I love you, maaaate

I recently heard something so beautiful, it stopped me in my tracks. It wasn’t birdsong, or a baby’s gurgle. It was a man speaking openly and publicly of his love and friendship for some significant men in his life.

Even more strangely, the man doing the speaking was a high-profile AFL footballer, relating his affection for his fellow footballers during a media interview in the lead-up to one of last week’s Round 5 games.

It made me feel warm and fuzzy…no, not “that” sort of warm and fuzzy – refreshingly, I was filled with respect, relief and high regard, not to mention hope, happiness and humanity at the words of Brownlow Medallist and new West Coast Eagles midfielder, veteran Sam Mitchell.

Following injury the previous week, there was speculation whether Mitchell would be fit enough to play against his old team Hawthorn, where he spent his entire AFL career until six months ago, and where he has many old friends.

This is what he had to say:

“At the end of the game, you know, we’ll shake hands and have a cuddle and tell each other you love ‘em, but for the two hours before that, it’s footy and I’m going to do everything I can to help the Eagles win.”

If you don’t want to listen to the entire 12-minute video interview (unlikely, I know), fast forward to the 7min.14sec mark to hear the golden sentence.

http://www.westcoasteagles.com.au/video/2017-04-18/mitchell-wellingham-press-conference-180417

Golden because men expressing love for other men out loud and in public, because!

Blokes rarely speak openly of their love for their male friends, and it’s a shame, because friendship is golden and it’s always nice to hear such heart-warming affirmations. Especially in a world full of online trolls, nasty jibes and just plain bad, sad news. Some of it unfortunately about the less than complimentary behaviour of men.

Yes, men love their male friends, should tell them that they do and hug it out to boot. Why? Because it feels great and should be normal social discourse, and not just with a few beers under the belt. We girls do it alllll the time!

Besides, science long ago proved the benefits of oxytocin, the hormone our bodies produce when we give, feel and receive love, including everything from healing burns, to strokes, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney malfunctions, schizophrenia, and autism. Read more here: http://bit.ly/2poVlMy

Disappointingly, I only heard this clip played once on a radio news bulletin, but did see and hear many other snippets of the same interview played ad infinitum across the media landscape that day.

Personally, I found this the most fascinating, meaningful and memorable part of the entire interview.

Onya Sam Mitchell! I love your frank, open, honest, down-to-earth, emotional, straight-talking style, even if you are an Eagle 😉

Thanks to © 2017 The Roar – Your Sports Opinion for the awesome photo of Sam Mitchell enjoying a friendly onfield embrace from former Hawthorn teammate Shaun Burgoyne.

Men, this desolate truth, and its massive responsibility, lays with you

Yes, I’m a feminist. But you knew that, right?

I’m proud to admit it. There’s no shame in wanting equal rights for women and men, especially when there is so much inequality, much of it insidiously slipping beneath all our radars and the vast majority of it impacting women. But you knew that too, right?

But what about when people misunderstand feminism, thinking it’s an excuse for man-hypersensitivity or even man-bashing, and it colours the way we see men, their roles and value in general?

And then this affects the very minutiae of our lives, and those for who we are responsible? Like children; impressionable and sponge-like by nature, they learn by example.

I’ll admit to recently finishing Clementine Ford’s Fight Like A Girl, which gives a fascinating insight into how sinister patriarchy is, right from pre-birth with how boys and girls are innocently expected to look, think and behave in respect to one another.

The book is profoundly awakening, and I’ve been looking at things in a new way, grasping more of the roots of why and how I see myself as the woman I do.

Which is why my views on feminism impacted my reaction to a staggeringly sad story I heard the other day – one that left me shaking my head, pondering if in fact the demonization of men could be caused by a misunderstanding of feminism.

Here is the story: A childcare centre in a once working class now gentrified, affluent but bohemian Perth western suburb was recently compelled to send letters home to all its parents explaining the benefits of employing male carers to interact with their young offspring.

