Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Advent of the 'Freemales'

Great article in the features pages of the Telegraph by 5 Live Breakfast presenter Shelagh Fogarty. She bemoans the fact that having reached "a certain age" she is constantly asked...

Why aren't you married?

Why don't you have children?

Was it a choice you made?

For someone whose only "must have" is a life that I like and am interested in, the unsolicited but persistent suggestion that by not having children I'd missed some mythical boat came as quite a shock - especially when the questioner wrinkled up their nose in some badly misguided effort to empathise with the barren creature they saw before them.

She also asks why female celebrities feel the need to share so much information about their bodily functions with us.
I've read pieces by actresses, presenters, singers, and MP's - all keen to share the details of their "Battle with IVF", "Endometriosis Hell" and "Too late for a Baby!" sagas. One even regaled us with the gory details of her exploding ovary.

So when Cherie Blair's book came out recently, I wasn't surprised in the slightest that it included details of her "contraceptive equipment" and menstrual cycle. A woman is now required to talk about her fertility, at work or socially - and if she's a public figure, then in interviews and books, too. It's effectively become part of her CV. A sick child is always a winner if you're looking for some profile-enhancing coverage, or some kind of emergency procedure during or just after labour.

To illustrate, here's a game you can play: Google the first well-known woman who pops into your head, the nearer to 35 the better. Then see how many times she's been in print talking about her reproductive organs. You'll be amazed. Then, Google well-known men. Nada. Not a flicker. They're not in print declaring: "I've Got No Lead in My Pencil."

I should think not. Perish the thought. Shelagh has also coined a new word - the "freemale".
She's quite a girl, is Freemale. She wants to spend her time and money as she wishes, isn't looking for love, and is "child-free not childless. She thinks relationships are increasingly irrelevant, emotionally high risk, and a lot of hard work".
If you click on the full ARTICLE and scroll to the bottom there's a very entertaining sub-feature entitled 'You know you're a freemale when...'

… the idea of getting married brings you out in a cold sweat.

… you go to bed in a facemask and socks.

… your impressive collection of newly bought shoes is not hidden away at the back of the wardrobe.

… the lid of your lavatory is always down.

… the only man who tells you what to do in your bathroom is your plumber.

… the only thing that needs looking after in your life is your cat - and yourself.

… the only time you read the lonely hearts column is for a laugh.

… you're not waiting for Mr Right - or even Mr Right Now.

… all of your best male friends are gay.

Did I mention Shelagh's a mate?! :)


37 comments:

Boyce said...

What does it say about you (well, me) if you're male and all Ms. Fogarty's checklist are applicable to you?

Anonymous said...

sounds like widdecombe...

Anonymous said...

I respect that you are doing a mate a favour by publicising her really not very funny posts, but seriously.... it's not interesting and it's not funny.

verity said...

Very bizarre. Given that she's a mate of Iain's I won't deconstruct it in a toxic sense, but will make one tiny correction.

Women getting up to go to the loo in the night, and not switching on the bathroom light, do not want to sit down on the lid of the loo. The exercise would be pointless. They want the SEAT to be down, so they don't fall in when they sit down to pee.

Re Cherie Blair's "contraceptive equipment" - have we ever been told what it was? Did it have something to do with a hammer and anvil, a welder's mask and a small ladder that wouldn't fit into her handbag? I haven't talked to one woman who has the slightest idea what Blair's writing about. Although she has given us hours - well, minutes - of hilarity.

Newmania said...

Polly Filler yokes Sex in the City to Sex in Balmoral,not bad.Tell me Iain , just as a way of understanding her satiric "voice" and for the purposes of appreciating the neo Dandy -ism of her subversive post post-feminist strategy ..

....does she have nice tits?

dozzy said...

A completely vacuous article. The reason many professional women are not married is not because they are "freemales" but because they have to be at work at 9 a.m and don't get home until 9 p.m. and have to spend the weekend doing more work in addition to buying food and washing and ironing their clothes for the week ahead. Meanwhile their social circle dwindles, because everyone they know, men and women, are spending their week doing exactly the same.

Anonymous said...

When I did my single thing from 92-00 I would have loved to have met these types of women more often. Problem is they start talking like that when they want to get your trousers down, but once they get the feel for it, they start looking at curtains and local house prices.

If you are a single man and you trust what a women says when they first meet them, you are a fool.

They may be being perfectly honest when they say they are not looking for Mr Right. But they soon change their mind when they think they have. Changing ones mind is a womans way of loading the dice in there favor. Although, hell hath no fury, if a man dare to think about doing the same.

