EPIDEMIC E-MAINTENANCE

FRIDAY

Mr X: “Hey you! Planning to go out at all this weekend?”

Miss Z: “Going out on Sunday for an early dinner and drink. You?”

Mr X: “Nice! Don’t know yet, maybe something tonight.”

Miss Z: “Fair enough, enjoy.”

Mr X: “Yeh, you too.”

Being the long weekend and having been dating Mr X for a month my girlfriend expected Mr X to spend time with her. It was rational and reasonable.  He had three days off and he had not made any solid plans, so why not take some time to replicate a scene of a romantic comedy for her? Except all she got was a measly “You too”.

Seriously? 

The skilled dating gamer would let it go, pretend not to care and dismiss it as his loss.  But my girlfriend’s ego was at stake.  The witch was lighting it aflame and she was ready to fire-fight that s*^t.

Miss Z: “Are you seriously not going to make an effort to see me this weekend?”

Mr X: “I don’t know if your attitude works with other guys but with me it doesn’t, it makes me think you’re unpleasable company.”

OH HELL NO!

NO HE DIDN’T!

Miss Z: “If you think I am unpleasable company I suggest you don’t waste your time.”

He made a vague apology and revived the situation by saying he’ll see her Sunday.

SUNDAY

It was late Sunday and there was no phone call, text, email or Facebook message in regards to their supposed Sunday night plans.  My girlfriend had accepted that the only way this Sunday date was going to happen was in her dreams, which involved her breaking his fingers so he have a legitimate reason to not get in contact.

6.45pm and there is a Snap Chat from Mr X.

Maybe this was a sign?

The picture consisted of alcohol bottles and a bag of weed, captioned: ‘It’s gonna be one of those nights’.

It was a sign alright. 

A sign that she was being e-maintained.

It was only at the start of this year that I became aware of this e-maintenance craze.  It seemed like everyone was doing it and everyone was having it done to them.  Blogger and writer Yashar Ali sums e- maintenance  up nicely “In order to keep women happy, women need to be maintained.   Men are socially conditioned to behave this way to prevent women from becoming hysterical.  In their mind, they are keeping her satisfied electronically with inconsistent, rapid and short bursts of texting which bared little or no substance”.

In a generation of indecisiveness, we have become obsessed with this idea of keeping our options open; of having multiple maybes rather than a definite yes. I would be lying if I denied my participation in the craze.  At one point I was enjoying e-maintaining two men.  It became evident quite quickly that I was not going to have a career in juggling.  I did the sensible thing and quit before I embarrassed myself and got fired from a job I didn’t really want in the first place.  Upon reflection I wonder why I felt the need to e-maintain and came up with a few plausible explanations:

  1. I didn’t want to put my eggs in one basket.  The logic was if one egg was off then at least I had another one I could crack open and poach.
  2. I wanted to eat my cake and have it too. I experimented with this idea and guess what? If you eat your cake, you eat your cake.  You just get left with some shitty crumbs.
  3. I thought I should show loyalty to my R’N’B roots and adopt that playa-playa lifestyle. Only Joe sang a song about how he didn’t “wanna be a playa no more” and I thought it be best if I took his advice.

E-maintenance was about having a back-up plan.  That if everything fails in the game of dating and love, you had someone to fall back on and someone you can continue playing the game with.  For me, the idea of e-maintaining and playing the game was too simplistic, immature and one directional.  It involved minimal effort and maximum expectancies.  You pay $2 for a meal that took $35 to create.  The entire problem with this e-maintenance epidemic is you fail to make any meaningful connection and commitment.  The mentality that you need a back-up plan already sets you up for failure: If you’re already thinking about it not working out, how can it work out?

E-maintenance was just as much about effort as it was about ego.  E-maintenance decreases the chance of direct rejection therefore minimalizing the bruising of the male ego.  If that was the case, is that why calling had been replaced by texting? To avoid direct rejection?  I dread dating a man that can only use his pretty little fingers to type a text rather than dial my number. If I am unable to hear your voice, I am unable to know you.  Regardless of such ideals, I went on a date with a guy who was obsessed with texting, almost as if he couldn’t exercise his fingers enough.  After a disastrous date my girlfriend called me out on it, “Honey, he e-maintained you.  He invested the lowest amount of effort and received a higher amount of return”.  Then there was the other side of the scope, how it made someone feel when they realised they were being e-maintained.  Vividly I recall the realisation that I was being e-maintained, my ego was deflated.  I felt like I was the runner up in a competition that I didn’t know I was even in.

