Wednesday, May 20, 2009

La Professora's Night, University of Melburne, May 20, 2009

First, I want you to know that I and others have created a new website for Women in Black, here much of my writing documenting our activities, concerns and first hand reports of our version of "the facts on the ground" in Palestine/Israel will be reported. Much is happening in Melbourne, many people from the Palestinian and Jewish communities are working together to stop the suffering of the people of Gaza, to push for sanity and relief from unfettered national and military power.
Last night, La Professora delivered her Inaugural Professorial Lecture, "Pushing Feminism off the Map? International Law in Times of Crises," to a packed house at Melbourne University where old friends from her youth community worker days, from her women's refuges' days, from her mid life law student days, and her contemporary colleague and friends gathered to listen and celebrate. I had had the privilege of caring for my Professora as she worked on her talk--seen here occupying my artist's shed for the polishing of her ms--with Cello under her chair picking up bits of thought that might have fallen off her pages.
What I saw last night besides a beautiful woman mapping her public thinking for forty minutes was a turning point in a journey; in 1991, Di had entered law school as a 38 year old community worker who had walked the streets with the homeless youth of St Kilda, sat with and calmed women escaping domestic violence into shelters she and other feminists had created in the 1970s, Di having grown tired of fighting the government for more permanent change turned to the law looking for another way to push power into caring. What I saw was the culmination of both a personal journey, my dear one's, and the history of an Australian feminist community--supporting, creating, struggling, growing older and still trying to find strategies for change. In the first photograph, Di stands with two other women who entered law school when she did; they studied together, they pushed each other to continue when it all looked too hard--Munya and Fahna. Both are now solicitors--that's trial lawyers in American English. Patricia, my Pattie, who helps us set up our social action websites sits with Marg, a woman who has devoted much of her life to social change movements--both dear friends to me now and Di's long time comrades, others here as well--Peter, Di's brother, Michelle, a trades union leader, Joel, our dear friend and partner of Daniel, and Maureen, a teaching colleague. And a group of Di's students, past and present--never never forget the students.
I have never seen La Professora so happy, so at peace and when we returned home to Cello and our garden, we sat and shared the one glorious apple our tree had produced. At one moment in the evening, when all had gathered for celebratory drinks, Di thanked old friends and new for all they had made possible and then, she turned in my direction, looking where she thought I might be--I was sitting in the back of the room, my leg having given out, not able to see her but enjoying just being there, and as if the sea was parting, the room broke into two halves so nothing was between my love and me; she raised her glass and said, and most of all, I thank my partner, Joan--doing the PH.D brought me to New York and her, and that was my greatest gift. We had gifted each other, but we had needed help along the way so thank you all who made the flourshing of this transcontinental love possible.

From the flyer: The lecture grew from discussions at an international workshop held in Onati, Spain in 2008. A larger version will be published in 2010 in a collection entitled Between Resistance and Compliance? Feminist Perspectives on International Law in an Era of Anxiety and Terror.

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