The UK government minister for Universities, David Willetts, has a view that feminism has been a significant factor in the lack of social mobility and is implicated in working class men being left behind.
You can read the article here and spit your own feathers. I tried to read it impartially but as a feminist and a working class kid it made me steam on all counts. My very working class, trades unionist, Scottish father believed passionately in the universality of education, and was enormously proud that his daughter had gone onto University. He believed in equality for women although he may not have called it feminism (and, to be fair, he may not have thought it applied to my Mum…)
However, it is a perfect example of something I have talked about before – the male centric view of the world in which we women are expected to fit. The implicit norm in what he says, is a middle class male, with women and working class men aspiring to be like them. Pah! The middle class man is his yardstick. And it is so patronising of the working class.
I hardly want to comment further, except that this is a man who wields influence in our society. Heaven help us all.
The excellent Barbara Ellen, writing in The Observer came up with a brilliant riposte which I can do no better than quote:
Do working-class women have no place in this debate – have they spent the past four decades just keeping their feckless non-educated men company? Then, of course, there are middle-class men, or is it that, in Willetts’s mind, their social standing is not even up for discussion. It is a “given” that middle-class men remain dominant. Indeed, it is only after middle-class men get “first dibs” on what they want that middle-class women and working-class men can roll up their sleeves and fight each other for the leftovers.
Read her article in full here
What do you think? Does David Willetts have a point? Should we women ‘know our place’ and leave work for them men a la post second world war Britain?
Photo credit: Redfloor
Posted on April 4th, 2011 by Jane