Western women today enjoy unprecedented freedom and power – but it can sometimes seem to be a game of two steps forward, one step back.
Yes, Julia Gillard is our first female prime minister … but her legitimacy has been questioned throughout, and the criticism aimed at her has been curiously gender-specific, from cries of ‘witch’ to calls for her to ‘make an honest woman of herself’.
And while feminism dominates social media and commentators like Clementine Ford and Caitlin Moran attract legions of fans, popular culture is constantly winking at us with storylines featuring submissive women, from Mad Men to Fifty Shades.
In the fiftieth Quarterly Essay, renowned memoirist and concert pianist Anna Goldsworthy lays bare the dilemmas of being a woman today.
Anna Goldsworthy is the author of the memoirs Welcome to Your New Life and Piano Lessons, and Quarterly Essay 50, On Women, Freedom and Misogyny. Her writing has appeared in the Monthly, the Age, the Adelaide Review and Best Australian Essays.
‘Women have many reasons to be wary, depressed or downright terri ed of the internet. No guaranteed safe space exists for a woman online. Especially a lippy one. And yet ... as a tool for social change, the internet, to the extent that we can still refer to it as a single entity, still offers immense possibilities.’
Sophie Black is head of publishing at the Wheeler Centre where she has worked on projects such as the national to writers scheme The Next Chapter, the multi-award-winning podcast, The Messenger, and the ABC RN program, Talkfest. Previously she was editor-in-chief at Private Media, where she headed up titles such as Crikey, Women’s Agenda, Daily Review and SmartCompany. In 2013, she delivered the Adelaide Festival of Ideas as Director. She sits on the advisory board for Melbourne University’s Centre for Advancing Journalism and the human rights publication Right Now.
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