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To think that it is ridiculous that in 2015 women are still being judged on whether or not they have reproduced

32 replies

zeezeek · 12/07/2015 18:40

I am, of course, referring to the whole Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall debate that kicked off this week. It seems that whenever I start to think that, actually, we are getting somewhere with equality in this country, something like this happens.

It seems even worse that the person making the comments - basically that Yvette Cooper should be leader as she's a "working mother" and therefore has more understanding of like, everything issues affecting families than Liz Kendall - was another woman (Helen Goodman for those who have missed the bunfight).

AIBU to think that it doesn't matter at all whether a woman has no children, one child or 100 children when judging her ability to do a job. And we also need to get away from the so-called "women's issues" in politics as well - childcare is NOT just a woman's responsibility and we actually care about other things as well. No-one would dare say that about a man - even though most of our male politicians are keen to parade their children around like trophies in order to get the "women's vote".

FWIW I do actually support Liz Kendall - but, until I read that piece I didn't even know and still don't care whether she's married/unmarried, childless/a parent or any other thing about her private life. When things like this happens it just works to widen the gap between women with children and those who don't have them, shows politics and the media to be patronising and stuck in the 1950's - and makes me want to not so silently scream.

OP posts:

GoringBit · 12/07/2015 18:46

YANBU, it's a ridiculous situation, and detracts from the issues that the leadership contenders should be addressing. Looking at the shower of shit government we have, this country needs a strong opposition, not this fractured, navel-gazing bunch.

Anyone would think that the higher-ups in Labour don't want to be in power.


ilovesooty · 12/07/2015 18:59

Lie Kendall is the last candidate I'd vote for. Whether she has children is irrelevant.


Teabagbeforemilk · 12/07/2015 19:25

Yanbu. I wouldn't want yvette cooper regardless of her reproduction track record.

It's ridiculous. Although they always want a leader to be seen as a 'family person'. It's not coincidence Ed milliband got married when he did.


LHReturns · 12/07/2015 19:59

Agree totally and feel irritated just reading your OP.

At 38, after years of being judged for being childless, I finally had a baby (sort of a happy accident NOT because others told me to). And NOW I spend all my time being judged for only having ONE.

Cannot stand it; I used to be a serious business person, now trying to get my career back on track and no one (mainly women) is interested because clearly AT MY AGE I simply MUST be planning a second. I am NOT planning a second, and cannot stand the fact that whether I have 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4 kids is even slightly interesting to other people when they judge the value of my professional contribution today.


Downtheroadfirstonleft · 12/07/2015 20:06

I think it's pathetic that someone is trying to make it an issue.


zeezeek · 12/07/2015 22:36

LHReturns - congratulations! I understand what you mean. I assumed, as I'd had cancer years ago and had chemo, that I was infertile. Had my first at 40 - a happy accident/miracle and then a second (also accident) at 44. So spent years going through what you did and now I have 2 I get judged for still having a career and not spending all my time with the DDs. There does seem to be a certain section of society that can only think in terms of a woman's reproductive status and it pisses me off that in this day and age we are still seen as "mother" or "childless". I'm so much more than that and so is every other woman.

OP posts:

JohnCusacksWife · 12/07/2015 22:44

I don't think it's unfair to suggest that parents understand family life better than non-parents. What is unfair is that these comments would be unlikely to be made about men in the same situation.


PurpleDaisies · 12/07/2015 22:48

Totally agree. You wouldn't hear the equivalent said of a man.

And just because Yvette Cooper had kids it doesn't mean her experience will be anything like that of other women in different circumstances. If you choose to care about people in a particular situation you make it your business to find out about how they are affected and what would make things better for them, regardless of whether you have personally been affected. This is really lazy politics and most people seem to have seen through it as a pathetic personal attack on Liz Kendall.


zeezeek · 12/07/2015 22:51

JohnCusacksWife - I don't agree. Most of us have been/are part of a family and can understand perfectly what family life can be like. Even before I was a mother, I was a daughter, grand-daughter, sister, Aunt and niece. I then married my DH and became a wife and step-mother. I didn't need children to understand the demands of children on a household and marriage, or how to run a house and deal with a demanding job. I will even go as far as to say that I had a very good understanding of being knackered constantly due to going through chemo and then doing a PhD and working all hours on a research project (think I got more sleep in the early years of parenthood than during my finals and PhD!!).

So, no, we don't live in a bubble.

OP posts:

Scuttlebutter · 13/07/2015 00:00

I agree completely, OP. I find it very insulting that childless women are assumed to have less understanding of family life. I'm childless and so are the majority of my friends, yet we play an integral role in our families. Examples - a friend was the principal carer for her mum when she had terminal cancer, plenty of childless women are devoted aunts and godmothers, and I can think of several who are school governors, others who are music teachers and sport coaches working with DC, others who are step-parents, others who work with children professionally e.g. doctors, teachers, nurses, the list goes on. My childless ex partner was a devoted carer for his sibling with Down's Syndrome, and on a personal level I've cared for older family members when they were ill. Childless colleagues also have to support childed colleagues in many offices - we are the ones who keep things going when there's a childcare emergency, a sick child or the office needs to be staffed over the Christmas holiday.

It's nonsense, but unfortunately it's still a prevalent attitude, sadly still among women.


