Deconstructing “7 Harsh Realities of Life Millennials Need to Understand”

I recently came across this article entitled “7 Harsh Realities of Life Millennials Need to Understand”, written by Tyler Durden and published on the website Zero Hedge. In the article, Durden lists seven ways, in which he thinks millennials, as an entire generation presumably, are lacking in intelligence and hard work ethic, in addition to being too soft and too politically correct. While his tone, throughout the entirety of the article, is unquestionably demeaning and mocking, I, however, am going to provide an adult analysis and counter argument to the content he has provided thus far.

  1. YOUR FEELINGS ARE LARGELY IRRELEVANT.

In his first point, he claims that millennials insist that others tip-toe around their feelings and are much too fragile when it comes to receiving insults or negative criticisms from those with either different perspectives or backgrounds. One example he provides is the concept of mis-gendering someone, which could involve using the wrong pronouns when referring to an individual in the third person. This, however, is not a matter of feelings or an inability to accept criticism, but more about a denial of identity. Yes, you have the right to say whatever you want, and you will obviously continue to do that without fail, but maintaining a basic level of respect for those around you is not a radical idea or a ploy for millennials to be coddled. For example, if I insulted someone’s religion or Christian identity, they would likely get very upset and the majority response would not be that they insist upon be coddled or that they are playing the victim card, but rather, any uproar or objections would largely denounce this comment as disrespectful. While one is very much allowed to say it, doing so is not an effective way for someone to gain and maintain the basic amount of respect one should hope to receive in return.

2. YOU CANNOT BE WHATEVER YOU WANT TO BE.

For years parents have told their children that they are capable of anything they put their mind to or work hard enough at, but no one ever seriously believes them, especially in today’s economic and employment climates. Considering how difficult it is, currently, to get an entry-level job, many people do not waste away their days chasing pipe dreams. Obviously, there are a few, as there have been among many previous generations, but this is far from the norm. Despite the claim that they are much too entitled, many millennials do not have the luxury and certainly cannot afford to engage in a hobby or profession which does not guarantee a livable wage or substantial pay check. At my university, and at many others, there are students from various economic backgrounds, who not only dedicate themselves to their studies, but also work part-time jobs to help alleviate some of the students loans they will eventually have to pay off. In addition, many students choose to volunteer, teach inner-city youth, intern at various organizations and corporations, take on independent study projects, or even tutor each other; and there is nothing lazy or entitled about that.

3. GENDER STUDIES IS A WASTE OF MONEY.

While a degree in gender studies may not guarantee the same salary as a medical degree, it is not per se a waste of money. Firstly, there are a considerably small amount of students who choose to study gender to begin with, so it is not as if this is a rampant or widespread course of study, and neither is it new. Secondly, some of the greatest intellectuals and theorists have studied gender, such as Judith Butler and Michel Foucault. Based upon their many works of essays, books, analyses of theories, and their common occurrences and relation to a number of subjects, it is reasonable to claim that their successes have been largely sufficient. Whether a degree is or is not a waste of money is largely subjective and depends upon what one chooses to do with it. There are various other degrees that people have often deemed to be useless like history or psychology, yet there are many successful and brilliant people who have attained those degrees and based on the outcome of their lives would argue that it was not, in fact, a waste of money.

4. IF YOU LIVE IN AMERICA, YOU’RE ALREADY IN THE 1%.

The one percent refers to people in the United States who are the top earners within the country and contain the most wealth overall. It is not a worldly concept, but is rather particular to one nation. In addition, no one has ever looked at Uganda and thought that the people who lived there are better off than even the poorest of Americans. That is quite a fabricated notion. So yes, the U.S. is far better off than other countries, both developed and undeveloped, but the concept of the 1% is not applicable because it is based on a measurement of wealth owned by individuals or corporations within a specific country, and is not a comparison of one country’s wealth and privileges versus all the others.

