Writer, educator and mother Polly Dunning shares her insights on remaining true to values of feminism in the roles of marriage and motherhood which are perceived to have embedded sexism and misogyny.

My mother always said to me ‘There’s nothing like marriage and motherhood to radicalise women’. She was speaking, of course, about the noticeable absence of feminism in young women who have not yet come up hard against the structural discrimination that still permeates our world. I thought she meant other women. I was already a feminist. I come from a proud line of feminists going back at least three generations. I was already radicalised. I already had my eyes open to the sexism and misogyny embedded in the roles of wife and mother that I one day wanted to inhabit. I was prepared.

Or so I thought.

I already had my eyes open to the sexism and misogyny embedded in the roles of wife and mother that I one day wanted to inhabit.

It started with marriage. It was not that my relationship with my husband changed. It didn’t really, except that our commitment felt more formalised. It was other people’s reaction towards me that changed. I knew theoretically that it might, but somehow the reality made my blood boil. Seeing my surname erased and replaced by ‘Mrs …’ (I kept my own name) on letters and seating charts, even in jest, felt like a real blow. It was the first time sexism hit me in the face quite so blatantly and hard. How dare I not give up my name for my husbands? The ‘joke’ seemed a way of saying ‘get back in your box, girly.’

But didn’t I know this was coming? Of course, but the visceral experience of it was different. Suddenly my feminism wasn’t just academic. It also wasn’t just about the shadows of lower pay for traditionally female professions (like mine) or working harder to be thought of as ‘good’, while blokes doing half the job were bloody marvellous. This message was clear and no one was even trying to disguise it: you are a married woman, you should change your identity to become part of your husband’s.

The ‘joke’ seemed a way of saying ‘get back in your box, girly.’

This was a minor inconvenience, yes, but it signified something more. That as a woman I am not supposed to determine my identity for myself. I am public property. This sense was exacerbated by pregnancy. Suddenly people I’d never met felt they had the right to touch me, give me diet and medical advice, and tell me how I should be feeling. The reality was that, although I was ecstatic to be expecting a child, I hated being pregnant, but this didn’t seem to be acceptable to say. I’m a woman, and was soon to be a mother, so I had to be ‘enjoying every moment’ of pregnancy and feeling privileged to be unable to walk more than a few hundred metres, unable to sleep yet constantly exhausted, nauseated, and heavy.

…as a woman I am not supposed to determine my identity for myself. I am public property. This sense was exacerbated by pregnancy.

When my son arrived this sense that everything I did was up for public scrutiny intensified. It feels as if mothers work for society as a whole and so every member feels they have the right to give us a performance review at any given moment. Suddenly everything from what (and how) my son ate, when he slept and what he wore, to what I ate and how often I exercised became open to discussion and debate from total strangers. How to be a mother seems even more publicly determined than how to be a woman. But here’s the rub: you’re always doing it wrong.

But your husband is always doing it right. The fact that my husband researched and purchased the pram for our son, and knows the difference between a 000, 00 and 0 clothing size makes him father of the bloody year. I hear women talk about how amazing their husband is for changing a nappy, or fixing a bottle, or ‘helping with the baby’ (I think the word they’re looking for is ‘parenting’). I’ve lost count of the number of women who think it’s perfectly fine for them to do all the night settling and feeding because their husband has to go to work the next day. I do wonder what they think they do all day, because I don’t think they get their nails done and play tennis. I don’t even think they go to the toilet alone or drink a cup of coffee hot.

Here’s the rub: you’re always doing it wrong. But your husband is always doing it right.

And this makes me furious. Childrearing and mothering is so undervalued that we truly think that a man needs sleep so he can go to work and marginally improve the company’s bottom line more than a woman needs sleep so she can raise the citizens of the future. Both mothers and fathers need a whole lot more sleep than they’re getting, but neither needs it more than the other. Why is what traditionally (and usually) mothers do considered to hold such little value?

Yes, I always knew this would happen. But the sexist reality of marriage and motherhood has hit me hard, maybe because I thought I was so ready for it. Now I am well and truly radicalised, just like all those women before me, and that is a great thing. I no longer remain politely passive in the face of casual sexism. I’m not worried about how my feminism will make others feel. Why? Because they already unconsciously dismiss me as ‘just a mum’ anyway, so who cares if I make them uncomfortable? I’m done with only pointing out sexism at appropriate times and events. If you can’t handle the truth about what it’s like to be a wife and mother, don’t invite me for dinner because I am too bloody tired to pretend anymore.

Now I am well and truly radicalised, just like all those women before me, and that is a great thing.

Polly Dunning is a writer, educator, student, wife and mum. She writes on the subjects of feminism, parenting, and education, and has been published in various media including the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Daily Life, SBS Life, Women’s Agenda, Essential Kids, and the Mum Life Project, and contributed to the book ‘Unbreakable’ edited by Jane Caro. She is an experienced high school teacher and is currently enjoying the thrills and spills (oh, the spills) of maternity leave with her two young children.


If you’re searching for your Soulmate, the law of attraction is your key to success! By effectively using this universal law, you’ll have the power to attract a lifelong partner. 

