Monday musings on Australian literature: Reflections of a 1970s feminist

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a feminist, but Bill suggested that, for his AWW Gen 4 week, I “could ‘review’ The female eunuch by discussing your experience of Women’s Lib at uni”.

I replied that I could probably do “Reflections of a 1970s feminist” but that it wouldn’t be exactly what he was thinking. The thing is, I chose to go to a new, progressive university (Macquarie) though many of my peers from school preferred the “name” one (Sydney). I’m sure things weren’t perfect at Macquarie, but in my experience women were treated well, there. It had no baggage of “traditions” that the older male-dominated universities had, and its academics seemed invested in creating something new. I think that made a difference.

Macquarie’s motto is Chaucer’s “and gladly teche” (from the lines “gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche”). I always thought it a bit strange that the motto focused on “teaching” more than “learning” but now I think it’s inspired, because it reminds the academics that “teaching” is where it all starts. All this is to say that, although I read The female eunuch during this time and was strongly affected by it personally, I wasn’t aware of an active feminist presence on my campus. However, there are things I could say about growing up from the 50s to 70s and why Greer made such an impact on me. 

A baby-boomer childhood

My father, like many men of his between-the-wars generation, wanted a son, but his first two children were daughters, me first, then my sister. A son came along, but a few years later. I never felt unloved or unwanted – indeed, I was very much loved – but we grew up, in the main, in a traditional role-oriented household. We had an intellectually frustrated but devoted stay-at-home mum and breadwinning father. Household tasks were largely gendered, with Mum looking after inside, and Dad outside – and we children followed suit. That’s how it mostly was back then, so it didn’t seem particularly strange.

Conversely, it also didn’t seem strange that my sister and I were encouraged in our education, that it was assumed that we’d go to university and on to work, and that marriage and children were sort of assumed some time down the track but were never focused on. Consequently, while my sister and I were expected to help with “women’s work” like washing and drying dishes after meals, it was only on weekends and holidays. Schoolwork came first.

They were schizophrenic times, then, and jokes were often gendered. One, I particularly remember, concerned junk car yards, which were called, by the menfolk as we drove past, “ladies’ driving school”. Yet, my Mum drove and we were encouraged to get our licences. It didn’t make sense. Was it a “little” attempt by men to retain their superiority as we encroached on their domain?

Feminism to the fore

As the 60s moved into the 70s, however, Women’s Liberation, as we called the second wave of feminism, came to popular attention. I read The female eunuch within a year or so of its publication, in my first year of university. It bowled me over, giving structure and a theoretical underpinning for how my thoughts were developing. It was both easy and not easy being a young woman then. The free-love hippy movement of the 60s gave women increasing freedom to be themselves in dress and behaviour – but old habits die hard and the pressure to conform to ideals of beauty ran alongside. Moreover, as Kate Jennings made clear in her famous Front Lawn speech in 1970, the appearance of increasing freedom for women was not matched by the reality. The recent documentary Brazen hussies documents these times very well. I was forging my own path through this, eschewing the trappings of “beauty” and dressing naturally, comfortably, sans make-up, hair colour, high heels, and so on.

Again, my family supported me. No comments were made – to my face anyhow! – but the women’s movement did not pass unnoticed. Another little anecdote, I remember, concerns my paternal grandparents, born in 1889 and 1893. They were kind, generous people, but Grandpa wasn’t averse to little digs at “women’s libbers”, including a time when Gran surprised him by suggesting she occupy the front seat of the car when my Dad was driving them home after a visit. Gran got the seat, and their marriage continued its loving way. Gran was great fun, and did her best to keep up with the times.

Moving along into the 1980s and 90s, I did marry and have children, and I chose – it was a choice – to work part-time at a time when part-time work was not well-supported in the Australian (then Commonwealth) Public Service. My good friend and work colleague had a child at the same time, so we proposed that we job-share. That was quite a saga, one too long to fully tell here. We were supported by our immediate boss, a woman a few years older than we were, and, generally, by the rest of the senior management, but we did face opposition from a few, including the female head of HR. With no regulations in place at the time for administering permanent part-time work, we needed the support of HR to make it work on paper (which included applying for leave-without-pay every week for the hours we weren’t working). We got there, eventually, but it was disappointing to find the greatest opposition coming from (some) women.

