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.
I know a lot of women who have experienced domestic violence from a male partner during their lifetime. This thought came to me abruptly this morning and it’s not something I’ve realised before.
How is that even possible?
I live in Australia, an ostensibly advanced and free country, yet so many women I know have been affected by this scourge.
Some have fled their homes, their state or even the country to escape their abusers. Restraining orders abound. The courts and the police are often helpful but sometimes their assistance isn’t enough.
The women I’m talking about have sometimes been abused in an overtly physical way – raped, punched or bruised – making it easier to provide evidence to the authorities. But often the abuse is far more insidious and delivered through denigrating commentary and gaslighting that makes women doubt their every move and feel they have to report back to their partner constantly.
How is this still happening?
I am a feminist but I don’t believe all men are the enemy. I know many good, strong, kind men.
Yet, there are men who are inflicting this violence so those individuals are to blame. Men need to stop trying to control women. Men need to understand that women are equal and to be respected and that we are not just an extension of you. Men need to know that no means no, and to respect that always.
Fathers need to teach their sons these lessons strongly and model them clearly. Mothers need to teach their sons that they are not the centre of the universe and women are not mere appendages to bend to their will and keep them happy at all costs. All girls need to be taught they are entitled to be treated with respect at all times and they (and their bodies) are not a possession for any man.
Men need to call out their male colleagues, friends and strangers on abusive behaviours and make it clear it’s not acceptable. Women need to say to other women, I can see you’re struggling, you deserve better, what support can I provide you?
And we all need to get off the fence and stop excusing actions when our gut instincts tell us that those actions are wrong. No more hiding behind, “Oh, it’s their private business” or “Maybe I’m misinterpreting the situation so I better keep my mouth shut.” No more of that.
It’s time to turn the tide so we can all live in a world where domestic violence is a rare exception, not a commonplace distraction on the nightly news.
I’ve always been a big fan of burlesque because of its naughtiness and humour. It pushes boundaries and makes us see our world through a distorted kaleidoscope of colour, music, feathers and flesh.
It can also occasionally make people feel uncomfortable.
During the intermission of a recent show, I found myself talking to the woman next to me (Kate*) about one of the performers (Coco*).
Coco’s talent was a magic trick involving the removal of all her clothes.
Our conversation went as follows.
“I think it was okay that she took off her clothes because she doesn’t have the type of body that will intimidate any other women here or make them feel uncomfortable,” Kate said.
“But I bet we won’t see any of the male performers take it all off. I think that’s a bit of double standard,” I said. (The words “Are you serious?” were also dancing through my head.)
“Oh, I don’t think anyone wants to see that. Women like a bit more mystery.”
“Someone should tell that to all the men out there who send c!!k shots these days as a form of flirtation,” I said.
Kate looked shocked, stumbled over a few polite comments and the conversation moved towards more general topics as her friend returned to the table.
Now, I admit my last comment was probably a little calculated to shock Kate. But I found her comments quite disturbing. Did she really believe that a woman should only take her clothes off if her body was less than perfect and therefore wouldn’t make other women feel bad about themselves?
Unfortunately, I realise many other women might have the same thoughts as Kate. So many of our sex have perfected the art of comparing themselves to others and pulling them, and ourselves, down in the process.
I find this habit quite depressing.
Surely we can move past this type of behaviour? If you can get over the issue of nudity in performance (which I find acceptable but I realise makes some people uncomfortable), the real issue is how women perceive and treat themselves.
Human bodies are glorious contraptions with each one full of unique bumps and imperfections. And people are attracted to all kinds of variations of the human form.
So why, even now in this enlightened age, can’t women accept and rejoice in our imperfections?
Why can’t we look at an attractive woman and simply acknowledge her beauty rather than comparing ourselves to her?
I realise none of these questions are particularly new. After all, there are so many stories out there of even young girls, many who haven’t reached their teens yet, who are already obsessing about their perceived physical flaws.
I’d love us to change this mindset.
If only every mother could look at her own body and love it because of its flaws.
If only every daughter could see that her Mum loves herself, just as she is.
If only every girl could be encouraged to feel joyful when she looks in the mirror and sees every beautiful part of herself.
If only every woman could look at a naked female performer and appreciate her unique beauty.
If only every woman could stop tearing herself, and other women to pieces.
I’ve had three married men hit on me this month. Well, two were married and one is just in a steady relationship but you get what I mean.
When it happened for the third time a few days ago I came away thinking, maybe it’s me, maybe I just have a sign above my head that says ‘Slut and ‘ready for anything’!
I don’t of course wear that sign so don’t try looking for me on the street. But that’s how I felt.
I talked to a male friend tonight and he thinks that fifty percent of men in some age gropus will cheat. Fifty percent!!
He went on to say that men probably go looking when they’re ‘not getting any at home’ and a psychologist he heard years ago had the right idea when she said women should just ‘put out’ to their men to stop them straying.
Oh. My. God.
It’s not the 1950s people!!! But does he have a point?
I seem to recall a recently published female author promoting very similar ideas. Put out because your man needs it and that should be enough for you…and hey, you might even enjoy it.
Mmm. Is it really that simple though? Are men that basic?
I know many people reading this are nodding their heads and saying, absolutely yes. And that would be a very simple answer wouldn’t it? You could package up infidelity nicely with a bow and serve it up with a simple solution. Just put out.
The trouble is, I don’t think it is that simple. I think that men, like women, are motivated by a whole range of emotions and situations. Sure, some may stray because they’re ‘not getting any’ but others will stray because that’s just what they do. It’s the conquest for them, or they have a low boredom threshold or they just think it is an acceptable form behaviour. Others will cheat just because the idea of being fully committed to one person is just too terrifying so they prefer to cheat before they are cheated on. And so the list goes on…
Let’s face it, I think alcohol is also responsible for a whole range of cheating that would not otherwise have happened. Just think about it…your partner is somewhere else (in another city, another country, at home or down the street) and you’re drunk and you let your guard down then WHAMMO! You’re naked. You hear about it happening all the time. You probably have had it happen to you.
Of course, for a single girl none of this is news is encouraging or uplifting. Based on my experience of life so far, my observations of others and my male friend’s perspective I should be aware of the following: half of the male population will cheat; if I am in a relationship with someone I should just ‘put out’ whether I feel like it or not; and I should never allow my partner (or myself) to drink more than one glass of alcohol in a night.
This is one of those moments when I think that perhaps it is wiser to be single than to ever attempt monogamy again. It is easier and more straightforward.
Unfortunately, being single is not going to save me from being propositioned by unavailable men.