He.

1989

“Eat!” 

Startled, I looked back down at the half eaten and rather unappealing dinner that my mother had placed in front of me. 
Her gaze followed mine out the window. “You’re going to waste away if you keep day dreaming that way, now EAT!” 

I looked back at my food as my father sauntered into the dining room. There was no such thing as a private conversation in our tiny three bedroom unit, so he knew exactly why I was staring into my plate like my life depended on it. (Well, it kind of did 😳)

He leaned down and whispered to me “Was the lion out today?” 

Huh? I thought only I saw the lion in the shape of the trees, visible over our backyard fence through the dining room window. He smiled at the shocked expression on my face and tucked a forever stray strand of thick hair behind my ear. “Eat, before she makes you sleep in the backyard with it.” 

He went into the kitchen and wrapped his arms around my mother and I dutifully ate the rest of my food, my eyes firmly fixed on the lion’s mane, made of rustling leaves.

2000

The knock on the door was an official notification that I was, as usual, running late. I was in the middle of (ambitiously) wrestling my waist length hair into waves as I heard the front door open and my boyfriend politely greet my parents. Dad had probably been right near the door, mum just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to fuss over Barry. 

I half listened to the small talk as I grabbed my coat and handbag, then rushed to the entrance to rescue Barry. I gave each of my parents a kiss, trying to ignore my mother chastising me in Spanish for not taking thick enough a jacket. 

“What time does the baby have to be home?” Barry asked my dad. 
Without hesitation, my dad responded, “When she tells you to take her home.” 

I grabbed Barry and dragged him towards his car, waving goodbye to my parents. My mother looked ropable. My dad shrugged at her. I shrugged at Barry. “Do you like my hair?” I asked him. 

At home, my mother asked my father why he had answered Barry’s question that way. “He was just trying to be respectful!”, she exclaimed.
“And I appreciate that.” My father told her. “But he can respect me by respecting Pamela. My authority doesn’t go to him when she isn’t with me. It goes to her.”

2003

I couldn’t believe it. He had never acted this way before. We had been together over a year, broken up for less than a month and he was yelling at me like he had never yelled before. Furious at me because his brother had lied to my friend and I had told her the truth. 

I was confused. Wasn’t telling the truth the right thing to do? What did he expect me to do? Did he not know me at all? Why was he blaming me for a situation his brother had created? We had broken up because of his jealousy. What did this have to do with that? I certainly wasn’t interested in his shithead brother.

He got back into his car and drove away. I was speechless. All I could do was lower myself to the curb and stare after him.

My dad approached me. He had surely seen and heard the entire spectacle from the living room window. 

“I don’t understand.” I told him. 

“And you won’t, until you accept that he just doesn’t want to be with you, and he will continue to create excuses to fight with you if you let him.” 

“But he loves me!”

My dad shrugged. “Not enough, obviously.”

“But I love him.”

“More than yourself?”

He grabbed my hand and helped me up. “Go inside, life goes on.”

So I did. And it did.

2008

“I’m moving out. It feels too weird after coming back from Europe. I just… can’t.”

“He’ll understand,” my mum reassured me, “he is almost ten years older than you, after all!” 

I nodded. “He’s better off as well.”

My dad, who had remained quiet so far, reached out over the table and squeezed my hand, I looked up at him right as he was letting out a sigh of relief. I laughed and raised my eyebrow quizzically. He looked sheepish. 

“For a second there, I thought you might end up marrying him.” He explained, “You were going to end up living a life like every other girl here. You, Pamela, have never been like every other girl here. That life isn’t right for you.”

“Unless you want to…” my mother helpfully interjected. Behind her, my dad shook his head emphatically “no“. 

“I want to see the entire world, Mum.”

He grinned.

2012

“But what happened Pamela? You two had something so special. How could you just let him go?”

This was why I hadn’t wanted to come. This was why I had avoided breaking my routine of going to work and back home and to work, then back home for over five weeks. Not even to come visit my mother. 