Through all of this and other feminist challenges along the way, Germanine Greer’s arguments – and those of the writers I was reading in Ms magazine, edited for a while by Australia’s Anne Summers* – underpinned my confidence that my choices and ideas were valid.

Reading women writers

It was around this time – that is, in the 1980s – that I started prioritising women writers in my reading, a priority I have maintained ever since. Virago Press was one of the inspirations for this, and I regularly scanned bookshop shelves, looking for the identifying green spine. There were other women-focused presses around, but Virago editions, in particular, inspired many of us, as we realised just how many great women writers had been forgotten. This is when I fell in love with Elizabeth von Arnim, Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston and E.H. Young, to name a few.

Book cover

However, this is Monday Musings on Australian literature, so I thought I’d close on the Australian novelists who inspired me at the time. But first, back to my Mum. I grew up with reading parents, and my Mum had on her shelves – besides Jane Austen and other favourite classics – Henry Handel Richardon’s Australia Felix trilogy, Eleanor Dark’s The timeless land, M. Barnard Eldershaw’s A house is built, Eve Langley’s The pea pickers, and Thea Astley’s first novels.

So, when women’s writing started to really take off again in the 1980s I was attuned – and started reading, in that decade, novels by Thea Astley, Jessica Anderson, Elizabeth Jolley, and Olga Masters, to name a few. These writers, their contemporaries and those who followed them, including now, First Nations women writers, have added immeasurably to my understanding of myself as a woman and a person. They have helped me be comfortable in my shoes, but have also shown me where things need to change, personally and politically. I would not be who I am today without them.

A fundamental feminist principle – obvious to those who understand, but not to those who, for their own reasons, wish to remain obtuse – is that feminism is not about the sexes being the same but about all people being equal in terms of rights and respect. Germaine Greer puts it a different way in her Preface to the 21st Anniversary Paladin edition of The female eunuch. She says it’s about freedom, “the freedom to be a person, with the dignity, integrity, nobility, passion, pride that constitute personhood”, freedom from fear and hunger, freedom of speech and belief. As she says in this 1991 edition – and unfortunately it’s still true – things have changed, but not enough. It’s therefore wonderful seeing a new generation of feminists picking up the baton. They don’t always get it right, anymore than previous generations did, but womanhood – and personhood – is, I believe, in good hands.

* Anne Summers, of course, wrote another now-classic Australian feminist work, Damned whores and God’s police (Lisa’s post)

60 thoughts on “Monday musings on Australian literature: Reflections of a 1970s feminist

  1. I enjoyed reading this, Sue… different to my experience because I left home and went to work at sixteen, so equal pay and respect at work was about the practicalities of being independent and able to pay the rent.
    What I remember best from Greer was what she said about feminism being good for everybody, male and female and in my experience she was right about that.
    PS Thanks for the mention.

    • Thanks Lisa. Yes, I guessed your experience was very different to mine. I agree re feminism… And that’s a good point to remember from Greer. The point I always like to make is that fundamentally it’s about equal rights and respect for all – all sexes, all races, all beliefs – so it should be good for everyone. But in fact, it’s women who draw the short straw most often isn’t it, with poor women and women of colour suffering the most.

  2. An understated (?) but gentle reflection on an era when I was just beginning my teaching career Dip Ed 1970 (at Sydney) teaching 1971 (Hay War Memorial HS) a US couple on the staff – she suggested I read her Ms magazines – deleting chicks and birds – and girls as a description of adult women disappeared – from my English teacher’s vocabulary – it was a start! And an excellent array of women colleagues and mothers of friends who were themselves in their own right professionally successful gave me opportunities not to feel smugly superior as a male as I realised was the prevailing mood of some/many of an earlier generation – your reference to the matter of women drivers rings true – or the disapproval of women’s voices on radio – often expressed by women – that too rings true. Women being the critics of other women – not all but often enough from the gate-keeping women. I went on to have a series of women, some men – as supervisors, bosses, department heads – the men a mixed bag – the women in every case outstanding! Such experiences colour perceptions. But in the aspect of of equal treatment or along the lines stated in 1991 by Germaine Greer – sure. And then when we see females in positions of political power we find some are great – Susan Ryan, some are not – Karen Andrews, Michaelia Cash – or Chile’s former President Bachelet vs UK’s Maggie Thatcher. It all depends then on ideology – but in such instances – what kinds of examples are their male counterparts setting! I rest my case. Things like equal pay, not being forced to resign on marriage, to enter all the professions or trades. Dale Spender is another key feminist – she always dressed in shades of lavender, purple – her book: Man Made Language. Some thoughts!

