COMMENT:

I'm in a very uncomfortable situation.

A woman I've just met is yelling at me in front of a room full of people.

"I'll decide what my husband can do! You stay out of this!" she screams, gesticulating theatrically, prompting the drink in her hand to froth up out of the bottle.

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It's at this moment, I realise my joke hasn't landed.

"Don't take it personally," the girl sitting beside me whispers.

"She has this argument every time she gets drunk."

The argument she's referring to, is a confrontation between the angry woman and the best man for her upcoming wedding.

In quintessential Aussie male bravado, he's been teasing the prospect of arranging strippers to show up to the stag do without the groom's consent, to (and I quote) "light his butthole on fire".

It's clear the man at the centre of this comedic bit is incredibly uncomfortable. His eyes are downcast and he's not laughing along with the rest of the group.

Regardless, the bride-to-be isn't having it.

"There won't be a wedding if you do that!" she scolds him, cutting through the laughter, inciting an immediate, tense silence.

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Eager to assuage my own discomfort, I make the fatal decision of cracking a joke.

"Perhaps you should just humiliate him the normal way, and leave him handcuffed to a telegraph pole without eyebrows?" I quip.

It doesn't go down well.

Needless to say, that was how I found myself on the receiving end of a stranger's wrath.

I'm not recounting this story in an attempt to shame the woman in it. If telling someone off at a party is the most embarrassing thing she's done after too many apple ciders, she's a far better woman than I (but more on that in another column).

Public screaming matches while being drunk in your 20s are the social equivalent of over-posting photos of your kids on Facebook in your 30s.

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What did irk me about the confrontation was this woman's unease with her partner deciding on the entertainment for his own party.

Though I didn't say it that night, I've been where she's been.

When I embarked on a marriage over a decade ago, I was very clear about the "rules" for how my husband should behave – at his stag do, and beyond.

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Thinking about all the emotional energy I just reclaimed.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ See, I’ve made a decision.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’m no longer accepting submissions to pander to men’s egos.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’m done with toning down, sugar-coating and censoring myself to be taken seriously.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Done with adding clauses like “not all men” and “of course I’m not referring to you, dear male commenter” so men who do literally NOTHING to support gender equality can pat themselves on the back and feel good.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Not assaulting, sexually harassing, objectifying and catcalling women DOESN’T make you a hero worthy of singling out in the comments section. It’s basic fucking humanity 101.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ If you want my praise, BE AN ALLY TO WOMEN. Not just the ones you find hot, not just the ones you feel a creepy sense of ownership over like your wife and sisters and daughters. Not just the ones who are “nice” to you.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ALL WOMEN.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Call out your mates when they speak in a degrading way about women. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Call out sexual harassment on the street.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Don’t ask women what they were wearing or how much they had to drink when they speak up about sexual assault. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Don’t ignore other men posting inappropriate comments directed at women online by telling yourself it’s “not your problem”.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Don’t demand sex from your female partner. .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Don’t refer to your ex’s as “psychos”. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Don’t call a woman hysterical or ask if she’s on her period when she speaks up at work. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Don’t police your daughter’s virginity.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Don’t tell us how we’re allowed to feel in certain circumstances. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Sound good? Great! I’m so glad to have you on my team! If not, you know where the unfollow button is. 👆

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I not only weighed in on, but policed what he did. If you guessed the marriage didn't go swimmingly, you'd be right.

As it turns out, attempting to dictate your partner's movements doesn't make for a fruitful relationship.

And yet, while we instinctively understand this at the outset of a relationship, when we're careful not to overstep the boundaries of our new partner's independence – the signing of a marriage certificate or shared rental bond often nullifies that logic.

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We're taught if you really love someone, you shouldn't be okay with that person finding other people sexually attractive. True love means only having eyes for one person.

Except, those of us who've lived long enough to be in an enduring relationship know that's just not true.

Loving someone won't render you asexual, and getting off to porn or watching a strip show doesn't make your love any less legitimate. It makes you an autonomous sexual being, with desires separate to your partner.

If your commitment relies on guilt-tripping and control, you might want to ask yourself whether it's really your partner's actions that need examining, and not in fact your own insecurities.

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Women who embrace their sexuality are so often feared and demonised. Is it because they compel us to confront our own unease with sex as a society? I think so.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Here's the thing, though: regardless of how conservatively we dress, or how detached we remain from our body and its sexual desires for fear of slut-shaming, we can’t protect ourselves from judgement. (Trust me, I know! I have plenty of haters.) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ There will ALWAYS be someone who dislikes us, and so often, it's because of the threat we pose to them - they're worried our confidence will somehow outshine their light (FYI: it won't. There's plenty of room in this world for us all to glow). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ There will ALWAYS be people to whom our very existence will be seen as an inconvenience, even when we're just going about our own business.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So then, why not DROP THE SHAME, dress and live as loudly and boldly as you want, and just do you? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Yes, it may attract some haters, but trust me, when you OWN who you are, there's no criticism or judgement in the world that can dim your light. #FACTS

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Because while jealousy is a completely natural emotion, it's rarely worth acting on.

Sure, I feel a twinge of envy when I see my partner eye off an attractive woman on the street.

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But these days, my relationship isn't built on a foundation of mistrust (or hypocrisy; because I don't experience temporary blindness in the presence of an attractive person, either).

My boyfriend doesn't require my permission to go to a strip club or scroll through RedTube on his phone. And perhaps because of this, he doesn't spend a great deal of time doing either. It's rather ironic, really. How the less we attempt to enforce a rule, the less appealing rebellion becomes. Possibly because when we extend trust to a partner, what we're ultimately extending, is mutual respect.

As she stormed out of the room that night, the woman at the centre of the evening's heated debate shot a glare at me and announced, "Unlike you, I actually have respect for my partner!".

And perhaps that was the biggest irony of all.