I’m sure it’s not only me but I can’t help but feel a little bit sorry for the husband of writer Kate Thompson. Smiling straight and honestly into the camera, and later posing with the couple’s two sons, he looks such a lovely man and indeed as Kate writes in the Daily Mail: “My husband is the kindest, most considerate man in the world. During the seven years we’ve been married, Ben has done most of the cooking, cleaning and ironing without ever being asked… and yes, he works full-time.”
So quite why she has written a piece about how she is the anti-wife and hardly ever has sex with him (‘Intimacy is reserved only for his birthdays’ she writes, ‘and then just the ones with a zero’)is anyone’s guess.
In her article, former magazine deputy editor Kate proudly tells how despite not earning as much as her breadwinning husband, she is “too busy and involved in my career as a writer to be a traditional caring wife.”
She adds: “It is because of my selfishness that he has to dress the children and make them breakfast while replying to emails on his Blackberry.”
Being so proud of not making the time to enjoy sex with your husband or devote to your children before they go to school might sound strange. After all, most of us wouldn’t want the world to know we work all hours but still don’t earn mega bucks and the majority of husbands wouldn’t like others (particularly your own parents and in-laws…) to know that their wife hardly ever has sex with them. In fact thousands of people certainly felt strongly enough about Kate’s rather bizarre admissions to give their opinions on the Mail’s website.
But then her article was written to be provocative. In fact her piece is one of a ‘I’m the worst’ trend for female writers these days. That is to almost compete with one another to be the worst wife, the most hellish mother or to do something else that is controversial or completely goes against the grain (for example, on the same day writer Shona Sibary writes about sending her tiny daughter Dolly to school before she has to.)
Writing about oneself isn’t new of course – but since Samantha Brick wrote her article in the same paper about how other people didn’t like her because she was so beautiful, self-confessionals have taken on a new life.
That article caused such a stir that overnight Samantha Brick became a media sensation. At the time, despite all the negative comments about her, we predicted she would make the most of her new-found fame by going on TV and writing a book. She has since gone on to do all of those things.
Strangely, there are few as controversial pieces quite like this from men possibly because ‘I shun my wife and make her look after the kids’ could be career suicide for a man. However first person pieces written by women writers have become very popular – not only by magazines and newspaper editors who like them because they are written by the person themselves who knows the score (or should do if they are a seasoned journalist) – but also because they are undeniably successful. Kate Thompson’s piece immediately rocketed to the top of the Mail website today, which could probably hardly keep up with the amount of comments, such was the fury it created amongst readers. So a resounding success for the paper.
Undoubtedly, she will be asked to go on TV and to write other first-person features in future. Whether she will do any of these things of course depends on how her family feels and what fall-out, if any, there is from those close to her.
Therein lies the problem for the writer that makes a name for themselves by writing these pieces. There can be a price to pay with loved ones, who might resent continuously being talked about in your features. But the biggest headache is you must keep on digging deep, coming up with new controversial and provocative issues to write about.
There is then always the worry that having established yourself as self-confessional queen, that the trend could suddenly come to an end. One of the top-rated comments on Kate Thompson’s article reads: “I guess she has not had the success with her new career that she was hoping and the only way to get attention is to ‘do a Brick’ and become an object of derision,” while another writes: “Not another shallow woman determined to make a name for herself by being shocking. Bored of this.”
However, judging by the success of this feature, and the sheer number of comments, there is no danger of the public being bored of such articles just yet.