Film: For Love or Money Essay Example

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13For Love and Money

Film: For Love or Money






A 1983 Flashback Films film by Margot Nash, Megan McMurchy, Margot Oliver and Jeni Thornley, is an impeccable historical account of hundreds of working women and over 200 Australian films previously made and condensed into 107 minutes of runtime. The film that took five years in the making has been dubbed as a superb pictorial account of Australian women history.

The film mainly deals with women who keep moving in and out of the workplaces due to situations circumstances impose upon them from time to time. Interspersed with logical explanations, the film reveals how a woman’s voluntary and unpaid work keeps the system moving smoothly both in war and in peacetime. On a very subtle note, which is often overlooked in reality, the film portrays the life of an unpaid worker as a mother or a wife. This work, reveals the film, often goes as unrecognized as real work. The irony, however, is that the type of work a women does at home selflessly often determines her work outside of it and normally she ends up doing low-status, low-paid job.

That goes along with her tryst for freedom and an emotional war that she has been waging for over a century now and still continue with it as women are still found to be at the centre stage of a campaign through which they are asking for equal rights in terms of pay, childcare and such basic rights as maternity leave (

Made provocatively and professionally, the film is instructive and entertaining and conveys its historical aspect in four parts i.e. hard labour, daughters of toil, working for the duration and work for value. Each part has been eclectically crammed with bits and pieces of history that most of the viewers would never have bothered to remember. This lively, illuminating and powerful juxtaposition of historical realities turn the movie into am potent brew characteristic of true cinematic essence.

Portrayal of women through the film

For Love or Money is a strong portrayal of women through the last two centuries and an inspirational account of a woman’s struggle for a cause or her power to adapt to different roles. The film can be said as an exemplary attempt of Australian filmmaking that deals with women’s alienation and exploitation and her rock strong identity living up to the character of ‘womanhood». Woven over different genres and thematic differences, the film unifies women from a single standpoint of a focused cause which, in this case has been liberation from old stereotyped roles and birth into a new unified, acceptable one.

A captivating watch, the film chronicles in a placid manner history of working women in Australia till present from pre-settlement times. In a way it comprehensive and lively portrays woman’s capacity to swap herself from one role to another and attempts at giving feminist and Aboriginal women’s demands a political and historical validity. One important point that the film makes is the depiction of a woman as a «militant» – one fighting for a genuine cause, as against an «apathetic» human being – one having been considered worthy of sympathy and nothing else Blonski, Creed, & Freiberg, 1998, pp. 359).

Considered to be a landmark in Australian filmmaking, For Love or Money, traces feminist history of women in Australian from 1778 to 1970s. Drawing its strength from interviews, archival footage, film clips and photographs, it draws its strength from treatment of Aboriginal women with respect to their transportation to the new colony, family, motherhood, abortion, rights, peace and environment.

The film offers rare, traditional glimpses of Aboriginal women through a smoothly flowing transition of convict women’s enforced labour to pastoral settlement, gold rushes, industrialisation and long drawn decades of frontier conflict. It is this part of the film that deals with unsung part of a woman for her role as a mother, wife, maid, governess and cook – all chores ending up being unpaid and yet not acknowledged. The film takes into account race and class; two components that define, determine or limit women’s roles. For example, women are limited from entering into trade unions; one reason why they form their own; something that gives them a platform to voice their own questions and concerns particularly regarding vote, higher education and equal pay.

The paradigm is seen as shifting on account of World War I, which leaves the office and workplace jobs vacant since men go out for the war. Women come forward to occupy these roles which men had been previously responsible for and a they are the pay set for them is 54% of what men were getting. This was nowhere near the equal, but still around half of the same. But this phenomenon was short-lived since when the men return from the war they start reclaiming their jobs. Another flip side to it was the declining birth rate; an issue that attracts a lot of official attention and a reason for a majority of women go back to being on the motherhood sides of their lives. In the meantime women and girls, who have been able to retain jobs, continue working in factories in deplorable conditions with their job types segregated from men until Great Depression takes place ousting thousands of workers from work. This leads men accuse women of stealing their jobs and the blame game continues till another World War spreads its tentacles over an already ravaged planet. Women do not find it a deterrent to give up their hopes for equal pay and the struggle continues.