I currently have a friend who is being e-maintained by a guy who has a girlfriend.  After months into their friendship, when my friend decided she had invested feelings, he surprised her with the “I have a girlfriend…” line.  Sensibly she did the right thing and distanced herself from him.  He must have taken this as her playing hard to get because he suddenly upped the ante on the e-maintenance.  There was a sudden surge of texts, the occasional phone call and request of catching up (one that he always backed out of last minute).  It was quite clear what he was doing.  He was queuing her and she was unconsciously lining up for take a ride on the rebound train.  She was engaged in a new phenomenon that is becoming more common in this non-committal world.  Yes I said it!  The world has become non-committal.  Perhaps it is wishful thinking on my part, but in the world of non-committal e-maintenance the only way to survive is to be honest with your intentions, it’ll save you from headaches that’ll require popping a Panadol or two.

I’ll end with a little advice I got from a self-help book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo: If he is e-maintaining you, then he is just not that into you. 

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YOU’RE 30 AND STILL SINGLE? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?

I recently came across something on Facebook where a female posted “There is a reason why a girl is single after their 20’s, otherwise they would be taken”.

I am 25 and single. I have no intention of being in a committed relationship and know many women who feel the same. I find it extremely offensive that one would assume that it is because something is “wrong” with us; as if a defect in who we are is the reason why we’re single at a certain age rather than out of our own personal choice.

Being women of the 21st century I believe we possess a great amount of empowerment. However, I would like to clarify that empowerment is not abusing, bullying, humiliating or judging other women with stereotypical bullshit what is outdated and offensive. Empowerment is advocating, encouraging, respecting and being open-minded to the difference in women and accepting and applauding that difference without the need to critique or criticise. Empowerment is having enough confidence in yourself to not have to make someone feel inferior so you can feel superior.

Cheers to all the single ladies, cheers to all the ladies casually dating, cheers to the ladies who are engaged and cheers to the ladies who are married, cheers to the mothers, cheers to the divorced & cheers to the widowed- You’re all bloody fabulous!

 

DEFINITIONS

People often ask me to define feminism and I sit with a blank expression uming and uhing because how can I define something that is so personal to me?

I never liked definitions, I felt like they confined and constricted concepts, hindering them from ever being considered outside the box. When I tell people I am a feminist I receive a strange reaction, where if I were to read between the lines it would say something like “But you don’t look like the angry-lesbian-bra-burning type”.  Here lies the problem with definitions, especially when infused with stereotypes; they give society a reason to not consider other possibilities.  It is precisely this lack open-mindedness which causes society to be indolent and intransigent with their ideologies, imagination and introspection.

Feminism within the Western world began in the 19th century. While it can be referred to as a new movement, the relevance of feminism can be applied to as far back to when men and women first walked the earth.  On the surface feminism aims to calibrate and correct issues which relate to domestic violence, equal pay, maternity leave, reproductive rights, sexual harassment and women’s suffering.  But if you take a look below it, what you will find is that feminism allows personal experiences of women to be shared ones.  These spoken and shared stories rid us of carrying weight that burdens us.

I grew up in an Islamic household with traditional Bangladeshi values, a lethal combination to say the least.  The resentment I developed from the pressure of adhering to such a robust, reserved and retrograde view of women often left me feeling like volcano that could erupt bringing with it avalanches and mudslides. I had the displeasure of experiencing the men of the household dominate women, women who submissively suffered in silence.

For me the most critical moment in my transition into feminism was when my father pointed out “You’re different from your sister, you’re much more timid and tolerant”.  That statement sent me into a mental rage, was my tolerance of his occasional bad behaviour the reason I had suffered through his mistreatment of me? If so, this was a notion I could easily extend to men I have dated in the past, majority of who were narcissistic in nature with little regard for treating women with an ounce of respect. It was that recognition along with my need to go against the tides of social standards that bought me to travel the road of feminism.  It is a road which has lead me to discovering some beautiful destinations within myself, within other women and within humanity.

Every Google search on feminism will give you numerous definitions of feminism. However, don’t let that fool you.  Feminism is much more than a definition, it is a journey.  Feminism has healed me, like the experience of running and yoga, it has been cathartic.  Feminism has allowed me to release emotions, ideas, knowledge and potential that I never dreamed possible.

I thank feminism for teaching me the infiniteness of possibilities within myself and within every other being with a XX chromosome and raise a toast in celebration of the fact.

SUCCESS: A PERSONAL PRESPECTIVE

Name: Nabila Farhat

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Occupation: Full-time consultant at ANZ bank, part-time women’s advocate at Shakti Australia & casual writing enthusiast.

Idea of success: Growing up I had my parents constantly drill into me the importance of education.  Their motto was: ‘Knowledge is power’.  I suppose I adopted that motto, however, not in the way they had hoped as I pursed psychology, a line work that my parents believe undermines my intelligence.  People often dismiss what I am studying as ‘overrated’, even worse, mock me by making jokes that insinuate that my psychological state resembles that of my ‘crazy’ patients. What they fail to recognise is the amount of work that psychology students have to put into actually succeeding in a very competitive industry.

