Can we talk about this?

Current thinking is that the human papilloma virus (HPV) causes cervical cancer and that all girls and boys in early high school need to be given HPV vaccines. In my book Gardasil: Fast-Tracked and Flawed I trace the early history of cervical cancer from a disease of obscurity to one of mainstream prominence. I have found and documented the numerous theories about the cause(s) of cervical cancer which have come and gone over the decades. I have read and written about how in the early years of the nineteenth century physicians claimed that sex was involved for it was observed that the disease was found in larger numbers among poorer, city women than amongst women in long term and stable relationships and in women who were living in rural areas. It was also thought that the disease was very rare in nuns until further research showed that religious sisters were subject to the disease too, and that, contrary to prevailing opinion, women in long-term relationships also developed cervical cancer. It was suggested that in the case of cancer of the uterus that the trauma of childbirth itself could be a risk factor. Such speculation might explain why there was more cervical cancer among women of low socioeconomic status than among women of means. Poorer women tended to have more children, lived harsher lives and possibly received less medical care, as well as missing out on much-needed rest and recovery time after the birth of their children.

I believe these early researchers were on the right track when they suspected that social circumstances such as poverty and inequality were in some way implicated in the disease process. British psychologist, author and researcher Susan Quilliam documented these lifestyle factors that might increase the chance of becoming ill with cervical cancer in her 1989 book Positive Smear. Written just before the idea that the human papillomavirus might be involved, she stressed the importance of a balanced diet and claimed that deficiencies in vitamin C, beta carotene and folic acid were common in women with cervical precancerous cells. Quilliam strongly emphasised the importance of a healthy environment, good hygiene and excellent nutrition as prerequisites for good health and resistance to disease. When discussing the causes of cervical cancer, she doesn’t shy away from a conversation about the contraceptive pill and how it has a negative effect on natural immunity as well as a propensity to lessen the body’s ability to use folic acid.

Today such environmental and socioeconomic factors relevant to the causation of cervical cancer are rarely considered. Instead the human papilloma virus is said to cause cervical cancer, no questions asked or answered.  Why, when and how this has happened is crucial to the story of Gardasil: Fast-Tracked and Flawed.

 

News, book launch and crackdown on free speech

I keep finding more information that I have not included in my book Gardsil: Fast-Tracked and Flawed.

I recently watched an hour – long interview with a New Zealand couple whose daughter had been injured post vaccination with Gardasil. Her mother had said no to the consent form sent home by the school but on the day of vaccination her daughter was bullied into it – made fearful by classmates and those giving the shots that she didn’t have it she would get cervical cancer and so submitted to the vaccine. The next morning she awoke with a blinding headache and from there her health went from bad to worse. It cost this family much in terms of heartache and money to obtain the help they needed to get their daughter well again. The medical system could do nothing – they could not or would not see the connection between the young girl’s condition that consisted of neurological problems and reproductive issues in that her periods had ceased and so the family sought homeopathy and naturopathic treatment. The treatment is expensive– there’s the testing involved, the detoxing and supplementation. This young girl was fortunate in that her parents were able to seek out and provide this treatment. There are so many who aren’t able to afford this and many who remain ignorant of what is wrong with them and that alternative treatment is available. The information is not in the mainstream where it should be.

In Gardasil: Fast-Tracked and Flawed I have written that there are over 50,000 adverse reported events after vaccination and yet during this interview I heard about another larger database of adverse events called Vigibase. It’s a World Health Organisation database and they record the total as over 73000. This of course is still far from accurate as many people don’t know where or how to record their event. It is good that we know where to record these events but what is being done about the huge number of adverse events. Where is the inquiry into these events – surely the World Health Organisation should be insisting on an inquiry and cessation of this vaccination program?

Of this 73,000 adverse events there are some astounding totals

  • Blood and lymphatic system disorders (1718)
  • Cardiac disorders (1921)
  • Congenital, familial and genetic disorders (246)
  • Ear and labyrinth disorders (1356)
  • Endocrine disorders (284)
  • Eye disorders (4076)
  • Gastrointestinal disorders (13313)
  • General disorders and administration site conditions (38918)
  • Hepatobiliary disorders (231)
  • Immune system disorders (1495)
  • Infections and infestations (3935)
  • Injury, poisoning and procedural complications (8507)
  • Investigations (11205)
  • Metabolism and nutrition disorders (1445)
  • Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders (12048)
  • Neoplasms benign, malignant and unspecified (incl cysts and polyps) (874)
  • Nervous system disorders (32911)
  • Pregnancy, puerperium and perinatal conditions (1153)
  • Product issues (58)
  • Psychiatric disorders (4080)
  • Renal and urinary disorders (942)
  • Reproductive system and breast disorders (2663)
  • Respiratory, thoracic and mediastinal disorders (4852)
  • Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders (12557)
  • Social circumstances (1342)
  • Surgical and medical procedures (1737)
  • Vascular disorders (4714)

