Kerri Sackville's Blog

March 22, 2016

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a date with a man who was very hostile. He had asked me out without knowing anything about me, but by the time I arrived at the café he had Googled me and decided he didn’t like me. I know this because he immediately began criticizing my opinion writing (he only believed in ‘facts’), my public profile (he is very ‘introverted’), and my social media use (he doesn’t even have a FB page).He should have cancelled the date, but instead he arrived, barely looked at me, and then left after a cursory 29 minutes. I would not wish to repeat the experience.Why am I telling you this? Because this, my friends, is why I don’t read the comments on my articles.Reading the comments on the big websites I write for is like sitting down to coffee with someone who can’t stand me. They don’t know me, but they hate everything that I represent. I don’t want to subject myself to people who don’t like me, and so I choose to stay away.Let me explain. Yes, there are some positive comments on big websites. But for the most part, people don’t comment a lot when they agree with an article. They might share it on their social media feeds, or press the ‘like’ button, or even message me about it, but they won’t bother logging in to the site and leaving a comment.People log in and leave a comment most frequently when they are angry. And they are angry when they strongly disagree with the thesis of a piece. And when they strongly disagree with the thesis of a piece, they often decide the writer is a moron/an idiot/an *insert your choice of insult here*. Because angry people don’t see shades of grey. They see right and wrong, and if the writer is ‘wrong’, then they must be ‘bad’.And so these commenters tell me how bad I am. They tell me how wrong I am. They tell me in all sorts of colourful language, with all sorts of capital letters, under all sorts of social media handles, most frequently anonymous. And they are allowed to do that, just like the dude I dated was allowed not to like me. But I didn’t have to date him, and I do not have to read the comments.
It doesn’t enrich me to read negative comments about my pieces. It frustrates me to read comments about me that are not true, and it frustrates me more that there is nothing I can do about it. And it depresses me no end to know that people like these commenters exist – people who are homophobic, anti-feminist, anti-choice, racist, or anti-whatever it is I have written about at the time.Now, it’s true that there may be a useful comment in there somewhere. It’s true that someone may have a point of view that would enlighten or inform me. But sadly, I would have to wade through hundreds of insults to get to it, and the cost-benefit equation doesn’t add up in my favour.When I stay away from comments, this frustration doesn’t exist. When I stay away from comments, these people don’t exist. And – whilst I know intellectually that they are still out there, just like the dude who didn’t like me still walks this earth – I don’t have to experience the frustration and sadness they bring to my life.Happily, I still have this Facebook page, where people can leave a comment and communicate with me directly. For the most part, people are polite and friendly on my Facebook page, partly because they usually choose to visit my page if they already like my work, and partly because commenters are easily identifiable on Facebook. People are far ruder when they are shielded by anonymity than they are when you can see photos of their children.But until such time as commenters are accountable on websites, I will continue to shield myself from their onslaughts. I am just a writer doing my job. And I would rather sit down for a coffee with someone who likes me than with someone who wants to tear me apart.
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Published on March 22, 2016 23:36

December 17, 2015

Ex Girlfriend of Former Bachelorette Dude Rants on Social Media about How He Hurt Her 

Read about it if you can be bothered. It's all here. Personally, there is little I care about less.

But what I do care about is the way people air their personal grievances on social media. Why do people do this? When did private lives cease to exist? And how will anyone ever be able to trust anyone again if we all just run to social media every time we are hurt or disappointed?



I see it all the time, on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. Celebrities and regular people, with or without huge followings, sharing with the entire online universe the most intimate details of their lives. The dates. The sex. The passion. The hurts. The breakups. The betrayals. The disappointments. The fights.

It doesn't sit well with me. As someone who literally makes a living from writing about my life, I am very, very clear about my boundaries. And let me tell you, I'm sure it's cost me a click or two. I could fascinate you all with tales of my romantic adventures over the past couple of years. I've had highs and lows you wouldn't believe. (Or maybe you would - you've seen similar scenarios played out on other people's accounts ad infinitum.)

