|Welcome l About us l I.W.D. l Anti Feminists | Women&theVote l Equal Pay l Anzac l Eureka l Abortion l 1914-1919 Panels l WhoseAustraliaDay|
Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Interview with Dr JOCELYNNE SCUTT
women don't lead, nobody else is going to, because nobody else feels as
passionately as we do about injustices. We feel passionate about injustices to women and girls,
As a child I was fortunate, I had two grandmothers who were very strong and very positive 'role models', as they say.
My maternal grandmother was particularly politically active. She was a delegate to the first Labor Women's Conference held in 1912 in Western Australia. She revered John Curtin and had a photograph of him up on the wall. I had an aunt who was particularly outspoken - she wrote a column for a local newspaper.
Both my mother and father were very egalitarian. There was always the notion in our family, I always felt, that whatever I was doing was good and positive and I had a lot of reinforcement for my own ideas and approaches.
One of my earliest feminist memories is a discussion with my elder sister about the sexist nature of the nursery rhyme 'Jack and Jill', when I was three or four. We did not of course use the term 'sexist' but we knew what we were talking about - the unfairness of Jill's 'getting into trouble' for the tumble down the hill, and having to take care of Jack, when no doubt she and he were discombobulated by the fall.
Around the dinner table we had really big debates. It was never the case that we as children were treated as children in those debates. We were always engaged in the same way as our parents. That was a very positive thing.
Debating was a big issue - other people might call it arguing, but it was always around issues. I remember I had a huge debate with my maternal grandmother, in her dining room at Swanbourne, where she lived and at the end of debate, which I won, she said to me "Oh, Jocelynne, you will just have to be a lawyer". I was about eleven or twelve at the time, something like that. It stuck in my mind.
Originally I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, possibly because my mother was, then I thought I would be a journalist, the second choice of my mother, then to be a lawyer was what I wanted to become, and I did.
We were also very lucky because we had books in our lives all the time. I think children who have book in their lives are very, very advantaged. We were Argonauts on the Australian Broadcasting Commission program. It was quite funny because when the broadcasters, Jimmy and Co. came over to Perth, my mother organized for my sister and I to go into the studio when they were recording. There is a picture of us on the front cover of the ABC magazine of Jimmy and Co. at the microphone with us around him, standing on chairs, with these mad long ringlets with ribbons in them, saying "good rowing, Argonauts".
Because of all this - the literary bent of my mother, because of this egalitarianism and because of the activism of my maternal grandmother as well as the strength of my paternal grandmother, I expect that is where my activism came from.
Then when I went to law school, I realized there was something terribly wrong in the world. This was the middle of the sixties and we didn't talk about sexism then. I found it very interesting, but the whole thing was patriarchal very male dominated. I resisted that, but I had no support within the law school or even within the university for any real feminist action.
But I did get active. We used to have a thing called "prosh", the procession at the beginning of the year. I was always in that and on one occasion we had a float about the Vietnam War and I was a Viet Cong soldier lashing an American GI. Then we did one about prostitution and about women's rights as prostitutes. That was a student form of activism.
When I finished, I came as far away as possible from Western Australia, just because I didn't want to be locked in to what was a very small town culture. There were only about 200 lawyers.
I went to Sydney and my activism went latent for a while. There wasn't a lot of reinforcement or support - we didn't know about Jessie Street and we didn't know about Muriel Heagney. There was a tendency to think women's organisations were a bit 'old hat'.
But then I went to America and that is where it all happened to me. I went to the United States to join a post graduate law degree and the women over there were very active. I was lucky, I went to the University of Michigan and that was one of the centres of student radicalism during the 1960's. I was there in the early 1970's, so it was only just passing.
The women's organisation there (the Women Law Students) was very strong and particularly strong about sexual harassment. There had been a strong tradition that non gender-specific language was used. All the lecturers I had, recognized that there were women lawyers, that there were women in corporations, that if you were giving examples for the purpose of an exercise, you didn't just talk about 'he', you talked about 'he' or 'she' and some talked purely about 'she'.
I was a member and I got involved in the work they were doing rape law reform. I did a paper on marital rape for the law reform project that Professor Virginia Nordby was embarked on.
Then I went to Cambridge in the United Kingdom. That was a terrible shock. There was a notice up saying there was a women's meeting, so I went to the meeting. There was a boy there, a bloke, sitting in the corner looking all 'soup and salad'. The whole debate revolved around whether this man was going to be allowed or not, but you see, in the United States we had got over all that.
