Women! When you wake up tomorrow morning, which of the following would you most like to do:
- rush around like a blue-arsed fly trying to get the entire household off to holiday club / nursery / work, before arriving (late) at your own workplace for eight hours of unrewarding graft
- rush around like a blue-arsed fly trying to feed, clothe and not swear at your children, before spending the day thanklessly washing, cooking, cleaning and refereeing toddler fights
- get up late and have a leisurely breakfast in your state-of-the-art kitchen before popping out to meet your girlfriends for shopping / lunch / a session at the spa, before arriving back just in time to greet / snog / shag your partner (you may also, at some point, say hi to the cleaner and the nanny – but that’s optional)
I would of course go for Option 3. Does that make me a bad feminist? Or just someone who would not object to spending a much higher percentage of her time living as though she was on holiday?
One of the great failings of feminism is that it hasn’t yet got all women together in one room and forced them to agree, collectively, on What Women Want, now and forever more. This whole “women are individuals” claim has really fucked things up. It’s time we did away with it. After all, it’s horribly confusing, especially to men like Rod Liddle. In a Sunday Times piece entitled “Wrong, Emmeline – Women just want the Stepford life”, Rod ties his pretty little head in knots fretting about exactly what it is we women would like out of life:
What is it, exactly, that women want? It is terribly difficult to know, even during those vanishingly brief parts of the month when they’re comparatively even-tempered and are thinking straight – but it is something that we men all need to try and understand.
I know, Rod, I know (I mean, I say I know, but I’m not a man so I’m probably not even thinking straight. But what I mean is, I feel your pain, you boorish misogynist tosser).
Obviously I shouldn’t be reading anything by Rod Liddle. I just happened to be at my parents’ house yesterday. They get the Times and this is precisely the sort of article that my dad will sit and read, nodding sagely while puzzling over this brave new world in which his daughter lives. He might even look over and pity me, thinking of how hard I have to work (but said pity won’t extend to him changing a nappy or making me a cup of tea). Anyhow, that’s where I happened upon this obnoxious little article, and it did at least set me thinking.
Rod is writing in response to a survey which reveals a place called Tandridge to be the home of Britain’s largest percentage of “housewives” (64% of adult female inhabitants, apparently). Liddle is suitably dismissive, however, of what the role of housewife actually entails:
I mean, as I say, they are “housewives” – but such is the level of affluence in this deathless, middle-class utopia that I doubt very much they are up at dawn scrubbing the front step and running the clothes through the mangle, bleaching the antimacassars and licking clean the skirting boards. Dawn, most probably shipped in from Croydon at a cost of £7 an hour, will be up at daybreak doing that for them.
To be honest, I have no idea whether or not this is true – whether the housewives of Tandridge do fuck all beyond paying other women to do what, in Rod’s little mind, is still “women’s work” anyhow. I don’t really care, because this says nothing about feminism or women as human beings with different needs, desires and opportunities.
Liddle takes the fact that women in affluent areas are less likely to be in paid employment as concrete evidence that the feminists got it wrong:
Overwhelmingly, the women who work in this country do so because they have to and would most probably swap places with their counterparts in Tandridge, and Gravesham in Kent and so on, with great alacrity. It may be that such women end up vacuous – but happy and vacuous, at least.
This rather seems to be missing the point. I’d wager that the men who work in this country also do so because they have to. We’d all like money for nothing and to sit on our arses while someone else did everything for us, at least for a short while. That’s why people play the lottery and why people dream of becoming rich. And it’s also why we all take whatever paid annual leave our employers offer. I can’t say I’ve ever witnesses a male colleague refusing his entitlement – “sorry, gotta work bank holidays. It’s the testosterone”.
In this sense, What Women Want is not altogether different from What Men Want. It’s probably to do with shared humanity and whatnot. Basically, Rod, we all have dreams, hopes and aspirations, and would like to achieve our ambitions BUT we also all like being on holiday and spending days on end doing sod all. Got it?
Now why is that so hard for some people to understand?