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Single mothers, Louise Mensch, and picking up the kids

58 comments

Jane Osmond
WVoN co-editor

Oh dear – Conservative MP Louise Mensch’s decision to leave early to go and pick up the kids from school this week during the questioning of the head of News International, James Murdoch, is very problematic on all sorts of levels.

Firstly, as a feminist, I applaud Mensch’s decision to do so because at a stroke she clearly highlighted the difficulties that Westminster working hours pose for parents with children.

Joan Ruddock, a Labour MP, recently lobbied her colleagues for a change of working hours in the House:

I had some knowledge of the House before I arrived and had always worked long hours under pressure.  However, I quickly discovered that the House was the least efficient working environment I had ever encountered.  I also found working in the Commons divorced from everyday experience, unhealthy and inimicable to the maintenance of a private life.

When I came to the Commons in 1987, over 40% of sittings went to midnight or beyond, including all-night sittings where the next day’s business was lost.  Over the next decade these late sittings were reduced to around 5%, but the House still met 2.30pm to 10.30pm Monday to Thursday.

The current working hours and late night sittings do seem a rather inefficient working practice. Ruddock pointed to surveys indicating that MPs admit to being exhausted much of the time and stressed by their jobs, with personal lives suffering as a consequence.

So any debate about changing the working practices in the House is to be welcomed. I for one would prefer my MP (preferably a female MP at that) to be on tip-top form when debating issues that will affect my life.

However, from a professional perspective, I find myself having problems with Mensch’s decision to cut her appearance short at the questioning session.

Being a working single parent, I was very very careful to be professional at all times, and this meant arranging childcare when I attended important meetings.  I did this to ensure that I was taken seriously at work and also because I wanted to remain on the career ladder.

As women’s editor, Jane Martinson, writes in the Guardian:

By all means fight against the archaic working practices and braying behaviour but don’t use an infrequent and highly public event to make the statement that women have to rush home and pick up the kids while the men all carry on with the serious stuff.

But maybe I fell prey to the existing working culture that, despite years of equality legislation, still privileges the ‘man at work, wife staying at home’ model?

Certainly, there were many occasions when I was torn between staying at work and rushing to pick my son up when he was ill, for example, meaning that – at times – I was doing neither job very well.

As I say, I am conflicted about this event.

What do you think?

  1. Louise Mensch’s actions were sadly inappropriate and unhelpful. How will we ever get women into the highest echelons of public and private life if there is a perception, and it needs only be a perception, that those with children might up and leave an important meeting at a moment’s notice.

    Being a working mother takes give and take, and sometimes that give has to come from the children too. They have to understand that parents cannot drop everything to tend to their every whim and that they have a role to play by being understanding of the needs of others.

    Still, at least it encouraged a bit of debate around the issue?!

    • I am sorry, but I do not agree. Louise’s action were totally appropriate. Why should we accept working hours and totally misanthropic practices just because they have been done by men for years, giving them the excuse to hide from family and responsibilities for centuries? Feminism and emancipation in my understanding is not doing the same wrong, stupid things as men but living our lives on our terms, stipulating our own rules. Why accept their definition of success and why should we even attempt to gain access to those “echelons” of public and private life (whatever you mean with that)? Just because they taught us that is what is important and desirable? Men have assumed for centuries that they can make the rules, perhaps it is time for us to change those and put an emphasis on what really matters.

  2. Walking out of a meeting is not appropriate for a man or a woman. The purpose of a meeting is for the right people to get together at an agreed time and those people to make the appropriate arrangements to allow them be there. If you can’t make childcare arrangements or indeed any other arrangements in order to be there, don’t commit. It is professional behaviour. That is all. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman and I would say the same about this behaviour had it been a man.

    Petra W epitomises everything that is wrong with feminism. Yet again, it is men’s fault that women can’t swan in and out of meetings because they feel like it. It is men’s fault that we have these horrible things called ‘working hours’.

    Petra W, live by your own rules by all means. But you will do nothing for the greater good of women by doing so.

