Sunday, 21 March 2010

Sugar and Spice....

It was International Women's Day earlier this month. In Auckland each year I marked the occasion with a table at the UNIFEM breakfast however since moving to Sydney my networks have largely atrophied and thanks to the amount of commuting I do has limited my 'extra-curricular' ("curricular" being work these days) activities. But it turned out to be an interesting week in many ways. And not more so than by what the women in my life shared with the world.

The week was kicked off by an email from mum. Attached was a copy of a speech that a member of her family had written to deliver at an International Women's Day event for PPSEAWA . It plotted openly the last 30 years she spent in a controlling and emotionally abusive marriage. Her journey was provocatively chronicled as an ostracised member of her community, dismissed as a mother, a divorcee and battling bouts of alcoholism that merely masked the intensity of her situation. I knew the story as over the years as her 'younger cousin' she had shared it with me. Perhaps my rebellious demeanour and brutal honesty provided the safe platform for her to release some of her pain with someone who wasn't going to judge her for not matching with up with the societal facade she had created (to protect not only herself but her daughters as well). To see it on paper, articulated, and frighteningly accurate coupled with knowing she shared this with an audience left me in awe. After the tears cleared enough for me to see the monitor again I felt buoyed by her strength, knowing that she had taken such a powerful step towards healing the pain she had experienced at the hands of a man that to this day our community fail to criticise for his calculated brutality. Not the community that shuns 'airing dirty laundry' in front of others.

The next day was the launch of Social Media Women in Sydney. Started by women that I had followed on twitter for some time and/or had the pleasure of meeting in person I was enthusiastic about joining, hoping that it would assist me in improving my knowledge & skillset in the SoMe space as well as the opportunity to meet new people. Accustomed to having these types of initiatives encouraged and supported in New Zealand I was stunned by the vitriol that the event generated. Some of it was distasteful, personal and quite unnecessary. What shocked me was the male response to the all-female network aimed at raising the engagement of women in the SoMe space. Apparently there was "disappointment it was being set up" at all! I feel honoured and blessed that the men in my life are always encouraging of initiatives like this and support me in my support of other women. It left me in no doubt that International Women's Day has as much a place today as it did at its inception 99 years ago.

The week ended with the publication of a posterous post by a woman I had met on twitter about the night her ex-husband entered her home & attempted to take her life in front of their children. She's a solicitor like me and her career was another victim of that night's events as a result of the brain injury she suffered. This alone I felt angry about – what more did he want to take from her? Nothing was spared that night. She documented the brutality of the incident with remarkable honesty. It was impossible not to be emotional but so fiercely proud of her courage.

To the women that conquered demons this week I applaud you. You have helped me reflect on the demons that have plagued me, that someday may be shared right here.  For now I bask in your glory and thank you for what you bring to the world. I also took the time to reflect on the honourable men I share my life with...they honour their mothers, wives, sisters, sisters-in-law, daughters, nieces, aunts and their workmates. To you too I am eternally grateful for all the love and tender care you give to the women you care about.

If you or someone you know needs help or support with dealing with a domestic violence situation please seek help – there is a good list of support services available here:


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Hey thanks!