The film I AM WOMAN (2019), currently on Netflix, is a powerful reminder of the treatment women had to endure in the sixties and seventies.
Helen Reddy demonstrated early on in their courtship that she would not accept the way Jeff Wald behaved towards her.
He learned from her that he wanted to better himself. He promised a partnership; she would be the star, he the manager.
They married. He went after his career while she stayed at home. After letting him get established he turned on her for not buying enough milk for his breakfast cereal.
This woman turned the tables on him and forced Jeff to keep calling his friend at Capitol Records until he finally gave in and gave her a one single record deal. That single was I AM WOMAN (1971).
That, as they say, is all she needed. She made it big. Helen Reddy is hailed as a pioneer of women's rights and equality.
Men back then ridiculed, belittled and brushed off a woman's right to equality. They are still ridiculing, belittling, and brushing off women's right to equality. Their right to be heard. Their right to dignity and independence.
Was it naivety on my part?
As a married woman in the 1990's I worked full-time and did everything around the house, shopped and cooked. We had a joint bank account.
He decided we would have weekly budgets for food and personal items. Yet he controlled the bank account.
I was lucky, I had a well-paid job. I didn't have to rely on him to provide for me. I was brought up to be independent.
At the time, I didn't realise there was such a thing as dynamics of power in a relationship.
I was also brought up to be obliging. A real people pleaser. I've yet to find a man that pleases me. I'm talking about having a conversation over a cup of coffee. Not after six pints of beer. Sorry to disappoint.
Is it power over a woman that a man wants? Does he take it or does she give it up?
Each of three relationships I had lasted around the six-year mark. That was enough time for me to figure out the man couldn't give me what I wanted.
Passivity, passive aggression, and finally outright direct asking all made no difference whatsoever. Silence didn't work either.
Feeling betrayed and heartbroken I left all three of them one after another.
I've always known I can look after myself because I've always worked.
The last long-term relationship I was forced to walk away from was because the man who promised to support me caused me to rely on him financially.
I have never asked for money and I couldn't ask him. Plus, I was devastated because our dream retirement had turned into a nightmare.
He fell for a local woman and I called him out on it. He said I was being silly. Silly. A year later he married her.
During that year on a barren rock of an island, I was homesick and had to rely on a man who was chasing another woman. I gave him my power. Never again.
In the last couple of years, after living without a man in my life for ten years, I have dated a two older men.
The first was amazing, a few years older than me and a real gentleman. Knew how to treat a woman. I've never had a man cook for me so much and so well.
Kind and generous. We had fun. We drank a lot of cabernet sauvignon and ate lots of naughty food. All at his expense.
This sweet nature came with a price. The expectation was for me to spend every weekend at his place. He was retired. I was still working and had political aspirations pulling me away every now and then.
He sulked when twenty-four hours before, I let him know that I'd accepted a last-minute place on a Saturday Introduction to Campaigning training session.
I knew it wouldn't work out between us. Geminis don't like to be hemmed in by anything or anyone.
The other chap was a neighbour and eight years older than me. He showed me what it was like on the receiving end of someone else's unrequited love.
I'd been there before, offered everything I possibly could to win a man's love, twice. The first time worked, the second walked and never looked back.
This latest man was everything any woman in her right mind would jump at the chance to spend the rest of her life with. We had the longest conversations.
But he wanted to look after me. Then he told me that my jeans looked too tight. Seriously? I was horrible to him, he was horrible to me and we ignored each other for months.
It was a relief to move away. To have the freedom of a job and enough money to support myself, means I don't have to accept anything or anyone I don't want. Many women are at the mercy of their men.
However, when a government in any country decides that a woman who is unemployed or is a stay at home mom, is not entitled to any support because her boyfriend or partner earns enough to support them both, it is taking away her independence.
In effect, a woman without means is vulnerable.
We are all equal.
A marriage or any relationship is a contract between two parties of equal status. Neither should feel less than the other due to their position in life.
If one does, then they should speak up and be heard. A solution found. Easier said than done, perhaps.
Separate bank accounts, where an agreed amount is paid to the partner that stays at home and does the cleaning, shopping, and cooking.
A deal where no rent and no bills have to be paid, on the surface, is generous, especially when there is no legally binding contract.
Should the main earner change their mind, the stay at home partner may have nothing but the clothes on their back.
Women the world over in 2021 do not receive equal pay. The excuse that a man has a family to look after is out of date.
A woman plays an equal role in a family, whether she is a stay at home or a working mom.
A woman plays an equal part in a marriage or civil partnership or boyfriend and girlfriend whether she has children or not.
Every woman has a right to her own power, income, and equality in any relationship.
Helen Reddy knew who she was and what she wanted much earlier than me. Many of us take a lot longer to find what works best for us.
We know she achieved stardom. You'll have to watch the film to find out whether or not her husband kept up his end of the contract.
In singer-songwriter Helen Reddy's own words:
I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'Cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again
All women should have the means to receive equal pay and be financially secure. We must roar and we must be heard.