Insidious Adjectives: How the Gender Debate is Twisting Powerful Parts of Speech

gender debateThere’s a new insidiousness to the gender debate, and it’s all about adjectives: It’s gradual, it’s oh so very subtle, but it’s also incredibly harmful. In essence, the debate about gender roles has been minimized to just a few, “petty” parts of speech…harmless, until you read past the diction and really start thinking about what these parts of speech really mean to the future of male vs. female.

In any well-thought out argument, the main thing you focus on (if you wan’t to convince anyone of anything) is facts. Appeals to logic and reason with a little stab at emotion fill most of your argument. Fill up your persuasive argument assignment in first-year undergrad speech class with emotional appeals and there will be big fat red comments scrawling across every margin of your hard copy: “Cut the flowery language, the emotional appeals, the adjectives.” I know because I was an English major, I fought with my professors over my love for adjectives and every time I lost. I loved those little guys, they were so…so…well, descriptive. There was always just one more I could throw in, one more that I thought captured precisely what I wanted to say…it was perfect, it was…too much. The issue with adjectives, by their own definition of their function, is that they’re modifiers, they’re add-ons that carry with them subjective value judgments–not any real, concrete information like nouns and verbs. A movie isn’t a bad or boring movie until you throw an adjective in front of it. A person is really just a person until you describe them with adjectives: beautiful, smart, dull, annoying, fun…Ask Voltaire or Twain about those modifiers and you’ll find they agree with me. Voltaire said adjectives are the “enemy” of the noun, and Twain? He wasn’t so subtle of course: “If you catch an adjective, kill it.”gender debate

What’s the big deal? Adjectives are important, but they’re also dangerous because they aren’t facts or actions that are unchanging or unchangeable. They are descriptions that fluctuate and rely upon the person who is using them to garner their value. I may describe The Notebook as a stupid film because that’s my personal judgment value of it, but I know most of the female gender would vehemently disagree with me, and they can because adjectives are just descriptions–not truths. So, how does all of this grammar nit-picking relate to the gender debate? You may not have noticed it because that’s the whole point of an insidious attack, but the gender debaters have taken a step back from their bleeding heart podiums and resorted to just whispering subtleties into the audience’s ears. What are they whispering? They’re whispering that certain descriptive, modifying words to describe men are greater than adjectives describing many women and unless women show a marked interest and achievement in justifying that these adjectives also describe themselves—well, then they are failing as a modern woman. They’re attributing negative value judgments on typically female adjectives, while making male adjectives a thing of value, presenting their adjective-packed argument as poignant proof women need to start not only “leaning in,” but by gosh, throwing a punch and climbing on top as well. Just listen:

Leslie Bennetts is a writer who has spent much of her working life interviewing famous women. She is also a wife and working mum, writing for Vanity Fair, Elle, The New York Times, as well as publishing her own book, The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much? (which, you can purchase new and used for $1.99 btw on Amazon–I didn’t know you could buy a book for two dollars but apparently Bennetts made it happen!) If you can’t tell from her book title, she isn’t much of a supporter of the “you can’t have it all so choose a path” stance for women juggling modern, manic life. Her article “The Scarlet A: Why Women Don’t Say They’re Ambitious” is all about the phenomenon she began to notice throughout her career interviewing wildly successful women: That is, that ladies don’t really like describing themselves as “ambitious.”

