I was born into the last portion of generation X. Each generation, and culture, develops and creates their own set of social norms and expectations, including their identifiers as a generation. Some expectations from previous generations remain but alter and adapt to modern societies. Social norms and expectations are an idea of what is socially acceptable and what is not. There is no social norms committee, no written guidelines and no judge. The jury is society and the consequences of going against these abstract expectations are shame and ridicule.
I decided it would be interesting to collaborate, briefly, with my son, born into generation Z, on this topic. Generation X and generation Z coming together to discuss gender roles and societal expectations.
Let me just be very clear that we are not discussing gender identities, since neither of us can properly discuss or represent this topic.
Generation X, I was born in the mid 70’s. We started the generation identifiers, such as gen X, Y and now Z. Growing up in the late 70’s and into the 80’s, gender role expectations should have been a lot more liberal than they were. Gender role expectations from the baby boomer generation were fading out and individualism was slowly fading in.
Generation Z, I was born in the early 2000’s. Growing up in the 2000’s and into the 2010’s, gender expectations seemed faint and almost mute, as I never experienced anything interesting regarding my gender or the roles expected of me.
Generation X, I find it interesting how so many generations coexist and battle over who has created better expectations. Society has used shame and ridicule to create submission. However, it has caused uproar and defiance. Without defiance, there would not be change, and without change there would be only one generation, generation A. No thank you. I vote for change (I can due to gender evolution of woman’s rights). Generations are the epitome of evolution. It is disappointing that generation after generation some gender roles and societal expectations seem to evolve slowly. Women’s rights, for example, equity and equality continue to be fought for.
Generation Z, generations are made from the changing of time. Life in the twenty-first century continues to want to bracket me into a specific gender role. I can identify gender roles and societal expectations but I do not follow any other’s idea of who I represent myself to be (gender or otherwise). I seem to be the exception, not the rule. I have never felt pressure to be boyish or to act or dress in a specific way; my family and friends just accept and support me for me. I view the world through a lens of equality, without judgment or bias.
Growing up in the latter part of generation X, with baby boomer parents and traditionalists grandparents, I was lucky to have an eclectic and diverse family. Gender roles and societal expectations had a heavy hand in my upbringing. Society set the standards and my family executed the expectations. No shaming or blaming to my family here, each generation, for the most part, does the best they can with what they have. Gender role expectations trickled naturally from branch to branch on my family tree. I was born holding the ax to end it. As a parent I try not to play by the same rules of setting gender expectations for my children. My relationship with society has always been rough because society and I have not always agreed on expectations. Regarding gender, societal expectations can bite me.
Collaborating on this post with my son has been a lot of fun and helpful in fleshing out main points to the topic. This topic is so BIG I could write an entire thesis paper on it. I love that my kid shares my passion for writing and he shares my passion for humanity. He has always been and will always be my humanitarian. I have so much love and pride for him.
A message regarding gender roles and societal expectations to all generations, be kind, be open, be understanding and accept change. Stop fixing and start hearing the messages asking for unconditional support and love. Each generation is created and designed to be different and defiant. Manipulating environments and disrupting norms should be embraced and cultivated. It is exciting to see what is next. It is exciting to watch seeds of change grow and thrive.
Diversity is beautiful, embrace it.