Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's alright for some

Work or home duties? While dissecting the emotional side effects of Fiona Phillips' decision, Britain's chief columnists forgot that, in the real world, most females can't afford the option.

All that ink spent on Fiona Phillips recently. The GMTV presenter and Mirror columnist decided to knock her television commitment on the head and spend more time at home with her young children and ageing father. That inspired Britain's columnists and chief pontificators to confirm how elitist their tiny little world is. Oh poor Fiona. Did Fiona do the right thing? Did she do the wrong thing? Where does her decision stand in the grand path of history's female empowerment?

The Times' India Knight, for instance, dedicated an entire one of her ramblings to Fiona's choice, making it sound as if the family/work dilemma was more like a question of fancying strawberries over raspberries. "Shall I have a shot at it, what do you say?". "Oh, why not, my dear, and if you happen to find yourself emotionally unsatisfied then you can always quit and look after the little darlings, can't you?".

For her part, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, from the Independent, praised Ms Phillips for using her coming years "more wisely, not to squander precious time by giving over such a disproportionate amount to her brilliant career". And then on with the noose, lashing out at the white man and his responsibility for making careerism a male privilege.

But one simple, plain fact wasn't even mentioned. Not once. And it's the fact that in most households the issue wouldn't even be an option, let alone the India Knight-sanctioned dilemma of lipstick or cottage pie. It's not an option because most people need two salaries to make ends meet and haven't got the means for childcare - forget exhaustion, emotional satisfaction and collateral damage. Britain's chief columnists forgot all about it. Easily done.

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