She cites many examples: Condoleeza Rice refusing to admit she was smart in an interview with Oprah, Oprah herself underscoring her ranking as one of the richest women in America with her comment “I don’t think of myself a businesswoman,” and even Hilary Clinton’s self-professed, shock and disbelief when she heard she was to be appointed to secretary of state under Obama’s administration. You could see their subtlety about describing their own success as humble, you could describe it positively as hard-working, industrious, even admirable, or modest, but Bennetts chooses to describe them as passive, reactive, and overly self-effacing–negative adjectives = negative behavior = negative personality types. She says women have been trained to believe that power, ambition, and a take-charge attitude desexualizes them. But have we ever stopped to think why ambitious, powerful, and zealous are adjectives greater than humility, selflessness, and hardworking? Because, after all, all of those words are just adjectives. They’re all value judgments with no real truth behind them beside the value the speaker/writer gives them. Perhaps the issue is not that women aren’t stepping up, it’s that the way culture is describing where women are now has merely created the appearance that women have anywhere to step up from. I didn’t think Condoleeza Rice, Oprah, or Hilary Clinton’s positions could exactly be called “underdogs.” That is, I didn’t think so until Bennetts began to describe them as such.

gender debate

Gloria Feldt, former president of Planned Parenthood seemed rather horrified at why women are “failing” at pronouncing their pride, shouting their success, acknowledging their ambition, and taking over: Quoted in Bennetts article, Feldt says there is really “no law or formal barrier…keeping us [women] from achieving equality and justice except our own unwillingness to ‘just take them.'” Unable to believe that women don’t want these “powerful” adjectives to describe themselves, Feldt can hardly contain her disgust: “Millions of dollars are being spent to help recruit, train, and support women to get elected, and yet they’ve [women] scarcely moved the dial at all…the problem [is] not that the doors [are] not open. The problem [is] that women [are] not walking through those doors and that just blew me away” Feldt said. I still don’t see a problem though, maybe the majority of women have figured out the real truth, that adjectives like ambitious, and powerful  aren’t really any greater than the adjectives they currently embody (like humble, selfless, modest) and they’re actually perfectly okay with it.

Because many women believe power, or the admittance of having power desexualizes them, Bennetts says that many of those women choose to gain their power sort of second-hand–through a marriage. She warns that such an abdication of personal power can only end in being let down, for, Bennetts highlights, when we rely on other people (specifically spouses or children) to give us power, we risk everything on someone we cannot control. Her case in point? Grace Kelly. Bennetts interviewed Kelly twenty years after her marriage to The Prince of Monaco. Thinking she was going to interview a real-life fairy-tale story, Bennetts was shocked to discover Grace Kelly was instead a woman wrought with “sadness and regret.” Kelly regretted the loss of her acting career, the loss of “command[ing] respect for her own work, earn[ing] her own keep, and [being] acclaimed for her own efforts.” Bennetts highlights Kelly because her life is something of a posterchild for the argument women should chase those “better,” usually ‘male” adjectives. Male adjectives give you autonomy, power, a sense of self, pride, direction, while female adjectives, Bennetts says, make you passive, reactive, self-effacing, powerless. A pretty good argument for self-empowerment, yes? Yet, Bennetts missed that Grace Kelly, in all her regret for giving up her career to “rely on someone else,” was still relying on something outside of herself for her sense of power and happiness. No, it wasn’t a someone (i.e. her husband, children) it was a something: her acting career– and the loss of which concluded in the same result of regret and sadness.gender debate

So, what’s the answer? If male and female adjectives both get you nowhere, what do you do? You don’t listen to this insidious new attack, because “adjectives are frail; don’t ask them to do more work than they should.” How you describe yourself with whatever adjectives you choose still misses a very important part of speech, that is the noun: you. Who you are is what really matters. Being powerful and ambitious isn’t greater than any other way you could describe yourself–those adjectives are just modifiers to whatever you really are. If you’re modest, humble, selfless, and happy about it, that’s far, far more powerful than the most ambitious person in the world who is content at nothing, proclaims his/her own glory at every turn, and in the end will lose him/herself when the next ambitious self comes along to trump their grandeur. Relying on ambition and power is just as dangerous as relying on a person. Don’t believe the lie that any one adjective is better, pay more attention to the nouns that embody the adjectives. And, if you need something to glean your power from, I would much rather rely on someone I love and who will love me back than something that merely describes me.

– <3 A. 