We were way beyond having endless debates about that. If one woman in the group didn't want the men there, then they couldn't be there. Men had lots of spaces to be in. They had lots of spaces to be together with women, and lots of spaces where they could debate fairly with women about women's issues, but if you were having a women's meeting, then that was the only space women had to debate things.
This really put me off and in the end I left. They were going on and on. If that man had really cared about women's issues, he wouldn't have been there in the first place. What those sorts of men do, it appears to me, is blossom in the glow of being the total subject of everyone's conversation and attention. So I just gave up. I went away and I didn't go back to any more of their meetings.
I was thoroughly disheartened by the whole process. I was there, actually, when the sex discrimination legislation was going through, but as far as Cambridge was concerned, it was just not on the map. There were no debates or discussions about that legislation - not that I found, anyway.
I joined the Fabians instead and then I went to Germany. There the women's movement was very active. They were marching about the right to abortion because their constitutional court had just brought down a decision supporting women's right to abortion and there was some backlash - so women were marching. I felt revved back up again - not as disarmed as I had felt, so became more outwardly active (I was always inwardly active).
Then I came back to Australia (1976). I was at the Law Reform Commission and myself and a colleague, Sandra McCallum, decided that what we had to do was to get active about in the organized women's movement. So we took ourselves off to the Rape Crisis Centre to see what was going on there, and had good discussions with them.
Then we took ourselves off to the Women's Electoral Lobby (WEL) to see what they were doing, and I felt WEL was more my thing, in a way, because they were more politically orientated towards activism and political lobbying. Activism of that sort really works. I had been doing all the work on rape law reform, and they were talking about rape law reform, so that was when we did the WEL draft bill on rape and other sexual offences law reform.
That became the basis of law reform all around Australia, in New Zealand, even in Canada. It is not acknowledged, but it was the foundation for the idea, the first time in the Western world, that we should define what consent is not. That was in 1976.
Then I went off to Michigan to do a doctorate. I kept up the connection with WEL all the way through. There were a lot of supportive women in government at that time, Carmen Niland and Kerry Heubel, and we got that bill in the supplement to reform of rape law as the Attorney General had been putting forward.
What was really good about the activism at that time was that there was a report about rape law reform and we just disagreed with it. There were a whole lot of things there that we didn't think were any good at all and we said so. Carmen Niland and Kerry Heubel, who were in the Women's Unit of the Premier's Department at the time, lobbied the Premier and said "This is not good enough".
So the division had to put out a supplementary report, in which they put the Women's Electoral Lobby Draft Bill. Then they thought that they had better draft some legislation, too. But we precipitated all that. It was actually really very powerful and very strong.
I say to women today that if they are concerned about something they think is wrong about the law, that what you have to do is get your draft bill up. Once you put on paper, in draft form, what you think it should be, you have the inside running.
You can take the leadership role in terms of what you think the law should be. It is not foolish to think you can do that - we did it. That basis became the proposal for rape law reform around Australia and in other countries as well.
I came back from the United States and we continued our lobbying. I was appointed to the Women's Advisory Council by the Premier, Neville Wran. Rape law reform was continued through that avenue.
I kept up my grassroots activism at the same time as being engaged in paid work. I managed to bring it all in. I did a conference on criminal assault at home and other forms of domestic violence at the Australian Institute of Criminology. I made sure that conference had women from the refuges, women from sexual assault reform centres, the police, academics, social workers etc.
That was the first time that women from refuges and rape crisis had ever been in a formally organized conference of that nature with the police, or where the police had been together with them and had to listen to what they were talking about.
What was really hilarious about that conference (it was a very good conference but of course there was some agitation because of these people with competing views, who had never discussed things before) was that it got on to the front page of the Canberra Times.
At the time the head of the Australian Institute of Criminology, Bill Clifford, had been overseas. He came back to find all this action emblazoned on the front page. He was quite upset. He was also upset because we had used the funding from the budget for this conference.
We flew women in from all around Australia. They didn't have any money and they had to be there. Their views had to be central, if we were going to do anything worthwhile on criminal assault at home and other forms of domestic violence. I think that money, for Bill Clifford at least notionally, had been allocated for a new vehicle for the Australian Institute of Criminology - his vehicle.
The money wasn't there. It had been used to fly all these wonderful activists in. The next year I decided that what we had to do was have a conference on rape law reform. He said we weren't going to have it at the Institute, because we weren't going to use the money on bringing all these women to Canberra again.