At any university undergraduate psychology usually starts off with 800 students, 4th year psychology dwindles that down to 300 students and then those 300 students are further dwindled down to 18 students who go on to become clinical psychologists. I am currently one of those 300 students and I hope at the end of this year I will become one of those 18 students that goes on to fulfil her dreams of becoming a clinical psychologist at a doctorate level.

Success for me is following what I am passionate about.  It is putting aside everyone else’s dreams and hopes for me and pursuing my own.  It is about making my own choices and holding myself accountable for my personal failings and triumphs.  It is being able to flourish in all aspects of my life and not have my identity be fuelled by my occupation.  But most importantly, it is about failing and in amongst that finding the courage to move forward with a sense of happiness and hope. 

In five year time I want to be established in my career as a Child Protection Practitioner, an advocate for women and focusing on my personal life, that is,hopefully finding someone who I share my successes with and travel the world with.


Name: Luisa Low

Occupation: Copywriter.

Idea of success: I studied a degree in Ancient History & Art History at the university of Sydney. During my degree I became an artist understudy for 3 years (it’s my fourth year now). Essentially mine was a degree in writing and thinking; I have financial aspirations which journalism just wouldn’t provide, so I applied for a Junior Copywriting role. I was promoted to a mid weight copywriter within 6 months.

My idea of success is not simply to be ‘happy’, all that does for me is conjure images of happy families eating chia porridge in Bondi, taking snaps to the hashtags #yoga #cleaneating. I’d like to be known, but I don’t want to be a celebrity. I want to make money, build an estate ala Carlo Scarpa, get married some time in the next 18 months and have a baby. A koi pond would be nice too. That would be success for me.

In 5 years I would like to be married and have a baby. I’d like to be working as a creative or senior copywriter. I’d like to own my own home with a happy husband and have lived with him overseas for a year.


Name: Sadia Karim

Occupation: Bachelor of Software Engineering student.

Idea of success: I’m a student at Monash University, studying Bachelor of Software Engineering. My road to this degree wasn’t an easy one. In high school, my parents constantly pushed me to do medicine, so I convinced myself over and over that that’s what I wanted too, but when the time came, I couldn’t do it. I could never see myself being a doctor. It wasn’t something I wanted to dedicate my life towards. So that left me in the ugly position of having no idea about what I wanted to study at university, and preferences had to be in soon. So I once again turned to my parents and they recommended civil engineering. I had no idea what civil engineering was, but I put it down as my first preference anyway. And I got it.

I started my degree and I hated it. I didn’t understand why people said uni was one of the best parts of your life. I hated every second of every lecture and tute I attended. I often sat there thinking why I was doing it and came to the same conclusion every time: because my parents told me to do it. Nowhere along this journey had I sat down and asked myself what it was that “I” wanted. It was always about what my parents wanted. By then I was three years into a four year degree, deep in depression with no-one to turn to (so I thought). When I finally had enough, I told my parents that I couldn’t do it anymore. They were surprised, but what surprised me the most was how supportive they were. Even though they were disappointed that I was quitting the degree so close to graduation, I honestly don’t think I would’ve made it through another week doing civil.

So I guess that brings me to my definition of success and how I measure it. For me, success is about fighting your battles and growing stronger from them. I would not have been successful if I managed to finish my civil degree. I would take that as running away from the war. The hardest battles are the ones you wage against yourself. How do you win when you’re the ally and the enemy? It’s the worst when everyone else around you seems to have everything figured out. You feel alone and different. The more you learn that you are in control of your life and choices, and the more you exercise these rights and achieve what YOU want, and do what makes YOU happy, then that makes you successful.

In 5 years’ time, hopefully I’ll be done with my Masters in Engineering, working somewhere in the States for a techology company like Google (HAH! That’s the dream!). But hey, that’s my dream. That’s what I want to do. That’s what makes me happy. And I can safely say I’ve won the war against the part of myself that was too scared to do what she wanted.


Name: Dima El-Alam

 

Occupation: Color Creative (fancy name for makeup artist) and Assistant business Manager at Illamasqua Sydney.

Idea of success: I got to my current position by choosing a course that I was passionate about, working my hardest to ace it, and then constantly doing what was required of me in my job to excel.

I measure success by the achievement of personal goals I’ve set for myself. A goal is usually something you need to work towards, put extra energy into, even learn extra skills for so the end result of an achievement is true success to me.

In 5 years time, I see myself tying up the last few loose ends in my life before starting a family and becoming a stay at home mum.