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.

On Coming Out (again and again)

Coming out is an ongoing process. While there will most likely be a definitive point in one’s life in which they will decide to come out to many of their family and friends, it doesn’t just stop there. There is the ever-present assumption that any given person is straight until otherwise specified, and it is a very harmful ideology to LGB youth. Many kids realize their same-sex attraction or crushes on those of the same-sex at an early age, but they don’t come out right then and there because they are constantly spoon fed the rhetoric that boys like girls and girls like boys, and that’s just the way it is. Growing up confined to these gender expectations can be quite a struggle for someone who is questioning their sexuality. I spent a majority of my childhood feeling like an outcast and I couldn’t exactly pinpoint why. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I slowly began to come to terms with my sexual orientation.

In one of my previous posts, Why Queer Representation Actually Matters, I explain how media has a huge influence on societal customs and expectations. When I was growing up, there were absolutely no same-sex couples on T.V. shows or movies. They always generally concluded with the guy getting the girl. Misogyny aside, this enforces how children form opinions about the world around them. If you tell a young kid that donuts are magical, they’ll most likely believe you because they don’t even think to question adults or authority figures. They can’t quite comprehend that there could be possible bias or untruth in what their parents tell them. They probably don’t even know what bias is. And many homosexual and bisexual(pansexual) children spend far too long attempting to unravel the societal norms that they have been forced to assume.

So when one finally comes out, it’s not like some major news announcement to the world. That may be the case for celebrities, but ordinary citizens find that coming out never really ends. Coworkers or new friends will ask you if you have a significant other of the opposite sex, and you’ll just want to say no and leave it at that, in fear that their response will be negative. However, it is also quite freeing to break down that barrier and to not feel like you have to completely avoid talking about that aspect of your life. It’s not about parading around town with a rainbow stamped on your forehead, (with the exception of Pride) but rather living as your authentic self. And in order to live authentically, you will most likely need to inform the people in your life of who you really are. It is certainly not easy, but one must hope for the best. And yes, it does get better.

 

 

*I am leaving out the T in LGBT simply because that has to do with gender identity rather than sexual orientation. I promise this was not meant to exclude anyone.

Why Queer Representation is Actually Important

It comes as no surprise that the LGBTQ community is seldom portrayed in the media, and even when there is representation it is often negative or inaccurate. Heterosexuality is portrayed as the norm, the default. I can watch any show or movie and there are definitely heterosexual characters. In fact, they’re everywhere. But I have to look very hard to find a LGBT character, and such a character is often a flamboyant, white gay man who is treated as more of a source of amusement than as a prominent, meaningful character. If I want to watch a movie with any gay people in it, I often have to sift through the “Gay and Lesbian” category on Netflix, as if these movies can only be identified by the sexuality of the characters and not the more common genres of comedy, drama, and action.

I grew up immersed in this culture, just as many other LGBT youth have, which makes coming to terms with one’s sexual orientation very difficult. I grew up thinking that boys like girls, and girls like boys, and that’s just the way it is. Every love song I listened to or romantic comedy I watched was exclusively heteronormative. It is the constant reenforcement of this male/female dynamic that is damaging for LGBT youth and the like. Growing up, I knew of gay people, but only of the stereotypes and celebrities who had come out. There was no form of media to inform me of any relationship other than a heterosexual one. So of course, I didn’t question my sexuality throughout my childhood, even though there were obvious signs. Culture heavily influences and impacts societal ideals and norms, behaviors, attitudes, and discrimination. And from what I had absorbed from my culture and the media, homosexuality was not a good thing. And while I was completely okay with other people being gay, I couldn’t accept it for myself.

I didn’t spend seventeen years of my life as a heterosexual kid, and then one day I decided to be gay. I thought I was supposed to like boys. I didn’t even know what being gay was until I entered middle school. There was no “agenda” preached at me like many fundamentalists love to believe. It was quite the opposite. I went to Catholic school for seven years, where I was taught that being a homo is a no-no. An abomination. An unnatural, devilish choice. Of course I never bought into it. I accepted anyone who wasn’t the living definition of a bigot. The priest who taught my religion class was as gay as the night is dark, yet he still condemned such a “lifestyle”. And whoever came up with the idea that being gay is a lifestyle? Being an avid skier is a lifestyle. Sexuality is not a lifestyle, it just is. And it is so sad that we have to somehow justify that in order to be respected and treated equally. Humans are born with their sexual orientation and gender identity regardless of what that may be. But, even if it was a choice, what gives someone else the right to tell you what to do with your life? Why? Because God says so? I have to prove my homosexuality is innate yet there is no empirical evidence that God even exists, let alone the ever evolving, rewritten bible that also claims we should stone adulterers. If you don’t have to justify or prove your religion, I certainly don’t have to justify my sexuality.

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.

Exposing “Masculine” and “Feminine” Qualities

The definitions our society has attributed to masculinity and femininity widely contrast. In fact, they are the exact opposites. When we think of masculine we use words like dominant, strong, and independent. When we think of feminine we use words like submissive, frail, and dependent. While both women and men do contain a mixture of both of these qualities, for some reason it is only acceptable for men to be completely masculine and for women to be completely feminine. For this, we can blame society.

However, these words, these adjectives, are faulty. They shove men and women into tiny boxes, forcing them to “conform” to these ideals. One is to believe that a masculine man can take care of everything, provide for the family, and never cry, while a feminine woman is weak and must obey her husband or any other male authoritarians. Obviously, these are two extremes ranging from super human to helpless. But if we are to take these definitions so literally, as we generally do, we have to consider the extreme sides.

