Letter to the Courier Mail: I am somewhat Astounded

by Shannon Everest, Bangalow, Australia

As a woman (aged 33) I am somewhat astounded by an article printed in the Courier Mail today titled “New age ‘medicine’ of Serge Benhayon leaves trail of broken families”, by Josh Robertson and Liam Walsh. There are many things I could speak about in relation to this article that are simple un-truths. I feel to focus on one point only that particularly represents all women in its expression, not just women who have attended courses or sessions with Universal Medicine practitioners. Under a title of ‘beliefs’ you state: “After breast massage, clients are told to use Universal Medicine cream to deter bad energy, and to not allow their partners to touch them without permission”.

Are you suggesting that a man should be able to do whatever he likes with and to the body of the woman whom he lives with or is married to?

If so, then this is deeply disturbing for all women. Disturbing on the level that we live within a society that is espousing such beliefs and claiming this as ‘normal’. Is your statement not dissimilar to the idea of a daughter being ‘owned’ by her father and therefore he can do whatever he likes with her, as is the case (and belief) behind some instances of incest and child abuse within families?

Is it then ok for a husband to grab and grope at his wife against her will behind closed doors, but not ok for a stranger in the street to do so? Where do we draw the line here?

Does the line not begin and end with the woman and what she deems is a touch she wishes to welcome or not, whether from her husband, father, brother, work colleague or any man for that matter?

If there is but one thing I could impart to my own young daughter as she grows into a woman, it is to honour her body in the way that she feels to, at all times, in any situation. Not: ‘honour your body as you grow and develop, but let that all go once you get married’ – it is quite obvious, the ridiculousness and confusion in this message. We all want this for our daughters, and our sons for that matter. So where are we going wrong, where we are not seeing that these little girls, grown into women, one day marry men and we then expect them to submit to their life and role without having a say in what is to happen to them? All women were once the lovely, sweet little girls who would play around us, whom we would never want for anything to happen to. This innocence and purity does not leave any woman as she grows into a woman, so it makes sense that certain touch will be rejected, just as a little girl would quickly say what was inappropriate given the opportunity.

49 thoughts on “Letter to the Courier Mail: I am somewhat Astounded

  1. Very well expressed Shannon. I too was shocked – to put it mildly – by this article. It seems hard to comprehend that there are men (or women) out there who have not moved from the Victorian era when it comes to their regard towards women and women’s bodies. I recently watched a film called the Duchess. A young lovely lady marries a wealthy Duke and when she confides in her mother that he (the Duke) is not gentle with her in bed and that outside the bedroom he hardly talks to her, the mother brushes her confession off by saying: “what’s there to talk about?”!
    Seems to me that given the opportunity, men like authors of the article in the Courier Mail, would have women back to that era and perhaps even all the way back to dark ages. What next – burning women if they say no to inappropriate touch?! This is a grave insult to women everywhere.

    1. Thank you Shannon. As a man I find it offensive and saddening that there are men that are willing to ignore their partners wishes, feelings or emotional state to satisfy their own desires or for relief. If touch, or advances of a physical or sexual nature are not reciprocated this amounts to harrassment or indecent or sexual assault, within a relationship or not. More concerning is that a newspaper is reporting this unwelcomed touch as “normal” or acceptable, and suggesting that women should accept any approach by their partner. Indeed what is this saying to girls and young women? Further, is this condoning the actions of men who see their partners as objects and what is this saying to our boys about their future relationships with women?

      1. Beautifully expressed Lee – “As a man I find it offensive and saddening that there are men that are willing to ignore their partner’s wishes, feelings or emotional state to satisfy their own desires or for relief.”We have so many atrocities in our world today including the objectification and denigration of women, domestic violence, female genital mutilation amongst other things. None of us would want our daughters to be objectified or denigrated. It is deeply saddening for any journalist to suggest it is okay to touch women without their permission.

  2. Shannon wonderfully written about. It is time that we address all of these very old beliefs. It is shocking that they are deeply entrenched and have been for a long time in all societies – this needs to be addressed now. Our media has an opportunity to take this on board and act responsibly.

  3. Thank you Shannon – well expressed. There is indeed something terribly not right when a media article such as this suggests that women are to submit themselves to touch without question and have no right to their own bodies. I had to remind myself when reading the article of what century we are living in?!

