Attempting optimistic misanthropy

A Woman is Not Like an Extra Limb

Posted by Hussyville on May 16, 2010

For some reason, I am incredibly pissed off at the opening lines of Elizabeth Day’s piece on what is in store for Samantha Cameron as Britain’s new first lady. In fact, I am pissed off in general at the idea that just because your husband has had the madcap idea of becoming a politician that a wife is supposed to drop everything the minute he achieves any prominence.

I fell in love with the Lib Dem campaign when Miriam, Nick Clegg’s wife, decided that she was too busy to do any campaigning with him and was going to carry on being an international lawyer instead. Rock on with your bad self, Miriam! SamCam, on the other hand, could apparently continue being creative director of chi-chi stationers/handbag merchants Smythsons while obliging the media with appearances on the campaign trail, and even doing a video piece telling us why we should vote for her bum-faced husband as our next prime minister. Sarah Brown, long having given up her career as a high-powered PR to be poor old Gordon’s helpmeet, was also very much on the campaign trail in her husband’s doomed attempt to hang on to power.

What I find so irritating is the idea that the moment a man acquires any power, his wife must drop everything and “support” him. Any desires or ambitions she may have harboured automatically fall by the wayside as she is co-opted into the wider entourage that surrounds her politico husband. It consigns women to an accessory, an afterthought. It implies that whatever she was doing beforehand just wasn’t important. The minute her husband is even vaguely important, suddenly what she wants just isn’t important any longer.

On the one hand, of course life is going to change when your husband becomes head of a government. On the other, why must your life change so dramatically? Why must SamCam quit her job? There are not that many times when she will be needed to make up the numbers at state dinners (which are outside normal work hours anyway), and regulations could easily be put in place to make sure that her employers didn’t benefit from her very direct relationship with the seat of power. He already has a staff who are able to cater to his needs, so what exactly is the wife expected to do?

This stinks. It looks to me like unpaid work, the reason why women who stay at home are undervalued and disparaged when the MRA crowd get going. If society really expects a woman (or man; hello, Dennis Thatcher) to drop everything in deference to their politically-minded spouses career, I reckon that requires a formal post and job description. And with that, a commensurate salary. You want the wifey role filled? Then pay up.

I just hope Miriam Clegg keeps on keeping on.

[Image via the Guardian]


5 Responses to “A Woman is Not Like an Extra Limb”

  1. […] This post was Twitted by Hussyville […]

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Anne Marte and Alice Sheppard, ajackson. ajackson said: RT @Hussyville A Woman is Not Like an Extra Limb: (Good blog post on UK politicians wives) […]

  3. Phil said

    I believe Miriam is planning on leaving her position in the Law firm she was a part of now that Clegg has become Deputy PM. I can kind of understand that a little more as wold love to try and link any case she happened to be involved in with something her husband is pushing through parliament, but I can’t really see how your husband being PM would affect a handbag/stationary company…

    Does this just affect women, or husbands too? I am too young to remember but did Dennis Thatcher keep working while his wife was PM?

    And I liked the fact that Miriam worked all week and only joined her husband on the campaign at weekends

    • Hussy said

      I don’t really remember Dennis either, but as far as I recall, he was a multimillionaire before Maggie was PM. I desperately hope that Miriam doesn’t give up her career, though, as otherwise I will have to lose my faith in kick-ass female lawyers.

      • Phil said

        I missed out the ‘the papers would love to link any case she was involved in’, I wasn’t implying that I would!

        And upon a quick google she said that she would consider stepping down as her role in the law firm she works if Clegg became PM, but there has been no mention of anything about what she is doing now he is Deputy PM. I assume she is staying on there then, good for her.

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