“I don’t need him.” I told her. “I’m over it, I’m glad we broke up.” 

She rolled her eyes. “He was special Pamela, boys like that don’t come around very often.”

“Can we talk about something else please?”

She placed my reheated dinner in front of me and slammed the cutlery down next to it. “Fine.” She sat across the table from me. “I don’t understand how you could just forget him, but fine.”
Forget him? Oh Jesus

I kept my eyes firmly focused on my plate, lest they gave the truth away. The truth that I had done everything but forget him. The truth that he had turned his back on me within a split second and I was hopelessly, painfully, infuriatingly lost without him. The truth that for almost six months straight, I had woken and wondered why I should get up if the day did not include him. That I cried every single day behind my sunglasses on the commute home. That once I reached the privacy of my bedroom, I told the best friend I had ever had all about my day, even though he wasn’t even there- and it somehow comforted me. The truth that I hadn’t been able to bring myself to throw away his clothes, his shampoo, his toothbrush, his photos. The truth that my heart hurt every second of every minute of every single day because I missed him and his soul so fucking much. The truth that I was absolutely certain, I would never sincerely smile again. 

My dad drove me home that night. He let me be quiet. But, right before I opened the door to get out he whispered, “Sometimes love isn’t enough. It’s okay if you miss him.”

“I’m okay, I don’t need him.”

He squeezed my hand. “I know.” 

And then he wiped my tears away.

2016

I wiped my feet on the doormat and fumbled for my keys. While my hand was still fishing around in my backpack, the front door swung open from the inside. “Hi daddy!” I said as he ushered me into the warm house and took my backpack out of my hands so I could take my coat off. I fruitlessly looked for a clean surface in the spare room to place it. But alas, every inch of my childhood bedroom was covered in clothes, books, toiletries and anything else I had managed to grab the day before.

“Come eat!” My mother yelled from the kitchen. I wandered over to feign interest in the soup she had prepared. It smelled delicious but my stomach was constricted into knots. That was my bad luck, I realised, as she promptly served me a bowl and sat down in front of me to watch me consume it. I ate it. 

I ate it like I had gone to work that day. Like I had unpacked my work clothes and winter basics late the night before. Like I had delivered my statement to the police right before that. Like I had run around my terrace house trying to pack my belongings into my parents’ hatchback in less than an hour before that. Like I had kept quiet from the airport to the house I shared with my spouse, knowing my dad was parked around the corner to take me away from hell. 

For 36 hours straight, I had been on auto pilot. No tears. No thinking. I just did. Nothing felt real.

After dinner, I went into the bedroom to take my make up off. I heard a knock on my door. 

“Come in.” I said as I wiped at my face, and my dad popped his head through the door. 

“Pamela-” he stopped mid sentence and stared. He stared at my black eye.

His eyes were grey tonight, they constantly changed colour, depending on the weather or his mood. They could be sky blue, aqua green, or like steel. That night, in my room, under his roof, they went dark and filled with tears. My father is a sensitive man, but this was only the second time I had ever seen him cry. And those tears were for me.

Just the day before, the donator of that black eye had been crying himself. “She’s lying you know.” He had said to my father. “You only know one side of the story.” 

“She is my daughter, and I know her better than you do.” From that moment on, my father refused to acknowledge my ex as he continued to carry on. We just packed.

 The day before, my father had been defiant. Brazen. Focused. Because I needed to be.

Today, his demeanour was completely different. Today he cupped my face and pressed his forehead against mine and he sighed. “Please love yourself.” 

I sobbed into his palms. I let myself cry. I let myself cry for everything I had lost, for everything I had endured, for the fight that was to come. 

“Don’t ever let somebody treat you like that again.” 

“Never.” I promised him. 

A promise to him, was one I would keep with far more determination than any promise I made to myself. 

We embraced. Deep in our thoughts. I don’t know what he was thinking, but I remember exactly what I was thinking.