Men vs. Women: Why Who Leads Matters

why who leads mattersIf there was ever a stereotype more negative, more degrading, and raised more eyebrows, it’s probably the one surrounding men bearing the title of “stay-at-home-dad.” In the eighties, “Mr. Moms” were made rather famous by Michael Keaton’s portrayal of just that. His character highlighted all the reasons men usually don’t want to be a Mr. Mom: The whole reason Keaton becomes one is because he loses his job at a car manufacturing company and is beat out by his wife who lands a job in an advertising company quicker then he can find another position. He fights to gain respect from her new jerk-face boss who picks her up for a business trip in a suit and a limo while Keaton struggles to control the vacuum, the plumber, the baby, the laundry…and his temper. The new roles he and his wife play are clearly unnatural and they start to bicker, resent, and envy one another.

Of course we’ve come a long way from the Mr. Mom of the eighties. Now many men are choosing to stay at home not because they “failed” and lost their jobs, but simply because the woman is earning more and when a couple makes the decision that they would like one parent home full-time with their children, the natural choice for who is going to kick the 8 to 5 is obviously the one earning less. Yet, there’s still something a little strange about it: call it lingering prejudice, ok, or call it entrenched, disgusting stereotypes–but whatever you want to call it, the uncomfortable aura the title “stay-at-home-dad” conjures up has to be acknowledged and investigated.

In a recent episode of HGTV’s hit show Love it or List it, where a real estate agent tries to get the featured family to move and “list it,” while a designer tries to re-do their current home and make them stay and “love it,” the couple featured was a working mum and a stay at home dad who ran a daycare business out of the home. Just watching them interact was a bit off-putting. The mum was cold and very business-like calculating. She openly admitted she needed space away from her husband and all of the kid’s toy paraphernalia he had for his business, and quickly became irritated by his needs. At the same time, her husband was really rather whiny, yet quickly caved to her demands and was anything but masculine. Now of course they had issues that all can’t be blamed or perhaps none can be blamed on their obvious role reversals. If the roles had been reversed (the dad the cold, distant parent, working away from home, the mom the stay-at-home whiny pushover), I still would have been uncomfortable, labeled him a jerk and her probably a sad, trampled woman. Yet, is it strange of me to wonder if his whiny, seeming personal insecurities did not in some deep, perhaps subconscious way, stem from his position in their family as, well, the stay-at-home dad? And was her cold, distant air simply part of her (unfortunate) personality? Or, did it spawn from her disrespect for a husband who wasn’t exactly exemplifying very many, um, masculine attributes?

Clay Parker, a stay-at-home dad, recently wrote an article for “Lean In” –the site I mentioned last month in It’s Just Natural— defending his role as something contrary to all the negative stereotypes. In the article, he tackles many of the battles stay-at-home-dads have to face (a list much longer than their female counterparts). He makes some good points in his piece: The way he writes about being an involved father figure makes it a role of strength (as it should be) instead of weakness, and further, he highlights that the role of a stay at home parent (male or female) is an enormous contribution to the family unit and shouldn’t be a position ever to feel degraded about. Good points, yes? The title of his article “Stay-at-Home-Dads: We are Leading Men,” followed by the tagline, “forget the rubbish that men should always be ‘heads of household,'” however, begins a juxtaposition of ideas that never quite work themselves out in his piece: He is in essence saying that the idea men should be leaders, heads of households, primary bread-winners etc. is an outdated, inconsequential notion: “rubbish.” Yet, his primary argument in support of his role is convincing himself–and other Mr. Moms–that they are still “leading men.” I’m already confused. He says that he has “come to view [his] role as a ‘stay-at-home-dad” as a kind of ‘Best Supporting Actor’ role, absolutely essential to our story.” He then whips out his number one piece of evidence (from Wikipedia might I add) to help him come to terms with his role, saying that he doesn’t mind being a supporting actor because on Wikipedia it says “that there is sometimes controversy over whether a particular performance should be nominated in the Best Actor/Actresses or Best Supporting Actor/Actress category.” Ah ha! I smell jealousy of that #1 spot. His masculinity is showing! Stop that! Though he seems to want to be okay with being the one stepping down from the leader of his household, he attempts to twist every shred of evidence he can to make himself feel as if he still is…I wonder if it’s because it’s just…more…natural?

