Miriam Dixson's The Real Matilda

Essay by germanicusUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, June 2005

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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...