In Australia 12-13 year old girls and boys are vaccinated with Gardasil as part of the school vaccination programs: Figures from 2014–15 reveal that nationally nearly 79% of girls aged 15 were fully immunised against HPV and 67% of boys. The uptake of Gardasil is much lower in the US where figures recorded for 2013 show that around 40% of girls and 35% of boys have received three doses. No surprise then that there is talk of mandatory vaccination with HPV vaccines in parts of the US. In a highly controversial, unprecedented motion, members of the Allegheny County Health Department in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have publicly revealed that they’re considering administering a countywide mandate to require all 7th grade girls and boys to receive the HPV vaccine before receiving admittance into school for the 2017–18 school year. This is very wrong and not only because they want to forcibly administer this vaccine but the HPV vaccine has been linked to more cases of death, disability and other serious side effects than can be traced to any other vaccine. And as noted in the book HPV vaccines are being associated with the very rare but serious condition of premature ovarian failure (POF), also known as premature menopause.” Surely there are enough problems with infertility already but no we’ll just cause a bit more – this time to teenagers – the future parents.

We need to spread the word about HPV vaccination before they mandate this one in Australia as they have done with the childhood shots linking them to family payments and entry to childcare. Imagine your teenagers not able to go to high school if they don’t get their HPV shots. HPV is not a communicable disease like measles. There is no need for this vaccine which was said to prevent Cervical Cancer and yet there is zero scientific proof that the vaccine has prevented a single case of Cervical cancer in any country. People are resisting all over the world – but very quiet in this country.

 In July 2016, 63 Japanese women and girls aged between 15 to 22 years sued the government and the drug makers for damages over health problems they suffered after they were vaccinated with the HPV vaccines Cervarix and Gardasil. The plaintiffs who had experienced a range of health problems starting after their HPV vaccines are seeking compensation of at least 15 million yen each. The women insist that the government provide expert medical help for their symptoms and that research for a cure happens. The women’s lawyers have stated: “the causal relationship will be acknowledged because the victims have common symptoms”. In the United States vaccine companies have immunity from prosecution. To understand how this happened, we have to turn the clock back to 1982. That is when four big drug companies (Merck, Wyeth, Lederle, Connaught) threatened to stop selling vaccines in America unless a law was passed giving them complete immunity from prosecution. So claims are submitted to the US national vaccine injury compensation program. The drug companies are not sued.

By March 20, 2013 Judicial Watch the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program had awarded $5,877,710 to 49 victims for harm resulting from the HPV vaccine and up to 2016 there were a total of 119 cases of damaged litigants compensated. There is no proof that this vaccine can prevent cervical cancer. It may result in more cases for there are reports of young women who have got cervical cancer after the vaccine. There are likely to be more cases of cervical cancer because there are changes to the successful Pap smear programs that are to start in December. Instead of the Pap smear test there is to be an HPV test. This of course predicated on the basis that HPV causes Cervical Cancer but there are many cases of Cervical cancer where the women are found to be HPV negative. So these cases of early cervical cancer may be missed.

At the launch of my book Gardasil: Fast-Tracked and Flawed my publishers and I were verbally attacked by two ardent pro-vaccinators one of whom was a virologist and the other an immunisation nurse. As well as being very disruptive and insulting they were dismissive of a woman in the audience who related the story of her two good friends who had suffered adverse effects from the Gardasil vaccine. The incident was surprising and begs many questions: Why were these two people there? What did they hope to achieve by their interruption and their attempts at disputing the facts presented in the book. Do they hope to shut this story down. Am I to be intimidated into silence?

Such ardent promoters of vaccination must be very worried that the  public is becoming aware that vaccines carry real risks. It is no surprise to read that Australian nurses and midwives who dare to speak out against the dangers of vaccinations on social media or in person will be prosecuted and that the Australian government is urging members of the public to report vaccine skeptics to the authorities.We are entering dangerous times when we cannot speak openly about medical procedures such as the Gardasil vaccination that can cause harm to some people.

