Being a good wife isn’t my idea of fighting the recessionPosted: May 8, 2011
The announcement from Clarence House that Catherine Wales (aka Kate Middleton) is going to be an ordinary RAF wife did wind me up somewhat. For most of the last century, women have been fighting against the use of “wife” as a job title. It’s completely meaningless – relationships are personal and are suited to fit each couple. And even within the strict confines of the military, there’s still no such thing as an “ordinary” wife.
But it is her marriage and her life, and so I don’t really feel justified in being angry about this. But I am angry about the reactions to this. That somehow this has become a new stereotype to be celebrated. Guess what girls, we don’t all need to be Katie Price anymore, we can be Kate Middleton instead. Yippee!
Except I don’t actually see that much difference. They both seem to have built a profile based around their looks. Their big leap into the spotlight came through a high profile marriage. Women’s Views on News points out, Kate Middleton’s style could help stem the passion for “hooker style”, but apart from elegance probably being better for self-esteem than plastic surgery, what is the benefit for women from this change?
The passion for Kate Middleton over Katie Price really isn’t doing women any favours. As role models go, it’s still teaching young girls that the most important you can do is stay skinny and look perfect. Or that the University is a good way to get a respectable Mrs which is much more useful than a BSc. And that women are defined by the men in their lives.
Well none of the things I aspire to involve my appearance or my choice of husband. So it really doesn’t matter to me whether my role-model is surgically-enhanced or elegant. And the media’s continuing passion for a woman’s place being in the home is really scary. In the 1980s recession, women were breaking glass-ceilings and ruling the country. Love her or loathe her, no-one could forget that Maggie was PM. As the country re-built after WW2, women started taking the pill and divorce from unhappy marriages became possible. After WW1 women got the vote and started gaining rights to own property. For centuries, as hard times struck, women fought hard for themselves and for society, and took huge leaps forward. And yet, here we are in dire circumstances, and women are being ushered back into the domestic sphere.
We are living under the most patronising government I can remember. The proposed married couple’s tax breaks are based on sharing the tax allowance, so that one of the couple can stay home. The education minister blames feminism for the lack of working class men in universities. The Prime Minister tells a woman MP to “calm down dear”. Women are nearly invisible in responsible posts on both sides of the House of Commons. Senior figures in business are coming out in favour of not hiring women because y’know, they don’t really concentrate on work as they’ve other priorities, and they’ll probably be going off to have babies soon anyway. Just how long will it be before it’s suggested that a way to full employment for men is for those pesky women to get out of the workplace?
And we’re supposed to see it as a good step forward that we’ve another glamorous wife as our role model?