Shake your pom-poms, guys; a go-getting girl needs YOU.
A cheerleader husband is a woman’s best accessory. So says an expert in the welfare of girls. Helen Fraser, the chief executive of a trust to which 26 independent UK girls’ schools belong, has raised a ra-ra-row after telling a conference that never mind the Importance of Being Earnest, schoolgirls ought to be taught the importance of finding a supportive husband. And not in a Bronte novel heroine kinda way.
Girls need lessons in how to be as ambitious about their relationships as they are about their academic lives, she says. Her view has got other women ranting; how old-fashioned, they say. Why do girls need to be conditioned into thinking they need husbands at all?
OK, OK; for husband, read partner; now focus on the valid point she is making. A stable, loving relationship is, for the vast majority, a fundamental human need. And surely it’s right to teach girls to expect the best in not only their careers, but also their relationships.
She isn’t training girls to be WAGs; quite the opposite. She wants to encourage girls to find partners who they can share both the workload of family life and career aspirations with.
Critics say fiddlesticks; encourage girls to study hard, be independent and forge their careers and they will automatically choose the right men.
Not so. No matter how bright and confident some girls are, they still have a self-destruct button when it comes to relationships. Insecurity screws so many girls up. They either don’t think they’re good enough for the nicest boys, or they are irresistibly drawn to the bad ones. A lesson in how to find the right husband would have stood me in far better stead than learning about glaciers and fjords.
I might not have got married at 22 to a man clearly so wrong for me. On the day of our wedding, my father offered him £1,000 and a fast car. It was supposed to be a joke; my dad had the weirdest sense of humour. He idolised Spike Milligan; enough said. But time proved he had seen something that, through the misted veil of young love, I couldn’t.
Which was that we weren’t right for each other - and that I was blinded to the importance of mutual support in a relationship because I put more importance on fulfilling the needs and wants of others.
I think there are many women of my generation who thought the same way and, as I did, grew up unconsciously believing they had to be needed, so we could only land rubbish boyfriends. I do wish someone had sat me down at 16 and said: you deserve to get back as much as you give and have someone who is proud of you and believes in you - and by the way, don’t think about getting married until you’re in your 30s.
Then I might have steered clear of the broken-winged types, the commitment-phobics and the angry-inside ones. I might have stopped thinking that, if I supported them, I could make us alright.
I was in my mid 40s that it dawned; what about me?
I now have what I need, thankfully. He isn’t a cheerleader, though. When you’re older, the qualities you want in a man are exactly the same as those you ask of your underwear; good quality, strong yet gentle, ultra-supportive and never, ever restrictive.