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September 3rd, 2009

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12:16 am - Talking About My Generation
Since I recently had my birthday, I was thinking about the era I grew up in. The borderline between the baby boomers & generation X has been set at various points by various people, but I definitely set it a year or two before my birth, in large part because of the differences I often find in people more than a year or two older than me. There are obviously exceptions (all of the people older than myself who are on my f-list certainly are), but in general, I've found a set of different attitudes are considerably more common in people who are only 3 or 4 years older than me.

None of this is universal, and it clearly ludicrous to say that any generation is free from all manner of vile and hurtful attitudes. However, there does seem to be something about growing up with Earth Day, Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, second wave feminism, easily available birth control, progressive (for their day) TV ranging from the original Star Trek to All in the Family, and the post-Stonewall gay right movement, all of which I encountered well before my teens. I also grew up in a generation where the anti-conformity & pro-individuality ethos that began in the mid 60s was in full bloom in public schools, & where roughly equal number of my female & male friends in high school were planning on becoming doctors or lawyers. As a result, what I've see is that there are a set of baseline attitudes that people in my generation can either accept or reject, but which pretty much everyone who was born in the US and had access to the mass media and public school encountered, and which are in many ways quite different from the common attitudes that came before. As I mentioned above, there are plenty of older people who hold such ideas, but from what I've seen, the vast majority of them came to these ideas as adults or in a few cases as adolescents, rather than growing up surrounded by them.

Necons and high RWA types sometimes refer to the 1960s and early 70s in negative terms as The Great Disruption, and while it was certainly disruptive, what it mostly disrupted was a set of previous attitudes and prejudices that seemed to be horrifically prevalent before the 1960s. While these idea were far from gone afterwards, they were no long accepted by mainstream society without question, because alternative attitudes were now visible and in many ways unavoidable.

In any case, I am exceptionally thankful not to have been born earlier, I would not want to have to deal with ridding myself of the various negative ideas that were more common and more acceptable in the 1950s and before.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

(5 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:September 3rd, 2009 12:46 pm (UTC)
Makes me think of what my children are seeing in comparison as the baseline today.

Racism is a terrible taboo, or source of funny. But Different is not said to be Bad. Nigger was still a household word in my family when I grew up.

Gay is OK and not a big deal. I have already observed teens being casually bisexual and thinking nothing much of it. This sort of behavior would have had me killed by my peers in school.

Everyone has tattoos (my daughter asked her grandmother once about the tattoo she had to get when she grew up. Grandma was quick to point out that she didn't HAVE to get one)

Handheld games, computers are the norm.

Music comes from computers, not the record store.

If you need to know something, you just ask the internet. It knows everything.
[User Picture]
Date:September 3rd, 2009 02:30 pm (UTC)
What about Gen X high RWA's? They're a bit young to call the 1960's and 1970's The Great Disruption. What identifies these people is the submission to authority and adhering rigidly to the conventions of their culture, regardless of their political beliefs. There are even left-wing pagan Otherkin RWA's.
[User Picture]
Date:September 3rd, 2009 03:10 pm (UTC)
I was born mid-December of 1964, which makes me officially a tag-end Boomer, but I've never felt part of that group. I remember in high school, athenian_abroad commenting that growing up with The Lorax, Seasame Street, and "Free to Be You and Me" really did make us different from the generations of kids before us.

No one ever told me that my options were limited because I was female, even at my church. I was in college before I realized how many other women experienced discrimination.

My daughter is 13 years old, and as cusm commented, she boggles at the idea of gender or racial discrimination -- although I try to point out the still-pervasive casual discrimination in media and etc. She's a Pagan, and while she understands that will make some people freak out, she feels free to share if she wants to. In fifth grade she had a friend who was transgendered and who received strong support from their school's administration to identify as a girl while being biologically male.

I am very glad I was not born any earlier than I was, and that my daughter is growing up in a society that is even more open and just. There's still a long way to go, of course, but hopefully her own children -- should she choose to have them -- will see even better days.
[User Picture]
Date:September 3rd, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC)
I'm in the middle of reading Strauss & Howe's Generations at the moment, so this stuff is on my mind, too.
[User Picture]
Date:September 7th, 2009 07:13 am (UTC)
When I was in high school, a friend of mine was shunned and tormented for coming out as bisexual. Two years later, while I was a sophomore in college, I met several girls who stated they experimented with bisexuality in high school to be "cool." People my age are some of the last to grow up in the 80s, the tail end of Gen X. I remember the Cold War. I remember learning, as a child, that Muslims worshipped a strange foreign god named Allah.

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