  3. Anna Manning says:

    I agree that working practices need to change to reflect the fact that no longer is there a wife (or husband) at home to pick up the pieces – today most parents both work. HOWEVER, until that happens both parents need to prioritise (and plan – this was not a last minute thing) – in this case what was the father of the child doing that was more important than this event?

    • Longer school hours would seem to fit this with the least modification to life and support for illness at school.

      If schools ran from 8am-6pm (8am-8:45am self study, 9am-5pm lessons / study periods with say 1hr lunch 3×15 min breaks, 5pm-6pm sports / homework) it would seem to fit into the working day effectively and give a managed way to deal with homework and other issues. It’s a long day but it doesn’t all need to be taught lessons, give kids more freedom to study and progress on their own. Make school more like Universities and bring in more teachers + support staff to make the time work out.

      • I agree 2ndnin – there is much more that schools could be doing to help working mums and dads. After all, the buildings are there and they sit empty for much of the time.

        My think tank, Women On …, will be looking at this area and coming up with some recommendations.

    • Good point Anna

  4. Jane Da Vall says:

    I think Louise Mensch is being very smart and taking advantage of David Cameron’s women problem. Tory women are untouchable at the moment, Cameron needs all of them and more. Theresa May can survive any disaster at the Home Office, and there’ll be another along any minute. In truth, that’s a plus for Cameron, he has no choice but to ignore the media and that’s probably very liberating.

    Mensch can make her points in as high profile a manner as she can find. I actually think the small group of women MPs in this parliament are doing a great job against a full on attack.

    Petra, you are right, you are absolutely right. We won’t do it their way any more, we will always lose. Twenty years in the City showed me that. We must do it our way, without apology.

    Charlotte, obstruct all you like, you are an anachronism.

  5. This is so worrying: “We won’t do it their way any more, we will always lose”. Whose way? Men’s? Aren’t they parents too? Shouldn’t we be focusing on campaigning for gender-neutral policies to encourage men to play a full part and to enable women to be as productive economically and socially as possible?

    But creating this phoney war which the mainstream media has long given up on, with women railing against men, is so counter productive and frankly old fashioned.

    • But this is not a phoney war, this is a real war waged against women all over the world claiming real victims every day. Look at the news that are posted here. Carl von Clausewitz defined war as “an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.” (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/war/)
      Women stoned to death for being raped; girls in jail for having abortions. Yesterday 4 brothers of Turkish origin killed their sister because she had a a German boy friend, every day women are abused physically and mentally by their fathers, brothers, husbands. If these acts do not fit the definition, I don’t know what does.If you think this is old fashioned you are closing your eyes to reality.

      • But you are missing subtlety. You apply the same rules to all men and yet those rules should be restricted to the extremes – most Turks I know wouldn’t dream of killing their sister, or indeed any woman.

        It is wrong to be governed by the extremes and that is where I think feminism isn’t helping any more and yes, is old fashioned.

        • Jane Da Vall says:

          Have you noticed who has all the power? Still.

          • No Jane, not ‘all the power’. Stop treating women as victims. It is really sad that we haven’t got beyond this.

            I know so many powerful women in so many walks of life, and some of those are stay at home mums.

            Change the record.

    • Jane Da Vall says:

      You aren’t paying attention Charlotte, women still do the parenting and pay the price for it in every avenue of their lives. Nothing has changed in a decade. It’s not a war, it is refusing to accept groundrules that make women uncompetitive in a fiercely competitive market.

      As for the mainstream media, it is run by men who have no time for feminism. I don’t know when they did, perhaps you can educate me.

      “to enable women to be as productive economically and socially as possible”? – that doesn’t sound like much of a deal. No, I want equality, a word you avoid using, I have noticed.

      • Ha ha ‘you aren’t paying attention Charlotte’ – patronising, no, not a bit of it!

        Equality, equality, equality – of course I want equality. The ridiculous thing is that equality, like feminism, is a dirty word due to positive action which has undermined women.

