The Trouble with Millennials Isn’t What You Think
You know the game. It’s popular on college campuses across the Republic. Young women organize to demand that colleges address rape culture, and social media lights up with calls to rape and murder the women who simply want to be safe from the random but intimate violence of rape.
Julia Michels, the incoming president of Feminists United, said the anonymous threats were especially troubling.” ◊ There was no way of telling if these people were serious, if they had a history of violence,” said Michels, a rising senior from Fairfax. “I didn’t know if they were living across the hall or sitting next to me in class.”
(WJLA ABC7 News)
On April 17, 2015 the previous president of Feminists United (affiliate of Feminist Majority), Grace Mann was murdered by her housemate in charming Fredericksburg, VA at the liberal arts college, University of Mary Washington. The housemate was a former member of the rugby team. What’s happening is a kind perfect-storm of structural social oppression. It’s long been part of “sports culture” like “frat culture” to take women for toys or enemies. In this case, that friction went to its natural endgame.
But, more than being a woman, Grace Mann was killed for acting on her feminist principles – for being a feminist who called out bad behavior. For being a feminist.
Feminists United members, including Mann, were targeted by name on Yik Yak after speaking out against incidences of sexual violence involving fraternities, and after word spread—incorrectly—that the group had called for the suspension of UMW’s men’s rugby team over sexually violent chants by some members. (Ms.blog)
The feminist called for behavior adjustments and education, and one of the men critiqued allegedly murdered her. Men are afraid women will judge them, and women are afraid men will kill us. Quit killing us, and we’re a lot less likely to scorn you.
This is the dark truth about Millennials that we are not facing. We hear so often about their acceptance of LGBTQIA+ culture and rights, their relative comfort interacting across lines of race and ethnicity, their bad luck to be graduating to a crap economy, and their insistence that their way to doing business in the world – one entirely informed by information technology and interconnectivity – be respected and accepted. Their pathologically encouraged need for compliments and kudos. All of that social progressivism and general good nature falls apart when push comes to women.
I want to join the chorus of cheer and relief that finally, here, thanks to the magic of the Internet and all that self-esteem building, here is a generation that might actually change the system and set the world to rights. I’m told their generational aura is amethyst – they were just born vibrating on a higher frequency, we should all be so happy. But, nope, not buying it.
The first of all structural othering and oppression is that of men over women, masculine over feminine. We call this patriarchy, or male privilege, or street harassment, we call it rape culture, gendered wage gap, domestic violence, we call it TRAP regulations …. We call it lots of names, but it is one thing: the foundation of all other senseless bigotry, distrust, and personal destruction. Until Millennials swing their amethyst colored acceptance around to this issue of male power creating a permanent state of social and physical danger for women, all that other lauded social bigheartedness is complete bullshit built on a foundation of damp cardboard.
I get it, this is hard, this is the deepest depth of the revolution. But we Gen Xers and our Baby Boomer parents, the grandparents of these charming Millennials, we need to step up and set them right. We forgot to teach our boys that their sisters are people. Secretly, that’s because our two generations were and are Much More Conservative than our stories about the Summer of Love and slackers with McJobs would have us think. And it shows. Millennials, this where we let you down, again. You’re growing up into a ravaged environment, but you are still ravaging each other – men against women – as if it’s 1973 and that confounded Equal Rights Amendment is being quickly, but never completely, ratified. Believe me, you will not solve the environment without solving sexism, and vice versa. The cultural premise that woman is an infinite and compliant resource for the needs and pleasure of men and that the planet is an infinite and complaint resource for the needs and pleasure of men are the same idea. They both sit so deep down at the base of our whole Western cultural history that changing them, even just a wee bit, sets whole political parties into action to restrict and repeal women’s rights, and turns roommates into murders.
Here’s what’s amazing about you, Millennials, what all that amethyst, misty-eyed hype boils down to: You Are Good At Friendship. Befriend each other, men and women among you. That’s your superpower, and the only way you’re going to make good on your press and clean up your dirty little secret. It’s likely that the very survival of human culture rides on your shoulders.