By Vita Forest

I’ve been thinking about Harvey Weinstein.

I’ve been thinking about Donald Trump.

And Noa Jansma from Holland who snaps a selfie with every man that wolf whistles, or cat calls, or propositions her with, “I know what I would do with you baby” “wehee horny girl” “hmmm you wanna kiss?” (She asks permission for the photo, they don’t ask permission to appraise her).  See Dear Catcallers It’s not a compliment (on Instagram)

And thinking about Jane Gilmore “fixing” media reports of male violence against women on #FixedIt  (“A woman is dead.  A man is accused of killing her.  Police allege domestic violence” – not – “Man accused of running over woman at strip club parking lot”.  He’s not a “thwarted lover” he’s a “violent man”).

And this week, in the next suburb, a woman lay dead outside a high-rise building.  Another victim of domestic violence.  Her attacker was known to police.

And I think about my own children and the kids in my class and hope that we’re raising a generation that will not accept the entitlement of bullies, that know they do not always have to keep a secret, that know the right way to treat women – to treat everyone.  That know what consensual means, that don’t abuse their power, that stand up for themselves and others, that treat everyone with respect.

A truthful fiction

By Vita Forest

Big Little Lies.  I didn’t read it for a while but I kept hearing about it.

“It’s about a group of North Shore Mums,” said a friend from one of my old mothers’ groups, “We should have written our own version!”

“It’s about a school,” said a young colleague, “The parents are really crazy.”

“It’s about a single girl who finds love!” giggled a friend who until recently had been single (until she had found love).

One of the book clubs I belong to had read it but I had missed that meeting and the book.  It seemed to have a got a big thumbs up though.  I was really intrigued how everyone kept describing it differently.  How it was about different things to different people.

I asked Fleur if she’d read it on one of our long phone calls where books often came up.  She had not.  A few weeks later however, she had.

“Oh my god!” she enthused.  “You have to read it!”

And so eventually I did.  On a short trip to Fleur’s house in Canberra.  She pressed it into my hands and basically watched me read it.  I laughed.  A lot.

“Which part?  Which part?” she kept asking and I kept telling.

But then I stopped laughing so much.

Celeste.  It was Celeste.

Celeste, who had it all, perfect looks, perfect husband, beautiful house, beautiful children, overseas holidays.  More money than she knew what to do with.  

And a shameful secret.

For me, this book was about a woman deciding whether to leave a destructive relationship.

Celeste, who kept thinking about leaving, then changing her mind, planning to leave, then staying.  The excuses, the justifications, the damning self-talk.  The shame.  She could not trust her own instincts, her own thoughts, her own eyes.  The toxic relationship had become normal.

I talked to another friend about it who was in the middle of an awful divorce.

“There’s no way I could talk about that book at a book club,” she admitted.  “No way I could listen to the flippant conversation about it.”

I’m kind of glad I missed that meeting too.

I just reread it (probably due to the hoop-la about the TV series – I haven’t seen it yet but the word is that it’s very good).

There’s a lot of humour in this story about a group of women encountering each other as their children start school.  The competitive Mums, the bitchiness, the small events that get blown out of all proportion and become major dramas. All the “types” seem to be covered – the New Age Mum, the career Mum, the ambitious Mum, the helicopter parent, the single Mum.

But all the characters have secrets, hidden dimensions behind their clichéd facades.  I liked that too, because for all the snide remarks and petty back-stabbing, the women come together to protect and stand up for each other.

There’s a lot of truth in that too.

N is for… Narcissist

By Vita Forest


I will walk around and cast my gaze on you as if you were an object.  A vase.  A tacky souvenir I did not mean to buy.

I will criticize

  • Your post-baby body.
  • Your too-short hair.
  • Your tired, blotchy skin.

I can’t help it – you disgust me.

I will complain about

  • your parents,
  • your siblings,
  • your friends,
  • your colleagues.

Idiots all.

No wonder you like them.

I will call you a failure because you don’t measure up to my ideas of

  • what you should be,
  • what you should look like,
  • what you should be doing,
  • what you should like.

I will call you a failure and you will half laugh.  And not quite believe it – not think that I could be that cruel.

I can.

I will toy with you like a cat with a cockroach.  I will show my enthusiasm for your idea, then watch you chase your tail in circles, before I crush it.  You will look at me confused, but didn’t you want to?

No, I did not.

I will make you doubt your own thoughts.  I will make you think you are going crazy.  I will make you go crazy.  I will make you hear my voice in your head so you don’t even try to do anything that I would not like.  And yet sometimes you will anyway.  Do something that I do not like.  It’s just what you do.

Because you are an idiot who is going crazy.

I will make you feel worthless.  I will make you feel sad.  I will tug at your puppet strings just to feel the control, just to make you bleat, just for the heck of it.

Just because I can.

I will never be happy.  I will never be content.  No matter what you do.  No matter how you change for me.  No matter how hard you try.  It will never be enough.  Everything is your fault.  You are a failure and everything is your fault.

I will look at you from the outside.  I will judge.  I will find you wanting.  I will let you know this.  But you won’t talk to anybody about it.

You are too ashamed.

I will watch you dissolve.  I will watch you shrink.  I will make you take up less and less room, make you stand on one foot, make you hold your breath.

I will suck you dry.