Why, you ask? Because it employs two young men as qualified carers (because men make up 50% of our community and also aspire to care for and educate children in a professional capacity), but some parents had requested their child/ren not be cared for by men at the centre, while others actually withdrew their child/ren completely because they felt it inappropriate for males to be employed in the childcare field.

A pervading feeling of sickness still lingers with me after hearing such a terribly woeful indictment of our times. But even more confusing was trying to work out where we as a society could look to find the reason for this, and then hopefully, a solution.

The mother who told me this story has a small son attending the centre, and was just as stunned as I, loving that her boy had established such a great bond with these male carers; learning how to count in a foreign language, enjoying the opportunity to be expressive and playful with both male and female adult role models in an educational setting.

How must these men have felt upon hearing that parents regarded them with suspicion? Rejected, hurt, defamed? I certainly felt gutted on their behalf.

In Fight, Ford talks about the temptation for women to go overboard in sparing men’s feelings when it comes to advocating for equality, and I’m sure we can all think of many examples where women have endured unfair attitudes/treatment in the workplace based solely on their gender. Does this story fit neatly within these parameters – are these men being unfairly targeted due to their gender?

Such a hopeless yet accurate reflection of where we are currently mired in this gender equality stand-off has been the subject of much personal rumination.

Could it be the fault of feminism that men are being rejected, and children the ultimate losers, of this worrying and seemingly unfair trend?

Could it also be a result of the ongoing Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse and its damning findings, which do nothing for men’s PR, but are so vital for victims, closure and healing?

Are we in the relative calm before a perfect man-hate storm?

I relayed this story to a man and his response was forlorn, barely there, just sad. And it does leave you feeling kind of powerless.

But surely, when the well-rounded education and care of children is at risk, despite women still making up 95% of employees in the childcare sector, isn’t it time we encouraged and welcomed strong, positive male role models into the lives of more young boys and girls?

We are all in this together – in all our diverse forms.

Shouldn’t we be striving to make it normal to see men and women in non-traditional roles if they are doing a bloody awesome job?

And how did we get here, anyway?

Disturbingly, after an awful lot of thinking, I came upon the only answer there is.

Men, this desolate truth, and its massive responsibility, lays with you.

It is men who have been responsible for the extreme majority of child abuse down through the ages, a chilling reality that continues today.

To pretend otherwise, would be to give men the benefit of the doubt, a free go, letting them off, again – something Ford says we’ve all been taught to do, thanks to patriarchy.

This week at UWA, WA Chief Justice, Hon Wayne Martin QC, will host the Symposium of Child Sexual Abuse Prevention.

He is quoted on PerthNow – Justice Martin said there were “too large a number” of child sex abuse cases before the courts and it is a “significantly bigger problem than people who are not in the justice system would appreciate”.

“There is a perception out there that it’s stranger danger that is the problem, whereas in fact, most of the child sex cases we see in the courts are either familiar or institutional.”

http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/wa-chief-justice-wayne-martin-says-child-molesters-need-therapy/news-story/4c878e1ed82fecadeaab034eb62e2d3c

This means children are being taken advantage of in institutions or within the circles of family and friends, where we would hope they are safe.

In the same article by Belle Taylor, clinical psychologist Christabel Chamarette says most child sex abuse happens within families but many abusers could be helped, and even stopped, with treatment.

“Paedophilia really only applies to a small percentage of men, 10 per cent at most, who offend against children who are fixated and have a preoccupation with sexual offending against children,” Ms Chamarette said.

We cannot blame mothers and parents for feeling uneasy about having their children cared for by men, as sorrowful as this is.

We can all learn from past mistakes, this is how we perfect the art of being human, but surely we can’t as a society, also think it’s ok to throw men to the scrapheap when it comes to childcare and education. And we definitely cannot allow men to continue not taking responsibility for owning up to and fixing this travesty.

Lord knows child care is bloody hard enough as it is without it being considered undervalued women’s business only. And we women have been fighting for an eon to have men be more active in the vital and rewarding role of nurturer, if not for the sake of children, for men’s own benefit – men speak of being more in touch with their own emotions as a result of more time spent caring for their babies and children.

