Erin Brockovich: 'Women are sick of being repressed. We will be heard.'

Erin Brockovich: ‘Women are sick of being repressed. We will be heard. We will hold people to account.’

Erin Brockovich is an Ambassador for Shine Lawyers. She spoke at an event in Sydney on Tuesday hosted by Shine in support of NOW Australia and writes for Women’s Agenda today.

“They’re called boobs, Ed.”

You might know that line from the film about my life made 18 years ago.

I was asked recently if I really said it and the answer is yes. I said it to stand up for myself, to stop suppressive behaviour, to desexualise a body part that carried no weight in terms of what I could do as a law clerk, as a woman, as an activist.

Superman’s not coming, so you have to save yourself: I use this line often and I use it now as a reminder to women around the world to be advocates for themselves.

The NOW Movement has come at a time where activism is having a global moment. Women, the world over are sick of being repressed. We will be heard, we will speak out and we will hold people accountable for the wrongs committed against us.

I was a child who grew up dyslexic. I grew up with a rage inside of me that stemmed from a hatred of being put in a box, of being defined by something that other people saw as a limitation. People tried to tell me that as a child with learning difficulties, I was limited. I wasn’t.

People told me when I ran the Hinkley case that because I wasn’t a doctor, politician or a lawyer I didn’t know what I was talking about. I would remind them I was a human, so arguably, I knew as much about the value of what I was fighting for as anybody else.

I knew the value of land, of family, of our water supply and of fighting those who had wronged us. The apparent elevated cluster of illnesses in the community linked to hexavalent chromium wasn’t something I could see physically at first, but I was driven to speak out to right wrong, to save others. I wanted to use my voice for good: to make a difference in this beautiful planet of ours.

Complacency is no forward motion but fear turned to anger can move us forward. We bought the bullshit and drank the cool-aid for too long and all of that is what makes me mad at myself for accepting it over the years, at the circumstances and at the world making us question ourselves. It’s time to grab control of fear and use it to move you forward. We need to redefine words.

We think that if we’re fearful, we have to stand still. We think that if we’re disruptive we’re trouble makers. We can no longer live in that box of conformity. It’s absurd that we’re made to. It’s time to change that.

We might be handed a gift, a pay rise or a new position but we can’t give the person who gives us that gift, the power to manipulate us. We need to recognise that we receive those gifts or pay rises or new roles because we deserve them.

Our power struggle comes from not accepting our own vulnerabilities and giving others the power to make us feel weak. Realising your own vulnerability is a strength. It’s one of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned so far. Take back your power. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

Disruption? I’m in all day long for that ride.

Whoever is not telling you the truth doesn’t like disruption. We need to change what disruption means and that’s not gender specific.

There are good men in the world too and they need to disrupt with us. I was elevated and given a platform to disrupt by a man. Men do not need to be apologetic for their genders. Women don’t need to be either. It’s about equality and that’s a battle for men and women.

I’m here to remind people that we exist to find our own freedoms whether that’s because you’re on PFAS contaminated land, or repressed in your workplace, you need the strength and the voice to fight for your own freedom.

We exist to challenge, change, defend and protect the truth. We need to stop giving other people the power to limit our own power to search for that truth. Nobody is going to save you but yourself and when you realise your power, you’ll be unstoppable.

We are still exhibiting practices that don’t fit in in the world we live in today. The world moves forward when we reflect on history, when we learn from the mistakes of those before us, when we move together as empowered people who won’t accept anything short of change. The power is beyond legislation, it’s in every wronged woman or man who has called time on the misdeeds of those around us.

We have all heard the phrase that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. This is our day of reckoning. Clock’s ticking. The time is NOW.

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