    • Thanks for all this Jim … for your reflections on interactions with feminism/feminists, and for naming some other great representatives and calling out others. As you say it depends on ideology. One of the frustrations of recent years was Julie Bishop refusing to say she was a feminist, and refusing to call out the men until the end.

      • I wanted to mention Julie of-the-shoes-and-jogging. I recall her leading the case against Bernie Manton (asbestos), her early support for Julian Assange, then, when a world-travelling “celebrity” nothing – and yes – her refusal to include herself as a feminist. A true flip-flopper wind-tester. And then I couldn’t understand why she was somehow seen as a worthy possible PM though knocked out of that race quick smart – not as canny as her trying-to-look-alike though of the more strangled-vowels-speech Michaelia. Lest people think they have me pigeon-holed I’ve also just come across a letter I sent to Kevin Rudd around 10 years ago – in 2010 – pleading with him to tell the US where to get off in their hounding – even then – of Julian Assange. Obviously he did NOT take my advice – though I had attached a letter with which I agreed signed by 74 eminent persons – including Noam Chomsky, Eva Cox, Anna Funder, Julian Burnside, Wendy Bacon, Phillip Adams, Andrew Denton, Mary Kostakidis, Antony Loewenstein, John Pilger et al.

  3. Almost our first conversation was about women’s lib, about how women fared in the various university socialist and anti-war groupings. At age 20 I found Womens Lib a distraction from our real business, the coming revolution. Looking back, you guys achieved far more than we did! My experience of the anti-war movement by the way was that all the planning and leadership was 50 50, it was just socialism where the guys were a bit reluctant to move over.

    My father and I were on opposites sides during those Vietnam war years, but it shocked me how much I was like him as a young husband (as an old husband I was divorced).

    Thankyou for this response to my suggestion, I found it both informative and moving, you obviously gave it a lot of thought.

    • Yes, I remember that discussion Bill – but you weren’t alone, were you! Though I’m interested that you saw that planning and leadership where you were was 50:50.

      My father – like yours – was on the opposite side too re the Vietnam War.

      I’m glad you’re happy with my response. I have thought about it a lot, but that meant that by the time I wrote it over the last couple of days it was coming together to something that I felt said something at least.

    • I’m interested in knowing more about how Women’s Lib distracted from the coming revolution. From what I know of U.S. history, every revolution must have the full cooperation of all person’s. Thus, if you don’t have your feminism in order, your revolution is doomed. If you look at a group like The Black Panthers, for example, women drove much of the revolution, though men were leaders. As a result, women were often relegated to the back row or even oppressed by black men. The revolution died.

      • Good question Melanie. Let’s see what Bill says, but my sense is that the men were so focused on their political goals that they 1. Didn’t see that liberating women was, logically and reasonably, part of the whole, and 2. They could only focus on one thing, and saw that arguing for women’s rights took energy and focus away from that. They didn’t see, for a start, that TREATING women as equal within their own ranks, might have been an appropriate thing (instead of expecting them to make the tea, take the notes, do the footwork.) After all, model what you believe should be the first principle? I think some of this is what you are saying but I’ve put it a bit differently?

        • Melanie, I’m talking about 19 year old me, back in 1970, the year of the Moratorium. I was an immature and overexcited country boy, on my own in the big smoke. I don’t resile from my politics – I moved from Fabianism to anarcho-syndicalism in 1969, my first year at uni (and my first year living away from home), and that is still my position – even if I have spent a lifetime doing work and family and lleaving the Revolution to someone else.
          My idea about a socialist revolution was that it would make everyone equal, and to work for feminism in a capitalist society was a waste of resources. It is only in looking back that I can see that socialist men needed as big a kick up the arse as capitalist men.
          I don’t believe that men and women weren’t at the table equally in the anti-war movement – though, yes, guys, took hero roles and women made sure stuff happened – but there was certainly a lot of traditional gendering in urban communes (and the one I was most familiar with was SDS), share houses, and my marriages.

        • Thanks for this Bill. Really glad you explained your ideas more. I don’t think you’ve explained before that your anarchism was anarcho-syndicalist. That makes more sense to me.

          However I’m not sure Kate Jennings would day women were equal at the table in the anti-war movement if they had to fight to be “allowed” to speak? Also, it seems pretty gendered if men were the heroes and women did the work?

