With International Womens Day approaching, and me starting to get reinsured to bring Legally Wise Women into life, I have been thinking more about the situation that women find themselves in these days.
Our situation is not bad at all – it has come a long way. But is that good enough?
No country in the world has complete equality for women. Equality has to start somewhere, so there can be a shining light. Instead of fighting for the rights of unknown women in a foreign country, I want to fight the subtle fight here in Australia.
We (women and society) can do better.
In Australia, inequality is subtle, insidious and institutional. It’s been likened to an iceberg – some of the biases are visible, but the majority are not.
I have been reading Women and the Law In Australia, edited by Patricia Easteal, on and off for about 18 months. I pick it up at times when I’m feeling indignant, and it justifies my feelings. But that’s not good enough, either. But I’m not doing much about it.
There are many legal categories and process that are impractical, inappropriate and disadvantageous for women (and other minority groups).
Some of the pieces of the puzzle that contribute to the gender stratification are:
- differences in division of labour between the genders
- differences in power between the genders
- segmentation of paid employment,
- the pay differential and superannuation gap
- biases against career breaks for women
- how women communicate
- ageism differences between the genders
- some male cultural views of women as ‘irrational, illogical, emotional and erratic’, and
- archetypes of females that prevail (diva, witch, delicate victim, crone, mother, bossy bitch).
So instead of living in and working with the system that we have, I often wonder why women don’t stand up and ask for better. We are 51% of the population, so why don’t we have some power or control over these puzzle pieces. Why do they prevail?
I think many of them prevail because they are so fundamental to how we are raised as women, how women are conveyed in the media, and how we tend to compare ourselves so much with other women. In many respects, I think we are our own worst enemy – and that suits men really well.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a man-hater, and I don’t want to burn down the system and recreate it from scratch. But these issues need to be investigated in more than just an academic way. The academics aren’t those that implement in reality. So it comes down to business people and community people, professionals and mums to make the changes.
If we want true equality in Australia, then we have to do better.