 

 

 

 

Melbourne Launch of Gardasil: Fast-Tracked and Flawed by Helen Lobato

To be launched by women’s health researcher Dr Renate Klein

When: Friday June 9

Time: 5 pm for 5.30 pm

Where: Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre, 251 Faraday St, Carlton, Vic 3053

RSVP: Monday June 5 women@spinifexpress.com.au

 

In Gardasil: Fast-Tracked and Flawed Helen Lobato argues that we do not know whether HPV vaccines will decrease the incidence of cervical cancer. What is emerging, however, is evidence of their harmful effects. In 2006, the experimental HPV vaccination program began and there have been at least 315 associated deaths and more than 50,000 adverse events following HPV vaccination.

Gardasil was fast-tracked through the FDA, a process usually reserved for life threatening diseases to fill an unmet and urgent medical need. Improved living conditions had already reduced the incidence of cervical cancer significantly in Western countries. So why is the HPV vaccine so heavily promoted in Australia, a country with one of the lowest rates of cervical cancer in the world?

Gardasil: Fast-Tracked and Flawed documents the early history of cervical cancer and tracks its progression from a disease of obscurity to one of mainstream prominence. It includes the stories of vaccinated girls and boys who remain ill after receiving a vaccine purported to prevent a disease they were most unlikely to get. It records the voices of dissenters and resisters who call for an inquiry into HPV vaccines approved for use after a relentless propaganda campaign promoting a vaccine against a virus that many had never heard of.

This in-depth investigation exposes cracks in the pharmaceutical industry and highlights the problems that arise when government regulators and corporate interests are prioritized ahead of patient safety, independent science and common sense.

 

Gardasil 9

An application has been made by Seqirus Australia to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee to list Gardasil 9 on the National Immunisation Program as a 2-dose schedule for females and males aged 12-13 years as part of a school age program for the prevention of the human papilloma virus HPV. This listing if approved will replace the current 3-dose schedule of Gardasil, the 4-valent HPV vaccine. The committee whose role it is to recommend new medicines for listing on the PBS is due to meet again in July 2017.

Gardasil 9 which was approved for use in Australia by the TGA last year is said to be protective against nine HPV types: 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58. On the Gardasil 9 page of Merck’s website, the slogan: Your Child Could Be One Less At Risk For Certain HPV-Related Cancers And Diseases is prominently placed beside several happy, sporty children. Below is the directive to caring parents which reads ‘Help Protect Them With The HPV  Vaccine’. However if this vaccine is anything like its predecessor the 4-valent Gardasil, it is likely to be anything but protective. Currently there are tens of thousands of young girls who have become very ill after having their Gardasil shots. Sanevax records the numbers of young people injured and those who have died after HPV vaccinations. These are figures from the United States recording system VAERS and currently the numbers of adverse events are over 50,000 along with 317 deaths. These numbers are mainly from the USA and some parts of Europe and so these totals are far from accurate. Gardasil is authorised for use in 130 countries and 205 million doses have been administered. One would hope that this carnage could not continue and that the HPV vaccinations programs put on hold but instead there is another vaccine in the mix. Far from being protective this new HPV vaccine contains even more aluminium than the current HPV vaccine Gardasil which contains 225 micrograms.  One shot of Gardasil 9 has 500 mcg of this neurotoxin. Girls and boys will receive two shots of this new HPV vaccine bringing the total amount of aluminium injected into young bodies up to 1000mcg.

In FDA approved Gardasil 9: Malfeasance or Stupidity?, Norma Erickson has examined the Gardasil 9 package insert where she found that the rate of serious adverse events in  the trials of Gardasil 9 was 2.3-2.5%. Doesn’t sound bad but it really is because it means that for every 100,000 people who are given Gardasil 9 there will be 2300 serious adverse events and yet the cervical cancer rate in the US is around 7 women per 100,000. Talk about insanity!

And that’s not all she found when she examined the insert package. During the trials 2.4% of the recipients developed an autoimmune disorder which means that 2400 people could now be suffering from new diseases just because they had this new Gardasil injection. There was also bad news for women who became pregnant during the trials in that 14.1% suffered adverse outcomes. Erickson notes that those who were in the 4-valent Gardasil trials suffered similar and even higher rates of adverse outcomes of 17%. In all  313 women either lost their babies to spontaneous abortion or late fetal death or gave birth to children with congenital anomalies.

