One of my blog readers is a baby boomer. We’ve never met but sometimes he comments on a blog, particularly in support of women’s issues. Being curious, I emailed him one day to ask how he came to be so sensitive to the goals of feminism. His answer: “I’ve got daughters.”
I laughed at what might have seemed an obvious answer, except fathers have had daughters for centuries and still women have been oppressed. I applaud this baby boomer’s understanding of what’s at stake, but the thaw I sense toward feminism may stem from men’s growing awareness that they benefit, too. Slowly, almost painfully, the bonds of traditional masculinity may be breaking. As Jennifer Baumgardner outlines in, “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like,” men are no longer valued for being alpha males — aggressive, invulnerable, daring, or successful — a change which is welcome. Aggression as a state of mind can result in “poor psychological and physical health” and leave men with anger as the sole, acceptable emotion. (More, October 2015 pgs. 92.)
Macho values may account for why “boys in the U. S. are more likely than girls to be diagnosed with behavior disorders, given drugs to control that behavior, engage in binge drinking, commit more violent crimes and have a higher rate of suicide….” (Ibid pg. 92)
If there’s one gift baby boomers have given to their children, it’s confidence and that confidence has allowed them to see that people are more complex than the narrow roles society has carved out for the sexes. Millennials have an openness to human potential and a kindness of spirit which may yet free us all — in spite of our fear of change.
As one professor recently said of his students, “I believe that young people [today] have more experience with interpersonal gender equality than any generation in history.” (Ibid pg. 93.) Feminism may at last have its standard bearers, not only among women but among an entire generation of the young. (See Blog 11/2/15 & 11/21/15.)