Pilot project: That Gilmore Girl

26 Jun

Lorelai-gilmore-girls-28848347-1024-768Today Fix It Dear Henry takes a detour and muses on the path not taken. Here is the pilot script for That Gilmore Girl, a show about the childless, wondrous Lorelei Gilmore, PhD. Enjoy.

Scene 1

[Interior of radio studio. Lorelei and Sookie sit at a desk with microphones and headphones.]

If you’re just joining us here on WVNY we’re here talking business with local entrepeneurs Dr Lorelei Gilmore and Sookie St James. They are of course the women behind Brooklyn eatery Eternal Flambé and what New York Magazine called the food trend of the decade: the ‘Sugar Pig’ maple bacon donut.

Well it’s certainly the food trend of the people who will only live to see the decade, Mike.

[Laughs awkwardly]

[Interjecting] And the people who enjoy good food and good treats in moderation. [Pause] And of course people who just like deep-fried sugar bacon.

Those are our main demographics, yes.

Now, Lorelei you attended the London School of Economics and Yale. What is it that brought you into the food world?

Well, Sookie is an old friend of mine and when she came to me with this idea it just made good business sense. Sookie is a phenomenal chef and I believed in her product so much I decided to invest.

I find it interesting that you Sookie are married with children and you Lorelei are not. Do you sometimes envy each other’s lives?

Lorelei & Sookie together:


I mean, Lorelei do you sometimes wonder if your personal success is coming at too great a personal cost?

It’s still a ‘no’ from me on that one, Mike, no matter how many times you insinuate the word “barren”.

Oooooooh-key we’re just about outta time here. You’ve been listening to BizChat on WVNY on the Ideas Network.

Scene 2

[Exterior shot, Lorelei and Sookie walking down street holding coffee]

Every fucking time.

Just once I’d like to get through an interview about donuts without someone getting out a speculum and going all Richard and Emily on me. Go to business school, Lorelei, get a PhD, Lorelei, make your fortune, Lorelei. Wait, no too late, you forgot you had a uterus!

One day we’ll win you know. We’ll get there.

Oh yeah, we’re smashing the patriarchy one Sugar Pig at a time.

I’ve got to go pick up Davey. Try not to dwell on it, ok?

[Lorelei and Sookie kiss each other on the cheek]

Scene 3

[Interior of Lorelei’s loft apartment. Lorelei leans against a kitchen counter covered in magazines. She checks her voicemail.]

[Voicemail audio] Christopher:
Hi Lor, just checking in. Again. I’m going to be down in the city this weekend if you want to grab a bite. Call me. Please.

[Lorelei tosses the phone on to the counter and pours herself a glass of wine. She sits down and starts typing on a Macbook]

Scene 4

[Next day. Lorelei sits at her desk working through a large book. Buzzer rings.]

Who is it?


[Lorelei rolls her eyes and presses the button]

[Christopher comes in carrying a large bag from Trader Joe’s]

I know you’re on a publishing deadline and you don’t ever have food in the house so…

Thanks, I’m starved! Sookie forgot to feed me.

I read New York Magazine. Knew I couldn’t be the only one addicted to those Sugar Pigs.

Well you, hipsters and every cardiac surgeon in New York seem to appreciate us.

[Long pause]

I missed you, Lor.

[Lorelei rushes in and kisses him hard]

There has definitely been some missing going on.

Scene 5

[Lorelei and Christopher lie naked in bed, licking donut filling from their fingers]

I can see why these things caught on. It might be more about the service than Sookie’s recipe though.

Oh yes, they said it couldn’t be done, they said not even Brooklynites would wait in line long enough for donuts delivered by a naked 31 year old woman but, oh sir, how I proved them wrong.

You still look 16.

Just without the morning sickness.

[Christopher squirms]

Oh that’s right, I was meant to stop joking about that.

It’s not the kind of thing you joke about.

It is for me. It happened to me.

It happened to me too.

