I was so glad to hear the news recently about Maria Miller, the women's minister and culture secretary ('cos I'm going to trust her judgement!) She going to send me a leaflet about how to raise an 'aspirational' daughter.
Well, thank god for that! I was worried before, I mean we only bothered sending our son to school - you know no point educating her is there? But being a good mummy I thought I should look into it a bit more, I mean if the WBC (Women's Business Council) tells me I'm failing my daughter then it must be true!
It turns out that the WBC is a group of women, all in top flight business posts and important jobs with big titles. Of course I've never actually heard of any of them, so I guess they must be really important. On investigation it would appear that 'aspirational' means run a big company or make lots of money or work in finance. Hmmmm.........
Why does she have to go into the city and run a FTSE100 company to be successful?
Why does she have to climb the corporate ladder to have aspirations in her life?
Will you and your future society consider her a failure if she doesn't do those things?I'm sorry Ms Miller, but I won't be taking your advice or reading your leaflet – I really can't imagine that it will do any of us any good.
You see we're already teaching our daughters to be aspirational; we are teaching them to think for themselves and go for what they want. That may well be a corporate board room, but it equally may be a teacher's desk, a police car, an academic library or even a kitchen sink. But do you know what - it will be her choice! And as such that choice is valid - no matter what the financial reward.
By telling our daughters that to succeed they must be at the top of a multinational, you are dismissing their right to choose, and surely that is what we should be teaching them? Have all the information, look at all the options and then choose which one is best for you.
It is as a valid a choice to be a nursery school teacher or stay at home to raise a family as it is be the next Alan Sugar and you don't get to tell my daughter different.
Maybe we should stop judging 'success' by financial gain.
Maybe if we encouraged our daughters to be thoughtful and just. To have a social conscience and fight for the rights of the downtrodden and oppressed. To stand tall and believe in themselves as a human being and not a sex object. To nurture each other instead of fighting for position with each other. To see wrong and be determined to change it. Then maybe the world will be a better place and our lives a little happier.
And sadly Ms Miller, until you remove the Page 3 girls, the over sexualised images from teen magazines, and the society ethos that tells them they will only be successful if they're beautiful, you might as well not bother.
Because for every daughter who is taught to aspire, there are 10 who are oppressed by the images in music videos. For every FTSE100 board member there will be 100 girls in the queue at the night club in a mini skirt - because dating a footballer is the best way to get ahead (OK magazine has told them so!)
But you know what? And you know who you're ignoring? The intelligent, thoughtful, aspirational women who are teaching your children to read and right, or nursing your grandmother in hospital, or policing your streets, or serving you in the supermarket or passing you in the street with a pushchair laden with bags and art projects from playgroup. She is as successful as any one of those women on the WBC – and probably a damn sight more fun at a party.
Wind your neck in Ms Miller, change the system you are expecting our daughters to aspire to and maybe the rest will come naturally - careful though - don't make it too easy for them - they'll be nipping at your heels and put you out of a job! Oh wait ....hang on..........
The Keynko Collective is a family with odd and eclectic tastes and pastimes. The crafting section is spread over 3 generations of mother, daughter in law and granddaughter. Feel free to join us in our blundering attempts at parenthood, being adults, a crafting business, education and life in general.
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