You’ve probably been at least partially following the conversation about domestic violence, the ‘Me too’ movement, sexual predators and their unveiling, etc. Perhaps you’ve also heard these statistics: ‘Some 42% of Australians believe women lie about being sexually assaulted, while 31% said a lot of times, women who said they were raped had “led the man on” then had regrets.'*
I don’t know how accurate those statistics are but something that always jars for me is the tendency to polarise life into black and white, this or that. It seems to me that life is much more about ‘and’ than ‘or’ because everything is related.
For example, space and time – they are not discrete states but are related; the truer expression is ‘space-time’. At any point in time we are simultaneously at a point in space, and vice versa. Likewise with ‘mind and body’ – ‘mind-body’ or ‘body-mind’ are far more accurate because the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind. They loop back and forth. They are one whole rather than two separates.
Back to those statistics: do we have to separate women into two discrete categories: those who said yes and those who said no? What about the shades of grey? What about those who said yes to begin with and then changed their minds as the experience became unpleasant for them? Knowing how life and people and relationships actually are, isn’t that more realistic?
Surely this middle ground, where a woman was keen to begin with and then changed her mind, doesn’t mean she is a slut! To my mind it means that something happened that caused doubt or discomfort and she needed to withdraw from the experience. She is entitled to change her mind – and not just because she is a woman, because a man is also entitled to change his mind. Anyone is entitled to change their mind in the realm of sex! ‘No’ means ‘no’ whenever it occurs and wherever it occurs.
Women shouldn’t be shamed for changing their minds. It’s ridiculous to try to force these real-life situations into a category of either consent or no consent when natural human relationships are subject to change and flux. Consent and then no consent are quite valid inside the same experience! We all know that things change as moods change, as more alcohol is consumed, as realisations dawn, etc.
I imagine that women are having to lie in order to avoid being accused of ‘leading him on’, but where’s the common sense in that? Surely it’s a fairly common and normal life experience to believe something is going to be good, begin down that path and then realise it’s not what you expected and want to withdraw? What’s wrong with that?
The lying and shaming that results from unrealistic expectations of human behaviour are really unnecessary. Unrealistic expectations occur because we don’t engage in common sense education. It’s urgently needed.
If two in five Australian women are going to be physically or sexually assaulted at some point in their adult life, then communication and conflict resolution skills are urgently needed in our school curriculum.
From Prep to Year 12.
As a compulsory subject alongside Maths and English.
Because everyone needs to be able to communicate, whoever you are and whatever your likely occupation.
If this is sounding familiar, it’s because this is my current hobby horse. I’m an advocate for Common Sense Skills in Schools: Communication and Conflict Resolution Skills, Goal-setting and Achievement Skills, Self-Awareness and Personal Mastery, Mindfulness, and Money Management.
* This quote is taken from an article in The Conversation: 'Four In Ten Australians Think Women Lie About Being Victims of Sexual Assault' by Kristin Diemer, Anastasia Powell and Kim Webster.
Did you know that there are 10 Terrains of Consciousness, and if you and your partner inhabit different ones, you might have trouble communicating?
If you’ve been following my story you know that my life changed significantly after writing Wanted: Greener Grass (ironically a book in which I talk about the illusion of ‘greener grass’…).
The honeymoon was wonderful! We flew into Paris and visited Versailles – drove up to Reims to explore the gorgeous villages (and cellars) of the Champagne region – explored some of the chateaux along the River Loire – stayed with a delightful couple deep in the Limoges region of France where we somehow managed a rich conversation with their patchy English and my patchy French – explored the medieval city of Carcassonne… dropped into Marseilles and Aix-en-Provence – met and stayed with wonderful warm and open-hearted family in Cannes – realised a dream in Monte Carlo and on Lake Como – and discovered the Swiss Alps via train on the final leg of our adventure.
Love and infatuation have often been confused. The giddy falling-in-love period is a delight and a rush, and at first it's sad when that stage fades away and we begin to encounter the fires and trials that mature our love. But if infatuation grows into a stronger, steadier, deeper love then the loss is really just a transformation, as anyone who is in or has been in a long-term committed relationship understands.
'Greener Grass' was the working title I gave my new novel because I wanted to explore the idea that we tend to think something else will be better than what we currently have. No wonder I was taken aback when the new man came into my life and I found that my life was imitating art: my long-time dream of a life partner who would share my interests was being realised, just as it is for the main character in my novel. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, my blog about the new novel and my seismic life changes is here.)
I've since changed the title of the novel for something more unique since those two words are already in great use (for novels, books and lawn mowing businesses!), and I'll announce the new title soon.
