Fair warning: This turned into a long one…
I grew up in a smaller town where it seemed that everybody knew everyone. When the majority of kids all go to the same school and their families all go to the same churches, I would think it is safe to say that this town’s people shared a lot of the same ideologies.
Most of the young men I went to school with wore a similar style boot, and kept their bent baseball caps in the back pocket of their jeans that would also have the indentation from the can of chewing tobacco they tried to hide. Meanwhile, the young ladies were being sent to the principal’s office because they had on a pair of jeans that had a hole over the knee. You see, the high school I went to did not allow kids to wear jeans that had holes in them. Neither did the school manual state that tobacco products or hats were allowed, but I guess hats and dip cans weren’t seen as sexually disruptive so I assume that’s why the teaches got to keep their spit bottles in the classroom as well.
Now now, I am not here to just speak ill of the small town I grew up in, especially now that I don’t live there… moving away has given me a sense of nostalgia when driving by a Dollar General. No, there are things I have heard from my parents, my friend’s parents, and even from some of the people in my generation that have gotten me a bit concerned….
At the high school football games you would hear defensive parents yelling, “You run like a girl!” to insult the opposite teams.
When boys had hair that went over their ears, I heard them being teased. “Better go get that haircut, you are starting to look like a girl! Want me to go buy you a dress?”
And I’ll never forget the day I came home with my hair cut short for the first time… it’s hard to hear being called son… even as a joke.
You see, my son is almost a year and a half. His hair is beautifully blonde and almost reaches his shoulders. Thus far, he has given me no trouble with washing and yes, brushing his hair. Because we are able to keep it clean and taken care of, and because it seems to give my son no problems at this point, I have and will continue to let it grow.
I am aware that one day, someone might say he looks feminine. I guess you could say that having short hair myself for the past 6 years has had a lot to do with how I am prepared to respond to these comments he may receive. There has been many hours spent telling myself having short hair does not make me any less feminine or attractive than the lady with hair down her back. With this same idea, I believe my son too is absolutely adorable with his longer hair while being just as much a little boy as the boys who have short hair, but maybe I am biased.
Just the other day I had a Facebook friend share about how they felt todays boys just weren’t as tough as they used to be. With today’s society insisting the importance of creating safer environments where kids can express their feelings, they felt this insisted that today’s boys and men alike were weak, whiny and sensitive.
You want to know what I think is weakness? Raising a generation of children to believe that if they are not exactly like the generation before them, that they are messed up. Weakness is looking at how the world is changing and adapting and then hating it because that’s not the way you grew up… because they are looking for solutions to the problems older generations also faced, (discrimination, mental health problems, etc) that are still present in today’s society.
But folks, you have to remember that problem solving is a trial and error process. Older generations and new generations can both contribute to changing this world for the better. And why wouldn’t we want to? Who wouldn’t benefit from taking time to try to better understand the very differences within our human race? Think of all there is to learn. There is a difference between valuing or missing the things you grew up with that are no longer popular, and hating that there are parts of this world that are becoming more accepting of things that used to be more taboo like…
The expression of emotions.
The idea that men and women are equal regardless of spirituality and religion.
People who don’t want to conform to specific gender roles.
People who want to be passionate about the lives that they live.
I believe that with each new generation, some ideas are lost or changed for a reason. Though I will say there is sadness in some of the things that are lost, like maybe your favorite kid snack or toy that’s no longer being made, there is great value in the adaptations of the coming generations.
Take this article where author Greg Hemmings speaks out about how the Millennial Generation is paving a way of life that can also be of value by those who are a part of Generation X.
“Since becoming B Corp certified we produced a social impact film called the Millennial Dream. We studied the motivations of the Generation-Y. The interesting thing is that the purpose driven lifestyle that the Millennial’s expect and even demand is a lifestyle that Gen-X has been striving for since Seattle broke the music scene that defined our generation. Now that we see that the Millennials are living purpose-centric lives, I believe that it’s giving the Gen-Xers the confidence and motivation to finally grab onto it too…finally.
Our mid-life crisis is not fuelled by the list for faster cars, yachts and younger domestic partners, it’s fuelled by the internal desire to create positive impact, be purpose-centric and use our gifts as tools for activism. If this is the stereotype of my generation’s midlife crisis, then I am proud to say that I was born in this generational cohort.”
So no, I will not hide my experiences with discrimination and sexism because it makes me sound sensitive and exposes the people I grew up with. I’m talking about it now and will continue to talk about it because it needs to be brought into the light so that it is not overlooked. So that the reasons behind why the world is changing and how the coming generations are different can be better understood and therefore we can become a people more accepting.