Men, it’s time to step up. Abuse of any kind, of any gender, is unacceptable. It’s doing your gender no favours, and severely damaging the lives of mainly women and children. And that’s without mentioning the astronomic male on male physical assault rates.

Please redress this dispiriting balance, to put an end to this pain, these gender wars, so we can unite.

Before this planet implodes and returns to the space dust it once was.

Wolf whistle-ee bites the hand that feeds

HE wasn’t anything special physically, possibly even under par – but that could just have been his scruffy garage work uniform. Perhaps he scrubbed up ok in a suit at a mate’s wedding, or even after a shit, a shower and a shave, as blokes are wont to say.

But I would never make an ‘out loud’ judgement specifically directed at him to let he and everyone else within earshot know what I thought of his appearance – beau or bogan.

That would be rude, bullying, arrogant – lord knows I’ve tried to model behavioural traits that contradict these to my two daughters.

I didn’t know the first thing about his personality. He could be someone my mother would love, or a fraudster, or very sensitive about being thrust into the spotlight. So me making an ‘out loud’ physical judgement would only be telling part of his story, a story I didn’t know intimately enough to tell accurately. And it would limit him to one thing only – his appearance. And we all know that’s only skin deep and changeable, depending on the day, the mood, the circumstance, the lighting for gawd’s sake.

So why do some men (or women) find it necessary and acceptable to let a woman (or man), usually a complete stranger, know they look above par…attractive…hot…to them, personally, in a way that also sends a clear message to others with ears in the area?

And are there times, in this politically correct age, when the controversial wolf whistle is acceptable behaviour?

If I’m honest, hearing a stranger wolf whistle me when I was in my mid-teens was sort of thrilling…I may have felt differently had I seen the source of this admiration. It usually came from a passing car. Probably driven by a balding married man with middle-age spread; or a pimply late teen with P Plates on the floor beside a clinking crowd of empty stubbies. The beer bottles, not the shorts…

Somehow in my salad days, those whistles gave me an idea I looked acceptable in a public sense. That I wasn’t embarrassing myself with how I presented my very ordinary appearance. It wasn’t until years later that I realised the wolf whistle said more about the whistler than the whistle-ee. Perhaps those early ‘commenters’ had an inappropriate thing for young girls. **My skin has actually grown legs and is crawling all over itself!**

Inevitably, after a few years of sustained ‘comment’ I began to lose confidence, avoid or fear certain situations and cringe to my very core – my initial thrill had briefly turned to anger before nestling in plain old dread and humiliation.

I was 41-years-old before I stood up for myself, by standing up to my wolf whistler. My daughters were so proud!

As I arrived at my place of work, where I was a senior manager, I would park in the nominated car bay and start the 20m walk to my office’s back door. It was double the distance to the front door and in the rain, it felt triple that on those dark whistle-laden days.

As I made my way to the closest entry point of my workplace, I had to walk up to and past the open roller door of a neighbouring auto mechanic business. Men often stood in the communal access way, having smoko. I would nod and smile politely in greeting. It would be rude not to given I was walking straight past them in a relatively confined space.

This was all very normal and acceptable. Until. The wolf whistle. My eyes dropped straight to the bitumen as I walked more efficiently than ever to the door, willing it to be unlocked so I wouldn’t have to navigate my key into its sticky innards. The relief once I got inside that door was immense. It was a one-off. Incident over.

But no. It became an almost daily occurrence over about two weeks. And the whistler wasn’t shy. He would lean against the outside wall and blatantly make his comment as I came within metres of him. By this time I was worrying about it on the drive to work, I’d shared the story with a couple of close workmates, girlfriends, even my daughters. We all thought this bloke was an absolute tool.

It was making me miserable. I started to ditch the heels and wear flats, hoping to look less ‘womanly’, more homely, or at least less like the siren he thought he should activate.

One morning though, I was in a bad mood, some incident at home, and I was still stewing over it on the drive to work. The perfect storm. My dander was already up.