  4. I enjoyed reading this too, Sue—-especially the learning of new things about you. You cannot say often enough that it is about people being equal in terms of rights and respect.

  5. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this Sue. My parents were rather traditional too though my mum did work (she ran the shop while my dad ran the bakery). They encouraged both myself and my sister to go to university and pursue careers. But some attitudes die hard don’t they – even now my dad is aghast if I go to the bar to order drinks cos that’s his job! Feminism didn’t have much of a presence at uni sadly and none of my college friends had read Greer so I had to educate them…..

    • Thanks Karen. I could have written a lot more – of course. My mum did eventually work. She went back to school – by correspondence – to get her matriculation, then went to university (Macquarie of course), and ended up with the job of her dreams, really, as a lexicographer, around the age of 50.

      I like these stories of couples who work together like that… But my it must have been tough to run such a business and bring up a family.

      Another story I could have told was the first time I took my husband, then boyfriend, out for dinner, early 1977, and the difficulty the waiter had when I wanted to pay!

      • It was indeed hard work and all before the era of crèches etc. Grandparents played a key role especially in school holidays.

        Good on your mum for taking that big step. It was a brave thing to do, I wonder how many other women had talent and skill. they were never able to use . One of my jobs was at a university college so I met many mature students, some with awful stories of having to fight their families to get a education.

        • Oh yes. Our university really supported mature age students… And Mum made a couple of lasting friends through that. But yes, so hard for women to get to do this. And so many who never did.

  6. Lovely lovely post. You and I share certain aspects of childhood, especially parents that valued education highly. I’m the youngest of 3 daughters, born in 1960. My sisters (and actually our mum) blazed the trail for me in terms of feminist thought. Mum never used the word ‘feminist’ but bristled if addressed as ‘Mrs Doug Newton.’ She’d say ‘I’m not my husband! My name is Doreen.’ 😊
    Anyway my sister read ‘The Female Eunuch’ and I remember being intrigued by that famous cover!

    • Thanks Denise. I love hearing these responses. That Mrs Doug Newton business, Mum didn’t have much truck with it either.

      Are names. I kept mine when we married, and that caused all sorts of problems. The bank, for example, was happy to give us a mortgage in our joint names, but when it came to addressing the letters/mortgage statements to us, as Mr X and Ms Y, no way. Their systems couldn’t manage. “Would it be alright if we addressed the mail to Mr…?” Honestly. All the little battles.

  7. I’ll check out some of those titles. I’ve read Astley, Masters, Jolley, Witting just to name a few thanks to your blog and Lisa’s blog. I doubt I would have found those authors without you two–the Dynamic Duo. Course I have to throw the Gerts in there, so that makes The Quixotic Quartet.
    Neither of my parents read much–if at all. Well Dad ‘read’ dirty mags and Mum read Woman’s World. I remember an old bible on the shelf that was a present from a godparent, I think.

    • Thanks Guy. I had many more names but it was getting silly… So I thought I’d just leave it to the few from those times who have died, to give a flavour. I’m really glad that Lisa and I have played a role in bringing our writers to the fore.

      What made you a reader? School?

  8. No sech thing as feminism in our household, in spite of its consisting of 6 women and 1 man. I grew up accepting. Like, everything, I s’pose ..

  9. Hi Sue,
    Thanks for your post; it’s good to hear these perspectives. Your impressions remind me of this. I hope it’s okay linking to it, given that someone else has already posted it online. I first read it many years ago. One of my favourites.

  10. Wonderful post! You brought back such memories for me. I still have the battered original paperback and it was instrumental in shaping my early adult life for the better. I wrote to Germaine Greer in London and she replied. For the life of me I cannot remember her words but I have the letter buried somewhere in my old filing cabinet. Influential times!

  11. Sue,

    Mine is a slightly different perspective, I hope you don’t mind it – but it’s true of my experience.

    (BTW, Macquarie has removed the And Gladly Teche from its letterhead – I did ask why and they told me students didn’t understand it!)

    At my high school they were just starting to encourage girls to pursue careers other than the traditional nursing, teaching etc – but most of us nonetheless went on to these two professions. One of my friends desperately wanted to do vet science but was told no farmer would put up with a woman telling him how to manage his stock (this was in 1974). I got into medicine at USyd, but went nursing.

