Whatever happened to ‘Girl Power’?

Anyone who hit their teenage years around 1998 onwards will surely remember these ladies and their message of ‘GIRL POWER’

 The Spice Girls (while they may have since disbanded and made some questionable decisions themselves) hit the scene as a refreshing punch in the gut to the many boy bands who had been raking in the cash and young fans for most of the 90s.  They appealed not so much to boys but to millions of prepubescent girls by pushing the virtues of being a great mate, sticking together and being true to yourself, not worrying about boys and boyfriends but being one of the girls and having a great time doing it.

Ok so it might have been the greatest marketing ploy ever, but I bought into it then, and remember it fondly now, especially in the wake of ‘the article’.

I assume most of you know what I’m talking about – the article about Kirstie Allsopp in the Telegraph this past weekend.

To quote the bit which got everyone talking –

“I don’t have a girl, but if I did I’d be saying ‘Darling, do you know what? Don’t go to university. Start work straight after school, stay at home, save up your deposit – I’ll help you, let’s get you into a flat. And then we can find you a nice boyfriend and you can have a baby by the time you’re 27.”

But, like it or not, she does make a pretty convincing point. “Yes,” she concedes, “that might sound wholly unrealistic. But we have all this time at the end. You can do your career afterwards. We have to readjust. And men can have fun after they have kids. If everyone started having children when they were 20, they’d be free as a bird by the time they were 45. But how many 45-year-olds do you know who are bogged down?

She is speaking in regard to the, I feel, much publicized fact that fertility for women takes a nose dive as you head further into your thirties.

My lovely Mum, a proper feminist from the 1980s who helped women to ‘break through the glass ceiling’ and used to take me protesting for rights for women, is most likely crying at the above quote and wondering what on earth happened to whatever the 80s equivalent of ‘girl power’ was. Fighting for total equality in the board room, in the classroom, everywhere really. Even now I am pretty sure my mum hopes that one day I will exit Stepford housewife mode and get a career, preferably in teaching, and be able to earn my own money. Quite a few people on the internet agree with my mum it would seem. How very dare Kirstie advocate girls not going to uni straight out of school in favour of settling down and having babies?

I am the daughter of a feminist, I am (on paper) a traditional housewife who married young and I am mother to three daughters (and two lovely sons) who one day have to make their own way in this big world we live in.

I’m going to tell them, whilst listening to a selection of classic Spice Girls tunes, that as long as they are being true to themselves, and above all happy, that I will support them 100% in what they decide to do. I will tell them that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, me, Kirstie Allsopp and the rest of the internet included – but they should ultimately do what they want to do, and that while I might not like what they are doing, I will always love them, stick by them, and be true to them. Furthermore I will be telling my boys the same (but maybe with a different soundtrack!).

I sincerely hope my girls do not face an either/or situation regarding university/career/family/house (ultimately what the article is getting at). I know that, if they want it and they apply themselves, they can have it all, either at the same time or spaced out and in whichever order they want it to be in.

There is no right way, or wrong way to do things. What is right for one is wrong for another. We would ALL, Kirstie Allsopp included, do well to remember that.

Girls should stick together – whether you are a  27 year old with a house and baby but no career or a 40 year old at the IVF clinic during your lunch break from your fabulous career. We make choices based on what we want and when we want it – which is great, considering 200 years ago few women would have that right – so lets not ruin it by turning on each other.

Im closing with the Spice Girls at the Olympics closing ceremony, bringing back girl power!

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