women's liberation

A Perth educator, author and long-time activist, Mary (Mairi) McKenzie, died on New Year's Eve at the age of 94.

Mary discovered early what life was like in a society with little welfare and few rights for workers and the unemployed. At the age of 10, she lost her mother to tuberculosis, making her effectively the mother figure for her seven younger siblings. At the age of 13 she left school to undertake their full-time care.

In early November, a Twitter hashtag called #mencallmethings was set up, under which women bloggers can post the sexist, misogynistic and often threatening comments they receive.

Tigerbeatdown.com’s Sady Doyle started the tag after becoming angry and disillusioned with the huge amount of sexist hate mail she and other female bloggers had received. Doyle saw the need to publicly challenge this culture of silencing women bloggers.

Hundreds of people marched on November 12 in Hobart’s “Slutwalk” to protest violence against women and to reject the idea that victims of sexual violence are somehow responsible for the assaults against them because of what they wear.

It has become a cliche in mainstream media and political discourse that feminism is no longer necessary in society. However many ordinary women disagree.

Green Left Weekly asked members of the newly formed Feminist Collective of South Australia about feminism’s relevance today.

Emma Gray-Starcevic said: “Women still earn on average 17% less than men in Australia, and are under-represented in a huge number of jobs, especially in industries such as law, business and politics — jobs synonymous with high wages and powerful positions.

In the US earlier this year, there were 351 anti-abortion bills making their way through state legislative bodies. In 2010, 174 anti-abortion bills were filed in state legislatures.

If you were sexually assaulted by a member of your school sporting team, would you want to cheer for them when they played? Would you expect your school to uphold your rights over those of your attacker? If the school failed to uphold your rights, would you then expect the courts to find in your favour if you sued?

The answers to these questions should be obvious, but this is not an exercise in rhetorical questioning.

A group of women teamed up at Tram Stop 1 on the corner of Bourke and Spencer streets on July 22 to commemorate the 42nd anniversary of a protest against women’s unequal pay by women’s liberationists Zelda D’Aprano and Bon Hull.

D'Aprano and Hull boarded a tram but refused to pay the full fare.

The “equal pay team” talked to commuters on the busy city tram and shared views on why women are still receiving unequal pay in Australia.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the millionaire former president of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and leader of France’s center-left Socialist Party, is charged with raping a west African immigrant housekeeper in a five-star Manhattan hotel.

But Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr seems like he wants to make the whole case go away.

After initially agreeing to US$1 million bail and house arrest, Vance arranged for Strauss-Kahn to be released without any bail. The press reported prosecutors and Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers met about a deal in which the case would be dropped.

Pro-choice campaigners and activists will assemble outside a fertility control clinic in East Melbourne on July 23 for several reasons.

The clinic is under constant harassment from far-right Christian groups, including Right to Life and the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants. These groups rally outside the clinic every fourth Saturday of the month, and sometimes on weekdays too.

These groups mobilise their members to harass not only women using the clinic, but also women who just happen to walk past.

Feminism is experiencing a revival in Adelaide with the formation of a new activist group, the South Australian Feminist Collective.

The group emerged from a feminist forum jointly hosted by Socialist Alliance and Femment, which followed the recent Adelaide “SlutWalk” march against sexual assault and victim-blaming. The forum explored the politics of this event and the relevance of feminism today.

About 30 people attended the collective’s first meeting on June 25.

The meeting began discussion about how the group would be run, its aims and values.

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