Friday Rant

On Tuesday I made two discoveries. Firstly, I stumbled over Muddling Along Mummy blog, which is one I visited in the early days of my blogging travels but I had not been back for a while. As a working mum it was really heartening to read Hannah’s post How to make a Mummy feel special, because I get just as irritated by media criticism/coverage of working mothers.
Then I read her Friday Rant Club post – described thus

“The Friday Rant Club is an opportunity to get all those frustrations that have been building up off your chest before the weekend. Either post something in the comments below or write your own one. There’s a little badge over there on the right if you fancy showing the world that you are not a doormat!”

Everyone loves a rant once in a while *ahem*

I set about ranting at the aspects of work that I am not enjoying at the moment. Then someone in the office brought my attention to an article in last Saturday’s Guardian
It may be dated April 1st but it isn’t (unfortunately) an April fool. *Deep breathe* it refers to David Willetts the Universities Minister, a member of the Government. If you blood pressure is a bit low you can read the full article here

Some how this man is still in a job. Some how main stream media don’t seem to be screeching about this. For anyone who doesn’t want to read the whole article here is a quote from The Guardian.

“Willetts said feminism was probably the “single biggest factor” for the lack of social mobility in Britain, because women who would otherwise have been housewives had taken university places and well-paid jobs that could have gone to ambitious working-class men. The Conservative minister made his comments before the launch of the government’s social mobility strategy next week”.

I won’t patronise anyone reading this blog with a statistics of relating to Women in Parliament, Women in the Judiciary, Women in Senior management etc etc. because I know you are all well aware, I don’t see any taking going on, I see that women are under represented.

As working woman who worked flipping hard to get educated and get where I am, I find this erm,…. what is the word I am looking for…offensive. Yes, I will stick with offensive.
I am sorry aspiring man – but if you were that aspiring then maybe you should have sorted it out. I don’t see why I should have given up my opportunities or aspirations based on my gender. Or maybe this is all in Mr Willetts head.

According the Guardian Mr Willetts continued;

“He expounded the downsides of the “admirable transformation of opportunities for women” by suggesting opening up education since the 1960s had magnified social divides, courtesy of “assortative mating” whereby well-educated women marry well-educated men.”
“It is delicate territory, because it is not a bad thing that women had these opportunities,” he said. “But it widened the gap in household incomes, because you suddenly had two-earner couples, both of whom were well-educated, compared with often workless households where nobody was educated.”

Well, imagine! Women being attracted to an equal!

What are women supposed to do? Stay in the kitchen and shut up? Excuse me, can someone check the date is this not 2011?

But my biggest issue is that he has boiled this down to ‘Feminism’. Feminism the dirty word. For me feminism is about equal pay and equal rights. Flexible working and good paternity rights for both partners. Ending violence against women. Respecting the work women do within the home and outside of the home. Valuing child care and bringing up children. Not having to enjure sexist language or sexist jokes. I could go on. It’s not about hating men. I’ve met a lot of women who would call themselves feminist, I’m sad that more women don’t. This thing is about hating men is, in my experience, a myth, sure there are extremist, but they don’t represent the whole movement. It’s a myth that suits people that have an issue with feminism and all it represents. Feminism is not a negative thing, it is a very positive thing not just for women, for children, for men, for a civilised society. It’s something that I intend to encourage my son to embrace, I hope that it will influence him to be a better partner, friend and maybe father in the future.

Last note, how ironic that Mr Willetts the University minister is so concerned for the aspiring working class men and social mobility when his own Government have introduced tuition fees that will make University an even harder to reach goal for anyone whose background is anything other than ‘well off’ be that middle class or working class. Realistically those who won’t go to university will be those from poor backgrounds and now whose promoting Social Mobility?.

Oh I feel so much better for a rant.

The Friday Rant Club


  1. Alexander Residence

    Fascinating post and so well written. I was so ready for something political. What utterly horrifying and backward thinking. How inconvenient are we? On a brighter note apparently the majority of public sector top jobs E.g hospital, uni, council are held by women here in Nottingham. I think Mr Willett should come and visit.

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  3. Honest Mum

    Horrifying. Yes please remind me what year this is? The suffragettes are turning in their graves. Another example of Tory’s elitist and sexist attitude and old boy’s value system. Makes me sick. Fantastically written post. I am proud to say I’m a feminist. My mother gave me a badge I’d wear aged 2 onwards, that said ‘women together are strong’. Mr Willett should come meet my Mum after his Nottingham trip, she’ll sort him out.

