It’s not easy taking apart and analysing the kind of predictably abhorrent trolling from a major columnist in a newspaper like the Daily Mail sometimes.
Or perhaps the problem is that, in a way, it’s too easy. I think sufficient evidence is in by now to conclude that Liz Jones is an objectively terrible person. Clearly no sensible person should need to have it explained to them why her latest column, about the lengths she’s gone to deceive her partner so that she can become pregnant with his child, is just completely awful.
And yet its proud publication on such a prominent news site implies that at least one person doesn’t see this as a fantastically depressing outlook to have on life. If this is really how a non-negligible number of people think, there must still be value to explaining why it makes the rest of us bash our heads against walls and sob exhaustedly into pillows.
But even reading something like this just makes me so tired.
I don’t despair for humanity – if Liz Jones had the power to make me that cynical, I really would be depressed. I just despair for her.
Look at the state of her relationship to begin with, as she describes it.
I wanted a career, freedom, a nice house and to keep my figure. As a feminist, I looked down on mumsy types.
But when I was in my late 30s, I decided that if I didn’t get pregnant soon then it might never happen. I had also reached a point in my life where I wanted to settle down with a man, and though my boyfriend at that time was wildly unsuitable, I thought that I could change him.
The abrupt realisation that she might miss the chance to have her own child was clearly something that came as an unpleasant shock to her, even after all those years she’d spent scorning “mumsy” types. You have to wonder how much self-loathing she’d been covering up all that time, if the desire for children was actually this important to her.
In fact it was so important to her – and, evidently, she thinks so little of herself – that she felt compelled to stay with someone who was “wildly unsuitable”, and presumably wasn’t making her that happy, just because she was desperate for some stability.
But given what appears to matter to her in a relationship, it doesn’t sound like she’s doing herself any favours.
He lived with his parents before he moved in with me, and earned very little money. I was working on a newspaper and was fiercely ambitious. He was laid-back, I am not. I was ready for a baby, he wasn’t.
I recently moved into my girlfriend‘s house. She’s got a full-time job and is paying the mortgage; I’m unemployed. But despite this and other differences, we’re finding ourselves extremely well suited to each other, because… well, we like each other. We’re not formally collaborating on some business proposition. We care about each other and want to continue spending time together, because we enjoy it. And whenever there’s something important to one of us, which the other isn’t picking up on or might not be fully on board with, we have a conversation about it.
But this isn’t the sort of thing that goes on in relationships for Liz Jones. She complains that her boyfriend “wouldn’t” have sex with her, but doesn’t elaborate on what his reservations were, or whether she was ever curious as to the cause of his reticence. His decision to move in with her was, she thinks, “probably more out of a desire to be able to walk to work than any real love for me”, implying that she never actually asked whether that was the reason. The most succinct explanation she gives for why she would never want to share a child with this man is that he “didn’t earn any money”.
And a marriage, as we later find out, means to Liz Jones that a woman should have “every right to want to start a family”. Wanting to start a family is surely no crime, even for someone unmarried, but deceiving someone so as to force their involvement in your efforts? Does any woman ever have a right to ignore their partner’s wishes and trap them like this, even if they’re married? Even if – and this is a genuine justification she uses for her actions – she’s “bought him many, many M&S ready meals”?
It’s easy to see it as loathsome and despicable when Liz Jones attempted to covertly impregnate herself using sperm from a used condom. When she describes this as a plan which “many will doubtless find shocking”, it sounds like she’s making a neat attempt to shift the guilt onto us for being too square and unhip to handle her maverick originality, rather than on her for being awful, so very awful.
But this is just what a relationship is to her. Women want children and men don’t, so that’s just what you do. Men “should be much more wary”, because women aren’t to be trusted. One of her female friends was more successful than she was, and her former partner is now “in a new relationship having to pay support for a child he never sees”. Liz doesn’t even seem to condemn this particularly, or even bemoan the state of society’s priorities that such behaviour is so normalised; it’s just a somewhat unfortunate but natural consequence of the only way people could ever possibly behave in Liz Jones’s world. So it goes.
I really feel sad for her.
But still, it’s important to remember that she is awful.
I still have days now when I wished the sperm-theft had worked; that I had a daughter or son my husband felt compelled to visit.
Not, I’m ashamed to say, because I think I’d be a particularly good mum, but because our relationship would not have been a complete waste of time, with nothing to show for it but bad memories and a shared cat.
That’s her main regret resulting from the whole thing. Not that the relationship didn’t survive, or that she and her partner had found their differences less irresolvable and had made some decisions together which suited them both. Not even that she had a child with whom she could share unconditional mutual love, in a way she’d never been able to with her boyfriend or husband. She just wants something to show for all the work she put in. If that something happens to be a new helpless life which is entirely dependent on her and which she’s not very good at caring for – well, that’s just the way Liz Jones’s world works.
What a depressing place. If you’ve read this far, I’m sorry I’ve made you spend so much time there.