So I just let him have it, in my own understated, direct fashion.

As the whistle came, I surprised myself by changing direction and heading straight for him.

“Why do you do that?” I asked.

“I thought you liked it,” came his stuttering reply.

“No. I don’t like it at all. It makes me feel really embarrassed. Could you please not do it,” I stated.

“I’m really sorry. I won’t do it again. Sorry,” he blustered, visually shrinking before me.

“That’s ok,” I said, before propelling myself towards my destination and victory!

It never happened again and I’ve shared this story a few times, mainly as a way to subtly let men know women don’t appreciate being singled out with a wolf whistle and to let other women, particularly younger ones, know it’s important to step up sometimes, and say what you really think, without overreacting.

Everyone has agreed with me that this sort of wolf whistle is inappropriate. Except for one person. A former colleague, an English woman in her early 60s who said women should take it as a compliment, and that it was harmless. She said English men often did it and that they weren’t afraid to show their feelings or their appreciation of an attractive woman, unlike Australian men, who were more interested in their cars. While that sounds like a great theory, anecdotally, that is rarely how we are left feeling.

I can think of times I’ve wolf whistled my girlfriends quietly, but in a public forum, like when I’ve discovered them in the same aisle at the supermarket. And the look on their face is always one of embarrassment-slash-annoyance, until they see me. Then we smile and hug. This might be the only time it’s acceptable – among very real friends. When we know the whole story.

Giving the colour pink a bad name

I am pink with irritation.

Not all women like pink or consider themselves denoted as female by the mere use of the sickly colour.

Not all women appreciate being singled out as such, by being told they can now park more safely in their own special pink ‘female-friendly’ car bays, where the security lighting and CCTV coverage is better.

And not all people are stupid enough to have the woolly fairy floss of laziness pulled over their eyes by a council trying to get away with not spending money on decent car park security for everyone – regardless of gender, age, ability or whether or not you have children and a pram in the back of your wagon.

Here, in the marshmallow-scented capital city of the nanny state of Western Australia, the City of Perth has employed a sugar-coated marketing ploy to encourage women to park in the few car bays that do have proper night lighting and CCTV coverage.

Mary Poppins would recognise this as a cynical attempt to spend less on security, spit spot!

It is a spoonful-of-sugar attempt to provide better protection, but glaringly it’s aimed at only one section of society.

A small article in Perth’s daily newspaper today states the bays will be easily identified by pink signs, walls and poles during a three-month trial close to exits in one council car park.

But here’s the real icing on the cake. The article also states, without attribution to anyone, that the bays are “the same size as regular bays”.

If that statement isn’t a slight on women drivers, I don’t know what is – the size of the bay will not influence the behaviour of would be attackers any more than the colour pink.

So why was this information even in the article in the first place? If it is a question that has been asked by several, prompting that line of enquiry, then whoever supplied the response should be quoted, at least.

If statistics do exist somewhere showing women as the main culprits of at fault bingles, scratches and crashes in car parks, it’s probably because they are usually the ones that drop off children to school/childcare on their way to work before parking the family car, and again later as they are slowly irradiated by fluorescent lighting while foraging at the supermarket.

There are statistics that show men are just as vulnerable to attack in public places at night, with many ending up in hospital after banging their heads on kerbs and bitumen as terrible proof.

At its worst, the pink-ifying of parking bays almost accepts that there will be attacks on women in car parks because they are vulnerable targets. No – that behaviour is not acceptable in society, for any gender.

Yes, women do like it when someone is kind, or thinks of our comfort and/or safety. But so do men. So why can’t the City of Perth be nice to everyone and provide secure parking for all? Not just those born with ovaries and a stereotypical matching obsession with the colour pink, or the men who love the delicate shade and can park carefree in the knowledge that they will not be fined for doing so and will be safer for it.

Now, that would be just supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Designer vaginas – the next must-have beauty treatment?

Is your vagina designer?

What? Don’t play stupid with me – Has it seen better days? Have people been complaining about its appearance? Does it need redoing, you know, like your holiday house décor, or your roots?