It’s quickly obvious that he knows his role is rather unnatural and the nontraditional reversal of roles is less than ideal. In fact, interestingly enough, he lumps his unusual household makeup with his “daughter’s neighborhood friends” who has “two moms.” He says that those moms “love and nurture [their son] as fiercely as any other set of parents.” Yet, he knows there is something unnatural, something less than ideal about his own situation as well as the boy with the two moms because, he follows his defense of non-traditionalism by saying that he has “no doubt that children lacking either a ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ presence in their home find-and are found by-such role models in either a broader family context or the world at large.” In essence, in the middle of his defense of gender role reversal and nontraditional, same-sex parents, he is admitting that the ideal family is one in which children grow up with strong masculine and feminine role models. And, for those who don’t have them (when dads are at home, mums are away, or two moms/dads are in charge) they must look outside the home to meet this essential need.

So what? So what if the home is less than ideal and children must seek these “ideal” role models outside of the home? Clay Parker says the process of how one gets to the end goal of parenthood (“to raise happy, healthy children who will someday move in the world autonomously and with confidence”) doesn’t really matter…it’s the end result. But, processes do matter. In fact, most end results are a direct reflection of the process it took to get there. Processes are so important in fact, many can be patented. And if companies protect their processes so carefully in order to make the perfect end result every time, I’m not really sure why we are trying to change the way we’re raising children and gambling with the results of an altered process. Ideals aren’t always attainable, but it really does matter who’s in the lead of a family. Simply hoping the little ones will happen across them elsewhere is a process I wouldn’t like to toy with.

– <3 A. 

Guest Pinner: If Nellie Bly Pinned

nellie bly repins

nellie bly repinsNellie Bly images and signature via| repins via | via |via | via | via | via

Have you seen the new(ish) Channing Tatum movie Side Effects? I won’t give anything away but I was intrigued–and not just by him because he isn’t in the movie all that long, and that’s all I’m gonna say about it–but when I was reading up about Nellie Bly, heralded as the world’s first (female) investigative journalist, and her primary investigative success “Ten Days in a Madhouse,” I was even more intrigued by this real-life version of that flick **the movie is a little slow but watch it! It’s got some serious twists you won’t see coming**. I stumbled across her by chance ironically right after watching Side Effects and I wondered how I’d gone so long without hearing about this pretty spectacular lady.

In 1885, Nellie Bly read a Pittsburgh newspaper article entitled “What Girls are Good For.” The article denounced female aspirations and education, and 21 year old Elizabeth Cochran wrote a letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch denouncing him for publishing such views on women. The editor was so impressed by Elizabeth’s writing voice that he eventually offered her a full-time job writing under the pen name “Nellie Bly.” Readers of the “Dispatch” weren’t as impressed as the editor was though, and Nellie ended up getting the typically “female” topics of gardening, fashion, and gossip to avoid public backlash about a female reporter reporting on topics she couldn’t possibly know anything about. Disgusted by the inane topics she was forced to write about, Nellie turned in her resignation, and, a few years later, landed a position writing for the “New York World.” Because of some investigative work she had done in Mexico between writing for the “Dispatch” and the “World,” Bly was tasked to go “undercover” into a madhouse for women. Nellie feigned insanity, convincing doctors that she should be put into the asylum on Blackwell’s Island in order to investigate the living conditions for “patients” of the hospital. What she discovered was horrifying: While the doctors and nurses ate and lived like royalty, the patients were fed off flour soaked in water, kept tied up like animals, and treated like hardened prisoners. She spent ten days in the asylum and then was rescued by agents from the “World.” Her articles written about the atrocities committed at the hospital resulted in public outcry and new laws mandating better treatment and more money allocated for women at similar institutions.

