Background to the Research: The future is female (is it?)
I don't think I've ever really seen any inequality. I mean, our lit teacher, Mrs Lake, she constantly says there is but honestly, personally I've never really experienced any of it. (Carina, middle class government high school student, Perth)
I have so many opportunities in life, and I don't feel that my gender or anything … is really holding me back in any way. (Verity, participant in high achieving high school student program, Perth)
Young interviewees in my ‘equality biographies’ research project, Carina and Verity, assert their belief in gender equality. They do this in the face of an older generation of feminists telling them otherwise: ‘our lit teacher, Mrs Lake’ and Verity's mother, Jane, an academic who has taught women's studies. As another young woman writes in her questionnaire:
I think that we (women) have come a long way since the early 1900s and before. I am quite happy with where women stand now. (female, Catholic college, Adelaide)
The research project that yielded these comments was framed in the mid-1990s. At the time, a ‘generation debate’ raged between so-called ‘second wave’ (women's liberationist or baby-boomer) feminists and their putative daughters, or ‘third wave’ ‘Gen X’ feminists. Young third wave feminists celebrated a diversity of glamorous, sexy, powerful women as opposed to the ‘dowdy’ ‘politically correct’ ‘fully down-for-the-feminist-cause’ second wavers (Walker 1995: xxxi). Echoed by Carina and Verity, young feminists advocated ‘power feminism’ to counter what they saw as second wave ‘victim feminism’.