It’s been a shocking week in the news or, at least, that’s what a lot of people have said online. They are shocked and appalled by the news of a female Liberal Party staffer, Brittany Higgins, being raped in our nation’s Parliament (there is now a second report from another woman). They are shocked by the flood of sexual assault and rape reports from girls and women who were assaulted by boys from private schools in Sydney. The shock is compounded by the one-year anniversary of the horrific murder of Hannah and her three children at the hands of her estranged husband.
Everyone is shocked. Except we’re not really shocked because that word suggests an element of surprise, and I’m sure most women aren’t surprised at all. We’re not surprised when it’s reported the Prime Minister and his staff may have covered up Brittany’s rape or that the alleged perpetrator went on to a cushy job in the private sector. We’re not surprised that all those private school boys who assaulted their female peers have apparently gone on to live their lives without any repercussions whatsoever. We weren’t surprised when poor Hannah and her children paid the ultimate price in a society where women are still not safe from predatory men.
Perhaps a better word would be sad. Incredibly sad. A heartbreaking sadness that sits in your chest and never leaves because you feel so helpless, particularly as a woman who wants every woman to be safe no matter where she is or what she is wearing.
It was only when he thought about Brittany as a woman attached to him genetically that he could see her as a human. Anyone who knows this man is record was not surprised at his lack of empathy (remember the bushfires) or support for women,
Meanwhile, social media posts call for more teaching about consent in schools, starting with younger children than we do now. The calls seem to asks our schools and hard-working teachers to take on even more of the social responsibility for how our children turn out. Over-burdened teachers with heavy workloads reply, “Really? When will parents and the rest of society take on the load? How much more do you want us to do?”
Some mutter about porn being the cause and, yes, porn has negatively shaped expectations for many men and boys when it comes to what sex, and girls and women should look like and enjoy. But porn isn’t to blame for the ongoing violence towards girls and women. This violence happened to my generation and all the ones that came before. It continues even now.
There is a saying that rot starts from the top and in this case, I believe the change we need must also start there as well. Unfortunately, for women, this change is something men must initiate – the men who hold leadership roles in our government, schools and communities.
The perpetrators of this violence are male. Boys look to men for cues on how to be men so it is men who must speak up.
Wouldn’t it be great if the Prime Minister stood up and said loudly with no spin or prevarication: “Any man who has sex with a woman without her full, eager and willing consent is a rapist and a despicable human being as far as I am concerned. As such, I would expect them to be pursued and prosecuted within the full scope of the law, and if that didn’t happen, I would want to know why.”
Wouldn’t it be great if teenage boys were also told that by their male teachers and by men in their homes and communities?
Wouldn’t it be great if every man in a leadership role in a football code did the same?
Wouldn’t it be great if they said it, meant it and followed through so every woman or girl could feel safe and know that “good men” really do exist?
I am honoured to know a lot of incredible women – strong, resilient, highly-intelligent, well-organised, successful in their chosen fields or brilliant stay-at-home carers. But often they share a recurring theme that breaks my heart and causes feelings of profound sadness, frustration and yes, rage, to rise in my chest.
It is the lack of equality in their intimate partnerships and their continued acceptance of that situation as normal.
It is evident in common statements like:
I’ve done two hours of work before my husband has even got out of bed in the morning.
He really wants to have kids as soon as possible and both our Mums really want grandkids. I’m not sure if I’m ready but there is a lot of pressure. [a few months later she falls pregnant]
He really wants more kids…[later in the same conversation]…He didn’t realise he needed to take the nappy bag because he rarely looks after the children by himself.
I finally got a cleaner because I don’t have time to do it all and it doesn’t matter how many times I ask, he never helps out much.
He tries but, you know, he never does it properly.
He’s always happy to do things he enjoys like going to soccer with our son. But he’s not great with the other stuff like cleaning and cooking dinner.
He runs a large company but can’t cope with our three children for two hours without calling me.
Again and again I hear these statements uttered with an accompanying sigh of resignation. I wonder how we reached the point where women accept this behaviour as the standard. Why do we accept this is what love and relationships are supposed to look like?
Honestly, I know exactly how we got here. We arrived through the centuries of conditioning woman (and yes, men) have received, generation after generation. It’s been enforced through cultural norms, families, religious doctrine, film, television, books and our media.
Women accept this is what love looks like because we’ve been taught that it looks like this. We believe it because we see it everywhere. Yet we also wonder why we still don’t have equal rights in the workplace and why men still get off lightly in the courts for rape and other forms of sexual assault. We wonder why women working online receive vicious threats from men threatening to hunt them down, hurt or murder them. We wonder why the scourge of domestic violence continues to threaten women in relationships at every socio-economic level.
