I’m a 22-year-old postgraduate student with a hearty career plan and a dislike for small children. Therefore, it may surprise you to hear that I am jumping to Kirstie Allsopp’s defence amid her latest comments in the Telegraph. She has spoken out in favour of early motherhood, warning young women of the heartache of dwindling fertility, and encouraging them to have children early and save university for later.
So why am I siding with her? I’ve chosen to do the exact opposite of her suggestion; I’m starting my Masters in September and I have a super career plan, and although I’m sure I’ll like my own children, at the moment I would much rather hang out with a box of puppies. I actually think her comments make a lot of sense, just as I understand how some people would disagree with them. But that’s not why I feel so ready to defend her. Neither is it our mutual love for crafting and baking and all things twee.
Before choosing to pursue writing and illustration, I seriously considered a career in journalism. I worked for my student newspaper and gained experience at The Guardian and Countryfile magazine, and I was on the verge of choosing journalism for my MA. Interestingly, although I enjoyed my time on the Guardian books desk, it was here that I realised it wasn’t the career for me. I hated the fickle nature of newspapers; one might invest so much time and effort into an article, only for it to be discarded forever the next day. Moreover, I didn’t like how everything was driven by money. I’m not naive; I know this is an essential element of the industry now, but it isn’t my cup of tea.
And this is the reason why my anger is directed not towards Kirstie, who simply stated her rational opinions on an important topic, but towards the newspapers that have taken her comments and twisted them into contorted, clickable headlines.
Here is a shortened quote from the original article:
‘We should speak honestly and frankly about fertility and the fact it falls off a cliff when you’re 35…At the moment, women have 15 years to go to university, get their career on track, try and buy a home and have a baby. That is a hell of a lot to ask someone. As a passionate feminist, I feel we have not been honest enough with women about this issue…But there is a huge inequality, which is that women have this time pressure that men don’t have…You can do your career afterwards…I don’t want the next generation of women to go through the heartache that my generation has.’
In the article she also talks about her relationship with her mother and her attitude towards marriage, so please do give it a read because it’s the only place you’ll find her actual comments written out in full. In contrast, here are some of the headlines chosen by mainstream newspapers, who chose to claw into her words and spread them out into statements of scandal:
For an industry that used to be about bringing truth to the masses, the media has become a squalid rabble itching to warp the truth in order to sell itself through glittering headlines. She has never encouraged women to ‘ditch university’ or ‘forget careers’, only to consider postponing them until later life. And for Emma Barnett to ask ‘why bother giving girls an education at all’ reminds me of an argumentative teenager.
From islamophobia to health scares and political bias, I’ve learnt not to trust the media industry with anything. I pray I am not famous one day, because I’m sure they’ll find something about how I’ve eaten enough cake to feed a third world country and therefore am responsible for all the slavery and terrorist attacks ever. I’m still thinking about what Kirstie said and what my own opinion on the matter is, but I won’t let myself become absorbed by clicking through to their ridiculous articles and feeding their gluttonous advertisers.
Ooo, I hate the media.