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The f word

The f word is a chronicle of the feministic observations of Jane Caro and Catherine Fox (AFR Corporate Woman columnist).  I attended their book launch this week and, true to form, many a pertinent comment was made by the authors and guest speaker, Wendy McCarthy AO.

Between Wendy, Jane and Catherine, the crowd was in stitches with their tales of fairies in the garden and feminism in the workplace.  After laying out all the reasons why this book had to be written though, it was obvious there’s nothing funny about the status of women in our society.  Despite how far we may have come, we still have a long way to go.

I’ve written about the f-word before and the reluctance of my peers to describe themselves as feminists.  Even if they agree that both sexes should have equal access to opportunities, regardless of their gender.  But in some camps feminism has become taboo, something a woman daren’t admit to in public.  And others question the relevance of feminism today: after all is there anything left to achieve?  Fox and Caro argue there is plenty.

This is a book about how feminism has affected the authors, and how “in defiance of its critics, (it) continues to improve, enhance and enrich us”.  The anecdotes are powerful as are recollections of discrimination in action.  But while it’s not all doom and gloom, Caro and Fox point out why continuing to fuel the women’s movement is crucial.

Like all things, when you start with a low base it’s not unusual to see a step change as milestones are reached and unworkable rules and regulations are put to bed.  Like the inability for women – until the 1970s – to obtain a mortgage without a male guarantor.  And like legislating to outlaw sexual discrimination and harassment in the workplace, laws that were only passed here in Australia in the 1980s (and which are still not universal throughout the world).  But this second wave of feminism has still not addressed the dearth of women in leadership positions.  And examples like the RU486 debate (chapter 3) demonstrate “how vital it is that there are more women in our parliaments and in positions of power in general”.

This book is a perspective of two baby boomers on what worked for them, what the obstacles looked like and why they chose to push on.  Accordingly, as a GenX they lost me in a few places – like the heavy focus on housework and how it shifts from husband to wife as children arrive, and why one author hates Christmas, with all the rigmarole of card writing and shopping and cooking and so on.  My view on these things is – it will be what you allow it to be.

Having said that, this is a must read book for every working women: I haven’t been able to put it down. I like that it’s loaded with facts (as you’d expect of a journo) and real life case studies, quotes and headlines.

Order now on Amazon.

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