things women worry about under patriarchy: rape, domestic violence, access to contraceptives, equal pay
things men worry about under patriarchy: getting called gay, paying for dates, why does the car wash give women $1 off on wednesdays
I have neither the emotional fortitude nor the time nor the way with words to properly speak on the subject of Gough Whitlam. Instead I’ll just share one small story.
Some time in the early 1980’s my mother and grandmother were in an elevator in the centre of Sydney. They’d been visiting the War Widows’ Guild about my grandmother’s pension and were dressed in their nicest clothes.
The elevator doors swooped open on a level they weren’t expecting, and in strode Gough, busy and important and in my grandmother’s words ‘very dashing’.
My tiny little grandmother, barely five foot four, stepped forward and said “It’s very nice to meet you, Mr Whitlam.”
And Gough Whitlam stopped and turned and engaged in conversation with my grandmother, who left school at the age of 13, who had worked in factories all of her life, who only had hopes of sending her daughters to university because of initiatives Gough implemented. He showed genuine interest as they spoke for several minutes, and shook her hand and wished her luck when he left the elevator.
The traits shown in this small interaction speak volumes. The willingness to engage with those poorer, less educated, of different culture and gender, or less fortunate than oneself - the humanity and compassion and intelligence and kindness - the genuine decency is, in my mind, the legacy of Whitlam.
Vale Gough. And thank you.
We must all listen to this today as a nation because Gough was the best prime minister we have ever had