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Young women face so many challenges in their lifetime, and the book Audios, Barbie displays several of the trials and tribulations that each individual young lady might encounter. The bulk of the stories deal with body image and self-identity, and I chose to focus on a particular story titled, "Appraising God's Property", by Keesa Schreane. She works out in her essay a backward situation of being part of the "in" crowd or the "out" crowd. To emphasize a problem in this area I also located an article to contrast and compare to Keesa's essay, which was written by Fiona Stewart, of Deakin University, concerning the "Implications of Reputation for Young Women's Sexual Health and Well-Being (pg.373)".
In the essay that Keesa writes, she reflects and works out the confidence in herself. It contains her struggle of staying strong within herself and dealing with the coolness (or better yet non-coolness) of her chosen lifestyle, abstinence. She was raised with old-fashion morals and values. These are important to her, yet contradict all the "action" that takes place in most young women's high school and college years. She remembers "wondering what it would be like to get a little 'groove'" on of her own (pg.159). She found that she had to work hard to keep temptation in the background. Keesa found sexuality "as pure evil" whether she was thinking of it herself, showing it in her body movements, or seeing the look of desire in males who sought her out (pg. 159-60). She was an individual, out of the ordinary. She found herself very involved in traveling places and teaching others what abstinence was all about and how important it was to uphold. She felt that "if I was going to be a virgin, at least I could be an enlightened one (pg.160)". This, and her strong will, gave her advantage over the normal pressures young women, like herself, had to face. Knowing that "in a land where booty calls were 'in' and waiting until the third date to hold hands was 'out'"…and she was "definitely out (pg.161)" placed Keesa above the rest of her peers. She felt she was the "last lone soldier (pg.161)", and for good reason she probably was.
Keesa was overcoming what most women are victims of.
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To discover how these so called technologies affect young women, Stewart used the findings from a three-year study, particularly from one of eight focus groups as part of a study concerning Australian teenage women and sex. The findings from the groups were used in developing a questionnaire that was administered to 300 young women in state high schools on these issues. The girls who participated in the study were 25, sixteen and seventeen year-olds, Anglo-Australians, who went to lower income government secondary schools. Stewart felt these girls were helping "to contribute towards the production of new insights about young people's lives and their sexual health status (pg. 373)". The girls only supported the hypothesis that Stewart possessed, by showing that the "cultural definitions, of femininity, it has been suggested, range from passivity, helplessness, and victimization to a relinquishment of control (pg. 374)".
When reviewing the results of the study Stewart concluded that she was more interested in finding out why it is that women measure up themselves to each other based on "aspects of their behavior which, at face value, have nothing to do with their sexual practices (pg. 381)". The girls all showed that what they each do and how they rank in the hierarchy of schoolmates, is inflicting upon their reputation. Stewart feels that this is "the very mechanisms which disempower women within heterosexuality (pg.382)". The article goes side by side in respect to the book on the idea that young women strongly structure their lives to keep a good reputation or status. Keesa noted how she stood out among other's, but was aware of what position her choices put her in.
Along with comparing the account of Keesa's life and the study of the young women that Stewart reviewed, I find that although they each deal with the situation from opposite sides of the issue, they each contain the same ideas on pressuring young women into testy situations. This idea is exactly why the book Adios, Barbie was written. It is all about taking away the stigma that surrounds a young women's life that causes her to consume her thoughts and actions around what society presents as cool, or acceptable, or pretty. Fiona Stewart addresses the issue of not letting other's determine how you approach your sexual life, and Keesa Schreane works out her empowerment she grants herself by placing what the rest of kids think and do in the back of her head, and focusing on what is really important. You see it's not the rest of society that you must please be accepted by, it is the one person you see every morning in the mirror that must be happy and accept how you carry out your life. If more people lived by this standard we would have a world filled with beautiful people who loved themselves, not to mention happiness.
Title: Fighting the Pressures
Adios, Barbie: "Appraising God's
Property", Keesa Schreane.
"Once You Get a Reputation, Your Life's Like …Wrecked:
the Implications of Reputation for Young Women's Sexual Health and Well-Being", Women's Studies
International Forum, Volume 22, No.3, pp.373-383, 1999