An open letter to men from a difficult woman-Her story

Firstly, many of you are lovely. And I thank those of you who leave supportive comments on my Facebook page, or who engage in respectful and thoughtful debate. I very much enjoy interacting with you all. Please keep hanging around. Maybe you can share my site with your followers & others on facebook.?

But to the rest of you contemplating writing to me, I have a few simple guidelines. If your message falls into one of the below categories, please refrain from pressing send:

Personal attacks

It is fine to disagree with my point of view. My kids do it all the time! But if you wish to voice your disagreement, you will need to use words that convey your thesis in a logical methodical manner, and provide compelling supporting arguments.

Words such as “Your article contains factual errors A, B, and C,” or “You stated X but I can demonstrate with Y and Z that X is invalid,” do exactly that.

Writer Kerri Sackville.

Photo: Nic Walker


To mansplain is to comment on or explain something to a woman in a condescending way. It is predicated on the belief that a man knows more than a woman, even about her own lived experience.

If you are a genuine expert on a topic about which I have written (and, if I am writing about women’s lived experience, being an expert includes ‘being a woman’), please feel free to comment. If not, refrain.

Speculation about my credibility

“No-one is interested.”

This is factually incorrect. Clearly you are interested, or you wouldn’t have read the article and taken the time to respond.

“Who the f–k cares what you think?”

Well, clearly you do. I know this because you are writing to me.

“Are you even a real journo?”

Well, the people responsible for the content of this publication (the “editors”) have paid me to write, so technically, yes, I am a real journo.

“Women do bad things too!”

Sometimes I write about certain poor behaviors exhibited by men. This does not mean I believe that women are perfect, or that women don’t do bad things too. It just means that I am writing about certain poor behaviors exhibited by men. If you want to write your own article about women’s bad behaviors, please do. Just do not send it to me. It’s irrelevant to my article.


Just because I write about certain poor behaviors exhibited by men, doesn’t mean I believe that all men exhibit these poor behaviors. You do not need to inform me. #Notallmen, I know.


Some of my articles run alongside a nice photo of me. I could have chosen a photo in which I look terrible (for example, one taken first thing in the morning, or whilst wearing a mud mask) but I prefer a pleasant photo.

Having said that, I do not need you to tell me how ‘sexy’ or ‘hot’ or ‘f—able’ I am in that pleasant photo. I am aware that it is a pleasant photo. Furthermore, I am a writer. I am trying to engage people with my words. When you flatter my appearance, you demean my work. Perhaps that is your intention. See point number 1.


When I was married I wrote about marriage. When I was anxious I wrote about anxiety. Now that I am single and dating, I write about being single and dating.

This does not mean that I accept propositions from random strangers on the internet. And if I did accept propositions from random strangers on the internet, they would have to be a hell of a lot better than,

“Hey I think you’re really hot so you should date me.”

Threats of violence

Most go straight to trash. The rest go to the police.

Thanking you in advance for your consideration.

With very best wishes,

Kerri (Nutty Left Feminist and Difficult Woman)

Kerri Sackville is appearing on a panel about ‘Difficult Women’ at Melbourne Jewish Book Week on Monday 7 May.

Just love your style Kerri. I love mentally strong, intelligent beautiful women.

This site is devoted to women like you.Keep up the great work Kerri Sackville

Henry Sapiecha

Ellen Pao lost her gender discrimination case against her former employer, but…….

Ellen Pao leaving court in March. image

Ellen Pao lost her gender discrimination case against her former employer, but the concerns she raises should not be swept aside.

Start-ups need to consider diversity and discrimination in their sphere of influence.

Operating in intimate workplaces, like entrepreneurs often do, there are a lot of complex factors. Managers need to think beyond themselves and what they do; while company policy might not act against diversity, the culture might.

Research from Harvard Business School shows us that men in leadership have a predisposition to belittling female subordinates.

Men who are threatened by women are then more likely to objectify and sexualise her.

This can translate to lower motivation by women and reduced performance. If her contributions aren’t valued, why would she be at her peak? And why would she stay?

Pao, who was gunning for a senior partner role, is asking us to consider the role of group-think. If those who are making decisions are pale, male and stale can gender equity really be achieved? Company direction is not achieved in a vacuum. Organisations can only prosper when stereotypes are challenged.

If anything it seems that Kleiner Perkins has learned almost nothing from this experience, trying to keep Pao quiet. There is huge value in her talking and shedding light on these issues, and helping organisations navigate them themselves.

This is on the mind of investors at the moment – for example, legendary investor Sallie Krawcheck is publicly considering this now.

It is too easy to think that the issues of diversity in the US and the Valley are distant from us in Australia.

For Australian organisations the main issue that Pao raises is workplace conflict. In the competitive and pressure-filled environment of start-ups and investing this can be deeply connected to how we view ourselves. Work is where we source confidence and prestige.

Pao believes she was unfairly passed over. I speak with women from varied industries that have had similar experiences, but none had the confidence to raise it publicly. Current research, including from Bain, shows that men are more likely to be promoted on prospects where women need to shows a record of achievement.

One of the organisations I’m working with at the moment has a male and female founding duo. Their relationship is under strain as she has taken on more executive and operation duties while he is working on strategic thinking.

While both are essential, he is seeking advice from people who are like him. This fails to capitalise on her current on-ground knowledge.

Entrepreneurial women are challenged by a breadth of issues, as innovators and leaders. Expected to juggle organisational success, be feisty but not too aggressive and also somehow balance 60-hour work weeks with a flourishing personal life.

Stereotyping and discrimination like this is not helpful and, although it is less blatant than in the past, it remains a challenge to be overcome and one critical to organisational success.

Division and tension are the seeds of company failure. A culture shift across business is required, but it is start-ups that can achieve this.

Founders and early investors can implore a culture that values a breadth of experiences.

Following the case, Pao has been realistic talking about the complexities of modern womanhood.

Embracing the value and impact of diversity is in the hands of today’s entrepreneurs.

Conrad Liveris is an advocate, adviser and researcher on the politics and economics of diversity.