Television presenter Kirstie Allsopp has caused controversy this week by claiming that girls and young women should turn their backs on going to university and building careers in favour of finding a boyfriend and having children “by the age of twenty-seven”, in an interview with The Telegraph.
Naturally, the internet, and the world as a whole, are up-in-arms about these comments. The idea that “a woman’s place is in the home” is outmoded - and disgracefully patronisingly. But it is not a crime not to go to university - and it is not a crime to want to have children, even at a relatively young age; there is no ‘blueprint’ for life, and no path down which everyone must go - higher education may be the right choice for many people, but surely can never suit everyone.
Whenever someone in the public eye dares to utter anything which is not absolute orthodoxy, they are denounced as a heretic - as such, Ms. Allsopp is being held up as a symbol of misogynistic oppression. However, she is entitled to her views - and the choices she is encouraging girls to make about their lives, whilst certainly not for everyone, are as much a valid lifestyle choice as any other. What is wrong with a woman making a life as a stay-at-home mother - not because it is ‘her place’, but because it is her choice?
It is one of the greatest things about a free society that we are each able to choose - and to promote - the lifestyle choices which we feel best suit us. We are not shoehorned into living a certain way, because that is ‘the way it is done’; this applies as much to pushing people towards university and high-powered careers as it does to encouraging them to stay at home and raise a family. Surely the central message to girls of the gender equality movement is that they can be whoever they want to be - that they can make these choices for themselves, and that they don’t have to follow anyone’s dictate as to what sort of life they should lead?
Ms. Allsopp's advice certainly won't suit everyone - and, of course, people are free to heed or ignore advice from anyone, as they see fit - but to castigate her for daring to express this opinion seems (as Lara Prendergast writes in The Spectator) actually to countermand the gender equality movement.