This feature is part of the NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network, ‘Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series. Written by Anne McLaughlin, who reflects on some of the pressures young women in Donegal face today.
Most of you reading this will be wondering why I chose this title. I chose this title for one simple reason and that is to portray women’s future prospects within Irish society. Although it is a very gender biased society we live in, women are coming into equal power to men very slowly. We are progressing as the years go on and well if you think about it, it took one woman to make a change for many women, which was a major breakthrough in the more traditional society we still live in today. For example the beloved Susan B.Anthony was the first woman to revolutionise the Irish Constitution for women’s rights to vote. This created an extraordinary chain of inspiration within the Irish community.
Within the modern world we encounter more social related issues rather than demographic for the modern day women. As a young woman it is extremely difficult to become independent as we are frowned upon for being “alone”. Even to be seen alone would be considered a problem. On a more controversial note, I grew up with with siblings nearly twice my age, they taught me mannerisms that most people my age and below lack in this modern society. From a very young age I was taught respect and appreciation and I am glad to say I have carried that through and will continue to do so.
The biggest problem facing a young woman today is the influence of social media and its impact on our self-esteem, confidence and competing against one another. Social media has brought on unachievable high standards and expectations in terms of career prospects and quality of life. Social media teaches young girls that provocation is a trend and should be taken part in rather than a bad trait. If you take Instagram for example, 90% of their influencers are encouraging plastic surgery, mountains of makeup, unrealistic body transformations and the most self indulgent topic of the lot, materialism.
The saddest thing about this is most young girls don’t realise the internal damage they are doing to their young lives before it’s even begun because it’s the only way of living they have ever known. From my observations of working with young girls in a youth club, they seem to have grown up much too quickly. They are spoilt with choice and opportunity without realising how lucky they are to have some of the things they possess. Children as young as 11 are being introduced to the world of social media through Iphones or any other brand of smartphone you can think of. This brings on more issues than resolutions, as they hold the key to a world of revolutionising information but yet they also hold the key to ruin their lives over the silliest of things like “looking good”. The unfortunate reality is that this can drive a young girl to have suicidal thoughts for those irrelevant reasons.
As a young woman living in a rural Ireland, social pressure has a massive influence on the mental wellbeing of our young people in this country. Young people are taught to follow rather than lead. This creates a trend, a trend only lasts for a short space of time and something not worth noting within society and Irish culture. It must be said that the novelty of the online world is slowly declining. This will bring on new developments within education and the way people communicate. This will also introduce a higher level of social awareness. On a more positive note, the opportunities are limitless and most of the future jobs aren’t even created yet for our young people. “Your big opportunity might be where you are right now”, Napoleon Hill.
By Anne McLaughlin.
NCCWN Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series.