Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has come in for severe criticism after remarks she made about “yummy mummies” staying at home to look after their children, rather than working.
Ms Blair, a successful barrister – a QC, in fact – and mother to four children, made these remarks earlier this week during a speech at a Fortune Magazine ‘Most Powerful Women’ event in London.
What Ms Blair actually said was this:
“One of the things that worries me now is you see young women who say: ‘I look at the sacrifices that women have made and I think why do I need to bother, why can’t I just marry a rich husband and retire?’ and you think, how can they even imagine that is the way to fulfil yourself, how dangerous it is.”
To Ms Blair, these “yummy mummies” as she called them are doing themselves – and their children – a huge disservice by not pursuing careers that enable their children to see them living fulfilled and truly useful lives.
“You hear these yummy mummies talk about being the best possible mother and they put all their effort into their children,” Ms Blair said. “I also want to be the best possible mother, but I know that my job as a mother includes bringing my children up so actually they can live without me.”
But does she have a point?
We all know how tough it is in the workplace. Are some women using the excuse of bringing up a family as a get-out clause to absent themselves from the rigors of a competitive working life, and in so doing putting extra pressure on their partners to bring home the bacon?
If one looks carefully at the comments Ms Blair made, it’s fairly clear she was talking about a particular strata of women that enjoy almost entirely leisurely lives swanning around their homes, coffee shops, charity events or whatever – while their partners slog it out at the office.
And just what is so wrong about this statement?
“Every woman needs to be self-sufficient and in that way you really don’t have a choice – for your own satisfaction.”
Despite statistics that show around 2/3 of mothers in the UK are employed in some form of paid work, was Ms Blair in fact not talking about those women who are obviously gainfully contributing either to a two-income family or surviving on their own – but about the deliberately indolent?
In an article at The Telegraph criticising Ms Blair’s comments, Cristina Odone writes,
“This is unfair; not all work is exciting and remunerative, and not all stay-at-homes spend their day at TriYoga or Starbucks. Many crucial if unpaid jobs are carried out by so-called yummy mummies, they volunteer to help children with special needs, they organise the school book fair, they are tireless Sunday school teachers.”
“Their nails may have just been polished and their foreheads Botoxed, but these mothers are stepping into a long tradition that women’s increasing employment risks snuffing out.”
This seems a little disingenuous. If Ms Odone is really suggesting that the legions of girls that act like modern day playmates – getting needless surgeries, designing their homes within an inch of their lives and going on endless holidays in St Barts – do so because they want to be “Sunday school teachers,”perhaps Ms Odone needs to get out more.
The fact is there is a whole generation of young girls growing up right now that want to emulate Kim Kardashian and the ‘Real housewives of Orange County,’ instead of exploring their own creative talents with intelligence and from a place of authentic self-worth.
People may not like what Cherie Blair has to say, but she is calling out a reality that exists.