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"Feminism is a revolutionary movement," says, Jane Caro

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Amrita Paul
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Social commentator and author Jane Caro thinks that writers must, first and foremost, be readers. Because reading widely not only creates a well-stocked mind, but the way skilled writers “structure their work, the precision with which they choose words and the truth they make each paragraph soak up (to paraphrase Virginia Woolf) just seeps into your own mind and practice.”

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Jane remembers her childhood, in the Northern beaches of Sydney as relaxed, carefree and yet intellectually stimulating. Encouraged by her parents, she was a bookworm and read voraciously but was also allowed to roam free with her friends around their suburban neighbourhood.

She calls, “I wasn’t athletic or sporty and nor was I a high achiever at school, but I did have a big vocabulary thanks to my wide, adventurous and unrestricted reading. My parents gave me the greatest of gifts by allowing me to grow up at my own pace, in my own way and so become very much myself.”

The Australian author who has written both fiction and nonfiction had started off her career in marketing because she wasn’t sure she had the talent to start writing. And marketing was far too much about counting things for hopeless-at-maths her. She finally found her calling as a copywriter, so she worked in advertising agencies on and off for the next 35 years.

“When I was a stay-at-home mum, a friend invited me to join her writing group and, thanks to them I began to gain confidence in my ability to write longer form.”

She adds, “Then, when I had my children and was climbing the walls with boredom as a stay-at-home mum, a friend invited me to join her writing group and, thanks to them I began to gain confidence in my ability to write longer form. I also became active fighting for public education in Australia and began to get opinion pieces published in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' on that subject. The first book I wrote (which I co-authored with an ex-public school principal) was about Australia’s schooling system and it was a success. Since then I have written and had published 10 books, including 2 novels.”

In a landmark voting, Australia recently legalized same-sex marriage. Does the author feel that the 15.3% percent gender pay gap in the country will also be bridged anytime soon?

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“Sadly, I think this will take a long time to be overcome... Australia has one of the most gender-segregated workforces in the developed world and this exacerbates the gender pay gap. We also have very expensive childcare and taxation policies that actively discourage women from returning to work after they have had children (even though most of them do).

Australian women have half the superannuation than men and one in three women retire with no superannuation at all. This is true, even though Australian women are among the best-educated women in the world and consistently out-perform their male peers at school and at the university.

Australian women tend to work part-time and in lower-paid professions and occupations. They earn less, own less and retire with less. On an average, Australian women have half the superannuation than men and one in three women retire with no superannuation at all. This is true, even though Australian women are among the best-educated women in the world and consistently out-perform their male peers at school and at the university. It is this inequality, injustice and sheer waste of talent that Australian feminists fight.”

As a writer, Jane has a deep and abiding passion for social justice and equality and an unfailing curiosity about what it means to be human. She is currently writing a book about women over 50 to be called An Uncertain Age.

Even in today’s day and age, many women don't identify as feminists, although their lives are proof enough that they have been fighting for equality all their lives. I ask the author, how can we make feminism more inclusive? She feels that the explosion of feminist voices on social media has been able to fundamentally challenge the old-fashioned fear of feminism.

“Feminism is a revolutionary movement. Its aim is to take power away from the old male hierarchies and share it more equally across the genders. You don’t do that by being ‘nice’ or ‘placatory’ or ‘acceptable’.”

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She asserts, “Feminism is a revolutionary movement. Its aim is to take power away from the old male hierarchies and share it more equally across the genders. You don’t do that by being ‘nice’ or ‘placatory’ or ‘acceptable’. I don’t think we should worry about making feminism more inclusive. The reality of women’s lives draws them to feminism, particularly over time.

Increasing education for women and girls draws them to the common-sense and fundamental justice of feminism. Social media is showcasing the voices of feminists and most of them are funny, warm, reasonable and compassionate as well as fierce, that makes it harder for patriarchy to demonise feminists and feminism (although it keeps on trying).”

The 60-year-old author also believes that there is no need to make the movement more palatable, for those who think that feminists are merely angry and defensive women. That we are entitled to feel and express the full gamut of human emotions, including anger. And the only people we make uncomfortable are those who are threatened by having to share power with women. And it doesn’t matter how hard we try to please those people we never will and we will just make ourselves miserable trying. In fact, those who block the progress and freedom of women should feel uncomfortable.

“Every great writer should make you feel uncomfortable sometimes. Every great thinker should challenge accepted wisdom.”

Jane informs, “Every great writer should make you feel uncomfortable sometimes. Every great thinker should challenge accepted wisdom. Every great social movement – and feminism is one of the greatest of these – should disrupt and challenge the status quo. That is what they are for. If you want to make people comfortable, don’t be a feminist.

It is a fundamental of feminism that women stop twisting themselves out of shape to fit in around male (and conventional female) sensibilities and sensitivities. It is time for us to be exactly who we are and if it makes those who would control us, police us or even kill us, uncomfortable – so be it.”

Also Read: “Real-world Sex is Not like Porn”, says Cindy Gallop, Founder MakeLoveNotPorn

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gender pay gap Jane Caro feminists and feminism Australian women
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