I've had great sex and awful sex. I've been deeply in love and hideously hurt. I've had fantastic first dates and quite shockingly bad ones. I've had all sorts of experiences that I could have played out, blow by blow, on your social media feed.

But I haven't, and I won't, because it's just plain wrong. It would be undignified for me, it would grossly unfair to the men involved, it would be humiliating for my kids and parents, and - most importantly of all - it is none of anybody's business.

Why would I need complete strangers to understand my perspective on a relationship? How would that help my pain or healing, or allow me to move on with my life? And whilst yes, there is a definite salacious titillation in knowing why two people broke up - I mean, which one of us hasn't wondered about Tom and Nicole, or Princess Di and Charles, or Jennifer and Brad - how does it help the actual parties themselves to share their secrets online?

Have some dignity, please. Keep your private lives private. The world doesn't need to know every single detail of your lives.

And we also don't need the inevitable 'Bouncing Back from Heartbreak' stories or the 'Brave Jilted Girlfriend Rocks Bikini Body On Beach'. But trust me, people. They are on their way.


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Published on December 17, 2015 16:13

December 3, 2015

On Tuesday I was sitting in a coffee shop with my friend Lana, reading a post by the journalist Clementine Ford. She had compiled screen shots of some (some, just some) of the horrendous abuse she received from men (and the odd woman) around the world for daring to express her opinions and for defending herself when attacked online.

I was stunned by the vitriol. Stunned by the hatred. Stunned by the language. C**t. Slut. Whore. Rape threats. Threats of violence. It was horrifying.

What was even more horrifying is that so many of these men used their real names. Their social media profiles showed pictures of them smiling with their families, or linked to Facebook pages listing their hobbies and interests. There were pictures of dogs and friends and holidays. This is how little they fear consequence or retribution. Because there IS no consequence online.

It was not me being attacked. I tend to fly under the radar when it comes to online abuse; I write about parenting and relationships and life and anxiety and just don't attract that kind of attention.

But those messages reflected such a profound misogyny, such a deep seated contempt of women, that the actual target was irrelevant. When you attack women with those kind of words, you attack us all.


Everyone gets abused online from time to time. Men also get abused online. But men are not threatened with sexual violence. Men are not threatened with harm towards their families. Men are not degraded and intimidated into silence.

I couldn't bear it. I couldn't bear the fact that people feel they can attack women in this way. I wanted to do something. I wanted to show my support for Clem, but not just for Clem, for all women who are abused online.

And so I gathered some friends. I asked that we each tweet the names of the offenders listed on Clem's post, or at least the names of some of the worst offenders. I asked that we use the hashtag #endviolenceagainstwomen, and link to her post so people know what we are dealing with.

Please note that we do not wish to abuse or threaten or slander these men. We are simply naming them as being the authors of abusive tweets. Their messages stand for themselves.

I wanted to stand up and say that this is not okay. That this kind of abuse will be noticed. That there are consequences. That we will stand together and support each other. That when you attack one of us, you attack us all.

By this morning, my little group of friends had grown into a group of hundreds, and it keeps growing. You will see our tweets and read our Facebook posts. If you wish to support us, please share this post and others like it. If you are on Twitter, please retweet our tweets or cut and paste them into your own timelines.

I don't believe for a moment that this will change our culture of violence. I don't believe for a moment that this will end violence against women. But it's a start. A small step. A show of strength and support.

You have to start somewhere. We are starting here. Today.
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Published on December 03, 2015 13:57

November 23, 2015

In a recent Facebook post, I admitted to not liking Gaytimes. The ice cream, not the physical expression of same sex love.


But really, the reaction would have been less vitriolic if it had been the latter. I have never been subjected to such violent abuse in all my time on the net.

There was disbelief:



Denial:



Pathetic justifications:  Outright condemnation:

I was unfollowed:


Dropped:



Begged to delete my post:




And asked to think about my mistake:



But still, in the end, Jono had the last word:

And with that, it was over.

















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Published on November 23, 2015 15:18

November 20, 2015

We were running late, of course. I was taking my 16 year old son and his friend D to the Opera House to see the Pokemon Symphonic and we needed to leave ten minutes ago. I unlocked the car and the boys got in.

