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Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Our Lack of Progress

Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Our Lack of Progress

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.

Instagram later showed me an interview with Glennon Doyle who said white women learn early on “that we will accept our proximity to power and all the comfort and safety and belonging that will get us but in exchange we will never ask for any real power. We will stay quiet and grateful and accommodation.” Glennon is a keen observer of a common female reality.

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 RGB 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.

My former colleague and I are children of the 70s yet we see women in their 20s still dealing with the issues we thought we had fought through and trounced so they would never have to. But still they struggle to unthread the patriarchal ties passed down from mother to daughter and indoctrinated through cultural tropes in film, music, social media influencers and reality TV. You only have to watch a few minutes of The Bachelor to understand how little we have moved forward.

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.

We need to be feminists

We need to be feminists

When I was a teenage girl, I read almost every copy of my mother’s collection of Georgette Heyer novels. Set mostly in pre-1800 England, the romantic tales included balls, confused women with love in their hearts, and sometimes ruthless men who softened in the end. It depicted a fantastic world full of chivalry, silk and honour. It was light years away from my very ordinary 1980s life in Australia.

In a most contradictory fashion, my late teens saw me increasingly outspoken about feminist issues. I was and am still a woman who believes passionately in feminism. I believe in equality. Women would not have the rights we do, without feminism.

It has been 30+ years since I started reading Heyer and learning about feminism. In some ways, things have changed a lot during that time. In other ways, not so much.

As an adult, I realise that Heyer’s romantic stories veiled a time when women were usually nothing more than chattels with few, if any, rights of their own – if you’d like a horrifying look into that world, I recommend you watch The Duchess, a film about the life of Georgiana Spencer (let me know if you notice any similarities between Georgiana and the life of her later relative, Diana).  

My teenage self thought women would have equality by 2020. I imagine her beside me now – she has disappointment written all over her face.

There is still a long way to go before the scales are equally balanced. Women are still treated as property in many countries throughout the world. Too many women are still treated like that in Australia too – take a look at the domestic violence statistics for the evidence of this.

Women still don’t have equal representation at the top levels of industry or government – we are still greeted by a sea of mainly male faces leading major companies across the globe and dominating our parliaments. Why are women still such a minority? And don’t tell me it’s because women have to leave work to have babies because Jacinda Ardern has busted that myth wide open. In her case, instead of trying to conform to a way of doing things that was established to suit the needs of men, she’s adjusted things to equally suit the needs of a woman.

Despite the evidence that we have a long way to go, I often hear women say they do not identify as being a feminist. But if you want equality for women, by definition, you are a feminist – please visit a dictionary if you don’t believe me.

But the word ‘feminist’ feels too radical for some, it seems. It’s too disruptive. It conjures up…oh, I don’t know, images of screaming women, burning their bras. It also comes with images and stories of women being targeted and harangued by enraged men seeking to maintain the status quo through covert and even overt threats.

If you are a woman and you want equality, smiling nicely and playing within the existing structures and according to the rules and structures that we didn’t create, is unlikely to get you there. It hasn’t got us there yet – why do we think doing things the same way will change anything?

I’m not anti-men and I’m not anti-romance either. I still love a good rom com film and highly value chivalry in a man.

But if you believe feminism isn’t needed, you’re not looking at the truth of the way things are. If you want equality for women, then you are a feminist. This means you also need the tools and support to allow you to speak up, stand out and be disruptive. Because, yes, you will need to disrupt the way things have always been to create a world where power is more evenly distributed. We need to create new ways of doing things that don’t just support the way things have always been done.

We need to be feminists.

I’m so sick of this sh!!

I’m so sick of this sh!!

TW: discusses sexual assault

World, we have a problem and I am sick to death of it. Sexual assault of women and girls is rife in our community and it’s got to stop.

Almost every woman I speak to has been sexually assaulted and/or physically abused by a boy or man. The incidents may have happened when they were a child or an adult but the stories are appallingly and insidiously common. Strangers at parties, boyfriends and husbands, older men when they were kids, on and on and on the stories go. They are everywhere and they are never-ending.

If you’re reading my words and thinking, “Lucretia is exaggerating, it’s not that common,” I want to invite you to do the following.

