Woman – Who Would Be One?

I have lived and worked in agriculture my whole life. I understand fully the role of women through Australia’s history. We were brought here to service men, breed workers and keep the house. I am ducking for cover….

But tell me it isn’t true and I will show you example after example of women being used this way.

Its not just our short history that has upset me of late. Rick Steins India has fascinated me. I love spices and anything cooking really. But he was talking about pepper, and happened to mention that pepper was so highly valued that all manner of goods were traded for it, including European women for dancing girls and concubines. In other words, pepper was of more value to them than their daughters.

Most of the women in history that have been given any kudos have been royalty, and even they were treated by their peers as less than their male counterparts.

Henry the 8th – esteemed King, womanizer, philanderer..

Cleopatra – Queen of Egypt, noted for having slept with many famous men..

The difference is that Henry was seen as ‘manly’.

Even in todays society, men are seen as studs, women are sluts.

Can you imagine an all girl band – Like the Bangles – having ‘groupies’ like the boy bands do, and getting away with it?

So what do we do about it?

I’m convinced the ‘I Am Woman Hear Me Roar’ movement didn’t work. In fact all it did was create angry women.

I was brought up believing I could achieve whatever I set my mind to and that I was every bit as good as any male. And I could have and I am! But that advice should have come with a warning lable stating men don’t realize this and you will have to work 10 times harder than they will for the same result. Especially in agriculture!

I have come to the conclusion that the district I grew up in was progressive. We girls were treated no different to the boys at school or on the farms. There were no princesses, everybody rode horses and motorbikes, fenced, got the wood in and learned to cook. At school the boys did sewing, the girls did woodwork. We all played footy in the mud!

When I got out into the real world of agriculture I discovered it was a mans world and fought against it very hard! I have explained before my mental illness and the bearing it had on my work.  I was working in shearing sheds as a roustabout, and we all know the (undeserved) reputation they have! And if you didn’t meet the ‘expectations’ of the shearers – a lot of whom were married with children – you were shunned. Shunning didn’t bother me. I was a loner anyway! When I started classing the real problems began though. It takes a certain amount of ego to shear sheep, and most learner shearers start off as a shed hand, shearing a sheep or two  for someone during the run. But they detested me and let me know, because I made them do the job they were being paid for. And I know from experience that if I had testicles I wouldn’t have suffered the abuse.

I am sure this not so level playing field will not resolve itself until the men of the world realize what they are doing.

Or when the media – mostly run by men – stops this.

We women of Oz should feel blessed we don’t live in India, where rape of girls and women is an every day occurrence. Or in a country that believes a raped 13yo child has committed adultery and is stoned to death. Or in Yemen, where a quarter of all females are married before they turn 15.

Its sickening…

But what can we do? I don’t know. It is getting better. The women of 2013, in most countries, have it much better than women in 1913. I am certain my daughters will have it even easier due the work we are putting in now. Especially in dairy. There seems to be a lot of women leading the way in our industry, which is good to see. I look up to them and aspire to be a leader like them in years to come.

To finish off, I will share with you and ‘enlightening’ couple of comments made to me by someone on twitter last night. I have cut and pasted the words so as to leave the clown anonymous…

@AlisonGermon I’m sorry, you will never be more worth while than a man. Its a basic tenet of conservative ideology. Read your history

come on you know its true: @alisongermon was never going to be PM from the day she was concieved  #conservativefemale

They do still exist, though as I said to another tweeter, it may be true for me, but not for my daughters. People like him are going the way of the dinosaur… I hope….

4 thoughts on “Woman – Who Would Be One?

  1. Well done Alison, i enjoyed reading your piece this morning. My family originate from India, and things have progressed considerably re women in recent times. Girls were always seen as a burden or liability on their parents. Women never had any right and were down trodden. A wide spread practice called “Sati” was common practiced. Essentially when a woman was widowed she was cremated (forcibly) along with her husband. This is irrespective of age and obviously against her wishes.The practice of Sati has been discontinued, however still occurs in some remote parts of the country. I have included an english translation from the Sikh bible, from the 15th Century India. During this time women were severely degraded, oppressed and given no education or freedom
    “Man is born from a woman; within woman, man is conceived; to a woman he is engaged and married. Man is friends with woman; through woman, the future generations exist. When his woman passes away, he seeks another woman; to a woman a man is bound. So why call her bad? From her, kings are born. From a woman, woman is born; without woman there would be no one at all”
    But have things really changed? While things are good and well to discuss, actions speak louder than words. I’ll give you and example of my mother. Family friends of ours live in Sydney and have 2 daughters (aged 6 and 4). Mum asked the wife “so you’d be trying for a boy now?” There is a view that she is somewhat of a failure can she hasn’t produced a son. I find this appalling to be honest. I personally wouldn’t be phased if i had just daughters, so things are slowly changing.

    You made an interesting point re men who sleep around being labelled ‘studs’. I’ll provide a different point of view. I’m 25, single and never even been kissed. I often get labelled “old school”, “a dud”, “Mommas boy”, “gay” or get asked “what’s wrong with you”. I’ve always been on the opinion you save yourself for one partner. I am conservative, but progressive on many other front. Many women nowadays have an expectation that the man be ‘experienced’. The truth is i’ve always treated girls like i would treat my sister, with respect and encourage them to think independently. Many girls these days suffer from low self esteem essentially follow the crowd. A sort of approach “if i sleep with him he’d like me”. The sexualisation of particularly the youth is a worrying trend. Kid’s are no longer kids no more.
    I like you also look forward to a future where women can truly be considered equals. I hope things are a lot easier for my future daughter(s). I completely disagree with the approach of promoting women just to meet quotas. Such decisions should be made irrespective or race, sex creed or what they look like.

    Anyway keep up the good work and enjoy your ‘break’.


    • Wow now there’s something I have learned for the first time! Imagine knowing when your husband died you would die too. They do kill the woman first??
      But as far as Mum asking when the boy was coming – that happens here too. The number of times I’ve been asked so will you try for a boy is unreal! No! I won’t be just in case you were wondering!
      You will find yourself a beautiful woman one day. Those who stand for what they believe in always get what they deserve.
      I am with you on the sexualisation of little girls. I struggle every day to keep my girls away from all the influences they don’t need, but it still happens. The eldest is not on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or has a mobile phone for her personal use. Don’t get me wrong, they all have their place but some of the images I’ve seen recently on Twitter haunt me terribly.
      There was about another 20 minutes reading I wanted to put in, but cut it down to a bite size chunk of what was really annoying me at the time. The rest is for another day!
      And I will say it again – you, your life, your heritage is all so interesting! You should blog!


  2. Great post, Alison. I think it happens to everyone who’s “different” though – whether through age, sex or origin.

    I used to work in another male-dominated industry and there was often the need to prove myself by going the extra mile.

    Reckon the only way it’s ever going to change is by simply evening out the demographics.


    • Thanks Marian,
      it does and that is sad. The point I was trying to make was that whatever ‘difference’ you have that makes you stand out, women cop it the worst. Yet without woman there is no man.
      I agree. We just need to change the demographics and I believe dairy is a great place to start!


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