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Live webchat with Cristina Odone (Friday 23 Oct), 1-2pm

(126 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 22-Oct-09 13:10:07

We're delighted to announce that Cristina Odone is joining us for a webchat tomorrow lunchtime (Friday 23 Oct, 1-2pm).

Cristina has just written a paper for the Centre for Policy Studies (Tory thinktank) called What Women Want.. And How They Can Get It. In it, she argues that the Government needs to stop encouraging women/mothers back to full-time work because most of us don't want to commit to a full-time job.

In her conclusion, she says: "... we need to break the stranglehold that a small coterie of women who work fulltime and buy into the macho way of life, enjoy on our public life. They have, for years, misrepresented real women who reject the masculine value system for one that rates caring above a career, and inter-dependence above independence."

Some of you have already been discussing her views on this thread and you can download the full paper here.

Cristina is a writer, broadcaster and journalist - she was editor of the Catholic Herald and deputy editor of the New Statesman - and a mother.

If you can't join us tomorrow for the chat, please post your advance questions here.

morningpaper Thu 22-Oct-09 13:35:41

Wow Cristina Odone, she is so interesting. I'd love to have tea with her. Odone is someone that I know I SHOULD know more about.

I think I'm out mending a computer though, I will have to avoid that if possible...

I'm interested in some things not really pertaining to the report - is that allowed?

Why ARE you still a catholic? Are you REALLY a catholic still?! Surely you would be better off as a nice woolly high anglican? Doesn't it kill you that Ratzinger is pope? How can you bear another 20 years of it?!

What do you think about the recent "tank-parking" - is this a poaching of additional 'faithful'?

UMMM I need to google-stalk her a bit

oh wait - Are those Rules in Red about this thread still valid? Am I just allowed one question? Dammit - I'll go for the Why Are You Still A Catholic? Question because I know she's written an essay on this but I've yet to read it.

Kathyis12feethighandbites Thu 22-Oct-09 13:37:20

ooh, nice one MN Towers - whatever you think of her she is interesting and has a lot to say grin

<goes off to think of question>

sfxmum Thu 22-Oct-09 13:45:43

I will download the paper and read it, She often annoys me but sometimes I find myself agreeing with her.

still the strongest image I have of her is of a programme she did about the Catholic church were she ended up in tears on account of women, within the Catholic church, who were in favour of women becoming priest, she entirely disagreed with that view and saw it as destroying her church.
I found that point of view incomprehensible

perhaps should add that I was brought up a Catholic and am now an atheist

morningpaper Thu 22-Oct-09 13:47:59

Yes she is interesting on the Catholic front because of the lack of Catholic women in the media (ermmm Anne Widdecombe? Sister Wendy? Ermmmm) and she is always opinionated - I like that in a laydee

AitchTwoToTangOh Thu 22-Oct-09 13:55:17

i'd like to know, if it's not too intrusive, what effect the long illness and search for a cure for her half-brother Lorenzo had on her family? (if indeed they were close, i don't know. don't answer if it's too nosey).

BonsoirAnna Thu 22-Oct-09 14:01:11

I liked Cristina Odone's report very much indeed smile and could identify closely with the sentiments expressed within it.

I am fortunate to have both the type of qualifications and professional experience that are valued in the male world of work (so my ego is secure) and the personal and economic circumstances to be able to choose to devote most of my time to taking care of my family.

I think the greatest force pushing mothers to work FT is the cost of housing; if we returned to the old system where mortgages were tied to 3x the single highest income in a family, far fewer mothers would need to return to work after childbirth and we could talk about choice.

moondog Thu 22-Oct-09 16:08:27

Oh God, another yaaaawwnfest.

(Although the Centre for Policy Studies normally brilliant.)

ProfessorLaytonIsMyZombieSlave Thu 22-Oct-09 17:36:16

I suppose asking what she thinks of this thread would rather stretch the "one question" rule...?