5. YOU DON’T HAVE A RIGHT TO IT JUST BECAUSE YOU EXIST. 

In this section, Durden says that one’s existence does not mean that one is entitled to healthcare, shelter, etc. And while this seems reasonable, his argument claims that individuals need to work hard to acquire the money to pay for things like health insurance and a home, implying that that is currently not the case, that people are just sitting around, not making an effort to get a job even though they are quite capable and able. However, an overwhelming majority of those who are near or below the poverty line or can barely get by, work more than one job and still cannot afford healthcare. Working hard does not guarantee economic success. It should, but currently that is not the case. So it is difficult to attribute a lack of healthcare or wealth to laziness when there are single parents, most often mothers, working up to four jobs, trying to keep their families afloat, by providing an income to pay for food, clothing, and shelter, whose jobs either lack health benefits or simply do not have enough money to purchase healthcare after all of their bills are paid.

6. YOU DO HAVE THE RIGHT TO LIVE AS YOU PLEASE—BUT NOT TO DEMAND PEOPLE ACCEPT IT. 

Durden claims that living one’s life does not require the acceptance of others, to which he refers to cross-dressing as one of those possible options. Assuming this is referring to transgender individuals, it is not cross dressing if they are wearing clothes that they feel represent their gender, but that’s besides the point. Once again, he misunderstands the difference between respect and rights. Any given person can freely insult someone else, but even free speech has its restrictions. For example, if someone says something that presents “a clear and present danger”, that essentially threatens to harm the well-being of others, it is no longer protected by law. With this is in mind, I can criticize someone for their ethnicity or gender identity, and I would be protected by the law. But, I would also be an asshole, and usually people try to avoid that. Furthermore, it is not as if individuals being attacked or criticized for certain aspects of their lives immediately burst into tears every time someone is rude to them. Chances are they have experienced this backlash time and time again, and while they should certainly not have to, this constant exposure has most likely prepared them to face whatever insubstantial insult any given person decides to hurl their way. And being open about who you are as a person, is certainly not an invitation to be targeted by others.

7. THE ONY SAFE SPACE IS YOUR HOME. 

The concept of a safe space is not some room with padded walls in which people are coddled and protected from hurtful words like being called fat, or stupid, or ugly, but rather a place (an office, classroom, etc.) in which someone can confide in others without facing violent backlash that they might otherwise receive elsewhere. Many educational institutions have done this for years. I remember even in high school, some of our classrooms had little stickers on the doors consisting of some sort of rainbow pattern and the words “safe space” written on it. If anything, it was more of a way to let students know that it’s okay to be gay, or trans, or bi without having to specifically verbalize it. It was a very tiny symbol of acceptance and some may have found comfort in that. However, it is understandable why some people do not understand or are vehemently opposed to an environment that attempts to maintain a peaceful atmosphere . If someone has never been marginalized for a fixed aspect of their identity, it might be difficult to relate to or understand why some people might want a place to go to help them feel accepted. For many students, universities are a much more accepting environment than their own homes and families, and depending on their circumstances, they may no longer be considered a part of the family they were born into.

If anything can be generalized about an entire generation of people, it is that millennials tend to be more accepting of people who don’t look, or think, or love exactly like them. This, however, is not an indicator of entitlement. It is simply a natural progression of social change.

Black Lives Do Matter

Those who enforce the law should also be held accountable. It is outrageous how long we have allowed police brutality, particularly against African Americans, to go on. There needs to be a comprehensive and constructive conversation between leaders and politicians, police officers and activists about how to fix what has already completely shattered. Police officers should be respected and obeyed, but that does not mean that, for whatever reason, they are above the law and are excused from complying with it. Officers should be vigorously trained to stop unarmed people in a way that does not involve shooting them several times, especially when they are already being pinned down or only have minor traffic violations.

There is no victory in defeating the powerless. What is occurring is simply an abuse of power among police officers who have a strong sense of hatred and aggression towards the black community. And that is a fact every citizen needs to realize and come to terms with. Acknowledging that our country has a problem with racism and police brutality is not unpatriotic. Rather, it is unpatriotic to actively witness injustice and do nothing to change it.

