Mantel in the news

Here’s a eyecatching headline for you: Teen motherhood is not all bad, says Hilary Mantel.

The brief synopsis reads, ‘Hilary Mantel says some women might benefit from having babies earlier, but society’s structure is not conducive to that.’

For fun, I ran through a bunch of possibilities before actually clicking on the Guardian article.

1. Hilary Mantel had a great time being a teen mother herself.

2. Hilary Mantel was raised by a teen mother and thinks they are just fine at raising kids.

3. Hilary Mantel thinks it’s easier on the body to have babies earlier.

4. Hilary Mantel blames society for having forced us women to wait later and later to have children. Damn society!

(None of these are true, by the way.)

Here’s the beauty of context – you need it in order to understand what the hell someone is talking about.

Mantel was actually talking about an education system and society that corrals people through their studies into their twenties and then forces them to decided on a career and get to it in their late twenties and early thirties. This is frustrating for women especially who pursue careers, sidelining family growing for a while, and when they want to have a family later in life, potentially encounter physical problems.

Aside from her assertation that she could keep a house at 14, I’m on board with what she is talking about. (Although to be honest, it wasn’t that long ago that a ‘woman’ was in charge of a household at round that age. And what is childhood, really?) Mantel wants an educational system that exists throughout one’s life.

We may need to stop thinking of education as something that stops in the early 20s. In the future it could be something that both men and women move in and out of, upgrading their skills and developing their talents right into what is now considered old age.

If anything, the article is another reminder to not take quotes at face value.

Dig a little deeper and maybe something else will be revealed.

Or maybe not.


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