Thursday, 5 June 2014

Fallen Idols - Kirstie gives feminism a kick in the teeth

Kirstie, Paxman and Holly Paxter, founder of feminist blog, Vagenda - Daily Express

Kirstie, Kirstie, Kirstie*.  How could you let me down this way? First Nigella** - the queen of 'having it all' fell to earth. Now you are found wanting.  You - the woman who could buy the most unpromising property for a song whilst learning how to make a stained glass table decoration - and all before putting the kids to bed. 

Truly it hurts me to say this, but I found myself shouting at the TV watching you on Newsnight being interviewed by Paxman of all people,  seriously defending the idea that women should prioritize having babies over going to university. As I have said myself elsewhere in this blog, I am all for having children reasonably young.  But even I have never suggested you should breed before going to university.   

Further education is the place to widen your horizons and make yourself employable.  We live in a global knowledge economy and if you don't acquire skills to make you employable you could find yourself have to rely on your husband or partner to survive.  That might be fine if you have family money behind you (step forward Kirstie's Daddy - Baronet Hindlip).. But how many of us start in life with an aristocrat up our sleeve in case of emergencies? A UK Government research study last year showed that not only do graduates earn significantly more over their lifetimes - women do so far more than men - over a quarter of a million pounds for women versus 170,000 for men.  And given that the average UK house price has now broken through  the 250,000 pound barrier those extra lifetime earnings could make a lot of difference.

When I was 17 and filling in university application forms, my feminist headmistress was horrified when two girls in our year said they had no plans to go to university. "Never rely on a man" she uttered dramatically.  She wasn't advocating the single life, rather urging all of us to ensure we could look after ourselves if we wanted to.  
Emma getting her degree and thinking about house prices..

Apart from anything else, further education is a great place to meet a potential partner.  I did - and at the very least it will widen your social group.   To be fair, Kirstie wasn't saying never go to university, just that you should go later after having children. It is often said that university is wasted on the young but it is much easier to go at 18 than at 28 or 38.  I really admire mature students but watching both my children going through university reminds me that the system is set up to suit younger students. Taking time out later whilst possible is much harder and often involves much greater risk and sacrifice.
 * For my non UK readers, Kirstie Allsopp - the British queen of property buying and retro homemaking -  is a real aristocrat - her father is the 6th Baron Hindlipp so she is entitled to use the title The Honourable Kirstie Alsopp.  And in a bizarre twist, she is also related to interior design aristocracy - her cousin is Cath Kidston. 
** And even my non UK readers are probably familiar with "Nigella" Lawson - in another coincidence also the daughter of a Baron - in this case Baron Lawson of Blaby - and so also entitled to call herself The Honourable.  In his case - this is a life peerage not an inherited title unlike Baron Hindlipp - although the title was only created in 1886 which is positively brand new - the oldest ones go back to the middle ages.