I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world,
to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

9 April 2016

Hear Me Roar

'No, I didn't envy the boys their penises,' I said. The psychiatrist paused, then asked quietly, 'What did you envy?' 

I floundered. 'Oh, things I wasn't allowed to do that they could. "Girls can't play football" – you know?' (This was true when I was a schoolgirl, six decades ago. It was still true in my twenties, when I spoke to the shrink.)

'You wanted to play football?' he asked. I laughed. 'No, never. But I wanted the freedom to do it if I had wanted to. Do you understand?' He did. 

It wasn't Betty Friedan who radicalised me. The Feminine Mystique wasn't my book; I wasn't a housewife yet. I was a young single. The Female Eunuch spoke to me. I'd been at university with Germaine – not that we were acquainted, but when she wrote her book I knew exactly what she was on about: every precise, beautiful, powerful word.

Women can play football now if they want to. They even have the right to go to war. I don't want any of that, but I did my bit to make it happen, I was in that groundswell. I haven't stopped yet.

Thank you Germaine, thank you Helen who wrote the anthem, thank you my old shrink. Thank you Betty too, you herald of the great awakening, who spoke for many if not yet me. Thank you Marilyn French and Mary Daly and all the others, too many to list. ’Numbers too big to ignore.’

Thank you to the dad and grandpas and uncles who didn't think education was wasted on girls. Thank you to the mum and grandmas and aunties who believed I could have self-reliance and still be woman.

I haven't stopped. There are battles yet to be won. When will we ever get equal pay for equal work? But family violence is now beginning to be ended. 

I am my own hero. One of a generation.

What did we want, Mr Freud? Freedom!

May the young remember, and take firm hold of the torch.

I watch old footage
of the Women's Lib marches 
tears pouring, face raised
















Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst
source en.wikipedia.org




















International Womens' Day rally, Melbourne 8 March 1975. Educational picture from Australian Information Service, Canberra.

Written for day 8 of April Poetry Month at 'imaginary garden with real toads': In the Footsteps of the Suffragettes.

'Hear me roar' and 'numbers too big to ignore' come from Helen Reddy's song, I Am Woman.


27 comments:

  1. Oh yes. I started smiling with your title on my blogroll, and was nodding with recognition all the way down the screen. I used to blast Helen Reddy and sing at the top of my lungs, and my hapless husband was not impressed. Yes, Marilyn French's The Women's Room and the transformation of the heroine, which helped me with my own..........sigh. Those were the days, my friend, when we truly came of age.

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  2. "You've come a long way, Baby." Endlessly under attack and in subtle and obvious ways both. Thanks much, Rosemary. k.

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  3. Whole different football, I suspect ... ;) But when I was maybe 3 or 4 years old, my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said I wanted to be a football coach, and he laughed and said that wasn't for girls. That was 40 years ago, and I still remember!

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  4. The Helen Reddy days were like a call to give the female voice some freedom. You could feel the atmosphere pump whenever the song was played. Self-reliance took quite a while after the vote was won. And it took a long while for society to adjust to the working mother. A stunning overview of women's emerging identity without the limitations.

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  5. I never necessarily wanted to do what men did, but I wanted freedom to be fully a woman, an adult with equal rights. I roared too in those days. Later, when I thought a lot had been won, I was stunned when a director at a hospital in which I worked, informed me that I was getting a five thousand dollar raise. She had fought with the administration when she discovered I was being paid less than a man for doing the same work. She was my hero. But I'm sad to know that so many years later, the situation hasn't changed and women still get paid less. The revolution goes on!

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  6. And somehow we need to change the men as well.. so much of life that we have missed... I want to cry, to cook and take care of laundry... I hope there will be new men coming out of this as well.. there is so much to gain.

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  7. Yes, may the young continue to carry the torch. There are still battles yet to be won, but we have so much to be thankful for in the accomplishments of strong and motivated and vocal women who came before!

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  8. Oh I so love the spirit here...freedom indeed is the song of the soul....

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  9. Equality! And rightly so. Thanks for this Rosemary, everyone must have the same right :)

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  10. Still an uphill battle in many parts of the world... so important to lend one's voice to the struggle as you have done so well.

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  11. Luckily I was brought up in a family with strong women, went to mixed school where girls excelled and worked in jobs where their contribution was just as valued as mine. The fight is not yet over for even now we must never relax.

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  12. We owe much to the women who paved the way.Sexism is still rife. Domestic violence is out of control and governments have to make it possible for women to work without bankrupting themselves on exorbitant child care fees.

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  13. Long may you keep roaring - i hope there will always be young women to keep the torch alight and indeed young men..freedom of choice is key to quality of life for all genders..

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  14. In Philippines, most jobs in accounting are occupied by women & most of the time the employers prefer to hire female accountants than male. I got hurt & felt unfair. Does that make me a sexist? I am telling these based on personal experiences. :)

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    1. No, Kelvin, citing facts doesn't make you a sexist, and it does sound unfair. But I do wonder if the reason is that employers don't have to pay women as much?

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  15. Thank you Rosemary for these incredible words...for reminding me that I was part of this and that I am still part of the fight for this freedom. Such beautiful words perfectly said that are bringing tears to my eyes as I remember!

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  16. Such a strong piece, which I really like. I also like how you blend prose and poetry together here, especially at the end. Makes for an interesting read.

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  17. Roar away and I shall echo your cry... If we don't continue screaming and doing (and reminding those who fail to see it) that we (women and men) are the same, the world will go back to be a prison where only a privileged were treated as people.

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  18. What a beautiful and glorious roar you have Rosemary!! I love this!!

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  19. Oh, yes, this resonates.....when I was in 6th grade, I started an ardent campaign against the school administration campaigning for girls to be allowed to play football, too ;-)

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  20. I love these lines: ' I did my bit to make it happen, I was in that groundswell. I haven't stopped yet.' We all bring our little effort to change the reality. Powerful write!

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    1. Thank you Rosemary, you speak for so many of us,

      Elizabeth

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  21. The ones who came before and paved the way for us---may we never forget them!

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