    I was influenced by my unconventional grandmother who worked with Aboriginal children, and as well I spent some time in Melbourne with a group of bright young friends (very different to some of Garner’s friends in Monkey Grip, no drugs! – but also non-conformist in many ways), who changed my attitude, I did two degrees part-time, declined a PhD and instead moved to live in Western Samoa for a time (my Anthropology degree was to blame). it was glorious! Everyone should do something like that.

    I also stayed single, which was still stigmatized for a woman, (my partner, a doctor, decided to work with indigenous communities to the astonishment of his colleagues, after a promising career in a large city hospital! (Good on him, men haven’t always had it easy either!)

    And my mother read Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch with dark paper over the cover because she thought picture on the front was so distasteful! I still laugh about that!

    Most of my women friends have been in poorly paid clerical/administrative/nursing/primary teaching jobs. We are the age group now having difficulty finding somewhere to live in retirement – one friend of mine in a private rental has put two great kids through university as a single mother (divorced), has never been able to own a home, and doesn’t know where she can live once she retires next year on a pension.

    My apologies for the length of this, your story is fascinatingly different in some aspects and i thought I’d proffer a slightly different personal account. I guess I became more feminist later in life than you. How interesting.

    Macquarie was a superb university!

    • Thanks Sue … no need to apologise. I was hoping this post would result in other stories. Thanks so much for sharing yours.

      How funny about your Mum covering the cover. It’s certainly unforgettable. But it’s great that she read it.

      I really feel for women who feel insecure about where they can live once they are no longer employed. This is the sort of thing that Jane Caro is on about, isn’t it?

      BTW That’s interesting about Macquarie’s letterhead. How sad. I wonder if the motto still exists – I see it on parts of the website if I search for it.

      • I can relate…a certain university that I once went to has a black swan on its crest that once had legs and feet. The official branding got a facelift a few years ago, and somehow the poor swan became an amputee in the process.

  12. Hi Sue, I lived in a very traditional male dominated family. My father didn’t want me to accept a scholarship because it would be wasted on me as I would get married one day! As you say The Female Eunuch awakened many people to see women as equal. Funnily enough, I just finished this morning a 1000 piece jigsaw; The World of Jane Austen. She exposed in her writings the injustices to women.

    • Thanks Meg … it’s so sad that men had such a misunderstanding of the value of education besides its vocational role, isn’t it? And an attitude to women which suggested that they didn’t need to be educated to be wives and mothers – they just had to run the home and fulfil their “wifely duties”!

      Love that you brought us back to Austen, because she sure did.

  13. I echo the sentiments of those before me, thanking you for sharing you story. It was lovely learning a little more about you 🙂
    I was probably just starting school as you were finishing uni – I got to ride on the coat-tails of all you trail blazers! Especially when it came to clothes. I’m not sure I wore any dresses or skirts between the ages of 7-17, except for my school uniform! I lived in shorts and T’s and loved my floppy terry-towelling hat. I spent half my childhood climbing monkey bars, hanging upside down, doing cartwheels and jumping on the trampoline. The other half was spent reading. (When I had to have a dress for my Yr 6 formal dance night, I convinced Mum that a terry-towelling dress would do!!)

    At some point in my teens I also decided I was never getting married…and held out until I was 40!

    My parents were gender traditional, but Dad was a bankie, so all four of us girls grew up financially literate. I still see so many of my young female colleagues who know next to nothing about this side of life. A huge part of being independent is knowing how to manage your finances properly…and learning how to drive a car (the number of young women I know who don’t have their licence also does my head in!)

    And finally, “feminism is not about the sexes being the same but about all people being equal in terms of rights and respect.” Hear, hear, but sadly, I still have this conversation with young men and women today.

    • How did I miss this lovely reply Brona? Weird. Anyhow, I really enjoyed hearing your reflections. I did wear dresses as a child, because we did in my era, but when pants suits started to become the thing, I was thrilled. Nonetheless I spent my days as you did – on monkey bars etc (we did it in our dresses back then!), or building cubby houses on the hills, or reading or playing library.

      I wasn’t going to get married, but did succumb in my mid twenties. I wasn’t going to have children, either, but a posting to the USA when I was in my early 30s and not allowed to work made me rethink that. I wonder if I ever would have if I hadn’t had that forced break in my career.

      And, SNAP, my father was a bankie too … we learnt to save at a very young age, having to put a percentage of our pocket-money into a money box (or piggy bank).

