The world of literature has changed tremendously over the past ten years. Long gone are the days when our Australian literary artists delved on the traditional stereotypes that encompassed gender stereotypes. Gone are those days that the artist’s concern was the role of man as a dominating factor in the Australian home: And the woman being thought of as the weaker sex: who could not work in the factories and take prestigious posts when they were allowed to work. As the short story writers, we should go beyond traditions into the writing for developmental purposes.
Nowadays I watch a movie, or listen to someone recite a poem and what I hear and see tells me that we have indeed matured in literature; we have indeed outgrown our gender bias coats and left our male dominance perceptions into. Looking at quite a number of contemporary works of literature like the movie ‘Looking for Alibrandi’, the creator and writer of this movie teaches our young people that the female character in our society has the equal rights towards the societal resources and that what a man can do , a woman can do even better. Take an example of Josie in this movie: she is the independent poor lady who passes tries and tribulations in life to become a well educated person in life. Despite the class discrimination that she is shown by her rich age mates, she rises above the rest through the added assistance of scholarships and makes her dream of going to the university true. While the traditional artist depicted women as tools used by male gender, Josie in this contemporary piece of art proves the society wrong by standing up for herself. All the women in this movie get a reason to succeed independently in life despite the traditional notion of a woman being behind a man in all spheres of life. Josie takes the lead by overcoming the complexities of adulthood that entails relationships, economic difficulties, transformation into adulthood and discrimination.
When I watch these contemporary movies or read the short stories, I find that the theme of love is given a whole new angle way from the Australian Stereotypes. The contemporary writer portrays love a shared experiences between both male and female characters in the society. It is no longer the male gender’s decision to decide when to have a child or when to enter into a romantic relationship with the ever ready female characters. Take the example of Boys of Blood and bone, a short story by David Metzenthen- this author travels beyond the Australian stereotype by portraying two different relationships separated by age and generation. Through the troubled Henry, the Australian writer brings forth a move from the traditional warlike characters to the modern young explorer of life. Though the stereotypes in Australian context about man as a struggling being is transferred to the modern character, Henry, in Boys Blood and Bone, the writer however gives Henry’s hustles a modern approach; way from the defined future of a man in the war periods to the modern view of a man working his way up the economic and academic ladder. “Henry’s moment of physical courage when he board sails into a wild and dangerous sea points up his reckless sense of immortality, as contrasted with the young soldiers’ rueful, resigned courage under the most extreme, nightmarish and unbelievable circumstances” ( David, 2003)
The modern writer has moved from the war themes of the traditional Australian society to a more modern approach to life. Through academics and economic struggles in life, a character in the modern literary art gets to survive in an environment that is dominated by other able rich individuals. This can be seen in the movie, Looking for Alibrandi, where the main character Josie struggles to get herself to the university. “I’m Australian with Italian blood flowing rapidly through my veins.” ( Melina, 2000)
It is also depicted in other contemporary works of literature such as in David’s short story, Boys Blood and Bone, where Henry struggles to get to law school to make his life better. The youths are thereby encouraged to look beyond the Australian stereotypes by working hard through good education and better jobs so that they can make it in the modern world. “Henry Lyon, in the summer before he starts his first year of Law at university” (David, 1947)
The youths have a lot to learn from the contemporary literature in terms of the current issues affecting them and the society in general. Modern pieces of art such as, the poem A Pub with No Beer, talks about the stresses of economic depression and government policies. This poem shows that there is a lot that the youths can write about concerning the day- to –day hustles in life as opposed to the traditional themes of love and war and male rule. In this poem, the poet talks of the frustrated country man who goes to the bar and finds no beer because the government has refused to enact the quota system. The barman has hoarded the beer awaiting an increment in the beer prices. “Now the publican’s anxious for the quota to come” (Dan,)
These are things that we see everyday in our contemporary society. The poem’s portrayal of a persona who goes to drink everyday leaving the wife at home is a cliché that has been discussed extensively over the past years. The writer however intertwines this stereotype with pressing issues and dissatisfaction experienced by a low class man towards the controllers of the economy. This poem is therefore a clear encouragement to the youths to grow in creativity.
The modern writer has improved immensely in portraying a new view of the world as a dynamic place. “This should be a unifying idea in Australia’s national identity a new and realistic way of thinking about multiculturalism”. (Multiculturalism, 2009).
Dynamism has been portrayed in terms gender roles, governance and socialization. “Most Australians no longer see the need to prove our ethnic diversity. They are too busy practicing it”. (Multiculturalism, 2009). The speech Multiculturalism, I succeeds in encouraging the youths to live together in the Australian multicultural or multiethnic society. It encourages the young generation to embrace their cultural differences and think as one nation. “A second source of national identity is our cultural diversity”. (Multiculturalism, 2009)
We have therefore seen what the modern writer has done and what he still needs to do to move from the Australian stereotypes to modern pressing issues and to issues that focus more on how we can grow as a nation. My advise to the writers and those aspiring to become writers is that you should use resourcefully and creatively the power of the pen. For the literature lovers, read any piece of art with an open mind by trying to see how it can apply to issues of development as opposed t o it being able to propagate stereotypes.
David, M. (2003). Boys of Blood and Bone. Penguins publishers: Sydney
Looking for Alibrandi the movie adopted from Melina(2000). Looking for Alibrandi, Sydney: Penguin.
Dan, S.(1947). A Pub with No Beer . NQ Register: Ingham.