[Lorelei scoffs]

It’s just… It’s just I’ve been thinking so much about us lately. What we had. What we nearly had. What we could have again.

[Lorelei sits up, covering her breasts]

Chris, you know that’s not what I want. I didn’t want it then and I don’t want it now. I’m an aunt to Sookie’s kids and that’s enough. I know you want more but you have to start looking for it with somebody else.

[Phone rings. Lorelei answers.]

Paulo! … I’m sorry it’s not the best time. I have… work. Um… can you come later tonight?

[Christopher jumps out of bed and puts on pants]

What the fuck, Chris? Why are you being like this?

[Christopher storms out of the bedroom. At that moment Emily lets herself in carrying shopping bags from Barney’s.]

This is what you’ve always done. You’ve just done your own thing without thinking about how it affects anyone else. You just run around the world with God knows who without even telling me.

Chris, what is this even about? Oh, hi Mom.

[Emily looks Lorelei (still naked) up and down before staring at Christopher]

[staring coldly] This is about you and what you did to us 15 years ago.

[Lorelei gasps and steps backwards. Emily steps forward.]

My daughter had an abortion. She had an abortion when she was 15 because she needed one. And the next time you and those redneck-in-Chanel parents of yours try to shame her for it you will have to come through me. Is that understood? Now I suggest you put a shirt on and head back to Boston on the first available train.

[Christopher puts his head down and scurries from the room. Emily walks over to the kitchen and inspects the bag from Trader Joe’s.]

Well, at least he knows to cater.


Things Americans say to me when they hear my accent

15 May
  • Where are you from?
  • [Said without introduction] Are you British?
  • Ooh I love your accent! Where did you get it?
  • Oh you have an Australian accent! I can speak in one of those. (No, you can’t)
  • [Said accusingly] Hey, are you British?
  • Why are you here?
  • [Said in the tone of a man defending the colony of Massachusetts from Imperial aggressors] YOU’RE BRITISH!
  • My aunt went to Australia once
  • Are Australia and New Zealand, like, the same?
  • No, really, where are you from?
  • Bitch, just tell me where you’re fucking from
  • Excuse me, my daughter was wondering where you were from. (Lady, your kid is 18 months old. She doesn’t know where she’s from.)

When this happens, when someone talks to me as though I’m leading a British invasion of colonial Boston, I like to fuck with them. Sometimes I tell them I’m from Cape Town and remain in my version of a South African accent all day, knowing most Americans won’t hear the difference. Most of the time though I just fire back “where are YOU from?” and watch these very comfortable white people plunge into existential crisis before my eyes. It’s the best part of my day.

I wrote about the damage done by America’s cultural navel-gazing in my essay Australia’s moment: why NBC didn’t need to make The Slap.

A letter to my political crush and BFF, Julie Bishop

10 Mar

This was originally performed during a live recording of the Stop the Posts podcast in December 2013. I’m publishing it now because of JBish’s stirling performance on #LadyQandA on Monday. Thank you to James Colley and Nick Fisher for helping to make Australian political comedy a thing. x

[Dear American readers, don’t worry all the jokes are hilariously funny to Australians.]

A friend once asked me who my secret political crush was. I said you, Julie Bishop.

Not because of your policies or who you work with or what you’ve done to damage Australia’s international standing.

No, Julie, I love you because of your sheer unfuckwithability. Your laser-enabled capacity to shoot down your opponents and take precisely no shit from nobody.

You’ve been in Politics for 15 freakin years and you’ve been in the Cabinet for 10 of them. Lady, that’s impressive.

First you were the Minister for Ageing. Then you were the Minister for Education and the Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues. Impressive, yeah, but also kind of girlie. Even though you came from being a partner at a law firm, they gave you all the portfolios relating to chicks and children and old people.