How dare I let a nobody, a prick, a guy like any other, treat me like I was worthless when the most wonderful man I had ever met in my life had spent almost 33 years treating me like his treasure. 

“He” will always be him first, and foremost. A blessing I don’t deserve, a wisdom that has made me who I am. A rescue that brought me to today. 



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Roots

My hands were washed. The taps were turned off. And my eyes remained lowered as I stood at the sink. It was 4am. I could hear my boyfriend snoring, like he had been for hours. The hours since that fight (if you could call it a fight, I think I’m flattering myself by doing so).

I took a deep breath and looked up into the mirror. And I stared. My skin was pale. My face was swollen. My hair was limp. And my eye was black.

I had been crying for days. I had been crying for weeks. I had been crying for almost a year. But, as I met the eyes of the pathetic reflection in the mirror, I was not crying at all. 

His voice rang in my ears. 

“Our problems begin and end with you, and only you.”

I felt my heart tighten. 

“This is completely your fault, you made me do it.”

“No I didn’t.” My heart answered meekly.

“You don’t listen any other way.” His voice in my head continued.

“I don’t have to fucking listen.” My heart stirred in my chest. 

I was gazing right into my frozen reflection, but what I saw were my thoughts whirling in my head so fast, I could barely catch them. More so than thoughts, I guess they were memories.

My mother’s beautiful long fingers as she sewed and sewed long into the night and then her easy, perfect smile when people fussed over my formal dress, asking where it was from. 

My father jesting as we unlocked the bank in the evening so that we could empty the bins and vacuum the floors, making it nothing but a game for 12 year old me, even hiding the notes from the branch manager talking to him like he was her personal servant so I wouldn’t feel disheartened. I knew he was tired because he had barely rested since leaving the house at 7am to go to his other work, but you never would have guessed from his constant chatter and daggy jokes.

Taking the day off school when my mother’s arthritis was particularly bad and pretending I was going to watch Foxtel until my mother’s employer left the house, then her and I would play music loudly and finish the housework with hours to spare and gossip. My mother was regal and intelligent; and she cleaned other people’s homes for her family. And she was proud of it.

My first deep and real love, stepping in between me and another girl who wanted to start a fight with me over him. “You have nothing to say to her.” He told her, and then promptly dragged me away because I would have mindlessly murdered another woman for him, and he knew that.

My eldest sister, looking dead into the eyes of the middle aged jerk that was crudely goggling, slack jawed, at her and her girlfriend kissing, trying to shame her. In my memory, he physically shrivelled in her icey stare. 

My middle sister crying. Crying like there was no tomorrow, because her fearless heart had loved some guy that wasn’t worth it…and she would again. Because she was a warrior and she could handle the pain, for she believed in powerful love.

Myself. Voted “princess” of my year twelve class. Listening to the rowdy group of girls yelling “you’re a slut!” as I was forced to walk up to the stage. Myself turning around to curtsy with a sweet smile on my face and the plastic crown on my head.

Myself. Awake all night in a hotel room that felt like a prison. “What the fuck am I doing?“, I asked out loud while my vision refocused onto my own stare. 

There had been a whisper over the past few weeks, ever since he had cruelly labeled me a “baby”. “Who are you, Pamela?” It asked. “Can you do this for the rest of your life?” 

That whisper was demanding answers now.

Who am I? I had thought I was weak, defeated, horrible to be with, crazy, mediocre and ugly. He told me I was. 

I had forgotten that most of my life I had been a free spirit, a daughter of strength and part of a sisterhood of individuality. I was the kind of woman who openly worshipped the ground that the man she loved walked on, because I once loved such a worthy man, and doing so made me feel liberated. I took pleasure in challenging the status quo and doing what nobody expected me to do. I didn’t fuck with anyone, and certainly did not let anyone fuck with me. Until now.

Could I do this for the rest of my life? 

