I'm quoted in an article about Tory plans to "de-incentivise" (i.e. rip off) single and teenage mothers leaving them without the benefits they need to raise their children. Apparently this will make our country a better place...? You can read the full article here.
Although the quotes from me are totally accurate and I have no problem with them or the way they are expressed - I did actually say a lot more than that to the journalist and (of course) she has chosen the bits that fit the feel of her article rather than quoting me in full. Still for the benefit of Cru-blog readers: here is the full interview I gave:
(The journalist asked) There was an article in the Daily Mail recently by Quentin Letts entitled: "The First Ladette: How Germaine Greer's legacy is an entire generation of loose-knickered lady louts". Would be great to get a response from you on your thoughts on equating feminism with a)rising violence towards women, b)rising teenage pregnancies c) women getting drunk and 'immodest'.
Also would you be able to comment on the Tory policy towards women and the family - more specifically de-incentivising teenage pregnancies and single parent families by taking away social support?
(And I responded) I was appalled by the Daily Mail article, it seemed to be totally missing the point. To blame feminism for rising violence against women makes no sense to me. Women have rights and if men's reaction to women exercising those rights is to respond violently then it is men who are in the wrong and those men responsible should have their rights taken away (by being imprisoned).
Teenage pregnancies are not a new phenomenon. In fact they have been around forever. The difference over the last fifty years the big change is that we can talk about these things - rather than keeping secrets. My grandmother found out on her wedding day that her aunt who she believed had raised her after her real mother died was actually her mother. The ramifications were traumatic for everyone involved. Every family in Britain has one of these skeletons in the closet if you dig hard enough. If the sexual revolution means we can now talk about the fact that many teenagers have sex then great - that means we can also talk to them about contraception, sexual health and issues surrounding pregnancy choices and then support them when they choose to keep and raise their children without adding an extra burden of shame to their worries.
Finally the notion of women being drunk and "immodest". Well I feel that if women want to get drunk then that's their choice and we should respect it. Women still drink considerably less than men and drunk men are responsible for much greater amount of crime and disorder than drunk women. So if we think society has a problem with alcohol abuse then we should start by cracking down on men. And the term "immodest" - well - by traditional Islamic standards what you are wearing right now (and since we're talking by email I can't even see what you're wearing) is definitely "immodest". But really "immodest" in this context probably means "in a way that stands out and is conspicuous" and if young women choose to stand out and be conspicuous then I am thrilled about that and support them fully.
I don't see Tory policies on removing benefits for single mothers and teenage mothers as "di-incentivising". I see these policies as purely punishing women for having sex. What would benefit single and teenage mothers is support to help them raise their children well. Of course we should also be chasing up absent fathers who fail to contribute financially to their children's well-being. Also addressing inequality in the workplace both in terms of the pay gap (we need gender pay, promotion and recruitment audits) and in terms of companies who fail to offer flexible working to carers and who discriminate against pregnant employees would make a big difference.
Overall I guess I am just horrifed at the notion that giving women rights can be seen as taking something away from women. I may have made some bad choices in my life which I regret, but I don't regret that I had the choice to make my own mistakes.