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Thursday 14 December 2017

Michael O'Doherty: Having it all wrong

Maybe some women would rather not have to go to work, writes Michael O'Doherty

Discussing last week Enda Kenny's new plan to introduce a quota for female electoral candidates in the next election so that the fairer sex are better represented in the corridors of power, the sheer inanity of the idea grabbed me. It's not only patronising -- suggesting that women are some kind of downtrodden minority, intellectually incapable of doing the job and need a legislative leg up -- it also takes for granted one rather pertinent question: why would they want to do it in the first place?

Not just that women would want to become politicians and so enter a profession which prompts a mixture of apathy and contempt in equal measures, but actually want to do any job at all? I've noticed lately, in some of the women's magazines I publish, a strange new wave washing over them, a slow but inexorable shift in thinking about the modern woman's position in society. It was unthinkable as recently as ten years ago, but articles are now considering the idea that maybe it's acceptable for a woman not to work.

That's right, to stay at home, married to a man, and be content to let him do the onerous task of earning money while the lady of the house picks the kids up from school and bakes cupcakes. Which rang a bell in my head. A few weeks back, some of my staff decided to do their bit in support of the victims of the Haitian earthquake, and various fundraising ideas were mooted. And guess which won out? A cake sale, with the staff being told to bake their own cakes which were then sold to co-workers the following day. And the most popular thing on the menu was, you've guessed it, cupcakes. Domesticity, it seems, is the new black.

I know more than one woman who has, let's not beat around the bush, married for money. Overwhelmed with maternal desires, realising the difficulties involved in juggling a job and bringing up children and, in a moment of clarity, accepting that they weren't particularly talented in any one sphere of employment, they hooked their trailer onto the first Range Rover that grabbed their fancy and went along for the smooth, effortless ride.

And there's nothing wrong with that. Most men have no problem providing for women -- many of us actually enjoy our work and can't imagine life without it. We consider it a matter of pride that we are good enough at it to provide not just for ourselves, but for a whole family.

Fine Gael would have us believe that the reason there aren't more women in politics is that there are obstacles to them getting there. But they seem to have missed the growing swell of opinion which points perhaps to the real reason that they don't enter politics -- they just couldn't be arsed.

Think about it: is there any shame in living a happy life at your husband's expense, when the alternative is to be an ineffectual TD held in contempt by most of the Irish public? I know which I'd rather do ...

Michael O'Doherty is the publisher of the VIP magazine group

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