Post book club reflections regarding Harriet Harman’s A Woman’s work
Cocoa book club hence brownie, strawberry lemonade and pina colada tea.
The book provoked interesting discussion! I could not remember my initial thoughts on reading books. Those who had just read wanted more of her personal life in, rather than it being a political memoir. But we acknowledged that, along with the other areas she has been rather a pioneer in as a woman, she is a bit of a pioneer as a woman writing in politics writing an autobiography. She would not have wanted to dumb her career down and write a chick flick of an autobiography rather than a political memoir.
Still I agree it could have been more personal. The book was called a woman’s work. It was informative about political career but as the saying goes a women’s work is never done! You may do a day in office then hurry home, to feed, bathe and put t bed kids, whilst put a load of washing on then ironing or catching up with work e-mails … your sleep may be disturbed by needs of child during night … Harriet talks about the struggles of other women and admits she was lucky as could pay for childcare. But is could have gone a lot further …exactly how did she make it work? Women need to know how you do it! How supportive was her husband? What was the impact on her children of her career? We felt a good editor would have, asked these questions and got her to include.
A couple of people had listened to the audio book and found her tone hard to listen to; dull, school teachery; too proud were some comments. We discussed how in writing, she made it sound like she had achieved a lot single handed; which will not have been the case. However, women can undersell self. Whereas a man (or a successful person) will say I did; this, this and this! Whereas in actual fact the successful person, may have had the initial idea but then their team did donkey work; form filling, filling etc.… then successful person claims as their success!
Having been born a few weeks after Harriet was elected as an MP, it is amazing the progress, during my life. Yes women still not equally represented in parliament but compared to the last 100 years … I’m also enjoying learning currently from the book Century Girls by Tessa Dunlop which covers women born between 1914 -1918. In 1918; the first women were allowed to vote. But only women over 30 could vote. Now women, vote at the same age as men. In the early 70s women could not own property without their husband or father on the title deeds. Today, I own property in my name, I vote in honour of women who gave lives for that right. But if a man lived in my household; the form to confirm who in the household was eligible to vote would be addressed to them! I’m entitled to a year’s maternity leave; up until 2007 then women were only entitled to 18 weeks. Additionally that leave can be shared with partner so, it is not necessarily woman who has to sacrifice chunk of career.