What is a woman?

International Women’s Day 2019
Ian talks with Betty Taylor (Red Rose Foundation) about violence done toward women and institutions that discriminate against women.

Ian talks with Pamela Curr AOM about growing up as a woman in the 1960s. Pamela Curr later became an activist with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/ian-curr/iwd-2019-what-is-a-woman

What is a woman?
Angela Davis once said ‘radical simple means getting to the root‘. At the 1910 2nd International Conference of Working Women, delegate Clara Zetkin successfully moved for an International Women’s Day to be celebrated every year. People have marched ever since for women’s rights and to end discrimination against women.

There are many events around Brisbane this week where people can celebrate gains made by women and to organise for struggles ahead. Last night women celebrated IWD at an event hosted by Union Aid Abroad highlighting the international character of this struggle. In the trade unions, the National Tertiary Education union has organised events for its members. There are two rallies planned for tomorrow one in Emma Miller Place starting at 10 am and another at 2pm in Queens Park. We encourage our listeners to support these events where possible.

During International Women’s Day 2018 in Brisbane a singer was heckled because she held up a sign that said trans people cannot be women.

IWD 2019 has split because of the acrimony existing within the women’s movement over this issue.

For many there are other issues facing women that are more pressing: preventing violence against women, the pay gap, discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, women’s control over their own bodies and fertility, and why are women doing the bulk of unpaid caring and domestic work. There are other pressing issues.

It is important for the discussion about transgender to be out in the open and not behind closed doors. So what are the questions that go to the heart of this division in the women’s movement and what is a remedy (if one is possible)?

We do not claim to be experts and can only ask questions that go to the heart of this issue:

What is a woman?
What is a feminist?
What are internal, inside the psyche, that influence relations between women and men?
What are the structural elements in society that determine inequality faced by women?

A woman. At a biological level a woman is a primate who can lactate, menstruate and give birth to children. She is an adult female human being who has a uterus, ovaries and a hormonal spectrum that allows gestation, birth and support of an infant. This gives rise to a set of experiences singular to women.
Transgender denotes or relates to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex (Oxford dictionary) .
Intersex women are those born with sexual characteristics that do not fit typical notions of male or female.

Human beings have been assigned different gender roles by society, much depends on race and class.

Throughout the ages, gender has been used to discriminate against all women. All women, no matter what country (be it advanced capitalist or developing), have been subjected to violence.

In 14th century English the words ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ were roughly synonymous. It was not till the 20th century that the women’s movement challenged this assumption and showed how gender was used by patriarchal societies to deny women human rights afforded to men only.

A woman’s mind
In ‘A Room of One’s Own‘ Virginia Wolfe wrote this passage: “In each of us two powers preside, one male, one female… The androgynous mind is resonant and porous… it transmits emotion without impediment… it is naturally creative, incandescent and undivided.”

Joni Mitchell – Night Ride Home i
Jumping Fences – I Never Sing i
Irina Gonzalez (La Gitana Tropical) – Ashe
Joni Mitchell – Slouching towards Bethlehem

Playlist

References
Ruth Bader-Ginsburg @ https://iview.abc.net.au/show/rbg/video/ZW1893A001S00

Apparently, women are less ambitious and worse negotiators than men @ https://www.canberratimes.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/apparently-women-are-less-ambitious-and-worse-negotiators-than-men-20190306-p512a2.html

Notes by Ian Curr

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