When your breasts are getting saggy and the wrinkles are beginning to show though the several thick layers of foundation cream, you need all the loaded dice you can get. I do not blame women, it is just the way it is, and has long since been.

People do not change much or quickly, they only think they do because of media agenda's run by ruling elites. Who are out for extra profits, taxes, control of your every waking thought, and that of the rest of humanity.

Atlas

Anonymous said...

Methinks she doth protest too much. What a sad creature. And when she is old and free, what then? Who will give a damn about her and her shoes.

And by the way, who is she trying to impress with her shoes and her face? Obviously not men, as she hates them and is clearly inadequate in bed. I know, it's her gay mates! How post-modern and ironic is that? And how terribly naff.

tapestry said...

A world without sex. The 1960s must be over at last.

tapestry said...

Urbanised wealthy females breed less all over the world. I live in the Philippines which is a baby factory, where most women have their first baby before they are 21.

The lesson is that if you want to have children, don't study. Get a badly paid, excruciatingly dull job and become poor.

I have to say that the women here who all help each other, seem a lot happier than their wealthier childless insular counterparts in the rich world.

Not a sheep said...

If Shelagh is a mate of yours then she might have read the whole of her article including this section - "To answer those awful, ill-mannered questions: no, I haven't chosen not to marry. I've chosen not to marry certain people so far. I haven't chosen not to have children, I'm just not into buying them. I'm not child-free either.

My life is gloriously full of children, because that's what happens when you're part of an extended family. So I'd ask Freemale and her more fertile sister to dance to their own tune, and I'll dance to mine. "

Shelagh is saying that she is not a "Freemale" neither is she "child-free".

Albert M. Bankment said...

It's nothing to do with freemales. It's just the determination of some people to make uninvited and impertinent enquiries and suggestions about the way that other people choose to live their lives. They also hold up their own priorities, hopes, fears and lifestyles as a perfect model for everybody else.

Such people tend to become politicians.

judith said...

I often read articles or comments like this, and the one thing I question is all the alleged nosiness about why the writer doesn't have children.

I wouldn't dream of saying such a thing to someone until I had known them for many years and had become very close friends, and probably not even then unless the subject was brought up by the friend.

My generation of women was the first that could make the choice about parenthood with a high degree of certitude because of the pill - a very big decision, but one we all have to be sensible about. Those of us who have a planned family sometimes undergo heartache and sorrow because of our children, and wonder what it would be like to be free of that constant responsibility even in the happiest of circumstances.

Perhaps what is interpreted as intrusiveness on the part of the questioner is simply concern, poorly expressed by someone who is a parent, at the perceived likely loneliness later in life? (and yes, I do recognise that children cannot be guaranteed to hang around in loving, caring mode until their parents turn up their toes!).

Mark Steyn's No 1 Fan said...

You know you're a freemale when:

you reach 65 and expect other people's kids to pay your pension.

Chris Paul said...

Think you've got a bit of Shelagh there not in blockquote mode. And you've not noticed that Shelagh has just joined the party when it comes to outing their fertility and attitude to childfreeness.

Anonymous said...

Is it not ironic that a woman who wants to let everyone know that she is not obsessed by men and babies has written a column about.... men and babies. If Cherie Blair and the celebraties she mentions feel the need to define themselves by the state of their reproductive organs then so does Shelagh Fogarty. Women who write about how they don't need men to be happy are just the flip side of those who write about being broody. If they're really not that bothered why don't they write about something that they are interested in?

Anonymous said...

This is nothing new. Maiden aunts (ie freemales) are a social stereotype.

Hope she likes cats....

Anonymous said...

I really coundn't give a toss - can we have some real political blogging, Iain?

Curmy said...

If you're her friend Iain, perhaps you could tell her to get her act together on the Radio 5 Breakfast programme !

Saltmaker said...

… the only thing that needs looking after in your life is your cat - and yourself.

Single men beware: cat loving women like attention but don’t do sex. It was a truth I learned in my dating days and apparently remains true now.

Anonymous said...

Joking aside, social isolation and "singleness" are rapidly becoming the unpleasant norm in Britain and other Western societies. It seems that many people, brought up on a diet of media imagery of "beautiful people" and contrasting it with what they feel is available in potential partners locally, either don't get married or split rapidly when the partner proves "less than perfect". Yet the result for many who do not have work as interesting as Iain's is bitter loneliness. Even when the New Isolated do have interesting jobs, they return to empty and unfulfilled personal lives.