I looked at my bruised face again. Coldly. I knew the bruise was but a tiny manifestation of the harm he had perpetrated towards me. The constant pushing and standing over me when I fell with a smirk on his face, making sure I didn’t dare get up again or else he would push me again. The humiliating treatment and the rewards after I had endured it, like the affection I was starved for, lavished upon me when I conceded during a needless battle of wills. The control, the weight on my soul when he punished me for not doing as I was told and my horrible betrayal to myself when I started to comply. His hateful words that seeked to define my identity in my own eyes, over and over and over again.

Fuck that. Nothing can be worse than this. Nothing. I want to be alone. I want to be free.

The eyes in the reflection were intense. “Do it!”, they demanded, “reach out to them!”.

I silently entered the bedroom and picked up my phone from the night stand. He continued to snore.

I went back to the bathroom and took a photo of my face and sent it to my sister with the caption, “Fuck this cunt. Please tell dad.”

“WTF?! Just get back to Australia and we will protect you hermanita, I love you.”

“I’m coming home, I’m really coming home. I can’t wait to be with you all, I love you.” Now I was crying. 

Sister: 

“We love you. You can do this. Your family is waiting.”

I went back to bed and I slept. I slept deep. I slept like a woman whose freedom was so close, she could taste it. And you know what? I’m still licking the sweetness off my lips.

Pandora and Eve were Framed

I am a curious creature. A side effect of this? There are some things one sees that then cannot be unseen.

Facebook algorithms take note of what you like or comment on and present articles and posts accordingly. I follow feminist authors. I campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence and I find human psychology fascinating; so I see a lot of meaty and progressive articles on my feed.

Then I open the comments section. And then my eyes bleed. I repeat, it can NOT be unseen.

I gotta hand it to the bros that passionately post war and peace over and over again as if they’re surprised at the feminist context of these articles; posted by a group with a feminist name, with a brief description on their page that they are supporters of feminism and clearly articulated intentions to maintain that theme. They are relentless. They are consistent. And they are rather informative.

(Note: They also make for a great game of MRA bingo, collect all five to get a prize! “Ad hominem”, “logical fallacy”, “feminazi”, “one in three”, “matriarchy”.)


A lovely gentleman who claimed all funding for gendered violence should cease because his ex had been awarded sole custody of their toddler by family court told me all about how he was a MGTOW (men going their own way). I admit, I’m still confused as to how anyone can call their way their own when it’s completely reactive to another person, in this case, his ex that he claimed to hate and feminists that he claimed to fear/ pity/ laugh at/ despise (he couldn’t quite make up his mind), but he made a valiant effort at making himself heard.

Did he change anyone’s mind? No.

Did he achieve anything for single fathers? No.

Did he achieve anything for male victims of DV? No.

Did he derail the conversation about violence against women? Of course.

And that is all you need to achieve to be a successful MRA. Just stop the women. Stop the conversation. Deny the statistics. Make sure the women on the thread know they are not acting to your liking! How dare they?!

So how about those statistics huh? Let’s see. Almost two women a week die at the hands of their ex or current male partner in Australia. It is statistically the most likely way a woman will be murdered in this “developed” country. Women are five times more likely to be hospitalised than men when on the receiving end of intimate partner violence and where incidences of violence between a couple are four and above, the ratio of female victims to male victims is 9 to 1. Research indicates that economic abuse, especially when paired with the gendered wage gap and prescribed gendered parenting roles impedes women from leaving their abusers. Research also indicates that DV incidences are most likely while the victim is pregnant. For the cheap seats in the back, by acknowledging the lack of balance in the statistics and the contributors to it is not denying male victims exist, it’s simply recognising the proven correlation between issues specific to women and their over representation as victims of DV. Misogyny is deadly to us.

