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Young Women

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Topics: Feminism
In the 21st century young Australian women are considered the lucky ones, we have more opportunities, more freedom and more equality than any other women in the world. When reflecting on the women in Australian society, we realize that the suffering and the challenges of those women who have come before us have enabled us to live the lives we do today. We can be whoever and do whatever we want with nothing to stand in our way. Young women in Australia today are just a distant reminder of a past world filled with gender exclusion, sexism and discrimination. I believe young women in Australia generally to do not suffer from marginalization, I believe however that it depends who you and how society views you as an individual will instead determine this. Throughout Australian history the evolution of women has been both challenging and inspiring. The age old assumption that the role of a young women is to cook, clean and have children is a stereotype that to this present day still exists. For a long period of time young women were denied access to education, healthcare, equality or freedom, with the understanding that women should be seen and but not heard.
Before the First World War, the traditional female role in western countries was confined to the domestic sphere, though not necessarily to their own homes, and to certain types of jobs. The women’s role was to cook, to clean and to have children, anything else was neither expected nor accepted. There was no such thing as education for girls or any value placed on it. A women’s only professions were said to be motherhood and wifehood. Young women were not recognized to have any ability outside their god given role of child bearing and the care of their husbands, they were expected to follow in their mothers footsteps. This idea of women as a service as morbid as it sounds was the reality of life as a women in Australian culture. The term "A woman's place is in the home" was an expression increasingly accepted and used by women themselves to explain their place in society. The Two World Wars, changed forever the role that women had to play in the world, it was during this period of crisis and conflict that sparked the start of the women’s revolution. During this time women had started to be viewed as more than merely just a “pretty face”. The need for female participation in the First World War was seen as almost necessary, as unprecedented numbers of men were wounded and killed. In the Second World War, the need for women arose again. Whether it was on the home front or the front-lines, for civilian or enlisted women, the World Wars started a new era for women's opportunities to contribute in war and be recognized for efforts outside of the home. This also resulted in changes within the social lives of women; stereotypes; women’s economy; employment and the impact of politics upon women.
The 1950’s and 60’s saw a mentality towards women which was much the same as the pre federation ideals. It was due to this lack of value on women which sparked the Women's liberation movement. This encapsulates the ideas of feminist advocacy, women's equality and rejection of male supremacy. Women's liberation as a movement works for social and economic rights while seeking ways to free women from oppression and gender discrimination. In the 1960's, the modern Women's Liberation Movement in Australia started with small groups of women who got together and discussed ways of re-educating the women of Australia their rights. They decided on consciousness raising believing that if women were made aware of their lack of rights, they would do something about it. The central idea of women's liberation is the concept of freeing women, as a whole, from the gender conforms of society and instead introducing the idea of women’s feminism. This movement saw the development of a series of campaigns for reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, women's suffrage, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. Women new what they wanted, and they wanted it now. The feminist movement effected change in Western society, including women's suffrage, the right to initiate divorce proceedings and "no fault" divorce, the right of women to make individual decisions regarding pregnancy including access to contraceptives and abortion, and the right to own property. It has also led to broad employment for women at more equitable wages, and access to university education. Women were now starting to be recognized then more than just a house wife, it was this movement which triggered social reform throughout Australia and the whole word. "Most young women, at least in the middle class, expected to have access to the same careers and to receive the same compensation as men”.
During the early 1970s, Australian women endured limitations in employment opportunities. Women had to deal with discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace and the Australian society. The media also discriminated women by encouraging traditional roles in advertising and television, ultimately resulting in discrimination against women when it came to pay and promotions in the workplace. It was during this period of time in which the second wave of Australian feminism began, seeking to redefine the social barriers which for so long had made women the so called “second sex”. This second wave of feminism saw challenges to discriminatory practices such as lower pay for female workers and discrimination against women on the basis of their marital status. It also coincided with an outbreak of social movements fighting for the rights of other marginalized groups such as immigrant’s indigenous people, people of color, lesbians and gay men.

The 1980’s and 1990’s saw the third wave feminist movement which sought to both recognize and celebrate all women. This generation of young women wanted to show the world that women come in all different makes and models however all deserve the same respect and treatment as any other person. This period in history capped off a century of women’s movement which worked extremely hard to both overcome the struggles and diversity society had placed on women as a whole social grouping. Women of color, lesbians, bisexual women, and transgender women, women in the developing world and low-income women were now also all celebrated. This now reflects on young women in society today, young women today are seen to be of "many colors, ethnicities, nationalities, religions and cultural backgrounds”.

In discussing marginalization and disadvantage in this essay it is highly valuable to note that every young woman is different, with different experiences, different stories and different struggles. Each shares a valuable and insightful view into their life as a young woman in Australia, some cherishing the life they have and the opportunities they have been given, while some are met with disadvantage and marginalization. As a part of my research I conducted interviews on many different girls, from different places. I discovered that it depends who you are as to how society views and treats you. Your disadvantage is not necessarily because you are a young woman, but instead it’s your background, your motivation and your choices. What I found is that it depends on where you society places you, it depends on the culture you have come from and the life you want. Many girls that I spoke to feel that they are in no way disadvantaged but instead feel extremely privileged to live the life that they do. These were all girls that came from good families, have good morals, who are educated and generally are considered respectable young women. On the other hand, I spoke to two young woman who were both young mothers. These to women both spoke about the struggles they have faced to get jobs, to be respected and basically to survive. They have both been abused by members of the public and feel that they have now been looked down on because of their life choices and the fact that they have babies. However if you removed the babies and the fact that they are teenage parents you would also remove the abuse and the discrimination.

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