Has Cameron's cutie, Louise Mensch, let down working mothers
11:03 GMT, 9 August 2012
week MP Louise Mensch quit to be with her family — sparking a bitter
debate. Liz Jones, in typically provocative style, says she’s betrayed
feminism. Others (equally fiercely) beg to differ …
A let down for the feminist movement MP Louise Mensch quit to be with her family
Liz Jones says:
Yet another promising woman has bitten the dust, sacrificing her career on the altar of cupcakes and hands that do dishes. Or at least, that’s how it seems as Louise Mensch quits as an MP, insisting she can’t balance the demands of working at Westminster with raising her own family.
Except it’s rather more complicated than that. Mensch is ditching the 24-hour Tesco which sits outside her Corby constituency for the glitzy restaurants and designer shops of her new home: New York.
With her Brazilian blow-dried, expensively-highlighted hair and sculpted brows (they look professionally etched), she will fit right in when she moves to Manhattan to join her second husband, rock star manager Peter Mensch.
I know her type: over-privileged princesses who are always married to high-earning men. I’m sure she has never missed a Power Plate class, but she has shown little staying power in the Westminster arena.
Perhaps I’d have sympathy for her desire to spend more time with her family if she resembled more the average, harassed, over-worked career mother: misshapen cardigan, hair seemingly cut by a knife and fork, scuffed courts from Next.
Louise famously bunked off early from interrogating Rupert Murdoch to pick up her three children from school (Hire a nanny! Or at least a good courier service!) But I worry she’s using her family as an excuse, which will set hard-working women with families back by several decades.
Louise’s resignation has little, I suspect, to do with unsociable hours at Westminster, which women MPs have long bleated about. During her time in Parliament, she spent six weeks every summer writing a book, took time to appear on numerous TV shows, as well as Tweeting prodigiously, and even finding time to found a new blogging site in the U.S.
She is clearly superhuman, but still she let down the people who put their faith in her tenacity and loyalty, words that seem to mean nothing to female high fliers.
Those from a different, pre-feminism era think of their obligations differently. Edwina Currie, who is clearly made of sterner stuff, weighed in on Tuesday’s Woman’s Hour on Radio 4: ‘Being an MP is a very precious job, a sacred trust. Louise set herself up, she claimed the higher ground, so she has let the side down, absolutely.’
Currie coped with her workload by saying no to engagements on a Sunday, and putting her girls in a weekly boarding school.
She also said that there is no real need for Mensch to have that three-day working week at the Commons, with the other two in her constituency, which she bypassed protocol to demand directly of David Cameron (and what’s the betting she didn’t flirt to get her own way, the typical resort of women who think they deserve to have it all simply because they are pretty).
So do you really think the good people of Corby will vote again for a woman with young children, ever again Do you really think the depth of the recession warrants part-time working Do you I don’t want my MP to ever see daylight, let alone have time to attend the egg and spoon race or make something from the Little Paris Kitchen cookbook from scratch.
Right to put family first Or as an MP should Louise have put her work before her own life
Being a public servant means just that: service. Putting your own life second. You see, this is why all-women shortlists should never be countenanced. Westminster would soon become a ghost town.
There is an arrogance about young women these days, particularly the ones with pushy parents and a privileged background. When I took part in a Cambridge Union debate, I looked around the room at all the pretty girls, the brightest and the best in the country, taking up valuable places on courses that would set them on the road to success and affluence and ease.
I wondered, out loud, unfortunately, causing much derision (and me to lose the motion, ‘The only limit to female success is female ambition’), how many of them would still be in full-time work by their late 30s.
There are 145 female MPs in Parliament, including Louise Mensch, out of a total of 650
I have always mentored young women, but am sick to death of nurturing talent, only to be kicked in the teeth when said talent, just when it has enough experience to actually do a job properly, and repay the investment of both me and the company, turns around and says it’s off on 12 months’ maternity leave.
Of course, the talent will always exercise its ‘rights’, and return, tired, hormonal and weepy, before finally asking to work three days a week, or to have extra time off in the school holidays.
As a woman, I’m always painted as the barren, bitter, jealous, lonely, what-on-earth-else-has-she-got-to-do-with-her-time, given-she-doesn’t-have-children, Wicked Witch of the West. But surely having a family is not a moral issue, it’s a choice.
It’s a huge shame Louise has done the dirty and the predictable on the people who voted for her. I liked her immensely for her ballsiness, her apparent lack of fear, and a polished, smooth, probably Botoxed forehead that encased a sharp brain.
I liked the fact that she made the octogenarian male panellists on Question Time blush. My feeling now is that, where once we thought, Hurrah! a woman who proves you can be beautiful and intelligent, can be soignee and tackle 16-hour days, can be a mum and grace the cover of GQ, can be wealthy and have a social conscience, we now feel, well, if Louise Mensch is felled by the logistics of having it all, what chance the rest of us
And it’s not just the poor so-and-sos left behind in the workplace I feel sorry for — the single women and men left to pick up the pieces. It’s the children. Who would you rather have for a mother: someone who bakes cakes and monitors your Facebook use 24 hours a day, or a mother who changed the world for the better Who served her country and made a difference I know which one I’d choose.
