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Table for one?

6th June 2012

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At a time when “single ladies” and “independent women” are hailed as the ultimate symbols of female empowerment, it seems that we are all ready to throw our hands in the air and demand that our men to put a ring on it. Honestly, is this really a test of our self-reliance?

The question I want to ask is: how many of us have the “balls” to have dinner in a restaurant all by ourselves? No book or distractions, in a restaurant where you have to actually book a table.

For me, this is a reasonable test of self-assurance: qualities which no doubt form the genetic code of any strong and independent female, right?

A male friend told me that he often goes to a noodle bar to eat, and there he always sees other men having lunch. However, women -naaaaa, it doesn’t happen. Women are very often depicted, and to some extent project ourselves, as the sex that lacks self-confidence, the classic example being women always needing an entourage when going to the toilet.

However many of us are not like this. Even though I can’t confess to ever having been out to eat by myself and nor can I say that it’s something I could do without feeling as though I were being judged, the same cannot be said for the women I asked.

All bar one of women I asked, said that eating alone in a public place was either something they had done before or would like to do.

Now of course what people say and what people do are sometimes two very different scenarios, meaning that many of those who claimed that they would be comfortable with dining on their lonesome in reality they may not. However some of the women I asked had actually already gone to dinner by themselves. One person managed to shed some clarity on the situation: “I eat at home all the time," she said, "so why not out?”

My sister also explained that she’d been to a Chinese buffet by herself. 

Aware that people might actually judge them, some imposed conditions on the situation if they were to find themselves alone in a restaurant. For example, they would only do this if it were in a “continental-relaxed-sit-outside-kind-of-place” or if the food was so good they’d be distracted away from the awkwardness. This I can understand; the chances of going for a pub lunch by myself is anorexically slim. In all, dinner alone was seen as a liberating, enlightening and socially defiant act.

Some may think I am underestimating women’s ability to be un-reliant and self-sufficient, or reducing us woman to insecure beings. Not at all. The way I see it is sometimes the smallest things that we are faced with in life cause us to question the way we perceive ourselves. Are we really as independent as we’d like to believe?

I fear for the sake of woman-kind that I’d agree with a friend of mine when she said, “why don’t you just get a takeaway?”

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