Lindy Chamberlain’s infamous interview: The full story.

In October 1982, Lindy was convicted of murdering her little girl by slitting her throat. Her husband, Michael, was found guilty of being an accessory after the fact.

Media interest in the case was enormous, and people paraded outside the court wearing t-shirts that read: “The dingo is innocent”.

She was sentenced to life in prison, but served three years before Azaria’s matinee jacket, the existence of which police had refuted, was found partially buried near a dingo lair at Uluru. Courtesy of the new evidence, Lindy was released on remission and later pardoned and awarded $1.3 million in compensation from the Northern Territory government.

But it did little to reclaim the public’s favour.

An assumption was made about what a grieving parent looks like, and through Lindy’s infamous interview and other media appearances, many decided she didn’t fit. How could a bereaved mother appear so cold? Where are the tears?

Source: Lindy Chamberlain’s infamous interview: The full story.

Disney’s Mulan tells women to know their place

The story of Mulan has been told and retold for 1,600 years. This latest version is more conservative, when it comes to a woman’s place, than one told in the 17th century.

Within the film, the villain Xianniang (Gong Li) provides a powerful contrast to Mulan. Xianniang invites Mulan to join forces and rebel against the Emperor. She wants to build a kingdom where strong women like them are accepted for who they are, but Mulan responds, “I know my place” – emphasising her duty is to serve her Emperor.

Ultimately, Xianniang sacrifices herself to save Mulan. By refusing to work within the system, Xianniang’s death signifies the failure of her radical approach.

Rather than being a story of female empowerment, Mulan promotes the idea that women must put male authority figures before themselves to achieve recognition.

The story of Mulan hasn’t always sent this message. In a version by the 17th century author Chu Renhuo, set at the end of the Sui Dynasty (581-618), Xianniang is a warrior princess who becomes Mulan’s sworn sister. They lead a group of women soldiers and travel together. This friendship is absent from the Disney film.

Source: Disney’s Mulan tells women to know their place

300 years on, will thousands of women burned as witches finally get justice?

It spanned more than a century and a half, and resulted in about 2,500 people – the vast majority of them women – being burned at the stake, usually after prolonged torture. Remarkably, one of the driving forces behind Scotland’s “satanic panic” was no less than the king, James VI, whose treatise, Daemonologie, may have inspired the three witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Now, almost 300 years after the Witchcraft Act was repealed, a campaign has been launched for a pardon for those convicted, an apology to all those accused and a national memorial to be created.

“In Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, there are monuments to all sorts of men on horseback, and even a full-size statue of a named bear. But there is nothing to commemorate the hundreds, if not thousands, who died as a result of one of the most horrible miscarriages of justice in Scottish history,” Mitchell said.

Those arrested under the Witchcraft Act were usually tortured into making confessions. Women, who made up 84% of the accused, were not permitted to give evidence at their own trials. Those convicted were strangled and burned at the stake so there was no body to bury.

Source: 300 years on, will thousands of women burned as witches finally get justice? | Scotland | The Guardian

Vida Goldstein was one of the first women in the western world to stand for parliament. Her fight still resonates today

Vida Goldstein, born in the Victorian city of Portland in 1869, was the first woman in the western world to nominate for a national parliament.

When Australian women were granted the right to vote by an act of parliament in 1902, the rest of the world recognised this new country as extraordinarily progressive. Women all over the world envied their Australian sisters – Vida was even invited to the US as a representative of “Australia, where women vote”.

Her last campaigns took place during the first world war; she vehemently opposed the then prime minister Billy Hughes’s two attempts to introduce conscription for overseas service. Defying not only the government but a large part of the population, she led public meetings – returned soldiers set fire to her platforms several times – and took steps to see that women and children did not starve while men were away fighting. When conscription was twice defeated, she felt vindicated.

Vida Goldstein was a woman of great ability, courage, intellectual force and determination: surely an asset to any parliament. Had she lived in the US or the UK, where she was lauded and admired, I believe she would certainly have been a member of the national legislature. Both countries had women in parliament or congress within five years of them gaining the vote; in Australia though, it took 40 years after women won the vote to see them take a seat in parliament.

Source: Vida Goldstein was one of the first women in the western world to stand for parliament. Her fight still resonates today | Books | The Guardian

Diana Russell obituary

The feminist scholar and activist Diana Russell, who has died aged 81, devoted her life to the campaign to end male violence towards women and girls. Perhaps her greatest achievement, and the one of which she was most proud, was popularising the term “femicide”, which she described as “the killing of females by males because they are female”.

She said: “From the burning of witches in the past, to the more recent widespread custom of female infanticide in many societies, to the killing of women for so-called honour, we realise that femicide has been going on a long time.”

Source: Diana Russell obituary | Feminism | The Guardian

Were the First Artists Mostly Women?

Women made most of the oldest-known cave art paintings, suggests a new analysis of ancient handprints. Most scholars had assumed these ancient artists were predominantly men, so the finding overturns decades of archaeological dogma.

“There has been a male bias in the literature for a long time,” said Snow, whose research was supported by the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration. “People have made a lot of unwarranted assumptions about who made these things, and why.”

Source: Were the First Artists Mostly Women?

Reclaim Her Name: why we should free Australia’s female novelists from their male pseudonyms

The Women’s Prize for Fiction has just published 25 literary works by female authors with their real names for the first time. Could we do the same for Miles Franklin and Henry Handel Richardson here?

For these authors, using a pseudonym was not just about slipping their work past male publishers who did not think publishing was a place for a woman. It was also about more diffuse forms of gender prejudice.

Women writers – witheringly dubbed “lady novelists” in the 19th century – also worried that their work would be marginalised as “women’s writing”; as domestic, interior, “feminine” and personal, as opposed to “masculine” themes such as history, society and politics that are, according to social norms, deemed to be more serious and culturally significant.

Source: Reclaim Her Name: why we should free Australia’s female novelists from their male pseudonyms

Exploring Gender Roles in Vintage Advertising

A look back at the portrayal of women and men as homemakers and breadwinners in cinema advertising from the 1940s.

The pressure on women to be perfect in everything they did was intense during this era and present at every stage in life. Household products were pitched directly at women, rather than men, and the marketing message was clear – ‘Brand X’ will help you win over that man and guarantee you’ll keep him.

The period of the late-1950s going into the 1960s saw a recovering economy, greater availability of ‘luxury’ items, the introduction of television, widespread migration and a growing women’s movement. There was a shift in culture and more relaxed social attitudes but the advertising industry continued to employ strictly defined gender roles whenever it thought they might be helpful in targeting different demographics.

Source: Exploring Gender Roles in Vintage Advertising | NFSA