Her ideas for her articles were fascinating, bold, fearless, and completely unique. In the late 1800’s she proposed that she could travel around the world faster than Jules Verne’s main character in Around the World in Eighty Days. The “World” sponsored her trip and even started a reader guessing game as to what day she would return back to the States in order to keep interest in Bly’s voyage. Bly landed back on American soil just seventy-two days after starting her voyage. The woman was incredible, and not just because it was the 1800’s, but because she had incredible passion for her writing and for writing about things that truly mattered. She was creative, cutting edge, intelligent, and couldn’t be intimidated. If Nellie Bly pinned I’d be all over her boards because who knew what the next thing Bly would do?

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– <3 A. 

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  Anne of Green Gables             Beatrix Potter                     Clara Barton 

July Highlights

july vmmv highlights

july vmmv highlights

1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. | 6.

Despite being absurdly hot at times, July was the perfect combination of sticky, sparkly, summery, stylish, opinionated, and colorful. I made two of the easiest desserts that surprisingly turned out delicious for how few ingredients and how quickly they went together. Summer is all about simplicity. I was also all about spouting modern views on some undying issues, and apparently you’re all about reading them because yet again those two were some of my top posts for the month–Thank-you! July was also about a real-life pinning expedition: I went to an estate sale almost weekly in the hopes of discovering some design inspiration for the blog makeover—inspiration that will all be revealed *huge gasp*…tomorrow!

There’s months of blogging that seem like I’m pulling teeth, racking my brain for inspiration, and sometimes dissatisfied with my own creative limits. And then there’s months that topics and sentences, collages and images just pour out and this all feels so very right. July was one of those months. It was a much-needed slower month, a pause in a year that has been rather laborious with little fruit to show for it but I guess that’s why Fall is the Harvest months: all these early days spent working are about to show fruit and I’m so ready to see a bounty.

Tomorrow’s August 1st. Wow. I normally loathe August, but this time around, I think we’re at a stalemate. I’m still not a fan of the crazy heat stubbornly sticking around, but with the blog launch planned, an upcoming weekend away with two of my best girls, and a return to something of a schedule, I’m thinking August won’t be all that bad. Here’s to the start of a new month!

 – <3 A. 

How Women Work

play the gameFrom kindergarten through high school, teachers and administrators spend their days catering to different learning styles. There’s post-graduate degrees about it, there’s studies on it, volumes and volumes of ideas to assist it, there’s seminars for it, and there’s real truth to it: Some kids learn slower, some need a quick run around the lower left play-field before they can settle down to math, some need to work on their own, some need you right there to guide them. It’s openly acknowledged that boys are slower to develop, (they officially reach adolescence at age 12 while girls reach it at 10) and, generally, most teachers would probably admit that their gentlemen students need more frequent breaks to blast out some energy on the playground. So, boys and girls are different. Yep, got that. It’s not that expectations of the end goal are different, it’s that the paths that students take to reach a level of achievement can be, and are, very diverse–and educators are all about meeting these needs. Yet, after we all move on from elementary, middle, high school, and perhaps careen through college, we arrive at the workplace where everyone is expected to work in the same way. More then that, expected to want to work in the same way.