This, of course, does not mean that all police officers are racist or abuse their power and authority. However, we should not ignore what keeps happening at a rather constant and rapid rate just because the majority of officers are just and good. Allowing this to continue will only further divide our country. Black lives do matter, and unless we start holding officers accountable for their actions, that will become less and less clear to black people across the nation.

Stand with Planned Parenthood

Only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services are comprised of abortions. Defunding them is more than just trying to end their facilitating of those abortions. You’re also taking away cancer screenings, std screenings, breast exams, etc that would potentially save many people’s lives. Denying women and men the right to this healthcare is certainly not “pro-life”.

Of course pro-life really means pro-birth. Those who wish to defund Planned Parenthood are advocating for pregnancies to come to term, having absolutely no interest in the child’s life afterwards. They are not at all concerned with the child’s access to education, health care, food, shelter, etc. The quality of the child’s life is completely unimportant to them as long as the baby is actually born. Many of these same pro-life advocates are against allowing same-sex couples to adopt, which is heavily ironic. How is it pro-life to intentionally leave children without loving families just because they would have two moms or two dads? The foster care system is terrible, and to prefer that over two loving parents is certainly not in the interest of “pro-life’.

As for the video that was recently released, it’s not what you think. It was created by an anti-abortion organization in an effort to shock people. However, the video is botched and entirely out of context. Planned Parenthood does not sell “baby parts”. They donate fetal tissue only with the consent of the woman in question. The only money involved is the cost for transportation. That’s it. And just in case you haven’t realized, Roe v. Wade was passed over forty years ago, so the fact that this is still happening is outrageous. Because before abortions were safe and legal, women used coat hangers or underwent unsterile procedures by people who were not doctors. Legal abortions ensure the health of the women in question, which is important if you claim to be pro-life. These women have already been born and their needs and wants should matter and come first. Making abortions illegal again will not stop them from happening. It will only increase the endangerment of the woman’s life, just as was the case forty years ago.

The fact of the matter is that women should be in control of whether they choose to have an abortion or not. A significant majority of senators in the House who voted to defund PP for one year are men, who presumably do not have uteruses. Women are the ones who have to endure the pregnancy, yet men can just sit back and tell them what they should do. Oh yes, this is all very “pro-life”.

What Part of “Secular” Do You Not Understand?

Selling flowers or wedding cakes to a same-sex couple, or even issuing marriages licenses is not the same as being a part of a same-sex wedding ceremony. Usually no one invites their florist to their wedding anyway. However, you cannot simply disagree to do your job because of whatever religious beliefs you have. If a Muslim person worked at a grocery store but refused to handle any pork products because of their faith, they would be fired. So it is a wonder how some Christians can still have so much privilege and power and continue to ask for more.

There is no war on religion. Around 80% of the U.S. population identifies as Christian. And regardless of whatever conspiracy theories are floating around, Obama is a Christian as well. Maintaining the right to freedom of religion and trying to enforce your beliefs on others without consequence from the law are two very different things.

And while Kim Davis may be in prison momentarily, there are an alarming amount of people who support her. But the fact of the matter is that your religion does not give you a free pass to do whatever you want. When it comes to the government, it should have no power whatsoever. Everyone has their own individual beliefs and that’s great, but this persistent urge to involve Christianity in a secular government is ridiculous, especially when it comes to homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Why these alleged straight people of God have such a profound obsession with homosexuality, I know not. But I am tired of hearing the same rhetoric over and over again. We get it. You think everyone is a sinner and you still “love” gay people, you just hate the sin. How heartwarming. The thing is though, I don’t care. A lot of people don’t care. You don’t have to marry someone of the same sex, and no one has the right to force you to attend a same-sex wedding. And you also might believe same-sex marriage is illegitimate compared to “traditional” marriage, but a lot of people are gay, or LGBT, or they know someone who is. And the difference between your personal religious beliefs and the lives of these LGBT individuals is that their plight is evident and factual, and using your religion to strip people of their rights is anything but “Christian.”