Luckily, there was a man in Hobart, Bruce Piggott, who was a lawyer and the head of the Law Reform Commission there. He got in touch with me and said he would love to have the conference in Hobart.
That was the way we did it, jointly run by the Australian Institute of Criminology, represented by me and the law school, represented by John Blackwood, Dean, and Bruce Piggott, Head of the Reform Commission. On the Commission at that time there was Fran Bladel and ? still in Tasmania and they took charge of the venue and getting the participants.
I took charge of the speakers' list and I made sure there were equal numbers of women and man speaking. There were speakers from the police point of view, the lawyers point of view, the judicial point of view, the Attorney General's point of view, women's organizations' point of view, grassroots women's point of view, victims and survivors' point of view and so on.
The funny thing is that that was seen as alright. Bruce Piggot was seen as a lawyer and therefore conservative. He knew that this was a worthwhile thing to be doing and he was very supportive. When he died I wrote an obituary for him, as I thought it was really important to acknowledge this capacity to recognize something as valuable and worth doing.
However, a sticking point at this conference was that we put Peter Duncan on our program. He had been the Attorney General in South Australia when they had done some reform to their rape laws. I received a telephone call from Bruce Piggot saying we couldn't have him, that it just wouldn't wash - I think there must have been a Liberal Government in power in Tasmania at the time.
I said "Well, I am very sorry you feel that way, but he must remain on the program. South Australia's efforts in this regard are landmark. Although they are not good enough, they are still landmark and we have to have that, and how it was done, there". So, Peter Duncan remained. As it happened, he didn't come but his adviser did. I was still on the Women's Advisory Council in NSW.Though I was living in Canberra, I was going 'to and fro'.
We fought and struggled and put proposals up in NSW. Neville Wran was supportive and we got money from the NSW Government to sent 10 women delegates down to Hobart to the conference.
Meanwhile, I was working on this other leg with Bruce Piggot and I said "Well, the NSW Government has come up with this offer, so why can't we bring women from all around Australia?" It was just wonderful, that is how we got a whole lot of the activists there. Others paid for themselves to go but as least we had that capacity to have that activism involved.
Then we had a report of the proceedings published out of the Institute of Criminology and we had the rape law reform in there, and also most of the proposals were in concert with what the World Draft Bill was. That was in 1980 and it was a huge impetus to rape law reform around Australia.
Then after I left the Institute of Criminology I went to the Bar in Sydney. I had the opportunity to be an associate to Lionel Murphy at the High Court. I am so glad I had that opportunity, it was a real watershed. He had such an acute legal and political brain. I am so glad to have had that whole year where we used to sit round in the chambers talking about the cases and issues.
I used to talk about women's issues. He was the one man who, apart from my father, I could really talk to about women's rights and so forth, and he would actually sit there and listen. We could talk for hours about it all. We would laugh and carry on and then he would say "Jocelynne, I think you may be going a bit far there".
So, you can take a line so far and no further, but he would go a lot further than any other man. Neville Wran was very good too. I must pay tribute to him, he was very good - as far as it is possible for a male politician be. The reforms in NSW were down to him and NSW was ahead of anywhere else.
That year with Justice Murphy was really good for me. Because he had been an activist himself the discussions we had about the law, the really cutting-edge perspective, grounded me in a lot of ways.
Then I went down to Victoria to be the Director of Research with the Victorian Parliamentary Legal and Constitutional Committee. That was at the beginning of 1983, just after the Cain Labor government had come in. I established new connections but kept them with women in NSW and the ACT.
I became involved there with the Business and Professional Women because there were some good women involved in NSW and what I did, combining the activism and the legal work, was appearing for the Women's Electoral Lobby for the National Wage Case in 1984. Someone, perhaps Betty Olle, appeared for the Union of Australian Women and someone appeared for the National Council of Women.
We had put up that equal pay had to be looked at again, and that the equal pay principle had to be implemented properly through the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. We had a celebration at the Union of Australian Women office and I remember the cake and candles.
Then I went to the Law Reform Commission again. What I thought was really interesting was that in Sydney, the International Women's Day marches were always the best. They were huge and they were absolutely amazing - they were great. We had a really wonderful one I remember.
We marched up, I think it was King Street, past where there was a bridal shop and the women had put messages on the window saying "Marriage is Slavery", whereupon the women in the shop responded with messages saying "Buy your Slave Gear Here". It really added to the spirit. That was the march where a whole lot of women lay down in Liverpool Street and stopped the buses.