In her article “Women are at the Table, so Now What?” writer Anand Giridharadas asks the question, “how would everything in the world be different if the female half of humanity had not been more or less locked out of its design?” Focusing on the workplace, she’s in essence asking how work, meeting structure, and office-life would be different had men not been the main imagineers behind its infrastructure. In the next breath however, she describes the premise behind her question is a dangerous one, for, “to suggest that women have a distinct way of thinking  is…to flirt with the kind of logic that held them down.” Its interesting that though “distinct ways of thinking” are celebrated, catered to, and studied among children, once we sign on as employees of a workplace, our gender differences are supposed to be ignored, probably sued if acknowledged, and frowned upon if exploited–at times for very good reasons. Yet, the differences remain. Boys and girls are different, and so are men and women, and somehow acknowledging the distinctions behind our genders is nothing to be celebrated, noticed, or examined. Now that women have generally been included where we were once excluded however, Giridharadas proposes that though women are late “in coming…to the modern work force,” perhaps we are better “able to see what’s amiss” with it with our fresh (and might I add uniquely female) perspectives. The idea that something is “amiss” is not just a female perspective however, though women may be leading the search for a more balanced life within and without of the office. In her article, Giridharadas notes that last month, a number of high-powered female (and male) executives met in New York to discuss this idea of a new sort of workplace. Among the meeting-goers, the overwhelming thought “was that the culture of work in general is in a bad way, and that women’s struggles to find balance are only glimpses of a larger problem…there was widespread agreement that the culture of…white-collar American professionals bathing in the pride of being ‘crazy busy’ are pervasive and harmful” notions. Further, that “technology, in bringing the office calendar and whiteboard into bed with you, only worsens things.” In short, Giridharadas exposes what has become a burgeoning new feeling that, since women have arrived at the “table” of corporate America, we don’t really like what we see.

This whole “new” movement is almost humorously ironic. Historically, that’s why women were shut out: because, on the whole, women have been labeled as more emotional, we have more ups and downs, and we have never been able to shake the stereotype of the fickle, female heart and never being satisfied. I guess we could have seen this coming then. But all that aside, now that women are here and we don’t like what we see, how do we propose to change it? Giridharadas says that John Mackey, co-founder of Whole Foods questioned that exact thing in the Manhattan-meeting-of-the-corporate-minds. Mackey says that “men’s metaphors for business have tended to derive from sports, war, and Darwinian ideas,” so what would women’s business metaphors be? How would we re-imagine it? Maybe it doesn’t need to be re-imagined though, maybe women just need to be able to be women, not to strive to “make it in a man’s world” but to “make” it how they define it and let men have their world if they let us have ours. Differences: its ok, they’re a good thing. In any good sports team, coaches and managers know to play to the unique strengths of individuals players. Sure they’re a team, but distinctions are just as important. Pitchers can’t play as often as a first baseman. Their shoulders need rest and days to recover or else they risk injury and burnout. Shortstops have to be quick, catchers usually are strong and stocky. They train different, work different, and perform to their unique strengths. If that’s the business metaphor we’re working off of then, how come we’re all trying to be pitchers?

Giridharadas questions if women can “simultaneously argue for their ability to work as hard as men and suggest that no one should work that hard,” but I wonder why it has taken this long for us all to figure out that while women can do it, maybe doing it isn’t the best thing for women, men, or our families, and doing it in the way that men established for themselves is definitely not the right way for us. Ability is not in question here, it’s health, happiness, and using individual strengths and natural gifts in the proper way. Giridharadas ends her article by mentioning some strategies that the Manhattan corporates came up with as new visions for a future, better workplace. The ideas (flex hours, “digital detox days,” etc.) are labeled as “performance enhancers,” strategies that strive to appear, above all else, to be “gender-neutral.” But I have to wonder if they’re missing the exact thing they almost uncovered: that is, that we’re DIFFERENT, that neutrality won’t work just as much as workin’ like a dog man hasn’t worked for women. So why skirt around the primary issue? Why not celebrate “that women have a distinct way of thinking,” and thus can work in distinct ways? Why does distinction suddenly bring out the less-than symbol? And why is removing all distinctions the answer? “I’m very definitely a woman and I enjoy it” (Marilyn Monroe) and I have no interest in making it in a man’s world, nor do I have any interest in both of us working in a gender-neutral environment. If men want to work like men, let them, and let women work like women.

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– <3 A. 

