Generational differences color views on women's sexuality
A 21-year-old girl walks from class to class at her college, pondering what she needs to do next to fit in, to look the way she is told by the media to look, to act the way all the other girls act.
Her parents don't understand her reasoning.
They say she needs to dress and act the way they want. She needs to show less skin and not go out at night as often.
She needs to focus on her studies, not what others think of her.
She wonders why someone is always going to be dissatisfied with who she is and how she behaves.
She feels like she's from a different universe, completely separate from everyone around her.
She is the Generation X woman.
Lack of moral values. Lack of family values. Lack of faith.
These are just a few descriptions that are commonly made by older generations about today's younger generations of women.
Today's youth see a completely opposite side to the story.
Younger women and men believe there isn't much of a difference in how women acted in the 50s, 60s, and 70s compared to how they behave now (especially socially), but today's culture has made them able to be more open about their sexuality, unlike past generations.
Emily Nibali, 38, has three cousins (two girls) who are in the age range of 21 to 26 and two young daughters between the ages of 2 to 3.
She has had much experience in interacting with youth of today in her home life and in her religious part of her life.
"I think women today are more sexually aggressive and permissive, hook-ups not even paused at, without considering the repercussions," Nibali said.
University of Tennessee-Knoxville student Bradley Legg, 22-years-old, somewhat disagrees with this outlook on today's women.
She believes that sin is something passed down to women and men from generation to generation and that "it has a degenerative effect on the world, not just its women."
"This generation of women have been bombarded and attacked by culture to match the world's ideal of (unattainable) beauty and be desirable," Legg said. "I think in many respects, the pressures we face today as women are so much greater in that our bodies are portrayed as objects in advertisements, movies, magazines, etc.
Because of this, the essence of what makes us women, in the eyes of the world, has been reduced to our image, not our minds or personalities."
So what are the differences that have made such a change of epic proportions in our society today? Some say there are too many to count.
Patricia Buck, leader of the feminist organization at East Tennessee State University, said, "I'd say that baby boomers, especially those who were teens and 20-somethings in the late '60s and '70s, started the loosening up of sexual codes - premarital sex, living together, etc."
According to other women (ages ranging from late 30s to early 60s), the women from those time periods had more discipline. There was a necessity for manners, also known as etiquette.
Debra Kay Brooks, a 60-year-old resident of Tampa, Fla., recalls a time when she was not allowed to have a part-time job and had a curfew of 10 p.m.
When she was allowed to attend parties, she would notice her mother following her and watching from a distance.
She wasn't even allowed to call any young men.
Once she was having fun at a party with her friends and glanced out the window, only to find her mother across the street spying on her.
Today's older women were raised differently than today's youth, due to circumstances like this. They wanted their daughters to have more freedom and opportunity in life.
"I raised my daughters to be true to themselves, and tried to instill in them self-confidence," Brooks said. "My daughters are raising their children very similarly to how I raised them."
There are views of women today that are negative, and many people have different thoughts on what exactly is so negative about them. Others have more positive reactions.
"A great deal of people are under the impression that if you're sex-positive [meaning against slut-shaming, victim-blaming, in favor of comprehensive sex education, and for anyone being able to make their own decisions about who they have sex with and how often they have sex] you are wantonly having sex with everything that moves and you lack "morals" [In this case, morals meaning if you do what you want with your body you are bad].
"This is not true."
Some Christians say lack of Christ is the problem. Others argue they just weren't raised right. And then there are the few that believe there is absolutely nothing wrong with how Generation X is today.
"I actually think it's a loss of family values ... loss of the family structure in our society," said 28-year-old single father, Scott Pio of Washington, D.C. "More kids are being born out of wedlock and more importantly without both parents in their lives. I don't believe parents should stay together over children, but I do believe we have lost both parents in society and (this) has caused women with daddy issues to lash out and become more promiscuous."
According to Richard Settersten and Barbara Ray's statistics in "What's Going on with Young People Today? The Long and Twisting Path to Adulthood," the amount of 25-year-old singles who are raising children independently significantly raised from 1970-2000.
White women went from 0.5-5.4 and black women raised from 9.3-27.9. Foreign-born women ranked at 0.8 in 1970 and 3.7 in 2000.
Picture several males of Generation X together discussing women in today's society.
They all have different, but somewhat equal, opinions on how younger women act and why it's justified.
"With society opening up about sex and it being a topic of conversation now instead of something that is kept sacred and behind closed doors, more people are now lashing out with sex and being careless about it," Pio said.
"First of all, women and men have never changed over the years, society has changed the social roles of them, and that creates a lot of identity and moral issues," said Oscar Pascual, 25, a stock market analyst and social theorist. "Women look for a partner that has similar qualities of their father, if their father lacked morals they will too.
"Also women tend to be subject to their biological nature and hormones, if something feels right for them it is right, which is a cloudy way to obtain morality and when they marry more than likely they take their husbands' identity and moral perspectives."
Pascual said that women's sexuality has become quite the quandary.
"They want to be desired and be sexy, but still not come across as slutty, because you lose respect among men. They try to find that balance," said Pascual.
Another male student at East Tennessee State University agrees that there is no need for change.
"We've reached an equilibrium in today's culture, and I think it's a pretty happy medium. People saying otherwise are usually feminist activists who only see the bad in things," said 22-year-old ETSU student, Joshua Dean. "In today's society, we're more open to the differences in women.
"They can be stick-thin, plus-size and everything in between. Internally, women have become more outspoken, and rightfully so. Their opinions have been more vocalized, and that is something that is necessary to have equilibrium in our culture."
Some people realize that there will never be a real answer or solution to this issue of youth being criticized as less moral than those in the older generations.
One thing is for certain, though, at least according to Kerry Grant, a 44-year-old male from Bristol, Tenn. "Women are from another universe in all generations."
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