If you are a man reading this, put down your device and go talk to the women in your life – the women you care about. Ask them about their experiences of assault in the workplace, at home, on nights out. I dare you to ask and I dare you to listen and accept what you hear about their experiences. If a woman has escaped sexual assault and abuse, she is a lucky exception.

Then I suggest you take walk through the comments sections on posts by women like Clementine Ford who speak out about abusive male behaviour, feminism and women demanding better treatment. As you scroll, I want you do look out for the misogynistic commentary that some men still think is acceptable – comments like, “I’m going to rape you if you don’t shut your hole” or “No man will ever have sex with you because you’re an ugly pig.” This type of commentary is remarkably common and even more interestingly, when women shine a spotlight on these ugly comments that men send to their DMs, people (men and women) defend the abusive pricks who sent them in the first place. Women are still expected to play nicely and smile politely even in the face of abuse – we mustn’t cause waves or be disruptive.

Well, I am sick of this shi!

I’m sick of hearing of young women who are assaulted yet, when they tell adults, police and others, they are disbelieved and met with words like, “He comes across as a really genuine guy” or “Maybe he didn’t know that you weren’t into it.”

I’m sick of reading about how, even if a woman bravely and tenaciously, goes to court to tell her story, juries are still more likely to believe the man’s story even when evidence shows that women are unlikely to lie about this stuff. If you want to learn more about this, I highly recommend you read the words of Bri Lee in her book, Eggshell Skull.

I’m also completely devastated when I hear women and girls describe their assaults and in the next breath they doubt themselves and ask, “Was that wrong? Am I over-reacting? Was it my fault?”

If you are a girl or a woman and you feel like you have been sexually assaulted, then it’s highly, highly likely you have been. It wasn’t your fault.

If you said no and then he coerced you, didn’t listen, forced himself on you, you have been assaulted.

If he touched you sexually without your consent, then you have been assaulted.

If he pushed himself on you and you froze (which sadly, many women do in these situations because we are terrified), then you were assaulted.

If you have had any of these or related experiences, I want to say this directly to you:

“Sweetheart, none of that was your fault. When things happen and they feel wrong, they are wrong – trust yourself. It’s not your job to teach men and boys how to treat you respectfully – they know the difference between right and wrong.

“You are a courageous and beautiful person who deserves so much more than this. I believe you can find your way out – sometimes it’s just about finding the right person to help you.

“Don’t give up. I believe you.”

As for those of you who continue to say, “It’s not that common”, “She shouldn’t have worn that dress/gone to that place/been with that guy” or “He just misunderstood and thought she consented”, my response is “Do better”.

“I love you but I love me more.”

“I love you, but I love me more.”

I’ve been thinking about this quote all day. It’s from Sex and the City – the iconic series about women, sex and friendship that many of us loved during the 90s. The quote is from Samantha Jones when she realises she has sacrificed her goals and independence for the man she loves. She has upended her life to help him follow his dream so he can be a success. With her talent and skills, she has taken him from unknown to superstar. But one day, she realises she can’t do it anymore. Although she loves him, she loves herself more.

Somewhere along the way, she willingly chose to lose herself in help him create his dreams. So she leaves and returns to the life that fills her up rather than living a life that ensures his needs are met, rather than her own.

Many years ago, while I was still married, my then-husband’s interests were increasingly divergent from my own. He wanted to stay home, watch the football several nights a week and renovate our house. Increasingly, I wanted to socialise, travel and expand my world. As time went by, and he refused to join me, I chose to go out without him. A female family member told me I should stay at home.

“Even though he won’t go out at all, I should stay home with him because that’s what he wants?” I asked her.

“Yes,” she said.

I left my marriage a year or two later. Clearly, I felt differently to her.

A lot of years have passed since then but I’ve noticed a pattern when it comes to women and the men they love.

I’ve heard women say things like, “Oh, he doesn’t like me to do things without him, so I don’t [insert her dream or passion here]” or, “I just know that he has all this potential so I’m going to help him [insert his dream].”

These are good women who love their men. But I wonder if they realise what they are doing to themselves and their relationships when they shelve their own dreams and desires so they can help their partners achieve theirs.