Because, apparently if your ‘ladyparts’ don’t look like a petite, perfectly closed purse you need surgery to fix that – a bit like those boobs in need of perkifying and that unattractive non-trout pout.

According to a gloriously pink full page ad in a weekly newspaper delivered to Perth’s most elite beach and riverside suburbs, local women should contact a particular ‘medical aesthetic centre’ to find out how they can get their own designer vagina.

‘Tighten vaginal tissue, remodel collagen and rejuvenate the vulva. Revive the sensations, revitalise the tissue of the vagina and improve urinary incontinence’ is the ad’s teasing hook line (and sinker), with a web address using the words petite and lady, because that’s what we all aspire to be, isn’t it!?

I mean, I don’t know about you, but I would love myself sick, and so would others, if my brain, pay packet, personality, role and presence on this planet was so much smaller, thinner and petite than they really are.

I’m so thankful I have the choice to get a designer vagina if I want one – hooray! Unless it’s just another way to make women part with their hard-earned and their self respect by buying into the pressure to conform to yet another sanitised, feminine ideal of sameness.

What is the perfect vagina? One that can adequately birth children and still function as a pleasure receptor and provider, surely.

If you need help with urinary incontinence, pelvic floor exercises work wonders and if not it’s a bone fide medical condition that may need specialist surgery; it’s not an excuse for a ‘medical aesthetic centre’ to charge you thousands to improve the appearance of something that is already unique, beautiful and functional.

Is this pressure to possess a ‘healed’ over vulva coming from men, if so, is there a particular age range flexing their muscles? Is it women – it seems unlikely, you can’t even show off the finished product? Is it the cosmetic surgery industry?

I’ll go with the last one – I’m informed there is a demand for the service at this western suburbs clinic, but advertising the designer vagina treatment perpetuates what is a sad, damaging cycle – it doesn’t just involve medically unnecessary surgery with a painful recovery but the reiteration of an unhealthy and inaccurate belief that as women, our natural appearance is not good enough.

I’ve even heard the frightening anecdote of a teenage girl so ashamed of her vagina that she is convinced she needs surgery – and she hasn’t yet seen what an amazing array of yonis are even out there, so that she can see she is perfectly normal, or given birth…but that’s a topic for another day.      

We cry foul at the thought of women undergoing female circumcision and/or genital mutilation. I don’t see how this is any different, except that the patients have been brainwashed into thinking it’s just a normal desire all women have the right to fulfil.

Get real. There’s nothing wrong with your vagina. Embrace it. And do your pelvic floors.

My lunch date with Bachie: A report

I HAD lunch with Bachie the other day. Yes, the ‘Bachelor’, Perth’s own ‘dirty street pie’ Blake Garvey!

He didn’t know it, is all.

The funny (peculiar, not ha ha) thing about our lunch was that I was on another date. But he was to! Arriving at our location with a mate – true love Louise nowhere to be seen.

Wearing a baseball cap, mirror sunglasses, a crisp blue singlet and boardies (I didn’t get to see if his sandgroper feet were clad in those awful surfer joe thongs), he wedged his broad shoulders decisively through the front door towards me, lips closed in a very familiar way…before heading straight outside to a balcony table.

It was then I realised who I had been staring at. And it wasn’t my date!

But I digress…

Meet Danny the Irishman. I know I only posted a few days ago and that I’m skipping ahead several weeks from my last victim, and I will return there before long dedicated groupies, but I feel I must capitalise on my celebrity spotting while people still ‘care’ (factor nil and falling) about the Bachelor (capitalisation due to noun-ishness).

I would care about my own bachelors, if they would let me, that is. While handsome and healthy, this very serious Northern Ireland gent was described by ‘the agency’ as having golf as his passion. Clearly a love of birdies would be an extension of this utter abandon, but alas, not this rare albatross.

As the afternoon wore on, I could see him checking his watch and the stronger the Freo Doctor blew, the more agitated he seemed.