Men are majorly over-represented in suicide numbers, they are most likely to be murdered by an acquaintance, they get sick, they die in workplace accidents. But unlike women, the biggest danger to them is not the opposite sex. When they point their fingers at feminists demanding compensation for being expected to pay for dates, hide emotion and succeed at sports, they are nothing but confused as they have only the patriarchy to blame for those things. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”…unless they’re a confused and angry MRA

Why are men hurting women at such a disproportionate rate? Why are MRAs and MGTOWs so aggressively taking over the conversation women are having about women? Why are they so intensely supportive and receptive to women who wear their internalised misogyny with pride as if just choosing to associate with these women isn’t enough, they also need to ensure other women know that this is the standard they expect when talking about gender equality? (In case you’re wondering, another education piece from a helpful MRA was a crash course on the “Honey Badgers”, a group of women that denounce feminism and insist men are the oppressed gender. Also another thing that I can’t unsee: women demonstrating their solidarity to men by labelling themselves a “sweet pussy”.)

If you ask them, they say feminism angers them. They say the world was functioning and balanced when women knew their place and gender roles were “natural”. They refer to evolution and science and history to make their sexually frustrated points. Anybody reading their dribble could be excused for believing that misogyny was birthed alongside the suffragette movement and has gotten ugly and vocal as feminist ideals become more radical (equal pay for equal work, CRAZY!!). 

But they would be wrong.

Because misogyny seems to have been around as long as gender roles have been.

I might not be a World of Warcraft nerd like most of the MRAs mentioned in this post, but I am a poetry nerd. And the story of Pandora could not personify the disrespect, resentment and disdain women have endured in their lives any more accurately if Hesiod had intended it.

“From her is the race of women and female kind:

of her is the deadly race and tribe of women who

live amongst mortal men to their great trouble,

no helpmates in hateful poverty, but only in wealth.”

For. Fuck’s. Sake. 

Before I get carried away, let’s just make sure we are on the same page about Pandora. You know Pandora right? 

“After humans received the stolen gift of fire from Prometheus, an angry Zeus decides to give humanity a punishing gift to compensate for the boon they had been given. He commands Hephaestus to mould from earth the first woman, a “beautiful evil” whose descendants would torment the human race.” 

Yea cool.

So, she has with her a jar that later turned into a box that held “evils” such as ‘burdensome toil and sickness that brings death to men” (91–2), diseases (102) and “a myriad other pains”‘. She is a punishment from Zeus to mankind disguised as a gift. She promptly opens her jar and unleashes these evils on the originally perfect and peaceful human race (human race that incidentally enough consisted of only men before the first woman ever arrived with said evils – there’s some symbolism if ever I saw it).

Another thing you may remember about the story of Pandora is that the gods graced her with gifts of beauty and charm. 

Points of note:

  1. Men and only men are accepted as the default human race. 
  2. The first woman was a gift from a masculine god to men, a thing, a trinket, a tool, a trick.
  3. She was blessed with virtues solely intended to beguile men.
  4. She delivered the suffering of man kind, men apparently have no fault in the evils of the human race.

My point:
As much as I enjoy Greek mythology, it holds about as much scientific certainty as creationism does. Speaking of genesis actually, anybody remember Pandora’s fate sister, Eve? Created by a male god and handed to man, already inhabiting the peaceful and wonderful earth on his own, as a gift. A thing. A trinket. A tool. And the snake, lucifer, uses her to perform his trick. She is to blame for the suffering of all men. 

Genesis and Work of Days were written by M E N of flesh and blood. Like all works of art, they are reflective of their times and the composer’s personal beliefs. Scholars still can’t agree on exactly when Genesis was written, suffice to say it was thousands and thousands and thousands of years ago. Hesiod’ poems featuring Pandora date as far back as 700 BC. 

Bras had not been burnt yet. Kim Kardashian’s sex tape wasn’t released yet. Women were not breaking “tradition” and keeping their own names yet. Birth Control hadn’t been invented yet. Family court had not been established to “ignore” fathers yet.

Regardless, here are these classic pieces of writing that are so deeply entrenched in misogyny and complaining about womenkind that I really can’t decide whether the author is a middle aged and frustrated virgin or completely unloved by his mother. 

