There are two candidates for the job of leader of the Conservative Party in the UK. They are called Theresa May, whom everyone British and informed knows from telly and internet, and Andrea Leadsom, who is only now that much in the public eye.
The media gave Theresa May a hard-nosed reputation, but now they have given her a soft side by playing up remarks Leadsom made to the Times. Leadsom said it would be horrible if she pointed out that she had children and May did not---which, of course, she was actually doing. And now everyone is thinking how tragic it is that May couldn't have children and how stupid it is to think that "being a mum" gives you a professional edge in a country where only one Prime Minister has ever been a mum.
Benedict Ambrose is wroth at what he sees as Leadsom's mean-women-treating-the-office-like-it's-high-school* tactic. He says either Leadsom is catty or she is dumb about the media, and he wants neither quality in his Prime Minister. As a woman who, like May, wanted to have children but couldn't have them, I am not exactly applauding either. However, I have thought about this "stake in the country" issue a lot--mostly because both Alec Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon don't have any children and they want to remove Scotland from the United Kingdom. (That said, Ruth Davidson, the head of the Scottish Conservative-Unionist party, doesn't have children either.)
My own feelings about Scotland are a bit backward-looking: I think of all the Jocks who died in various wars thinking about their "wee bit hill and glen" and grind my teeth when developers rip them up. I have no Scottish relations younger than my husband. Do I have a stake in Scotland past my death in 2057? Well, I wouldn't want to meet my Maker having done nothing to save His handiwork from destruction. "What about that wee bit hill and glen then, Dorothy?" The trad Catholic mothers of Scots I know (who are not always Scots themselves) worry endlessly, however, about the Scotland their children will grow up in.
I don't know if Angela Merkel has children, so I will now ask Google. That reminds me. I was at the airport yesterday waiting for my parents, and a man and his young (perhaps 10 year old) son came through the sliding doors. The boy was wearing a T-shirt that said (with all the letters written in) "F**k Google. Ask me." My thought was, What kind of parent allows his son to wear a shirt like that in public? Yes, I do judge parents by their children, if the children have attained the age of reason. Angela Merkel had no children herself, but she has two stepsons.
Frankly I do not think a woman needs to have children to be the best choice for Prime Minister. The soft motherly virtues are probably not what you need to run a G-8 nation, and I don't think anyone ever accused Margaret Thatcher (mother of two) of having any. Naturally, as both candidates are in their late fifties, nobody would worry that May or Leadsom would be distracted at crucial moments by children contracting the mumps or being caught smoking grass behind the tool shed, of course. Meanwhile, the media habitually makes male politicians' children a topic of discussion, so this whole stramash cannot be said to be deeply sexist, however it may appear. Tony Blair paraded his kids for the cameras whereas Gordon Brown, to his great credit, never let us see his until the day he left 10 Downing Street.
One thing that prevents me from joining in the general kicking of Andrea "Loathsome", as she has fatally been dubbed, is that she respects the existence of social conservatives and was opposed to gay marriage. This may be why the media has decided to give her absolute merry hell. So keep that in mind.
*One reason why I work from home, and one reason why I am so glad when university-age girls tell me they are studying the hard sciences and/or maths, is the existence of mean-women-who-treat-the-office-like-it's-high-school. I saw a lot of them in my years of temping and--shudder. In general, I am a woman's woman, but there are limits to my tolerance of female evil. I am not sure Saint Edith Stein gets into the subject of women bullying women in her writings about women in the professions: I should look.