I jokingly asked him if our meeting meant he’d had to miss out on a round of golf, to which he replied how frustrating it was to drive so far from his southern golf course home when there were plenty of closer establishments that would allow him adequate time to also indulge his sporting obsession.

To be fair, we had a nice chat, although we seemed to have a different sense of humour, ie he didn’t have one. Maybe it was nerves. Or putter withdrawal.

And unlike the stereotypical Irishman in my mind’s eye, he didn’t sing, play an instrument, or do the jig. He did however enjoy a pint of Rogers. I stuck to my Japanese green tea.

Anyway, he was very businesslike, shaking my hand at our departure, as if the former Irish golf national competitor, actually did have something much more important and passionate to do.

I felt like a bit of a dodo (completely rare!), but happy to return to my own familiar green, complete with its own bogeys.        

 

Dating male research assistants: Part II

HAVE I learnt anything more about myself or blokes since I last posted about the research project that is my love life?

Of course I have! It’s still sinking in though… so don’t ask me to make too much sense of it all. Yet.

I’ll begin by recapping – the South African rugby player I met for coffee had suffered one too many knocks to the personality zone of his brain while the Gallic gent had ingested far too much garlic in the preceding 12 hours, perhaps thinking I would suck him dry like a vampire.

Sure that I would soon stumble upon a ‘normal’ handsome yet interesting man, I embarked on my third date, with a couple of weeks in between to recoup.

The upmarket location was nice – hopefully that meant my date wouldn’t complain about the coffee. Pommy Dave was already sitting at our table when I arrived. And he turned out to be an easygoing guy with a GSOH, but coffee was not on his menu.

Despite having been out late to a concert with friends and waking with a hangover about an hour before our meeting, he decided a glass of white would go down a treat. I love a glass of bubbly or two but had made a deal with myself not to be that glass of bubbly while conducting this all important research. So I stuck with my green tea.

Dave had no problems in the conversation department. His first topic was how he had treated himself by recently buying a VW convertible. I was clearly supposed to be impressed, so I enthused over what I actually feel is an ugly little midget of a car with barely enough room to fit one let alone two kerbside junk collection chairs in the boot. Good on him though!

He had great teeth, like a good racehorse, nice skin, like a L’Oreal ad, and big blue eyes, a bit like Snugglepot, but I could detect an air of judgement about him. Not necessarily of me, but of people in general. Nothing overt, just a sense from a man who essentially worked as a freelance toe-cutter.   

We discussed daughters – we both have them – and jobs – we both had those, too – and I was really enjoying our banter when it was time for me to leave in time to pick up one of my offspring from her part time job. My, how time flies when you’re having fun…90-minutes had already elapsed.

As we stood up to go to the counter I realised my new friend was at least 10cm shorter than me (and I was wearing flat sandals) with a rotund beer belly poking out from beneath his deceiving black t-shirt.

It made the car seem a very sensible choice. I know I sound like a spoilt middleclass snob but I don’t want to have to encourage a man to look after his own health – he should already be aware of that at our age, right? This info was something I definitely provided to the agency when outlining my list of desirables. I don’t need another pet to train or cater to. I want a friend I am insanely attracted to and who is crazily enamoured with me, who wants to do some of the things I want to do for several long and happy years. Yes, I know. I’m possibly asking too much. Is that unrealistic? After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

But, part of another afternoon spent with a nice fellow human being of the opposite gender; at least my confidence talking to men in something other than a work-like mode was slowly developing.

And that is what I was beginning to learn. To have confidence in myself and my ability to hold a conversation that wasn’t a) about my children, b) about my work, or c) just a succession of ungodly jokes normally shared with my cackling coven.

The only men I really meet are in a formal, professional capacity which means I just want to make the necessary connection and then move on – white, middle-class, married, conservative-voting men are not usually of sustained interest to me. Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong…naaahhhhh.

