Home > Uncategorized > David Willetts, April Fool

David Willetts, April Fool

I wasn’t at all sure I’d win at Spot the April Fool this year. After all, we live in very special times and the papers have been practising for April First every sodding day for the last ten months. I mean, it turned out that criminalizing soup runs because ‘they encourage homeless people’ wasn’t a joke. How’s a person to tell anymore? Another day, another story that makes me laugh at its Stewart lee-esque brilliance before collapsing into incoherent rage as I realise it’s true.

But today is, having consulted a calendar, the first of April. So one story from today’s catalogue of infamy is just in jest. Which can it be?

I’m going with David Willetts, because otherwise I will have to just give up and smother myself with a copy of the Daily Mail. Because honest to good god and all the little fairies, this fucking bollocks can only be written in jest.

Mr Willetts’ argument goes thusly: social mobility has been negatively affected by feminism. To begin this argument involves placing 50% of the population in some bizarre holding pattern I don’t quite understand, because we are not going be talking about how 50% of the population may have been given a chance at economic and social independence by feminism. We’re just going to pretend that women are an appendage to the class system to which their men are subject. And from here, we argue that women getting access to education and jobs was at the expense of working class men, QED.

Since I refuse to accept the premise, even for a thought experiment, I’m afraid I can’t really go much further with this one. And I like thought experiments. I am completely on board with Schrondinger’s cat. But this one is just too offensively rubbish.

One of the things that gets under my skin when I read this sort of unmitigated bullshit, is how fiercely it feels the need to cast feminism and ‘the working class’ in opposition. I was brought up in a working class feminist family, feminist politics and values shared alike by my mother and my father. It took me years if not decades to discover that anyone, anywhere could separate the advance of the working class from advances for women, but that sorry revelation is a story for another day.

Because this is a story about social mobility, or it was supposed to be, until Mr Willets happened to engage a line of argument which has surprising distracted everyone. We should be talking about social mobility, and we shouldn’t be waylaid by spurious nonsense that could easily be mistaken for another funny, funny Tory gag, sent to try my blood pressure. We should be taking about how how to improve social mobility and we should be talking about what hinders  it.

Now, I don’t want to go all SWP, but while we watch the still-smouldering ruins resulting from our high speed chase through the stratosphere with unfettered cowboy capitalism, might this not, just maybe, be an apposite time to discuss how it may have had less than entirely positive effects on social mobility? I know it was probably mainly the cause of Those Damn Women, but still.  It’s just a crazy far-left thought after a long working week; I’ll leave it there for you to ponder.

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