That was when Wran was Premier. He had clearly given orders that the police were not to be violent or brutal and no-one was to be arrested. The police were there keeping the march safe, but they didn't move in and arrest anybody. The women were lying down in the street stopping the buses - it was an amazing thing.
Whereas in Melbourne it was the Reclaim the Night marches that were the best. I remember going on one, where there was a decision in the Western world that all the women would march at the same time. It was amazing - there were women carrying torches. We marched down Bourke Street and the trams just stopped. The tram drivers were cheering us and the tram conductors were looking out and cheering us on!
There was only one little bit of negativism. There was a small group of men on the corner of Bourke Street and Russell Street saying nasty things, but that was all. Otherwise there was incredible support. People were standing several deep all along the route. In Melbourne I was at the Law Reform Commission for a while, then I went to the Bar.
I did cases in the equal opportunity area, victim compensation, Social Security, freedom of information and immigration. In immigration I had a case where a number of young women had been arrested in a police raid in Richmond. They used to raid young people in restaurants in Swan Street, Richmond, saying there was something wrong with their visas.
In that way I used my expertise in law in concert with my experience as an activist. I thought that as a woman I had a right to say what was needed, in discussion, of course, with other women. I took on cases where people didn't have any money or didn't have much money but were proper cases, in my opinion, to be arguing in order to show that the law did have a responsibility to give women a voice.
I won most of the cases, too, which was really good. Sexual Harassment cases and Social Security and equal opportunity cases that had to be fought and had to be won.
It was a way to say we have a right to be in the courtroom and we have a right to be making these arguments. In the end, the law says you have a right to be heard and you are entitled to equal time with other side. Those are pretty powerful principles. Of course, the courts can ignore them, but if they do ignore them you have something else to argue about. Procedure can be quite important in getting access to law. It can be inhibiting but still is important because of this principle of equal time. In the end, equal time includes women.
I think that one of the issues today is that we have gone backwards - at a really rapid rate. It is troubling. The backward steps have been in a whole lot of institutions. For example, recently there has been a debate about travel rorting in Federal Parliament.
That is an incessant debate, but this one had a particular focus. The focus was two women members: Trish Draper and Natalia Stott Despoja. I certainly don't condone travel rorting, but the suggestion about this is, I think, of this sort: "Women have been in at the oats for too long". They perceive us getting anything as 'women at the oats' (especially if it is things they think they should have) and it is time for these women to take a back seat again. "You have had your day, ladies. Off you go back to your homes, or wherever it was where you were before. You have begun to take some of these plums from us".
So what they are actually saying, I am convinced, is that there are two men in South Australia who want those seats. I don't think there is any doubt about that. There has also been backward tracking in the area of rape law reform. If we look back ten years ago to Justice Bollen, we had several judgements that created rather a big stir in the media.
The whole approach in the media then was that what had been said was wrong. There was a judge on the County Court in Victoria who had said that "No means yes", another judge on the Supreme Court in Victoria who said that if a woman is raped when she is comatose, she is not traumatized, which is ridiculous, with great respect to the judge.
Justice Bollen said in NSW that in a marital rape case, rougher than usual handling was basically A OK and it may not be rape in the marital situation, just because they were married. In that case a man was accused of raping his wife when they had been living together. The case had gone through the police investigation, it had gone through the Director of Public prosecutions, it had been prosecuted and it was in Court. Justice Bollen said those words in the summing up to the jury. It had got all the way through, including the whole trial, when the judge says this!
Ten years down the track we have Directors of Public Prosecutions deciding, before the courtroom, that rougher than usual handling is A OK and it won't be found to be rape, so we can't put these cases on trial.
We have gone backwards. The cases aren't even being prosecuted now. In the view of the media and the public the predominant view was, ten years ago, that these judgements were wrong.
We are in a very different world now. The predominant view now is that we have all these dreadful women going around making allegations about poor sportsmen, sad, poor sportsmen, and that the women have some problem and just want to get their fifteen minutes of fame.
There is no notion now that what is done in decision making should be subject to legitimate criticism, and that legitimate criticism is what should be the predominant theme. I think we have gone backwards. That is very depressing, but we just have to gird our loins once more, if they are not already girded, and go into battle again.
I think this has always been the case. If women don't lead, nobody else is going to, because nobody else feels as passionately as we do about injustices. We feel passionate about injustices to women and girls, and we don't feel this in exclusion to injustices elsewhere. We feel strongly injustices in emotional terms, too, both for women and for men. We feel injustices in age terms, both ageing and youth, (as in children).