  4. Thank you Shannon, for bringing to light a very important point in the treatment of women (and men for that matter). Did the journalist just write to fill an article? Was there actual consideration in what was being written?

    It is ridiculous to think that we should let any man think that he should be allowed to touch our bodies without consent of some sort. What we should be working towards is one day daughters everywhere will have mothers like yourself teaching them this, journalists everywhere will take more responsibility in what they are writing, and men (and women for that matter) everywhere wouldn’t even consider touching another body without consent.

  5. I shared your concern at the disrespectful and sexist undertones of this article. In a world where sex slavery and rape (even spousal rape) still exist, it is bewildering that a media outlet would promulgate the idea that a woman’s body is not her own!

  6. I whole-heartedly agree Shannon. So powerfully expressed. Those responsible for such comments, in the seeking of a clearly sensationalist ‘angle’ with no true journalistic integrity & ethics, have exposed themselves. We deserve a media without misogyny, and indeed a society in which all have a right to claim themselves in the self-honouring and regard of which you speak so eloquently.

  7. Shannon thank you, a powerful expression which helped me to continue to realise that not only have I personally experienced groping and disrespectful behaviours from men, but that I have experienced from hearing through bedroom walls, and hotel walls (and from friends) cries for help from women who were groped, and abusively touched by men, who felt powerless to say ‘no’ or push them away. I have witnessed the devastation that then follows by not claiming their power which psychologically takes a deep root of worthlessness amongst other things,
    such as a constant anxiety and fear in those women. No longer can we allow even back handed, disrespectful, or snide comments in our daily life – let alone from reporters. It is time to hear the truth. Thank you for expressing truth.

    1. yes Adrienne, and in holding all – men and women equally in the true tenderness that they are – rather than deeply disregarding each other as is insinuated to be okay in this article by Josh Robertson and Liam Walsh.

  8. Your focus Shannon is crucial, for even though it is 2012 and there have been many changes to the landscape for us as women to express and to be accepted as equal, I am disappointed that we still have at times these underhanded comments that pervade society – including the inappropriate touches; the patronization; the competition; the bullying. It is for us as women to galvanize our strength and constantly express our truth and our love and realign these antiquated and fearful behaviours back to love. I loved how you expressed this for your daughter, this is the beautiful wisdom that a mother can pass on that builds confidence, care and support for the ‘girl’ in all of us.

  9. Thank you Shannon for your truthful and insightful words, I also find these notions presented by the paper to be of ‘cave man mentality’.

  10. I more than agree, thank you for talking about this topic. I think if it was talked about more, it would be found that rape in marriage is all too common, but is not talked about as much because it is seen as okay or normal for a husband to be able to touch his wife when ever/how ever he wants, because that is what some see marriage as, not a partnership of equals but roles in which the woman is far lower. The flippant way this topic is so astonishingly touched on in the newspaper article only highlights the depth this belief is intrenched in society. No doubt they will say it was a joke, not meant that way. However in the industry of reporting and media, you have a responsibility that nothing goes to print with anything in it that could carry such awful connotations.

  11. Well said Shannon. I wonder, if either Josh Robertson and Liam Walsh had any members of their family, mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts or even male relatives, and they were being ‘touched’ without permission, would they be writing an article saying that this is not acceptable, this must be stopped. I am sure they would. Because of the influence the press has, Josh Robertson and Liam Walsh, and indeed all journalists, need to be more responsible in what they print and not make money the bottom line.

  12. In a nutshell: “..it is quite obvious, the ridiculousness and confusion in this message”. Thank you for bringing light to such a dangerously insidious message from the media.

  13. Thank you Shannon for addressing this and calling Josh Robertson and Liam Walsh to account. It appears they reeled off this remark very flippantly without any regard for what they are actually implying and the kind of abusive attitude that it fosters in our society. I also must clarify that I have never heard anyone from Universal Medicine say that the Esoteric Breast Massage cream ‘deters bad energy’.

    1. Hi Fiona, absolutely, and also, I have never heard that the Esoteric Breast Massage cream ‘deters bad energy’. It’s an amazingly beautiful cream for women to enjoy as it is honouring the beauty we all are.