Northernlurker Thu 22-Oct-09 18:40:56

Morningpaper - you've missed out Cherie Blair as a high profile catholic woman grin

Northernlurker Thu 22-Oct-09 19:16:31

Cristina you said
'Far from being committed to a career, the overwhelming
majority of women would prefer to opt out of it. Instead of
finding satisfaction in full-time work, most women realise
themselves in their other roles as carers, partners, community
members, and above all mothers.' (my italics)

On what grounds do you make this assertion of 'preference'? Surely it's not only on the basis of one YOUGOV survey of less than 5000 people and 'research' done by Mother and Baby magazine?

Also I don't recognise myself in your descriptions of 'real women' - am I faking it then?

TheDullWitch Thu 22-Oct-09 21:10:26

Why should we respect your views on what is right for women when a) you are anti-choice on abortion and b) you believe our taxes should be used to fund Muslim faith schools where eight year old girls are compelled to wear hijab and taught separately from the values of equality and liberty which women in this country have fought for decades to have enshrined in law.

HerBewitcheditude Thu 22-Oct-09 21:39:52

Cristina your report didn't deal with the issue of how little men's lives have changed in the last half century in contrast to how much women's have. I think there is a lot of truth in your assertion that many women do not want to be pushed out into the workplace when their children are young, because there is work needing to be done at home; but we have already tried a society where women did most of the domestic work and men were free to pursue more interesting work outside the home and in that society, a woman's status was extremely low, even lower than it is now. And having the lion's share of dull, domestic work dumped on women, as well as the delightful, fulfilling work of child-rearing, is unfair on both men and women. Why didn't you engage more with the subject of men's working and domestic choices, as well as women's? They're half the couple, they're at least as important.

Northernlurker Fri 23-Oct-09 08:12:59

Ok well with the number of questions posted so far I think we can expect full and frank answers to all the questions posted!

Tambajam Fri 23-Oct-09 09:34:14

Did you read the original Jan Moir column on Stephen Gately and today's column?:

Just wondered what your take on it was.

JulesJules Fri 23-Oct-09 10:17:32


favourite biscuit?

<runs away>

morningpaper Fri 23-Oct-09 10:35:22

I'm going to ask more questions in case I'm allowed...

Do you think that Faith schools will be more or less under threat under a Tory government compared to a Labour government?

What do you think individual Faith schools can best do to prove their value, both to individuals as to the wider community?

UtaRH Fri 23-Oct-09 11:01:22

I'm more than a little worried about the press reports that the Pope has made arrangements to encourage traditionalist Anglican clergy to jump ship. Like many other women and men in the RC denomination, I live in hope that our Church will drop the mysogynist aspects of its heritage and structure and move on with the Spirit. What do you think is needed in response to the message that the Pope's plan conveys?

CMOTdibbler Fri 23-Oct-09 11:04:30

I think that the way the poll was worded meant that you were always going to get the answers you wanted. After all, if money was no object for the rest of your life, most people (with or without children) would say that they would only work a little, if at all.

I found your report read as though 'real women' only got pleasure from caring roles, that they wanted their husbands to take charge and speak for them, and every woman wanted to stay home and have children. This is patently untrue, and incredibly insulting to women who choose and enjoy non traditional roles. And indeed those men that have happy partnerships based on equal responsibilities for income generation and household/family roles

morningpaper Fri 23-Oct-09 11:13:32

Right I have read the actual report now and I have some further questions – then I will run away before Justine bans me.

1. How is this report meant to be remotely informative when the premise of this report is, in my opinion, quite invalid, because the questions that the sample group are asked begin with the following statements:

"Assuming it is not absolutely essential for financial reasons...."
"If it were not essential for you to work for financial reasons..."

