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An open letter to my daughter - I have good news and bad news for you


Dear Daughter,

I have good news and bad news for you.

On the one hand, when you’re born in a few weeks you’ll be in the majority in a prosperous nation where your chances are better than at any point since the beginning of time.

And on the other, it’ll be hard to remember this when some drunken twat has you pinned against a fire exit and is breathing beer in your face while fumbling with your bra and saying that you HAVE to.

You see, you’re a female. This is both insanely brilliant and deeply irritating.

You are going to be born, hopefully healthy and bawling your lungs out, in the first part of the 21st century.

This is a VERY good thing.

You will have free education to the age of 18. You will have free healthcare forever, unless our politicians wreck it. There are laws stopping people discriminating against you on the basis of your genitalia.

You are already doing better than me – when I was born there was just the NHS and that wasn’t as whizzy as it is now.

When your grandmother was born there wasn’t even that, and on top of it all some men were dropping bombs on her and HER mother.

Every woman in our family has endured childbirth without pain relief or proper medical care.

My Gran did it at home with help from a neighbour. Your Gran was in hospital but mostly alone, and got drugs only the third and final time she went into labour.

I’m told that when I give birth to you I can choose to do whatever I like. If you have children, it’ll probably be much better.

At the ante-natal classes your Gran has been amazed at how much information and encouragement mums-to-be are given.

She said to me: “I was just told to breathe and put my legs in stirrups because that was easier for the male doctors. No wonder it was so miserable.”

When your ancestors were unhappy in their marriages, they had no choice but to stay unhappy.

When they had children out of wedlock they were shunned, unemployed, and in the case of your great-great-great-great-grandmother shipped off to Australia with a load of convicts.

I can get married or not depending on whether I feel like it. When I got divorced it was horrible but I kept my job, my name, my home.

You’ll be born out of wedlock and no-one will call you names. No-one will wonder why your family isn’t the same as everyone else’s, because these days every family is different.

When your Gran left school she was told she could be a nurse or a secretary.

When I left school I was told I’d never be a journalist without a degree.

When you leave school, I will ask you what YOU want to be.

I will encourage you to be an astronaut because I’d love to see you make our family’s stubborn streak truly interplanetary, but the final choice will be yours.

And if you insist on a career in waitressing I’ll back you up and buy you some comfortable shoes, because I did that once and you’re going to need them.

But that’s about it for the good news.

You’ll also be called “mad”, “hormonal”, “vengeful”, “jilted”, “feisty”, “spirited”, “embittered”, “frigid”, “slag” and a whole bunch of other words never used about men.

Sex can be lovely, but it won’t matter who you do it with, how you do it or how often you do it but you’ll be told you’re doing it wrong.

You’ll either be too slutty or too “cold”.

You’ll be expected to turn tricks like a seasoned street walker and at the same time act like a shy virgin.

And there is no way you can get away from that fumbling, drunken twat without being called a name of some sort for having higher standards than he is capable of meeting.

Whatever life you choose, people will say you have to “sacrifice” something. Either motherhood, a career, or the ability to be perfect.

You’re being born into a world that is packed with female role models who take their clothes off, starve themselves, stick other people’s hair to their heads and eyelids and then tell other women they’re doing it wrong.

Where women’s worth is judged by their breasts, and we’re told to have children early OR ELSE even though research shows having them later, as I have, means you’re better off.


And I’m afraid you have no choice about periods, an unwelcome moustache, or weeing without taking some clothes off.

It’s all very confusing, and if it weren’t for the fact that you’ve got a lot of elbows I’d like to keep you inside me forever where I at least know that you’re safe and are eating properly.

But you’ve got to come out one day soon and I would love to see what you’re going to do to a world this bonkers and stupid. Wreak absolute havoc, I hope.

So on International Women’s Day I make you a promise, daughter.

I will never stop telling you how lucky you are.

I will teach you anything is possible if you try.

I will remind you, every year on this date, that worldwide 100million women are missing, presumed dead. They were either aborted as foetuses, denied medical care, kept from school, abandoned, killed, or otherwise denigrated to the point they simply ceased to exist.

I will tell you no two women are the same and you deserve better than to be lumped together as some sort of pink blob or a minority for politicians to mention once a year.

I will make sure you know that you DON’T have to.

I will make sure you vote, eat oily fish, care for animals, swear effectively and learn how to pour mummy a decent gin and tonic because she’ll need one when you tell her NASA has been on the phone.

But more than anything else I will tell you that your whole life long you will never meet a woman who doesn’t have balls.

And if you doubt me, look in the mirror. There’s one right there.

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