  4. Domestic goddesque

    Forgive me for taking a University place from men who are clearly so much more intelligent than me by virtue of their genes *rolls eyes and huffs*…..I think Mr Willetts proves very well that genes do not equal brains. Or sense. So he’s ideal politician material then 😉

    Glad you rediscovered Muddling: I am her secret internet stalker 😉

  5. Abby

    What the what? I don’t even know how to respond to Mr. Willetts disgusting comments. Well, unless you’d like a string of profanities in your comment section. Ugh, I feel totally disgusted.

    And I agree with all of your thoughts on feminism. I find it shocking that anyone could ever consider themselves to be anything but a feminist. I know I’m raising my son as one.

  6. Erin

    It’s always our fault isn’t it? Christ almighty. I’m not sure I understand what difference it makes that well-educated, ambitious women are getting jobs v the men? Oh right, it’s his massively flawed, pseudo-evolutionary psychology crap ‘theory’. What an imbecile.

  7. Kirsty

    Well, I’m going to disagree… I’m definitely a feminist, and I definitely think that women have as much right to go to university, have careers and hold the top jobs as men do.

    However, I think that on this occasion, David Willetts was clumsily trying to state some facts, without attaching a moral judgement to them. I’m paraphrasing @victoriapeckham here, but I think he was saying that feminism has been more successful than egalitarianism. That there are a finite number of university places and ‘good’ jobs, and because of the excellent fact that women have taken some, there happen to be fewer for working class men.

    Of course, his logic may well be flawed here. I mean, if the middle class weren’t sending their daughters as well as their sons to university, would there have been spare places for the ‘ambitious working class’? I think probably not – universities have expanded to meet demand. The biggest obstacle for universities trying to meet recruitment targets for state school/deprived areas is that these students don’t apply to university. I think he would really struggle to find evidence that if women weren’t taking the places, they would have gone to working-class men. I think fewer graduates and a different kind of UK economy is a more likely hypothesis.

    But I don’t think that changes the fact that he wasn’t making a value judgement on this occasion, he was trying to make a factual judgement. He’s not saying women shouldn’t be educated and work, he’s saying that the fact that they are has (in his opinion) had some undesirable consequences. I admit I was wide-eyed and incredulous when I first read the article, but actually the more I thought about it, I can’t get worked up about this one. Please all feel free to disagree.

    In other news, yes, Muddling Along Mummy is my hero. 🙂

    1. helloitsgemma

      thanks Kirsty, I’m not going to disagree, however, I think he is intelligent enough to know the impact of his comments, his attempts at trying making a factual judgement are poor. I think his focus should not be on the success of feminism and it’s consequences (however, given the number of women in positions of power, there is an argument about how successful it is) but on the failure of successive governments and society to address egalitarianism, which is a wide an complex issue but for example, study after study as shown that Black boys don’t do well in education. At my girls school the catchment was two areas, white middle class and a more mixed poorer ‘inner city area’ in my year, every black girl was in the lower set with me. Except one girl who lived in the white middle class area and whose mother was a teacher at the school. I think that was institutional racism. The gap between richer and poorer continues to get wider, in this country if you are born poor you are very likely to die younger and die poor, male or female (looking at some of the poor areas in the North of England, ex-mining villages, I think Thatcherism has a role to play in that, and I guess he’s not going to blame that) In addressing social mobility I think he would have been better to look at these failings rather than suggesting that the success of feminism has denied aspiring working class men opportunities, and it irritates that feminism is his focus, because I think it just perpetuates the negatives around feminism. But hey, that’s just what I think, and yes Muddling is very cool. X

  8. Molly

    Offensive and disgusting Mr Willets. I have been speechless about this all week.
    It seems that feminism/feminist has become something that no one in the younger generation want to claim to be – do you remember one of the girls on The Apprentice a couple of years ago spitting ‘I’m not a feminist’? I have lectured to university art history students and they look at me as if I have two heads when I show them the Guerilla Girls and yet I tell them that it out of the 32 girls and 2 boys in the year group it is the boys who are most likely to get the high end museum jobs but they still think feminism is old hat and not relevant today. It kills me that women have worked so hard to achieve ‘equal’ rights and even though its nowhere near equal, now you have an environment that allows people like Willets to come out with such c**p.
    Good rant Gemma, I’m with you all the way on this one.

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