Earlier this week I was sat on the Piccadilly Line, gormlessly staring at an advertisement that promised to ‘make stocks and shares fun’, when two Sloaneys (public schooled, King’s Road types) got on clutching Mulberry handbags and perched themselves underneath said billboard.
Next to them, just the other side of the glass partition stood a young woman, gently rocking a pushchair to soothe the groaning baby within. The Sloaneys cast knowing looks at the woman and at each other before continuing with their chatter and nail filing.
The mother disembarked at the next stop, visibly relieved to be leaving the train for the slightly less cramped Covent Garden, a lift ride above our heads. I felt for her, navigating the underground and London’s busy streets with a young baby on her own – I know only too well the anxiety induced when just taking Albie to the local shops, let alone one of the busiest areas in the capital. But it was when the doors swiped shut that got me really thinking:
Sloaney A: “Poor woman”
Sloaney B: “I know, that pram is clearly secondhand.”
A: “No – I mean yes – but what I meant was… I think she had a girl.”
A: “What an awful time to bring a girl into the world, what with everything going on. You know, with Weinstein, Kevin Spacey… horrible bastards.”
B: “Oh absolutely. Poor woman.”
Their conversation quickly moved on to their weekend plans for Gymkhanas and Bikram yoga, but their ignorance has lingered with me ever since.
Now is not a bad time to be bringing a daughter into the world, now is potentially the best time there has ever been to be bringing a girl into the world. For perhaps the first time in history, people – women especially – are being empowered to stand up to abuses of power, the baddies are being called out when they cross the line, rather than being allowed to continue because of their status. That’s a world I want to bring my child into, boy or girl, a world in which the same rules apply to everyone.
Aside from his first steps and the first time he says ‘dada’, the thing I’m looking forward to most is teaching my son how to be the best person he can. About what’s right and wrong. About sharing and caring and always being kind. About understanding and respecting everyone regardless of age, gender, race or sexuality.
Recent events may have exposed a hole in our dealings with those who abuse their status, but they’ve also given us the opportunity to plug that hole for future generations, and that’s a good start in my books.