I never thought I would say this, but this week I feel genuinely sorry for Kirstie Allsopp.
On Sunday The Telegraph published an interview in which Allsopp did something truly dreadful: she expressed an opinion.
I’ll be the first to admit that what Allsopp said did not sit easily with me (as a 25-year-old, not-exactly-rich human being). In the article, Allsopp proposes that the current typical order of things (university, career, baby) when it comes to the way women conduct their lives is illogical. She instead suggests that the female species should get on with having babies before studying and working – because fertility ‘falls off a cliff when you’re 35’.
Obviously in our current economy saying such a thing makes you about as popular as Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall at a PETA gathering. There aren’t many twentysomethings staring lovingly at Pampers packs, thinking ‘why pay off my student loan when I could be buying these?’ Still, I can’t help feeling the newspapers have been a bit mean to Allsopp, portraying her as an anti-feminist Tory horror. Just today, I read the most patronising article by The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman, who decided to get a slice of the mock-Allsopp fun (oh Hadley, you feminist you). And earlier I watched the Location, Location presenter squirm as the editor of The Vagenda condescended to debate with her on Newsnight.
All of this Allsopp-hatred depresses me more than the notion my ovaries might fall off a cliff (whatever that means). Because even if Allsopp’s views aren’t feminist (ostensibly) – bloody hell, neither is attacking her for them.
I genuinely believe that however much Allsopp rubbed people up the wrong way, her intentions were completely honourable in discussing women’s fertility. And maybe Allsopp is right; maybe we do need to address how fertility fits into women’s lives and into our society’s structure.
Either way, it is OK to have a debate about it. What I don’t think is OK is trying to silence someone who’s actually been quite a useful force in women’s fight for equality. However old-fashioned Allsopp can be in many regards, we have to remember this is someone with verve and feistiness, who challenges many stereotypes women have yet to quash. She may be crass sometimes, but I would far rather hear someone put their foot in it than listen to the self-congratulatory, fashionable ramblings of writers like Freeman. If Allsopp wants to stir up the pot – whether at home or on Newsnight – let’s let her do so.