Thirty years ago Nell Schofield played Debbie in the film adaptation of Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette’s book Puberty Blues. The new television series of Puberty Blues starts tonight on Ten.
Back in 1981, the world was a different place. There was no internet, no mobile phones and having unprotected sex wasn’t a potentially lethal activity. With the advent of HIV AIDS, wearing condoms became a whole lot more critical.
Safe abortion clinics became legal in most countries but we are at risk of going back to the dark ages with the rise of reactionary politics. We need to do all we can to help girls grow up to be the best they can be, even if they choose to put off having a family or not have one at all.
There is a societal pressure on girls to marry and have children. But having kids often knocks women out of the work force and many never return.
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When the 1981 film Puberty Blues hit the big screens, parents across Australia recoiled each asking their teens with wide-eyed alarm. “Is this really what goes on?” Somehow teenagers of the ‘70s and ‘80s whose parents had survived World War II and Vietnam had been left to fend for themselves.
It was only when the youthful Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey penned their brutally honest account in their book Puberty Blues of what it was actually like to be a teenage girl in Australia that modern society sat up and noticed.
Deborra-Lee Furness starred in a film in the 1980s called Shame that depicted the practice in rural Australia of using girls as “training” for sex. It was basically about the accepted ritual of gang rape. Girls in so many ways were at the mercy of young men. Young adult males ruled supreme. It was the task of young girls to ingratiate themselves into the inner circle.
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