Bel Mooney supports the decision: Louise has already made sacrifices
I don’t see why it should be held against Louise Mensch that she has resigned her seat. She was elected in good faith and has been a useful member of her party. I always liked her style and certainly don’t criticise her for believing that she could ‘have it all’.
But life shifts and the people with emotional intelligence move with those changes rather than fight against them. Mensch is very much in love with her husband and wants to spend more time with her children — and what woman would value a seat in the House of Commons more than those two imperatives
Off to New York — and good luck! After all, MPs are ten a penny (think how many wannabes apply) but there is only one wife and mother for that particular family. It passes all too quickly — and is beyond price.
High-achieving married women make many sacrifices and are forever forced to pitch family obligations against work demands. The question of whether or not men should have to do the same seems to me to be irrelevant. We live in an imperfect world.
All through my life I rated my children as more important than my career — and still do, even though they are adult now. I applaud Louise Mensch’s decision and wish her well.
I’m all in favour of women being allowed to do as they want without feeling they are letting the side down in some way. When it comes to Louise Mensch, her decision may have been as she has said a ‘devastating’ one for her personally.
She has indeed sacrificed a dazzling political career for her family. But the most important thing here is not to reopen the tired debates about childcare or nannies or woman-unfriendly hours — it’s to remember this. Louise Mensch was free to stand for election. She was elected. Then she elected to stand down.
At every stage of the process, she has been the author of her success. She may be resigning to spend more time with her family but this doesn’t stop her being a role model.
Louise Mensch is brilliant at all she does, never a false note. Except for this time. She says she is quitting politics and moving to New York to join her second husband and make more time for her kids from her first marriage and set up a proper family life.
What self-serving tosh. She may be a caring mum but this choice is about her and her new man, their passions and ambitions. The children make useful alibis but are really part of the posh luggage, carted about with other possessions, in these modern, global marital moves.
Even if the young ones regularly come and go across the Atlantic, they will feel torn between homes and countries, their attachments with their father, Louise’s first husband Anthony LoCicero, will be weakened and frayed and lose normality.
One day, when their childhood has passed, perhaps they will say how this decision affected them. And their mum will understand, but too late.
Samantha Brick: Louise's decision should be applauded
On learning about the latest twist in the Louise Mensch saga, I dug out an interview with her husband Peter. He is older-man sexy, wildly charismatic and the only question I’d pose is: Louise, why didn’t you move to be with him earlier
In love, I also ‘gave up’ a six-figure career in television to relocate to France to become a housewife. Shocked, the female nay-sayers in my life declared I was making a massive mistake. Yet female risk-takers like Mrs Mensch and me are rare. We are the ones who challenge conventional thinking and we frequently come up trumps.
In truth it is envy of the success that follows our brave decisions that is the spark which ignites the rage of many so-called feminists.
Mrs Mensch, in putting her husband before her career, is to be applauded. Let the liberal prophets of doom bleat on that she’s letting down the sisterhood — we’ve heard it all before. And aren’t they are often the very same women who, after one glass of wine too many, bewail the possibility of ever finding their own Peter Mensch.
No one doubts that it’s tough to do a high-profile job and manage a home and a family, whether you’re male or female. But, there aren’t many women who have it as easy as Louise Mensch.
Plenty of money from a raft of best-selling novels — so affording top-quality childcare can’t be a problem — an ex-husband/father who must be taking his share of the load and a new husband who can afford to whizz across the Atlantic for the weekend.
It’s taken years of struggle for women to be accepted as parliamentarians. The popular novelist, Louise Bagshawe, looked like a good bet — bright, media savvy and hard-working. The Corby Conservative Association must have thought they’d been handed a winner.
But then she married a man who lives in another country who seems reluctant to be the back up for a busy Member of Parliament and her kids.
So, next time a female ‘A-lister’ is flown in as a prospective candidate, of whichever party, I wonder how many of the selection committee will assume a bright young man will be a more reliable bet and female representation, which is so important, will be diminished.
Inequality: Kathy Letts think it isn't fair women have to give up their work to be with their man
Now we know why they call it a marriage altar — because women must be prepared to sacrifice themselves on it. Louise Mensch is giving up her political career and uprooting her children to become a human handbag, draped decoratively over the arm of her music promoter husband.
But why is it always the woman who must make the sacrifice In reality, we will have true equality when we hear men angsting over how to juggle kids and career. Even though women make up 50 per cent of the workforce, we’re still doing 99 per cent of the housework and childcare.
For working mothers, every day is a lot like holding a live hand grenade with the pin pulled half out.
So why is Mensch committing career suicide Guilt. Working mums are constantly made to feel guilty that our kids won’t inherit our personality flaws, but those of the Czechoslovakian au pair with the eating disorder.
I don’t know any working mum who doesn’t jettison the financial pages to turn to the scare story about how the children of working mums have less chance of progressing to A-level and are more prone to collect Nazi memorabilia in later life
But Louise! Think again! New research suggests that ‘working mothers’ are mentally and physically healthier than their stay-at-home counterparts. If only we weren’t too exhausted to enjoy it.