I refer to Daisy Goodwin’s article in the Sunday Times News Review 4 July titled ‘Scrub Up and Strike Gold’. Daisy was invited to speak to sixth formers about working in the media. I paraphrase what she wrote but, in a nutshell, the girls’ ambitions stretched only so far as bagging a rich husband who could afford to pay for a designer lifestyle. The girls, Daisy says, were bright but simply not interested in using their own intellect to fund their dreams.
Who do we blame for this? Is it our contemporary culture which worships uber rich celebrities which has sent the wrong message out? Is it mothers who have grown tired of working and cannot break through the glass ceiling who are telling their daughters to view marriage as a meal ticket? Is it just gross greed and laziness-let someone else pay instead?
I think it is a combination of all three. When you reverse engineer the concept of celebrity you will find that, in most cases, some kind of talent (singing) or skill (football) has been applied to gain celebrity status. The media doesn’t push this point though and endlessly reports on the fruits of celebritydom instead which are the designers clothes and shoes. New media has also allowed us to peer intimately into the lives of celebrities thereby giving an impression that they are only a hop and a skip away from us. I have heard mothers telling their daughters to marry footballers. These mothers are inevitably ones who are finding it hard to make a living. Our society must share the blame too for touting the idea of lazy individualism, as I call it. Others can pay for what ‘she’ wants without her having to put any valuable effort into the process.
What worries me the most is the fact that girls such as the ones Daisy met don’t realise that they are selling their futures in return for the hollowness of expensive logos. By marrying a rich man only for his money they will omit to consider whether he has traits that will enhance their lives. There will not be that give and take and healthy compromise which ought to exist in a good marriage. A marriage based on the ability to buy as many interlocked ‘C’ products as possible will never be a fulfilling one. To top it all, as recent high profile divorces have demonstrated, rich men will plead poverty in the divorce courts.
The financial crisis has taught us that the concept of a skill for life does not translate into a job for life anymore. The scale of the crisis means that our children will be paying for the financial damage done when they reach adulthood. It is entirely logical that people under the age of 30 ought to be investing in a skills (plural) set that will equip them to meet the changing demands of the workplace environment. Companies are having to face fluid competition resulting from globalisation and the emerging economics of the world and will need a workforce that can adapt quickly, efficiently and easily. The educational establishments face a greater role than they ever did in teaching and imparting these skills to students. It has to be a joined up effort. Parents have to take responsibility too especially in ensuring that youngsters have sufficient life skills to cope with the challenge of becoming multi-skilled. Traits such as being organised and being emotionally resillient enough to cope with a changing world can only be taught at home.
Leo Tolstoy considered art as one of the conditions of human life. Art requires all the senses to be used when analysing and appreciating it. Art is not an individual or solitary experience. The activity of art requires humans to engage with each other. As an example the concept of Liberalism in politics gave birth to an emergence of writers who both supported and critiqued each other’s thoughts and concepts. Further down the years other Liberal authors have attempted to layer this political thought with modern thinking. In our contemporary world the appreciation of art is viewed as an elitist thing mainly because it has been hijacked by profiteers. However, the dissemination of art hasn’t been taken over by them and, thankfully, we can all have access to the arts and take responsibility for ensuring that it remains a vital part of society.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
The piece at http://timesonline.typepad.com/alphamummy/2010/06/will-you-be-doing-the-parents-race-at-sports-day.html#comments has brought back ghastly memories of the first school sports day that I entered into. My daughter was in Reception year and a Mummy’s race was held at the end of the children’s events. I had been going to the gym three times a week and felt slim and fit. Hitching up my skirt I went for it when the starter gun was fired. My daughter was standing at the finishing line crying because…I came second to last! Oh yes, the family was humiliated and I have never run a Mummy race ever again. My daughter who is now 10 still remembers that day and makes me promise every year that I will not enter the race. It’s an easy promise to make.
As an Asian member of the Liberal Democrat party I feel a strong need to speak up. The Diversity Agenda discourse on the question of ethnicity is heartening because it recognises that people like me ought to be represented and about time too. However, do I feel either not represented or under represented because of the lack of a non-pale face at the top? No, I don’t.
Why? Racial integration is a marvellous bridge. If representation is about sending a message of inclusion to a part of society that has been marginalised before then I don’t need a Brown face at the top to make me feel included. Those days of John Taylor not being selected as a Conservative candidate in the 1992 general election because of his colour is what made me feel deprived and hopeless and gave me sleepless nights. The gates of politics have since opened wide to people like me. We aren’t excluded. If we don’t go through the gate it is because we choose not to for reasons based on individual choices, not because we are barred.
Perhaps if I provide more anecdotes about the racism I suffered then readers will understand better what I mean by the power of integration.
In the late 1980s I applied for a job using my married surname of ‘Manning’. When the lift door opened the woman conducting the interview flinched and stepped back when she saw me. She grudgingly held her hand out to me and pulled it back quickly. There were days when ‘we’ couldn’t go out because the National Front (NF) was marching through London. I was holed up one weekend without being able to go out to get food because the NF had organised a march without prior warning. I was referred to openly as ‘one of them’ accompanied by finger pointing in public places.
Now, nobody runs away when I answer to my name. An Anglo-Saxon name can belong to a person of colour and an ethnic surname can belong to a person with pale skin too. The BNP will hate me for this!
Before I continue please don’t think that racism has been eliminated-BNP again. It hasn’t. All I am saying is that it is a lot less prevalent than it was.
Now for a twist, I do think ethnic representation is important from the point of view of demonstrating an outward face of the politics of inclusion within a party. Full political engagement with parts of the electorate who feel marginalised won’t be achieved until they see someone within the party whom they can identify with. This identification will lead to trust. But this will only work if a party, internally, has a culture of inclusion already in place otherwise ethnic representation will have no substance. It will only be a ‘mask’ then.
As an ethnic minority I must say that the fairness agenda excites me. The issues that affect White people affect me too such as education, the economy and civil liberties. My voice is being heard. My daughter won’t have to suffer the humiliations that I did.