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    • Manpower (or girl power, part II)

      Before anyone accuses me of being a bra-burning, male-hating feminist, please let me assure you this is certainly not the case. For anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve always accepted my role as a woman graciously. Too proud to let a man pay for me on a date? Never. Strong enough to carry my own luggage when travelling? Not if I can help it! Which is precisely why I am going to say what I’m about to say.

      News this week has been rife with male-related health incidents, starting with that good old gem, ‘Man flu’. “Man flu evidence mounts”, the Daily Telegraph tells us, although already by the stand first you can tell that the journalist (male himself, by the way), is unconvinced. “Researchers have found new evidence that ‘man flu’ does exist-in their heads at least”, he tells us, referring to a study carried out on South Korean men.  They found that men “overrate” the symptoms of a common cold while women do not, and claimed this is because they get more stressed at work than their female counterparts. It concluded, quite rightly, therefore, that women are more “stoical” in the face of a cold.

      Blah-dy blah-dy blah. Tell us something we don’t already know.

      And then, as if by magic-“they did concede that Korean men might get more colds than women because they tended to be the main bread winners, and hence ‘may experience higher levels of work-related strerrors’”, the article continues. Uh, yeah. Maybe in the 1950’s. Official statistics for South Korea inform that by 1988, 43.6% of women were in the workforce. And that’s before we even mention UK figures! So breadwinning or not, this is a bit of a lame excuse.

      Which is ironic, really, because another surprising piece of news to grace us with this week also seems to be stuck in the past. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) data, smoking is the main reason why, on average, men die earlier than women across Europe, to the tune of a 60% gender health gap. 

      But according to Cancer Research (which you may concede is a rather reliable source), although the disparity between male and female smokers used to be significant (82%:41%, to be precise), the latest figures from 2008 show only a 1% difference between the sexes. Certainly not enough to account for the 60% gap!

      So come on, own up, what is it? Are you boys really less hardy than us? Are we really able to withstand the fatal effects of tobacco better than you? Do you really feel the need to dramatise what we would call a common cold into a near-enough disease? What happened to the stereotype of the strong man who protects his swooning lover? Where have you gone?

      It’s nice to see that at least some men are taking their roles seriously this week. A certain master detective, Sherlock Holmes, is to follow in the footsteps of James Bond, after gaining a new lease of life in the hands of high-profile modern novelist Anthony Horowitz. And whilst Horowitz will retain Conan-Doyle’s Victorian setting, he has made it clear that he is aiming to produce a “first rate mystery for a modern audience while remaining absolutely true to the spirit of the original.” Boys, why can’t you do the same? Heaven knows you have, and always will be a “first rate mystery”, but surely you can continue evolving in the modern world “while remaining absolutely true to the spirit of the original”? (which, by the way, would mean retaining some amount of the macho which we women so desperately require from you.)  Are real men really now only a thing of fiction?

      So for the last time, let us be the weaker sex, please! And for God’s sake, just be a man.

    • Girl power

      It wasn’t all that long ago that Emmeline Pankhurst rounded up an army of women, aptly named the Suffragettes, who fought against female suffrage in the form of gender inequality. “We want the right to vote”, they cried. “We want to be considered equals to men”, they begged.

      And vote they did, and equals to men they became. And as the decade to the opening of the millennium drifts away, it is safe to say that we women have not only successfully gained the vote, but a political, financial, and employment standing to rival that of the male.

      But alas! It is no longer to be, as news this week claims that gender equality is no longer sought. For supposedly, although we women won’t admit it, we want to marry up.

      The ‘war for equal opportunities between men and women is now over in the UK’, claims the report conducted by the London School of Economics (LSE). And whilst this may be to the delight to some and dismay to others, I fear it has been replaced by another, more pressing war, which is currently waging between the sexes.

       For more news this week has revealed a disturbing insight into female self-esteem, with the rather shocking statistics that just 1 in 17 women of a healthy weight consider themselves to be slim. And whilst 17% of women describe themselves as fat, only 6% of men described themselves in the same way, with twice as many women than men feeling ashamed of their weight.

      Managing director of Slimming World, Caryl Richards, says this is because women worry more about what people think, and whilst once upon a time this may have been the case, I beg to differ. 

      Enter Gordon Ramsay. It emerged this week that the outspoken chef mixed the ingredients of a ?30,000 hair transplant, teeth whitening, and Botox, to enhance his appearance.

      With news like this (and let it be known that Mr Ramsay is not the first, nor will he be the last male to preen himself), is it any wonder that women have become so insecure about their appearance?

      ‘Women have always been insecure’, you may argue, and yes, on that I would agree. And although Gordon Ramsay may not be the best example for the point I’m trying to make, with others like David Beckham (and his 8 year-old son-also in the news this week for ranking number 26 on GQ’s annual best dressed list) continuing to hog the proverbial mirror, how are we girls expected to compete?

      It’s a classic case of table turning. As women once upon a time wanted to be master of all, it seems that men are now attempting the same.

      This is not to suggest for an instant that women should not be successful in the working world, nor that men should not take a pride in their appearance. As a hard working woman who also takes a pride in her appearance, I expect the same of my partner. However, for the sake of your dignity and our innately stubborn insecurities, please stop using our make-up.

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