Not just any Gypsy, you understand. A Gypsy from My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.
What a fascinating programme (on Channel Four, if you missed it). It gives a real insight into how the Traveller community live – and the role of Traveller women. Which seems, to me, to be a much simpler one than “country” women like me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I want to live in a caravan and be taken out of school at thirteen. But the women interviewed on this programme didn’t seem to struggle with any of the issues myself and other mums I know are currently grappling with. They have a clearly defined role. Their job is to stay at home and look after the babies while the men go out to work.
Now, I realise this could get me a lot of stick with Women’s Lib types. And I am all for female independence as much as the next person. Before I had baby Frog I never dreamed I would want to give up full time work in a fast-paced exciting job. But now I’m considering doing just that. And it’s making me feel really torn. Am I a second-class citizen if I choose to spend more time at home with my baby? Am I just being a wet new mum? Isn’t it a waste of those two expensive degrees (get me!)?
Traveller women don’t have any of these concerns. Going back to work isn’t an option, because they never left for work in the first place.
But then we meet Bridget. She is in a huge minority in that she left a violent husband to bring her children up solo. And we discover this just isn’t an option for many other women in the travelling community. They can’t leave abusive relationships because if they do, they can’t provide for their children. Many of them can’t even read and write.
And we also meet Lizzie and her twelve year old sister Margaret. Lizzie hasn’t gone to school since she was eleven. Now she’s getting married and it’s Margaret’s turn to stay at home.
And it all seems so incredibly sad. These girls have never been given the option to go out to work. They weren’t even allowed to stay on at school.
So I suppose I don’t really want to be a Gypsy after all. But having lots of money and the option to go part-time would be rather nice.