Written by Laura O’Loughlin
On Wednesday, February 15, AWNY welcomed Australian philosopher and author, Skye Cleary, and Australian feminist, journalist and author, Rachel Hills, as panelists for a frank and fearless discussion of love, sex and romance in the city that never
sleeps commits, or so it might seem.
Moderator Monica McCarthy of Impact Hub tapped into the malaise many of us feel around February 14, kicking off the discussion by asking whether we are happier now that we can choose who we love. Cleary picked up on the necessity of freedom, both to choose a partner and within a relationship, quickly dispelling the idea that a relationship needs to be long to be considered successful. Instead, she argued the need for ‘authentic love’ – a love that encompasses mutual respect for the liberty of the other – is more important than the duration of the partnership.
The discussion moved to sexual liberation and sexual attractiveness. Hills quoted Dan Savage as she unpacked the conflicting expectations on women to be simultaneously moral and ‘good, giving and game’. She emphasized that while sexism towards sexually liberated women still exists, the research shows that, to a large extent, men and women want the same things in the bedroom.
The panel also explored the idea of dating in New York, particularly the challenges that come with creating, building and maintaining relationships in a city where the pace of life and sheer number of options can shorten our attention spans. When we can simply ‘swipe right’ and move to the next face we may overlook the work required to take a relationship from casual to committed. Dating today has its own set of rules which are also culturally specific – learning to navigate these can be challenging, especially for Australians where our cultural differences can add a layer of complexity.
The audience had plenty of questions, such as:
Does a relationship need to last a long time to be successful? Is it really all about compatibility? Are we spoiled for choice in New York? Does polyamory favor men? And, where did Skye get those shoes (pictured right)?
In summary, both panelists emphasized the need to elevate the importance of other forms of love, such as love for our self, children, friends, even pets. They argue that by rejecting Hollywood’s idealization of romantic love as the ‘best’ form of love, we are more likely to find happiness.
The event was a great chance to catch up in the middle of the New York winter. Thanks to all who took part and we look forward to seeing you in the Spring!
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