In partnerships, there are absolutely swings and roundabouts. As we progress through our lives, there will be times when one partner needs more support to help them achieve and reach for their goals. But too often it seems like the woman does a lot more heavy lifting in this department than the man. And we do it voluntarily because that’s what a good wife/girlfriend/partner does. Therein lies the challenge.

In this modern age, there is no reason for women to believe they must put their needs second to their male partner. There is no reason why men shouldn’t do 50 percent of the housework and child-rearing when their female partners also work full-time. But the statistics tell us that women are consistently taking the heavier load.

Mothers still frequently do more for their sons than their daughters. I’ve heard friends with sons and daughters talk about how much more difficult it is for boys than girls. Girls must fend for themselves more because they’re more capable while the mothers are just that bit more protective of their sons. The daughters see this behaviour and carry it forward into their intimate relationships later on.

Culturally, we’re still shown messages every day that women should make more allowances for their men. Female celebrities forgive their male partners for all sorts of indiscretions (including abuse) while their men and their careers still flourish. Just take a look at some of the sportsmen and musicians of the world for examples where women and the man’s adoring fans forgive all kinds of appalling behaviour. Mind you, a woman is unlikely to get away with similar antics without being called a myriad of names and probably losing her income.

The common theme parroted by women throughout all of these situations, is love. Too often it’s the narrative of unconditional love. “You must love unconditionally,” we’re told. But I think women have misinterpreted this message.

Telling a woman she should stay home all the time and shrink her world because that’s what her husband wants, is not love.

Prioritising his dreams and desires over yours, is not love.

Continuing to pick up more of the home and child-rearing tasks, is not love.

Ensuring sons are treated with more care than our daughters, is not love.

Making allowances for disrespectful and sometimes abusive behaviour, is not love.

We must love fiercely – we must set boundaries and say no, this is not okay. We must love ourselves fiercely and refuse to enable poor masculine behaviour. We must only only accept equality because that is what we deserve.

We must demand respect, not beg for it.

We must love fiercely with boundaries and accept nothing less.

If we learn to do this effectively, we will empower ourselves as women and also empower our men, instead of demeaning ourselves and emasculating them.

Love fiercely. And know you can love them but you need to love yourself more.

Unconditional love doesn’t mean giving away your power. We need to stop believing it does.

Souls have free will as well as lessons to be learned

Souls have free will as well as lessons to be learned

A while ago, someone said I was brave to go my own way and not have children when society puts so much pressure on women to do so. She met her comment sincerely but I soon disabused her of the notion that I had made my decision as a form of conscious rebellion against the establishment.

I am a feminist certainly and proud that I don’t fit into the traditional female mode. But I did want children once.

I was married to a man in my 20s but I never wanted them with him.

Then in my 30s I found myself single by choice and occasionally yes, I did think about it but not in any way that I was willing to take concerted action on.

A couple of months shy of my 42nd birthday, I met a man I truly thought was the one – the one for me. I fell completely in love. He was younger and it soon became clear that not having children was a deal breaker for him. He wanted them but at that point in the relationship, I wasn’t sure.

We took two weeks apart for me to work things out. He didn’t want either of us to see anyone else during that time. He said he loved me. He said he was devastated and didn’t know what to do.

I saw a powerful energy healer during that break and through that work I quickly realised I wanted children. I wanted them very much and I wanted them with the man I loved.

Imagine my surprise when I conveyed this news to him and he didn’t believe me. He knew me to be a woman who didn’t lie and yet, he said he couldn’t believe it. He said, “Even if you mean it now, how do I know you won’t change your mind later.”

He ended it and I never saw him again.

He never acknowledged me again. It was as if I no longer breathed. Perhaps I had never really existed at all for him. He certainly found it very easy to deny any love he had felt for me.

I fell into an abyss of grief that took years to recover from. I was suicidal at one point with feelings of loss so deep I thought there was no bottom to the well I was drowning in. I just kept sinking.

Eventually, I did float to the surface and find my feet in the shallows again. But by then it was too late for children. My fertility ship had already drawn anchor and wind was filling its sails. I wasn’t in a position to do it alone financially and I didn’t want to do it without the one I loved anyway. So that was that.

Later I asked a powerful psychic why the Universe would treat me so cruelly. Why would she finally give me the understanding I wanted children of my own at such an age only to rip that possibility from my hands.