We wonder why we don’t have equality in society yet we don’t realise we don’t have it in our homes. If we don’t have it in our intimate lives how can it ever be created or sustained outside our front door?
The truth is, it can’t. But if we continue to accept inequality in our intimate lives, to shrug and say that’s just the way it is and “I love him”, nothing will ever change within our homes or outside them.
Love without equality is love with an unhealthy serve of disrespect. I am so very tired of seeing women disrespected. I can also see they are exhausted from it too. They are exhausted from the accommodating, navigating and negotiating. Yet they believe this is what love looks like so they make trade-offs in their own minds and it all continues.
If we truly want equality in society, we must first achieve it in our homes. And men who support equality in their workplaces need to do the same in their relationships. If they don’t, they are simply mouthing meaningless platitudes in an attempt to publicly look good to their female colleagues and the rest of the world.
Intimate relationships and love can be complicated. There will always be give and take throughout the twists and turns of life, and compromises to be made. But let’s get real about equality.
If you’re in a relationship, sit down and map out how much time you both spend doing paid and unpaid work to sustain life and the home. Include all the hours spent getting up to feed babies in the middle of the night, caregiving, doing the school run, shopping for groceries, cleaning, looking after relatives – although it is unpaid it is still work and if you had to pay someone to do those things (actually, let’s face it, you would need to pay several people), the bill would be huge. Tally it all up and compare notes. See who is spending more time and go from there. Perhaps you are both equally pulling your weight. If so, that is fantastic – keep going! If not, it’s time for an honest conversation.
Every woman deserves to have equality in her intimate partnership. It should be a right rather than something we need to negotiate. A given not an exception to the rule.
Love without equality is not good enough for any woman, or a good enough reason to stay with any man.
I had a shock this morning. A Facebook memory come up from three years ago and it featured a woman I could barely recognise – me. I was in beautiful Assisi and I was slowly and calmly talking to the camera. But I was way too calm and speaking way too slowly. I was in town I loved but almost too exhausted to enjoy it. As I watched the footage, it looked like I was swimming through energetic mud.
Over the preceding months and years, I had worked every minute of the day to make ends meet. At one point, I had five casual, contract and part-time jobs at once. Immediately before the trip, I had also become, once again, romantically entangled with a man who was not worthy of me – he just took what he wanted and I let him. I was making the same decisions on repeat and nothing was changing. I was surviving not living. Even though I had finally returned to Italy (where my Soul longs to be), I was a burnt-out shadow of myself.
I’d love to tell you I came back from that trip and things were different. But they weren’t. I went back to doing all the things I had been doing before – working every hour of the day, doing things I didn’t want to do anymore, holding onto things I needed to let go of, and guess what, that guy broke my heart.
Early last year, I finally cracked and made some radical changes and when I returned to Italy in August 2019, I was a different person. I had connected to a joyfulness and peacefulness within myself that I didn’t know was possible. I didn’t have everything worked out (of course not!) but I was definitely moving in the right direction.
I always had the keys and it was never about anyone else. It was about the choices I was making, the stories I told myself, and the boundaries I didn’t put in place. I had to get real with myself and draw on some major internal courage to make uncomfortable choices.
Covid-19 and all the crazy 2020 happenings remind us we need to be living as much as we can, not just surviving.
Is the person you see in the mirror, photograph or video only surviving? If so, what are you going to do about it?
A lot of my channelling and mentoring work focuses on helping women align with their purpose. I regard this as some of my most important work because it empowers women with the information they need to do what their Soul is calling out for.
We can spend a lot of time, spinning our wheels and going down blind alleys without this information. While I don’t believe any of that time is wasted – there is always a reason and lessons to be learned from these situations – living in alignment with your purpose helps you stay motivated when the times are tough. It also helps us understand why we might do things that aren’t obviously connected but are still, definitely, taking us in the right direction.
Using words to heal, empower and share stories is a key part of my purpose. This explains why I have spent 20-plus years working in communications and public relations. The same theme is also evident in my work as an author, blogger and mentor. For me, words are the key to everything. I may explore other avenues along the way but I will always return to my words.
Your mind may tell you that your purpose must look a certain way and lead to a specific outcome. But your mind will usually be wrong.
Think about Cleopatra, Michelangelo, Marie Curie, Martin Luther King – none of them did only one thing. If you let your thoughts restrict what living in alignment with your purpose looks like, you could miss out on all kinds of adventures and discoveries.
If you want to learn more about living in alignment with your purpose, let’s talk! One of my programs might be just what you need to get you moving in the right direction for you.
