Skip navigation
The Australian National University

Call for papers: How the personal became political

How the personal became political: re-assessing Australia's revolutions in gender and sexuality in the 1970s

An interdisciplinary 2-day symposium at Australian National University

Monday 6th March - Tuesday 7th March 2017

We invite paper proposals that address any aspect of the events, transformations, policy changes and watershed developments in gender and sexuality in Australia in the 1970s. These changes were interconnected and profound. The pill became widely available and sexuality was both celebrated and flaunted. Abortion and homosexuality were gradually decriminalized state by state. Gay liberation and Women’s Liberation movements erupted, and debate raged over provocative books from Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch, Dennis Altman’s Homosexual, and Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics to Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will. Activists set up women’s refuges, rape crisis centres, and counselling services. Some governments responded to these changes, appointing women’s and equal opportunity advisors, expanding the role of the state in the provision of childcare and other services. It was a decade of contestation and transformation.

But how and why did matters previously considered private and personal, become public and political? What were the key policy shifts? How were protests in the streets connected to legislative reforms? Who were the critical players and what were the dramatic moments? How was resistance to change manifested, and what fears were articulated? How did differences of race, class, religion, age and locality matter? How did Australia fit into the broader transnational movements for change? What have been the legacies?

The keynote speaker will be Elizabeth Reid (AO, FASSA, FAIIA), the first adviser on women’s affairs to any head of government, appointed by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1973. Ms Reid has since had a distinguished career with the UN and in areas of gender, health and development.

We are able to offer travel and accommodation grants to six presenters from interstate. We invite papers from scholars at any stage of career in fields including history, law, sociology, anthropology, political science, literature, and gender, sexuality, and cultural studies. A collection of essays will be developed from the symposium.

How the Personal became Political will be the ANU Gender Institute Signature Event for 2017, and will celebrate both International Women’s Day and the Institute’s 6th anniversary.

Conveners: Professor Angela Woollacott, ANU, and Assoc. Prof. Michelle Arrow, Macquarie University.

Enquiries: or


Please include a title, paragraph abstract, and short CV. Speakers whose proposals are accepted will be notified shortly after this deadline.





ANU, Gender Institute

Date posted

Friday, 2 September 2016

Updated:  7 November 2012/Responsible Officer:  Convenor, Gender Institute/Page Contact:  Web manager, Gender Institute