My mother was a partner in Ludbrook's shoes and made it very clear, that she enjoyed her work in fashion buying and retail at least as much as she did raising her three children and later two grand children. She was active in community issues and served on nearly as many commitees as my father.
She believed women were entitled to equal pay for equal work with men and should never apologise for sharing domestic duties with their male partner. Moreover she advocated women employ help with both child raising and household chores to enable them to achieve as much as they wanted within their own lives. She was my father's equal and he was expected to do his share of child-raising and domestic chores.
As a kid, I was expected to keep up with news and current affairs, which I would read in newspapers, watch on television and more often than not, discuss with my parents.
It was on one such a current affairs program, 'Monday Conference,' run on the ABC, Australia's national broadcasting network, I first came across a young champion for women's rights by the name of Germaine Greer. Both my mother and I agreed with her opinions and took on board her perspectives, resulting in some heated debates within our family and beyond, as we worked to transform our world to one of greater social equity and justice.
Germaine was the first woman, other than my mother, to expose me to feminist ideals and issues of gender equity.
At school, Germaine's ideas informed my own within debating and public speaking, two areas I excelled in!
Growing up "with Germaine", by the time I was at university, I too identified myself as a feminist. Indeed, I subjected all of my literature texts and other aspects of my life to "feminist anlalysis".
This further involved me in a considerable degree of ground-breaking work through both my teaching and the Australian Education Union in areas like opening up career paths for women in education, non-discriminatory superannuation schemes, better recognition and provision for workers with family responsibilities and ensuring equal access for women and girls across a plethora of areas that are these days taken for granted.
Whenever Germaine Greer has spoken up, she has spoken for me, even when she has been publicly derided for her opinion here in Australia. Two such examples were her reference to Steve Irwin as a man not worthy of adulation, at the time of his death, based on his boys own adventure, risky behaviour antics for his teleivision program leading to his demise. More recently, Germaine implored our wonderful Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard to ensure her clothing accomodated her large hips and bottom. This I too had noticed and wished I had the capacity to provide PM Gillard with just that advice. Many took this as a downright criticism of a woman's appearance, taboo in the world of feminism, but to me, the difference was Germaine was being constructive, rather than negative in her approach. Germain's forthrightness and honesty is someting else I adore!
I also continue to agree with Germaine on issues relating to the environment and our indigenous Australians. Her book, 'The Change', informed my menopause as much as had 'The Female Eunich' my years as a young woman. 'The Whole Woman' revisited analysis of life beyond the achievements of the wave of feminist activism between the 1960s to 1980s, just at a time when I was feeling pretty dispondent about how far women had come, but how far it remained for us to go to achieve gender equity. Like Germaine, I am passionate about literature, the Arts and gardening, so it's little wonder she has inspired me for all of my adult life and for most of my teen years.
I take this opportunity to acknowledge and pay my respects to a woman who has been both a great influence and invisible mentor, who has truly devoted her life to transforming our culture for the better!
Germaine Greer is a truly great Australian and world leader. Her intellect and capacity to voice ideas across a range of mediums serves as both inspiration and role model, for me and many others of my generation.