Waiting for The Sequel

A Not So Crowded TrainOn a not-so-crowded train. She is the only one standing. Back pressed against the only space that is neither seat nor door. Light brown curly but wiry hair, clear open face, same colour eyes (my best guess as far as I can see), all fully engrossed and engaged.

The bumps and lurches of the train don’t bother her. She just doesn’t lose balance. She sways slightly to the rhythm of the carriage. She is not dancing though. Perhaps inwardly.

Her head is bowed. As if in prayer or contemplation.  And her forehead is smooth. Her face serene. And I watch to see if she will raise her head. It’s not just to look at her face.  For I’m curious as to her quiet calm and innate peace. Now she is even more fully engrossed and engaged. With her hands held up in front of her.

Not a newspaper. Not a smart phone. Not a magazine. Not even one of those slate-sized flickering whispering mini TVs.

For a second, time stops and everything around her is removed. So much so that I stop and wonder and look again.  Yes, now I know what it is. It’s like she’s behind a lectern. She’s reading. A tattered dog-eared hardback with yellow threads fraying the red cover. No title that I can see. The Story

I wait to see if she’ll read what holds her so aloud.

For the last person that held out a book like that let me read it.

And I wanted to read it aloud : it was that good…a children’s book too…

Perhaps I’m waiting for the sequel.

Sexism and Feminism

I mean all I did was just repeat to the missus what was said on the radio.

Yep one of those shock jocks was sayin’ that women is destroying the joint.

Too right I thought!

Got home and the missus wasn’t going to be much fun I think. So I had a go at her. Just told her she was destroying the joint.

She said, “Don’t be bloody stupid. I look after the kids, keep down a job and make sure the bills are paid.”

“And what do you do?”

“I’m a feminist,” I said.

Mothers Day is for Everyone

It was Mothers Day. That Sunday we (my then second wife Tracey and I) were with my youngest sons for their access visit and sleepover.
 
English: Mother's Day card

English: Mother’s Day card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That Sunday morning, I quizzed my sons.
Did you give your mother a card for Mothers Day? Yes, they chorused.
Did you want to phone her? Yes!
A quick hello to their Mum on the phone and that’s that. Mothers Day is over. Better remember to call my Mum that evening though.
So far so good.

But then something odd happened.
Eliot, my second eldest son walked up to Tracey. And he had something for her. And he handed her what looked like a folded piece of paper.
By now I was intrigued. This was unusual. His brothers often drew pictures and gave them to us. But rarely Eliot, if at all.
Tracey opened up the hand made card. She was speechless and more than a little moved. My son had given her a Mothers Day card! And his brothers gave her the cards they had made.
She had asked me previously what to do and how to act to my children. I advised her just to be yourself. I had no idea if that was any help at all. I literally said the first thing that came into my head. After all, I didn’t know what to do or act either.
She got her answer that Mothers Day. And never any argument from me about how she treated the children.
Later I took Eliot aside into the study. For a second, he probably thought he was going to get into trouble. Only for a moment. I asked him whose idea was it to give Mothers Day cards to my second wife. He admitted it was him.
I told him that I had never been more proud of him. Ever.
He knew that Mothers Day is for everyone. And that anyone can be a mother.

Just Stick to the Stereotype And Everything Will Be Fine (Sorry Heidi Victoria)

Recently here was a twitstorm over Heidi Victoria (the Victorian Minister for Women’s Affairs (Yes that is her real name!)) who made some comments  assuming that only women were nurturers.

As a man I took some offence and added my two cent’s worth to the discussion with the following:

Capture

Now it looks like I‘m a feminist. Or a nurturer. Or that I’m not sexist or racist, etc.

Nope! Not even close! That doesn’t even begin to describe my problem.

I just don’t fit the stereotype. Any stereotype! And stereotypes don’t work for me. At all. Never have. Here’s why!

I studied a subject that dealt with diversity in training. One of the topics was the characteristics of different nationalities and cultures.

My research led me to the Globe Project and the work of Hofstede  which categorised certain cultures as having certain characteristics. An example is that in general Australians are mostly individualistic.

I didn’t like that too much. It seemed to categorise people into little matchboxes…

 

Stereotype of a Stereotype

Stereotype of a Stereotype (Photo credit: El Negro Magnifico)

And then something happened that challenged what I had learned.

At that time I was working with a woman from China who was studying to be a counsellor. 

She knew I had some public speaking experience and asked for help with a presentation. And by the way, she didn’t need much help! And her presentation rocked!

But while helping her, I told her what I  was studying.

Then she let slip what she loved most about Australia. She could speak up and ask questions and express opinions!

Which completely went against the expected cultural stereotype!. But she then told me she was brought up to be compliant (much like the stereotype).

But I looked at myself. I was brought up to be compliant (in the Australian individualistic culture!).

I now had a paradox.

I turned to a book called Cultural Intelligence and I got it! Check out the culture and then listen to the individual. Or as the book stated as a philosophy: Be mindful around people of other cultures!

Or in other words stereotypes don’t really work. At best they’re a guide. 

So now I can relax!

And finally, it means that men can be nurturers too! Sorry Heidi!

What Do I Call You Again?

Some terms for addressing women and the pitfalls thereof:
Girly? Is this rural Australia in the 1950’s?
• Madame? No I’m not the proprietor!
• Mistress? No I’m not one of those!
• Missy? Am I a spoil brat throwing a tantrum?
• Princess? Nice try but you’re no Prince!
Miss? I’m not ninety, single and living with my sister!
• Mrs? I’m not at home with the kids!
• Ms? Don’t objectify me as a radical feminist!
• Madamoiselle? I’m not French and we didn’t meet in Paris!
Lady? Are you a taxi driver in a movie?
• Your ladyship? Your Lordship? Indeed Not!
Which leaves only Ma’am (I was taught that at school). But then are we on the set of Gone With The Wind?
So what do I call you again?

Getting the Introduction Right (Networking)

Introduction

Introduction (Photo credit: Larah McElroy)

Once I thought networking was all about introducing yourself. But after some contemplation, I realised it worked best for me when I introduced others. And got that right. And that took some doing.

The first time I got it wrong was when I had just met a beautiful girl at a dance. I introduced her to my friends name only and then walked away.
But I got it right at my 21st. With three groups of friends attending no-one knew anyone. I spent my night introducing everyone to anyone.  Later I heard that everyone said they had a good time. And later I found that new friendships were made that night. I didn’t know what I did.
Awkward conversation hearts

Awkward conversation hearts (Photo credit: ewige)

But it wasn’t until I was the regular recipient of bad introductions that I started to work out what to do. Often and frequently, I would be introduced to new people name only. The next few moments would be really awkward.
We would look at each other and decided who was speaking first. Normally I would ask an opening question and the conversation would begin. Oftentimes the conversation ceased.
I did know that when I introduced myself, I would ask questions and find a common thread to start a conversation. For example, at a party, “how do you know the birthday girl?”
Web 2.0 for Good - alcove conversation

Web 2.0 for Good – alcove conversation (Photo credit: robpurdie)

And then I got it right and worked out just how. This time, I was at a function. And I was with someone who didn’t know anyone and wanted to network. I had to get it right. So I would introduce my friend, name only. I would then describe my friend’s background. Then I would draw a connection between that and the person being introduced. Then I would be quiet. The next five minutes or so I listened and learned. And later on I realised just what I had done.
Now I know why. Now if I could go back in time and reintroduce myself to that beautiful girl…