I think we need to take a long, hard look at the overall PURPOSE of society; are we English/British really just here to make money for a few dealers in the City and wealthy shareholders/hedge funders/off-shore haven government-sanctioned tax-evaders? As both New Labour and the Conservatives appear to believe?

Wouldn't it be better to organise society for the benefit of most of us? I know that's old fashioned, but in these days of oil crisis, food crisis, etc, one cannot help but feel the promises on which we were all lulled into chronic overwork, ruining our personal enjoyment of life, are looking a little tarnished.

Sadie Smith said...

Check this out if you can fight the red mist long enough to finish it: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1024317/Forget-tosh-freemales--single-women-say-happy-lying.html

Apparently we're only fulfilled when we've snagged a man. Doesn't have to be a particularly good one, ANY man will do.

Whatever.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 1.53 am is right - "methinks she protests too much".

I did not marry till I was hitting 40, but I don't remember being constantly asked to justify my single state - maybe 3 or 4 times in 20 years max.

No children after 10 years but I have never been asked why not...

This is in spite of mixing in Tory circles for 30 years with lots of older people with 'traditional' views on women and family matters.
(Although my Ward Chairman did try to pair me off with a Tory member -who to anyone under 50 was obviously gay!)

It seems that far from being relaxed about being single and childless Ms Fogerty actually has a bit of a complex.

Anonymous said...

I suspect Nadine Dorries also falls into this category, only with a lot less excitement....

Desperate Dan said...

I think its called "looking on the bright side", or "making the best of a bad job".

Aristander of Telmissus said...

She's possibly not so much a freemale, more a freemartin.

Cinnamon said...

Freedom is one thing, inability to bond another.

If you obsess about the loo seat in your relationship, you definitely have serious problems...

Anonymous said...

This tosh is the remnants of sixties rubbish. The crone should find a man, get married, and be quiet.

dht said...

Why is everyone so critical of this article? I think many of the points she raises are important. Some of us chose not to be married - at the moment - without committing to what we do in the future. It's a choice. Why is it ever anyone else's business?

I for one am sick of being asked why, at a whole 30 years old, I am not married and have children.

I don't want them. Yet. I would be an irresponsible parent. Now. I may be infertile.

We (and single men) are the cash cows of the economy and would more often than not just like a bit less judgmental thought on our single status!

verity said...

Tapestry - "The Sixties must be over at last." That was funny! Imagine no John Lennon.

Anon 9:40 and your reference to "maiden aunts". These were a phenomenon of WWI, when millions of young men - their fianc├ęs and boyfriends - were killed in the trenches. You don't see maiden aunts much any more. Your comment was flip and cruel. Those women were not unmarried and childless through choice.

Charlotte Corday said...

I find her glib remark about sick children quite offensive, to me honest.

I was the governor of a special needs school and many of the children had life-limiting illnesses and several died during the time I was involved with the school.

Her remarks seems to reinforce the prejudices that some parents have towards non-parents - i.e. non-parents are self-centred and unable to comprehend the responsibilities and emotional involvement of parenthood.

PS. It isn't well-written either.

bj said...

Perhaps this is a subtle reference to the fact that Shelagh is one of a long line of BBC staffers who are sick to death of Victoria Derbyshire....

Anonymous said...

I only feel sorry for people like MS Fogarty.

How sad, trivial, superficial and pointless their lives must be or seem to be to them for them to have to bother to write about such irrelevances

Anonymous said...

dozzy - you have been spying on me haven't you? :)

Verity said...

Cinnamon - The loo seat is a joke among women. Don't fret about it.

Gallimaufry said...

Verity said:
"Women getting up to go to the loo in the night, and not switching on the bathroom light, do not want to sit down on the lid of the loo. The exercise would be pointless. They want the SEAT to be down, so they don't fall in when they sit down to pee."
And men want the seat left up so that they don't accidentally spray it when weeing in the dark (bathroom light anyone?)and incur the wrath of She Who Must Be Obeyed. There would be not problem if women let us use the sink instead.
Maiden aunts were around before WWI as well because of a similar imbalance of males/females due to emigration to the colonies (where a man could wee freely, probably).

Andrew Lilico said...

I think the stuff about "equipment" is a straightforward reflection of femminism. In The Female Eunuch, Germaine Greer stated that an indicator of whether you weer a true femminist was your response to the question "How would you feel about drinking your own menstrual blood?" In my younger, avidly femminist days I tried this on a few women, and it did at least validate the thought that, by Greer's definition, there are relatively few true femminist women... (Ahem...)