Dating male research assistants Vers 1

B&Wimages

The power of love is a curious thing,
Make a one (wo)man weep,
Make another (wo)man sing – Huey Lewis (and The News)

I AM conducting an experiment. And I am the gullible guinea pig.
While no animals are being undeservedly harmed it does involve some unsuspecting assistants.
I call it an experiment because although this was not the intention when I began this “journey” (god, I hate this use of that word, but it seems so appropriate, despite the lack of destination) it is rapidly deteriorating into little more than research.
Some research assistants are given financial reward for their precious time and generosity, in this case the only reward is my one-off company (lucky them…) and perhaps the opportunity to discover the same as I – is there such a thing as being too fussy when looking for a potential life partner?
As I edge closer to the second half of my fourth decade (see how I artfully dodge stating my actual age while maintaining my habitual need to tell the truth) I decided to test the theory that there is someone for everyone, given that my previous 25-year effort was in fact, delusional.
I decided if that was ‘it’ something is seriously wrong – see, I can be optimistic!
So after realising what a sham online dating sites, and their ‘dates’ (appropriate word use), are, I glibly and gullibly coughed up a rather large amount of money to what can only be described as a dating agency. Turns out, I’ve probably done this solely for your reading pleasure! How cathartic for all of us.
I’m not feeling robbed – far from it. I said to myself, if this gets me closer to someone who ‘gets’ me and the feeling is mutual, great, but if it doesn’t, at least I tried and can now strike it off the list and continue my lifelong love affair with, me. And chocolate. And chairs. And sleep. And books. And live theatre. And Europe. And my priceless friends and fam.
Long story short, I’ll introduce you to each of my ‘research assistants’ and explain why we aren’t suited – Names have obviously been changed, but the general ambience is authentic.
Grant, the South African –
A strapping rugby union player with a personality only slightly duller than a football boot’s faded leather.
My initial thought was ‘oh my gosh, is this the calibre of man this dating agency has on its books!’ Then we began talking.
Firstly, the accent grated, but I was sure I could get past that if this handsome specimen could hold his own in a conversation.
Alas, despite being a successful businessman who moved his family from one nation to another, hence starting a new life, his was a banal existence and to make matters worse, a sense of humour could not be detected, signalling the sure but steady death of this barely begun bleep.
But death came swiftly after I probed him for experiences of how he managed to fit in to the West Australian way of life and culture after leaving South Africa.
He regaled me with a tale of he, his wife and children’s first visit to a Perth café and the baffling abundance of coffee choices he faced when he ventured up to order at the counter – his expectation of table service having been disappointed.
Upon returning to the table after ordering the mysteriously named flat whites, he told his wife in no uncertain terms that he would not be doing that (ordering coffee at a café counter) again because “it was her job”.
That was his first mistake.
His later statement, uttered almost secretly, that central Africa would do well if a bomb landed in the general area, was terminal.
This bleeding heart feminist left shaking her head (on the inside).
Jean-Paul, the Frenchman –
Oh, yes, internationally themed dates are so my thing! I love France, can’t resist the language, nation, food, art, music, architecture, fashion blah blah blah. This should be fascinating, I thought.
This FiFo was already anxious to the extreme as said dating agency had mixed up our meeting time, so calming him down was my first duty, after the obligatory double cheek kiss – maybe a little too familiar for a first date…
My next was to listen intently for the next 1.5 hours as he talked about himself ad nauseam while I dodged exuberant puffs of halitostic (yes, I just invented a new word) spittle as he ‘educated’ me about the benefits of being a property mogul, buying property north of the river as opposed to the down-heel south, why he hated his family and refused to communicate with them, how much money he earns working away and how bad the coffee was at the chosen café.
He did not ask me one single question, clearly having no interest in me, or what made me tick, at all.
I patienly observed his side show and began looking for ways to discretely beg my leave. I offered to pay for our coffees, it was the least I could do after making him both wait and cancel an appointment with his property agent due to my unfortunate tardiness.
After finally extracting myself from our table he followed me to the cash register where fopishly thinking he had me hooked, giggled and tickled my ribs with his poky fingers as if I was some come-hitherly dressed beer wench. How ironic that I had to experience the purported arrogance of the French on home soil despite travelling to the Gallic nation more than once.

