Previously in this column, I have expressed concern for the young women of high school age who face many problems usually thought to trouble only grown women. although that concern should not be considered solved, it is heartening to report that some progress has been made.
Recently a former student of mine told me that she had broken up with her boyfriend. Instead of crying, she told me how much happier she was now that she no longer tolerated his or any body else's behavior. Granted that is only one instance, but one more young woman has taken a stand against what might be considered an "adult" problem. On graduation day she was a confident young woman ready to take up the next phase of her life.
Another insight into the minds of high school juniors came in a class room discussion of Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour." As the students analyzed the state of the Mallard marriage and the cause of Mrs. Mallard's death, both male and female students commented on the roles of the partners in marriage. It was refreshing to hear "teen age" adults advocating a loving partner ship rather than a loss of freedom.
As the end of the school year approached, I spoke to some of the graduating seniors about their plans for September, 1994. When one young woman told me she was enrolled at McGill University, I was reminded of Lynn Butler-Kisber's WILLA presentation about a study on improved campus safety -- better lighting, more phones, and a general awareness among students as to improved safety practices. It was encouraging to know that one of my students and all of the other freshmen would be benefitting from this university's awareness of another problem high school women face as they leave home to continue their education.
Each of these incidents is a small but positive step for high school women.
Copyright 1994, The Women in Literature and Life Assembly of the National Council of Teachers of English (ISSN #1065-9080). Permission is given to copy any article provided credit is given and the copies are not intended for resale.