"NOOOOO! There are cockroaches!" screamed my son.

"AAGGGH" screamed his friend.

And they were right. Three huge cockroaches were scampering across the floor of my car.



"Oh GOD," I cried. We fled the car. "I'll fix it!"  I bolted inside and emptied every cupboard of my house in a frantic search for bug spray. There was none. Oh, GOD. So I grabbed the next best thing.
Hair spray.

I was dashing out to the car with the hair spray held optimistically aloft when my neighbour appeared at her door, smells of a delicious chicken dinner wafting behind her.

"I NEED YOUR BUG SPRAY!" I yelled. She looked a little surprised. She is a lovely woman, and grandmother of several, and probably isn't accustomed to being screamed at on her own doorstep.

But she handed it over.

"I'll give it back later!" I called over my shoulder, and ran back out to the car.

There I found the teenage boys, being... well.... not as brave as one might hope.

"I'm not getting back in there!" my son announced. "Ever."

"YES YOU ARE!" I yelled. We were even more late, and I had spent a fortune on the tickets. "Here. We'll spray them and they'll die."

So I sprayed. I pretty much emptied my neighbour's spray within the confines of my not-so-big car. The fumes were toxic. Which was good, really, as that probably meant the cockroaches were dead.
Or we would pass out, and be immune from their fearsome powers.

The roaches disappeared, and so we felt strong enough to proceed. I put the keys in the ignition, the boys put their feet up on the seats, and off we went.

I was on a main road, heading towards the city, when my son began screaming.

"Mum! It's on the ceiling! It's right above you!"

"NOOOOO!" I cried. "OH MY GOD NO!!!"

"It's FALLING!" he yelled. "IT'S A DROP ROACH! OH GOD IT'S ON YOUR BACK!!!"

"HELP!!!" I screamed frantically (all the while keeping my foot on the pedals and guiding the car vaguely in the right direction). "OH MY GOD!"

And then my son's friend D came to the rescue. "STAY STILL!" He pointed the bug spray at my back and fired. "Got it!"

The roach fell down. Somewhere. I don't know where. I pulled over and collapsed, shaking, by the side of the road.

"Thank you," I whispered.

"No worries," he said cheerfully. "I'm in the Rifle Shooting team at school,"

We went to the concert and had a wonderful time. And today, obviously, I buy a new car.
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Published on November 20, 2015 14:28

November 11, 2015

Firstly, the email and my responses:
Hi Kerri,
I am researching online for possible opportunities for my client to share content with within her industry.
Her new website is (redacted).She has been in the funeral industry for a very long time and wanted to start a truly independent resource for people going through a funeral or a tragic loss. As counselling is a huge part of that I thought your site would be a great fit.As you are a very successful writer I wondered if you would be willing to maybe write a blog post for her site?I understand you may get a lot of these requests from agencies looking for links but we really are after quality content sharing with or without links. We believe if we provide quality and genuine helpful advice, people will link to it when they need to.Would love the opportunity to chat further if you are interested.Regards,(name redacted)
Me: What are you able to pay?

Him: Hugs and great content.

Me: Seriously, help me out here as I just don't get it. You're asking a professional writer to write for free for a funeral planning site? 

Him: Yes, I wanted to offer you a chance for more exposure to your site also.

So I turned to Twitter to vent my frustration:

And the reaction was awesome:






Yup.

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Published on November 11, 2015 20:55 • 2 views

November 4, 2015

Though I'm still no style icon, back in my teens and twenties (and, er, thirties) I really had no idea how to dress. I tried, but I constantly got it wrong - you know, the right pants with the wrong top, or the right dress with the wrong shoes, or the right shoes with the wrong everything else.

My sister, on the other hand, always looked great. She had a very particular style - sort of casual, just-thrown-together cool. She wore a lot of cargo pants and brightly coloured singlets and little skirts and the occasional gorgeous patterned dress or top. She loved purple. She had so many purple singlets we all lost count.
I remember her wardrobe; it was basically a portarobe in the sunroom off her bedroom, absolutely chock full of clothes in no particular order.

