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Miriam Dixson's The Real Matilda Essay

1901 words - 8 pages

The Real Matilda: Women and Identity in Australia, 1788 to the Present written by Miriam Dixson and published in 1976 poses many questions about the role of women from the convict beginnings to the present day. She speaks of a heavily patriarchal society that has deep roots from the past and they have yet to be uprooted, she even goes as far to refer to males in Australian society as misogynist. Her work is heavily influenced by her context of the 1970's feminism movement and this has greatly influenced her work, however this has given her work a narrow view of the society, in the past and in the present, this text hence overlooks and exaggerates certain aspects of Australian society to add credit to her opinionated view of Australian society and a critical analysis of the text will reveal this.From the opening chapter; "theories and beginnings" we see how much Dixson's personal, historical, social, cultural and political context has influenced her work. Critical of a society which is coined as backward in a supposed civilised country and refers women as being "Doormats of the western world" It is clear what her intended audience is; the women of Australian society and the text makes direct appeals to the Australian women to wake up and not accept the entrenched Australian ideals that have been thrust upon them. The opening chapters are ingrained with emotive and dramatic language, painting a picture of women being a product of victimisation and rebuked as outcasts resulting in poor self image. We see that Dixson's portrait of women in Australian society is very much a narrow point of view and is not a representative of all women in Australia; past or present. She makes generalisations of how women feel and think in regard to their convict past and their role in society in the present; "A past, a history, usually steeped in misogyny, has bequeathed Australians some especially narrow styles of man-women relations, with nuances specific to Australia. Dixson speaks about the formative years of Australia and that these formative years lacked in any female pride and most of the female convicts were in fact prostitutes and that they either accepted this prostitution as an aggressive stance or they internalised the feelings of victimisation and being outcasts and resulted in low self esteem and a crippling effect of the female psyche. Dixson says that the two responses to being a woman in convict society resonates to the present day; that the crippled self image as well as the "bush ethos" was being passed on from generation to generation. This "Bush ethos" that Russel Ward developed in The Australian Legend is directly attacked by Dixson as she argued that it is this "bush ethos" that just contributed to the marginalisation and oppression of Australian women.She uses many sources to back up her arguments however, yet many are just more opinionated views of people like her, influenced by the rise of feminism. Her sources are mostly primary, reflecting...

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