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The perils of putting your head above the parapet

Jane Shillingford spots another worthy read

For the benefit of anyone who has been away from the UK on holiday, or otherwise rendered incapable of following media controversies, there has been a bit of a belter running within the sisterhood fraternity for the past week or so.

Kirstie Allsopp – whose full range of reasons for being regarded as a person of note escapes me, but I believe they include the presenting of property and/or interior-decorating television programmes – has been copping a mountain of incoming flak for some allegedly ‘old-fashioned’ opinions on the life options (indeed, the life-schedule options) of modern young women.

These days I don’t normally read the Daily Mail or similar publications myself, but (as I understand it), under the guise of what advice she might give her own daughter or daughters, if she had them, Allsopp effectively underscored three times the optimum ‘fertility window’ that is an inescapable fact of being a female human being and suggested that the classic modern ‘Get your A-levels, go to university, have a career and then look to settle down in your late 20s or early 30s, and only then have your family’ strategy was not necessarily the best.

She went as far as to suggest an alternative, viz. ‘Think about not going to university, but rather the option of going straight from school to a job, sorting your key relationship out and have your family in your 20s, which will allow you to concentrate upon a career in your forties and beyond’.

One of the advantages of this approach, she suggested, was that too often women work flat out at forging a career and then – as they reach 30 plus – find it difficult to give it up, just at the point it it is likely to be blossoming, in order to go off and start a family – which quest (by then) is complicated in any event by their fast-declining fertility.

She commented that she saw nothing sadder that hordes of modern 30-something women stressing themselves out about – on the one hand – having to put their careers ‘on hold’ and – on the other – simultaneously panicking about the process of conceiving and/or eventually going through the complexities of IVF treatments if they were having trouble in this department.

As I saw it, Allsopp wasn’t so much advising her daughter and other young women not to go to university, as pointing out that – in terms of the order in which a woman might achieve her various life ambitions – there was more than one way to skin a cat.

Ever since the publication of her interview on this subject female opinion-formers and columnists have been queuing up to give Allsopp a kicking for her affront to the inalienable right of every female possessed of intelligence to have her cake and eat it.

CorenThe lady now known as Victoria Coren Mitchell – prior to her marriage to comedian/wit David Mitchell, she was on my radar largely as the daughter of journalist and Punch luminary Alan Coren – has impressed most in recent times as a columnist in her own right, an occasional panellist on Have I Got News For You and as a world-class professional poker player.

Last weekend she ventured into the troubled waters of the Allsopp Controversy with a well-written and defly-argued defence of the protagonist in The Observer, which readers of the National Rust can read today, via this link to the website of THE GUARDIAN

I thoroughly recommend it.




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About Jane Shillingford

Jane spent the bulk of her career working on women’s magazines. Now retired and living on the south coast, she has no regrets and 'would do it all again'. More Posts