        ‘pay the price’? for parenting? – you worry me. Don’t you think that men are taking a larger role in parenting? Shouldn’t we be making sure that benefits and protections provided by the state are gender neutral so that women can take their rightful place at the top of organisations?

        You post as if fathers are evil who want nothing to do with their children. And that men are evil and they don’t want to help achieve equality.

        Remember, women represent the biggest untapped opportunity in the country. We have beasted men for decades and they probably haven’t got much more to give. If the country is to be successful, women will have to be successful. It is in men’s interest to help.

        • We do not need people who rather sacrifice our children to power and/or money than question the status quo. Children should not be brought up by strangers, parked in schools for hours on end or made to feel as if they are a burden. Fathers are not evil and they should not need to work unsocial hours any more that women do. But they are just as much hostages of history and evolution as we are and they can or will not change the status quo that women have to to give our children and ourselves the chance to live in a more equal and human society.

          • In your utopia I am sure that this wouldn’t happen and that the state would pay you oh at least the median wage to have your children. Back in the real world, hours are not 9 to 5 and children are perfectly fine, even benefit, from relationships outside the home.

            What you demand won’t every happen unless you live on an isolated farm in the Scottish highlands.

            Women must do what they do best, adapt and take a their places because they deserve it – they are so much more than the birther of babies.

            No-one is talking of sticking to the status quo – I am just not entirely sure what you want.

        • Jane Da Vall says:

          Now who is fanning the flames of gender war? I didn’t say or mean any of those things. And positive action? You haven’t worked in the City.

          It isn’t a question of men being evil, it is simply competition. Who willingly gives up an edge? Men aren’t giving up their advantages, women still run almost nothing anywhere.

          Some men want change as much as women but they aren’t doing it. What we need is a change in working practices and women will force it to happen after quotas come in and they get critical mass in boardrooms. 24/7 isn’t necessary, continental Europe doesn’t do it, not even Germany. It makes for bad deals, I have seen it over and over.

          I don’t understand your abhorrence for recognising that bias still exists, you don’t level a playing field by treating both sides as if they were already on an equal footing, they are not.

          • I have a degree in Engineering from where I went into the City. I have an MBA from a top US business school and have also worked in the recruitment industries, the third sector, mental health and consumer goods. I have seen the relationship between men and women at all levels in the workplace and in a wide variety of industries.

            Promoting women over men is madness – I want my son and daughter to live in a world where they are equally likely to get a job, not where my daughter gets it because, oh, she’s a women. And even if you do over promote women to a board, you cannot guarantee that they will have the best interests of women on the shop floor at heart.

            Do you propose that we have ‘jobs for parents’ and ‘jobs for those without children’ to cope with unsocial hours?

            And of course I recognise that we don’t have equality of opportunity – and we need gender neutrality to get there, not even more decades of radical divisiveness.

          • vicki wharton says:

            Am posting this above Charlotte’s comment below as there’s no room to post below but Charlotte, you keep talking about the fact that you have a problem with women being promoted over men, just because they are women, but do not seem to have a problem with men being promoted over women, just because they are men. Or do you not think that is happening all around you all the time, that women only short lists are a crime but men only ones are based on merit alone? To be honest, I can’t see you as being part of the solution of equality, I think you are part of the problem, just in a skirt.

          • vicki wharton says:

            Returning to a 9 – 5 work ethic requires a change in culture sure – but this current culture of unsustainable greed, working longer and longer hours to fund more and more gadgets, second cars, bigger houses and people to look after our children whilst we do all this requires a change in values and from men primarily, as they don’t seem to understand the need to feed relationships and people with time, care and attention. European men have a far better balance on this than UK men, because they are expected to treat their family with respect, not as a faceless unit that is there to support them whilst requiring minimum emotional input themselves.

          • Hi Vicki, I think we will have to agree to disagree. Two wrongs don’t make a right and quite frankly the idea of promoting women over men hasn’t really be grasped with both hands even though it has been around for quite a while.

            You keep on doing what you do and I will keep on doing what I do. Perhaps a little of both of what we do will work.

