Saturday, December 16, 2023

The Pronoun Wars: The Coming of a New Generational Conflict?

How should you react when you're introduced to someone, such as a potential job candidate, as "Zie", "They", "Hir" or similar salutary title? Are you taken back or perhaps try to suppress an amused smile or smirk? 

What about when you're at a social gathering and refer to someone as a male or female and you're informed that your "gender assumption" is disrespectful. They go on to say that there are 72 genders, not two. You should first inquire to how they identify before assuming they're male or female. How do you react?

In today's labor market, employers are going to find more and more examples like these walking through their doors. Federal and state labor laws have clearly defined your limitations. In today's "politically correct" social environment, you risk the possibility of a lawsuit or social censure ("cancelled")  if you don't handle the situation correctly.

There have been several instances where companies have risked serious damage to their customer base by being labeled "chauvinistic" or "patronizing" over something as innocuous as holding the door or pulling out a chair for a female.  Repairing one's public image can also be highly expense, often involving the services of a specialty PR team equipped with lawyers and social media experts, and a long term endeavor. But in the short term, protests and online campaigns to discredit you or your company can take a significant toll on your bottom line.  

Some groups chalk up the issue of gender identity, along with the so-called "body art" as nothing more than generational rebellion, something which has been going on since the beginning of time. Therefore it will pass and there's no need to really need to take it too seriously. In the 1950's social rebellion often nothing more than "bobby socks", 'ducktales", and customized fast cars.  By the 1960's, it was "make love not war" and "flower power" and "sex, drugs, and rock n roll" in the 1970's.

The message of the rebellion was often transmitted through magazines, newspapers, social interaction, and, of course, word of mouth contact (which typically involved a change of vocabulary to set them apart from the previous generation and create a new sense of identity). Movies and especially music helped with the transformation. Both were essentially, for instance, with the growth of the anti-Vietnam War movement.

It's never changed and likely will never change, and yet employers found ways to adapt, but this seems to be different because of the extreme nature of the "rebellion". Previously, it was mostly just music, cloths, long hair and beards, and a pseudo-primitivism in the form of communes. As they matured, many decided to "clean up" and conform rather than "tune in, turn on, and drop out" of society. Albeit late to adapt, much of their lifestyle went mainstream thanks to the marketing industry looking to cash in.  

Today, technology has evolved to the point where the message can bypass societal buffers or gatekeepers such as newspaper or magazine editors, radio program directors, or music executives. Smart phones, the internet, and so forth can almost instantaneously send images around the world. They can call together protests or "rushes" in minutes. No more need for leaflets and waiting days.      

Tattoos were once the domain of bikers, sailors, construction workers and the seeders aspect of society. Proper society avoided not just tattoos, but even those with tattoos! Today we commonly see not just tattoos on biceps and forearms, but nearly full body tattoos which encompasses hands, legs, feet, neck, the face, plus the ever popular and nearly ubiquitous "tramp stamp"!   

Body piercings aren't just two or three earrings, but giant ear inserts which look more like the hose washers than a piece of jewelry.  Eyebrows, nostrils, lips, and even tongues! A few even go to extremes by trying to change their entire appearance into something akin to a mythical creature.

But unlike simply getting a haircut and a change of clothes, some of these "personal statement" ornamentations aren't going away. Nevertheless, time is not going to be kind to many of these individuals as the body graphics fade and warp thanks to ageing and gravity.  Meanwhile, how are  your client and customer base going to react  to these representatives of your company, be it a cashier, a salesperson, a onsite tech advisor, or a manager?    

Babyboomers (1946-1964) were once most largest customer base out there. They were the ones with the deepest pockets, ran the most businesses or held the most senior positions in companies. They also had the most disposable cash of any generation before or since. However, with the youngest Boomer now age 59, many are quickly closing in on retirement. While Boomers were once the most vocal and rebellious of generations (think Woodstock), the majority have mellowed and become fairly conservative.

According to the latest Gallup poll on the topic, about 44% of Boomers are socially conservative. Another 27% are moderate, while just 17% remain liberal. Older generations, such "the Greatest Generation" (1901-1927) and the "Silent Generation" (1928-1945) remain a economic factor in the marketplace despite their declining numbers.

Perhaps it was the influence of the Great Depression, WWII, or the Korean War, that's the reason  the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation children are just as socially conservative as ever. 48% identify as conservative while 26% are social moderates. 15% of them still see themselves as liberal (I suspect this the "Dobie Gillis" or Beatnik portion of the Silents).

Currently, the largest demographic are the Millennials (1981-1996), but they aren't the latest. After the Millennials is Generation Z (1997-2012) and the Alpha Generation (2013-2025). Together, these three generations represent not just a future down the road, but the immediate near term. Millennials are already well into the labor market and entering the medical and legal professions.

Many have already started to  run for political office. Alexandra Ocasio - Cortez (D-NY) is perhaps the best known of her Millennial cohort. This is also the generation most responsible for the change in attitude toward socialism,  gender identity, body art, and even race.

While mixed racial relations having been occurring since time immoral, there seems to a growing trend in the U.S.  among these three generations. Mixed races were uncommon in 1940's and 1950's (and in some states, downright illegal), they still happened (the most common was white/European and Native American or Hispanic). Same goes for the '60's, '70's and even into the 1980's, which accounted for just 5% of births,  but then things began to change. As of 2015, 14% of all children born were mixed race. Now, nearly half---48%---of Gen Z is of mixed race.  

The Alpha Generation is still pretty young right now, with the oldest being about 10 years old. In addition, polling has suggested that the majority of mixed race individuals tend to vote Democrats because of perceived bigotry among conservatives and Republicans. Remember too that these three generations are among the largest registered Independent. Ideologically, they're split between their support of democratic socialism and libertarianism.

