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In response to Jacqueline Maley

After reading this piece by Jacqueline Maley titled “The Barnaby Joyce affair: when men make abysmal choices women pay the price,” I’m more than a little exercised.

Yes, it is true that Joyce’s lover, Vikki Campion, may well find herself unemployable whilst Joyce seems (at this moment, who knows about the next) relatively secure in his employment.

Yes, it is true that Natalie Joyce gave up her own ambitions to support her husband and raise their children, only to be catastrophically derailed when Joyce met someone else.

But for the love of the goddess, neither woman was forced at gun point to make the choices she made. We are not helpless. We are not fucking helpless. There are millions of women who refuse the traditional heteronormative couple experience and the price it can extract from us, and do something different.

When I was very young, I married a man who was an executive in an oil company. My life was that of a company wife. It was the most utterly abysmal period of my adult life, and after thirteen years and two children I said, fuck this for a lark, and ended it.

My standard of living plunged. My children hated me. But I felt, for the first time in a long time, that I was living an honest life, a life on my terms.

A woman decides that what she most wants is to attach herself to a man whose ambitions and self-realisation will always matter more than hers. Why do so many of us choose that self-abnegation? And isn’t it about time we took responsibility for that choice?

And before you tell me that we are indoctrinated, let me tell you that if anyone could be considered indoctrinated it’s me. I survived years of childhood sexual abuse that taught me, amongst many other things, that girls and women are chattels. That girls and women must do what men want when they want it. That girls and women exist to give men what they say they want and need, and that our own lives are as nothing in comparison. This is what I learned.

But at some point, a woman has to rise up and say, fuck that for a lark. At some point, every woman has to rise up and take responsibility for her one life on earth. And were I to say anything to Ms Campion and Mrs Joyce, it would be, rise up and take responsibility for your one life on earth, because that is your most vital duty, to yourself and to your children. 

Yes, it is true that when men make abysmal choices women pay the price. And yes, it is true that the only people who can change this are women, because there is no incentive at all for men to interfere with the status quo.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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  1. Christopher

    Thank you Jennifer for sharing. Lots of hurt people here. My Mum used to say when you make your bed… The only good that may come out of this is not for the actors, just us, if this terrible government and prime minister are forced out.

  2. clarelhdm

    My thoughts exactly. For every woman who doesn’t say ‘F*ck this for a lark’, it makes it even harder for every woman who does.

  3. Joseph Carli

    I’ve had the fortune to meet a couple of women like that!….Here’s one..:


    Toothless wasn’t really toothless…it’s just that she had a plate that filled the gap of three missing front teeth, that she would click and clack and sometimes push out with her tongue …an unfortunate habit that gained her the nickname of “Toothless”.

    She was ahead of her time for those days, as she didn’t carry a purse with her and kept her money in a wallet like a bloke..she had a comb that she would now and then pass through her page-boy hair cut and replace to a back pocket of her jeans. But she did seek out the company of males, which would contradict any presumption of ; “batting for the other team”. But hey!..who cares..

    But she was a hell of a drinker!…Christ!…could she knock ‘em back…and she wasn’t above shouting her round. I sometimes wonder if she was a kind of “neuter” in the sexual stakes…a sort of “neither here nor there” kind of do get them..I remember one such young chap in my experience..he never dated, and would spend more time admiring his own looks in a mirror or passing glass window that even consider anyone else.

    Bruce got on quite pally with her and he even scored a date to meet at her flat for a few drinks.

    “I’ve got a half dozen long-necks , a flask of Bundy, and a packet of weed!” He announced gleefully…”If that doesn’t soften her up, nothing will”…he informed us frankly.

    Actually, such a volume of narcotics was a big investment for Bruce, seeing that he was on unemployment benefits at that time, so it must have eaten somewhat into his savings.

    “Wish me luck!” he winked to us as he headed out the front bar doors.

    You can consult the archives of the “Seacliff Hotel Sports and Social Club” for a report on that night’s events…the short of it being that Toothless drank, smoked and kicked Bruce under the table!…She not only polished off all his booze etc. , but then pulled out a supply of her own and proceeded to tuck into that! Bruce confessed that he gave it best when she played that unbeatable hand. ..and it took him a week to recover both his sobriety and manly pride from such a beating!

    Toothless hung about for a while until she tired of the wimpy blokes there and moved on to greener pastures…She was last heard of ripping through the male egos of the northern beach hotels…; The Henley, The Pier and Larges Bay….and good luck to her I say!

  4. Matters Not

    Jennifer you assert early in your post:

    We are not helpless. We are not f*cking helpless.

    Indeed! One can only agree. Choices are made, albeit subject to different perceived social expectations and the like. I note also:

    And isn’t it about time we took responsibility for that choice?

    Yep! Taking responsibility for choices made, regardless of the pressures involved, is very brave and to be applauded.

    Yet there’s this:

    survived years of childhood sexual abuse that taught me

    Re the taught bit. Were you effing helpless at that time – to use your words? Then how come the statement this is what I learned? Clearly there is a gap between the taught and the learned. Care to elaborate?

    And in making that choice, did the children impinge?

  5. paul walter

    Would love to comment but both here and at Sheep, Fairfax have thwarted a read. May god strike me down if so much as a penny of mine ever goes to such pricks.

    I wonder if there is a space between individuation and conditioning and genuine free will rather just wilfulness, reactivity and self will run riot. Is there wiggle room?

    I think all the people involved in the scandal show signs of both conditioning to roles and responses, to occasional attempts at introspection and the inevitable disasters that come with the human condition through a lifelong process, since to be human is to be defined in relation to limit.