In loving and intimate relationships, there are always things you need to negotiate on – where to eat dinner, who is preparing dinner, where to go on holidays, what colour you should paint the walls, how much money you save together for your agreed goals, and so on. These types of negotiations happen in healthy relationships.
Unfortunately, some men believe their female partners should also negotiate with them about other topics like:
What you wear
What you eat
What you post on social media (when he and/or your children aren’t in the pics)
What you wear when you post on social media
What you weigh
The size of your breasts (implants anyone?)
Which other men you can talk to
How much make-up you do or don’t wear.
These topics are NOT negotiation points and if you’re with a man (a term I am using very loosely in this instance) who insists on you negotiating about these, LEAVE.
You may think this advice is rather melodramatic but is it, really? Because I have to tell you, when you agree to negotiate about how you show up in the world, you are on a slippery slope to nowhere good. Your autonomy is not up for negotiation.
And quite frankly, I don’t give a damn about his feelings about this and neither should you. I would also wonder who taught him it was okay to tell you what you can and cannot do with your body. That sounds like a bad case of entitlement and he should get some therapy to resolve that issue while you move onto a man who has a healthy sense of self and respects you as the amazing goddess you are.
The right man will love you as you are and will not seek to control you. He will respect your autonomy and respect you as an individual who chooses her own path. Just like he chooses his.
Lucretia is an author, psychic and intuitive mentor who helps women live their purpose. Need some practical and honest advice about feelings, life or relationships? Visit DearLucretia.com to ask your question. Answers are FREE and your name will always be changed if your question is published.
Earlier today, I learned that feminist icon Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the stalwart Judge of the US Supreme Court had passed over. Just days ago, she told her granddaughter, “[my] most my fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” The Universe had other plans and now it’s possible the Trump will replace her with a conservative judge who will continue the rolling back of individual rights including those bestowed through Roe versus Wade. The rights of women to decide what happens to their own bodies is under a very real threat.
Then an old work colleague rang me out of the blue and we talked about how women still struggle with self-worth, give their power away to their male partners and need to be vigilant about their safety in ways men never have to be. Women still need to be aware of their surroundings when they go out, watchful of who is around them, wary of walking at night, and consider their personal safety and how a man might react if they reject him. Women still need to do this, even after all the time that has passed since the 80s when my colleague and I were in our teens and 20s.
We talked about how every second woman we know has experienced some form of abuse as a child or an adult, at the hands of a man.
After all of this, I can’t help but feel tired, sad and disheartened. How much more do we have to fight for rights that are so fundamental? Why are there still discussions about what women can and can’t do with their bodies? It’s not as if anyone ever talks about mandatory vasectomies for men? Can you imagine the uproar if someone tried to legislate such a thing?! Still, it seems women’s bodies are still somehow public property while men’s bodies are not. One 87-year-old judge in the US Supreme Court was the last bastion standing up for a woman’s right to choose versus a government’s move to dictate a woman’s decisions regardless of her own personal desires and autonomy. Now RBG has departed, the threat to women’s legislated rights to choose is very real in a country that has, until recent times, been a leader of the free-world.
Meanwhile, the truth of Glennon’s words stay with me because I know women give away their power every day – we frequently give it away more than it is taken from us. We give it away because we desire those feelings of safety and belonging that Glennon talks of. We give it away because we have become so convinced that it is the normal thing to do. We watched our mothers do it, our friends do it, celebrities do it, and so we have done it too. We ignore the red flags and accept less than we’re worth. We are too often taught not to use our voices stridently to ask for and claim what is rightfully ours. Instead we are taught to ask nicely and be nice at all costs or otherwise face rejection.
The not-good-enoughness, the I must “help him” at my own expense and the excusals of behaviour and red flags with the age-old “but I love him” continues. And even though on one level, social media provides so many opportunities for individual expression it also strangely, drives strong messages of conformity. How can women rise if we are still trying to fit into a norm that we helped create and exist in, while trying to create something new that is not yet realised?
It’s September 2020, RBG has died and it feels like we aren’t moving forward.
Tomorrow is a new day and I’m sure my optimism will return. My drive and belief that we can change things for the better has not left me. It just feels a little subdued today. I can only hope that, somehow, we change things over the coming decade so that the girls being born today will not have the same experiences in their 20s that this generation is having. Seeking honest and practical advice about the things that matter – love, relationships, coping with life, choosing your path, managing stress and anxiety? Lucretia provides free advice at DearLucretia.com. It’s time to take the filters off and have a real conversation about life! Note, your name will be changed before your question is published to ensure you remain anonymous.