Cherie Blair caused controversy this week after criticising women who choose to stay at home rather than work. She said it was ‘dangerous’ for them to rely on rich husbands… in case their partner leaves them or dies. Here, writer Kathryn Knight asks, has she got a point?
When I was growing up my dear old neighbour had a favourite piece of advice she liked to share. ‘You can learn to love,’ she would say - the point being that I shouldn’t reject a rich suitor if his countenance didn’t please me. She was all for my education, but hell, if the opportunity to marry money was there she believed I should grab it with both hands, whatever the feminists said.
At my posh girls’ school, meanwhile, the message was different: we girls could have it all - and, moreover, we owed it to feminism to take on the boys in their big clever jobs and make our own way.
That message of course, has latterly become increasingly unfashionable. Feminism, we are told, is about choice - and if that choice is taking spending your days doing Ashtanga yoga and making your own guacamole because you’ve married someone who earns so much there’s no pressure on you to do anything else, then so be it.
And on a very basic level I suppose that’s true. Yet it genuinely amazes me how many women - clever, interesting women with university educations - want to do that should the opportunity arise.
Of course, no-one wants to be a wage slave. I’m currently the breadwinner in my relationship, which I like to moan about from time to time. But the reality is, like Cherie Blair, that not being able to earn my own money genuinely horrifies me: I honestly like to think that even if I’d married a multi-millionaire I’d still keep my own bank account and earn what went into it.
In fact, I rather think it’s my duty to do so, given that so many women fought a heroic and at times bloody battle for the right to be able to do precisely that.
Yet time and time again I’m confronted with evidence that that’s not what happens: countless clever women marry money, jack in their previously glittering careers to raise their kids - and then…well that’s it. To them I say: just because you can stay at home doesn’t mean you should.
Do you agree with Katie? Tell us your thoughts below…