To Unrelenting Opponents of the Same-sex Marriage Ruling

So here’s the thing:

The United States government is one that specifically separates church and state, or rather religion and law. As a U.S. citizen you have the right to practice any religion and visit whatever place of worship is available to you. However, there seems to be a very common misconception that this country is a “Christian nation.” A majority of the founding fathers were deists, not Christians. For those of you who may not know, deists believe that a divine being, most commonly referred to as god, exists but is not active in the affairs of humans and nature. Aside from this, there is no mention of a national religion or dependence on god in the constitution. This is because the U.S. has freedom of religion, and does not only allow Christianity to be practiced. In fact, the phrase “In God We Trust” was not added to American currency until the 1950’s, which is obviously nowhere near when the country was established.

Many evangelical christians, catholics, and the like have always been secure in their opposition to homosexuality in general, let alone same-sex marriage. A few months ago, there was a bit of an issue in Indiana concerning religious liberty and discrimination against gay people. That battle has not ended despite the recent legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide. Many religious people feel that they need to fight for their religious right. But the thing is, they have not yet lost anything. They still have the freedom to believe whatever they want, say whatever they want, and worship at any available place of worship. There is an outcry over this ruling because they want to maintain the ”right” to be prejudiced against other people and to legally discriminate against someone on the basis of sexual orientation. Of course, the main support of their argument is that the Bible denounces homosexuality in multiple passages, but they fail to remember that theirs is not the only faith that exists. There are Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Confucians, etc, yet no one is standing up for their religious rights or liberty.
Regardless, the United States does not allow any law to be established on the sole basis of any religion or religious belief because obviously not everyone shares the same faith, and allowing any single religion to be at the basis of government and the establishment of laws is not what a democracy stands for. However, the notorious Taliban uses the Qu’ran and the Islamic religion to dictate their laws and how those laws affect citizens. Different religion, same concept. Most Americans don’t think of the Taliban as a governmental aspiration, but the same structure is what many anti-gay Christians are in favor of. Yes, it sounds extreme at first because the Taliban is big and scary and violent and our country tends to have an aversion to muslims in general, but the concept is very similar.

So when a Catholic priest publishes a video about how fellow Catholics need to defend their religious liberty in whatever way they can or that the law of god is greater than the law of man, I cannot help but wonder if they actually believe what they’re saying, because there a lot of other things in the Bible that God apparently approves of that aren’t so acceptable anymore. There’s the obvious opposition to wearing clothing with mixed fabrics or eating shellfish, but there’s also the approval of the stoning of adulterers, selling ones daughters as sex slaves, raping one’s father while he remains unconscious, and polygamy. Oh yes, remember polygamy? It was the most common form of marriage in the Bible, yet the most common argument against same-sex marriage is that marriage was meant to be between only one man and one woman. It may be a nice sentiment, but it’s not exactly how things actually happened in the Bible and in actual history, such as the civilizations of ancient Rome and Greece. Of course everyone loves to pick and choose what they believe is important in the Bible and just hope no one else has actually read it so they don’t have to come up with a defense or engage in an educated discussion.

In addition, the Catholic and Christian religions are in no way endangered or negatively effected by same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples now have the legal right to marry civilly. No one is suddenly demanding to have their big gay wedding in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. No one is insisting that the Catholic church welcome gay couples with open arms. It is quite the opposite. Christian business owners want to legally reserve the right to turn away customers of minority sexualities because it is their personal religious belief. Anti-gay clerks want to challenge the recent supreme court ruling by refusing to give same-sex couples marriage certificates. It is very clear who is the oppressor versus the oppressed, yet religious zealots love to paint themselves as the victims in order to continue to get away with their obvious prejudices and efforts to legalize discrimination.

A Brief History on the Rebel Flag

The Confederate flag has a long and complex history, much of which is not in its favor. The beloved “Southern Cross” is only one edition of the confederacy’s flags, but it is the most common and relevant to racism in America as a whole.

