I too can remember Australia 40 to 50 years ago and I need to take issue with many of Frank McCarthy Snr’s views in Your Letters (The Standard, August 11).
Men indeed were men, whatever this means, and women were ladies — how patronising!
Men were matey at the pub, without the ladies.
People were fined, thrown off television or worse for using in public the words of another English poet Geoffrey Chaucer.
Books were banned for the use of explicit terms to describe natural acts. Bosses did indeed care for their pregnant employees — they sacked them.
Mothers stayed at home with their young children as they very often were pregnant again, and in any event they were unable to earn a living wage as female wages were half that of men.
I recall family values too.
What went on in a family was considered none of anyone’s business.
Some husbands assaulted their wives and raped them with impunity.
Too many children lived in fear of their parents’ wrath as “spare the rod; spoil the child” was a common mantra.
Dishonest employees can be sacked today.
And I for one am glad I live in a society were every persons’ rights are protected by the law.
Unquestioning respect for authority resulted in catchphrases such as “the mother country” defended in two world wars and later “All the way with LBJ” all the way to Vietnam.
Some teachers imposed discipline by the liberal use of the cane or strap, which at times bordered on sadism.
Teachers taught the subjects they thought their students needed for their working future, as indeed they do now.
Yes, Frank, the subjects are different as the world is different.
True, there was no sex education, but there were countless unwanted pregnancies and who knows how many women went to the marriage bed in total ignorance.
We did not talk about our bodies back then.
More of us died from breast and bowel cancer because of our prudishness.
Both men and women suffered numerous inconveniences of bodily malfunctions because it wasn’t nice to talk about such things.
We didn’t talk about lots of things back then.
Alcoholic friends or relatives; abhorrent and predatory priests; rape victims; mental illness; sex workers; backyard abortions or the forced relinquishment of infants of unwed mothers; drink-drivers; lecherous husbands; blatant racial discrimination of non-Anglo-Saxon migrants and the appalling treatment of Aboriginal Australians.
Homosexuals were forced by fear to live in the closet, denying who they were.
Gay bashing was a sport practised by mates fuelled by a drinking session.
The poor were poor; their children denied opportunities for advancement through education.
And gambling did occur, but it was often underground and illegal.
In the bigger cities, the elderly locked their doors, although I concede that it may not have been necessary for anyone in a small country town.
Take off your rose-coloured glasses Frank and try to imagine life for a poor woman with umpteen children. Or try to imagine being a bright child of a poor family who is forced to go out to work at an early age to help the family finances.
Can you begin to feel the pain of a rape victim who is torn to shreds by a barrister in open court?
Or the despair of a child who is not believed? Australia is indeed different.
Not all the changes are good but a tremendous number are.
Christine Webb, Logans Beach Road, Warrnambool