    I hope Joyce’s wife adapts and Joyce and Campion grow up before it’s too late.

    Such is life.

    Experience is the best teacher and my own conscience tells me if I have given some thing my best short. I hope, therefore, the same applies to other people.

  6. townsvilleblog

    Paul, yes experience is the best teacher, Joyce is old enough to know better but lust had its way, and two tangoed, now there will be three. Perhaps in 2 years all involved Joyce, his wife, Ms Campion, Joyce’s daughters will look back at this terrible time and realize that it made them all stronger. I reserve my thoughts for the unborn child, because school especially primary school will be hell for that child.

  7. helvityni

    I have five brothers, so early on I learnt that boys and girls, men and women, are just people; also going to a co-ed school is helpful…
    I never felt helpless; unwanted advances were often rebuffed just by using humour…

    My three sisters have also navigated this sexual morass with confidence…

    Get rid of all single sex schools…

  8. Jennifer Wilson

    Matters Not, Of course a child being abused is helpless in the experience.

  9. yahoo mail

    Sack the lot of them

  10. diannaart

    At Paul Walters suggestion, I watched a Drum episode featuring Jane Caro and Greg Sheridan – which was fully entertaining. However, what really impacted was the difference between Jane Caro and a young woman, Amanda Rose – who I know nothing about.

    Cutting to chase, Jane was fully into “I can protect myself” while the much younger Amanda was “I love feeling protected by a man” – paraphrased of course, don’t have energy to recreate entire scene.

    I thought to myself how much Jane Caro’s expression was the result of learned experience and Amanda’s the dewy-eyed vision of inexperience.

    I hope Amanda does not have to learn the hard way, as I did, as Jennifer did, as so many women did, that if we cannot stand on our own two feet and fight our own battles, we are letting ourselves be controlled and/or exploited.

    That is not to say, no men stand WITH the women in their lives and support them – they exist, somewhere. I have heard about them.

    Life throws curve balls all the time, for women who are not resilient, who are dependent on men, life will be fraught. To Vicki Campion – good luck with your choice, make sure you set up a private nest-egg of your own – hopefully your brief stint in those well-paid jobs provided some assistance.

    Jennifer writes:

    Yes, it is true that when men make abysmal choices women pay the price. And yes, it is true that the only people who can change this are women, because there is no incentive at all for men to interfere with the status quo.

    There is no real incentive to work towards self-determination for our First Nation people – yet many of us do.

    There is no incentive to free the refugees from Australia’s detention centres, yet many people are working towards this goal.

    Do I believe one day the majority of men will realise true well-being comes from equality? Eventually, maybe, if we don’t suffer nuclear annihilation or let the worst of pollution kill our life-support system, Earth. There’s a lot more “if’s”.

    Actually I do know men who genuinely see women as people and not stereotypes, maybe it is not about incentive, but simply numbers, not enough to stand with women.

    This is not anti- male per se. However, those in control rarely ever see the need for change – its a human fault, which I have observed in the a very few women who manage to reach powerful positions within the patriarchy – the easiest example being Margaret Thatcher and all women in the LNP 🙂

    I hope the gentle reader will consider ALL of my comments, in context , in their entirety, not just the ones which trigger knee-jerk responses along the lines of “do you mean ALL men?”

  11. guest

    We have often heard philandering males boast that their wives have stood by them. But we have to ask why the women took that position. Was it because they were so in love for their wayward husbands they could not leave? Was their faithfulness for the sake of the children? Was it more likely the case that there was nowhere for them to go? Is it a problem with the idea of marriage oaths of faithfulness “until death do us part”? Is faithfulness a curtailing of a natural desire for freedom? Is it a power game played by the philanderer to score as many conquests as possible to boost the ego?

    There are many questions which could be asked about the choices people make. And we could also ask about the choices some women make when they couple with some other woman’s husband.

    The human animal can be a strange and devious creature, at once loving and kind but also selfish and covetous. What are the rules?

  12. paul walter

    diannaart, the googling I did indicates that Amanda Rose is anything but a naif.

    In fact, she is described as a shrewd business woman and lobbyist, not your typical “West Sydney Woman” at all, more a Mia Freedman, although citing Vickki Campion or Sharri Markson might be going a bit far. A bit treacly, Amanda Rose is perhaps more careful.

    The ABC seems to have fallen in love with glossy folk, perhaps folk with the “right connections”, lately.

    Caro is gritty realist and a shrewd humorist, although she does grate a bit sometimes on her soapbox for me.

  13. diannaart


    I wasn’t interested sufficiently in the (as you describe) treacly Amanda, to conduct a search – she just did not impress.

    OK, I know I was young and naive many years ago, but I’m sure I had a lot more edge than this “sweet” girl – riding motorbikes helped – yet even astride a Kwaka KZ1000, on two occasions I was tailed by men trying to run me off the road – late at night I guess they were bored or something. By the way, as much as I would prefer to be androgynous in appearance, there is no mistaking me for another man, even wearing leathers and a full-face Shoei.

    As for Caro, I have no doubt you find her a little grating at times – many men (and a few women) would agree with you. But, we need the Jane Caro’s, the Van Badham’s, even the fickle Germaine Greer, just to remind us that not all women want to be “protected” from men by other men.

  14. woolliebuddhachronicle

    BJ is an infamously corrupt liar and bully and neither of these women deserve sympathy. You know, lie down with a dog…he’s in the Hillbilly Party, ffs.

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