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Meaning, rage and passion 10 Mar 2010

Today’s blog is dedicated to Jan Gladys who died 8 March 2010

As author Finola Moorhead writes:

We had a great woman among us,
who was so in tune with the female culture she had the amazing
wisdom to die on International Women's Day 2010

International Women’s Day has been and gone. There were an enormous number of events on all around Australia and in the rest of the world – including in the Philippines and Bangladesh. But I don’t know of any events that made the news. Celebrities get in and “do” IWD these days but it’s a pale imitation of how it has been in previous decades. It was a big and newsworthy event in the 1970s and 1980s – it was also newsworthy in 1910 and in 1932.

There seems to be a complacency these days around IWD. Do we really have it all? I don’t think so.

In Afghanistan, RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, posted news that women were mass raped and auctioned while the perpetrators keep their “immunity” and are therefore unpunished.

In Australia we claim that women have a better deal, but as author Melinda Tankard Reist noted in January that gagging blindfolded women could be a fashion statement.

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch – and how was this marked? By a nasty and insulting piece in The Monthly magazine (would it have that title if the women’s movement hadn’t happened? is it really just another piece of male appropriation?).

But Germaine Greer is too clever to get caught up in the ruckus – she simply maintained her dignity and wrote an interesting piece in The Age newspaper putting paid to any idea that her work is no longer relevant. I, like many other women, owe the shape of my life to Germaine Greer. Without her influence, I don’t think I’d have been able to do half the things I have. I simply hadn’t imagined it possible. Even the thought of going to university back then was really rather uppity and anyway, only one person in the family will go to university. It wasn’t going to be me, it would be my brother.

Australia Post hasn’t noticed feminism either with its new stamp release of Australian literary legends: five men and one woman! It’s as if we are back in a 1950s time warp.

Literary legends were not in short supply at last week’s Adelaide Writers Week. Andrea Levy’s talk about her latest book Long Song was the standout performance, while Sarah Dunant, Marina Lewycka and Sarah Waters are fine presenters of their work, along with home-grown writers such as Diane Bell, Andrea Goldsmith, Alice Pung and Lolo Houbein. There were others but these writers stood out: not just because what they had to say was interesting, but also because of how they said it, how they had prepared for the session. It’s a great pleasure to hear a favourite author read her work or speak about his work; however, it’s disappointing when what sings on the page sounds flat in person.

It’s a hundred years since Clara Zetkin announced – at another meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark – the inaugural celebration of International Women’s Day. And while it took some time for the date to settle (from 19 March to 8 March) it has galvanised women to collective action over the years. Start thinking now about what you might do for IWD in 2011. Let’s celebrate – with meaning, rage and passion.

Keep an eye on our news items and do follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up. Coming this month is Vandana Shiva’s classic book, Staying Alive.

Associated Author: Susan Hawthorne

Comments
re Germaine...

Her book The Boy is transparently child pornography and is soon to be the subject of community efforts to oust it from libraries.

Greer is a paedophile who wants to "position young boys as legitimate objects of womens' lust". You shame yourself by supporting her.
Posted by gwallan | 30 Nov 2011

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