An Unfortunate Culture

I woke up this morning to my Facebook feed, as I do most mornings (this from a person who in the early nineties was never going to get the internet because only bad things could come – insert forehead slap here).

Van Badham, an Australian commentator, has shared an article about Don Burke’s predatory bullying and misogynistic behaviour, and how the Channel 9 Television Network took no appropriate action because he was their cash cow. They acknowledge, at the least, that there was gossip about Don Burke’s behaviour, but nothing was formally reported.

Who knows what is true.

In the comments, often the best part of anything on the internet, was a seemingly harmless comment along the lines of, “This is so sad if it is true.” The man, probably thinking nothing much of the words he chose, opened himself up to some not nice responses. In one, he was called a “douchebag.” He tried to defend himself by replying that he hadn’t said he didn’t believe it, but he was erring on the side of caution until Don Burke was in front of a court, rather than being tried on social media alone.

God love him. His argument appears logical. I lean towards agreeing with him. I do believe that any court would find Don Burke guilty; there seems to be a lot of evidence, a lot of reports with similar themes, and a lot of witnesses to the behaviour.

However, it sent me into a tail spin. I was drafting a comment to let him know that I had heard him, but I couldn’t find the words to express it clearly, without sounding like I was supporting Don Burke’s disgraceful behaviour.

That forced me to look at my own potential biases. Where does my need to defend this man come from? Am I being so careful to not become part of a witch hunt that I am complicit in seemingly condoning bad behaviour? What is right and what is wrong?

I get that the man who commented and was then attacked, probably didn’t think his seemingly innocuous comment would unleash what it unleashed. Probably didn’t think. Probably doesn’t need to think. It is obvious from his replies and attempts to protect himself, that he didn’t mean harm and was not condoning Don Burke’s behaviour. The responders didn’t want to see that.

But, our society’s culture did and still does permit Don Burke’s behaviour. Women and girls are still routinely subjected to comments about their appearance, their sexuality, their personalities, their everything, and much of it is demeaning.

We are held to ridiculous standards of beauty and minimalised for our opinions if we dare speak them. For Christ’s sake, our first female Prime Minister was routinely attacked for not being married, for being childless, for her clothing choices, for the size of her bottom and for the colour of her hair. And so many moronic imbeciles condoned this behaviour from the media, and it validated misogynistic behaviours and attitudes from unintelligent people who then felt they had a public platform and public permissionto air this vitriol.

Australia went backwards at this point. Thank you, Tony Abbott and Australian media.

We then had the atrocious behaviours from Harvey Weinstein in the US made public, following the #metoo movement (interestingly, following on from the allegations against Bill Cosby which did not give rise to such a furore – I wonder if colour plays a part here). This opened Pandora’s box. In the US and here too. And, rightly so. For so long there has been none or not enough public condemnation of this type of behaviour.

I used the me too hash tag. I debated using it. I read articles from women who were against it, believing it marginalised men and vilified innocent men. It may have done. It was also argued that no woman should feel pressured to own their abuse/assault in a public forum. I don’t think there was pressure; it was personal choice.

I think it was powerful, ultimately. I think it provided an alternative platform for women to own their assaults/abuse (the distinction being that abuse is longer term). It was empowering. For me, who speaks and writes openly about my life, it wasn’t too big a deal. For others, who don’t, and who chose to use the hash tag, it was empowering and unifying. They knew they were not alone.This enables and empowers healing. It strips shame away. It makes the abuse the focus, not the individual.

And, the hash tag wasn’t gender specific – males suffer abuse and assaults. That is undeniable. The impact of violation does not discriminate; however, for way too long, too many women have endured the shame and guilt that comes with behaviour that is not condemned by our society. And I feel myself checking myself, too many people.

Gender politics. I am a feminist. I have been marginalised because I am a woman. I have fought harder because I am a woman. I have been abused because I am a woman. And, a strong woman at that. Intelligent, compassionate, articulate, informed.