Will Gardasil 9 be listed on the PBS after July this year? Or will the PBAC whose job it is to recommend medicines for listing disapprove Seqirus’s request as occurred in November 2006 when CSL applied for the listing of  the 4-valent Gardasil? On that occasion the decision not to recommend Gardasil was overturned when Prime Minister John Howard stepped in and promised the public that the vaccine would be approved. In the interests of our children and grandchildren we can hope that Gardasil 9 is not listed on the PBS and if it is we will have to be even more vocal in our opposition to this unnecessary vaccination program that has so far failed to prevent one case of cervical cancer.

 

 

 

Gardasil: Fast-Tracked and Flawed

 

high res

Forthcoming June Release

In Gardasil: Fast-Tracked and Flawed  Helen Lobato argues that we do not know whether HPV vaccines will decrease the incidence of cervical cancer. What is emerging, however, is evidence of their harmful effects. In 2006, the experimental HPV vaccination program began and there have been at least 315 associated deaths and more than 50,000 adverse events following HPV vaccination.

Gardasil was fast-tracked through the FDA, a process usually reserved for life threatening diseases to fill an unmet and urgent medical need. Improved living conditions had already reduced the incidence of cervical cancer significantly in Western countries. So why is the HPV vaccine so heavily promoted in Australia, a country with one of the lowest rates of cervical cancer in the world?

Gardasil: Fast-Tracked and Flawed documents the early history of cervical cancer and tracks its progression from a disease of obscurity to one of mainstream prominence. It includes the stories of vaccinated girls and boys who remain ill after receiving a vaccine purported to prevent a disease they were most unlikely to get. It records the voices of dissenters and resisters who call for an inquiry into HPV vaccines approved for use after a relentless propaganda campaign promoting a vaccine against a virus that many had never heard of.

This in-depth investigation exposes cracks in the pharmaceutical industry and highlights the problems that arise when government regulators and corporate interests are prioritized ahead of patient safety, independent science and common sense.

To order: women@spinifexpress.com.au

Wave

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A terrific new novella by Hoa Pham

 

Wave explores the alienation of being an international student in Australia with great pathos and depth, told with Hoa Pham’s characteristic compassion and lyricism.—Alice Pung

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Daddy, what did you do in the war?

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Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?

Taken from Chiaroscuro, Melbourne award-winning poet Sandy Jeff’s new book in which she explores the tension of a world that is a place full of dark and light and where humour and sadness intermingle in a show that must go on.

 

 

 

jeffsc-cover-thumbThe Sergeant

Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War

Well, darling, I saw the young men come into bootcamp

and being their sergeant

it was my duty to turn boys into men

into fighting men, you know

so me and some mates initiated them by

shoving a broom handle up their arse

forced slops down their throat

made them drink their own semen chucked them into a shower

and scrubbed them with a wire brush

rubbed their dick and balls and arse with boot polish

sodomised a young bloke

this is the way it is, you know, it’s a boys club

gotta let them know who’s in charge

hell it happened to me and I’m ok

yeah, I’m serving my country and doing me best to turn out real fighting men

you should be proud of me.

 

The Recruit

Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?

Well, darling, first I went to bootcamp

I was taught how to kill

then I was bastardised by me superiors

they shoved a broom handle up my arse

forced slops down me throat

and made me drink semen

they chucked me into the shower and scrubbed me with a wire brush

then rubbed me dick and balls and arse with boot polish

and the sergeant sodomised me

so to get me mind off it

I gave the sheila recruits a hard time

I even secretly filmed meself banging one of them

yep, I was there to serve me country

so I went to war

and killed a lot of men

some women and children too

and ya gotta let the shitheads know who’s boss

so I raped a few of their women

it’s what happens in war

but when me mates got killed

jeeze, that was the hardest

I’m telling ya, I was shit-scared all the time

and being away from me family was hard

jeeze I was lonely

but I’m home now and I feel lousy

I think about topping meself all the time

lots of me mates have done it

jeeze I miss them

I feel so rotten

I’m telling ya tomorrow’s tragedy

from yesterday’s war

yeah, war’s a bloody bugger…a real bugger.

 

 

Men in the great war did many things that we don’t want to talk about, we’d rather see the diggers as heroes, as brave Anzacs. But there’s another untold story and that’s the story of venereal disease in the Australian Army.

