Jean Taylor has been fighting for women’s rights for almost four decades and in her 65th year she’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Brazen Hussies: A Herstory of Radical Activism in the Women’s Liberation Movement in Victoria 1970 – 1979  is the first in a series of ‘herstorical’ accounts of the local women’s rights movement

“You can look back and get a perspective and that’s the beauty of the historical overview of things — you’ve got more of a perspective and you can see patterns and how things merged and were worked out,” Taylor said.

The 770-page tome documents how women’s groups were set up around women’s issues such as equal pay, employment, abortion, domestic violence, rape and the subsequent pressure for laws to be changed.

Former state premier Joan Kirner will launch the book this month.

Brazen Hussies is published by Dyke Books Inc, a publishing group Taylor helped found last year to support lesbian writers.

It focuses on the 1970s emancipation period. Taylor said she is saving the ’80s and ’90s feminist experience for the next instalments.
“The decades on a whole all have a different flavour…it’s quite a significant shift in what women were doing and what lesbians were doing,” she said.

The book uses primary source material from the Victorian Women’s Liberation and Lesbian Feminist Archive and interviews with some of the women who lived through it. Taylor interviewed feminist activist peer Thelma Solomon who, along with Alva Geikie and Zelda D’Aprano, chained herself to the doors of the Arbitration Commission in 1969, calling for equal pay for women.
So how does the female experience in the ’70s compare with today?

“It’s a completely different world than it was back then,” Taylor said. “Those of us who grew to be adults at the end of the ’60s were in a much different place to where young lesbians and young women are today.

“It was a very repressive era and I think that’s why, when we decided we needed to form groups and challenge the status quo, it came out of a very repressed situation.”

info: Launch at Queen Victoria Women’s Centre, Lonsdale St, November 21, 1.30pm-3.30pm.

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