Sunday, 3 March 2013

On Women - Friendship, Courage, Confidence, and a Mockery of Political Debate

When I was a little girl I had parents that were good people.  My mother was a deeply messed up religious nutter and my father was an amazingly loving and fair man  .. both from a rural Georgia Southern Baptist background.  They instilled in me, at every chance, the golden rule.  My mother's rule was, "God loves us so we must love everybody".  My Father's rule, "be respectful to everyone, even if you don't like them".   Even though I've left religion far behind I still believe strongly in The Golden Rule - treat others as you would like to be treated.

So, in writing this post, I want to document that I have great respect for men and like them a lot ....but I LOVE women.  I love their resilience, their drive and their ability to combine a myriad of roles and abilities while doing everything at much the same time.  I'm a fan.

This week brought a lot of issues around women, in general, home to me.   So, here they are...

Last Tuesday I had dinner with my friends from past working days ... the Dream Team.  This group of talented women combine being wives, mothers and, in most cases, business professionals.  But just as importantly they are great friends.  There to share with each other the ups and downs of living life, raising kids, retiring, or starting new jobs.  The kind of friendship that's food for the soul.

And in my post Flashback Friday - the girls I remembered 2 of the women that were mainstays during my childhood and teenage years who, along with others + my sister & BFF - Jae, have defined friendship perfectly over many many years. Again, essential for the soul.

Friday night Mr G and I went to a yacht club cruising event and the guest speaker was Kay Cottee.

If you've never heard of her - or don't exactly remember the extent of her achievements here's a blurb from her book - "First Lady".  On June 5, 1988, Kay Cottee fulfilled a childhood dream.  After covering more than 22,000 nautical miles in 189 days at sea she became the first woman in history to complete a solo, nonstop and unassisted voyage around the world.

I had read her book years ago but didn't remember a lot of the detail about her achievement.  Hearing her talk about it really brought home just how absolutely courageous she was at the time.  There was no GPS or satellite navigation.  Well, there was one - ONE - satellite circling the earth at the time.  So she had to wait for it to complete its orbit before being able to use it.
No email then either.  She had to use a telex!   Kay spoke for about 45 minutes and gave us a short, but hair raising, account of the trials at sea she encountered.  Since then she has inspired other women to push the boundaries of what society thinks they can do...Jessica Watson - the 16 year old who did it herself in 2010- was/is a big fan.  As she was welcomed home at Darling Harbour and famously asked by a female journalist, "How does it feel to have conquered a man's world?"  Kay replied, "I was brought up believing there is no such thing as a man's world or a woman's world. It's everyone's world!'

I didn't know that Kay had a successful career as a fund raiser and served on many boards and is currently the Chairman of the National Maritime Museum.  Proof that women can and do achieve anything they set their mind to do!

The Australian Bureau of Statistics and its latest Australian Social Trends report concluded this week that "some women don't have the confidence to become boss".  No kidding!  How many organisations create a culture encouraging and enabling women to progress through the ranks?  And, how often does the media portray female norms as face and body fashion mannequins?  Sarah Le Marquand writing for The Hoopla - Get back to the kitchen. - made the point ...

It might have gone unnoticed by the ABS staff who compiled the report, but factors such as a dire undersupply of affordable childcare, entrenched sexism in certain industries, continuing lack of workplace flexibility and archaic pre-selection practices in the major political parties play far more of a role in preserving the glass ceiling than individual personality traits.

There’s no denying the tendency for women to downplay their achievements and a reluctance to talk themselves up is a contributing factor in their failure to dominate the boardroom.

But these are factors overwhelming eclipsed by the practical concerns and genuine barriers women still face in the workplace. And no amount of glib platitudes about confidence will change that.

Here, here! 

Mockery of Political Debate
Ann Summers wrote another scathing article about the media's journalists, shock jocks and others who peddle rumours and negative assumptions about our Prime Minister, Julia Gilliard.  She says, "as a result, they feel no obligation to respect the person, let alone the office of Prime Minister, since in their minds she is already gone."

Julia Gillard
Under fire ... Julia Gillard. Photo: Mark Graham

Read more:
It seems there is no amount of vilification too good to spew at the PM.  There isn't one member of the media willing to write a headline or produce a story that doesn't have a negative bias. 

Which comes right back to the golden rule.
Really, is this what we want in our politics?  To not give a damn about the facts?  I give a damn and I don't see the opposition or the opposition leader offering anything but negativity and backward ideas.  Better to open our eyes between now and the election in September and demand the real facts and issues or be just as disillusioned all over again.


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