As an aside, when individuals with Latino and some other race  are factored in, they are projected to be the dominated race by 2050 with their population tripling. Latinos are currently the largest minority in North America, just behind white/Europeans. Blacks, once the largest minority, are currently the second largest minority and expect to fall even further behind. By 2050, they will be only slightly ahead of Asians, although in certain areas, especially on the West Coast, Asians will be the largest. 

These three generations---the Greatest Generation, the Silent Generation, and the Boomers--- are also the least likely to tolerate the gender related changes mentioned at the beginning of this article. So, it appears that we've reached a crossroad, or perhaps impasse among the six generations. The question, therefore, is whether we can cross this divide together or will it fundamentally divide us as we make this generational transition.

Although historically, the first two are the ones most associated with race inequality, they've done remarkably well in adapting, especially given that their great grandparents with the Civil War generation while their great grandchildren are likely to be of mixed race.  They also have had well over half a century of unprecedented social change to get use to.

While the Greatest Generation and the Silents laid the foundation, the Boomers were largely at the forefront in bringing those changes about. Everything from the Civil Rights Movement to the anti-war movement, the women's rights ("women's liberation"), gay rights, and other social movements such as the largely Hispanic led United Farm Worker marches, the environmental movement, Labor activism, the Grey Panther protests, and the Native American "Red Power" movement, did much to bring about not just fundamental social change in this country, but forced us to come to terms with our past and present.  

These movements led to a greater sense of tolerance and cooperation among diverse groups which otherwise would have had little to do with each other. it showed that we could work together to bring about real change. It forced a lethargic Congress to act.  But just how far should change go? Is there a limit to tolerance? As suggested in the beginning, how do you respond to someone insisting there are 72 genders or that they need to be personally address as "em" or some other nearly unintelligible word? 

The use of the term "offended" is often bandied about by Millennials, Gen Z and the Alphas. It seems like anything they disagree with, from a word, an item, an expression to political speech, is labeled as "offensive", requiring an immediate retreat to a "safe space", often free from whites, straights and especially while males,  who all are caustically categorized as "the oppressor class" with the same degree of distain that the Nazis had for the Jews in the 1930's, before the boxcars, the camps, and the ovens. Talk about being "cancelled". Even a glance can be labeled as a "micro-aggression".

Individuals attending Christian oriented schools now demand Christian symbolism be removed as being "offensive" as they cruise through school of a scholarship provided by the same school. They've even employed "Diversity Officers" to enforce compliance. I have to wonder if "papers" will soon be required from all of us.

Today, anyone who self-identifies as a female is supposed to be granted unfettered access to a biological woman's locker room or restroom. They are permitted to play in women's sports, despite inherent and unalterable biological differences. Is that fair (or safe) for natural women? Do we need to make provisions for those who self-identify as trees or cats?  How far are we to go in validating the fantasies of others? Aren't we doing more harm by reaffirming these delusions?

Their "revolutionary" predecessors of the '60's and 70's promoted free speech and expression. The current generations seek to silence those they disagree with "by any means necessary". They block traffic, loot, arson, shoplift enmasse, vandalize, loot, rudely interrupt people  attempting to peaceful dine out or blocking access to restrooms, and then claim their acts are peaceful. They claim to oppose fascism while adopting fascist behavior. They decry "cultural appropriation" instead of understanding it as cultural appreciation while committing the same imaginary crime. 

These same groups speak of diversity while rejecting it (hint: diversity is not ordering a taco at Taco Bell). They freely accuse others of prejudice while not seeing it in themselves. Racism isn't a one way street. It goes both ways. A few claim to demand "justice" for an injustice not done to them and which has long since been paid with interest. The real reason for their failures can usually found in the mirror.

One can be proud of their ancestry and culture while respecting, or even admiring the same of others. Their youthful eyes are yet willfully blind to the brutal truth that all Mankind is equally guilty of the same crimes. The only salvation of our species is our universal acceptance and forgiveness of our collective past transgressions. Such is inheritance of the noble ape.  

Today's would be revolutionaries lack the focus of Chavez's UFW or dedication of Drs. King and Abernathy's "Freedom Marches" which made their point without breaking a single pane of glass (though the same can't be said of their opponents). They certainly lack the bravery of the "Freedom Riders" who didn't commit one act of arson or vandalism although they endured it. The greatest acts of defiance were sitting in a bus seat and lunch counter or boycotting public transportation without impeding anyone else. They know tactics but lack organization. They have passion but not the compassion.

Of these wannabe anarchists, self-imposed outcasts, and social media rebels, I don't doubt they're totally committed to the shock value of their actions, be it outrageously dyed hair, body piercings that look like they were done by an "Iron Lady", being inked from head to toe while accusing others of crimes that belong to the past, opposing fascism with fascism, or self-identifying as a cat, have somehow missed the point.

They've failed to understand that there's nothing new under the sun, nor does the child inherit the sins of the parent. Change comes slowly, and only through planning and dedication. It happens by bringing people together, not driving them apart.  But perhaps it's merely the pride and arrogance of youth which they've mistaken for wisdom as has every generation before them and all those yet to come. 

If you enjoyed the article, please consider passing it along to others and don't forget to subscribe. It's free! Lastly please be sure to "like" us on whatever platform you use to read It helps beat the algorithms and keeps our articles in circulation. Thank you!


The Surge of Young Americans from Minority - White Mixed Families & Its Significance for the Future

 Earth Day 1970 was than a protest. It built a movement

United Farm Workers History





No comments: