A heavy sadness has been growing in my heart for some days now. It arrived when I opened Laura Bates’ Men Who Hate Women and read about the vicious and violent threats she has received from men throughout her career, simply for voicing her opinions.
My heart grew heavier still as I watched Promising Young Woman at the cinema last night.
A book and a film both released in the past 12 months. Both cover the abuse of women. Both shining a blinding spotlight on what women know to be true – we are not safe.
The fact I need to put a trigger warning at the start of this post demonstrates just how unsafe we are – almost every woman I know has experienced some kind of abuse at the hands of man. And when many of us write about women standing up for themselves, we also include the words – if it’s safe for you to do so. We write this because for many women, it’s not safe to speak up.
I had to put Laura’s book down after reading the first 20 pages. I will pick it up again but I need to steel myself to proceed (and I haven’t even got to the really confronting parts yet).
However, I did watch the entirety of Promising Young Woman and I would describe it as brilliantly written, incredibly confronting and disturbingly accurate. It shows what women know to be true and also how men and some women dismiss, cover it up and justify it to themselves.
The film centres on Cassie, a young woman who dropped out of medical school to care for her best friend, Nina. Nina was raped while drunk during college and her rapist got away with it.
Cassie is on a mission to seek retribution.
Promising Young Woman could only have been written and directed by a woman. Its realness is unavoidable. I also feel it should be compulsory viewing for every girl, woman, boy and man over the age of 16.
The frequent refrain of “but I’m a nice guy” provided many teachable moments. Male characters knowingly took advantage of a woman who was drunk yet, when caught out, excused themselves with “but I’m a nice guy” and somehow reasoned away their culpability. Men and women dismissed rape as no big deal with comments about how the victim was drunk and asking for it.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
It reminded me of when I was at my post-formal party. It was the end of high school and my whole year went to a school mates’ property to get drunk and celebrate. I was a fairly naïve 17-year-old but even so, for some reason, I asked a trusted male friend if he would look out for me. I knew he would be sober but I wouldn’t be. Later that night, I remember one of the guys from my year (a seemingly nice guy) with his hands all over my breasts and the rest of my body. If it wasn’t for intervention of my sober male friend, things could have got out of hand very quickly.
Interestingly, back then, it didn’t register as an invasion of my physical space or assault. I don’t think I mentioned it to anyone and I certainly didn’t confront the perpetrator when I was sober at school the next day. Instead, I felt like it was just one of those things that could happen and you lived with it – having a guy put his hands all over you, intimately, when you were drunk was something that could happen and you lived with it. There was also an underlying theme that, somehow, you should feel good if a guy noticed you in that way – like you should be grateful for their attention.
No one had ever talked to me about how vulnerable women can be in those situations, what could happen and what my rights were to protect my own body. Clearly I knew enough to ask a friend to look out of me but that wasn’t from any direct conversation. I guess it was a more innate understanding of what kind of world I lived in as a young woman. It was just what we lived with.
But I’m sick of living with it and I’m tired of hearing people say that a woman asked for trouble because of what she was wearing or because she drank too much. Equally, I know that just because some guy shows you attention doesn’t mean you should be grateful for it. I’m also so sick of perpetrators getting away with their crimes because everyone thinks they are “nice guys” and “women often lie about these things”.
Women don’t often lie about these things. Why would we when, by making a formal police report, we open ourselves up to condemnation for being a slut and somehow asking for it? Or worse, victims are dismissed by police because a perpetrator “comes across as decent guy” when interviewed. Yes, it happens. Still.
There’s no doubt Promising Young Woman rips the scab off and exposes the darkness beneath. It’s a darkness we all know is there. Some of us try to ignore it, some of us feel powerless to stop it, many of us have been victims of it. But. We. All. Know. It. Is. There.
So please, take your brother, husband, boyfriend, father and male friends to see this film. Have the difficult conversations that arise afterwards. And for God’s sakes, all you men out there who sincerely want to help women: start listening to the experiences of the women you are supposed to care about, believe them and step up. Because women are still being raped and assaulted by “nice guys” and we need your help to stop it.
And as for you “nice guy” perpetrators out there. I hope you meet a woman like Cassie very soon.
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.
It’s a cold winter’s night in Brisvegas and I’m at a loose end. I’m a single woman living in the time of Corona – when dating is challenging and socialising hasn’t quite returned to normal.
I’ve done my daily scroll through the dating apps and still feel uninspired. Why do so many men have a strong penchant for bushranger-style facial hair and scowling demeanours? Who told them this is attractive?
Clearly my true love is not online this evening.
I decide to do a little romantic personal development and pull out my friend Carolyn’s book, Finding Love Again. I finished reading it a few weeks ago but I skipped over most of the exercises in the back.
The first part of the book contains personal stories of men and women who have lost and then found love again. With a strong emphasis on common values as the glue that makes relationships work, people share their experiences of divorce, being single, grief, children and much more. It also explores what each of them learned on their journey to finding love again.
But it’s the end of the book with its self-reflection exercises that I turn to tonight, specifically Exercise 6 – Your Story which centres on the problem of how to talk about yourself when you first meet a new potential date.