        • To make new rules which are ‘gender neutral’ they must, by necessity, confer advantage to women as this is the group that is currently unfairly served. Perhaps you should explain to men that it is in their interests to help.

          So where was the father of these children? Why did the mother have to leave work to get the kids from school?

          • Indeed in most cases these changes will positively effect women and I agree that we need to explain to men that they should get involved, but not to help us poor down-trodden women, but because without the productivity of women, there will be no prosperity and social harmony.

      • vicki wharton says:

        I’m not sure about this. My daughter does 9am – 6pm at school and after school club. It’s a very long day for a five year old. I think that we should revert back to a working day of 9 – 5pm for BOTH parents and BOTH parents should split the childcare. Meetings where parents are participating should be scheduled so that they finish at 5pm sharp. This is in the best interests of the child – and if we as a society say that is who should come first – then we should bloody well make it happen as adults. I’m fed up with successive governments saying they prioritise children and then keeping their parents, both mothers and fathers, working into the wee small hours. Maybe if there were deadlines and boundaries to work to these endless meetings of the business world would drag on for ever and a day with half the people in the room not mentally present and the other half feeding their egos.

        • vicki wharton says:

          Sorry, meant these meetings WOULDN’T drag on!

          • Except the world does go on before 9am and after 5pm and we need to give women the opportunity to participate in it, and I don’t mean in meetings, doing real productive work.

            We need to empower a range of childcare providers to enable mums and dads to do what is right for them. Personally, I have an au pair – £100 per week and a bedroom – does the trick. Others may not agree but if there are no options, there are no choices.

  6. Three million women in the UK experiencing violence at the hands of men every year is everyday and not an extreme occurence, and is one that we all should be appalled by Charlotte. We continue to live in a world where women are routinely discriminated against, and in which the rules are made largely for the benefit of men. Focussing on the issue of working mothers (many of whom will be single mothers, and many of these will have experienced gender based violence)- it is unfair and unrealistic to expect all but the most privileged in terms of being able to afford comprehensive child care support to be able to participate in the work place on the same terms as men and childless women. Even in couple households, women continue to bear the brunt of childcare responsibilities because of gender expectations and roles, which in the main accord more power and status to men.

    Louise Mensche was (perhaps unintentionally) making a political point in leaving the meeting to pick up her children – in these times when affordable childcare support is under attack from government spending cuts, it is even more difficult for women to work full time, and afford private child care -particularly if they are on a low to medium wage. The social contribution of women as mothers should be valued equally as any other form of social and economic production.

    • Hi Jackie, where did the 3 million figure come from? It strikes me as being quite high but I agree, violence against women is something that is unacceptable.

      I am not sure what you mean by the rest of your paragraph. Is it that single mothers shouldn’t bother? And that mothers aren’t able to negotiate parenting roles in a family? If that is the case, I am not sure what your solution is.

      Louise Mensch doesn’t need affordable childcare BTW. She can and should have a rock solid plan for a meeting as important as that.

      • vicki wharton says:

        I’ll tell you what mothers Charlotte – mothers like me. I battled with my partner for four years after the birth of our daughter for him to take on shared parenting. He didn’t even write down the date for our birthing classes and only attended it reluctantly. In our world of nuclear families, men need to be educated that there is alot more to being a partner and father than simply going to work as they did when they were single. Men’s magazines only write about women in the shape of sex objects, and objects don’t need looking after following a 28 hour labour and an emergency C section, breastfeeding is simply a case of flopping a tit out (as I was informed by my partner) and he was the only one working whilst I was at home working on looking after his child and running the house. His attitude is by no means isolated when I look around my friends and their frantic efforts to do a full time job and squeeze in running a home and doing most of the childcare and bringing up the children. In a recent episode of BBC2s Gavin’s Extraordinary School for Boys, when the fathers were asked to come in to school to discuss their sons failing marks at reading and literacy, none of them attended the first session and were only tempted in to coming when offered a TV showing an England football game and free beer and pizza. Not exactly the hands on utopia of fatherhood that we might expect from committed, hands on parenting. Until men educate themselves that two committed parents are needed to do the childcare when family live on the other side of the country as alot do nowadays or are busy working themselves, we will not have a truly equal society. Men do not like hearing this critique from feminists, so maybe the Government needs to start encouraging a more responsible attitude from the men’s media and tabloids that two parents need to pull their weight, not the overworked, harrassed one parent, two working adults I see so much of.

