Quick hit: Quentin Bryce honours her radical ancestry (and past) [1]

Australia’s new Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, today offered a glimpse into her past, demonstrating her respect for feminist history and radicalism. While she participates at least some mainstream beauty rituals in the present – which is, of course, perfectly fine – she doesn’t distance herself from those who reject them, either.

From the SMH:

Ms Bryce said she was most proud of her time as sex discrimination commissioner and being a champion of equality of opportunity and fighting against sexual harassment.

“I’ve never owned a pair of jeans but I had a fantastic denim boiler-suit and it got a lot of wearing,” she recalled.

A joke, or her real history? Who cares? She doesn’t paint it as a negative stereotype to be reviled and repudiated, and that’s what counts with me.

I feel embraced, as a feminist, by our Head of State. Who knew that would happen in my lifetime?

[1] with a nod to Teh Portly Dyke



Categories: gender & feminism, Politics

Tags: , , ,

12 replies

  1. I think the context for this is an interview she did on the 7 30 report tonight. I didn’t see it because I was at work, but I was told Kerry O’Brien kept asking her tendentious questions trying to get her to distance herself from “boiler suit” feminists. That guy should be put out to pasture.

  2. She contextualises beautifully:

    KERRY O’BRIEN: Doing research for this interview, it struck me there’s been a certain amount of fascination for this feminist in her stilettos. There was one quote that Quentin Bryce has kicked more chauvinist male butt with her high heels than the whole boiler suit brigade put together. Did you have a boiler suit?
    QUENTIN BRYCE: I had a boiler suit, I never owned a pair of jeans, I had a fantastic boiler suit. It got a lot of wearing, there was a lot of comment in the women’s movement in the ’70s about what was ideologically sound and particularly in one’s apparel. It was about liberation of our bodies, our appearances, breaking down sex stereotypes, all those things.

  3. Eww @ Kerry O’Brien! Say it ain’t so!

  4. I have to say I didn’t hear KB like that. And even if that were his agenda she is more than fit to deal with him. I was most amused by her effusive comments on the military. Showing up J Howard’s emasculation of her predecessors int he position, but also something I didn’t expect from a feminist. Confused me a bit.

  5. I too was disappointed in the tone of the question from Kerry, and impressed by her reply. And a lot of other details of the interview, such as her fight against paternalistic hospital policies. Yep, I am pretty impressed with Quentin Bryce.

  6. I didn’t read Kerry’s question in that way at all. I thought Quentin was fantastic, although you could see her thinking very carefully about her words as she answered, which I suppose is to be expected. She was very careful when she was talking about “rubber stamping” legislation, Kerry was trying to get her to say that she would question it even after it had been through both houses of parliament. She veered very carefully away from that implication. I also thought she was very gracious when talking about the republic. Good interviewee, giving just enough away without compromising her position.

  7. I pretty much always miss the 7:30 report – it’s storytime – so thanks for the context (and link).
    I’m not sure how to read Ko’B’s question. He was laughing away, but I could read the question either as tendentious and agreeing with the quoted dismissals of the “boiler-suit brigade”, or as a bit of a Dorothy Dixer giving Bryce the opportunity to reject that dichotomy.
    So, for now, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.

  8. I feel embraced, as a feminist, by our Head of State. Who knew that would happen in my lifetime?

    ITA! Forgive me if I go a little bit off topic for a sec.
    I’m having a difficult day today. I work in Aboriginal legal aid in the top end and most of what I do is assisting Aboriginal mothers in ‘child welfare’ cases. Where the State is attempting to remove a child from their home. I’ve spent my day dealing with women in powerful positions – social workers, lawyers, civil servants – and honestly not feeling particularly positive towards the way powerful women deal with the powerless.
    Thanks for directing me to Ms Bryce’s comments. I needed that. I needed to be reminded of the wonderful women around. I can always count on Hoyden for that.

  9. I needed to be reminded of the wonderful women around.

    It sounds like looking in the mirror might help you there. Thanks for doing the work you do.

  10. Isn’t Quentin Bryce fabulous?!
    P.S I didn’t see Kerry O’Brien as offensive at all during the interview, I thought he came across as completely adoring of Bryce if anything, and charmed by her forthright feminism.

  11. I think K O’B is a total sucker for the ladeez, and to his everlasting credit (if only because it is so rare) it includes ladeez of his own age or older. Anyone see him with Kate Grenville the other night? He went all gooey there, too.
    And yes, Quentin Bryce is fabulous.

  12. Years ago, at Uni in Canberra I picked up a girlfriend from the airport and we went for a very late lunch. Kerry and five mature women were onto their I-don’t-know-how-manyth bottle of wine and having a fantastic time. I’ve always been kindly disposed to him, too 😉

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