Envy, a working woman’s curse

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London - For decades, women wrote to agony aunt Irma Kurtz for advice on love and the men in their lives.

But the modern woman is much more concerned by rivalries with other females in the workplace, the veteran columnist has revealed.

The 78-year-old, who has imparted guidance to millions of Cosmopolitan readers since 1973, said of the letters she receives these days: “Now there is less about sex, less ‘she’s trying to flirt with my bloke’ and more anxiety about competition on the office floor. ‘Who does she think she is’ – that sort of thing.”

She added: “I call envy ‘the sisterly vice’ and it’s one we are more open to than ever now we have more areas in which to compete.”

In an interview with a Sunday magazine, she said the numerous opportunities open to women with regards to their careers nowadays has created scenarios whereby they are more and more frightened of “not being like the others”.

She added: “It was easier in a way when there was less choice.”

Last month Kurtz faced a backlash over her latest advice – saying women should not get drunk around men because it puts them at risk of being raped.

Kurtz said that the onus was on women to protect themselves against attack.

She said those who ‘get drunk with the boys’ become incapable of defending themselves because “drunkenness tears that away. It really is carelessness to lose your self-defence”.

She called rape “an assault with a weapon”, adding: “You really have to be a little bit defensive when you’re around people who are stupid and armed.”

The 78-year-old’s pronouncement was seized upon by anti-rape campaigners, who labelled her advice “totally irresponsible” and called it “misguided, unhelpful and judgmental”.

When talking about her own life, Kurtz is more philisophical and reflective admitting she never thought she would end up without a soulmate.

“It is still sometimes a surprise to me to wake up and find myself alone. I was a romantic when I was young. I always thought I’d find my soulmate. But what can you do?”

Kurtz, who has written a new book: My Life in Agony, said she was “wild” in the 1960s and spent 20 years in love with one man or another.

She had a son with one of her lovers who she raised alone. He is now a television director living near Cambridge and she confesses she doesn’t see him as much as she would like.

“You lose a son when he gets married. People always want rules, so I have to be careful., but here is a sweeping generalisation – you lose a son. But… that’s all right because there is something else. Grandchildren!” - Daily Mail

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