When discussing the Kirstie Allsopp controversy with my mother, she took the opportunity to remind me that “you can have it all, just not at the same time.” This kind of follows on from what Kirstie herself was saying; we can have a career as a young professional, but that should take a back seat by the time we settle down to become a walking nappie-changer.
In my eyes, the whole idea of feminism is about choice, and I think that’s what she was really trying to say; it wasn’t some backwards comment about motherhood or an attack on female education. Women fought to have the right for political choice, choice over what to do with their bodies, their time, their money. We have come such a long way – the classic cliché – and we should continue to discuss the different choices that are available for women so that we don’t teach our daughters that there is a certain type of lifestyle path – school, uni, work, babies, empty nest syndrome – that is the only option. It seems to have worked for my mother, who won’t be crying on the phone to me about her empty nest for a couple of years as long as my brother remains at home, but the whole idea that we have to choose between personal development and looking after children really doesn’t make me very enthused to grow up. Why is 27 the perfect age to have babies? I’m sure there are thousands of responsible, capable and parentally minded woman at that age…I’m just not in a hurry to become one.
Also, to be honest, starting work at this age really doesn’t speak to me. For one, if it were that easy to find a job as school leaver then girls like me would probably be getting into the world of work without having to fork out thousands for a degree in what many would call a ‘pointless’ subject, just to try and broaden our horizons. Has anyone looked at the employment stats lately? Yes, unemployment is falling, but young people are still not being given the opportunities they desire to flourish in the workplace. I like the idea of finding a job at this age – 18 – but does anyone really want to hire me when my only skill set is making tea, sweeping the floor of a tiny baber shop and learning quotes for my A levels? To quote another out-there feminist, the candid Lily Allen, it really is hard out here (bitch or otherwise).
So Having it All, “just not at the same time”, seems to be the only real choice for me here. In my case, this will mean going to university and hopefully discovering what it is I want to do with my life, before I take chosen career by the horns. Babies and husband I would hope for, but I would like to think that I can do more than be the woman in the background of every photo. As long as there is choice to be a professional, and to raise a family either as a part of that professional life or apart from it, I don’t really see what else I can ask for. So thank you, Kirstie, for inspiring this discussion of feminine choice.