I think it because we have lived through our own injustice and every woman has been touched personally by injustice and discrimination, whether she acknowledge it or not, and therefor we get to see the personal is political and get beyond our own position to a position out there for all women.
Nobody else is doing that and I guess we have to do it. If you look back to the 1990's when the Kennett Liberal Government came in and Labor was turfed out, one of the problems I remember was shown when Joan Kirner and Kay Setches went around to a lot of schools to see what was happening. This was possibly because Joan Kirner had been an education minister, and because that was where she got her political 'oomph' from - her struggle and push for proper conditions for schools.
When they went round the schools they found that the mothers and the parents and the people in the schools didn't know how to lobby. They hadn't had to do it throughout the whole of the Labor period. Now, there is much we are critical of: we said "Oh, they are not receptive, they are not listening" but you could actually go and talk to somebody, and when the Kennett government came in, you could talk to no-one.
They were listening to no-one and no-one could get in and have a voice. Everybody was like stunned mullets or chooks with their heads chopped off. They didn't really know how to handle it, because we had been cacooned, in a way, from that simple barrier "You can't come in here. We don't want to listen to you, we don't even know you exist".
I did a book on HRT and the new reproductive technologies, and did quite a lot of activism around the issue. I went to a conference in Sweden and got to know Dr Lynette Dumble and her work with kidney disease. Years ago, when I was at the Law Reform Commission in Sydney, in 1976, I did some work on a reference they had on tissue transplantation.
I actually wrote an article - published in some law journal - about kidney replacement, looking at all those issues about who is going to get it. You know the dominant groups are going to get it. You have to be white, you have to be middle class, or upper. You have to be, basically, male. There is a whole lot of rivalry about who gets the kidney.
Lynette and I became colleagues. I was very well aware that she was central to the whole debate and argument. She often went off to the University of Texas, where she created great links between the University of Texas and the University of Melbourne and other institutions, for example in Mass. She came into this issue from a technical point of view, a medical researcher and theorist and so on. Through that, she got her revelation about discrimination against women that is inherent, as it is in every thing, but inherent in this part of medical technology - organ transplantation.
She became very outspoken on that issue, also on hormone replacement therapy, also on in vitro fertilization. One of the issues that troubled Lynette was that the experimentation that was being done, in terms of tissue transplantation and kidney transplantation, was being done on male rats only.
What the researchers found was that experimentation on female rats absolutely upset the whole statistical balance because of the female hormones, therefore they just cut the female rats out! If the female rats are being cut out so hormones are not being taken into account, then what is the issue for women with serious kidney disease? Or women who come into a program of tissue transplantation, or organ transplantation, when female hormones haven't been taken into account?
It would appear that women and girls are not being adequately catered for, because the experimentation is not taking their specific needs into account.
So, because of her perspective on this, and on the other areas that she became more and more involved in, she, as I understand it, became 'persona non grata' to the powers that be. She was employed at Sydney University, then was moved out of the medical faculty into the social sciences faculty and then, eventually, the University of Melbourne dispensed with her services.
If we look at the history of women's careers we find a strong correlation on being outspoken on issues relating to women and women not getting employment. Or being divested of employment, or having troubling times within your employment group and being discriminated against and being poorly regarded even though your work is top-notch.
Lynette had all these international connections. She was flying off to the University of Texas, doing work there, and yet often it is the case that you are unhonoured and unsung in your own institution.
Women who talk about issues to do with women are seen as messy and noisome and therefore institutions very often don't want to hear about them. They would rather that you shut yourself up, be a good girl, do things just in accordance with how it has been done from the year 'dot'. This is not taking into account issues relating to women.
Another issue which seriously disturbed a lot of the powers-that-be was Lynette Dumble's work on Creutzfeld Jacob's disease. Of course in all these areas, the women who were outspoken were proved right. All the issues that were being talked about in IVF, and the women who were writing in these, were being derided for it and having nasty book reviews. I had a very nasty book review written about my book, by somebody who, in my opinion, was being extremely dishonest in their book review, but anyway, and others.
With the IVF issue, Robin Rowland suffered over that. She was on a committee and then she had a revelation, a feminist revelation, and "Hey, hang on. Women are not being fairly treated here". She resigned from the committee she was on, but then suffered a whole lot of derision and 'agro' and anger and defamatory statements being made about her and her conduct, and Lynette was equally being derided for the work that she was doing, so that was the idea.
It was the kidney stuff, the IVF, the hormone replacement therapy and of course Creutzfeld Jacob's disease, and in every one of those areas the women like Lynette, who were doing cutting edge work, their work now has been proved true. That is what is so galling. It is appalling, because if it had been paid attention to, the tragedies would not have happened or could have been recognized sooner.
