UK

Harriet Harman Reveals Her First Gender Equality Epiphany

'The idea of serving a husband like that was something I’d never, ever do.'

25/02/2017 17:51 GMT

Labour former deputy leader Harriet Harman has revealed her first “epiphany” about gender equality.

The former cabinet minister said she was 19 when she realised she would never “serve a husband” like her mother did her father.

Harman told the Guardian: “My mother, who was retraining as a solicitor, was studying a law book in the kitchen.

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Harriet Harman said she was 19 when she had her first 'epiphany'

“Simultaneously, she was cooking kippers for my father’s breakfast and preparing a curry for his supper. The smell was horrendous.

“Meanwhile, my father (who, by this time, was retired) lazed in the lounge with his newspaper. I remember thinking that the idea of serving a husband like that was something I’d never, ever do.”

Harman also revealed that she and her three sisters were “encouraged to pity exceptionally beautiful girls” when they were growing up, the Press Association reported.

She said their parents told them pretty girls would “go through life relying on their looks, then struggle when they faded”, but said she did not pay attention to her mother Anna and father John at the time.

Harman also said she pitied girls who said their mother was their best friend but added that eventually she and her sisters Jan, Sarah and Virginia had adopted their parents’ values.

She said: “My parents were very keen to instil self-reliance in us.

“That meant not depending on a man and not envying the children of rich parents, because they would grow up with no incentive to work.

“We were encouraged to pity exceptionally beautiful girls because they would go through life relying on their looks, then struggle when they faded.

“Not that I thought we paid any attention to our parents at the time. We were in revolt against the older generation from the word go.

“When girls said their mother was their best friend, I used to think, how pitiful.

“It’s ironic to think my parents managed to imprint their values on us.”