I’ve joined some online speed-dating events recently and been faced with the challenge of describing myself in an interesting way to a complete stranger in two minutes via Zoom. It’s not for the faint-hearted.
Carolyn has a suggestion about how to approach telling your story, so I decide to give it a go. It seems I need to go back and map out the most interesting and significant events in my life so far, from birth.
Perhaps this is going to be a rather short story…
No. I’m doing this – you never know what gold I may discover to fill those awkward silences on my next date.
Carolyn suggests you create a table and for each year, jot down things like where you were living, what you were doing, an achievement, a people thing, a funny thing, little known fact. You don’t need to fill every box for each year, just put in anything noteworthy that springs to mind.
Obviously being born was significant for me but I’m not sure if that’s something I need to highlight on a date. Fast forward to late primary school though and I won a prize for one of my oil paintings and got my picture in the paper – that was pretty cool. I still have the newspaper clipping somewhere – all skinny legs and gaunt-faced cheekbones. I was one of those kids who ate and ate and never put on any weight. Pity that didn’t last post-21…
Back to the task at hand.
Two memorable moments from my under-graduate degree – watching a disturbing German film where the female protagonist had all her teeth pulled out and sitting behind some Goths and their pet rat in a lecture.
Got married, traveled overseas for the first time and my love affair with Italy truly began. Repelled down five stories of the children’s hospital with the police special emergency response team – as you do.
Went overseas for a second time – yes, Italy again and I still loved it. Left marriage and traveled solo overseas, felt fearless and free. Watched the moon rise above camel trains in the Sahara.
Bought a house, worked with judges, zip-lined with gibbons through the jungle, published a book…
I could keep going but I don’t want to reveal everything before we’ve met in person, dear reader. But I’m sure you get the picture.
I know this is meant as a dating preparation activity, but I think it has value far beyond that. Revisiting your history and recognising your achievements and the events that have shaped you is a great thing to do at any time. When we get stuck in the daily grind and pressures of life, we often forget just how far we’ve come – this exercise is a great way to remind ourselves.
As I read back over my story, I have a laugh to myself and realise Carolyn’s words on page 238 ring very true – “this exercise demonstrates how uninteresting your previous break-up is in the totality of your life story”.
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.
A lot of us have been struggling with love and matters of the heart over the last few days. I’ve had so many conversations with friends about loving the wrong people, putting yourself out there and being rejected, trying to work out how you feel and then how the other person feels, losing your cool, saying the wrong thing, feeling disappointed then happy within minutes, and so on. It’s been a veritable emotion-filled quagmire with many of us trying to lift one foot out of the mud one excruciating step at a time, only to take another step and get sucked back in again.
There’s probably a very good reason astrologically why this is all happening now (astrology friends feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below) but that’s not my area of expertise.
However, as someone with a PhD in Heartbreak, I can say that I am very experienced in matters of the heart, and the joys and devastation of loving people who don’t quite fit, run away, are too scared to tell you how they feel or are just wrong (even when you think they’re right!). I can’t say my experience has necessarily made me any more successful at navigating romantic relationships – heck, I’m currently residing in Italy, the most romantic country in the world and I’m single so you do the math! But I have learned some things over the years:
Falling for someone never happens as you expect it will and your feelings will invariably take you by surprise.
They will rarely match the template you have created in your head for the perfect partner. Often they will look like the exact opposite of what you thought you wanted.
You can meet them in the most unexpected places and sometimes your attraction to them will hit you immediately, right in the middle of your chest. Other times it will grow silently before one day rearing its head up like an asp at midnight, striking you in the middle of your chest and.. and… oh sorry, I just had a flashback, please disregard.
Sometimes they will be older or younger than your mind thinks they should be. When this happens, remember it is the person that you are loving not the date on their birth certificate. Obviously, they need to be above the age of consent. Also consider that the years between you also equal life experience and that can sometimes cause issues.
Sometimes you will take a chance but they will not love you back. You will keep hoping but they won’t change their mind and you will feel terribly hurt. You may even lose their friendship when this happens.
You can’t make someone love you back – that is an impossible request of anyone because love cannot be forced or manipulated into being. It just is, or it isn’t.
If someone doesn’t love you back then they don’t deserve you. Full stop. No returns on this one. Don’t keep throwing yourself at them hoping that, one day, they will finally see the magical amazingness that is you. If they can’t see it, then it’s not your job to help them open their eyes.
When you fall for the wrong person and they treat you appallingly, it is vital that you learn from the experience so you don’t repeat it!!! Too many of us go back to the same type of guy (or girl) over and over again and wonder why we get the same results. If you see there is a pattern, change it so you can get a different result. If you can’t see the pattern, ask an honest friend or an impartial counselor for their input.
Bottom line, most of us will at some stage have our heart broken. But you will survive it, I promise. You will go on to love someone else and maybe, just maybe, if the planets align and you hold your head in exactly the right position when you wish on that next shooting star, they will love you back too.
Until then, be kind to you and love yourself. That’s the least you can do and is completely what you deserve.