I have also been privileged to work with a therapist who has empowered me to see what I have yielded as a result of the abuses against (for) me. And I mean privileged. So many are not in the position where they can afford or access this type of therapy (Demartini).

For every male student who has disclosed abuse to me, I have had five female students disclose. Neither is supported adequately at the end of the day, despite all of the child protection rhetoric. It’s all about ticking boxes. And this entitled behaviour from all genders needs to stop.

But, we all need to understand that change is a process and learning the right language takes time, and at the end of the day, only compassion and love will move us forward.

Abuse, assault, bullying, aggression, unkindness, violence – it all stems from the same place – disconnection. We need to work together to change this unfortunate culture, not against one another.

A Rollercoaster of Emotion

Well, it has been a while. Today, my brain won’t let me do anything else until I have blogged. Not sure I am quite ready to put down the emotional rollercoaster that is my brain every year at this time, but meh. What can you do. I must blog so that I can achieve other things lol.

I cried myself to sleep last night. Unexpectedly.

A friend of mine had commented on a Facebook post by Em Rusciano. Em was due to give birth yesterday, but miscarried earlier in her pregnancy. It was such a heartfelt post, something resonated, and I just released. No prize for guessing what the next thing will be to work on when I return to therapy in January. I will, under guidance and not by myself, Demartini the mother out of my miscarriage. This morning I awoke feeling emotionally hungover. I can feel the cogs turning in my mind, a lot of processing happening, I can’t access most of it yet.

I head back to my permanent teaching position in ten sleeps. Yes. I am counting down. Why do we do that to ourselves?!

I have had a phenomenal year. My goal was to heal from the investigation, and for the most part, I have. I do not think I carry any anger anymore, especially towards the people that I used as a symbol for all that went wrong last year (and not the people you would expect). I feel quite calm about returning to work from that perspective. However, this year has really solidified for me the people that regard me as a concept and those that value me. This is a good thing moving forward.

I carry concerns that I will fall into past patterns at work upon my return. I have no desire to be the person I was when I left, almost a year ago. I no longer desire to mentor any adults in the workplace; I no longer want to be the ‘go to’ person for all and sundry; I no longer want the long hours and excessive workload, watching those that I have supported drive through those gates to liberation before me.

My life has moved. I have moved. My values have changed. I am no longer the person that I was; I have liberated myself from the cage I had imprisoned myself in.

I think I felt a lot of shame and a lot of guilt. I had always wanted to be a teacher. I didn’t stop to think that teaching takes many forms and doesn’t necessarily just happen in a classroom. I was, and am, grateful for all of my years in formal education. I grew into myself, forged new paths, and inspired and empowered many. My legacy in education may not have reached award status, but my impact has been significant. So, I felt guilty thinking I may have outgrown it, shame that I wasn’t being grateful by needing to move away from it.

One of my clients had to watch a TED Talk to use as a related text for an assessment on “Discovery”. We were deconstructing it on Wednesday. It spoke to me on so many different levels.

Emilie Wapnick’s “Why Some Of Us Don’t Have One True Calling”

It sort of sums me up. I think I am a multipotentialite. I am a teacher, but I think my main calling, and this has been a recurring theme in how I teach, what I teach, and in who I am as a teacher, is that of healer. This year, even in my tutoring business, what I am really doing, ultimately doing, is healing the fragments within all of us that we carry with us every day. My multipotentials come in the myriad of activities I have engaged in through teaching and outside of teaching. I am always doing many things.

So, the shame and guilt I have felt have given way (or are in the process of giving way to) an acceptance that in our society, living and moving unexpectedly, requires courage. And, I am courageous.

When you are unhappy in life, and we all have moments – mine just became a long term series of moments, it is imperative that you do something to change it. It takes courage, even to mix it up a little, let alone to take leave to see what else is out there. I have always said that all change takes twenty seconds of courage. Thank you eternally, We Bought A Zoo.

