There’s a well worn phrase which was pretty popular back in the day…’Behind every successful man there’s a woman/wife at home…’ And when I say back in the day, it’s probably back in the day when men thought they could still get away with saying it. Because it really is an old fashioned belief. Now that it’s 2010 it is definitely in need of an update, if not a downright refresh.
What about successful women? What’s behind us?
While the glass ceiling still very much exists, women have been succeeding in the workplace now for many decades. The stigma of the working Mum is on the decline. I love this and I think 2010 maybe just the year that things finally make a turn around for the better. Did any of you read about the ‘Career women make bad Mothers’ billboards that were pulled down recently? It’s noted here in the Guardian which also references the mauling that both Cameron and Brown have received by going on to Mumsnet. I love this very much too.
The more I look around my friends and their unique situations, the more I’m starting to pick up on some of our commonality and micro trends. These are well worth punting out for discussion.
I’ll use this post to put out the first trend I am noticing around me. It may be peculiar to London, it maybe not, but it’s definitely not just a hunch. It came out of a lengthy telephone conversation with a close friend and I was quite stunned.
The urban minxes I call my closest friends, are all very intelligent, go getting, fully rounded women and that’s why I love them like sisters. They are all doing well professionally – not all of them are professionals but they definitely know how to make a good living – and moving slowly but surely up the ladder and all have at least one child. Work is an essential for us. Not all of us work full time or even do conventional jobs. We are independently minded and expect to pay our way and have our own money. We have all reached a level of maturity and sophistication which means we can handle workplace politics but we all still have to put up with the day to day crap that goes on.
Funnily enough, we’re ‘that’ generation, hailed as the the e-head ladette girls of the early 90s who spent our days or rather nights at illegal parties, we travelled, life was one big party – the media was horrified by us – when would we settle down, we were heading for 40 and unashamedly unmarried.
We obviously had a lot to get out of our systems before deciding we really didn’t want to ever conform. So how about continuing our ambitions to grow old disgracefully and perhaps never marry, never stay at home, have children by more than one partner and enjoy life to the full? You could call it disdain but I say it’s disregard for tradition and with a touch of defiance added in for good measure – a very healthy existence in fact. Nihilism is no fun, we’re dyed in the wool hedonists who have calmed down a lot but still know what we want – to feel good about ourselves and pass it on to our children – in the best way possible of course.
It’s not just my friends that go out to work, there are thousands of women across the country and they are not the ‘traditional
doormat backbone of the household tasked with pushing hubby out the door with ironed shirt and lunchbox. In fact many of them are the breadwinners, outstripping their husbands on both the domestic and professional front by doing more and earning more. This has been really highlighted by the credit crunch where more men are out of work than any given time in the last decade. Then there are single Mums, including me, who have always out earned their boyfriends, partners, or perhaps have made bad relationship decisions and are lumbered with virtually all of the parental responsiblility and the heinous task of not only playing both parental roles mentally and physically, but trying to cover them off financially too. It is all achievable and incredibly rewarding. It certainly isn’t the ‘having it all’ approach to life, it’s challenging, chaotic and rewarding.
When I stop and think even more about how things have changed and these tiny trends speak volumes about the world we inhabit today. Years ago, when relationships, or more likely marriages broke down, the woman would be cast away from a shipwreck and desperately searching for a life jacket or a lifeboat to take her to safety. She would have to fight through the courts for her income. It’s very unlikely she would have been a professional or in a career. These days however, many of us don’t need to do that, in fact we’re hopping into the proverbial light aircraft, straight into the pilot seat and flying the plane (off to sunnier climes of course).
So whether you find yourself with broad shoulders in a relationship or broad shoulders out of one, it seems to me that we should be saying ‘Every successful woman leaves a man behind’.
It may sound cynical but one thing you definitely can’t call me is old fashioned.