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Hitting the Headlines

Mrs Bingham hit the headlines nearly 12 months ago, lamenting the tendency for busy working women to ‘infantilise’ their husbands – a conversation that is still continuing a year later.

Last March, Mrs Bingham featured in the Evening Standard for her perspicacious opinions on women leaving their partners ‘to do’ lists – a pernicious habit that not only propagates the myth of male domestic ineptitude, but can also send daughters the message they must be in control and perfect at everything.

From the media interest that ensued, it was apparent her comments had tapped into an important and timely truth. Mentioned on Radio 4 Today, numerous TV programmes and in the national press, her comments had clearly struck a nerve, capturing the zeitgeist. The Telegraph subsequently issued an 8 point plan on how to ensure that the ‘mental load’ is shouldered equally by males and females. The Indepedent ran a story on women ‘micro-managing’ their husbands, adding how well her comments were received on social media, with men and women praising the headmistress for advocating gender equality. Her wise words even spawned a lengthy article by Robert Crampton in Times 2: “Such attempts at total control… place unnecessary pressure on hard-working women while providing a poor role model to impressionable daughters. Don’t be afraid to let blokes take the strain, that’s Bingham’s message.” Mrs Bingham was also quote of the week in the Sunday Times: “What kind of blueprint are some of us providing for our daughters by infantilising men?”  Recent guest speakers to the school who have lauded her stance include Dr Helen Pankhurst and Professor A C Grayling. Interestingly, one of the few sceptical voices came from Liz Jones in the Daily Mail, who suggested Mrs Bingham was spouting “rubbish”.

More than six months later, when Amazon’s new Alexa advert launched last October – with a father receiving instructions on how to look after his own child – there were complaints about its patronising and anachronistic message. Picked up by The Telegraph, it was Mrs Bingham’s sage advice that was cited again. Echoing her comments, the article suggested that condescending males for domestic ineptitude does no-one, especially feminism, any favours.

The message about perfectionism is one that Mrs Bingham regularly delivers to the girls at South Hampstead: “Know when to nail it and when to let things go.” The momentum that’s gathered around her speaking out is also a reminder of something she often tells pupils in assembly: “If you’ve got something worth saying, say it loud.” That’s how to affect change.

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