Screen shot 2015-06-10 at 7.41.08 PM  The Secrets of the Anzacs: The Untold Story of Venereal Disease in the Australian Army, 1914-1919 written by Raden Dunbar reveals secrets and astonishing statistics such as the fact that during World War 1, about 60,000 soldiers in the Australian army were treated by army doctors in Egypt, Europe and Australia for venereal diseases – almost the same number of diggers who were killed during the war. Janet McCalman, author of Sex and Suffering described Dunbar’s story as  ‘a timely and necessary contribution to the centenary of Anzac.’ 

Most of these men had been infected with venereal disease in the brothels of Egypt. In the 1880s 40,000 British soldiers landed in Egypt and stayed and were the customers of the numerous bars, brothels and sex shows. In 1914, AIF forces from Australia that were headed for England via the Suez Canal were ordered to disembark and to set up their camps close to Cairo with the result that thousands of cashed-up Australians were living very close to the infamous brothels of Cairo and very far from their families at home.

Dunbar writes that the boys had money and freedom and regularly frequented the ‘Wozza’, an irresistible and fabulous place that was really a collection of squalid run-down apartment buildings known for venereal diseases: gonorrhoea, syphilis and chancroid. Condoms were not in common use in 1915 and the healing power of antibiotics was yet to be discovered. Abstinence from sex was the only sure way of avoiding the disease with prophylactic treatments such as antiseptic ointments to be applied to the genitals proving unpopular and rubber condoms extremely uncomfortable. In 1915 gonorrhoea, syphilis and chancroid were treated with drugs made from mercury, arsenic and silver and other toxic materials.

Claire Wright, author of The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka writes:

 The Secrets of the Anzacs is a full-frontal assault on our senses and our historical sensibilities. Deeply researched and always fascinating, Dunbar helps restore the Anzac legend to something more tangible, more complex, and, oddly, more heroic.’

In this interesting book, Raden Dunbar, retired schoolteacher, principal and university lecturer and author rarely mentions the prostituted women and only briefly acknowledges the wives, girl friends and mothers of the men. His concern and interest is for the infected soldiers of whom one in ten were married. But what of the prostituted women? Why were they forced to prostitute themselves? What do we know about the sex industry in WW1? Were the women in the brothels treated for their venereal disease? What about the wives and girlfriends? Were they infected also?

I would have hoped that researcher and author Claire Wright winner of the 2014 Stella Prize would have commented on the obvious omission in Raden Dunbar’s untold story of venereal disease in the Australian Army, 1914-1919- the women’s story.  In The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, Wright researches the history of Victoria’s gold rushes and the Eureka Stockade – addressing the recording of this episode which has largely ignored the presence and influence of women on the gold fields.

Little is known about what happened to the women who worked in the wartime brothels, especially after the war ended. If it is known that 60,000 Australian soldiers got either gonorrhea or syphilis while serving, then a great many of these women also suffered these diseases.

Their story remains untold.

A Centenary worth celebrating

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While the Centenary of Anzac received blanket media coverage, the three-day conference marking the centenary of the historic 1915 Congress of Women passed largely unnoticed.

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Haifa Fragments

In Haifa Fragments 

khulud khamis unpacks the multiple layers of culture, religion, sexuality, politics, feminism and nationalism in the hope of gathering the fragmented pieces of the past and reclaiming the lost contiguity of being Palestinian. – Samah Sabawi, Palestinian playwright and commentator

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Maisoon is a Palestinian citizen of Israel, raised as a Christian and in a relationship with a Muslim. Her boyfriend Ziyad wants the tradition-defying Maisoon to commit to their relationship. ‘…For Allah’s sake, Mais, what’s your problem? I want to marry you! I want us to be a real family.’

But the young jewellery designer is determined to find her own path with both Ziyad and her father constantly frustrated with her.  Her father, Majid dreams that his only daughter will become a doctor. To Layla his wife, he sighs: “Everything is wrong. Her quitting medical school…and…and…” ” She’s going out with a Muslim!”

Majid has his reasons and these and his carefully hidden past eventually become known to his wilful daughter. In the eyes of Maisoon, her father was the responsible bank clerk who worked overtime most days and always hoped he’d be promoted but wasn’t. He was the meek obedient citizen who knew that he didn’t belong:’Because his name was Majid’. He was of the generation ‘who never dared to raise their heads’- ‘those who grew up under military rule’. Majid wanted a better life for his daughter and disapproved of her working for the Yahudiyya (Jewish) boutique owner…’she could have done better’.