I have heard many people make the bold “statement” that masculine women are lesbians, and feminine men are gays. When such statements are made, at least to me, it is obvious that these reverse characteristics are meant to be taken as an insult and as an abnormality, which so happens to be considered wrong or disdainful. These claims may be made for various reasons, but the important part is that they are made at all. It appears to be a rather troublesome thing to be “different”, existing outside of societal ideas and/or normalities. It is not acceptable to set ourselves apart.

And although being feminine is an insult for men and women, women are at a disadvantage because masculinity is something they should never ever possess. If they adhere to their given roles as weak and submissive, they are inferior. (I mean, who wants to be told that they’re weak?) And if women are masculine, they are either lesbians (which is a bad thing apparently) or undesirable. Feminine men do appear to be at a certain disadvantage, but in the end, they are still men, men who own everything and rule the world.

To conclude, the terms masculine and feminine are absolutely ridiculous. We do not need to use these adjectives ever. They are insulting and absolutely useless. Humans are individuals. We are all inherently different and we all possess different qualities, regardless of sex or gender. We are unique. We have brains. We have entire thesauruses and dictionaries to provide us with more appropriate and accurate words to describe each and every individual we meet. There is no need to clump an entire gender into one “ideal” category. We’re better than that, or at least, I hope so.

*I decided to write this because of these comments that I have viewed recently:

[“Women aren’t supposed to be too strong. If women were strong, they’d be men (or lesbians).

What man in his right mind would want to have sex with another man? That’s gay. Therefore, women should be slightly submissive. It’s the essence of femininity.”

“A man wants to be with a woman who’s a woman – the type of feminine woman that is rapidly becoming extinct.”]

Well, boys, here’s a little tip:  If there is a vagina attached to her, there’s a good chance that she just might be woman.

On Getting Inked

I never would have pictured myself actually going through with this. I have heard so many people  warn of the pain and regret, the permanence. I have been warned of the stigma that is attached to each and every tattoo that is visible on your body, the judgement that is formed when you go to a job interview. But to me, these are awfully pitiful fears that society tries to instill in us, to prevent us from leading the lives we want to live, to prevent us from marking our bodies they way we want them to be marked. I want a tattoo to celebrate my hope and my joy and my pain. I want to celebrate every inch of my soul and show it to the world. I want to celebrate a feeling I have very recently began to discover, a feeling called happiness. And if that labels me as a degenerate, anything will.

“Loose” Women

Being sexually active has nothing to do with a woman’s morals or the looseness of a woman’s vagina. Men are given a pat on the back for either having multiple one night stands in a short period of time or for just having a lot of sex in general. However, if women have the same sexual pattern or history as a man who “scores” a lot, then she is labeled as a slut or a whore. She is then classified as promiscuous and dirty. It is here that we are presented with a great, unjust double standard. If a straight man is having all of this wild sex, then tell me, who is he having it with? Men? No. He’s having sex with women. So, here where we find ourselves stuck in a hole of confusion and hypocrisy. It really does take two to tango. I’m sure he wouldn’t be bragging about having sex with himself. My question to you is: Why is she the whore, but he the champion? Slut shaming is when a person is called out on their sexual behavior and made of mockery of for it. Being a slut is considered to be one of the highest insults, if not the highest. Slut shaming is a horrible thing to do either to a man or a woman, but it really mostly happens to women. I don’t want to say that it only happens to women, because who knows? I do not want to be the one to make that assumption. Either way, slut shaming has to stop. Actually, our entire societal view needs to change to a more sex positive one. Middle schools and high schools in every state should have actual sex education classes. No one needs to be taught about abstinence. There’s really not that much to it. We need to inform kids/teenagers about contraceptives, and STDs, and how to properly put on and take off a condom. Those are all truly important things that a properly functioning person should be informed about. I was lucky enough to have the most thorough sex education class ever in my sophomore year of high school. This might sound odd to say, but I truly enjoyed my sex education class. I learned so much and grew even more curious about sexuality and how things work, much like I am curious about many other things in life. We should not be afraid to talk about sex because it is not disgusting, or wrong, or filthy like we are told to believe. Sex is sex. It can be used to reproduce or for personal pleasure. And yes, things can go wrong, but things can go wrong in all aspects of life. Hiding the truth about sex from our children is not going to protect them, it’s only going to hurt them in the end. Once they are informed, they can be free to make their own choices and use their own minds, but the point is to inform them and not to shove our own misguided opinions down their throats.

Another issue I want to address is “loose women” and their loose vaginas. Having sex cannot and does not loosen the vagina. Vaginas come in all different sizes, but they do not change size because of the amount of sex they have had. So, all those dirty thoughts you had about virgins? Yeah, it’s all in your mind, bud. The only act that can loosen the vagina is childbirth, but this loosening is only temporary as it goes back to its original size in about six months or so after giving birth.

A woman’s morals have nothing to do with her sexual activity. Religion and societal standards do not need to treat women like a different, lesser part of the world, furthering the dehumanization of the female kind. I just don’t see how these two things can directly relate. We’re not talking about adultery, we’re just talking about plain, old sex. Humans are not like other animals. We cannot  have sex for the sole purpose of procreation. Our desire for sexual pleasure is one of the many aspects that makes us human. Gays and lesbians are human, and they cannot procreate among their own sex. Here, we are presented with yet another issue. There are just so many issues, and the issues only lead to my perpetual frustration, but I can’t stop caring and reading about the issues. I am a flaming masochist.

Anyway, thank you for making it this far. I know this was kind of ranty, but hey, what else is the internet for?