Don’t freak out, Gentle Readers. Just wanted to pop in and share with you my thoughts on some total fucking bullshit that I’ve woken up to this morning. I read the articles and tweets about Andrea Leadsom’s statements this morning and I’m now so angry I can’t type properly and keep spelling things wrong. I’m not a massive Theresa May fan – I refer to her as the Dragon Lady – but Andrea Leadsom has made my blood boil and I feel the need to defend May. I never thought this day would happen, so I may have to stop halfway through for a liedown.
Just in case you haven’t encountered this yet, Andrea Leadsom gave an interview to Rachel Sylvester of the Times yesterday, in which she was asked “Do you feel like a mum in politics?” And to which Leadsom replied, and I fucking quote,
“So really carefully because I am sure, I don’t really know Theresa very well but I am sure she will be really really sad she doesn’t have children so I don’t want this to be ‘Andrea has children, Theresa hasn’t’ because I think that would be really horrible.
“But genuinely I feel being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake….” (Copied from the BBC article about this.)
Now, all those of you who know me in real life, want to take a guess at the words above that inspired my rage? Yeah?
Well done. “I am sure she will be really really sad she doesn’t have children”.
Fuuuuuuuuuuuuucccccccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkkkk yoooooooooooooooouuuuuuuuu, Leadsom.
I’ll leave it to the experts to explain to you why Andrea Leadsom’s stupid bloody comment about “being a mum” makes her a better qualified Prime Minister for this country is such total fucking bullshit, and explain to you why the statement “I’m sure she’s really really sad she doesn’t have children” has enraged me so much.
She prefaced this contemptible postulation with “I don’t really know Theresa very well”. This whole sentence is problematic for me on several levels, and I need to write this down before I accidentally get in my car, drive to London, find Andrea Leadsom and punch her in the throat.
Firstly: at no point in Theresa May’s career have I looked at her and thought “I wonder if she has children.” I’ve looked at Theresa May and thought, “Christ that woman’s a dragon and scares me a little bit, and also, I am afraid she might be making things a bit worse for us, but what’s new, thanks politicians,” but I’ve never wondered if she’s making her decisions based on whether or not she has children.
This is mostly because her parental status or lack thereof is completely irrelevant to her ability to do her job. It’s got nothing to do with the advice she seeks, the statements she proclaims, the decisions she makes. In fact, if she was actually making statements based on whether or not she has children, I’d be even more terrified of her than I am already. Dragon Lady Makes Decisions Based On Her Baby Dragons basically can be rewritten as Dragon Lady Burns The Entire Country Down Because Fuck You That’s Why.
Secondly, Theresa May stated in an interview in 2012 that she doesn’t have children because it “just didn’t happen”. That could mean anything: she doesn’t want them, she couldn’t have them, she had multiple miscarriages… but it’s a private matter. No-one would question whether or not a male politician had or didn’t have children. May’s worth is not predicated on whether or not she has children. Her worth is on her achievements, her qualifications, the changes she’s made and the successes and failures attributed to her. She is respected in parliament because she has done a good job, even if men describe her as “exacting” and “cold”. (Excuse me whilst I look at which men have been described thusly…oh, surprise, surprise, NONE OF THEM.) And Leadsom should be judged by the same criteria. Her achievements, her qualifications, her success/failure rate should be the criteria by which we decide if she’d be a good leader, not whether or not she pushed a sprog or two out of her uterus.
Thirdly, Andrea Leadsom using May’s childlessness in a leadership campaign is womanly warfare of the very worst kind. May has been circumspect on the topic of having children – for Leadsom to state publicly, on record with a journalist, that’s she’s “sure” May is “really really sad” about not having children is at best a nasty bitchy sideswipe, and at worst an attempt to send a red-hot needle to pierce May’s heart. (Luckily, dragons are not so easily killed.)
If we needed any evidence as to why Leadsom was not suited to lead the country (other than the dodgy CV and the weird protest march by a bunch of middle-aged Tories in suits…heaven help us), the fact she would be willing to attack another woman with a low-down blow in an attempt to make her stumble is reason enough for me to find her inadequate for the job of PM. Sexism hurts us all, and when one women is openly sexist towards another woman, we all lose out.
Our country is currently splitting apart at the seams, divided over issues of the EU referendum, party leadership and social class & wealth, wracked by racist attacks on innocent people, and facing the prospect of fending for ourselves in a world that considers us arrogant scumbags. And the Tory party think the person to take over as PM is a woman who will divide other women (already facing inequality on a day-to-day basis) into child-bearers and non-child-bearers? A woman who will make spurious statements about another woman she doesn’t know well, assuming that the only ‘proper’ way is motherhood?
MAYBE May loves not having children. Maybe she and her husband enjoy it. Maybe when she looks at other families and sees “there’s something there you haven’t got” and feels a profound sense of relief. Maybe it destroys her every day that she doesn’t have children. Maybe she has never recovered from that last attempt at motherhood. I don’t know. Leadsom admits she doesn’t know. It’s irrelevant.
Leadsom also admits she feels an investment in the future of this country because she has children. Kindly, dear lady, go fuck yourself.
I feel an investment in the future of this country because I want to live in it for the next seventy years. I don’t want to live in a country that exploits the weak and needy, oppresses those who disagree, fails to help those who need it, alienates the rest of the world and can’t even manage to have a leadership campaign without a crazy competitor pulling out some totally inappropriate statement. The next generation are already fucked. MY generation is already fucked. But my God, I want to redeem it as much as I can.
And that is what I want in the PM. A person who feels we can do better. We can redeem this shitshow. Leadsom had done nothing so far to prove to me that she is the person to do that, and today’s bullshit has convinced me she definitely isn’t.
P.S. Whilst writing this, I also came to the conclusion that Rachel Sylvester’s question was a fairly stupid one as well. Asking if someone “feels like a mum in politics”? What does that achieve? Other than giving the responder an opportunity to sound like a total brainfart? The question was also sexist – wonder if Sylvester would ask a man if he “felt like a dad in politics”? But I’m not going to get into a rant about that as well.
EDIT: Just read a bit more about this, because my blood pressure wasn’t high enough already…Rachel Sylvester’s question came about because Leadsom kept using the phrase “as a mum” in the debates. My apologies. I still think it’s an awful question, but I understand why she asked it.