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I happened to be watching Carte Blanche on Sunday 13th November, when an insert came up titled ‘Free the Nipple’. It is an initiative to raise awareness for gender equality by showing your nipple in public. I watched with great interest and it really got me thinking. I have started a series of talks called the Feminine Manoeuvre. It is all about assisting women to balance their oftentimes very busy and stressful lives. We encourage them to invest time in themselves because through this they will be in a better place to be able to offer their family the support and guidance that they need. Our emphasis is for women to be women, to embrace their femininity and realise, through this, how incredibly powerful they actually are.

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This may sound as if I am advocating that a women’s place is in the home and that she should only be there to serve others. Quite to the contrary in fact. I am all for gender equality in certain regards. Women in the work place should definitely be treated as equals and have the same opportunities as male counterparts. In a household where both partners are out working just as hard as each other, then I believe that home and children related responsibilities should be shared. Of course, religious and cultural beliefs in some communities are an overriding factor but that is another discussion.

Do I however, have to show my nipple to make this point? My nipple is part of a much bigger picture. It is on my breast, which is a part of my body. As far as I am concerned my body is sacred and private. No, I am not a prude. I like to reveal a bit of cleavage and wear a small bikini. But I have no desire to show off my nipples and I don’t believe that I would be running around Time Square in my Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini either. My naked body is reserved for intimacy. If I were a woman, still of child-bearing age, then my nipples (breasts) would be for nutrition. Here I need to digress and give my two cents worth on breastfeeding. I don’t have a problem with women wanting to breast feed in public at all. But is a bit of respect and consideration not due? There may well be people who would feel uncomfortable in the company of a breastfeeding mom, for whatever reason. So surely it would take nothing for the woman who is breastfeeding to be considerate and respectful? It is not necessary to flash the entire boob! Women have been breast-feeding since the beginning of time. What point are they now trying to make?

So back to gender equality. I get that it is not necessarily about exposing the nipple but the message behind it. Men have been going topless for years so why shouldn’t women? Well it is a common enough practice on a lot of beaches around the world and that is certainly not to prove a point but simply to get an all-over tan, no strap marks.

Herein lies my observation and indeed quandary. A lot of the time through circumstances, one example being divorce, women have had to step up to the plate and become very strong, independent providers. I remember that when I got divorced my Dad bought me a step-ladder and a fully stocked tool box and told me, “no, single women should be without this.” I had a bond to pay, a demanding job to hold down, a home to maintain and a child to raise with limited financial support. I pretty much had to fulfill all roles. Soo many women are having to deal with this and much more. It is then inevitable that a lot of women, not all, begin to embrace their right or masculine side. The left, feminine side, gets somewhat forgotten along the way. But here is the kicker, I am still a woman and want to be treated as such. I want my car door opened for me. I want to go out on a date and be romanced. I want men to be men. But the age of chivalry has all but died and I think it is because men almost feel in a lot of regards, as if they are no longer needed. They no longer have a role to fulfil because women are “doing it for themselves”.

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It becomes a vicious circle of men stepping back and women stepping up. I cannot help but think that this is breaking down the intrinsic foundation of families. I have to also ponder if this is not one of the big reasons for discord in relationships.

I have to admit that my perception was that I had to be one of those women who felt that she needed to be incredibly strong and self-sufficient to get by. I know that because of this I have threatened and intimidated a lot of men along the way and who knows perhaps Mr. Right slipped through the cracks because of this. I am now learning that there are lots of areas in my life where I can still chase my ambitions and be free-spirited. When it comes to a relationship though, if I want to make it a success, then I need to be a soft, sometimes whimsical and malleable nymph. I believe that this is what men want and need in order for them to be able to function as true chivalrous beings. I feel that if women find the balance, if their Man is made to feel like a King, then he will indeed treat her like the Queen that she is. Once you achieve this, you as women, will realise just how powerful you are, not only in the boardroom but in your home as well. Forgive me, I almost said, not only in the boardroom but in the bedroom as well and perhaps that is also implied.

It was Jerry Hall who said, “My mother said it was simple to keep a man, you must be a maid in the living room, a cook in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom. I said I’d hire the other two and take care of the bedroom bit.” I think that I would like to change that to, “….a Director in the boardroom, a chef in the kitchen and a lover in the bedroom.” If that were the case then I don’t believe that you would need to hire any help and your man would not look elsewhere for what is lacking. He would be happy and so would you. As a side, you can play around with the chef bit if cooking is not your forte.

So, I have to now go back to the ‘Free the Nipple’ campaign. Sorry but I have spun a mighty yarn in between. I understand it but I don’t believe one has to expose your nipple to make the point. It is pure sensationalism as far as I am concerned. Women’s bodies are beautiful and I don’t believe need to be cheapened and bandied about to prove a point. Gender equality is all fair and well as long as the balance is reached and the process is respectful and considerate to all concerned.

Lina Esco, the very charismatic founder of ‘Free the Nipple’, so aptly stated that she has always been a trouble maker. I don’t think that is a bad quality, by the way, if used in a constructive and positive manner. I just hope that further down the line, she can use this energy to genuinely empower and help women. Perhaps she could look at some worthy causes such as supporting the ‘Days for Girls Organisation’. They supply hygiene kits and sanitary pads for girls who cannot afford such necessary items. Or how about raising awareness for young girls used for slavery, prostitution and human trafficking.

There you have it, my take on modern day feminism and equality. I know that I have reached a stage in my life where I am in fact tired of being the strong, independent woman. I’ve proved that I can do it and it has lost its lack lustre. It is a monumental admission for me to make but here goes: I have been successful and good at many things. I have had incredible adventures and done stuff that many people only dream of. Yet, one of the things that I still wish to achieve, is to simply be a successful partner! Embracing both modern and olden day values and realistic expectations. I breathe a sigh of relief at having acknowledged this. My independent streak will always endure, it is a part of my make-up and I believe a necessary quality. The journey however, towards embracing my more girlie side is proving to be just as necessary and I must say, a lot of fun!

I hope that through my Feminine Manoeuvre that I will be able to touch some lives and make a difference. That we will learn that men and women have certain roles that they really excel at and should stick to and that they can reach a balance for all the in between bits!

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