Wendyl Nissen

Wendyl Nissen on being 'The Supportive Wife'

Wendyl Nissen: We can ring that big bell when ...

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Since becoming a supportive wife, I have had a few heated conversations with women who believe I am taking the women's movement back to the 50s.

By choosing to devote more time to home rather than office, nurturing rather than bossing, making life easier for my husband rather than harder, I am not making full use of hard-won women's equality.

But let's take a look at that equality.

Columnist Caitlin Moran suggested in The Times recently that our so-called equality is not quite there yet.

She writes that when a woman can eat a sausage for breakfast without feeling bad about it, and collect an Oscar in comfortable shoes, then we could probably ring the Great Golden Bell of Equality.

In New Zealand we, too, have a few hurdles to get over. Here, we'll be able to ring that bell ...

• When a size 16 woman doesn't have to win a competition for being curvy in order to send out a message that it's okay to be curvy. Women are curvy, we are allowed to be curvy, we don't need a competition to tell us that. I admire the idea, but if we were truly equal to men then walking around with a pot belly and a plumber's crack would be just fine with us. In an equal world women would get our bellies out and enjoy them, just like men do.

• When Wanaka does not have to hold a Perfect Woman contest to find a woman who can throw a sheep carcass on her back and knows her stout from her lager. New Zealand women have been throwing sheep on their backs for years, not to mention popping lambs in the oven to warm up, and all of us drank stout when we were breastfeeding. If we were truly equal, this would not be the novelty it is, grabbing headlines throughout the country.

• When we can watch music videos and think "Wow that guy can really dance" without having to watch him dance through a maze of half naked twerking women. If we were truly equal, the men would be doing the same and the whole lot would be reclassified as pornography.

• When women can sit down to eat with other women and not hear once "Oh God I have gotten so fat I hate myself - just the salad for me". To not discuss the latest diet craze, to not bemoan the fact that we are no longer size 12, to not hate ourselves for having dessert. If we were truly equal, we would eat and drink as men do, with delight and wonder, which is what good food is all about.

• When our senior women politicians appear on camera with the face God gave them, not one found at the end of a Botox needle. If we were truly equal, female politicians would wear what they like and not have their clothes constantly commented on. And they could look as rumpled, wrinkled and blatantly "I don't give a damn because I'm busy running the country" in the looks department as the men do. Think Helen Clark during most of her term as Prime Minister.

• When our female television presenters are over the age of 50 and look it. They would be there because, like men on television, they are valued for their life experience, their skills in journalism and their ability to present news well, not their looks or the fact that they are not young enough to be their boss's daughter. Think Judy Bailey and Susan Wood if they were still on the daily current affairs news schedule.

While I'm waiting for these things to happen, I'll get on with my supportive wife challenge and be thankful that while women's equality has a way to go, the feminism movement at least gave me the right to work. In the 50s, women had no choice but to be chained to the kitchen sink, but I have the right to choose whether I work in an office or devote myself to home and family.

- NZ Herald

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