        • Hi Vicki, I am sorry to hear that your partner was less than supportive of you – and there are worse, but also better too – not all men do the pizza/beer/football thing!

          So how to we ‘educate’ men to encourage them to participate? If there is one thing I know about human nature it is that if we force people to do anything we create resentment. So you are right in that encouragement is right. And women have to take a role in that. We should be campaigning against ridiculous stereotypes and overt sexism where we see it – without actually campaigning to airbrush sex from our lives, without which there wouldn’t be any children anyway!

          • vicki wharton says:

            It’s not our job to educate grown men. All they do is stick their fingers in their ears and some of them scream Feminazi at the same time. Their ignorance is wilful. You tell me how we educate men to take their fingers out their ears – they can’t/don’t want to hear us.

          • Exactly! Which is why I don’t believe we can. We have to make sure women have the skills, experience and support to succeed on their own merits. And by trying to ‘educate’, by forcing women into jobs etc, we make it less likely that they will listen and understand.

            We have to try a new approach.

        • Yes, the mens magazines could do with more articles about ‘How to be a dad’ and ‘How to grow up’ and fewer on ‘How birth control doesn’t have to ruin your sex life’ and ‘How to have sex with her after childbirth’.

          There’s no room to comment under the relevant comment so: Why wouldn’t we have jobs for parents and jobs for childfree folk? That sounds great. Why wouldn’t we have women promoted simply because they’re women? It’s badly needed at the moment, once there is something like equal amounts of women in top jobs then we can go back to an entirely merit-based system because I believe then potential employers will be less inclined to view possession of a penis as a merit.

      • Jane Da Vall says:

        She was making a stand and good for her, she got people talking about childcare.

        I also don’t want to see positive discrimination, it isn’t fair, but it is the only way. You know so many powerful women? How many do you know? 10? 100? What has that to do with anything?

        I know that there are no more female partners in City law firms than there were a decade ago, and I was one. I know that women are virtually absent from the top half of law firm partnerships and you can count the female MDs in the real
        money areas of investment banks on 2 hands. This is reality and it isn’t changing. Women make up 4% of FTSE CEOs, and even fewer CFOs. Women are not even close to a tipping point in numbers, every one is a freak. I don’t like the idea of quotas but it is the only way, I am convinced of that.

  7. Jane Da Vall says:

    “We need to empower a range of childcare providers to enable mums and dads to do what is right for them”

    Charlotte, we agree on something. Here is progress.

  8. Hi Charlotte

    the 3 million figure is cited on p5 of this report by the EVAW coalition:
    http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/data/files/a_different_world_is_possible_report_email_version.pdf

    there is also evidence that despite legislation and policies encouraging men to take on an equal share of childcare, many men continue to do less than their fair share:
    “Whilst the majority of women (including mothers) are in paid employment women continue to bear a much greater burden of domestic and caring work than men. Whilst men are taking on more responsibility for childcare they contribute little to domestic work even when their wives are in paid employment and they have young children. The higher earnings potential of men, employer attitudes and general social attitudes all combine to discourage men taking on caring and domestic roles. The consequences are that mothers take on the main burden of care and domestic work and lose out in terms of employment and career prospects. Even women in professional and managerial jobs pay a penalty for motherhood – one that fathers do not pay. Thus the gendered labour market, employer attitudes and general social attitudes combine to discriminate against mothers – gender equality has not been a consideration in the family balance policies introduced in the UK.”

    http://theworkfoundation.org/Assets/Docs/Work%20and%20Care%20Briefing%20Paper%20amended%20Feb%2020111.pdf

    My point about single mothers is not that they should not bother – most do, including myself, but that the cost of childcare, the erosion of child care costs within tax credits, the closure of affordable child care centres all add up to an almost impossible task of finding and paying for childcare in order to go out to work. Sorry Charlotte, but most cannot afford a live in au pair.