War, again, tilts balance in favour of women; as World War II breaks out men become soldiers and women workers in office and elsewhere, yet again. For the first time in Australian history they are allowed entry into defence forces and technical trades that were previously considered as male territories to handle. As the war nears an end, female strikes begin on account of pay scale discrepancies that arose at the beginning of the war since some women were granted equal pay status and some were not. The strikes lead to women being paid 75% that of men’s scales even though the pleasure was short-lived since they were back to their motherhood roles as the war came to an end. Post-war boom saw women being urged to take up roles of consumers. The routine, low-paid jobs that women were still being offered, since industries were expanding during 1960s, began to be challenged by a new breed of young women who have had access to higher and better education. The advantages of higher education that women were seeking was bearing fruits as along with Labour Party’s 1972 victory when the women won the “war” for equal pay. Labour Party started responding to women issues, which had by now come to be known as ‘feminist demands’, on equal opportunities, maternity leave, and childcare. Women’s crusade continues throughout Australia as there were still a number of disparities existing in the system as women still continued to be lowly paid in comparison to men. Unfortunately, economic meltdown in late 70s triggered another blow to women workers who were first to be removed from jobs. For Love or Money portrays this phenomenon very passionately throughout the film on women’s changing roles – often by circumstances or compulsions – from calm caring mothers at home to fighting-for-their-cause females outside of it.

Stereotypes and women

Racism and prejudice stem from stereotypes since they are inaccurate and incomplete beliefs some people hold about other (Creative In Australia, even though times have changed, there are still careers seen as female or male specifics. A disturbing figure is that eve now women make up only 11 per cent of the trades workforce in the country. Teachers seem to be an exception as according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) four every male there are four female primary-school teachers (Riley, 2011).

According to a April 2011 study by the Information Technology Contract and Recruitment Association,, stereotypes in Australia are preventing Australian women from succeeding in the communications and information technology sectors. A 28% gap exists in the sector that favours men in the field as against women. The low-paid, low-range roles, as according to the study, aren’t yet a thing of past since men hold higher and better paying positions in these sectors, and women are being discriminated against in the ICT workplaces. The discriminations is overt to the extent that that it has created gender imbalances among candidates aspiring to join this industry. Apparently, what For Love or Money, attempted to portray as a history is still a reality in the nation and probably deeply rooted into it. The shocking revelation by the study was that only fewer female workers in these sectors were promoted to higher levels; perhaps one reason that explains why only 34% of all applicants were females for these executive level posts. The report has revealed that after a decade of being in the field, women’s earnings were $5800 less than their male counterparts with equal profiles; a gap that was expected to increase to around $22,000 after 25 years (Colley, 2011).

These disparities have led to ethnic and gender gaps in income and wealth and despite changes having occurred post 70s, even if gender parity has advanced (Duryea et al., 2007), education can still be considered as based on attainment rather than quality (Calónico and Ñopo, 2007, pp. 980). Ethnic and gender differences can be observed in labor market participation, job turnover, and unemployment.

Since Australia has pushed towards decentralisation through the last few decades, it has spelled significant upheaval in the Australian industrial relations system. Certain statutory arrangements and centralised wage setting has determined women’s expectations of equitable outcomes. Enterprise and individual agreements (van Gellecum 2008, pp. 45-63) are seen as factors responsible for the pay gap based on gender; something that has led women being stereotyped as workers struggling for better positions in the labour market thus limiting their power to negotiate better employment opportunities.

In the last decade, however, certain changes have been brought about in the labour laws in order to enable both employees and employers negotiate conditions and pay. In mid-2000s centralized wage fixing system prevalent in 1980s has been replaced by unmonitored and unrestrained collective bargaining. Women continued to be susceptible to the individualisation of bargaining and the provisions of the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Act 2005 with regard to their weaker labour market position (Pocock et al. 2008, pp. 475-488). Rudd Government brought about a reversal change in the Fair Work Act 2009, emphasising collective bargaining as against individual bargaining so as to maintain and improve labour standards.

But that has a negative side too since some employees or employers haven’t really been interested in collective bargaining. This was truer in case of low-paid and low-skilled workers. Small organisations are particularly falling in this bracket. Award system in such cases is considered as a preferable option for creating equitable working conditions. Specifically, women have been seen as favouring award system (van Wanrooy et al. 2007).

