable.
Much has been made of the ascent of Theresa May as Prime Minister, Ruth Davidson as leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister of Scotland, and Angela Merkel governing for so long as German Chancellor. Am I going to have be the one to point out the elephant in the room, namely that none of these women have children?
Now, calm down, I am not going to say that this will make them worse leaders. In fact on careful consideration, it probably makes them better – in that they can devote most if not all of their time to the job.
The fewer caring duties one has at home, the more time one can devote to pursuing success in the public sphere. I shall illustrate this point by relying on well-known comedy sketch by Michael McIntyre (scientific I know) pointing out the difference in time and energy it takes for the childless to leave the house, compared to those with children. For the former this task take 20 seconds, for the latter close to twenty minutes. Dismiss this sketch as silly if you want – but he really hits a nerve. Young children, in particular, make what was once a simple task – such as crossing the road – a rather more time consuming activity.
My point dear reader is that children suck up a lot of your time and energy. If you don’t have any children, you have more of that precious time and energy to devote to professional striving. It is not that I want to take anything away from the serious public achievements of these women, but I do not feel it is fair to hold them up as instant role models for girls everywhere.
The truth is many girls still want to have families, which we need for the future, and we should be cautious about saying this kind of supreme professional advancement is possible with children when on current evidence this is not the case.
I am not saying that I do not find it refreshing to find such ‘bloody difficult women’ in top jobs; in many ways I do. I believe Theresa May’s team will do a much better job than the Bullingdon boys. In fact, TCW has been one of the harshest critics of the Cameron clique because of their policies not their backgrounds.
However, it is far to early to say whether having more women at the top of the tree will be good for other women – this depends entirely on their policies. At the moment, this victory is a victory for these women alone, and more power to them.
But it is misleading and disingenuous to say it is a great victory for women as these women are representative of their struggles, because they are not. Childless women are on the increase and fertility rates have been propped up by immigration, but it is still the case that most women will have children at some point, something that is crucial to the survival of society.
Finally, I don’t think you have to experience every life lesson to relate to it and it is absolutely possible for Prime Minister May to understand the struggles of the average working family, such as the cost of housing, low wages especially for men, ridiculously long commutes made worse by shoddy train services, and the moral responsibility involved in raising children and educating them. So we will let her policies do the talking on this, and consign the identify politics to the dustbin.