    And I also think there are different ways of being socially productive – raising the next generation should be valued as being equally important as being available for paid work outside ‘normal hours’.

    I personally do not see why women should have to educate men to take on what is after all only their fair share of child care / domestic work. Most mothers appear to have enough on their plates with the double or triple burden of paid work, child care, housework and perhaps elder care. I think that employers, government and men themselves can do a lot more to ensure the work / life balance reflects true gender equality.

    • vicki wharton says:

      Abso – ****ing lutely!

      • vicki wharton says:

        Your solution of a live in au pair Charlotte is a bit like Marie Antoinette’s suggestion of let them eat cake.

        • Oh dear – of course the same solution doesn’t work for everyone – but with two earners it is often possible and a flexible solution for families with irregular hours.

          I mentioned it as it is MY solution – my husband is away all week and I often work evenings – but I perfectly understand that it might not work for everyone.

          Back off!

    • Hear hear!

  9. Thanks for the report link – I will have a look at it as it is not an area that I have focused on to date.

    You say that ‘despite legislation and policies encouraging men to take on an equal share of childcare, many men continue to do less than their fair share’ – so shouldn’t we try a new approach? Liberating women by supporting their choices so that they are able to achieve their full potential? Why are we always assuming that women are the victims and men are evil? Women are highly competent individuals.

    And the affordability of a live in au pair? It depends on support from the government and at the moment, there is none, so you are right. If there was some, it would be an affordable and very flexible option.

    • Jane Da Vall says:

      This is exactly my point, I don’t think wonen should be victims. Women have the power to change anything they want. To do that, however, they need to see clearly their current place in the world. It is second class citizenship. We have to stop waiting for men to give us an equal share, they are not going to. We must take our rights, we must stop playing someone else’s game. This is within our control.

    • Women *are* highly competent individuals – so isn’t it reasonable to assume that there are additional barriers in their way preventing them from achieving as much as equally-competent men? What is your reasoning behind why we don’t achieve as much? I find it hard to believe that women just haven’t *tried* up until this point in time, so there must be some other reason. Incidentally, I haven’t seen anyone else claim that women are victims and men are evil. You keep saying this and it seems very reductionist in a negative way.

      • No one is saying that the barriers don’t exist – we differ in the way that this issue should be approached, that is all.

        • I’m not sure what approach you are advocating, actually. Softly softly, perhaps? Don’t startle the men, they won’t like it? Plug away in jobs and careers and somehow prove to a group that isn’t watching that we are ‘just as good’? I don’t really want positive discrimination but I think women need that step up to prove all the things I gather you want us to prove.

        • vicki wharton says:

          Women leave school with more qualifications than men, university ditto. And yet throughout their twenties and into their thirties women begin to fall behind in pay and promotion. Every time women bring up subjects like equal pay, maternity leave, paternity leave, discrimination on the grounds of gender there is a barrage of men hurling gender abuse at the woman raising this point. If you want evidence, check out any of the comments sections under just about any equal rights article in the mainstream press. This violent abusive misogeny is mirrored in the men’s media, in the judiciary, in the police force, in the Government. This is not a case of poor little men don’t understand what they are doing, it is a choice they are making and it is called bullying and intimidation. I have never met a bully yet who stops and says ‘Oh please excuse me, I didn’t realise I was upsetting you, taking more than my fair share etc’ when you ask them politely to share and play fair. I would be really grateful to hear your solution to this behaviour, what you actually suggest about defeating this violent, aggressive behaviour because ‘Please let me play too for the same wages and the same bat and ball’ hasn’t worked in the 40 years we’ve been playing this game since Equal Rights legislation was enacted. Bullies don’t back down until a force as big as them stands up to them. That’s where we need to get to – but how?

  10. Jane Da Vall says:

    And that, incidentally, is exactly what Louise Mensch was doing.

