Swimming against the tide: a biography of Freda Brown
Milner, L 2017, Swimming against the tide: a biography of Freda Brown, Ginninderra Press, Port Adelaide, SA. ISBN: 9781760413385
Freda Brown was a political activist in the women’s, peace, and anti-apartheid movements, both in Australia and overseas. A passionate believer in equality, she occupied her busy life with action and organisation. While some of her greatest achievements can be seen in her work in helping to establish and lead pioneering women’s organisations, she travelled widely also in the service of political, peace and anti-racism causes. She was a widely respected activist and led an absorbing and very busy life with her political work both in Australia and overseas. She also worked as a journalist, political party organiser and theatre director. This biography is a long-overdue acknowledgement of the pioneering role Freda played at a time when second-generation feminism was decades away. At a time when women were not supposed to want anything more than being a wife and mother, Freda combined career and family successfully for decades, believed passionately in equality and peace, and fought for the rights of people all over the world. She was a leading member of the CPA long after many had left it, and remained a socialist all her life, preferring to hold her personal values rather than be fashionable. Behind Freda’s story lie much bigger cultural, social and political ones: the flowering of alternative political ideas, the development of second-wave feminism, the sexual revolution and the changing nature of reproductive rights, and the blossoming of decolonisation and globalisation. Her legacy underlines the lives of many of us in the 21st century.