This piece is a response to Aubri Juhasz’s A Fall From Grace which can be found here.
How often have you noticed or heard someone older expressing their displeasure with the newer generation? It often seems like younger people, especially young children and teens, are under constant attack with harsh criticisms and shrieks of the decay of values and traditions that were seemingly so adored. Older or even just more traditional people have seemed to be unhappy with the younger generation. Combined with the cherry-picked nostalgia for the past – “chivalry, sophistication” – some within the younger crowd – it’s unsurprising that societal norms like misogyny, racism, and typical American Elitism prevail the tests of time.
For example, when girls and women do not live up traditional values, they are often viewed with scorn. Regarding how girls and women dress, ridicule and body policing is still rampant. Some argue that women even go so far as to dress scantily in the dead of winter, sealing their image as desperate, attention-seekers with no self-respect. These conclusions are even made by the youth, some of whom even proclaim to be feminist or pro-equality. There seems to be no consideration that the way young girls and women dress are not inherently sexual; they may like their fashion choices and, even if they were looking for attention, again, it raises the question, “Why exactly are women so conscious of how they are perceived?” Perhaps it is partly due to girls and women constantly being reduced to their looks, being taught to cater to the male gaze, and are sexualized. They are then devalued for accepting or being influenced by the same patriarchal institution that placed those standards. In any case, there is nothing wrong with needing attention or validation. It’s a normal feeling and act that many are guilty of at some point in their life.
Another value that needs to stop being idolized is the crisp, suave gentleman with trendy, designer names. This archetype still blends into misogyny – “Women and girls don’t appreciate Nice Guys anymore” – but proves the idea that the only way to be worthy of respect is rooted in classicism and racism. For example, some believe that young men who sag their pants are not symbols of upstanding citizens. Typically, it is young Black men who are imagined in this stereotype. The Black community is constantly demonized for not being able to adhere to the face of whiteness and elitism. Not only that, but they are prone to police brutality and profiling – the fashion choices of young Black men even get them killed. Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman simply for being a young Black boy wearing a hoodie. How many other Black boys and men been judged and profiled simply for sagging their pants?
In terms of classicism, some old-fashioned values include looking down at people who can’t reach the standards set by elitists. Language elitism is one way for those in power to further separate themselves from those they are trying to put down. Tying back into the Black community, AAVE is not viewed as a dialect of English with its own set of language rules, but is dismissed as uneducated and lowly. Even those who constantly season their sentences with “like,” particularly women, are reduced to annoying airheads. But a part of language is the ability to adopt slang and colloquial expressions, so it is somewhat questionable why certain people are targeted for speaking a certain way. Essentially, if someone does not adhere to “proper English,” they are seen as unattractive and ignorant and society continues to follows standards built upon classicism and even racism.
We need to start holding older generations accountable for their problematic views. We also need to admit that some of the values society preserved by society are rooted in dark, ugly parts of history. Even younger generations need to be seen as culprits because eventually, if these mindsets are not eradicated, the younger generation will eventually grow old and pass the same beliefs. It’s one thing to uphold things of actual cultural significance. But it’s another to spew misogynistic, classist, racist drivel that does nothing but pass down the traditions of a system that perpetuates violence as cultural norms.