On International Women’s Day, let’s thank the blokes
Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry.
Gloria Steinem, 1969
I love how old-fashioned this Gloria Steinem quote seems today. Women’s lives have changed dramatically over the past forty years.
This is especially true here in Australia, where women and men of my generation have grown up as equals.
Our notions of being held back are focused inward. We are self-reliant, independent and act with genuine ambition on our own terms. We are free to make our own choices, and spend our lives with people who encourage them.
We have many women to thank for our fortune in life. But equally, we have many men to thank too. Most Aussie women of my generation have had the support of fathers, brothers, friends, teachers and partners, right from the word go.
That makes us a privileged bunch. We are the lucky ones. Something many of us feel acutely on days like today where we celebrate International Woman’s Day and the tireless work of many organisations and individuals, who stand up on behalf of the millions still fighting for their independence.
For the rest of us, life is what we make it. There is no hard and fast rule about marriage. We choose our own partners and enter into long term relationships as equals. We bring our own money, skills, property, friends and choices into the mix.
We have the right to choose our careers over having children, or our children over careers. Some juggle both. We are well-educated, and our minds are our own. We don’t answer to anyone.
I recently asked a group of girlfriends to nominate a man they found inspiring. Geoffrey Robertson, Eddie Mabo, Dr John Irving, Geoff Huegill, Justice Kirby, the Dalai Lama and Tom Robbins all made the list. As did a couple of men in their own lives like dads, granddads and partners.
The reasons for their nominations were varied. Many reflected their own chosen industry and higher education. Other choices highlighted personal characteristics, like ambition, innovation, confidence, pride and what it means to have a sense of duty.
These are value-laden attributes. They touch on the very heart of what makes men and women different, with respect and admiration. They are also democratic and authentic.
When you consider just how fast the women’s movement has transformed our society, that’s an incredible result.
Life still has its challenges and things are not perfect. But on this day of women, I say hooray for men, we’ve learned a lot from you.
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