  11. Janice Atkinson-Small says:

    Petra W. Your comments about ‘real war raged against women’. These acts are based on religion and should be addressed as such. There is no correlation to the Mensch story and what you describe from the Muslim/Catholic world which is a wholly separate issue.

    There are times in life whether you are a mother, father or grandchild, events will happen that you have to attend to. I have been in that position.

    Other posts – the ‘archaic working practices of the House of Commons’ – this meeting took place during the day, during normal working hours. It had nothing to do with votes that sometimes take place after normal working hours. However, if you go into business, how many bosses clock off at 5pm?

  12. Louise Mench works for and is fully supportive of a government whose ideological thrust is to exploit those without power. At this point in time women are taking the biggest hit as a consequence. She’s not making any sort of statement that we should applaud…she’s rich, has power and her actions illustrate her internal views…that she believes she can do as she likes and get away with it..which includes leaving a publicly convened meeting that is part of the job she was elected to attend on behalf of ALL the people in her constituency…she’s an idiot..not an icon.

    • vicki wharton says:

      Not having heard her reasons for lack of pre arranged child care or why that broke down or maybe she puts her kids first whilst we don’t expect her too in accordance with old values that male parents shouldn’t put their kids first before state responsibility. Maybe this is as much about our expectations as about her actions.

      • Our expectations of what? Putting her kids first before her obligations to society? She is a neo con and doesn’t believe in society..only the individual so she can’t have her cake and eat it….for evidence of where she stands in this matter let’s look at her actions elsewhere which show…she is quite happy to go along with the closure of the Sure Start program, fixing of Housing Benefit levels – cuts to Carers Allowance – rise in fees for higher education etc…all of which push ordinary women off into the margins..and women in work can expect her to fully support the proposed reductions in Employment rights including the removal of the right to paid Maternity leave…..so I don’t think she warrants any of our consideration….as she is clearly fully supportive of the system which upholds and perpetuates the “old male values” regime…

        • vicki wharton says:

          Thanks for the education … see what you are talking about.

        • Yes I did view it as ‘sod this, I’m out of here’ rather than an assertion that parenting comes first. However I wondered if that was because I was applying the same standards to this woman as I do to male MPs – I can’t imagine that any of them would put their children first even if they were stranded somewhere, they’d send an aide and a car. That’s what I would have thought Mensch would do, since the meeting she was in was rather important, it wasn’t even a regular committee that she was called from in an emergency. More accurately, it came across to me as ‘sod *you*, I’m out of here’. Do you think any of the government, her included, would stand up and support any woman – any person – who regularly said ‘I’m leaving now, school out time.’?

    • Hi Jane,
      that is a very different but interesting way of looking at it. You know, I never thought of that but it could well be true.

      • I am somewhat bemused by your reaction to my comments. Mench is an ultra right wing Conservative who advocates a free market economy (no such thing) deregulation in all areas (no human rights-no accountability to people or planet)small government i.e. no taxation of the rich; no support for basic infrastructures e.g. education, health, transport, utilities and most importantly no state support for social care – for example child care… all of which are essential to the maintenance of a well ordered, fair society. As an employer all I see is that she walked out of her day job during an investigation into criminal acts in the media by big business as if it was just a chat among pals…that’s gross misconduct. She is the last person who would stand up for the rights of women so to use her kids as an excuse is disgraceful..and totally disingenuous given the backdrop to her life. I am surprised this story hasn’t attracted more comments like mine..and that so many women see this as taking a stand on Women’s Rights…it’s laughable.

        • Perhaps it is because I don’t live in the UK and the name means nothing to me?

          • My apologies Petra…I didn’t realise…that explains things! Well it’s probably worth alerting you that …this is a name to watch for the future :)..Mench is a recently elected, self promoting individual who is seen as a “rising star” by the faction she circulates in…..who are a community made up almost entirely of people from the privileged upper classes with a few self made financial millionaires, bankers and the like sprinkled among them…they share a limited world view, zenophobic tendencies and their dated reactionery views are no barrier to achieving success in British politics…..

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