Tanya laughed at my fashion choices. She laughed at a lot of my choices. I recall her once going through my CD collection which, admittedly, was rather woeful - lots of  Michael Jackson and Madonna and Smiths and Kate Bush (to represent both my upbeat and contemplative sides). And then she noticed one rogue, totally hip album, and pointed and cried out, "Oh look! You have some Massive Attack by mistake!"

Anyhow... every now and then she would let me go through her extensive wardrobe and pick out things I liked that she no longer needed. It was the best fun. I know she was the younger sister but it felt very much like a kid raiding her mother's wardrobe. Tanya bought a lot of stuff and discarded a lot of stuff and so I always came away with some new things to wear. Sometimes I'd want one of her newer outfits and she'd protest, but I nearly always got what I wanted. I'm persuasive that way.

And the thing about Tanya was.... She loved giving me her clothes. She loved it when I looked nice. She genuinely wanted the best for me.

She would have been so proud of all I've achieved, and she would have loved my youngest daughter so much. SO much. My baby turns eight on the 26th of November, three weeks to the day after Tanya will have been dead for eight years.

Today. The 5th of November. It's been eight years.

She was awesome. You would have liked her. All of you. You would have liked her. Most everyone did.

Eight years today. I miss her. And I miss her wardrobe.

I have nothing to wear.
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Published on November 04, 2015 12:15

October 22, 2015

I had a brilliant date this week. One of the best ever.

We had connected online - on Twitter, to be precise - after corresponding about a project my date had been involved with. Unfortunately we live in separate states, but when my date travelled to Sydney for work we arranged to meet for lunch.

Often you meet someone and they look different to their photos, or the connection you had in the written word doesn't translate to a real life chemistry. In this case we just clicked. From the moment we saw each other in the assigned location, to the moment I had to leave an hour and a half later, we did not stop talking.


Our time together was too short. I'm so looking forward to seeing her again.

Yes, she's a her. A female friend. And no, this post is not about coming out - it is about the joys of female friendship, and the strange reality that it is so much easier to find a connection with another female than it is with a man.

This Saturday night I have a date with another new friend. She's a bit younger than me, absolutely gorgeous, and fabulous fun. We met through work, and our interactions are super easy and relaxed. Another dear friend of mine is the sister of a friend, and when we were introduced at the party we both knew we'd be in each others' lives forever.

Of course I don't connect with every woman I meet. But in the last couple of years I have formed several real, rewarding connections with female friends, and yet - despite dating regularly - I have not felt it with a new man. And I'm not the only one. My single/divorced female friends report exactly the same thing. They meet women they connect with all the time, but not men. And it's baffling. Are men and women really so different? And if so, how can we bridge that gap?

"How could I have met 30 or more men and not one was right?" a friend asked. I couldn't answer, because my experience has been the same. And don't tell us we're too choosy, because all we are looking for is the same resonance that we feel with female friends. That feeling of inhabiting the same emotional landscape. Would you settle for anything less?

As my date this week agreed, true connections fill up our cup. And my cup is largely being filled by women (metaphorically, not literally, see 'not coming out' comment). I cherish my female friends. And girl dates really do lift my soul.

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Published on October 22, 2015 19:29 • 3 views

September 29, 2015

Sometimes when I am pottering around my house I interview myself. Some people would call that 'talking to themselves' but it's far more formal than that. I pose myself questions, think about them, and then carefully articulate my answers.

If that makes me weird, well, wait till you hear about my faux cooking-show demonstrations.

The other day, during one of my probing interviews, I asked myself how I feel about ageing. After all, if I was a celebrity I would get asked that question all the time. Any female celebrity over the age of 30 is asked how she feels about getting older. Male celebrities aren't asked until they hit 50, but hey, I've interviewed myself about gender inequality many times and it's really not at all surprising.

So how do I feel about ageing?

cake: a metaphorWell, I'm glad I asked.

At 46, the physical stuff doesn't bother me too much. Yes, I have wrinkles, blah blah blah. Yes, I have stretch marks, blah blah blah. But what do you expect at this age? Quite frankly, I get more upset about my occasional pimples than I do about the Visible Signs of Ageing.