Misogyny is a horrible thing. To be misogynistic is awful and to be ashamed of displaying misogyny is natural. But to deny your unconscious bias that leads to misogyny is harmful and narcissistic. Especially when Misogyny is literally killing Australian women.

With stories like these being told to us as soon as we can comprehend, with imagery and media that consistently perpetuates a double standard between men and women, it is actually natural to be misguided in relation to gender roles. 

To be overwhelmed by a tough world and experience anger and frustration is natural.

To blame women for that overwhelming world and the negative feelings it brings, is not only unnatural, it’s actually unoriginal AF.

Pandora and Eve were framed, and women that “step out of line” are still going to trial for their “crimes”. Feminists are not imagining what men have been documenting for millennia. 

Baby.

“I call you ‘baby’ because that’s what you are.” We had been arguing for hours, as per usual. My appetite for these interactions had steadily weened away to nothing over the previous months. I had gotten into the habit of trying to gain a grasp of my thoughts in any room of the house, so long as he wasn’t in it. That’s how I found myself, at the bottom of our stairs, just right of the TV he was watching, asking him for what felt like the millionth time, just what was so wrong that made him so furious at me every.single.day.

“A baby,” he continued, “that is completely dependent on me. I don’t mind really, but I expect some cooperation.”

He was staring at me intently, a peculiar and genuinely curious frown on his face. What is he looking at? I thought. Then I realised. I had frozen. My jaw had dropped. I had stopped blinking. I was, quite literally, stunned. Not five minutes earlier, I had been in our bedroom working up the energy to continue this never-ending fight with him, racking my brain for anything to say that might finish it. That was the ‘me’ I knew at the time. Nervous. Unsure. Sorry. Always so, so sorry.

And then he said that.

He and I both knew in that second that something had shifted irreversibly, it would take me months to figure out what; but, at that second, the “click” was almost audible. The air stopped dead on its tracks for a split second, I swear it.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and you’re about to reap the benefits of the time lapsed between then and now. “What changed?”, you may wonder. I woke the fuck up to myself, that’s what.

Up until this moment, I took accountability for the living hell that I called home. I have written copious amounts of pages describing the life I lived in another woman’s body; they sound like the ravings of a very confused, angry and disillusioned lunatic so I won’t bore you with further details. Suffice to say, I was raised to be a warrior and I was looking into the eyes of a coward in the mirror every morning. …and that was about to end.

I flipped him off, jumped on my Harley, naked and left him in a cloud of exhaust smoke as I roared down the street.

…just kidding.

5 weeks later, I left.

3 months later, I realised why that particular accusation had stopped me cold. By his standards, it wasn’t particularly mean. By my standards, it was the biggest piece of bull-fucking-shit that I had ever heard in my life. When he told me I was mean, I was manipulative, I was vapid, I was selfish and I was unattractive, I believed it. When he told me I was anything but the independent loner my parents were so proud of, I instinctively doubted it. His words were at odds with the very core of my identity. His authority on who I was as a person was tainted beyond repair (thank fuck). And the countdown was on.

6 months later, I stopped blaming myself and the humiliation was no longer palpable.

Ten months later (otherwise known as ‘today’), I read part of Work and Days by Hesiod which describes the tale that Pandora’s box originates from and the Araucanian feather in my hair stood to attention. I was taken right back to that very moment, on the foot of those stairs:

“I call you ‘baby’ because that’s what you are.”

Baby? Me? I think fucking not.

So I’m taking this opportunity to reintroduce myself.

My name is Pamela, and I am a vixen. 

I am an idealist. A dork. A hopeless romantic. I am endlessly curious. I am a feminist and I am a cloud gazing dreamer. This is the chaos inside my head, structured into paragraphs.

NEXT – “Pandora and the White, Hot Rage That Epically Stupid and Misogynistic Story Elicits in Me”