Marilyn Lake (Professor of History, La Trobe University, Australia)
1 Jan 1999
What woman today would accept losing her job or her nationality on marriage? What mother would accept that she had no custody rights to her children? Who would deny women the right to equal pay and economic independence? Women today enjoy freedoms unimagined by their mothers and grandmothers - the result of over 100 years of feminist activism in this country. Getting Equal is the first full-length history of the movements - and their feisty, ebullient, determined leaders - who fought for women's political and economic rights, sexual and drinking rights, the right to control their bodies and their destinies. Getting Equal provides new understandings of women's activism and new perspectives on Australian politics: it shows that feminists were leading theorists of citizenship and the welfare state and outspoken advocates of Aboriginal rights and international law. But the goal of equality has also proved problematic: participating in the world on men's terms has reinforced the masculine standard as the norm. In this path-breaking and lively study, leading historian Marilyn Lake challenges common misconceptions and offers new interpretations of a politics that has swung between an emphasis on women's difference from men and a demand for the same rights as men. It is her hope that a knowledge of the complexity of the past will enable us to be more clear-sighted about what remains to be done.