Call the Midwife’s radical vision of single women

Highly acclaimed BBC drama Call the Midwife has been praised for its ability to be both cosy and gritty at the same time – presenting a heart-warming vision of a close-knit community in 1960s London, while refusing to shy away from dark and complex issues. A nun develops post-traumatic stress after being attacked, neglected children fend for themselves, dozens of babies are born without limbs; … Continue reading Call the Midwife’s radical vision of single women

Mary Bennett’s fight for women’s rights

“No department in the world can take the place of a child’s mother.” Mary Montgomerie Bennett’s vocal agitation in the early 1930s regarding the mistreatment and abuse of Indigenous women and children in Western Australia became the catalyst for a Royal Commission. Perth magistrate H.D. Moseley was instructed to investigate the treatment and administration of Aboriginal people in Western Australia. Bennett’s main concerns were what … Continue reading Mary Bennett’s fight for women’s rights

Enlightened women of the Dark Ages

Partly due to the passage of time, the Middle Ages tends to be generally viewed as a foggy mixture of mud, crusades, plague and feudalism. Protestants tend not to take much notice of this era, skipping from the early church straight to the Reformation. Medieval history tends to be quite Eurocentric, and was idealised by the Victorians who liked the concept of chivalry because they … Continue reading Enlightened women of the Dark Ages

Jane Austen’s friendships

Jane Austen, possibly the most well-known female English novelist, is the author of what are considered to be the greatest love stories in western literature. The explosion in her popularity over the last twenty years (mostly due to that lake scene) and subsequent influence on popular culture has turned her into something of an authority on love and romance. But a closer reading of her … Continue reading Jane Austen’s friendships

How bluestockings can change the world

Writing in last weekend’s Australian, Bettina Arndt who is best known as a sex therapist, expressed concern that many of the women who comprise around 60% of Australian university graduates are emerging from their studies as “fully fledged social justice warriors.” She is particularly worried that it is mostly women who are taking arts courses, particularly gender studies, which is indoctrinating them with left wing … Continue reading How bluestockings can change the world

Not yet abolished: slavery today

It is very easy for first-world women to be brave these days. Simply take a makeup free selfie or plan a solo trip overseas and your courage will be applauded. If you exist in the middle class of western civilization, any small departure from the norm is considered to be extraordinary. Let’s put aside the underlying patriarchal assumptions that women need makeup to win the … Continue reading Not yet abolished: slavery today

I’m no lady: May Holman MLA and other women in public life

May Holman (1893-1939) was Australia’s first female Labor parliamentarian, winning the WA state seat of Forrest in 1925 and holding it through the next four elections. After Edith Cowan, she was the second woman in Australia to be elected to parliament. Since her constituents were mostly timber workers, she worked to improve their conditions and helped introduce the Timber Industries Regulation Act 1926. “Surely it … Continue reading I’m no lady: May Holman MLA and other women in public life

No, you can’t say whatever you want: why free speech should be tempered with kindness

[content notice: discusses suicide, online abuse, rape]   In a democratic society, freedom of speech is frequently in the news. Attempts to alter section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, to replace “offend, insult & humiliate” with “harass and intimidate”, were fortunately stymied in Parliament. Contrary to popular belief, the Australian Constitution does not expressly protect freedom of expression. Many people get their ideas on … Continue reading No, you can’t say whatever you want: why free speech should be tempered with kindness

Birthing on country: Indigenous midwifery and the Mt Margaret Mission

Giving birth was strictly women’s business in Indigenous communities – in some areas the woman in labour would lean against a ‘birthing tree’, in other places she would squat over a hollow in the earth lined with soft grass. Other women in attendance assisted with such pain relief as they are able, such as pouring cold water on the abdomen. When the child was born, … Continue reading Birthing on country: Indigenous midwifery and the Mt Margaret Mission