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New Version of Freedom    Mother of all Resumes      Much ado about Golightly

A New Version of Freedom

new version of freedomEmily Matchar, writer for The Atlantic and author of the just-released book, New Domesticity recently wrote an article about a surging revival of interest in traditional  family life where the children of Baby Boomers (us “doomed” Millennials) are leading a subtle rebellion against the world our parents created by beginning what she describes as a “tangible shift in the way educated young women” are approaching issues like family, work, and homemaking. In her article, she explores the complex reasons why she says “Feminists [are becoming] Housewives.” She’s quick to point out this movement is nothing like traditional ideas of, well, traditional (cue June Cleaver image), nor newly created stereotypes of the Stepford Stay-at-home-wife/mom. These women who are choosing to return to a “housewife” label aren’t wealthy white girls who came from money, perhaps married into even more money, and are strolling around at home working out in LuLu Lemon, dropping the kids off in an Escalade, and struggling only to choose a gel manicure color. Instead, Matchar says that “across different social and cultural groups, there’s been a collective return to domesticy” for a variety of reasons. This movement isn’t about women not wanting to work outside the home, about masochist husbands who want to leave a list of chores at home and return after 5:00 p.m. expecting dinner on the table. “It’s about the grown children of harried Baby Boomers who, having seen his (or her) parents work 60 hour weeks to climb the corporate ladder, decides to lead a slower, more home-focused life.”

quoteThe underlying reason for this shift? Matchar says that in her interviews with numerous different types of women who had chosen to stay home for a variety of different reasons was that, in the end, they all hoped to “create smarter, healthier, gentler children.” If you read between the lines of all these quotes and data that Matchar gathered from Millennials, what Millennials are in effect saying is that we don’t really like ourselves. We don’t like what the Baby Boomer’s “careerism and materialist values” left us as individuals or left to us as a culture. Point to the resurgence of the coined “hipster” label, or the vast number of goal-less 20-somethings that make up a large percentage of the “Millennials,” and it becomes rather obvious that this generation is really not a huge fan of the shoes our parents were wanting us to fill.  We don’t like what that mindset created: us. We don’t really like that the Baby Boomers gave up experiencing much of their children’s lives in order to lead their own “successful” ones. And that’s nothing new, every generation spurns the one before it, but Matchar says that despite the vast range of reasons people were choosing to give “the finger to corporate America…what they all shared was a conviction that America was messed up.” And who had messed it up? Without digressing to a blame game, or giving any one group too much responsibility in the current state of the American family, but Millennials naturally look to, and blame, our Baby Boomer parents. Of course, the volley of attacks could be made on Millennials: a generation described as one of the laziest generations, a generation crippled by our inability to choose a path from the myriad of opportunities 20 and 30-somethings have today. And who gave us the ability to choose these opportunities? Of course, the hard-working Baby Boomer parents Millennials are rebelling against and often mooch off of as we casually decide what opportunity to “choose” all while safely tucked in the nest egg of our perhaps aloof, but stable, parents. But that is what is so ironic. The Baby Boomers worked so hard to create an America that the Millennials see as “messed up.” A way of life that the new “adult” generation is choosing to turn away from and essentially do it over themselves in a more traditional way.

quote Matchar points to this DIY subculture and broad distrust in institutions as why blogs are so popular, why many are attempting to grow their own food, to homeschool their children, to cook from scratch, and essentially live much simpler lives. It is “in this context,” Matchar says, that “domesticity is reinvisioned as a valid, creative, politically powerful, even feminist choice.” In essence, a woman’s decision to choose domesticity is more of a decision to gain a new version of freedom from a world our parents worked hard to get but at a cost too high for the consequences of their ambition (their children’s unhappiness) to take with their own future, or current, families. Instead of a choice of bowing out of the “race,” domesticity is more of a way of taking control. Matchar didn’t say this, but I think there’s enough evidence to conclude that as the guinea pigs for the Baby Boomer’s experiment of “all or nothing” for career and personal power, we Millennials are choosing to not have our children become what we are now. We want to make homes, families, and a new life the old way.

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– <3 A. 

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Much Ado About Golightly    Dalloway Complex  A Generation of Gentlemen