Both sides of politics do this. They take women at the top of their fields in law or business or media and give her a totally irrelevant role because she’s the one in the skirt. Christ, Kevin Rudd gave Maxine McKew the early childhood portfolio even though she was one of the only people in the Parliamentary Labor Party without kids.

But, Julie, you rose above and managed to fulfil all your Cabinet positions without completely fucking them up. And that’s something that very few people can say.

If you were a dude, no one would be at all surprised to see you go from that to Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. But we were surprised because you were the first woman to do it. In the last 5 years Australia has managed to have women in positions that don’t directly relate to nurturing people.

Please, Australia ask us about free trade agreements, debt ceilings and capital gains tax! Let us regale you with our stories of funding for medical research and the deregulation of the banking sector! You can even ask us about sport, because, my sisters, we have conquered the most cock-heavy end of the Cabinet Ministry and, Julie Bishop we have you to thank for helping to lead the charge.

And yet….

Right now you’re looking a little lonely up there. It’s almost as though centuries of oppression have caused women to be undervalued and under represented, deemed unworthy for positions that men are presumed qualified for without proof.

You’re very proud of the fact that the Liberal Party doesn’t do gender quotas, that all of the women around you got there purely on merit.

You think you’re so fucking special? You think you’re the only woman with merit enough to do what you do?

What are you going to say on your Christmas card to Kelly O’Dwyer? “Hope you enjoy all that spare time you have?” “Dear Michaelia, please enjoy this set of hair curlers. I would have got you the travel ones but then I remembered you don’t have to be in Canberra all that often.”

Julie, I love you, but if you really want to be my BFF we need to sort a few things out.

You said, on Mamamia of all places, that even though sexism still exists in some parts of society, that women should combat sexism by not giving it credibility and, here’s the kicker, not complaining about it. You think the best thing we can do to ensure we are judged fairly on our merit is to shut up about being judged on our gender?

You want to be judged on merit then I’ll judge you on merit.

Let’s talk about how the week your government implodes our relationship with Indonesia, you happen to pull out of 7.30 and Q & A.

Let’s talk about your steadfast loyalty to Tony Abbott, a man who’s sexism is so well documented it people can only deny it with the same logic they use to deny climate change.

Somewhere between that idyllic childhood on a cherry farm and shaking John Kerry’s hand something went array.

I don’t believe you’re a bad person. I think you’re actually a smart, talented and fearless person who could, if she wanted, achieve great things.

I feel there’s some way we can harness your powers, laser-enabled and otherwise. I get the sense that with the strength of your lady-balls alone we could power the city of Ballarat for a year.

Imagine if your stubborn nature wasn’t put towards defending homophobes or stopping boats, but to instilling policies which make Australia a voice for fairness and compassion?

What if you helped women everywhere by living by example and not telling us to stop complaining about sexism?

So Julie, dear Julie. I hope we can find a way through this. I hope once all this blows over we’ll be able to have that girls’ week in Bali we always planned.

I hope, once this festering heap of a government collapses onto the spindly frame of Christopher Pyne, you’ll find a way to make it up to me.

What White Ribbon can learn from #NoMore 

2 Feb

It’s Super Bowl Sunday here in Wisconsin and while the guacamole congeals I thought I’d take a moment to talk about football, violence against women and those smug pricks at White Ribbon Australia.

For the first time the biggest television event in the world will lend its airwaves to an anti-violence PSA. I can say, without a hint of sarcasm, that it’s wonderfully done. The people behind the NFL-supported #NoMore campaign did an amazing job and when I see it tonight with a corn chip in my hand I am sure to cry big tears.

The #NoMore campaign launched with the 2014-15 football season in the USA. It features players, celebrities and the President saying straight up to the camera that violence against women must stop.

At first I was dubious. It was another campaign that highlighted men as saviors rather than perpetrators and made no effort to reveal the suffering and self-advocacy of victims. But the Super Bowl ad won me over.

