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Icon - Cow Pat, Women on Farms Gathering, Numurkah, 1992 Object Reg. No: HT 1415

Icon created for and displayed at the Women on Farms Gathering, Numurkah 1992.

The organising committee for Numrukah selected an irrigation shovel and cowpat as the icon for their Gathering to symbolize the importance of water and dairying in the Goulburn Region. The meaning of the cowpat was extended in response to the speech by the Minister of Agriculture who said that the women had to decide whether they were going to be farmers or feminists, they couldn't be both.

'We had already organised the cow pat, but when the then Minister for Agriculture, Ian Baker (ALP) made his speech on the Saturday morning, it seemed all the more relevant. He said we had to decide whether we were going to be farmers or feminists. We couldn't be both. Like the Madonna/Whore syndrome! For the most part he waffled on in a mildly pleasant manner but that statement stuck with us and when we handed over the shovel and cow pat, we said "and this is in relation to Ian Baker's speech." What was interesting was that what he was saying - that we either focused on agriculture or advancing women's issues - was prophetic. It crystallised what the general rural women's movement was up against as it grew and grew in the next few years. It was the issue that women constantly butted their heads against, "are you farmers, or are you feminists?" Quote from Sharon O'Brien, member of the Numurkah Gathering Organising Committee.

The closing of each Gathering and the anticipation of the next is celebrated with a formal 'baton changing' ritual, where a symbolic 'icon' is handed over from one organising committee to the next. Each item represents a story or message of some of the key themes and issues, which have shaped the meaning and experience of these women's rural identity.
Acquisition Information:
Loan & Subsequent Donation from Victorian Women on Farms Gathering, 2002
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 100 mm (Height), 180 mm (Width), 215 mm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: agriculture, gender issues, globalisation, politics, rural life, work
Themes this item is part of: Sustainable Futures Collection, Victorian Women on Farms Gathering Collection, 1992 Numurkah WoFG, Rural Women Gather Across Australia
Primary Classification: AGRICULTURE & RURAL LIFE
Secondary Classification: Community Activity - Women on Farms Gathering
Tertiary Classification: symbolic objects
Commissioned By: Victorian Women on Farms Gathering, Numurkah, Victoria, Australia, 1992
Commissioned By: Sharon O'Brien - Numurkah Women on Farms Gathering Organising Committee, 1992
Person Named: Mr Ian Baker, Numurkah, Victoria, Australia, 1992

It was in response to comments by Ian Baker, the then Minister for Agriculture, that the cow pat was presented in addition to the Numurkah icon, the irrigation shovel.
References: http://www.wofgcollection.org.au/About.aspx, viewed 12.05.2008 LDH
http://cv.vic.gov.au/#, viewed 12.05.2008 LDH
  1. [Chapter] Dale-Hallett, Liza, et al. "Rural women reclaiming their place through symbols, stories and rituals"., 2008
  2. [Article] Dale-Hallett, Liza & Diffey, Rhonda. 2006. "Motherboards and desert sands: stories of Australian rural women" Frontiers: A Journal of Women's Studies., 2006
  3. [Article] Dale-Hallett, Liza, et al. 2006. "Creating collaborative living history; the case of the Victorian Women on Farms Gathering Heritage Collection", History Australia., 2006

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