Wednesday 30 July 2014

Carole2If I confessed to celebrating that so many newspapers are discussing the C word you'd be shocked, no doubt. But they are discussing something we need to talk about: class.  And more specifically, working class. 

It is, of course, the aftermath of the collapse of singer Tulisa's trials on drug offences that has forced us to face the fact that Britain is not, after all, yet a classless society. The 26-year-old told the Telegraph that the allegations that emerged in the Sun on Sunday were aimed at putting her "back in her place" because of her working class background.

I never thought we were a classless society but it is almost as though we have been pretending that's the case by no longer describing people as working class.  Instead we skirt around it, using words like ‘disadvantaged’ ‘poor’ ‘underclass’ ‘chav’.  Why does that matter? Because people are discriminated against on the grounds of class, in the same way as they are discriminated against for so many other things.  And not naming it for what it is, class discrimination, makes it almost impossible to counteract.

 Social class also limits choices, from a very early age, and can leads to casual assumptions about what people are capable of too.  Most young working class women won't find themselves in court or in the papers like Tulisa but they may well find themselves struggling to get a decent and secure job, or any job at all. They will almost certainly find their choices limited and assumptions made that because they are working class and female they will be best suited to particular jobs. And these jobs will pay less, be limited in scope and have no career progression.

Class discrimination does not just affect young women, but when combined with gender discrimination, and a general dismissal of young people – young women are in a tough position.

Ignoring the C word, does not make it go away. Tulisa has done young women a favour by getting us discussing the issue again.