Blue stocking week
By Rosemary Lace
WOLLONGONG — Wollongong University Blue Stocking Week, from August 15-19 was packed with performance nights, public forums, debates and workshops focussing on women's experiences struggling together for their liberation.
The term "Blue stocking" originates from the colour of the stockings worn by male intellectuals in the eighteenth century. Women who sought to enter the education arena were called "blue stockings" — a degoratory description for those who attempted to "take on a male role". Since then, women have reclaimed the label and used it positively to describe the first women to enter tertiary education.
A public forum "Tall Poppies and Short Daisies" on August 17 heard from a number of speakers including Natasha Stott Despoja from the SA group, 100 Years of Women's Suffrage Celebrations, Freya Pinney (Resistance), Maria Giannacopoulos (Wollongong Abortion Rights Campaign and Resistance) and Emily Sutton (Wollongong University SRC).
Pinney highlighted the need for continuing activism for women's rights. "In a society where women still earn 80% of a male wage, only 30% of women are able to pay off their Higher Education Contribution Scheme debt by the age of 35. It is obvious that the women's movement has as much relevance today as it did when it began. We've come a long way but the struggle isn't over."