My friend K is burning up with righteous indignation. ‘Why aren’t women rioting in the streets? Where is the anger? None of my male friends are facing this problem.’
Now in her mid twenties, K has landed a junior job in a top company in her field. The hours are already killing; some of her peers are already hollow eyed with exhaustion but there’s a chance of a more senior post coming up.
Looking round the office, K asks herself ‘ Where are all the women over 40? The few who are there hardly see their kids, and they say, it doesn’t matter, that it’s good for kids to learn to deal with disappointment. But I’ll want to be with my children if I have them won’t I?’
Listening to K talk I feel, in turn, sympathy, anger, ( mostly at the stories of her female colleagues weeping with exhaustion in the toilet) shame ( for what we have failed, yet, to change) and a motherly urge to make it all better.
But I also know that, given what can so often feel like the unique drama of personal choices, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture, the deep rooted unfairness of it all. And that the answer is, as ever, not to wail or weep but to demand change. And every generation has to carry the fight forward, in their own way.
K messages me later sounding more cheerful at the idea of what she calls ‘The Third Way’. I think she means, seeing her dilemma as a political question rather than just an unpalatable choice between dropping out in despair or passively conforming.