Dr Anne Summers on Feminism and the Me Too Movement

By Donna Duggan

Group of Teenagers Volunteer with Raised Hands to the Sky
Group of Teenagers Volunteer with Raised Hands to the Sky
We sat down with Dr Anne Summers to discuss feminism in 2018 ahead of her talk at Sydney Opera House’s All About Women Festival.

Dr Anne Summers AO is a best-selling author, journalist and thought-leader with a long career in politics, the media, business and the non-government sector in Australia, Europe and the United States. She is author of eight books, including the classic Damned Whores and God’s Police, first published in 1975. This bestseller was updated in 1994 and, again, in 2002 and stayed continuously in print until 2008. A new edition was published on International Women’s Day 2016. On Sunday March 4, Anne will be joining Barbara Caine, Rebecca Walker and Nakkiah Lui at Sydney Opera House’s All About Women festival. Each speaker will be representing the different waves of feminism – taking stock a century after women achieved suffrage of what we’ve achieved, what’s left to fight for, and how we can all fight together. Here she talks to MiNDFOOD.

What are some highlights from your exceptional career to date that really shine brightly for you and why?

Publishing my first book, Damned Whores and God’s Police is still the most exciting and gratifying thing that I have ever experienced. Even though it is a very long time since it happened, I will never forget my pride and wonderment at what I had managed to achieve. Other highlights included working for Paul Keating when he was Prime Minister and interviewing Julia Gillard at the Sydney Opera House just after she stopped being Prime Minister in 2013.

What’s top of mind for you when it comes to equality?

As I outlined in my Women’s Manifesto, which I released on International Women’s Day 2017, there are four principles of women’s equality, each necessary and each interdependent. They are: 1. financial self-sufficiency 2. reproductive freedom 3. freedom from violence and 4. the right to participate fully and equally in all areas of public life.

If there was one change you could make to laws in the West tomorrow, what would it be?

I would have Federal Parliament legislate for equal pay, so the first principle of women’s equality would be easier to achieve.

What role – both positive and negative – do you see social media having on the feminism?

Mostly positive. Communication is easy, global and able to reach millions. It is a great tool for education and for organising, but we need to ensure that the internet is a safe space. We need enforceable codes of conduct to achieve this

What do you believe is stalling parity?

Opposition from people who do not believe that women should be equal.

What’s one recent event that has indicated that we may be moving in the right direction?

The #MeToo movement and the Women’s March give me great hope, but we also need to focus on economic issues, as women can never achieve equality until they have financial self-sufficiency.

What is your role in the upcoming All About Women event, and what can we expect from your panel?

I am speaking on a panel, ‘Suffragettes to Social Media: Waves of Feminism’ alongside feminist historian and academic Barbara Caine, author Rebecca Walker and writer/actor Nakkiah Lui. Each of us represent different generations of feminists, and will talk about what was achieved for women’s rights in our respective eras. I expect it will be informative and inspiring, as we examine history’s lessons in looking towards the future of feminism. 

Suffragettes to Social Media: Waves of Feminism

All About Women, Sunday 4 March 2018

Sydney Opera House www.sydneyoperahouse.com




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