We can all do twenty seconds.

It will take the same courage to go back, to be authentically me, to stand by the changes I have made this year, and to remember that I am worth putting me first. And, I can do it; I know I can.

This year has been successful beyond measure, a true legacy to my friend Natalie. It took me a while to make my promise to you real, but I will live with passion and energy. I will not waste my life, because I know how much you would have given to still be here breathing and living yours.

I firmly believe that our souls find peace when we are walking the path we are supposed to walk. My soul had been restless and scared for years. She liberated herself this year and she will not go backwards.

I do not know what the future holds for me. I know that I return to my school full time in a week (ten sleeps) and then five days a fortnight next year. I know that my tutoring business is going to be fine (most of my clients have already re-booked for next year – humbling and surprising to me – such is my naivete, and I have new clients booking). I know that the outline and focus for my book found its shape yesterday. I know that I have some ideas for an online business to source and build during January. I know that I am excited to start programming for my school students and to be back in my classroom next year.

I am moving forward. I am where I am meant to be. I am not stagnating again. I will continue to wholly love and breathe, embracing change and the moment with passion and wonder that I could be just this blessed.

I should stop there. It was inspiring and empowered and strong. However, this post is a true example of my brain, my rollercoaster. Be grateful you don’t live in it lol.

Much love …

A Modern Day Witch Hunt?

Western society is currently experiencing a flood of Entertainment Industry sexual abuse/assault claims. A flood. One after the other coming out to share their story, either in support of others or to point the finger at their own perpetrators.

I think that any victim finding their voice and minimising the shame that victims experience is brilliant. As a person who has experienced sexual abuse, I find it refreshing that the media is shining the spotlight on the issue. However, I am not sure that shining the light is all that is required, but more on that later.

I was at a Trivia Night on Saturday. One of my best friends said that she didn’t believe that a couple of men who have been vilified are actually guilty of what they have been accused of. I couldn’t believe it. I think, in my disbelief, I may have made her feel less than. I hope not, but I shall discuss that with her later. Ultimately, I don’t know. Maybe they are guilty. Maybe they aren’t.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with one of my other best friends about the proliferation of claims when she asked me why I thought it was happening. We discussed reasons why and where we thought this might all be leading (hopefully, towards enlightenment and transformation on a grand scale).

This morning I read and shared Facebook posts written by Ellen Page and another by Caitlin Johnstone about this issue. And then, I paused.

George Takei is the most recent to be accused and he is emphatically denying the allegations. I don’t know whether he is innocent or guilty. I like George. I love and follow his Facebook page. And so now, I understand why my friend has reservations.

And, then I started a dialogue with myself. How do we know who is guilty or not guilty? After deliberation, I discovered the answer: the volume of claims made against an individual. Yep. That’s how we know.

And, then I had a flashback to one of my all time favourite plays by Arthur Miller: The Crucible. Abigail managed to manipulate many fraudulent claims and then the witch hunt (literally) started. From there, I made the natural leap to the McCarthyist era in the US and in Australia during the fifties and sixties.

And, realistically, the volume of complaints used as a barometer of innocence or guilt could only make many ‘normal’ people, without a massive media platform, feel disenfranchised because they have no means to assess the volume of victims who suffered at their abuser’s hands. Myself included.

So, how do we know?

We don’t.

It is important to validate the experience of victims. It is also important to exercise caution in our judgements as the momentum continues to spiral. Some people facing allegations levelled against them will be innocent of those allegations. And, their lives will be impacted as much as the fabric of our society will be (hopefully in a good way).

As for the light that is flooding on the issue now, that is not all that is required. This is a first step. The next step must be education and support and resources and real change in the attitudes of people who use sexual behaviour as a means to power and control over others. No human being is the toy of another, or the property of another. And sexual behaviour, should never ever be used to control or marginalise another.

I am sorry, NS.