FrancesNiadova · 13/07/2015 02:25

As women we get judged if we do/don't have children; do/don't have a career; do/don't breastfeed; do/don't go for nights out with friends; are: in a marriage/partnership/single; are a size 6/16; do/don't get dressed up; the list is endless.
What makes me cross is when women have a dig at other women for something that they wouldn't dream of calling a man out on. Confused


JointheJoyride · 13/07/2015 02:52

Yes to spending a lot of time defending "only" having one. I'm thinking of getting some handy leaflets produced. Save people asking.


JointheJoyride · 13/07/2015 02:54

I'd also, given my time again, have none. I feel pangs of guilt even typing that. Why?!


JointheJoyride · 13/07/2015 02:55

Patriarchy innit. You can only deny it for so long.


Teacup246 · 13/07/2015 03:38

I think most of the time, it is women judging other women too. I had fertility issues so had to endure comments and questions for years about why I didn't have DC. All of the negative comments and questions came from other women, I was only questioned once by a man.


Alisvolatpropiis · 13/07/2015 04:25

Yanbu it is tiresome beyond words. As it goes I do think Cooper is best placed to lead out of the two of them but not because she's had children.

Howver politics the men are judged too for the same reasons after a certain level. When was the last time we had an unmarried, childless PM? It is an accepted fact that to get on in politics at that level, that one should at the very least be married.

Even Miliband got married sharpish after previously being in the "children are commitment enough" camp.


RebootYourEngine · 13/07/2015 07:53

I think we should be encouraging people NOT to have kids more than encourage them to. My neighbour for instance should never have had kids. They arent interested in the kids or being a mother (her mil has the kids all the time) They did only because it is seen as the done thing. Now the children are suffering.


Frasras11 · 13/07/2015 14:30

Liz Kendall has just split up with comedian Greg Davies. Such a shame as he'd be hilarious in No 10 should she ever get there.

It's crap that men aren't compared in the same way. Also, nobody but Liz Kendall knows her situation. Maybe she can't have children but really wants them. Maybe it's just not on her radar. It's no one's business but her own and shouldn't be questioned alongside her ability to lead a political party.

FWIW I've met Yvette, Andy and Liz. I'd have gone for Yvette before this leadership contest kicked off but now my vote will be going to Liz.


howabout · 13/07/2015 14:41

I don't think this is a "woman's issue". An unmarried and / or childless man would be open to exactly the same kind of debate.

I am a bit more perturbed by the suggestions that the PM /Deputy PM team needs to be one of each sex. Implication all of a sudden seems to be that men represent men and women represent women and no-one represents children.


toomuchtooold · 13/07/2015 14:54

Glosswitch has this one nailed for me. If this debate over mother/not mother were to do with having a candidate who had an insight into what it is to need or give care to another person as the main thing you do in life, then that would be fine, and I would totally agree that a mother is likely to have a lot more insight into that than other politicians be they male or female. But it's not that, because none of the men are getting their back up about being "not mothers". It's a perception that "proper" women have children, which is clearly shite.


howabout · 13/07/2015 15:41

toomuchtooold I cannot bring myself to link to the DM but a quick google will appraise you of everything you need to know re Jeremy Corbyn abandoning wife no2 and their 3 sons over a spat about grammar school for DS2. He is now on wife no3 who is 20 years his junior.

I also know without research but through general media seep that Andy Burnham is married to his childhood sweetheart and has 3DC. Chukka found the level of intrusion into his family's private affairs intolerable.

I do not think this is a "woman's issue" and I think looking at it in that way risks marginalising all women whether or not mothers. I assume that is the intention behind the questions.


HolidayForever · 13/07/2015 16:17

I do agree with you OP, and I'm sure (or would very much hope) that all women - or men - putting themselves up for an important job like this are intelligent and empathetic enough to understand all issues, whether they have children or not.
However, some childless people do find it difficult to understand what is involved when you have children.
Scuttlebutter mentions that she and her childless friends have integral roles in family life, and that's great. Most people do, I would imagine.
But I do know one or two people who absolutely do not understand children or the lives of parents in any way whatsoever! My male cousin (65) is divorced, no children, and simply does not empathise with family life one iota. He is a very bright and interesting person normally, but completely intolerant of the fact that some people have to juggle their lives to accommodate children/other family members/work etc.
And one of my female colleagues is also incredibly unsympathetic of the children/childcare issues we all (male and female alike) face. Not so much perhaps in the things she says, but her views are clear in the little shudder of incomprehension that she gives when anyone mentions babies/pregnancy or lack of sleep, for instance.


Ouchmybloodythumb · 13/07/2015 16:21

My PILs constantly judge me for not wanting children ever and not liking the company of children at all.

Apparently I will change my mind.

They genuinely asked me what I thought was the point of having a successful career and earning good money if I didn't have children to share it with.

It's grim that it's even relevant whether women in the public eye have squeezed one out or not.


Ouchmybloodythumb · 13/07/2015 16:24

Holiday And people with children don't understand adult life or later life without children.

Your post is indicative of the divide that the OP alludes to between women who have children (i.e. who understand selflessness and hardship and sleepless nights and dirty nappies and sacrifice) and those who don't (i.e. who know nothing). It's patronising.


HolidayForever · 13/07/2015 17:25

It may be indicative of the divide, but that doesn't mean to say it doesn't exist - I know, I have experienced it. That is reality, however PC you wish to be.
I said some people, if you bother to read my post properly.
And I would say that most people with children do indeed understand adult life without children because they have been there.

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