Pronouns: The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Obnoxious!

by Elizabeth Darling

Walking in the paddock last month, I turned too quickly and collided with a tree trunk. After the blood was staunched and concussion checked for, stitches and plasters were tracked across my cheek. I had a swollen eye socket, the eye completely closed, blood in my hair. Black, blue, green, and purple bruising bloomed down my face and neck. I could not see myself clearly in a glass but could see darkly in the faces of people I passed that I was an object of horror, worthy of pity. Covid made it impossible for people to reach out to hug me. The experience has left me with some issues to resolve.

After the bloodletting, there was frantic texting between myself and my hairdresser. 8 texts it took for us to arrange for a time when he could wash the blood from my hair without dampening the stitches.

e.g.? @8am😩🥲

In my 80th year, I suspect that current language usage, personal and appropriate, is changing too fast for me. I am currently tutoring a 16-year-old student, Isobella. We failed an online essay together despite all my degrees and English teaching experience. Meanwhile, working on a commission to illustrate a research paper, there is an intriguing little footnote to the letter of instruction. I found the phrase “preferred pronoun, she, hers.” Isobella carefully explained to me that there is an individual in her class whom she knew in Primary school as “She” but who now identifies as “He”. My flippant response that this must make marking the roll and writing reports difficult was not well received. Gender Identity is to be taken very seriously. I, for one, am confused by the increasing use of ‘they’ rather than him/ her. But I have also learnt that pronouns matter. And I know emphatically that I am not a ‘we’.

After my accidental encounter with the tree trunk, I  presented for an x-ray at the local hospital. The technician assured me there was still a brain there, but also a fracture of the cheekbone. “Oh, “ said the girl at reception who checked through the various cards, Medicare, private health care, driving licence, and so on, “have we had a Fall?”. Was she reaching for the extension number for the old people’s care home, or maybe, she, not I, was seeing double. For the next 2 weeks until the bruises faded I was ‘We’d’ on and off too often.

When people begin to address one as WE it’s time to stand up straight and shout. I may be old, I might have trouble with computer-driven bill paying, form filling, banking, information collection, even passing a year 11 online essay, but I have the right to the respectful use of the correct pronoun.

Slut or She-Stud: What older women can tell younger women about sex

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Oscar Wilde quote

Following numerous workplace sex scandals (including allegations of rape) and women’s protest marches, consent has become a major issue in Australia today. Consent will be introduced as a mandatory lesson in Victorian schools (ABC, 22 MAR, 2021). As a result, this article, posted in 2014, is now more relevant than ever.

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My generation invented sex. Cue: Hysterical laughter. We, Baby Boomers, grew up in an age of censured innocence. In the 1950s TV shows parents slept in separate beds and film sex cut from a chaste kiss to an orgasmic metaphor of fireworks, ship foghorn hoot, or, as in the Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr kiss in From Here to Eternity, pounding surf. So we didn’t invent sex. We were just very surprised to discover sex existed.

We were the generation, however, who pushed sex into the public arena. We argued about it. We made it political. And we’ve been arguing about it for 50 years. So we should be able to pass on some advice to younger women. Shouldn’t we?

Sibylesque Sex Toy

Of course, each generation thinks they’ve invented sex. And each generation seems shocked at the ‘outrageous’ sexual behaviour of the next generation. I’ve heard a feminist mother describe her daughter as a ‘slut’. But surely this is what feminists wanted, young girls to take control of and enjoy their own sex lives?

One recent story that amplified the generation gulf on attitudes to sex was: Magaluf girl video: Teen who performed sex acts on 24 men ‘thought she would win holiday (The Mirror, 2 JUL 2014) A teenage British girl who was captured on video performing sex acts on 24 men in Magaluf thought she would win “a holiday” — but instead won a £4 cocktail.
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One million Brits visit Mallorca each year with Magaluf being the focus of a booze culture with organized pub crawls, pub riots and sex on the streets. (Magaluf’s debauched reputation looks set to stay despite pledge to crack down, The Guardian, 11 JUL 2014)

The teen girl at the centre of this controversy licked the penises of 24 men. Hysterical comment erupted. Disgusting. When’s the next flight? It’s her choice. (Feminist response 1) Misogynistic abuse.( Feminist response 2) It’s a class issue. (Lower classes can have the values they want) Public decency issue (Magaluf should clean up it’s act) Privacy issue (The girl did not consent to the filming of the youtube clip)

So we still get hot under the collar when we talk about sex. So lets view this issue in a different context. Our culture is concerned with self-harm among young people via drugs, alcohol, fast cars, dieting and cigarettes. This was an act of self-harm through sex. The drunken teen will potentially harm her health (from 24 germ riddled penises), her self-esteem (she was duped) and her future prospects (Once out there this act cannot be undone).

Our generation was fortunate that smart phones were not filming our sex life booboos. Later generations are not so fortunate.  And we have to urge them to take care and minimize self-harm via sex. We must remind ourselves that name calling serves no purpose.