Across the Pacific another football-related anti-violence campaign, White Ribbon Australia is a different beast altogether. In 2014 the non-profit announced a partnership with Sydney rugby club the Canterbury Bulldogs. This, my local team, is almost synonymous with rape. In 2004, six members of the team were accused of raping a 20 year old woman. And that was just one incident out of a string that would make any woman hear “Bulldog” and make run for it.

As Jacqueline Magnay wrote at the time “Rugby league, with its macho advertising and scantily dressed cheerleaders, has long cultivated an image of masculine bravado. But a picture is also surfacing of a murkier code in which players share women for sex as part of the team “bonding” process.”

A decade later, I can see why the Bulldogs would leap at the chance for some good PR. While there’s a chance that the team’s endorsement of White Ribbon might result in a change to its culture, the fact that White Ribbon is willing to endorse an organization with an (alleged) history of rape is disturbing in the least.

White Ribbon, you see, talks very little about violence. Very rarely do they draw attention to victim’s stories. Their all-male ambassadors include some mighty shifty characters. As I’ve said before on this blog, “All I ever see of this organization or its ambassadors is Good Blokes patting each other on the back. Rarely, if ever, have I seen White Ribbon tell a story of female victimhood. The key message seems to be: there’s good guys, and there’s those who can become good guys.” Basically, White Ribbon gives out more cookies than the Girl Scouts.

Looking at the #NoMore Super Bowl ad makes me long for an Australian organization that could gets its messaging right. In the ad, the woman is the protagonist. It tells the audience to listen to her, even though it’s hard. It isn’t about what makes a good man, it’s about what it’s like to be a woman under the threat of male violence.

The NFL may be no friend to women, but with this they score some points.

Yes I’m pro-abortion. Who wouldn’t be?

14 Jan

If you spend your time in the same corners of the internet as I do you’ll be familiar with the line “I’m pro-choice, not pro-abortion”. Whenever I see this, I ask “Why? What’s wrong with abortion?”

If you’re pro-choice you believe in the autonomy of women. You believe that no matter what importance an embryo/fetus/unborn baby might hold, it is never more important than the freedom of the woman whose body it is housed in. In short, women are more important than fetuses.

Since we’ve got that out of the way, we should all be able to say that abortions are awesome. The development of safe abortion is a medical advancement that has improved the lives of one in three women. The availability of abortion is something that gives women, me included, great comfort and security. Pretty great, right?

Before the advent of safe, legal abortion women were dying. Women were at the mercy of biology. Let it be remembered that in this same period it was legal for men to rape their wives. When we use the term “bodily autonomy” we are talking about no small thing.

Since I first become a pro-choice activist when I was fifteen, I’ve seen feminist discussion of abortion follow the same formula: to terminate a pregnancy is a difficult, heart-breaking decision for every woman who makes it but we must defend her right to make that choice. As friendly as that sounds, it’s also bullshit.

The “pro-choice, not pro-abortion” line plays into the trope that abortion, though sometimes necessary, is always shameful. It’s always difficult. It’s always sad. In reality, not every woman feels shame and nor bloody should she. Guilt should not be the tax we pay on autonomy.

I think of abortion the same way I think of a root canal. It’s an often painful, invasive procedure that in some cases could have been prevented through education and good habits. I don’t want to have one, but I’m glad it’s there if I need it.

Every time we say “pro-choice, not pro-abortion” we make it a little bit harder for a woman to stand up and say “I’d like an abortion, please.” It makes it a little harder for women to say “I had an abortion once”. It makes it a little bit harder for couples to discuss abortion openly and give women real freedom over if and when they have a child.

I’m pro-family.

I’m pro-woman.

I’m pro-choice.

And I’m pro-abortion.

You should be too.

Author’s note: Fix It, Dear Henry is a safe space for me and for my readers. Anti-choice/forced-birther comments, or those that otherwise denigrate women will not be published. If this upsets you let me remind you that WordPress is free.

Who holds back the electric car? White Ribbon does.

