History of misogyny

GREAT quotes from Australian history about women, and by women. The story so far.

Early days.

Lieutenant of Marines Ralph Clark aboard the First Fleet ship Friendship in 1787, about the women convicts being transported to Australia from Britain: "I would never have thought that there were so many abandoned wenches in England."

Governor John Hunter (1795-1800) described convict women as "a disgrace of their sex, are far worse than the men, and are generally found at the bottom of every infamous transaction committed in the colony".

During debate in the Western Australian parliament in 1924 a politician argued: 'To my mind women are far too illogical to sit on a jury. They are apt to judge rather by intuition than by reasoning out the evidence placed before them. I doubt whether they are quite competent to carefully reason out the pros and cons put before them.'

The Molesworth Committee, set up in England in 1837 to consider the future of convict transportation to Australia, claimed that convict women were "with scarcely an exception drunken and abandoned prostitutes".

Flinders University Emeritus Professor Riaz Hassan, 2012: "From the very outset, convict women had three possible roles open to them: whore, indentured worker, wife/mistress or a combination of these."

Property and finances.

NSW Upper House report in 1897 described the view of financial institutions about women. It was "better to leave money in the hands of the man who was trained in business matters, rather than put it in the hands of the wife who had never had any such experience".

This was despite the Married Women's Property Act of 1882 theoretically raising married women from being "civilly dead", and allowing them to own property in their own right.

Religion.

The future Catholic saint Mary MacKillop (1842-1909) about why she worked with the poor, particularly women and children, established schools and how she dealt with adversity: "Never see a need without doing something about it" and "Have courage no matter what your crosses are."

A Catholic bishop in response in 1871, on a false charge against the nun of insubordination: "Excommunicated."

In 2010 Mary MacKillop was named Australia's first saint.

The vote.

The "Father of Federation", Sir Henry Parkes, in the NSW Parliament in 1887 supported women's right to vote because they were "half the human family" who had to obey the laws of the community in which they lived "without being able to make them".

Singleton-born Rose Scott, a leader in the Australian suffrage movement, about men's response to her campaign for women to get the vote: "Men have come to look upon women as a sort of appendage to themselves, a sort of tail that has only to wag when man - the dog - is pleased. And many men's attitude . . . is that of serious and painful surprise . . . if . . . informed that in the future his tail would assert its own individuality."

NSW Premier Sir George Dibbs in 1891 after Parkes introduced legislation to give women the vote: "The bulk of women are utterly incapable of performing the duties of men."

Women gained the right to vote in federal elections in 1902, and shortly after in NSW.

The sky did not fall in.

Justice.

Women in NSW did not gain the right to sit on juries until 1947. In Western Australia it was 1957.

During debate in the Western Australian parliament in 1924 a politician argued: "To my mind women are far too illogical to sit on a jury. They are apt to judge rather by intuition than by reasoning out the evidence placed before them. I doubt whether they are quite competent to carefully reason out the pros and cons put before them."

By the 1950s the female Western Australian politician R.F Hutchison had had enough. "I always become angry when I hear men arguing that women are not capable. Men like telling women what they think women should do. Well, let women tell what they themselves want to do for a change!"

Women were not able to sit as jurors in some NSW courts until female toilets were built for them.

Politics.

Let's hear from Tony Abbott: "While I think men and women are equal, they are also different and I think it's inevitable, and I don't think it's a bad thing at all, that we always have, say, more women doing things like physiotherapy and an enormous number of women simply doing housework."

And Julia Gillard: "I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not. And the Government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever."

Sport.

Top trainer Tommy Smith on women as jockeys: "They are not strong enough to kick a lazy horse out and too weak to hold a frisky one."

Tasmanian jockey Beverly Buckingham on the argument women weren't strong enough to be jockeys: "What a joke. If you went into the jockey's room after a Melbourne Cup you would find at least half a dozen collapsed bags of skin and bone, utterly spent from having starved themselves to get their weight down."

2015 Melbourne Cup winner Michelle Payne's message to those who argued women couldn't be jockeys: "Get stuffed, because women can do anything and we can beat the world."

Joanne McCarthy is on holiday. This column was first published in November 2015.

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