Stereotypes in the film and link with modern day Australia

The beauty of For Love or Money lies in its richness that reflects in modern day Australia even now; the working class women, as depicted in the film, are still part of Australian daily talk and media coverage. Stereotypes in the film are stereotypes present today; decades after the film was made and centuries later that the film chronicles. Sexual segregation in the workplace, women’s work, the use and abuse of women’s labor, battle for equal pay and generalised stereotypes are at the core theme of the film (Sundance Institute).

Stereotyping has a tremendous psychological impact on employment through a phenomenon called stereotype threat. Strangely the pernicious threat comes from within a person as against a widely accepted thought of it coming from discrimination from peers. In case of women the threat gets transmitted to the whole group on account of poor or undervalued performance of a aone individual. The resulting negative stereotype is (Steele, Spencer & Aronson, 2002).

For example, the general perception of women being indecisive may subconsciously trigger a successful woman to act indecisively not because of her incapability to be decisive but because of the stereotype that belong to her group (Kray, Thompson & Galinsky, 2001).

Stereotyping is more potent multi-tasking situations, and compounded by when a woman perceives threat to self-esteem and self-image (Spencer, 1994, pp. 1138-1152). Stereotyping is equally prevalent in presence of a clear “out-group” member; a lone woman among a number of men technical members in the workplace. The woman will be more vulnerable to stereotyping (Mannix & Neale, 2005, pp. 31-32). This also leads to what is called “tokenism” where the lone woman in this group is subjected to stereotyping applied to all women and being treated as a representative stereotype of her group. This woman’s gender becomes a lens through which her work is analysed; however good her work might be, perception through the lens remains the same. In the long run this acts as a barrier to a woman’s success as she attempts to rises up the ladder of success (Ridgeway, 2001, pp. 637-655).

EEO/AA and Diversity Management

It was on January 01 2000 when The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (Cth) came into effect. This was, in fact, an updated and renamed version of 1986’s Affirmative Action (Equal Employment Opportunity for Women) Act.

The act ruled that in case of women, merit must be promoted in employment; discrimination eliminated, equal employment opportunity provided and consultation between employees and employers ensured to sort out issues. The legislation requires companies, community organisation, not-for-profit workplaces, non-government schools, group training companies, unions and higher education institutions with 100 or more people initiate such workplace program that help remove barriers to women already serving or entering the organization (Australian Government, 2010).


Decades after For Love and Money was made, multiple endings as depicted in the film still articulate feminists problems today. History seems to be repeating itself when feminists groups raise their issues every now and then now. The women as articulated in the film are still enacting the near similar roles today; as housewives struggling to break free and breathe freedom from the stereotyped image that has enveloped them, working women vying to be acknowledged and understood on their own capability, and younger women finding new searching for their identity through higher education or streams previously controlled by men.


Australian Government: Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency. (2010). Retrieved from

Blonski, A. Creed, B. Freiberg, F. (1998). Don’t shoot darling!: women’s independent filmmaking in Australia. Australian Film Commission, Australia

Colley, A. (2011). Australian IT. Stereotypes blamed for 28pc pay gap in technology sector. Retrieved from

Duryea Suzanne; Sebastian Galiani; Hugo Ñopo; Claudia Piras. (2007) “The Educational Gender Gap in Latin America and the Caribbean”. Inter-American Development Bank.

For Love or Money. (n.d.). Sundance Institute. Retrieved from

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Mannix, E.A. and M.A. Neale, What Difference Makes a Difference? Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 2005. 6(2): p. 31-32.

Nopo, Hugo, Jaime Saavedra and Maximo Torero. (2004) “Ethnicity and Earning in Urban Peru. Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)” Discussion paper 980. 2004.

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Ridgeway, C., Gender, Status, and Leadership. Journal of Social Issues, 2001. 57(4): p. 637-655.

Riley, R. (2011). Herald Sun. World Battle of the sexes. Retrieved from

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Spencer, S.J., et al., Automatic activation of stereotypes: The role of self-image threat. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 1994. 24: p. 1138-1152.

Shop for a film, For Love or Money: Women and Work in Australia. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Van Gellecum, Y., Baxter, J. and Western, M. (2008), ‘Neoliberalism, Gender Inequality and the Australian Labour Market’, Journal of Sociology, vol. 44, pp. 45-63.

Van Wanrooy, B., Oxenbridge, S., Buchanan, J. and Jakabauskas, M. (2007), Australia at Work: The Benchmark Report, Workplace Research Centre, Sydney.