We are therefore immediately placing men and women in a charming utopia where financial obligations are magically removed and we are free to skip and play with children all day. Where is this utopia, please? Beginning these questions this way makes the results nonsense – because we are not asking people what they want based on their current realities. Assuming it wasn’t necessary for financial reasons, my husband would be off playing golf and never work another day's work in his life. But that discussion is the stuff of drunken dinner parties rather than proper grown-up reports that are claiming to want an influence on government strategy. It would have been a far more interesting project had the questions started with: "Considering your current financial obligations ..." because, frankly, most people could HAVE the work-situation of their choice if they upped sticks and went to live in a rented flat in the 'burbs of Swindon. But that isn't what anyone wants, is it?

I think a great opportunity has been missed here because this entire report is based on "financial reasons" not entering the equation, and particularly as we are entering a period where we can't really hope to give financial assistance to anyone except those at the very bottom of the poverty ladder, talking about helping stay-at-home parents is completely unrealistic.

2. Bearing in mind that we are facing a situation where the tax credits system and childcare vouchers are likely to be stopped altogether, how exactly would you suggest the current situation is funded? Which parental-benefit should go in order to fund a better life for parents in a more fair manner? You seem very scathing of projects such as Sure Start, which is a very easy target, but these projects are so hard to manage. Have you attended many Sure Start centres? What was your experience of them? In my experience Sure Start centres act as focal points for deprived communities, rather than provided institutionalised care for all. How do you suggest that (crudely) poor working class women should get social engagement and support, if it isn’t in these sorts of environments?

3. If 11 of people think that women should be out of the workforce for 20 years (assuming they have two children with a gap between them) – and 35% think they should be out of the workforce for around 15 years, how exactly are we supposed to fund their pensions? We can't afford state pensions to continue as they are at the moment! And what sort of job are these women going to do for the 20 years remaining of their working lives?

4. "We need to break the stranglehold that a small coterie of women who work fulltime and buy into the macho way of life, enjoy on our public life." Could you name some of these women? Surely you are one of them? Do you regret being one of them or do you think that your contribution to public life outweighs the 'damage' your career has inflicted on women's perceptions of success? What do you say of women who might admire your career and your contribution to public life? Do you think you could have achieved all that you have achieved if you had worked part time while your children were at home?

OK I am going now before Justine comes to get me

HerBewitcheditude Fri 23-Oct-09 11:36:12

"because, frankly, most people could HAVE the work-situation of their choice if they upped sticks and went to live in a rented flat in the 'burbs of Swindon."

No MP that's simply not true. Most people don't earn enough to have the working situation of their choice, even if they live in rented flats in the burbs of Swindon or anywhere else. People who live in rented accomodation in undesirable burbs, still need to work full time just to get by (not to have holidays and nice cars, just to pay the rent and food bills), because wages are very low for most people and housing costs are very high - even when if live in a hovel in a crap area.

morningpaper Fri 23-Oct-09 11:40:21

But herBewitched: If you moved to a one-bed flat in Swindon (300 per month?) I'm sure you could largely live on benefits or one person's salary - of course you'd have a shit life. But that's why the survey cited in Cristina's paper is meaningless. No one wants a shit life. That's why people work. If existing without work was the MOST IMPORTANT THING then we could do it. We could move in with our parents. But it isn't the most important thing. We all want a reasonable quality of life.

HerBewitcheditude Fri 23-Oct-09 11:47:28

Hmm. There are some who would say that living in a burb in Swindon working full time just scraping by, is having a shit life.

You don't need to move to Swindon to live on benefits btw. grin Or the burbs.

HerBewitcheditude Fri 23-Oct-09 11:51:54

but yes I get your point.

It was just the implication that ft work means you don't have to rent and live in a crap area, which I am quibbling with.

mollythetortoise Fri 23-Oct-09 12:43:23

Hi Christina, do you think working women are under pressure (directly or indirectly) from other women to declare publicly that they only work because they have to and would much rather stay at home.

I often hear myself saying that to friends and colleagues, infact anyone who asks, when actually I don't mean feel that way at all.
(I work 4 days a week)
I like working and the break from my children and I am convinced this makes me a better mother to my children but I never admit this openly.

Do you think at least some of the respondants in your survey might have felt this way too?

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