This week we want to hear from you, our readers, on the things you think are important to you and your communities from a woman’s experience. Our resident Crone, Jan Roberts shares a piece of her story and how it has informed her community activism for almost 40 years. She reflects on how she has always felt she has had to work against a tide of opposition to her work from powerful voices in towns that sought to maintain the status quo and how important it has been for her to push back.
Mona exists to provide a space for women in the bush to tell their stories, but we would like to try something new.
We would like to listen to our readers to understand what you would like to learn more about from a bigger picture perspective on gender in rural and regional Australia. Through Mona’s work in local communities, we have realised that mainstream channels of story telling in newspapers, magazines, television, radio have enormous influence on what is considered a worthwhile story and where we, as a society, focus our attention and energy. We would like to join the conversation, but from a different point of view, and we would love you to guide us.
I grew up in rural NSW and then had the chance to experience city life for a period of 5-yrears in my younger days. I know the reality of country living and the difference of attitudes, culture, expectations that exist between country and city living.
I returned to a regional centre, Wagga Wagga in 1974 after realising I preferred life out of the rush and push and travel time of city dwelling. I missed the space, the natural environment, and the slower pace of life.
Of course, there were things I also missed about the city – being where the action was, entertainment, political action, interest groups, anonymity.
I was a keen participant in the second wave of feminism, which had crashed into Australian politics, especially through the 1970’s. I was a school teacher and found some like-minded women amongst my colleagues in Wagga. However, the broader community was essentially conservative, male dominated and closed-minded.
So, for the past several decades I have learned to live with being part of a community where my views, politics and interests come from a minority perspective. It has been hard, incredibly at times, to keep the faith and present an alternative, but I have. This could not have happened the way it did without the support of my family and some very close women friends.
The world for women has taken so many turns and promises for a better future and yet we know much has been skin deep. We still earn less by a significant factor than men in our society. Women and girls are still being encouraged to “look” and behave in ways that pleases men. Family violence and sexual assault is growing after years of discussion about how to tackle this national crisis. Childcare is expensive when you can actually source it. Women are the main providers in the care economy – early childhood services, aged care and the disability sectors – all of which are undervalued and under paid, simply because this work is seen as women’s work and because of this it is discounted. Women still do the vast majority of unpaid work in the home, as well as caring for children, older relatives, and volunteering for community service.
So rather than the editors deciding what you need to hear about in the blog, we are inviting you to share with us the main issues and concerns that impact your lives. What are the positives you experience living in rural Australia and what are some of the things you find difficult to negotiate and find a place to share and be heard? We look forward to listening and learning from you.
About Jan Roberts
Jan is Mona Magazine's Crone/Wise woman and provides guidance and critique for the Mona team on feminism, organising and sisterhood. Jan has been a feminist all her life, even before she'd heard the word or understood what it meant, it was in her DNA! Born and raised in rural NSW, she was awarded a scholarship to attend Sydney University in 1969, where she trained as a secondary school teacher. Thus, began her activist life, which is still part of her life to this day. In the late 1970s she was part of a feminist group that established the Wagga Women’s Health Centre and changed her career path to work in this Centre.