Sunday, 15 January 2017

The grocer's daughter

You know who I'm writing about, don't you?

I half hope you don't. But there's only one woman, a towering force from politics in the past 40 years who gets that appellation. So now you know who I'm talking about. Margaret Thatcher. The Grocer's Daughter.

And now we have 'The Vicar's Daughter' - Teresa May.

I don't defend either of these women. They don't need that and I'm no fan of Tory politicians,

But I think it's sad, maybe even shameful, that we have to cut these women down to size by reducing them to the sum of their father's occupations. I can't think of a single man we do that to. We don't call Jeremy Hunt 'the Naval Commander's Son' or Philip Hammond 'the Civil Engineer's Son'. You didn't even know that was who they were, did you? But you knew that May's father was a vicar and Thatcher's a grocer. We almost always refer to men by what they are now, and what they have achieved. Not so with women.

Thatcher: By Chris Collins of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation via Wikimedia Commons
May: Home Office via Wikimedia Commons
I am deeply concerned about some of thing things that the Tory government, led by May is doing. I think it's bad news for our society in a lot of ways. And we should feel free to criticise her and her cronies. But let's criticise them for who they are and what they have done. Don't bring their father's jobs into it.

You could argue that it shows how far they have come: 'she was only the grocer's daughter, but...'. And yet the implication here is that being the daughter of a grocer or vicar is somehow limiting. Surely by 2017 we've figured out that we don't have to be restricted by our origins - those of us with access to free education at least.

Whether or not you like Teresa May, she is the UK's second female Prime Minister, and this is an impressive feat, both for she and us. The United States hasn't yet had a single female President. And were apparently so horrified by the thought that they elected Donald Trump. Hardly an icon of feminism.

If we're going to break down the patriarchy, we need to stop invoking it at every turn.

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