STATUS of WOMEN:
1791: Written in England
Author’s Introduction to “Vindication of the Rights of Woman” Mary Wollstonecraft
The conduct and manners of women, in fact, evidently prove that their minds are not in a healthy state; for, like the flowers which are planted in too rich a soil, strength and usefulness are sacrificed to beauty; and the flaunting leaves, after having pleased a fastidious eye, fade, disregarded on the stalk, long before the season when they ought to have arrived at maturity. One cause of this barren blooming I attribute to a false system of education, gathered from the books written on this subject by men who, considering females rather as women than human creatures, have been more anxious to make them alluring mistresses than affectionate wives and rational mothers; and the understanding of the sex has been so bubbled by this specious homage, that the civilized woman of the present century, with a few exceptions, are only anxious to inspire love, when they ought to cherish a nobler ambition, and by their abilities and virtues exact respect. (Our italics)
1888: Written in Australia
Articles from The Dawn magazine, started in May that year by Louisa Lawson
Men legislate on divorce, on hours of labor, and many another question intimately affecting women, but neither ask nor know the wishes of those whose lives and happiness are most concerned….half of Australian women’s lives are unhappy, but there are paths out of most labyrinths…dress we shall not neglect, for no slattern ever yet won the respect of any man worth loving… It is not a new thing to say that there is no power in the world like that of women…
1889: women whose thought-power, like that of mountain streams, is of little effect alone, but which, when run into a general river of purpose, can potently aid in turning the wheel of time, to grind out a new era…(need) more effort to set people thinking….It is not that she loves, but why or what she loves, that is the all important question…marriage…implying an abandonment of individuality…
1949: Written in France
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
The curse that is upon women as vassal consists…in the fact that she is not permitted to do anything; so she persists in the vain pursuit of her true being through narcissism, love, or religion, When she is productive, active, she regains her transcendence; in her projects she concretely affirms her status as subject; in connection with the aims she pursues, with the money and rights she takes possession of, she makes trial of and senses her responsibility. …The social structure has not been much modified by the changes in women’s condition; this world, always belonging to men, still retains the form they have given it.
1963: Written in America
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone….that they could desire no greater destiny than to glory in their own femininity. They learned that truly feminine women do not want careers, higher education, political rights – the independence and the opportunities that the old-fashioned feminists fought for. …The suburban housewife- she was the dream image of the young American woman and the envy, it was said, of women all over the world. …(After interviewing countless women in America and finding them unhappy- ‘desperate’ one woman tells her, another :I ask myself why I’m so dissatisfied, another, I seem to sleep so much. I don’t know why I should be so tired.while another I feel empty somehow…incomplete…) And so, the author writes: Just what was this problem that has no name? What were the words women used when they tried to express it? The desperate tone in these women’s voices, and the look in their eyes, was the same tone and the look of other women, who were sure they had no problem, even though they did have a strange feeling of desperation. The New York Times headline, in June 1960, says “The road from Freud to Frigidaire, from Sophocles to Spock, has turned out to be a bumpy one…” The author continues: ..the chains that bind her in her trap are chains made up of mistaken ideas and misinterpreted facts, of incomplete truths and unreal choices. They are not easily seen and not easily shaken off.(I have found)..evidence which throws into question the standards of feminine normality, feminine adjustment, feminine fulfillment and feminine maturity by which most women are still trying to live…. We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says: “I want something more than my husband and my children and my home.”
1970: Written in England
The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer
…how much objective evidence there is that women are not happy even when they follow the blueprint set out by sentimental and marriage guidance counsellors and the system that they represent…revolution ought to entail the correction of some of the false perspectives which our assumptions about womanhood, sex, love and society have combined to create. …The relationships recognised by our society, and dignified with full privileges, are only those which are binding, symbiotic, economically determined. Liberty is terrifying, but it is also exhilarating. Life is not easier or more pleasant for…(women) who have set off on their own journey to awareness, but it is more interesting, nobler even…but the woman who accepts a way of life which she has not knowingly chosen, acting out a series of contingencies falsely presented as destiny, is truly irresponsible. To abdicate one’s own moral understanding, to tolerate crimes against humanity, to leave everything to someone else, the father-ruler-king-computer, is the only irresponsibility… The revolutionary woman must know her enemies, the doctors, psychiatrists, health visitors, priests, marriage counsellors, policemen, magistrates and genteel reformers, all the authoritarians and dogmatists who flock about her with warnings and advice. ….The joy of struggle is not hedonism and hilarity, but the sense of purpose, achievement and dignity which is the reflowering of etiolated energy. …women will discover that they have a will; once that happens they will be able to tell us how and what they want.