I just shook my head, on the outside, as I sped walked (yes, that’s a thing) back to my ever-loving car.

I can tell you are fascinated by my first two research assistants but this has been such an outpouring of raw emotion, I must rest. Stay tuned for my next instalment…

The myth of why women don’t need men.

SOME men believe women don’t need them. And it’s making them sad. In fact some are suicidal, believing that they don’t know what it means to be a man anymore.
Maybe we don’t ‘need’ them – women can today earn a living and own property, unlike in bygone eras, but I’m fairly certain that we do want them. Very much.
We want our dads and our brothers and our male friends. We want our husbands and boyfriends – what heterosexual woman doesn’t want the special attention of her soul mate and lover as they share challenges throughout their lives.
But here’s what we don’t want, and it’s very similar to what heterosexual men wouldn’t stand for either.
We don’t want to be controlled. Let us blossom into the individuals that we all deserve to be with the freedoms we all have a right to in our democratic society.
We don’t want to be made to feel guilty for not making sacrifices that damage our self-esteem or health.
We don’t want to be taken for granted, or made to feel used.
We don’t want to be told how wonderful you are, we want to see your wonderfulness in action. For eternity.
We want you to be reliable and do what you say you will.
We want you to be honest.
We want you to talk to us so we can understand and help you.
We want you to listen so you can understand us.
We want you to accept our maternal drive to put the children first. It doesn’t mean we don’t love you deeply.
We want you to not be afraid to also put those defenceless family members first. They will grow into their independent, adult selves soon enough.
That’s mostly what we want. Does it make sense?
As a heterosexual woman, I can’t speak of what gay people want from their significant others but it’s probably very similar. And very simple.

The myth of why women don’t need men..

Blokes, take your sexy(ist) shirts off. Please.

THE female form is wonderful. We all know that. In all its shapes and sizes. But not when men wear examples of soft porn images of gagging-for-it women on their t-shirts while shopping. Or doing anything, really.

I do not want to be faced with a come-hither lass with her mouth lolling open as she reclines half naked on a motorcycle while I choose the variety of grapes I want with my cheese platter at Woolies.

For a start, most women do not get slack mouthed or turned on at the sight of a motorbike, immediately feel the need to start undressing, rubbing themselves against the fuel tank or having their photo taken while doing so.

Needless to say, the women in these varied but monotonous shirts don’t always have a prop, unless you consider a g-string or high heels as such…

And most of us do not have the benefit of photoshop or airbrushing as we go about our daily business – thanks for yet another unrealistic standard to strive for.

More perplexing however is that many of the men I see wearing these shirts are hardly ‘The Commando’ (thank you Australia’s Biggest Loser juggernaut) in the looks or fitness department. I know, they’re probably reallllly lovely guys, but I’m doubtful these sultry sirens would seek a man with anything less than a six pack, especially if cameras were likely to be in the general vicinity.

Maybe these blokes think shirts depicting sexy women will make them attractive to viewers of the opposite sex. That’s about as likely as ‘The Commando’ looking at me twice.

But what I really find disturbing is that while grown women might have their problems with these objectified images, children – boys and girls alike – are forced to consume them with no context at all.

I was staggered at the sheer ignorance of a grandfather-aged man wearing such a shirt, walking hand-in-hand with a girl of about five, likely his granddaughter or daughter, in a busy metropolitan shopping centre last week.

He had obviously never considered the pressure these sorts of images place on the shoulders of growing children as they begin to notice and be shaped by the mass sexualisation and objectification of the female form. Girls feel they have to live up to it and boys think they cannot be satisfied with anything less than sexy model perfection.

Role models and main caregivers who unthinkingly ram this sort of mass homogenisation of the female form down the throats of the precious girls and boys in their lives, will force them to grow up faster, with potentially disastrous results for their identity, self-esteem and even their mental health.

Rant over.

(Unfortunate) Pic credit: Urban outfitters