Monthly Archives: September 2008

Does anyone know…

Does anyone know what these fruit are? They are beautiful golden globes, about 3cm in diameter, and it would be lovely to use them for something, if only I knew what. All seemly suggestions will be gratefully received.

They came from this tree in our back yard.

What I’ve been doing

Mostly being sick, and working. We’ve had an on-going bout of colds and sore throats and sore ears and general end-of-winter-early-spring misery in our house. That mostly accounts for the slow blogging around these parts. But the illnesses seem to be coming to an end, the school holidays have begun, and I have finished up my job. Regretfully, in some ways – it was interesting and worthwhile work with interesting and enjoyable colleagues – but I’m looking forward to the extra time with my girls.

I’ve also been putting a bit of energy into preparing a submission to an NZ government discussion document, “Improvements to Sexual Violence Legislation in New Zealand.” The submission is up over at The Hand Mirror. Head on over there to read it, if you’re interested.

And so to bed…

Friday Feminist – Dora Montefiore

Cross post

When I moved to Australia at the start of this year, I knew very little about the history of women’s suffrage here, except that after the country of my birth, New Zealand, my adopted home, South Australia, was the next place in the world to allow women to vote in parliamentary elections. Of all the legislatures extant today, the then Territory of Wyoming was the very first to extend the vote to women, in 1869.

I’ve just started to read about women’s fight for the vote in Australia, beginning with a text that looks as though it was written for secondary school students. I found this extract in it. It’s undated, unfortunately, but the incident which is related in the extract took place in 1889.

One lawyer remarked to me, when explaining the terms of the will: “As your late husband says nothing about the guardianship of the children, they will remain in your care.” I restrained my anger… and replied, “Naturally, my husband would never have though of leaving anyone else as their guardian.” “As there is a difference in your religions,” he continued grimly, “he might very well have left someone of his own religion as their guardian.” “What! my children, the children I bore, left to the guardianship of someone else! The idea would never have entered his mind, and what’s more, I don’t believe he could have done it, for children belong even more to a mother than to a father!” “Not in law,” the men around the table interjected… “In law, the child of the married woman has only one parent, and that is the father” … I could hardly believe my ears when this infamous statement of fact was made, and blazing with anger I replied… “You don’t know how your horrible law is insulting to all womanhood.” From that moment I was a suffragist… and determined to alter the law.

Dora Montefiore, quoted in Audrey Oldfield, Australian Women and the Vote, Cambridge, 1994

Update: To record Wyoming as the first place to extend the vote to women. NZ still claims to be the first country to extend the vote to women.

What have they been doing, all this time?

Over at Larvatus Prodeo, someone asked me for my impressions of the NZ Labour government’s performance, scandals aside. So I’ve done my best to give an impressionistic view of the last nine years.

Head on over there to read it. And given that my impressions won’t be the same as your impressions, please, add yours in comments (over there).

Friday Feminist – Kate Sheppard

Cross posted

The news is being flashed far and wide, and before our earth has revolved on her axis every civilized community within the reach of the electric wires will have received the tidings that civic freedom has been granted to the women of New Zealand. … It does not seem a great thing to be thankful for, that the gentlemen who confirm the laws which render women liable to taxation and penal servitude have declared us to be “persons”… We are glad and proud to think that even in so conservative a body as the Legislative Council there is a majority of men who are guided by the principles of reason and justice, who desire to see their womenkind treated as reasonable beings, and who have triumphed over prejudice, narrow-mindedness and selfishness.

Kate Sheppard, September 1893

Celebrating suffrage

It’s Suffrage Day in New Zealand. 115 years ago, on 19 September 1893, the Governor, Lord Glasgow, gave the royal assent to the Electoral Act, and New Zealand women gained the vote.

My grandmothers were born in the early decades of the 20th century, one in 1902, and the other in 1914.

Both of these women grew up in a world where they had the vote. There was never a time, in their lives, where by virtue of their sex, they were excluded from voting.

My daughters will be the fourth generation of women in my family to vote. Already, in my mother’s family, there is a fifth generation of girls growing up, who are growing up in a world where they can vote.

Let’s celebrate this long standing freedom that New Zealand women gained, 115 years ago today.

This would never happen in the old country

My workmate brought her pet snake into the office today.