Michael Clayton-JonesCan women have it all? It’s the question that seems to have overtaken ”what do women want?” in the media (though the latter still figures), and to feminist writer and journalist Anne Summers, it’s a particularly galling one.
”It epitomises the inequality between women and men, because no one asks men if they can have it all,” she says.
In fact, this is the 厦门桑拿 opening gambit of Summers’ new book, a polemic called The Misogyny Factor, in which she argues that women’s equality is still far from won in Australia, stymied by an entrenched view of their ”inferiority and unworthiness” and therefore unsuitability to take an equal place in society alongside men. And, she points out, these views can be held by women or men.
”I guess one of the things that I have very reluctantly had to conclude … was something that I just couldn’t really believe was possible, that a lot of people don’t actually believe in equality. There is a fundamental disagreement on the part of some people that women should be equal and I just find that truly shocking. It’s like a denial of basic human rights for women.”
We digest this sobering thought while looking out of Trocadero’s wide windows onto the Yarra River, an unseasonably warm day showing the city at its best. While we talk, we munch on pumpkin risotto with roast pumpkin and candied pepitas, and a miso roasted salmon with black and white eggplant puree and ginger. We also share a colourful iceberg salad.
Summers’ book traverses considerable ground in relatively few pages, tracing the history of the women’s movement in Australia from its second-wave halcyon days, in which much progress was made, to the past 30 years, during which that progress seems to have stalled.
She also details some of the more offensive abuse levelled at Prime Minister Julia Gillard – some of which is sickening, no matter your political persuasion 厦门伴游网 and makes a compelling case that Gillard has been the victim of sex discrimination and bullying in her job.
It may be, Summers reflects, that this particularly nasty sexism has been brought out by having a female PM. But the rise of social media has also given people a much louder voice than they otherwise might have had.
Having said that, Summers sees many reasons for optimism, too. Social media has also swung in feminism’s favour, with the hashtag everydaysexism gaining traction, and the emergence of Destroy the Joint (a reclaiming of broadcaster Alan Jones’ lament that women were ”destroying the joint”). The everydaysexism hashtag has been a powerful tool, Summers says, giving voice to issues and problems that otherwise would go unsaid.
A frequent user of social media herself, Summers says the difference between political agitation now and in the early 1970s is stark. For example, many people didn’t even have telephones at the time, so if someone wanted to organise a rally, it had to be done via letters or doorknocking. Now it’s as simple as a tweet or a Facebook post.
Summers also feels encouraged that young women seem more comfortable with the F-word – feminism, that is – than in previous generations.
”I think it’s changing dramatically and it’s one of the things I’ve actually found quite heartening in the past year,” she says. ”Though I actually think it is irrelevant. I think it’s just a total distraction to talk about ‘are you a feminist or are you not a feminist?’ I don’t care what you call yourself, what I care about is what your attitudes are. And if you support women’s equality, and the basic tenets of that, which are the right to control your body, the right to control your income, freedom from violence … we’re marching shoulder to shoulder.”
Suddenly, all these issues are back on the table. And, yes, she knows there are people who have become impatient with the constant calling out of what they consider to be minor instances of sexism, wanting instead to focus on problems such as economic equality or an end to violence. Summers has sympathy with that view: of course the big things are ultimately what matter, ”but the big things are made up of little things, too”.
Asked if she can remember when her feminist consciousness was first raised, Summers doesn’t hesitate. It was 1969, when she was an arts student at Adelaide University. She had been married for two years, changing her name and thinking nothing of it. ”I thought that I was a thoroughly modern woman.”
But then she read an article by Juliet Mitchell in New Left Review, called Women, the Longest Revolution, which detailed areas in which women were yet to achieve equality, such as in education, employment and sexuality. ”It was just a eureka moment, because I identified with everything she’d said and it made me re-examine my own life.”
Summers became involved in the 厦门夜网 women’s movement, along the way leaving her marriage ”in a great flurry of liberation”.
”We were really on a voyage of discovery. We were learning about ourselves, we were trying to understand the way we fitted into society or the ways we didn’t fit in.”
After four years of research, she created waves of her own with the publication of her ground-breaking 1975 book, Damned Whores and God’s Police.
After the early years of ”women’s lib”, progress for women seems to have stalled since the 1980s, Summers says. But it was given new impetus by Gillard’s ”misogyny” speech, in which she took Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to task on the floor of Parliament, saying ”I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man”.
Summers, who writes at length about it in her book, sees it as a watershed moment, in which the most powerful woman – person – in the country named sexism and said she had been offended by it.
Often, powerful women will argue against sexism, Summers says, but ”they all say, without exception: ‘It’s never happened to me.’ Which, of course, is complete bullshit, because it’s happened to everybody, one way or another. But they all say ‘it hasn’t happened to me’, because no one wants to be seen as a victim.”
As Gillard herself said, calling out sexism is not ”playing the gender card” and so other women began to follow her example.
”Now I think women are saying, if you complain about it, it’s empowering,” Summers says. ”And that’s quite a big shift.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Xiamen Sauna Net.