Being childless won't drive me mad, but Mumsnet might: Why is it only women with no offspring who are fair game
07:04 GMT, 9 July 2012
I always seem to leave the cinema after watching the latest romcom more depressed than when I went in. But I had thought Friends With Kids, from the team who gave us Bridesmaids, would be different.
The first 15 minutes are glorious. Two young friends go for dinner at the apartment of a married couple (Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd). There is noise and mess, shouting and recrimination. The father is hiding in the bathroom while the mum, overweight and overwrought, is screaming at him to do stuff.
The harassed parents have no self-awareness, no concept of how rude they are being: they have forgotten to buy their friend a birthday present, let alone wipe the table free of sticky stuff, while the mum falls asleep sitting up.
Liz Jones says the message she took from watching Friends With Kids was that a relationship with a woman who doesn't want children can only be 'fleeting'
But then, of course, it becomes a morality tale designed to keep flibbertigibbets in their place.
Birthday boy cannot see his platonic friend – also the mother of his child – as sexy, and dates instead a skinny, beautiful girl, played by Megan Fox. She doesn’t want children, because she works long hours and is portrayed variously in a face pack, and screaming during sex.
In a restaurant, she turns up her perfect retrouss nose at the noise from kids at the next table, and the scales are lifted from our hero’s eyes. He confides he now finds her ‘ugly’. A relationship with a beautiful woman who doesn’t want children can only be ‘fleeting’.
Liz Jones faced a stream of abuse this week for suggesting that not having children could be a factor in looking more or less acceptable in a bikini
Women without children are always fair game. When I wrote earlier in the week that neither I nor Marie Helvin have had children, therefore this might be a factor in our looking more or less acceptable in a bikini, all hell broke loose. I received quite a few emails along the lines of: ‘You haven’t had children because no man would want to f*** you, you shrivelled up, self-obsessed bitch.’
There was even an item on Woman’s Hour on Wednesday morning, examining new research in Denmark that says women who are unsuccessful undergoing fertility treatment are more likely to go mad in later life, and to suffer from alcoholism.
The Woman’s Hour website sums up the problem thus: ‘Given the financial, as well as the human cost of picking up the pieces, is it time for us to prioritise the availability of fertility treatment’
YES! Let’s ignore the fact that it is the child-free woman who has to do all the WORK, and probably has no PENSION or TAX CREDITS or FRIENDS, because all our contemporaries hate our flat tummies. It can’t be those things that tipped us over the edge, it must be our lack of mummyhood. I swear this Woman’s Hour story is true, and not something from a French And Saunders sketch.
And how about the way Marie Colvin, a hugely successful, brave, hardworking war reporter, is portrayed in the latest issue of Vanity Fair Colvin is necessarily tragic, not because she was murdered doing her job, but because she wasn’t a mum. What she was – of course, because what else is there to do if you’re not baking cupcakes – was a heavy drinker. Did we have to know that Don’t all journalists drink, especially the male ones
But now, it seems the latest generation of baby-producing couples are made up of two women, not one.
Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, said recently that women who want careers should find supportive husbands who will share the domestic workload, and not ‘lean back’ from promotion out of fear they won’t be able to cope. And, ta da!, the new generation of mums, weaned by (part-time) career women to expect to rule the world without doing very much at all, have now bullied their husbands into taking up their rights of paternity leave.
I am being plagued by such a person at the moment, a man who is impacting on my life, finances and sanity, all because he is on paternity leave.
Why, if someone else’s personal lifestyle choice impacts on me, am I not expected to moan about it
And if, as a single, child-free woman, you do moan about it, you are the devil incarnate.
As more men step up to the nappy, expect even less to get done. Britain will soon be populated by the types on Mumsnet, who feel the whole world revolves around them, like a brightly-coloured mobile.
I, meanwhile, will be left to endure the constant stream of abusive emails.
As I’ve already got 17 cats, perhaps I should go the whole hog and add a pointy hat to my byline picture.