October 22, 2006


Why does 21st-century woman seem like a throwback to the Fifties? (Sylvia Patterson, 10/22/06, Sunday Herald)

This week, a survey of what it means to be a ‘21st-century woman’ is beaming glossily from the pages of Glamour magazine in all its impossibly aspirational splendour like a Hollywood screen-buffed fairytale harmonised into infinity by the Philharmonic Orchestra. [...]

More surprising, though, than the consumerism, sexual opportunism and cavalier financial flakiness which may characterise the actual concept of being 28, is a picture looming into focus here of a curious, forthcoming conservatism. Young women, it seems, are going culturally back in time, the feminist uprising and boardroom battles of the Seventies and Eighties now fading into mum’s own history as the new generation teeters forwards on its gigantic Miu Miu baroque platform wedges (£320) into the ideal home of the future which looks more like the Fifties, a place where mum stays at home, dad goes to work, the kids eat carrots they grew in the family allotment, while tradition, comfort and middle-class values rule.

A staggering 80% of our 21st-century supposed careerists would, in an ideal world, on having children, give up work altogether . However, 68% say it’s ‘acceptable’ for mothers to work full-time which means, presumably, 32% find it unacceptable. In the imminent political future, meanwhile, Gordon Brown may be a stuffily weird old man: if there was a general election tomorrow, the majority 29% would vote Conservative. As opposed to 24% Labour, 23% Liberal Democrat and 11% the Greens. [...]

Perhaps, to our ambitious, materialist, self-possessed and immaculate 28-year-old, where the terrifying outside world continues to explode, the inner world is the only one you can trust and the only one you can control, so bunker in, pucker up and concern yourself with your own.

And somewhere, perhaps, in a hairdresser’s at an exclusive spa on the outskirts of the Maldives, Margaret Thatcher flicks on through the glossy magazines and smiles.

Now, if they'd just start dressing like the Iron Lady....

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 22, 2006 8:49 PM

the majority 29%


Posted by: John Thacker at October 22, 2006 9:45 PM

John, you know we girls can't do math and it seems some of us can't even do arithmetic. I think Ms Patterson means that 29% of those polled have indicated they would vote conservative, a larger percentage than have indicated would vote for one of the three leftwing parties listed. Hardly good news since if you believe the poll, a majority of 58% of voters have indicated they would vote for a leftie.

Posted by: erp at October 23, 2006 8:02 AM

John, erp;

Had she used "plurality" instead of "majority", it would have been a correct statement.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at October 23, 2006 11:22 AM

AOG, but then us girls wouldn't know what you meant.

Posted by: erp at October 23, 2006 12:32 PM

I don't know. Maybe I'm a little more futurist in thinking individuals will be less consumeristic, but I think it's about adaptability. In the 20th century, feminism took root not because of any strong ideological stands, but because women were required on the workforce during both world wars. Eventually, they demanded equal pay for doing the same amount of work.

Nowadays, due to technology, there is a social disconnect, and women are going to fight tooth and nail to maintain whatever family they do have. If that means more social conservatism, so be it.

Posted by: Christopher Trottier at October 23, 2006 2:02 PM

They weren't required. We just made technological advances such that even women could do most work.

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2006 2:28 PM

... even women could do most work. Yes indeed, just like women have done most of the work since before the Garden of Eden.

Posted by: erp at October 23, 2006 6:04 PM