Meanwhile, another article, Libidos, vibrators and men, oh my! This is what your ageing sex drive looks like, (RUTH SPENCER, The Guardian,26 March 2014) celebrates Gloria Steinem’s 80th birthday declaration that a dwindling libido makes a woman’s mind ‘free for all kinds of great things’. Older women cannot be wise about all things, but we have a clearer picture of our younger selves. Here are some comments on the above article by older women, which could inform younger women about sex if only they would listen:

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Picture Source: Lucilleball.com

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The Leftover Laundry Fashionistas

by Kerry Cue

He’s 83. She’s 84. And they have become an INSTAGRAM sensation modeling laundry left behind in their Taiwan laundromat according to an article by Chris Horton in the New York Times.

Mr. Chang and Ms. Hsu demonstrate that funky fashion and cool style needn’t be expensive or restricted to the youthful cohort. And they make you look at your LOCKDOWN laundry basket with fresh eyes!

POSITIVELY PANDEMIC: Fall Down 7 times. Get Up 8. Do the Hokey Pokey …

by The Sibyls

The PANDEMIC has battered, bruised, and derailed all of us. The pain and challenges are not evenly spread yet the core resilience of survivors has some common elements.

This blog too was interrupted by the Pandemic. But it is time to return to the vitality of The Sibylesque ethos.


Midlife  can  involve many  stresses  including  career  demands,  difficult  teenage children, divorce,  lack of time,  lack of fitness,  parents’   failing  health  and  money  worries  with no simple solutions in sight. But one of the BIGGEST issues of midlife is accepting that you are not always in control. Unexpected things can happen to you despite the best plans. Like, say, A PANDEMIC!

An article by Tara Parker-Pope in The New York Times  (How to Build Resilience in Midlife) gives some pointers that could equally apply at any age and any time.

Life, or so it seems, was simple once. Now it is so complex.
Here are some of the ways to build resilience:

  • Practise Optimism
  • Rewrite Your Story
  • Don’t Personalise It
  • Remember Your Comebacks
  • Support Others
  • Take Stress Breaks
  • Go Out of Your Comfort Zone

We, the Sibyls, would add:

  • Seek joy

Joy will not just arrive on your doorstep. You have to seek it. Find out what makes you happy and what makes you laugh. Then do this every day or, at least, when you can.

My Interview on the Writes4Women Podcast with Pam Cook

by Kerry Cue

I was interviewed by Pam Cook for the Writes4Women Podcast through ZOOM – it’s like Facetime – sitting in my lounge room. The interview is on the WHOOSHKAA platform. Got that. Crazy but fun!

LISTEN: Here.

The Sunday Story Club: Real-life stories that reveal the untidiness beneath the shiny surface of modern life

The Sunday Story Club begins:

“Ironically, considering how strongly we advocate face-to-face contact, the two of us met online. It was 2014 and Doris had just published a memoir, The Twelfth Raven, recounting her husband Martin’s dev­astating stroke and extraordinary recovery. That same year I had established a website, ­Sibylesque, dedicated to breaking down the female stereotypes of age, size, marital status and so on.”

This is the Blog.

And this is the book.

There is the extract in The Weekend Australian Magazine (See pic below)

BOOKTOPIA

AMAZON AUS

BOLINDA AUDIO BOOK LISTEN HERE.

When we started this blog, we never realised it would lead to a book. Fabulous!

 

The Sunday Story Club: Sometimes, it feels like you’re reading someone’s diary.

by Kerry Cue

42 reviewers have gone to the trouble to rate our book, The Sunday Story Club, on Good Reads. As a writer, I’m grateful to each one – even the dud reviewers – because they have taken the time to read and think about our book and that is a big ask in our Click-Scroll-Click culture. I’m also intrigued by the maths that has given us a 3.71 STAR rating.

I am especially grateful to Jessica M’s review of The Sunday Story Club. Here is a brief extract:

‘Sometimes, it feels like you’re reading someone’s diary. You’re shocked, upset, or worried, but you also feel like you’ve been given access to someone’s private moments — someone’s well-kept secrets.’

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Building Connections. Creating your own Community

by Kerry Cue

We wrote The Sunday Story Club to encourage others to build connections through   deeper conversations. It is these connections that create a community. Doris and I have been running a story salon for 5 years and have built a community based on empathy and understanding because we took the time to stop and listen, really listen without interruption, to others as they told their real-life stories of love, loss, and resilience.

It seems appropriate to talk about community following an interview I did with Jeff Bullen on Community Radio RTR FM, Perth. Audio link here.

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When you’re on an AMAZON Best Seller List: Sieze the Day … or, the hour!

No one really knows what goes on in the AMAZON universe. But here we are on a BEST SELLER list!

And for however long that lasts – Amazon updates the list hourly – it’s terrific.

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