She said I had needed the healing to unleash my creativity – a woman’s creativity is born from her womb and the energy healing I’d done had cleared the blockages. I could not do what I’m here to do, create what I am here to create, write my books and so on, without that shift occurring.

I don’t mind telling you, the whole thing seemed very cruel indeed. And I was not gracefully accepting in the face of it. I raged at the light.

But the creativity surely did flow more strongly after that. I wrote extensively about the relationship and break-up in prose before being called back to write it in poetry, of all things. More than 230 poems resulted, all written within about a year. I was on the edge of publishing that work when Corona hit. The Universe has her own timing in mind again it seems.

Someone asked the other day how I get along with my Spirit Guides. The truth is, I’ve had a troubled relationship with them at times. They guided me back to that man twice when I thought about leaving, before I got in too deep emotionally. But they urged me to return. I know now he and I had unfinished business from several past lives and the unleashing of my creativity was all part of the plan in this one.

In my darker moments at the time I wasn’t always grateful for that.

Our guides are here to look after our best interests and help us to learn what our Souls are here to learn. Through that relationship I learned I was clairaudient, I learned I could remotely view someone without even trying. I learned there is no stronger psychic connection than between two people who are bound through the heart. I learned I have the ability to see past lives and see those same patterns repeating in this one.

I learned that Souls have free will as well as lessons to be learned. So you can only plot your way forward with the knowledge you have in this moment until something or someone chooses something different.

None of it makes sense and yet it also makes perfect sense too.

As a psychic channel I feel things deeply and that isn’t always easy. I also see a lot more than sometimes others would like because I can’t simply turn away from a Soul’s truth when I see it in front of me. This makes it difficult for people to be around me if they wish to hide from themselves.

When I help people by using my gifts whether it’s a friend struggling with a problem or a client struggling with direction, I always come back to one inescapable thing – what does their Soul want to do? What is their truth? And then how can we peel back all the stories and energetic blocks that get in the way of it.

It’s powerful work and people need to be ready for it. But, oh, when they are, that is when the magic happens because anything is possible.

In past lives I have been burned at the stake, pursued, murdered and lived in fear of my gifts. In this lifetime, I have walked through metaphorical fires many times when it comes to the truth and my psychic gifts.

Nothing happens by mistake. There are no coincidences and it was no coincidence that I met that man all those years ago. It was no accident that he broke me in fundamental ways so I could rebuild myself in a different form.

It was no mistake that my creativity has flourished since.

Whatever challenge you’re facing right now, it is not a mistake. It is part of your lesson. A lesson your Soul signed up for.

If you need help to navigate your way forward, get in touch. You don’t have to do it alone, I’ve been there and I know the road out.

Men, this is your cue

Men, this is your cue

“She’s a cougar,” he said, smiling with amusement.

Davy* (not his real name) was dismissing the romantic interest of a woman at the speed dating event – she was an attractive 52-year-old.

“How old are you?” I asked. Davy looked like he might be quite close to 50 himself.

He looked surprised for a second then answered, “I’m 47.”

“But you’d go out with a woman five years younger than you, right?” I queried.

“Yeah, of course,” he said offhandedly before changing the subject.

Of course.

Davy’s comments shouldn’t have surprised me but they did. I keep hoping that when it comes to gender politics, we will have evolved more. But too many men seem to be stuck in some weird dimension located around the 1950s where double-standards are still in residence and remain quite comfortable, thank you very much.

Over the past year or so, I have watched:

  • Tony Robbins (a supposedly evolved thought leader) disparage the #metoo movement and use his physicality to push a woman back (into her box?) at an event in front of thousands of people
  • legislation be passed in some southern states in the United States to control women and their reproductive choices by preventing their access to abortion (even in the cases of rape and incest!). No surprises that the legislators have frequently been white men and religious doctrine has played an influencing role.
  • increasing commentary on social media about how abortion shouldn’t be permitted in Australia either – once again with a lot of men and religious rhetoric leading the discussion (men + religion often doesn’t always work out so great for women’s rights)
  • Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius (following the murder of yet another woman in Melbourne this week) state, “The key point, is this is about men’s behaviour, it’s not about women’s behaviour. Every time I hear about woman being attacked – for me as a man – it gives me some pause for reflection about what it is in our community that makes men think it’s okay to attack women, or take what they want from women”.

