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Below is a poem written by Tracey Spicer as she recalls her experience of occupational sexism. Tracey was fired from her job as a journalist at Channel 10 after the birth of her second child. Although she worked for the station for fourteen years, Tracey “was unfairly dismissed on the basis of her age and family commitments” (Grounsell). Tracey took her case to court and won because the news station was breaking “the Federal Sex Discrimination Act and the Trade Practices Act” (Grounsell). Tracey may have overcome this discrimination, but many women have not been able to. This is why Tracey wrote and released this poem imploring for change:
This story I tell you is really quite vexed.
The antagonist remains somewhat perplexed.
It’s about the time I was, effectively, de-sexed.
(My lawyer says I should refer to him as ‘Rex’.)
There is an irony, I must impress
That sex got me into this sticky mess.
(Minds out of the gutter: I’ve already ‘confessed’.)
It was with a child that we were blessed.
But this was TV in the early noughties
And I was approaching my early 40s.
For women, this meant our careers were short(ies).
So I prepared the troops for some well-aimed sorties.
“You’ll want to be home with the baby!” Rex said.
“Shouldn’t your husband be winning the bread?”
“You’re too long in the tooth,” shaking his head.
“We’ll get someone younger to stand in your stead.”
I knew my once bountiful beautiful breasts
Had flopped, like puppy ears, I attest.
But our value as women should not be assessed,
On perkiness pertaining to flesh on our chest.
You see, this had happened so often before.
I was told by one boss, “Stick your t*** out more”.
Another, I should have knocked to the floor
When he grabbed my buttocks, exclaiming “Corr!”
When I was sacked, by email, it is true
Weeks after popping out baby number two
It was time to finally say, “Screw you”,
And begin what became an almighty blue.
Thanks to my powers of prognostication
I’d researched state and federal legislation,
Which I subsequently placed, with great deliberation
Onto his desk, causing tectonic vibration.
This sound was so big and so deep and so loud,
At that moment, I solemnly vowed
To puff out my chest – in a way that was proud:
My head unbowed; I would not be cowed.
What followed, you could call a media stunt.
My plight was plastered on news pages, front.
The message was exceedingly blunt.
Because, let’s face it, this man was a… not-very-nice-person.
Of course, that wasn’t the only reason.
Every movement has its season.
Women shouldn’t be treated like lesions:
New wave feminism is ever-so pleasin’.
The verdict in the court of public opinion
Was unanimous upon exposition:
The workplace should not be man’s dominion.
Still, I wanted a different jurisdiction.
My dream, such as it was, to an extent,
Was to set a legal precedent,
To reduce the next woman’s torment:
Even if it cost every last cent.
But the odds were against me, so it seemed.
My lawyer said, as my enemies schemed,
A vexatious litigant, I could be deemed.
Frankly, I tell you, I could have screamed:
“OF COURSE I’M VEXED. YOU BLOODY WELL SACKED ME!”
I admit, it was a tough time to get through;
A fug of depression, mastitis, and the flu.
I fought the law, but then withdrew.
The next part I will perform in Haiku.
Outside, falling leaves.
The empty courthouse whispers,
“The law won, sucker”.
I really should give you a happy ending.
(Minds out of the gutter, unless you’re spending.)
This case was, ultimately, worth defending,
For the old order required upending.
No longer do men in carpeted corridors
Grab the breasts of women they later call “w*****”.
And being a mother is less likely to cause
Unemployment, under new workplace mores.
Other outcomes are known as karma.
That bloke didn’t survive the drama.
I love the Buddhist concept of dharma:
He was banished to Naraka (or Adelaide. Same thing.)
As for women of a certain age,
Our time has come: we’re all the rage.
Mothers, sought after, as some kind of sage:
Brains bosses now seek to engage.
Thanks for tolerating my terrible rhyme.
(I really didn’t have that much time.)
At 48, I’m finally in my prime!
That career ladder I continue to climb.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed putting ‘Rex’ down.
He thought he was such a man about town.
Now everyone knows he’s just a clown:
His body, undoubtedly, buried face down.