1. Be Clear About What You Want in a Mate

Each “failed” relationship has given you clues about what you desire in an ideal partner, but be careful not to focus on the negative. For example, if you say that you don’t want another partner who “puts work before love,” you’re focusing on the negative, and this tells the Universe to send you more of what you don’t want. However, if you know what you don’t want, you also know what you do want. In this case, it would be a partner who puts your relationship before work.

Let go of the past, and refocus on the positive. You can tell if your thoughts are positive or negative by the way they make you feel. If thoughts make you feel good, they’re positive. If thoughts make you feel bad, they’re negative. It’s that simple! So, if you find yourself thinking negatively, simply turn it around and focus on positive desires. Once you do, you’ll immediately feel better, and you will be in alignment with love.

2. Continue to Dream!

The power of imagination can transform your love life. So, if you are ready for love, one of the best things you can do is day dream about your perfect mate. Through imagination you can create, and improve, a desired relationship until it meets your highest ideal. As you imagine your ideal partner, you’re sending positive images to the Universe, and the Universe receives these images as a command to create. Once you have an ideal image in your mind, replay it over and over until it actually 


3. Be Your Real Self

By hiding your Real Self and wearing a façade, you attract people who reflect or complement the false image you present to the world, and this makes it difficult for your soulmate to find you. No doubt, your soulmate is a perfect match for the Real You, and since you never know where, or how, your paths might cross, it’s important to always be your Real Self! Since the law of attractions loves authenticity, Shine Your Light!

4. Fall in Love with Yourself!

Since it feels great to be around people who authentically love themselves, it’s no wonder that self-love attracts potential mates. Therefore, if you want someone to fall in love with you, you must fall in love with your Real Self. Moreover, since self-judgement resonates a negative energy that repels potential mates, it’s important to clean up self-critical thinking.

5.  Get Your Beliefs in Order

Life is a feedback system that reflects your beliefs, whatever you believe, you’ll

experience. Therefore, if a belief doesn’t support what you really want, it’s time to drop it and develop beliefs that do. This means that it’s important to examine all your beliefs about love, and, then, clean up any negative beliefs that don’t support an ideal relationship.

6. Say “No” to Jealousy

It’s natural to feel jealous when we see someone experiencing the love we desire, and don’t yet have, but jealousy is a negative emotion that repels love. Therefore, when you see someone living your dream, rather than reacting with jealousy, celebrate their love. Indeed, when you bless loving relationships, it tells the Universe you’re ready for love too!

7. Don’t Give Up!

When it comes to love, people get disappointed when potential mates don’t meet their expectations, or they don’t see evidence that true love is coming, and, then, out of disappointment, or fear of disappointment, they give up. However, “giving up” is the number one reason the law of attraction doesn’t (appear to) work. Giving up is like ordering a delicious meal and walking out of the restaurant just before your order arrives. Therefore, once you are clear about a specific desire, commit to it for as long as it takes, and this also means don’t give in to doubt!

 8. Create the Space 

The law of attraction loves the energy of anticipation, and, therefore, do your best to anticipate your ideal relationship by creating space for your partner. Therefore, consider all the ways in which you can prepare for your soulmate, such as cleaning out a closet, emptying a draw, or replacing worn-out wallpaper.

 9. Live Your Best Life Now!

Don’t wait for a partner before you live your best life. Live it right now! Therefore, do not focus on “what’s missing” in single life, but, instead, create a full life where nothing is missing! Since you attract “what you are,” if you are a couch potato, you will

attract a coach potato. So, if you desire an active mate who skis and likes to read, you better get on the slopes and hang out in bookstores. If you start living your best life now, you will be super attractive for that special person to spot you in a crowd.

 10. Follow Inspiration

When it comes to attracting a soulmate, your job is to clearly define what you most desire, and, then, get in alignment as described above, but it’s not your job to control manifestation. So, if you want the Universe to perform its magic on your behalf, you must release control and get out of the way. However, this does not mean that you should sit home and do nothing, and, in fact, it’s important to take inspired action.

Since the Universe communicates to you through intuition, inspiration, and gut feelings, always take action accordingly, and this means that if you get the sudden urge to go to a new coffee shop across town or call an old friend you haven’t seen in ten years, just do it! The more you follow inner guidance, the more the Universe can guide you to true love!

There is nothing you cannot be, do or have when you know how to activate and use the unlimited power that lies within you! So, have fun using the law of attraction to find (and keep) the love of your life!
By being who you really are, and doing what you love to do, you’ll be a perfect match for your perfect mate!

Nanice Bio:
As a Conscious Creation Coach since 1997, Nanice teaches mastery level manifestation. Using quantum principals, human dynamics, consciousness techniques, and real life experiences, her powerful coaching style is often referred to as the “Nanice Effect.”  Nanice is the author of several inspirational books including, “Is There a White Elephant in Your Way? – a comprehensive guidebook to awakening and self-empowerment.” Sign up for Nanice’s Free 7 Part Awakening Series at www.Nanice.com/Awaken. To find out more, please visit www.Nanice.com