    Some public commentators subsequently bleated the same old “but not all men” statement in response to Luke’s words instead of doing some of their own reflection and saying, “Well, yeah, I can see that men are doing this and I’m a man, so I guess I have a role to play. What action can I take?”

  • Tanya Plibersek pull out of the Labor leadership race stating she could “not reconcile” the “important responsibilities I have to my family with the additional responsibilities of the Labor leadership” (Sydney Morning Herald, May 26, 2019) clearly indicating that perhaps Australia’s parliament isn’t the most family friendly or supportive place for women

  • Australia’s prime minister give a speech on International Women’s Day saying “We don’t want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse.” In other words, women can’t rise if it means others [men] will be displaced. Despite the fact that many women haven’t risen because they haven’t received the same advantages as men.

Let’s just say, as a woman, a feminist and someone who supports equality, these events have been disappointing to say the least. We’re not in the 1950s anymore, so why does it feel like we’re still there?

I understand these are tricky times. Men don’t always know these days what their role is. Most want to do the right thing but there is, I’m afraid, a large degree of apathy when it comes to standing up and saying to other men, “Mate, that’s not how we do things anymore. Women deserve our respect. We don’t control them. And we don’t dismiss their opinions just because they don’t align with our beliefs about how things should (and have always) been.”

There also seems to be a degree of reticence by some men to genuinely reflect on their own behaviour and consider that their ‘normal’ treatment of women is no longer acceptable (not that it ever was). Instead of being calm and less emotional (as they often tell us women to be), some men jump to angry defensiveness at the very mention that they may have a role to play in addressing the issues women are experiencing at the hands of men. It’s much easier it seems to point back to women and somehow blame them for being the problem than take a look at their own behaviour.

Some don’t like the thought that they may not hold exclusive power for much longer and are using their influence to try to retain the status quo. I think this explains the swing to the right we are seeing in the US particularly, and also in other nations globally where governments are increasingly seeking to stifle women’s voices and rights.

For example, a woman’s right to decide if she is going to use her womb to procreate is one of the few things that men cannot directly control – it is one of the few things women have exclusive power over. Yet, we are seeing moves in some places to remove our rights to this body autonomy. If we ever needed a sign that some men were very fearful – then this is a big one. Let’s not delude ourselves. If those men were really concerned about unwanted pregnancies, they would be legislating to make it unlawful for men to have sex without birth control (vasectomy anyone?) or legally ensuring they had to be 100 percent involved post-birth (both financially and in person) and provide adequate flexibility in workplaces, etc. But of course, they’re not doing that. Forcing birth control on men (which would definitely prevent abortions because their would be no accidental pregnancies in the first place) is out of the question yet forcing women to procreate against their will is acceptable, apparently. Double standards anyone?

Women are standing up and demanding more. And I won’t lie, a lot of us are angry about the way things have been going. We’re angry because things aren’t changing and, in fact, sometimes it feels like we’re going backwards.

I believe that when we work together, women, men or however you identify, we can achieve great things. But at the moment, many men are sitting on the sidelines and allowing the status quo to be maintained through their silence.

You need to get into the game gentlemen. We need you there. We want you there. We want to hear you standing beside us saying things like:

“It’s not good enough. Women deserve to have autonomy over their bodies, just like I have over my body.”

“Mate, don’t speak about women disrespectfully. No means no and she doesn’t have to stroke your ego and worry you might become abusive just because she hurt your feelings by saying no.”

“We need more flexible work arrangements so parents can work and take care of their children, so I’m going to make that company policy.”

“Being violent towards women is never acceptable and if I know that you are intimidating or being violent towards a woman, I’m going to pull you into line, report you and let you know very clearly that it’s not acceptable behaviour.”

Good men, we need you to do this because a lot of your peers don’t seem to be listening. We need your help. If you want to know what your role is nowadays, this is a big part of it. This is how you help provide for the safety and rights of the women and society you care about – you make sure women have a non-negotiable, equal voice at the table.

This is how we work in partnership to create a better world.

Men, this is your cue.

#metoo #feminist #menthisisyourcue #equality #equalrights