Friday, July 8, 2016


I don't know much about British politics, or about the two contenders to succeed Prime Minister David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party, except that both are women in their 50s. I suppose it was (sadly) inevitable, then, that the motherhood question would come up.

Last week, I saw an interview with Theresa May, which lasered in on the fact that she does not have children (apparently not by choice).

Then tonight, headlines started popping up in my newsfeed that the other contender, Andrea Leadsom, gave an interview suggesting that she would make a better leader than May because she has children, and therefore has a stake in the future of the country.

I was reminded of similar kerfuffle in Canadian (Alberta provincial) politics a couple of years ago, which I blogged about here. In this case, it was an underling who made some nasty comments;  both of the then-leaders involved handled themselves with dignity (thank goodness!!).

It seems ludicrous to me to imply that mothers (or fathers, for that matter) are somehow better qualified for roles in public life, simply because they are parents. Of course, mothers who enter politics also get harangued by the press about whether their husbands support their ambitions and how they will juggle the demands of both work and parenting. (You don't generally see men being asked the same kinds of questions, do you?)  Either way, it seems, women in politics are screwed. :(  No wonder people are reluctant to run for public office...


  1. I am living through all the post-referendum malarkey here in the UK right now and I honestly think we've all completely lost the plot! It makes me so sad that people are using Theresa May's 'not a mother' tag as a way to counterbalance her experience and other actual relevant qualities. When I'm feeling mean, I think that Andrea Leadsom goes for the 'I'm a mother' qualification because she doesn't have much else. But it just doesn't make any sesnse - if being a mother (or parent) was an important part of being PM then it would always be an issue... not just when the last two candidates happen to be women.

  2. FWIW she is strenuously denying that this was her implication - asking for a retraction and apology from the newspaper. But you're right - that it should be made an issue at all is ridiculous. As if parents were the only people with a stake in the future. The thing I found interesting, in the reporting over here, is that (if the reporting is to be believed) Leadsom said something about the possibility that May might be sad that she hadn't had children but then went on to talk about her own (Leadsom's) children saying "and they will have children" as if it was a given. Hmmm!

  3. I only just found out about this a few minutes ago, when I saw a friend post about it on Fb. She has children but was furious. I commented that sadly we are all too familiar with this attitude. It is yet another example too of an issue that wouldn't be raised with a childless male candidate. Sigh.

  4. I had been away and off WiFi since Friday and got the shock of my life when I caught up with the weekend's news last night - what an obnoxious woman. She's very much into fox-hunting and is against gay marriage, and obviously doesn't trust women without kids. A hideous baggage. Luckily she has been toppled since then, and has seen sense and resigned from the public eye. You cannot make any allusions - however innocent she claims she was - to women not having children in this day and age, unless you want to attract public opprobrium from all the right-thinking people: what an absolute cretin and a non-sister to women everywhere.