Deborah Hill Cone

Deborah Hill Cone is a Herald columnist

Deborah Hill Cone: Forget it, Teuila, some things really matter

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I couldn't help noticing Teuila Blakely was having an even cruddier week, Deborah Hill Cone. Photo / APN
I couldn't help noticing Teuila Blakely was having an even cruddier week, Deborah Hill Cone. Photo / APN

I've taken to sticking Post-it Notes around my environs to remind me of the things that matter: "Get over the idea the work has to be perfect to be seen", "It is better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring" and "Buy light bulbs". Also, "Write Herald column".

Even with such reminders it has been hard to do anything this week. I broke up with the man I have been seeing for almost five years. That was excruciatingly painful and afterwards my brain seemed to have gone bung. I had great difficulty performing the routine tasks required to keep one's life functioning.

I ran out of petrol on the Northwestern Motorway at a bit where there are roadworks and no shoulder to park on. I sometimes wonder if there should be a rule that you can't drive when heartbroken. "Madam, have you been drinking or been involved in any traumatic long-term relationship breakdowns in the past 24 hours?"

In other news, I had to dispose of two dead rats, the nits are back, my kids were sick and I yelled at the doctor again because I am still waiting for an appointment with a paediatric neurologist for my son. (I first wrote about this in November. The DHB needs more funding: go figure.)

I tried to read a book about focus, to help me, well, focus, but couldn't concentrate and kept getting interrupted by the children singing Dumb Ways to Die: "Teach yourself how to fly, eat a two-week-old unrefrigerated pie."

But even in the midst of my bad week, I couldn't help noticing Teuila Blakely was having an even cruddier week - and thinking, why? Blakely is an acclaimed actress who seemed to be in trouble when a video was leaked of her involved in a sex act with a league player called Konrad Hurrell.

Oops, - I almost didn't put his name in. Stern talking to self; what was that about? Blakely was "shamed" by this recording, presumably because our discourse around sexuality declares women are supposed to look sexy and act sexy, but beware being sprung actually engaging in any sexual activity.

Is such an act between two consenting adults really a threat to our ontological security? Judging by Blakely's reaction - she was heartbroken, feeling pain, humiliation and embarrassment and even declared "the damage was irreparable" - it must be.

Ontological security is important; it's the stable mental state derived from having a sense of continuity. Death is the ultimate threat to our ontological security, but sex acts are threats too, apparently. Random acts of sexual activity threaten the safety of the world; a menace to the grand yet ultimately fragile unifying pattern we have constructed to make our brains feel safe in an unpredictable world.

Hence Blakely becomes the recipient of our collective neuroses about sex. She responded with classy authenticity - grovelling with panache - to the so-called scandal, even though in my view she needn't have. It was unfortunate the footage got leaked, but she could hardly be held responsible for that. And what did she have to apologise for, anyway?

Yet again, women are shame-sponges. If something shameful happens within 10 feet of a woman you can bet that onlookers will find a way to pin the shame on her; even worse, we pin the shame on ourselves. It is time we refused to do so. Jung said "Shame is a soul-eating emotion".

I hope Blakely has some Post-it Notes around to remind her what really matters. Maybe I will send her a few of mine: "Speak your truth, never apologise for who you are" and "Expose the ways in which we organise our lives so as to make them safe and comfortable on a daily basis" and "My worst fear is to be held captive by niceness".

And I have another Post-it here to flutter in front of the media, just in case people forget what matters: "Isn't it terrible that those young girls have been kidnapped in Nigeria and that they might be sold into slavery."

- NZ Herald

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