Why Jane Caro thinks feminism is an incomplete project and why we should agree with her
I’m a big fan of Jane Caro and suspect we’re quite similar in many ways. We’re about the same age. We’re both feminists. We’re both atheists. We’re both interested in life for women over 50. We both like to write. We both like to speak in public. The big difference between Jane and me is that she’s actually gotten off her patootie and got stuck into making a difference with her writing and speaking. Unlike me, she’s actually written a few books. Unlike me, she’s actually spoken to millions of listeners over the years. Unlike me, she’s exposed herself to comment and criticism in a public arena. I’m still a work in progress.
So, I‘m a Jane Caro follower. She speaks, I listen. And learn. About myself, my generation and other people’s response to us. I loved this recent article; Women over 50 are living out two fates that show feminism is an incomplete project, which was posted in June 2017 on the News page of our beloved ABC, Australia’s national public broadcaster.
I was reminded of it while talking to a woman I’d just met at a function last night. Her story was sobering – she was approaching 60 and despite working most of her entire adult life, had no financial security in terms of a house or savings and was struggling to find work that could accommodate her primary carer responsibilities for an infirm parent who was not wealthy enough to pay someone for that service. Being the only daughter, it was just assumed she would be the one to step in when the time came. It was also assumed she would do this for no money. After all, it’s her father. It’s callous expecting to be paid to look after your own father! Or is it?
Meanwhile, the sons of the same man are off to work in their high paying jobs, socking away more and more superannuation with each pay cheque, skiing in Aspen in the holidays and ferrying Tristan and Jemima to music, ballet, rugger and whatever other activity they want to participate in. Of course, they pop in to see Dad every now and then, as their busy schedule permits.
Her father’s will, for which her brothers are Executors (of course they are!), provides for his small estate to be shared equally between the three children. Her share wouldn’t be enough for her to live on for more than about 5 years. Her outcome is bleak and she knows it.
I asked if her brothers recognise the ‘sacrifices’ she’s made to be with their father full-time and whether she felt they may be open to his estate compensating her for that separately to her inheritance. She started to cry. The conversation we had from there is for another blog but it reminded me of Jane’s article.
Life for women over 50 is a mixed bag – for some, it can be a most enjoyable, liberating, fulfilling experience, filled with travel, theatre, yoga classes and grandchildren. For others it can be a nightmare of insecure (or no) employment leading to financial insecurity and sadly, all too commonly, homelessness.
According to Jane, feminism cannot end until these inequities and the unfairness and social injustices that perpetuate them are openly tabled for discussion.