Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 33, Number 13. 1970
The Reverend Easton, with heterodox disregard of the Thirty-nine Articles, suggested that St Paul's male chauvinism had prevented women playing their full role in the church. (Christ had shown his attitude to women's liberation by refusing to condemn the women taken in adultery.) Increasing numbers of marriages at an earlier age showed the continuing popularity of marriage, in spite of Liberated Women's attacks on that institution; the small size of the average modern family, the average home having two children, showed that the family duties were becoming less onerous. As families became smaller, more women became free to re-enter the workforce in their thirties, and there was a growing demand for their services from industry. Women, though, were still regarded as visitors to the economy rather than permanent inhabitants of it and few women were reemployed after marriage, and child-bearing at the same level of responsibility they had achieved before marriage. Employers, Mrs Shields of the Council for Research on Women told us, did not understand women's problems.page 10
This brought us straight to the punch-line of the afternoon's speakers' cri de coeur; don't be too militant; you might worry the employers. According to Mrs Shields and Rev Easton all you need to do is to act as though you were equal and you will be treated as equal. Sex discrimination, equal pay, subservience to men? These are created by women's inferiority complex. Any businessman will be nice to a woman who plays the rules of this game efficiently. Note the sex: Businessman and the too possessive pronoun: his.
But this message is not entirely false, and this is its strength. Women must reject discrimination before they can defeat it. Women have to lose the Uncle Tom (is this the female equivalent Aunt Daisy?) mentality. They can only be encouraged to do these things, however, through organisation, which most of the afternoon speakers deplored. This is vital. In times of capitalist boon there are plenty of jobs for Islanders. In times of slump, women and Islanders are the first to be fired. Only organisation can give women a position relatively independent of economic change. The afternoon speakers saw the history of women's freedom slowly broadening down from precedent to precedent rather than as a record of a few mediocre achievements.
Pam McKenzie, the final speaker, concentrated her attention on how the family structure restricts women's and children's freedom. Women have been turne by society into creatures with interesting genitalia: they must become human beings. A science, which under male direction yearly created new poison gasses, could find neither the time not the money to devise a really safe method of birth control The division of labour incarnated in the family which condemned women to domestic drudgery was neither natural nor sacrosanct and could be easily and rationally changed.—Men because of their greater educational opportunities would have less detrimental effect on young children, whereas today women are expected to fulfil this role without the necessary qualities essential for good child development. Education, Pam, along with other speakers argued was dedicated to instilling in Women a completely inadequate view of their capabilities and possibilities: education must be revolutionized.
The New Zealand Women's Liberation movement is a long way from the kind of gang warfare on males quoted from Berkley Tribe in a previous issue of Salient. It is earning itself the right, by its ideas and activities, to be taken seriously indeed.