So here’s a little history:

It is true that the South illegally seceded from the rest of the United States and went to battle over states rights, but they were fighting for states rights to own slaves. In fact, the Corner-Stone of the Southern Confederacy states that the foundation of the Confederacy is based upon, “The great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man.”

Slavery was obviously widespread throughout the nation prior to the Civil War, but the southern states of the Confederacy were endeavoring to maintain that “right” after the Union decided that it wasn’t such a great idea after all.

Fast forward to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s and suddenly the Confederate flag is miraculously resurrected. African Americans were fighting for equal rights, which angered many racists so they brought back the Confederate flag to remind black people of their place in history and in the current society of that time. It was meant to be a symbol of white supremacy, a symbol of the inferiority of African Americans.

Aside from the obvious race issue, the confederate flag also represents treason. The Confederacy literally did not want to be part of the united States anymore and in an attempt to achieve this goal, they very illegally seceded from the rest of the nation. In other words, it is a very anti-American flag, and keeping it on state property is unnecessary, ironic, and offensive.

In light of recent events, the largest chapter of the KKK, the “Loyal White Knights” will be holding a rally to protest the potential removal of the flag. They have planned to gather outside the Statehouse in South Carolina on July 18. To many forward-thinking Americans, it remains evident that it’s probably not the best idea to be on the same side as the KKK.

On Gender Roles and Gendered Products

Today I received a package from Sephora I had been expecting, containing some foundation I wanted to try. Sephora also does this cool thing where they give you three free samples with every purchase, so I selected some sample perfumes and added them to my cart. One of these three perfumes was “Versace pour homme,”which basically means that it’s Versace for men. So I sprayed some on my wrist and it smelled so good that I considered investing in a bottle of it in some point in the future. But then I starting thinking about how annoying it is that we gender perfumes. It’s not only for men. Anybody who likes the scent can purchase it. But this is just part of a bigger issue. Our society so strongly feels the urge to gender everything and make a clear distinction between what is “for girls” and what is “for boys.” Because god forbid a guy bought a razor “for women” he would instantly become emasculated. And oh how sad that would be, to be compared to or even be considered a girl.

The social conditioning of gender roles and gendered products is literally introduced into our lives since birth. Boys get wrapped up in blue blankets, and pink is exclusively for girls. Little girls are urged to play with dolls and wear tutus and become obsessed with Disney princesses. Boys should play with hot wheels and Leggos and try out for the little league team. And it’s not as if this behavior and way of thinking is innate. It is learned behavior and ideology. Five-year-old girls don’t have this innate sense to play house or want to be a ballerina when they grow up. We are taught this through observation and guidance. No one ever questions if their little boy prefers pink or blue. It’s just not an option. Fathers automatically assume that their daughter doesn’t want to play catch because she is female. Never giving her the opportunity to decide whether or not she likes sports is what continues this cycle.

And of course people will tell me to not care so much, that it doesn’t really matter. But it does. It shapes the way we view men and women, the way we stereotype, and assume these roles solely based on gender identity. I’m a woman and I like “men’s cologne”. I like dressing comfy and not giving a shit about appearing as a “proper lady”. I’m also gay. But I wear makeup and jewelry. I’ll even occasionally wear stilettos (although that is usually reserved for weddings). What it means to be a man or a woman is not determined through how the media dictates what we should wear, buy, do, or even look like. That is something entirely up to the individual. And I am certainly including transgender folks in this argument. They should not be required to “pass” as a certain gender in order to be respected. Surgery and hormones cost a lot of money, which many trans people don’t have. And someone’s biological make up should certainly not determine their worth, i.e. the overpowering and smothering patriarchy. And of course if you are someone who fits into these specific gender roles that is perfectly okay. There is only a problem if it is not your choice and is forced upon you throughout your entire childhood and adult life. So if you are looking for any rolls to choose in the future, I’d go with sushi.