I’ve just heard the news that Katie Price is pregnant by her new husband Kieran Hayler. I’m not sure how long this news has been in the public domain as I don’t read newspapers and my Twitter feed has remained unmoved by the announcement. Once again my news came from the Nuby Facebook page, which is where most of my knowledge of anything other than my toddler’s latest escapades comes from.
I’m sad to say that I wasn’t the tiniest bit surprised by the comments I saw on this story, both on the Nuby page and on the Daily Mirror site where the story was linked from. Not surprised but really sad.
Obviously when you’re in the public eye people are going to think they have a right to comment on your life, but why they think it’s okay to say some of the vile things they say is beyond me. Remember that old adage about not having anything nice to say? Precisely.
This is something that bothers me on a fairly regular basis, but never more so than when it comes to mothers judging mothers. Whether you’re a glamour model, a shelf stacker or a stay at home Mum the chances are that you’re doing the best you can for your kids. The Mums who think they have a right to comment on whether you’re bottle feeding, what you feed your child, how expensive your buggy is or what colour socks you’re wearing should remember that you’re just doing what they are – your best.
That goes for celebrities too.
Chantelle Houghton got abuse for calling her daughter Dolly (which is a gorgeous name!), Christina Aguilera lost weight too quickly, Claire Richards didn’t lose enough of it, Kerry Katona shouldn’t have let her kids watch the TV programme about her, Peaches Geldof shouldn’t have been on the phone, Nicole Richie should have got married first, Kate Middleton’s too private, Katie Price is too public, and the list goes on…
Katie Price is one of those public figures the media loves – precisely because they’ve led their readers on a journey toward hating her. Yes, Katie has courted the media (it’s her job) but why people think that makes it okay for them to intrude on her life doesn’t make sense to me.
Nor does the way they talk about her. Not only are the comments on the story about her pregnancy concerned with her sexual morality (yes, of course she’s a “slag” – she’s a woman!) but actually question the paternity of her other children. “The skank needs to cross her legs!” is one of the least offensive messages I read today. And yet one of the most common was “the kids should be with Pete!”
What is it about Pete that makes him a better option for their children? What do we know about either of them? That they both court the media, that they both have reality TV shows, that they both make a lot of money, that they both care a lot for their kids… Katie and Pete have both had relationships since splitting up and both have had their partners around their children, and yet the comments all say “she cares more about her own happiness than theirs, they should be with Pete so they’re not around all these other blokes”. Why is it different for Katie? What’s “less bad” about his girlfriends being with the kids than her boyfriends?
Yes, Katie’s been married twice since she left Pete, and yes she’s having a fourth child by a third father, but all that reeks of to me is snobbery. This is 2013 and we don’t force people to stay in relationships they’re not happy in. That’s no better for the kids than for them to have step-parents come and go.
Katie and Pete both clearly love their children and, contrary to most Jeremy Kyle judgements of parents, they both pay for them. What more is there to know? And why do we think we have a right to know it?
There are plenty of people in the world who don’t love their children, who don’t raise them in loving households and who don’t give them everything they need. Do we really need to waste our time criticising people who do their best for their families, just because it doesn’t fit the model we were raised with? Neither did half of the families we were raised with!
I would never say the kinds of things people say about Katie Price or Chantelle Houghton about anyone on a public forum. Of course we all talk about people behind closed doors but the thought of writing that where other people – including the person it’s about – can read and share it horrifies me.
I’ve written before about the way we use the internet and the kinds of things we’re exposing our children to. Not only are Katie’s children going to be able to read the comments people are making about her and their Dad but our own children are going to read them too.
What right would I have to tell Ted to treat other people with respect if he saw me leaving comments on news stories saying that I was surprised anyone would dare “risk his man Johnson with that knackered bike” (as David Smith did) or that “some people should have their tubes clipped by law” (as Deborah Butson did) or making crass jokes about her sexuality (as John James Doherty did)?
I find myself more and more upset by this kind of misogyny every day. The thought that Ted is growing up in a world where it’s okay to call a woman a slag for having children with more than one partner makes me really sad. The idea that those children are “better off with their father” for no reason other than that their mother dares to have relationships makes me feel even worse. These are the attitudes our children are growing up with. This is what they’re seeing as normal.
Maybe you don’t want your children to think it’s okay to have children out of wedlock or to have multiple partners, and that’s your right. But do you really want them to think it’s okay to take those values and turn them into something accusatory and offensive? To let them think they have the right to bully and belittle people who live according to different beliefs?
I’d rather Ted grew up in a world of tolerance and respect, where people live their own lives and let everyone else get on with the business of living theirs, and where women aren’t judged according to a completely separate (and arbitrary) set of rules from men.
If we were all more concerned with our own parenting than Katie Price’s the world would probably be a happier place!