It occurs to me that we have succeeded in raising a generation of stupid girls.
Not that this applies to all girls, I have to say. Thankfully there remains a decent cohort of sensible, balanced young women who have self-respect aplenty, ambition for better lives and a sense of their worth in society.
Society, however, hasn’t contributed to this, though. It gives the sensible women no worth while at the same time promoting the living Bratz dolls that are better camera fodder.
I detect that one of the major changes took place when the television program ‘Sex and the City’ became popular, and a whole set of false values were sold to our girls. The importance of designer shoes, no matter your income level; the importance of promiscuity; overall the importance of materialism.
At the same time we had the rising tide of celebrities being implicitly positioned as role models via their constant presence in a material-hungry and morally vacant press, while their behaviour wasn’t really fit for anyone to witness, never mind emulate.
And so on the cusp of a new decade, forty odd years after the women’s movement began to enjoy the first fruits of its long-fought battle to gain equal rights, we have the spectacle of girls in their early teens dressing like prostitutes and calling it fashion, and by that I mean no disrespect to prostitutes – they’re women with a job to do. Could a girl dress as a welder and then be surprised when people think she’s a welder – even if she is 13?
The cult of pleasing men has reached ridiculous proportions amongst the teen and twenty something women.
We have the ‘trend’ of bisexuality displayed by young women for the viewing pleasure of their partners or any onlooker who’s passing, and we have the growing feeling that one should always accompany one’s male partner to a strip club to view the ladies, as to do otherwise would not be cool. It brings memories of University and Stuart Hood’s work on ‘women as the watched, and men as the watchers’. One can only wonder how the young woman struggling to come to terms with her own genuine lesbianism feels when she sees so many others try it ‘off the peg’ for a bit of a laugh.
I often work with young female journalists. To a woman they look like gorgeous china dolls, and I wonder what happened to all the talented female writers who don’t happen to look like that? Are they automatically discounted from the shortlist because of their looks? The same stringent quality controls are very obviously not applied to the male equivalents.
I shiver when I hear young women declare ‘I’m not a feminist’, because by saying that you are telling everyone that you do not believe that you deserve equal rights, you are negating the pain, suffering and sometimes deaths of women who walked before you in order to gain the freedoms that you take so much for granted.
Worst of all your mothers and grandmothers have allowed this to happen.
Shame on all of this. We have sold our daughters’ and granddaughters’ futures to a world where they’re held less than worthy if they don’t look like a model while achieving that PhD.
Maybe it’s more apparent to me coming from a non-Australian background, but I’m still shocked at the way a good proportion of Australian men speak about women; the utter disrespect, arrogance and ridicule that is the starting point for any interaction with the opposite sex depresses me on a regular basis. This is in contrast to the many Australian men who I know who do treat women well, who know how to be real gentle-men and have no problem with being on an equal footing with women. So how come the latter never get the limelight in this macho society. What are the Neanderthals afraid of?
I certainly never heard men speak of women like this in Europe or UK. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but that it’s not tolerated openly in society, which is a starting point.
The hero worship of the Sam Newmans, Shane Warnes and the like is beyond belief in a supposedly modern society. Until women – especially young women – get the guts to say ‘no’ and stop playing the gender politics game to the agenda set by the Neanderthals – whether on a domestic, professional or political level – and start working together with the many men who do want to work together with us, it will remain as it is, and our daughters and granddaughters will have been cheated of their legacy – a world where they can ditch the stilettos and the diets and still feel they’re worth something.
4 thoughts on “A Generation of Stupid Girls”
I think you're right, Catherine, about it easier working with men. If you've got a good bunch of women at work its fantastic, but its also great working with guys where you don't have to adopt that paradigm of gender issues and just get on with it. I work in local government which tolerates a much wider set of norms than private industry (at least here). In my last workplace, if you weren't skinny, young, blonde and tottering on high heels you got nowhere – and that was with a female boss!Josie and Jo, thanks for your comments too. Its good to know I'm not the only one who things these things.I guess the ideal would be to have the freedom to be all that we are, but the media, and in particular the Australian media, portray only one aspect of womanhood and devalue all others. There's no midway between the chickybabe and the crone.Let's show 'em!
This is such a worthy post. I work in an all men environment (automotive factory) which Im very comfortable with. I've worked with women before and the bitchiness and'looking you up and down' to see if you're wearing Designer items is something that I simply can't abide. Here I can come in dressed in a potato sack and they wouldn't bat an eyelid, I don't have to dress 'up' to get respect I simply have to be my usual bossy self. In fact I have tried coming in in a dress and stilletoes and it just causes awkwardness. I even dyed my hair blonde once and found that most men would only converse with my tits (all due respect to natural blondes out there). Saying that though I love seeing Jamie's face when I do don high heels and a skirt on the weekends…its more of a nice 'surprise' that way and proves that we can harness the power of our femininity that doesn't cheapen our worth 🙂
I read this when you originally posted it and for whatever reason, I didn't comment at the time. This is a great post, Maggie. I acknowledge I haven't experienced Aussie society, though I think that still lets me say you make some excellent points about the differences in ways of relating and how both women and men perceive themselves. Thank god there are some men and women who haven't bought into it – hopefully this can help to bring about a gradual change towards respect and worth, rather than the other way round.
It's a real problem isn't it? Just to really make you shudder what's with the whole thing with padded bras for six years old being sold in Kmart and Target?? Symptomatic of the issue.Raise the topic and you're branded as a feminazi, or something similar. In some ways Australia is still a young country, I suspect some of the menfolk are still in their early teens, and younger. I'm not talking real age demographic here, I'm talking mental age.