But of course we are now in a situation where people are being recognized as suffering from Creutzfeld Jacob's disease when it is far too late to do anything constructive about it. I think that, as always for women, the issues are the same. It doesn't matter whether it is 2,000 years ago, 100 years ago or now, it doesn't matter.
The issues are the same in terms of the dignity and worth of women being properly recognized (and we have to demand that it is) such as: - equal rights for women; - access to resources; - equal pay; - the whole issue of violence against women; - the class issue has to be acknowledged and recognized; - access to education and access to paid employment; - something has to be done about the unpaid work that women do, acknowledgement and recognition of that, and equal participation of men in all that work; and - pregnancy and maternity and the need for proper support for that, rather than just leaving women to fend for themselves with very little support.
There is some support and it is only there because women have fought for it and we pay full tribute to women who did this. I do think that women have to take up the cudgels (which women have never, ever let down anyway), making sure that these issues are spoken about.
There is no point in going "softly, softly, don't speak up". This is unfortunate sometimes, women thinking, "if we speak up, we will lose our funding" or "If we speak up, they might not like us" or "If we speak up, we might not hand onto the grants we have got". Well all I know is, you never hang on to the grants you have got if you shut up.
The only way you can do it is by being really outspoken and saying "This is not good enough. We haven't got equal rights for women. The fact that there might be a few more women in Parliament, or a few more women on the Bench, or in high level jobs driving around in black BMW's, does not mean that women have equal rights. Or that all women have equal access to the rights that women should have".
I am not so much concerned about the glass ceiling, (because at least if you have the glass ceiling above you, you can see the sky), but about the women who have the concrete canopy over them. These are women working in the factories, working in cleaning jobs where they are being exploited and where their talents are not being properly recognized and women in the rag trade, and pieceworkers.
There has been union organization of the pieceworkers and the rag trade. This is one of the good things that has happened. That has come about because of the women, and a few decent men, in the unions.
And, of course, there is the whole issue of trafficking. There are women being used and abused as domestic labour who are not being properly paid. In the childcare industry, the women are not being properly paid. Women in nursing still aren't properly paid, women in teaching still aren't properly paid, and what we have is the ridiculousness of the Federal Government changing the Sex Discrimination Act to get scholarships for men to get into teaching!
If there were decent pay in teaching, men would be in it. When I was at Law School, most of the women who had come through school with me, went on to become teachers if they had brains. They were at Teachers' College with men who did not have brains, because the men who had brains, and some who didn't, went on to become lawyers and doctors and nuclear physicists and so forth and so on.
But the Teachers' Colleges at that time had one of those negative affirmative action programs - that is, the ones that are not the proper ones which allowed people with lesser qualifications, namely men, into Teachers' Colleges. These men, who got into Teachers College with half the qualifications that the girls had, have become principals.
I knew a lot of these girls and they were really, really, bright girls. That problem is not going to be solved by changing the Sex Discrimination Act to give some men teaching scholarships. The whole issue is going to be solved by recognizing teaching as valuable as it is, and recognizing all the contributions that women have made to teaching.
I think we have a huge job and I think we have gone backward at a rapid rate. I think there are some really good young women coming up who really do care about the issues like we do.
At the same time I think that this notion of individualism has got a very firm hold. I think that some women in all generations have been seduced by jobs where they think they are being well paid, rushing around in their power suits - or whatever is the fashion today.
And I must just put a final plug in here. The conference I was at in Thailand was Women, Gender and Development and I was struck by the fact that women who were there were from Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, The Phillipines - those countries in that area. They don't talk about gender like it is bashed into our brains here, that "Oh, well, men are just as badly off as women".
They have women as their central focus, make no mistake about that. The only relevance they see to gender is that it has to be included, because men have to change their conduct start and organize themselves, so that women's contribution can be properly incorporated and recognized and acknowledged.
They see that in this way we will advance both women and men and girls and boys in a really productive way. But they don't have this division that happens in Australia and, I think, all over the Western world, where gender is being used as a way of toning down issues about women.
The putting down of women, along with racism and disability discrimination, is essential to the negative differences that exist: where some people are allowed to have access to all the resources, or a major part of the resources, and some people are deprived entirely or have very little, comparatively speaking. I have seen something that Edith Morgan was saying, and I thought that was what I thought, too.
"Change can only occur through strong political action in redressing the inbalance of power and resources."