Kath Williams: The Unions and the Fight for Equal Pay

By Zelda D’Aprano | Go to book overview

13
Kath and male structures

During Kath’s membership of the CPA—she resigned in 1967— the branch meetings and conferences placed the ‘topic’ of ‘women and youth’ at the end of the agenda. Children were rarely discussed and only appeared as part of the agenda when a woman comrade deemed it necessary; issues to do with women and youth were of minor concern when wars, the threat of war and economic matters were paramount. The problems of power and the structure of hierarchical institutions of society—whether schools, governments, government institutions, business enterprises, political parties or trade unions— were rarely discussed in depth; they were viewed only within the narrow confine of class. Patriarchy was not a widely used term.

Dorothy Hewett, poet, novelist and member of the Party when Kath was a member, wrote of her experiences in the CPA:

Feminism and the equality of women were not causes dear to the
hearts of working-class Australian men, nor were they particularly
popular in the male-dominated hierarchy of the communist party.
Oh, they gave it lip service occasionally—some of them even read
Engels on Women and Communism, with his concept of the
working-class woman as a ‘slave of a slave’—but male supremacy
was alive and well amongst the higher and lower echelons of the
party.1

-216-

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