A mixed bag at Times Online

Scanning the Times Online over lunch I found myself groaning and cheering in turns. It’s a mixed old bag today.

idyllic motherhoodFirstly a report on nursery school uptake which simply cannot get over it’s glee at apparently obvious fact that the “have-it-all generation” have finally come to their senses and realised that they really ought to be at home looking after their offspring. This is evidenced by the fact that there’s a 22.5% under-occupancy rate observable across Britain’s nurseries (compared to 11% five years ago).

In case you need ask, there’s no mention of those pesky “have it all men” who apparently go about their lives with gay abandon, secure in the knowledge that nobody is crowing about their inability to lead fulfilling lives involving both jobs and children. They’re not trying to have it all, of course; just exercising their god-given right to make their own choices in life without judgement.

Right at the bottom of the article, Rosemary Bennet manages to reign in her glee long enough to report out that the source material notes the sheer unaffordability of nursery places may have a little something to do with it. Rosemary – you may wish to have a little look at this report here which states that 18% of all women, and 28% of lone mothers are out of work not because they’re living in some enviable domestic idyll where they’ve freely chosen a life of home and nurture but because childcare is so damned expensive that they have no other option. Oh, and Rosemary – when you’ve finished that report, try this one. And when you’re done with that see me for the rest of the reading list.

Flicking across to the women/beauty section, Anne-Marie Payne’s article on “the cute fat girls of indie rock” rubbed me up the wrong way as well. Not that I don’t think Beth Ditto and her ilk are incredibly cool and fantastic, because obviously I do. I actually can’t quite put my finger on why it annoys me so much – I think it’s well intentioned. In the end I think it’s because it’s got a smack of the ‘real women’ diktat about it. One week of ‘real women love their curves’ articles in Heat magazine is inevitably followed by the next week’s papparazi shots of ‘celebs who have piled on the pounds’. The fashions may change, but the patriarchy doesn’t. Why is it so hard for people to get by without constantly defining and re-defining exactly what it is that we women must be? Read the article for yourselves and see if you find it as annoying as I did.

Finally, though, a word of sense … hooray for rising divorce rates! Beautifully put by Carol Sarler:

“To spring both partners from their unplanned, but mutually constraining, domestic dreariness takes a strength, independence, courage and optimism that until now has just been too much to ask. Salute the escapees, I say: go, girls, you go. And whatever you do, don’t look back

(Note the one utterly predictable bitter old man comment from Duncan of England just in case you’re in need of a quick reminder that (as Germaine Greer once said) “women have very little idea of how much men hate them”).

Happy reading!

Photo by John Carleton, shared under a Creative Commons license