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Friday 29 August 2014

Behind every great woman...is a man?

Amy Browne wonders why we’re less inclined to consider the flipside of the old adage

Amy Browne

Published 05/05/2013 | 05:00

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Someone once said that "behind every successful man, stands a woman". There are plenty of female stereotypes which I simply refuse to accept. This one, however, I will gladly claim. Am I less of a feminist if I consider it a massive compliment?

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The idea that, often, the backbone of a man's success is the support of his other half gives a sense of balance and completion in my eyes.

I'm not just talking about the woman at home cooking the dinner and raising the children in order for her husband to be able to thrive in his career; rather the unwavering emotional support that as a sex we provide, regardless of whether we are married with children or not.

The innate ability to pick him up when he's been knocked down; the confidence a woman can restore in her partner when she simply tells him, "you're doing a great job, hang on in there".

The basic nature of the male is dominance. The basic nature of the female is nurturing. So in being a support to the male and his endeavours, are we not just being true to ourselves?

Women have an innate ability to provide a sense of comfort to their male counterpart. We are creatures who instinctively lead with the heart – which can provide balance to the more logically-minded male.

What is so wrong about selflessly supporting, encouraging and believing in the person that you love?

Of course, we have to take into account that most men and women in relationships have their own careers. Sometimes the female is the breadwinner. 'House husbands' are a common phenomenon. The world has changed.

If this is the case, why then does it feel so disloyal to my female sisters to play with the flipside of the quote, which I so readily claimed ownership of when it was praising the female contingent? Let's try it, shall we? 'Behind every successful woman, stands a man.'

I can hear Germaine Greer's distant roar. I am a traitor to women everywhere. The years of female suppression seem to have embedded themselves in my cellular being and all I want to do is scream out loud and proud, "I don't need a man! I can do it on my own!"

There is a huge pressure on women in today's society, but it is pressure we put upon ourselves. We strive for a successful career, but also want to raise a family. We want to be at the top of our career ladder, but we don't want to have to leave our child with a nanny. We want to have a baby, but we want to be back in our skinny jeans two weeks after giving birth.

We pressure ourselves to be a – dare I say it – yummy mummy. The term 'yummy mummy' implies that there are mummies out there who are not yummy at all. If you are not yummy, you're probably not doing it right.

We put the pressure on ourselves. Or, if it makes us feel better, 'society' – a society made of women – puts this pressure on us.

So there should be nothing wrong with looking for support from our male partner – a support that allows us to thrive and be successful, and eases some of that pressure.

It is possible to be a strong, independent woman. It is possible to have it all. It takes a whole lotta woman to be able to say that your partner stands beside you through it all, strong in his own right.

At the end of the day, life is one big solo run. But ain't it swell when someone fancies coming along for the ride?

The question is not where they stand, the question is not what sex they are; the question is whether you can do it alone – and my inner feminist breathes a sigh of relief and says: "Yes I can. I can do it alone, but it takes nothing away from me if someone wants to join me on my journey."

In fact, it might just be a bit of craic.

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