We’re encouraged to be grateful for what we have, and that’s very good and useful advice. But there’s also a place for 'divine discontent’: often our dissatisfaction with aspects of our lives gives us the ‘kick’ we need to create necessary changes.
That dissatisfaction can be particularly confusing when there are enough elements in our current situations that we genuinely value. Should we risk losing the valuable aspects in order to take a risk and reach out for something that might be better?
Last year, when I was launching my Destiny Interview Series, significant changes were unfolding in my life.
I’d been asked to teach Novel-Writing at CAE in September 2016, and so I figured I’d do the right thing by my students: I’d do what I was asking them to do and write a novel. One of the ideas in my filing cabinet had been calling me for some time – it was a concept I’d jotted down some eight years ago, and I’d been scribbling notes and bits of dialogue for it ever since. As I was calling my students to work on novel structure and character development, I figured I’d apply the lessons to my own project at the same time.
One of my ex-writing students is a Marketing Manager and we’re doing an exchange of services at the moment. Something I really appreciate about Ellen is the cleanness of her communication style. In one of our early conversations she deliberately addressed the subject of our expectations.
‘Conflict Resolution Skills’ is a course I taught years ago, and Ellen demonstrated them perfectly. There’s a sliding scale of events that result in conflict from initial Discomforts and Incidents through Misunderstandings and Tension to outright Conflict. In other worlds, conflict doesn’t just happen out of the clear blue sky; it starts with little baby steps…
The Perfect Partner - Perfect for What?
A first-hand account of the retrieval of a drowning relationship.
“Describe your perfect partner,” someone asks you.
“Okay,” you say. “Tall, good-looking, riveting eyes, sex appeal, intelligent, sensitive, honest, good communicator, creative, spiritual, great in bed, fun-loving, financially independent, aligned with whole health and whole food, romantic…”
The list of glowing adjectives just spills out, doesn’t it? It’s not at all difficult to be a Pygmalion, dreaming up an ideal partner, but let’s just fast forward the film past those first few exhilarating years to when the rose-coloured path begins to look boggy... or even bloody...
Don't Look for Mr Right, Or Give Up on Him
– Create Him!
I recently read an article in which the author, Lori Gottlieb, believes that many women are too fussy in their choice of a life partner. In her opinion, they should settle for Mr Good Enough rather than holding out for a romantic fantasy. She advises her reader: “Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling ‘Bravo!’ in movie theatres. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go.”
And she makes a valid point. We’re fed such a steady diet of Hollywood romances on TV – in fact, her article draws heavily on television characters – that it’s easy to compare real people with celluloid people who’ve had powder dusted on their blemishes, whose words and actions are backed by stirring music, and who’ve had to re-state their lines until the Director is satisfied. So, yep, if you want to be happy in a relationship, you need a decent sense of reality.
It's Anti-Bullying Day and kids are being asked to wear orange as a sign that they won't stand for bullying. I wonder, though, if what's really being promoted is Anti-Bullies Day, since the majority of public opinion seems to be on the side of the 'victims'?
I'm more in favour of Let's Get Conscious Day… Particularly that we get conscious of universal laws and how bullying fits into them. Because upsetting as bullying can be, it's not a sign that things are broken and dysfunctional; there's actually a 'hidden order' at work…
My partner's family holds their family Christmas on Boxing Day, and this year we received an intriguing invitation to start a new tradition. The Rawson family had recently agreed to give a donation to charity instead of giving Christmas gifts; a few days before we were due to meet, my sister-in-law, Jo, came up with another new idea: to evolve the old tradition of exchanging boxes filled with gifts into a new tradition of sharing boxes filled with personal thoughts and insights and wishes.
Coming from a Jewish family, Christmas was never part of my childhood identity, and when I 'married into' the tradition, I was struck by many contradictions. In particular the much commented on commercialisation of Christmas. I always found it odd to hear people talking about Christmas shopping as if it was an expected duty (read: burden) – 'Have you done your Christmas shopping yet?'
Last night Derek and I headed to an event at the Emerging Writer's Festival. The topic was 'sex in literature', which interested us for reasons that I'll share down the track, however the actual event was titled 'Dirty Words' and this proved to be the theme of the day.
I'd been hoping to hear a wide-ranging sample of writings about sex – some raunchy, some thoughtful, some 'dirty', some sacred – but most of what was presented was comic, sad or tacky. And it was all contemporary. The comic skits were, mostly, quite enjoyable, but by the time we got to the end we both left feeling flat and disappointed. It seemed to us that most people view sex as sex; there was nothing about making love, nothing about the sacredness or intimacy of that connection. I've decided that I must offer myself as a speaker next time and represent the 'Other Side'!