Review of Marking Feminist Times: Remembering the Longest Revolution in Australia, by Margaret Henderson


The study of feminist cultural memory is not a wide field of scholarship in Australia and it certainly bas not as yet become a distinctive field internationally. But a body of literature bas emerged over the past ten years which attempts to reconstruct, remember and forget aspects of the women's liberation movement, prompting this engaging, erudite and sophisticated study of the cultural memory of Australian feminists. Margaret Henderson explores various dimensions of feminist cultural memory through a consideration of the psychoanalytic categories of mourning and melancholia. The central texts under consideration are feminist histories, autobiographies, films and historical novels. These include histories of the feminist movement by Marilyn Lake (Getting Equal), Gisela Kaplan (Meagre Harvest), Jean Curthoys (Feminist Amnesia) and Chilla Bullbeck (Living Feminism). Autobiographies by leading activists are also considered, including those by Ann Summers, Zelda D'Aprano, Susan Ryan and Wendy McCarthy. The journalism of Germaine Greer and Ann Summers, and historical novels by Sara Dowse, Janine Burke, Finola Moorhead and Sally Morgan provide the basis of further analysis. The emergence of postfeminist cultural memory in radio, film and television is considered in discussions of The Coming Out Show, and feature films such as Waiting, The Last Days of Chez Nous and Simone de Beauvoir's Babies. Henderson also considers the way in which men have remembered feminism. The discussion of manhood of the 1990s, through self-help manuals and therapy to liberal- minded discourse of celebrity males as well as stereotypical impressions of the 'ordinary bloke', signifies a limited political vocabulary when remembering the past and knowing feminism.

The full text of this essay is available to ALS subscribers

Please sign in to access this article and the rest of our archive.

Published 1 October 2008 in Volume 23 No. 3. Subjects: Feminism.

Cite as: Damousi, Joy. ‘Review of Marking Feminist Times: Remembering the Longest Revolution in Australia, by Margaret Henderson.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 23, no. 3, 2008, doi: 10.20314/als.59ea052974.