      That’s interesting about driver’s licences. In our son’s generation, the chaps rushed less into getting their licences (including our son) than the girls, but this is anecdotal based on just a small sample. I wonder if what you are seeing now is because of a sense of responsibility re climate change, and/or living in a city where public transport is more available?

      This equal not same thing is so hard to quash isn’t it. It makes me apoplectic, partly because I think that for some it’s an easy copout to say it’s about sameness and then argue against feminism on that basis, since we are clearly not the same.

      • I think the licence thing is partly to do with city/public transport but I tell all my young colleagues that they cannot possibly know what or where their future lives will be. If they decide to have children they will need cars to ferry them to school & sport and birthday parties. But more importantly they need it for their independence. You don’t want to spend your adult life being reliant and dependent on the men in your life. The freedom to travel or escape is priceless. I had a yr 11 maths teacher who kept all us girls aside after our first class & she basically said this to us. Then said she was happy for us to miss one of her maths classes when we needed to book our driving licence test. It was a magnificent gesture.

        • Yes, I agree with you. When I wrote what I wrote, I thought particularly, of driving kids to school, lessons, sport etc. And the independence thing is important. What a great teacher. I think many of us have at least a couple of inspirational teachers like that in our lives.

        • I try to be that person for my young colleagues now, always telling them that story to encourage them to get a licence. And that’s it’s much easier to do while they are still living at home with their parents.

  14. Really enjoyed reading this essay, thanks for sharing it. My mum went to university in 1978 to study maths and computer science, and it has a lot of similarities with stories I’ve heard from her, though because she was studying science rather than humanities I think she was less aware of movements within feminism at the time and came to it later. It was a big deal that she went to university – not because she was a woman but because most previous generations of the family, up to and including my grandparents, had left school at around 12 to go into service, farm work etc. I think they were very proud to be able to send their daughters to university.

    • Thanks for sharing that Lou. What a great achievement for you mum, and her clearly wonderful parents. I was the first to go to university in our family, but my parents did finish (Dad) or nearly finish (Mum) high school. Mum’s Dad wanted her to leave and go to work in Year 10 (as we call it now… That was during WW2 which may have impacted things).

  15. Fascinating reading this and the comments (I’m soooo behind with my blog reading at the moment!). When I was given a service to the school prize in my last year (I was the school library prefect), the book I chose at the local bookshop to be presented with by the headmistress was The female eunuch – and I thought I was being terribly progressive and naughty and radical (this was 1989). Of course, looking back, our rather terrifying headmistress, who was very cross that I only wanted to do an English degree and be a librarian, not a scientist or technologist, was probably all for it! I was always independent because of my family (who wished loudly I’d been a boy; what good I had in my childhood gave me skills in being practical as I had mostly construction toys like Lego and genderless ones like toy farms) and was also sure I would never marry (lasted till my 40s). I have been a feminist all my life but didn’t like the separatists at university and have always been keen on equity as we all are here. I am now reading up on intersectional feminism and seeing the lacks and gaps that we need to build on. All interesting stuff, anyway, thank you!

    • Lovely hearing your story Liz. I was a school library volunteer in my high school too, and credit the school librarian and one of my modern history teachers for helping develop my social justice values that I still hold today. I went on to major in English and my student job was working (shelving mostly) in the university library, where the Head of Reference showed me what a strong wise unmarried woman could be. She encouraged me to not stick working there after I finished studies but to test my wings, You can always come back, she said. (I didn’t do library studies there as that university didn’t have that course but she was a mentor, though she may not have known it!)

      Anyhow, all this is to say I know where you are coming from, and I love this response. BTW, It’s never too late to respond … I am very erratic in my blog reading and commenting.

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  17. Thank you for the peek into WG of the 1970s: very generous and thoughtful. I especially appreciated your noting of the polarities and contradictions, how a joke could be so judgemental but freedoms related to the joke’s content be naturally enjoyed nonetheless. Times of change are always more complex than one likes to think, looking back (when one hasn’t lived through them and known those complications personally). The comments are so interesting too: what a great opportunity for discussion.

    • Thanks Marcie (I might ‘alternate’ your nomenclature at whim!!) I was a bit nervous about writing htis post, for a number of reasons, but everyone has been kind in response, and thoughtful back. It’s been really enjoyable.

      As you say, times of change are complex – two steps forward, one step back, tangents that sometimes go nowhere, while others come out of nowhere, etc, eh?

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