Friday Feminist – Louisa Lawson

“Woman is not uncompleted man, but diverse,” says Tennyson, and being diverse why should she not have her journal in which her divergent hopes, aims and opinions may have representation. Every eccentricity of belief, and every variety of bias in mankind allies itself with a printing-machine, and gets its singularities bruited about in type, but where is the printing ink champion of mankind’s better half? There has hitherto been no trumpet through which the concentrated voices of womankind could publish their grievances and their opinions. Men legislate on divorce, on hours of labour, and many another question intimately affecting women, but neither ask nor know the wishes of those whose lives and happiness are most concerned. Many a tale might be told by women, and many a useful hint given, even to the omniscient male, which would materially strengthen and guide the hands of law-makers and benefactors aspiring to be just and generous to weak and unrepresented womankind.

Here then is The Dawn, the Australian Woman’s Journal and mouthpiece – a phonograph to wind out audibly the whispers, pleadings and demands of the sisterhood.

Here we will give publicity to women’s wrongs, will fight their battles, assist to repair what evils we can, and give advice to the best of our ability.

It is not a new thing to say that there is no power in the world like that of women, for in their hands lie the plastic unformed characters of the coming generation to be moulded beyond alteration into what form they will. This most potent constituency we seek to represent, and for their suffrages we sue.

Louisa Lawson, editorial in the first issue of The Dawn, 1888, in Olive Lawson (ed.), The First Voice of Australian Feminism: Excerpts from Louisa Lawson’s The Dawn 1888 – 1895, Simon and Schuster, 1990.

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