We are now in the thick of winter. I’ve turned 30, drunk my weight in red wine, ate many soups and split plenty of wood. In other words, the earth is still orbiting the sun and the clock is ticking.
I’ve had some time to marinate in my post WOW haze, and I an getting stuck into my data collection. Which reminded me of why I started this blog, and exactly where the culture is at with women, leadership and power. When Kathy Lette touched my face she said we as women, should support each other and she reminded us to have a few barbs up our sleeves for when people try to tell us that the war has been won, and that we don’t need feminism (Ugh, I HATE that one. It’s 2015 and we’re still experiencing firsts!). Well, let me tell you dear reader, that it ain’t over until the fat, non-white, trans, gay, non-ablebodied lady can sing, without fear of discrimination.
I’m intently interested in women’s rights, our culture and how we execute these rights. Remembering that my research is focussing on Queensland, I can assure you there is a large gap between women’s rights and how they are executed. For example, women won the right to vote (I say won, because the suffragists fought damn hard!) in Queensland in 1905, but had to wait a decade before they held full suffrage and gained the right to stand for parliament. During the century between then and now, only 85 women have sat in the parliament, compared more than 1000 men. The first women, Irene Longman wasn’t elected until 1929. During that time, in 1931, with thanks to Irene Longman, QLD instated women to the police force, but it wasn’t until 1965 that women became sworn officers. Irene didn’t have a female college in Parliament until 1966 when Vi Jordan was elected. Up until 1969, women in the Commonwealth public service were required to resign after marriage, and thanks to Merle Thornton & Co, who chained themselves to the bar at the Regatta Hotel, it wasn’t until 1970, that women could visit a pub outside the Ladies Lounge.
Moving forward to 1992, Leene Forde was Queensland’s first Governor, Anna Bligh became the first women Premier in QLD in 2007, and the first women in 2009 to win an election in her own right. By 2012, Fiona Simpson was the first women Speaker in QLD and 2015, Annastacia Palaszczuk was the first women to become Premier from Opposition. I know that’s a lot to take in, and it’s not even counting Joan Childs, the first Federal Speaker, Julia Gillard, the first woman PM, Joan Sheldon, the first female leader of a Party in QLD and first female Treasurer.
Where’s the relevance in all this? The crux; despite having the right to vote, stand for Parliament, to work and receive equal pay for equal work, and the right to work in an industry of our choosing, women are yet to hold the reigns of power in a prolonged or sustained manner. In other words, the world is still run by white, middle aged, privileged men. There is a gap between rights and how we culturally execute these rights. Annabelle Crab’s book, The Wife Drought looks at the trend, where despite having rights, women are still stuck with the kids and the ironing, while men receive the benefits and are able to dedicate themselves to their careers.
Botton Line: We might have the rights on paper, but we don’t have the cultural freedom to execute these rights, so yes for all of the flaws of Western feminism, we are very much, still fighting in the trenches of discrimination and patriarchy.