26 Jul

It was 7am in Wisconsin when I spotted it. Andrew O’Keefe, Australian comedic talent and All Round Good Guy, had written a piece about what questions men need to ask themselves about violence against women.

It is exactly the kind of thing that needs to be read widely but for me, there was just one small problem. Daily Life defines itself as a women’s publication. Even if the piece made its way under the nose of a member of the woman beating public, it doesn’t make up for the fact that the piece was, by nature of its publisher, targeted at women.

It was another in a long line of pieces written by Good Blokes about violence against women aimed at women. (See also: Charlie Pickering in Mamamia.)

Women don’t need to be told the questions men need to ask themselves about violence. We don’t need to be told how many of us are being killed by our partners or exes. We don’t need to be told because either the reality of it, or the potential of it is part of the female experience.

Both O’Keefe and Pickering wrote their pieces as part of their role as White Ribbon Australia ambassadors. This is an exclusive boy’s club. I can only imagine they have poker nights to which no women are invited. In the lead up to White Ribbon Day in November each year, these men are trotted out, promising to start a dialogue between men about the culture that permits violence against women. This is a good thing.


All I ever see of this organisation or its ambassadors is Good Blokes patting each other on the back. Rarely, if ever, have I seen White Ribbon tell a story of female victimhood. The key message seems to be: there’s good guys, and there’s those who can become good guys.

And that just makes the mansplaining of violence against women in Daily Life and Mamamia so infuriating. Not only does White Ribbon fail to show men the reality of their violence against us, their PR puts the onus back on to women to recruit men to the good side. The only time I can think of a White Ribbon ambassador getting featured in the gender-neutral press is Sam de Brito’s expressions of sympathy for men who kill their families.

Looking at White Ribbon’s content strategy, you see women who must be catalysts for their own salvation and men who must be forgiven if we fail.

Here’s to November.


Please note: The title would have been super clever had I been able to embed a picture of the Stonecutters from The Simpsons. WordPress is broken so can you please just picture it in your heads? Thanks.

Up the Ohio without a driver’s license

28 Jun

I’ve been a resident of the United States for seven days now. It was a move three years in the making, almost on the anniversary of meeting my fiance in a dingy London bar. Right now, while I’m writing this in a corner of our living room in Oxford Ohio, John is playing FIFA with his groomsmen. It is an absolutely joyous, ordinary day.

Ordinary days are something new to us. People in long distance relationships don’t get them. They get days that crackle with anticipation, heavy with the responsibility of being one day out of a limited number. For the first time, I can enjoy hearing his voice in the background while I write without wondering if we should be spending our time on something more meaningful.Photo of a street in Oxford.

Like all first weeks in new countries, this one has stretched. Each of the seven days has brought its own little crisis of adjustment. I’m not homesick yet, but small town Ohio came as a shock. We’re spending my first month in a college town… in summer… when squirrels outnumber humans 3 to 1. I get to walk down canopied avenues without passing another person and buy groceries without waiting in line. It would be nice, if it didn’t make me lonely.

The hardest thing though has been losing my independence. Last year, when I was in Paris with my dad my wallet was stolen. This made me even more dependent on him than I already was. Instead of reacting calmly and graciously, I was more like a puffer fish; my spikes coming out at the nearest opportunity. Poor Dad.

In Ohio I’m not just reliant on John, I’ve stepped out of my life and into his. On my third day here that hit me. We were driving around town running errands like setting up a phone account and buying coat hangers. After one fruitless conversation at the Verizon store (is there any other kind?) we got into the car and John started pulling out. There came my spikes. “Where are you taking me? Just because you’re the one driving doesn’t mean you can just cart me around town like cargo!”

John blinked, halfway out of the parking space, as heaving sobs started coming from me. I had, apparently, only just realised I had moved overseas for a man. Not only that, I had done it before learning to drive. I was useless, helpless and almost alone.

