A call to rebellious sisters: It’s time to turn our vision of a perfect world into a reality. Because we can!

Share with your friends


How often have you heard it said that women are the powerless victims of a ruthless

society that enslaves us? Or these words, “In a perfect world…”— to shut us up.

Yes, the profit system brutalises women and uses all of its power to keep us down. This

is how it’s been since society became divided into classes thousands of years ago, and

women — once honoured as social leaders — were turned into chattel. By controlling

our bodies to reproduce a workforce and our labour to keep society humming, a tiny élite

has been able to rule and enrich itself. As the Radical Women Manifesto puts it, “We are

the majority of the old and the young; we are the majority of the poor. We are the doubly

oppressed half of every oppressed minority, as well as the most economically exploited


But never have we been helpless or silent! Says the Radical Women Manifesto: “We are

the inheritors of a rich tradition of women fighters and rebels…women who dedicated

their lives to human rights and social progress. They are women who have understood

the real meaning of ‘radical’ — change that goes to the root.” Now, there’s something

they never taught us at school! I didn’t learn about movements for workers’ rights,

reproductive justice or rights for queers, Indigenous nations or ethnic minorities —

and their women leaders. My education taught me only about the charitable ladies who

worked with the poor and the destitute, the ladies whose function was presented as an

extension of the caring wife and mother.

It is the women who, because of their “special place” in the capitalist system, possess the

personal understanding of struggle, have the least to lose and most to win by rebelling,

and step up as leaders. It is from them that we can most learn.

Defiance that inspires. Take, for example, Daisy Bindi (c 1904 – 1962), a Nungamurda

woman born about 1904 on a cattlestation near Jigalong Aboriginal Reserve in Western

Australia. As a child, she worked on Ethel Creek station, learned household skills and

received no formal education. She later became an accomplished horsewoman, living and

working with her Nyangumarda people on a number of pastoral stations. She witnessed

and endured the horrors inflicted by the police, who regularly raided Indigenous camps

and shot dogs which the community depended upon to hunt kangaroos. In those days

Indigenous men, women and children were “bonded” to a station owner for the term of

their natural life. They received very little and irregular pay, if any at all, and to leave the

station meant punishment by severe beatings or death.

In 1945, she responded to a call from Don McLeod, Dooley Bin Bin and Clancy

McKenna, urging Aboriginal workers on large sheep and cattle stations to strike for better

conditions and human rights. A fiery speaker, Daisy organised a meeting to spread the

message. She demanded and received wages from her white station boss, and with the

money she hired a truck to transport local strikers. This landmark strike, which covered

Western Australia’s massive Pilbara region, started on l May 1946 and continued for

three years. It was one of the longest in Australian history.

Although the employers had assistance from the police and the Native Welfare

Department to prevent the strike, 500 men, women and children walked off the stations

south of Nullagine and made their way to Port Hedland. At Nullagine, Daisy talked

her way through a police confrontation and, leading 86 others, made her way safely via

Marble Bar to Canning Camp on the Shaw River.

In 1959, Daisy injured her foot while mustering. Her diabetic condition, and the lack of

adequate health services, resulted in gangrene and the amputation of her leg. When she

visited Perth to be fitted with an artificial limb, she successfully lobbied parliamentarians

for a school at the Pindan Cooperative, a community-run organisation formed out of the

strike and the first of its kind.

Daisy did not let oppression for her class, sex and race, nor her disability, stop

her. Dooley and Clancy were later sentenced to three months jail under the Native

Administration Act. Did the threat of jail, beatings, or even possible death, make Daisy

change her mind? Perhaps it was all too difficult? Perhaps it would be easier to just try

for a little bit of change? No, no and no! She was defiant and decisive. She was bold and

fearless and didn’t give up.

A world to win. Daisy Bindi is one of many international women rebels named in the

Radical Women Manifesto for their part in making our heritage so rich. “The truth,”

says this document, “is that in women of all ages and colours there lies a vast potential

for revolutionary strength and leadership — and at a time in history when strength and

leadership are most urgently needed.” What would I like to change? To start, I want

women to be able to choose if and when they want to have a baby and whether they want

assisted reproduction. I want a world where Aboriginal Australians enjoy sovereignty,

with the freedom to decide where and how they live, and a treaty to recognise this. Where

same-sex couples have the same rights as heterosexuals to marry and adopt children.

Where people are secure in their civil rights, free from any fear of being locked up

because of where they come from, what they look like and what they think. Where an

enjoyable job, good pay and great conditions aren’t pipedreams. I want us all to reclaim

our planet and its resources from the profiteers, so that our children and our children’s

children can enjoy all that it offers. A bit idealistic? No, these are necessities that we can

make into reality, and sooner rather than later. It takes optimism and leadership to bring

on this revolutionary shake-up.

Nancy Reiko Kato, from Radical Women in the United States and author of Women of

Color: Frontrunners for Freedom, adds: “Quiet as it’s kept, there is no better life than

that of being a revolutionary feminist. Transforming ourselves into leaders in order to

change the world – now that’s a lifestyle worth choosing. What a joy to believe that the

world can — and will — be a better place!” I joined Radical Women, because I want

to walk with Daisy, Nancy and other women freedom fighters who don’t hold back. As

Nancy says, “Radical Women members are lucky: woman warriors with an organization

to back us up and sisters to teach us, whom we in turn teach.” I say, “Check out Radical

Women!” Have a read of the Radical Women Manifesto. This is not just a statement of

beliefs — it is a flavoursome recipe for revolution!

Share with your friends