And yes, I feel more Comfortable in Myself now than I ever did as a younger person. That all is true. I feel much more me than I did as a younger person. I am more confident, less concerned with what other people think. I know how I want to live my life, and am making that life happen.

But you know what I don't like?

I don't like the fact that time is running out. I don't like the fact that I am half way through my life. I feel keenly the sense that my years left on earth are limited. I know that we all have limited lifespans. I know that a twenty year old isn't going to live forever either. But I didn't feel my mortality at 20. I didn't even feel my mortality at 30. It hit me for the first time at the age of 45, and I suspect it will get stronger with each passing year.

I know it's not fair to feel this way. I have lived 46 years already, and many of them well. I am like a child with only half a slice of cake left, resenting the other kids who haven't started theirs yet. We all get our slice, I am halfway through mine, and I mustn't be greedy.

But I am. I want more cake. I like eating it and I don't want it to be over anytime soon. Or even in another 46 years.

I've interviewed myself, and now it's over to you. How do you feel about ageing? Will you ever be ready to finish your slice?




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Published on September 29, 2015 20:15 • 4 views

September 15, 2015

There is SO much pressure to be a perfect mother….. but happily, it seems that things are changing. Recent research by Ski D’Lite found that only half of Australian mothers now try to be perfect parents, with the rest of us settling for ‘good enough’. It seems like ‘practically perfect’ is the new idea.
And this is awesome. We shouldn't aim for perfection. So why are half of all women still trying to get there?
I don’t at all understand the term ‘perfect mother’. It has never made any sort of sense to me. Being a mother is not a task that can be performed to perfection; it is a relationship between two people, a parent and a child. And no relationship can be perfect, because no person is perfect. There is no such things as a perfect child, and certainly no such thing as a perfect adult, so how can there possibly be the perfect relationship?
To be ‘perfect’ at motherhood makes as much sense as being ‘perfect’ at any other type of relationship. We can’t be perfect at friendship or perfect at love. It is impossible. And it shouldn't even be a goal.
What’s more, it doesn't need to be. We don’t choose our friends because they are perfect at friendship, we choose them because we love them even with their flaws. And we don’t love our partners because they are perfect, we love them because they are perfect for us.
We don’t need to be perfect parents for our kids to love us, nor do we need to be perfect for our kids to thrive.
But we can still be ‘perfect’ at many important aspects of mothering. And when you go through the checklist, you’ll be surprised at how many you get right.
This is totally me. You can't see it but I am holding the selfie stick in my teeth.For example:
1.       Birthing: A perfect birth is one which results in all four limbs and the head of the baby being expelled from the mother’s body by the end of the birthing process. The birth may involve pain relief, water, a surgeon, a midwife, meditation, chanting, or pretty much whatever the hell you want as long as you get the baby out.

2.       Feeding your infant: Perfect feeding occurs when the infant ingests nutrition by some means. This can involve a breast, a bottle, an eye dropper, a drip, or a fairy princess with a magic cup.

3.       Feeding your older child: A perfect meal for an older child includes food that will stop them from feeling hungry. Whilst ‘healthy’ food is ideal, and organic food is lovely and all that, it is not required for every meal, and ‘food’ can include juice, meats, Vegemite sandwiches, plain noodles… anything that has calories, really.

4.       Teaching your child to sleep: A child has been correctly taught to sleep if they spend periods of each night unconscious.

5.       Potty Training: A child has been perfectly potty trained if they learn to use the toilet some time before their twelfth birthday.

6.       Dressing your child: A perfect outfit includes clothes that more or less keep the child warm/cool/protected from the elements. Style, colour, and co-ordination are utterly irrelevant.

7.       Cuddling your child: Any cuddle is a perfect cuddle.


This post is sponsored by Ski D’Lite yoghurt, which I buy all the time for the kids because it is delicious, now has 25% less sugar, and doesn't require cooking, spreading or dicing into small pieces. Perfect.
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Published on September 15, 2015 18:21 • 4 views

Kerri Sackville's Blog

Kerri Sackville
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