The solution was found at Walmart for $89. It’s a light brown fixed-gear Huffy bike and with it I have conquered Oxford, Ohio. With it I have access to food, non-squirrel interaction and the town’s only espresso machine. With it, I am unstoppable.

Quiet, the men are talking about misogyny

30 May

I’m not going to add to the torrent of think pieces about the Isla Vista attacks. That’s been done by people far better placed to do so. What I am going to do is talk about the dialogue this and #YesAllWomen has opened up between men, and how they engage on the subject.

For nearly a week now, I’ve watched men talk about violence towards women on a scale unlike that I’ve seen before. I’ve seen them use terms like “culture of misogyny” and “normalisation of violence”. It’s awesome. And long fucking overdue. Getting men to have this discussion has been the M.O. of feminism since Mary Wollstonecraft first shouted on a London street corner.

There’s a reason that a lot of the conversations I’ve seen on Facebook lately have been dominated by men — women already know this stuff. We haven’t been trying to convince each other there’s a culture of misogyny. I haven’t seen a single pair of women look for an explanation for what happened. We know, we live the explanation every day.

As I’ve explained over and over online this week, women have been having this conversation for centuries. Thank you for finally joining us.

It’s been heart warming and infuriating to watch man after man on my friends list post “Woah. Misogyny”. Some of them make the noble claim that they don’t fantasise about killing women. Some of them make a racist comment about America, or a broad statement about the film industry. Inevitably, a bunch of male friends jump in and say “yeah but Rodgers (sic) was mentally ill,” as though Kellogg’s Corn Flakes distributed doctorates in criminal psychology to everyone the day before the shooting. The overwhelming trend is towards men hoping to explain away Isla Vista to disassociate themselves from Rodger (not all men, etc).Meme: a man says 'I'm proud to be a feminist. These galls need strong male leadership.'

There was the guy who said that an article arguing against the mental illness explanation was the first article on the subject that resonated with him. Because obviously everything we write should be writen with middle class Australian boys in mind.

There was the FCKH8.com moderator who told me that if I’m afraid of street harrassment I should just stay indoors.

There was the guy who asked me to “keep it civil” after I told someone “unless you have a degree in psychology please STFU”.

There was the guy who called me “aggressive” and “hostile” after I pulled up a guy for explaining to me (a professional feminist writer and holder of an honours degree in media and cultural theory) how cultural change works.

Men love to have academic discussions about what the world might look like if there were a dominant culture of misogyny. But once a woman tries to tell them about her experience they shut her down as though she were intruding on the conversation.

According to these Good Guys, this international discussion about violence against women can only happen if it’s on their terms. Any digression or inference of male culpability and the female participant is shut down, insulted, dismissed or patronised.

There’s no point identifying that Isla Vista happened within a broader culture of entitlement to women as objects if you then use that to excuse men from personal responsibility.

There’s no point saying men have to learn to see women as equals if you say that while cutting a woman off.

There’s no point talking about how tragic this all is if you tell a woman to calm down while she’s reacting to it.

You’ve read up on the theory. Now try the practice.


Recommended reading:

It’s just… a little thrush.

28 May

What’s the difference between a vagina and a toe?

About $17 apparently.

See, if you have a fungal infection between your toes you can go to the supermarket and get a tube of clotrimazole anti-fungal cream for about eight bucks. If that fungal infection happens to be on your vulva or in your vagina, you’re going to have to go to the chemist, ask nicely and pay $25.

Clotrimazole is sold under a number of brands, including as an athlete’s food treatment and a vaginal thrush treatment. Both products are sold in the same concentration (10mg/g). The only difference is where you apply them. It is, essentially, a vagina tax.

Canesten for vaginas and Canesten for feet tubes side by side.

What bothers me more though is the on the shelf/over the counter distinction. We are, apparently, allowed to treat the skin on our feet but not the skin on our clunges without first seeking advice from a pharmacist.

Vaginal thrush isn’t rare or even interesting. It happens all the freakin time to most women. It’s easy to identify and easy to treat if you get in early.