1976: Written in America
Towards a New Psychology of Women by Jean Baker Miller
…an attempt to understand the forces acting on and in women, qua women, life as it has been and still is for most of us. …a valid understanding of the forces at work for all women ought to lead us to an understanding of the nodal points for change and advance.It is the truths about all women that we must continue to seek…until recently, ‘mankind’s’ understandings have been the only understandings generally available to us. As other perceptions arise- precisely those perceptions that men, because of their dominant position, could NOT perceive – the total vision of human possibilities enlarges and is transformed. The old is severely challenged…Women have been in a subservient position…thus it is necessary to look first at women as ‘unequals’ or subordinates.
1990: Written in Australia
Letter to the Editor, Melbourne Herald by Paulyne Pogorelske
…generalising about the sexes – is the core of the problem that engenders prejudice against women….the consequences of these generalizations is that men and women are stereotyped into a specific role with a specific personality…there can be as much difference within the sexes as there supposedly is between them… (we need a book) about being human, appreciating the uniqueness of us all, be we men or women. Maybe then, we can end the so-called sex war and break the stereotyped boundaries that too often limit us all.
1991 Written in Australia
Article from The Age newspaper, Melbourne: ‘Women would make world better place’
From Geneva, ‘it will take nearly 1000 years for women to gain the same economic and political clout as men if present trends continue, A United Nations report predicts. ..If we really aspire to any development of the human lot involving both economic growth and social equity, the best way to achieve this will be by having men and women sharing in decision-taking.
1992: Written in Australia
Article from The Age newspaper, Melbourne: Women still come second best on most scores
More than 16 years after the first anti-sexual-discrimination laws were passed in Australia, women are still underrepresented in the boardroom, the parliamentary benches and the most prestigious university courses. Their pay rates have edged only marginally closer to those of men, they still find it hard to get bank loans, and women are still bearing the load of child care and housework.
1992: Written in America
Backlash – The Undeclared War Against Women by Susan Faludi
Behind (the)…celebration of women’s victory, behind the news, cheerfully and endlessly repeated, that the struggle for women’s rights is won, another message flashes. You may be free and equal now, it says to women, but you have never been more miserable. This bulletin of despair is posted everywhere…how can women be in so much trouble at the same time that they are supposed to be so blessed? If the status of women has never been higher, why is their emotional state so low? …It must be all that equality that’s causing all the pain. Women are unhappy precisely because they are free. Women are enslaved by their own liberation… But what ‘equality’ are all these authorities talking about? If women are now so equal, why are they much more likely to be poor, specially in retirement? Why are over 6.5 million of the 10 million workers in the UK who earn below the Councilk of Europe’s decency threshold women? …A clear majority of women in a 1991 survey…believed that neither men’s attitudes to women nor levels of sexual discrimination in the workplace have changed in the past twenty-one years – and for under-thirty-fives the figure rose to almost two-thirds. …It is justice for their gender, not wedding rings and cradles, that women believe to be in desperately short supply.
1995: Written in Australia
Article from the Herald-Sun newspaper, Melbourne: Plea for plight of women
From Copenhagen; violence, illiteracy and second-class status plagued women throughout the world and led to cycles of degrading poverty, the United Nations told a global conference on poverty and social inequalities. No society treats its women as well as its men, the UN Development Program said. Two thirds of the world’s impoverished 1.3 billion are women. Gender inequality is often reinforced by law, the agency added.
2003: Written in Australia
The End of Equality by Anne Summers
...there are real and mostly man-made roadblocks standing in the way of all too many women as they try to reconcile their conflicting ambitions and desires. School-age girls today might look forward to a world that will confer on them power and opportunity, but most young women are sooner or later confronted by a reality that is sadly different. The discrimination is still there, in jobs, salaries, in promotions and, for all too many women, the crunch comes once they decide to have children…..Worse, it is far from apparent that the political will is there to make such radical changes…Yet, if the issue of women’s equality is not restored to a place of priority as well as respect on the nation’s political agenda, it is hard to see how any of these other things can happen… (we need to acknowledge) the needs of women as women….policy…does (not) acknowledge the desire of women to retain some individual identity ….until the political system treats women as individuals, instead of subsuming them within a family category, a lot of the things women want improved in their lives will be overlooked. Once again, it is going to be up to women to change the political agenda so that it treats them seriously and with respect. (the reality now) underscores the entrenched and often ideological opposition to women’s equality that has never been far from the surface. ..(some people, and regrettably quite a few of them have been elected to federal parliament, just can’t accept the idea that women should be equal….We need to demand change – and make it happen.
2015: Written in Australia
Article from The Age newspaper, Melbourne: The pace of change for women’s equality is glacial
It would be good to think we’ve come a long way since International Women’s Day was first celebrated early last century. Yet to recall the milestones women have reached in their fight for equality shows not only how far we have come; it shows how painfully slow that progress has been. In some areas, we’re not moving at all….while we’ve enacted laws and set precedents, many practices and prejudices haven’t changed…We cling to stereotypes about the workmen and women “should’ do and how they should do it. As a result, the journey to equality is an arduous trek, not a steady progressive advance. At best, the pace of change has been glacial.