As Maisoon uncovers forgotten papers she is moved by what she learns of her father’s political past. The young Majid had been in love with a Muslim woman and taken part in the armed resistance, resulting in jailtime. He was also a poet.

Forgive me.

So today they finally got you. 

Last time we smoked nargila together you laughed. You said, 

They’ll never get you.

But they did.

You said, ” Who’s interested in a fighter whose weapon is the pencil?”

But they were.

 

‘Baba, the bank clerk? A poet? Could it be?’ This man, her father who was so angry about her own political activities. The same man who implored her to give up her peace activism: ‘It’s gone, our land is gone, and we are citizens of this state. You can’t bring back the past. It’s dead’.

khulud khamis, unpacks multiple layers in this intriguing novel. The layers are many and concern themselves with those of culture, religion, sexuality, politics, feminism and nationalism. Maisoon lives in a complex world: she is a feminist and peace activist who rails and acts against the gross injustices metered out to those who live in the occupied territories. And as a feminist she wants to live her own life, not the one that her father wants her to lead. She resists a permanent relationship with Ziyad as she explores her sexuality with Shahd. And as she comes to grips with her father’s secret life – a life formed of struggle involving culture, religion and nationalism, ‘the lost contiguity of being Palestinian’ is reclaimed.

Haifa Fragments is published by Spinifex Press

Release Date: March 8, 2015

 

So much more than good cooks!

This week, The Australian published an obituary for beloved and best-selling Australian author, Colleen McCullough. Her obituary opened with:

Screen shot 2015-01-31 at 1.37.42 PMCOLLEEN McCullough, Australia’s best-selling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth. In one interview, she said: “I’ve never been into clothes or figure and the interesting thing is I never had any trouble attracting men.”

Readers responded angrily to McCullough’s obituary, labelling it sexist. McCullough, who died on Thursday at the age of 77, worked as a neuroscientist in the United States before turning to writing full-time and yet her obituary began by describing her as “plain of feature” and “overweight”.  ABC journalist Joanna McCarthy tweeted the article along with the words: “Award for worst opening lines of an obituary goes to …#everydaysexism.

But sadly it’s not unusual for women to spoken about in terms of beauty and sex appeal, rather than with respect for intelligence and a lifetime of achievement. Effie Mann writing in The Age recalls The New York Times’ obituary for rocket scientist Yvonne Brill, whose professional achievements were listed below her cooking prowess  and success as a dedicated wife and mother. The first paragraph of her obit described her as a woman who “made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. 

I recall being at my mother’s funeral where I overheard a remark made by one of her former acquaintances who’d been surprised by the stories she’d heard of the richness of our mother’s life before she became ill. ‘I didn’t know Marion did all that,’ she said quietly to her companion. What this person didn’t know was that mum was very talented in dressmaking, gardening and crafts. She had left school early to care for her large family after her mother had died at the age of 47 years, so although she hadn’t had the career chances that her daughters have had, she made the very best of her situation.

Many of those attending her funeral service only knew Marion as our father’s wife and our mother. Father was the successful Managing Director and the local church elder. He sang in the church choir and helped elderly ladies with their finances. It was mostly all about Morrie.

So when friends and relations listened to the many splendid speeches devoted to Marion they heard about a woman in her own right: Talented in crafts, always quick to knit or sew or bake what was required for the village fete. She was a keen and skilful gardener, devoted to her beautiful garden, loved playing lawn bowls, and she enjoyed the company of her many women friends. This personal testimony to our mother preceded any mention of her role as a dutiful wife and mother.

Whereas my mother’s singular life was respected, the same cannot be said of the funerals of my aunts. Sadly, I can only recall the lives of these women being remembered in terms of how well they cooked. Speech after speech spoken by loving daughters, sons and grandchildren remembered my aunts, Jean, Marge and Betty as great cooks, willing babysitters and little else. I’m so glad that Marion was remembered as a woman who was very talented in the crafts, was great at sport and a keen and fruitful gardener. Mum and her sisters weren’t career women – their lives were largely spent caring for us and supporting their men. But mum sought an outlet in her very many interests even so.

I understand why our mother was remembered as a woman first and mother and wife second. My sisters and I had grown up in the 1950s with a very controlling father. We had married early but divorced and were at the time living as single mothers. My sister’s speech and respect for our mother emanated from the changes in society wrought by feminists.

But as Colleen McCullough’s sexist obituary revealed this week we still have a long way to go yet before due respect is shown for the complexity of the lives women lead.

 

 

 

 

 

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