  14. Thank you Shannon for your clear and strong article. I absolutely agree – and then we wonder how it is possible that there is still such a huge amount of domestic violence going on in our society – how can there not, if the abuse of women – and the reduction of them to body parts is openly displayed everywhere?

    1. Great article Shannon and I agree Esther. It is no wonder women and men do not have a true appreciation of each other when the media and all around us in society reflects the degradation and segregation of both men and women when in truth, our true power is when both men and women unite and promote each of our different strengths and qualities to work together for the good of all humanity.

  15. Yes, the preciousness is just the same in a girl and a woman (and a boy and man) and there never should be a reason whatsoever to excuse or justify any disregard or abuse of that sacred and loving fact.

  16. Shannon your line ‘honour your body as you grow and develop, but let that all go once you get married’ captures the craziness of what’s suggested here that somehow in certain situations women should drop their discernment and allow themselves to be treated in whatever way another chooses for them. As you say once you allow that where do you draw the line. Surely we all want to be treated with the delicacy and grace we are and that we speak up and say how that is – who knows better than us who live in our bodies.

  17. Thank you Shannon. Reading this article I was shocked that such attitudes are held and stated in a newspaper. Delicate young girls grow into delicate young women and are not objects to be treated with disrespect by a partner. This is abuse.

  18. I find it absurd that a newspaper would print an article critcising a man who encourages the honouring and respecting of females and their bodies.

  19. Women’s breasts are usually assumed away as simply ‘part of the package’ you get by the fact that you were born as a woman. Women breasts are also ‘part of the package’ the partner gets when he/she conquers her heart so to speak. Something that hangs in there, that women use to promote themselves, tool for sexual pleasure and a tool for baby feeder eventually. This is the mainstream take on them. Imagine for a moment, though, that you as a woman discover that there is something very beautiful about the breasts that you did not realise before and you discover that there is a breast massage that can bring you to a point of intimacy and a feeling of nurturing that you did not know it was even a possibility. Wouldn’t this change your perception of them? Wouldn’t this change your relationship with them? Wouldn’t this change how you treat/touch them? Wouldn’t this change how you expect them to become part of your intimate activities? Wouldn’t this change how you feel in your body, something that may not be that easy to put in words but you know brings just beauty? This is not really hard to fathom. And it is not hard to understand either that discovering all this (that is huge) is not to initiate a battle of the sexes, but to re-imprint intimacy in a more loving way.

  20. How have we got to this place where we even question a woman’s right to have the final say over who does and does not get to touch her body.

  21. It is truly shocking that journalists are able to print such backward statements. I have received many Esoteric Breast Massages (EBMS) from Universal Medicine practitioners. These practitioners are all women as the modality is only provided and received by women. I also purchased Esoteric Breast Massage Cream to support myself to connect to my breasts at home and at no time has anyone even hinted that this cream will “deter bad energy” or anything remotely like this.

    The journalists mentioned above are happy to denigrate a group of women purely because these women have chosen to receive support from a modality they do not understand (and have chosen not to understand).

    I have had EBMs because they support me to connect to the precious and lovely woman I am. I have a relationship with my breasts that is better than the best love story and I am truly grateful this modality exists.

  22. “Are you suggesting that a man should be able to do whatever he likes with and to the body of the woman whom he lives with or is married to?
    If so, then this is deeply disturbing for all women. Disturbing on the level that we live within a society that is espousing such beliefs and claiming this as ‘normal’.” A great point Shannon, especially as rape and abuse within marriage is now illegal in the UK.

  23. The implied suggestion printed by the media that there is something wrong with men having to receive permission before touching their partners has certainly raised many eyebrows if not shocked people to the core. It is great to see so many stand up against such a disturbing and misogynistic founded belief system, realising this kind of backwards thinking is appalling and needs to be called to account. The media really needs to consider the kind of messages they are sending to readers in general let alone young women looking to the media for guidance or identity, however misplaced that may be.

  24. What century is it we are in when a journalist can express outrage that a woman won’t accept the advances from a man whoever he may be if she doesn’t wish to?

  25. Powerful expression Shannon. It’s so degrading for women to read this article in the Courier Mail. Obviously we all should have the choice as to who may touch our body, this goes for all people, we are not property owned by another, this is a basic human right.

