Hidden in this woman’s batshit crazy life advice is a decent message.
Kirstie Allsopp — host of the property show Location Location Location — has told The UK Daily Telegraph that women should prioritise baby-making and finding love over a tertiary education and establishing a career. Sounds pretty bad, right? Stay with me.
The 42-year-old professional decorator describes herself as a feminist, and yet here she is, telling women to regress a few decades in our hard-earned equality.
Or is she?
Here are the comments that have made Kirstie spectacularly unpopular today:
‘I don’t have a girl, but if I did I’d be saying “Darling, do you know what? Don’t go to university. Start work straight after school, stay at home, save up your deposit – I’ll help you, let’s get you into a flat. And then we can find you a nice boyfriend and you can have a baby by the time you’re 27″.’
In the same interview with journalist Bryony Gordon, Allsopp says some poignant things about her mother’s death and she shows us how to make a hat out of pink crepe paper.
So, look, the woman’s all about light and shade.
A lot of Allsopp’s critics (many of them on social media) seem to have a problem with the fact that someone who knows how to make a crepe paper hat has an opinion on feminism and fertility.
To hell with that line of argument, let’s give the woman a minute to explain.
She goes on to say some awkwardly true things about the way we as women must organise our lives:
‘At the moment, women have 15 years to go to university, get their career on track, try and buy a home and have a baby. That is a hell of a lot to ask someone. As a passionate feminist, I feel we have not been honest enough with women about this issue.’
‘Women are being let down by the system. We should speak honestly and frankly about fertility and the fact it falls off a cliff when you’re 35. We should talk openly about university and whether going when you’re young, when we live so much longer, is really the way forward.’
While this advice has been called “smug”, “condescending”, “backward” and “regressive garbage,” there is some valuable insight here. The biological timeline we’re given as women who want a career, a family, a partner, and a social life is really, really hard to navigate.
According to Allsopp’s life plan, I should pregnant by now, living in my own home with a nice, permanent partner. Instead, I’ve got a university degree and a career that makes me happy, challenged and proud. I would never change that – education is too important to me and I’m too ambitious to wait for a career. But would it be nice to know that it’s possible to neatly fit in babies and relationships too? Do I appreciate it any time someone tries to solve that dilemma? Yeah. Not going to lie; it’d be reassuring to know that family and professional success were in my future.
I’m not alone, worrying about how to manage my fertility, happiness, and career. Why else do we have this endless talk about “having it all”?
Why do women like Kirstie Allsopp still get such a massive, worldwide reaction when they say women are struggling to fit it all in?
And why to we slam them for raising concerns like this?
It’s because we haven’t solved the riddle yet. We haven’t given women flexible workplaces, effective maternity leave, family support, pensions for carers, and protection against family violence. We haven’t sorted out how a woman can balance all her conflicting, uniquely female desires and duties.
Until we do all of that, we have to listen to all kinds of feminists and their ideas. Even the hat-making ones from the television.