I read with interest a piece on David “Two Brains” Willets’ speech to conference today about education and social change. Whilst many people hope that educating women is progressive, and improves social cohesion, it seems that for the tories giving women a university level education is an ‘experiment’ which is at the root of the phenomenon which they percieve as ‘broken society’.
According to Willetts, highly educated women have cleverly taken roles and jobs that previously were done by men, and with it removed their role as ‘breadwinners’. As a result men are unable to play the position of holding the family together.
The guardian righly points out that this is bollocks, women earn less than men and work in positions less influential than men. More interesting however is an article on Jezebel, which points out Willet’s subtext. The last paragraph of the article is very convincing, and very disturbing if one takes into account the fact that these wallies might be in charge one day:
It may be harder for a man to “hold a family together” now because women are more free to leave unhappy marriages, or to have children without marrying the fathers. Willetts [is] really concerned about men’s loosening grip on women’s lives. It’s all just a British version of that familiar threat that women can change, but men are locked into the same roles forever, and we’d better let them do what they want or we’ll all be very unhappy.
Like many things, this is about conflict and power. My mate Sarbjit claims that newspaper articles and politicians’ speeches about women’s places being in the home proliferate just before recessions, as part of society’s attempt to clear them out of the labour market so that men can have their jobs.
It’s interesting that Willetts merely draws our attention to the problems caused by this ‘experiment’, but doesn’t go into what a future Tory government would do about it – are they advocating higher grants or lower university entry tariffs for men, so that the tide is turned, so that men can reclaim their place as the higher educated, higher paid breadwinner? Should women be forced to return to their ‘natural’ places in the home, so that we’re all much happier?
I’m going to start calling my wife ‘OfEd’ a la Handmaids Tale, but only after this month’s paycheck has cleared.