For rebellious Ruth


Just to reassure Ruth  after her comment on yesterday’s post.

In 1991, I was removed by police from a public bar in Swansea, Tasmania, making the front page of the Mercury. I was having a quiet drink with some other women the night after the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission had ruled that the Returned Services League could not legally continue to exclude women from the bar. The RSL President was drunk and belligerent and removing us was how the police kept the peace.

The back story is that the local hairdresser was asked by a couple of female travellers where they could get a meal in the town. When she told them to go to the RSL, they told her that they had tried that, but they had been kicked out of the bar for being women. She told them that that really couldn’t be so and tried to be served there herself. Two or three actions in the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission, and several years,  later she had a ruling that the club had to serve women.

I was invited because I was a member of the Women’s Action Group, a feminist collective that met to do womanly things like get kicked out of bars. I had been in Hobart for just two weeks at the time and gave my mum a fright when I sent a copy of the paper back home. Two months later on International Women’s Day, I was standing in a giant tea cup sculpture made of hay, on the back of a ute parked at Parliament House,  speaking through a megaphone on the topic “Don’t let them tell you it’s over …. “.

I didn’t *deliberately* put my hands behind my back in the photo to make it look like I was handcuffed.  😉

Blog Post 20 the 30 posts in 30 days challenge

6 thoughts on “For rebellious Ruth

  1. Thankyou! I shall now expect to become more outwardly rebellious just by talking to you online : – ) Very impressed by your tale of activism.

  2. We spoke about this once before. I was living in Tasmania when it happened. It did cause quite a kerfuffle at the time, but I think it’s w0nderful and definitely something to be proud of. Do you know what happened to that local hairdresser? Tasmanians of a certain set absolutely hate it when there’s some sort of intervention from mainlanders, and can be quite brutal when it comes to shunning those who embarrass them. But if there had been no intervention from rest of Australia, the Franklin River would have been damned and homosexuality would still be a crime. The only time I have concerns about such intervention is when a line is crossed and instead of just attacking the target (whether it be outdated laws, environmental vandalism, prejudice, intolerance), generalizations are made about all Tasmanians

  3. Last I heard, which was about a year after the incident, Denise had moved to Hobart where she was unable to get work as a hairdresser so had opened a nail salon. You are right, she was a mainlander as was I, but two of the other women plus Denise’s boyfriend were Tasweigan. I do understand the attitude to “mainlanders”. Similar to West Australian’s attitude to “easternstaters” … but on steroids with a pitchfork thrown in..

What do you think? Let us know.