So, this week after feeling the familiar twinge in my twat, I took myself off  to the chemist. At the prescription desk I asked for a tube of Canesten. I ask for the brand because that tells them that I’m a woman who knows what she wants and has no time to spare. I’ve never asked for this in a patient tone. Who can be patient when they’re standing in a shop with an itchy snatch?

In reply, the pharmacy assistant — in a totally symbolic white lab coat — asked what symptoms I’d been having. I replied “thrush-like symptoms. Like when you have thrush”. She leaned in and whispered “I just have to check that it is actually thrush.”

I sighed. I searched my soul for patience. I explained that I was, as the owner of the vulva in question, perfectly qualified to diagnose my own condition, and that since I’m an adult I shouldn’t have to be condescended to just because the treatment I’m seeking is for my ladyparts. She nodded and handed over the tiny overpriced tube.

There is, of course, an argument for checking that the symptoms aren’t being misdiagnosed. Snatches can be itchy for all kinds of reasons and customers are not doctors. But neither are pharmacy assistants.

The trouble is that on this particular trip to Chemist Warehouse, I could have diagnosed and treated all manner of conditions. I could have pumped myself with iron supplements because I was feeling tired, or codeine because I had a headache. I could have taken a plethora of alternative ‘natural’ remedies straight up to the counter without so much as a raised eyebrow.

If you’re a qualified professional by all means help me make decisions about my health. Be evidence based, be respectful. But don’t ask whether or not I can be trusted with a tube of tinea cream and my own cunt.

In case anyone questions your right to vaginal determination, I’ve made up a license you can carry. Go forth and medicate!


In preparing this post I asked Twitter to name their favourite synonyms for vulva and vagina. Here they are:

  • Ham wallet (naturally)
  • Baby cannon
  • Sprog locker
  • Breakfast of champions
  • Bearded clam
  • Wizard’s sleave
  • Willy warmer


Safe harbour: what to do when a friend tells you she’s leaving him

25 Apr

When I was 15, me and my parents were preparing to spend six months living in Northern England. When we were over for coffee one day, my mother’s friend handed her a note, “just in case you need it”. On it was written the address of a woman down South who would offer safe harbour to us if, for whatever reason, we needed to get away from my father.

The notion of ‘safe harbour’ has stayed with me since then. It’s made me see the systems of support women put in place for each other, often covertly, that stretch across the world. The story of family violence sounds almost the same in every retelling. The reality or threat of violence at the hand of the men we love is, tragically, a shared experience that bonds women together.

That bond is there in the worried glances we give when a friend says she has to get home or “he’ll be angry”. It’s in the mental notes we take of the bruises on each other’s arms. It’s in the the culture of hospitality we create whenever we say “you guys are always welcome”.

Violence against women and children in Australia (and I would posit almost everywhere) is at a crisis point. We know that when women do decide to leave their partners the danger to them and their children increases. It’s in the period surrounding the separation, as well as milestones such as anniversaries and court dates, that women need safe harbour most.

I’ve spent my afternoon chatting with a friend who is in the process of leaving a violent partner (statistically speaking, chances are you have a friend like that too). She and I live far apart, but I gave her the address of a relative she could call on in an emergency. It was exactly the same act my mother was grateful for 11 years ago.

Inspired by this, I’ve been talking with people on Twitter about the strategies that have worked for supporting the women we know when they decide to leave a violent partner. I’m a writer, not a social worker, lawyer or psychologist so I’m not going to offer advice.

What I will say is that this covert network of support women build for each other needs to be strengthened. We need to constantly reassure each other that help is there, that we are entitled to protection from society.

And when a friend comes to you with the same story of family or partner violence we’ve all heard before, for the love of all that is holy please believe her. She is not lying. She is not crazy. She did not contribute to this situation. She is a friend in need.


The Domestic Violence Resource Centre has a list of support services in each state.