  26. How did such antiquated draconian laws ever exist in the first place, maybe it is time to bring a greater awareness to the unification of all of humanity. When a group is sharing that we are all equally the Sons of God and every one of us have the same rights, we get crucified for telling the truth. This is not just a group but all of humanity who are all equally the same, maybe the tender nurturing nature with the truly loving intimate relationships the Students of The Livingness have, is a feeling that is far too sacred for the media?

  27. Men need to get this – A woman’s body is not there for the outplay of your sexual desires!!! A woman’s body needs to be treated just in the same way you would treat a delicate flower in your hand. Anything less should be considered abuse. Too many men are still carrying images in their heads of what is to happen with a woman sexually, images most often coming from the porn industry. And that is what you take with you with your partner when you have sex. Are you then still surprised if your partner says no? A woman’s body is nothing but sacred and should be treated as such, both by women and men.

  28. Well said Shannon. Marriage is in truth a confirmation and expression of the love two people feel for each other and the love that they are in relationship. Love and choice are beautifully intertwined and hence, part of expressing love with another is honouring their absolute right to choose – in this instance whether to be touched or not to be touched. If this boundary is crossed, there is not love but abuse.

  29. Thank you Shannon for expressing so powerfully in this letter, this is a conversation that is worth starting due to the abuse that is still played out towards women in our society.

  30. Thank you Shannon for a great article, it is amazing that there is a belief that is deeply held by some men that when they are married they have the right to do what they want with a woman’s body. What a huge step away from this idea is the right of every woman to say no to any touch within or outside of marriage that does not respect and confirm the woman that she is.

  31. It’s crazy that things like this can be printed and published from a media organisation. I have had many Esoteric Breast Massages and have never been told to apply the cream afterwards to deter bad energy. How is it possible that a cream can do such a thing and what is bad energy? One can see how journalism conducted in way that has no attention to detail and no intention of being thorough can result in lies being told creating a furore within the general public..all unwarranted and all unfounded.

  32. One of the most beautiful things about Universal Medicine is that they challenge these misogynistic ideals and beliefs about women and empower woman to stand up to them like you have here. It is shameful that the media perpetuates such harmful messages for their own agenda.

  33. In printing such articles the media exposes where they stand on the denigration of women in the home, workplace and in life. Universal Medicine stands for the equallness of all.

  34. It is so beautifully written how Shannon has described young girls growing up in their innocence. There is nothing more beautiful and touching to my heart to feel this innocence. Same for little boys too. They are genderless at this age. What has happened to men and women as adults? We go into roles and become objects. I as a man get so bombarded with women as objects all the time. Reading this article is despicable. Reading Shannon’s blog brings my heart back to my body.

  35. I don’t recall any action being done about this article or any correction, apology or otherwise. We would assume they stand by what they are saying then and if so this would be even more disturbing. For me the way the current media moves a narrative around to suit themselves should cause us all more than alarm. It’s almost the norm these days for them to move the story around so people perceive they are almost not even reading about a person so then what they write can be almost anything. Where do we step next from an article like this? and I’m pleased to see people not taking this lightly. The gap or the bigger issue here was that nothing was done to correct or retract this statement.

  36. What is also very sad about this statement “After breast massage, clients are told to use Universal Medicine cream to deter bad energy, and to not allow their partners to touch them without permission” is that there are many women held by a belief that think that a woman’s body is there for the man once they are married. There is no hope for a man to understand the concept of respect for the woman when we as women do not honour our bodies in our every movement in the way it is deeply loved and cared for.

  37. Anyone who reports to others on a matter not known to them has a clear responsibility to be fair in what is portraying to its truth. We know that the world if infested by examples of irresponsible behaviour for personal gains in this kind of occasions. The word reporter comes from the French Rapporteur and a rapporteur is the one who offers a very well-made stock taking exercise assumed as a input for people to make the next step that takes everything into account without trying to tip the balance to any side. The case of Universal Medicine shows that something of the rapporteur got lost in translaton….

  38. The fact that this comment has been made and that the idea of it causes any sort of outrage is quite exposing of what seems to be a deeply ingrained, accepted and somewhat hidden belief that women are subject to men and can be considered their property.

  39. What has society come to when we think that it is alright to touch women without their expressed permission, we have lost the point that a woman’s body is sacred, and it is her choice and hers alone as to whether she says yes or no to someone.

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