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The day I realised I belong to THAT generation

That generation – the one populated with a surplus, it seems, of angry, aging, white men attempting to cling to a sense of long-past-its-use-by-date supremacy. Even after the Trump election victory in the USA I somehow still thought of such men as “the older generation”. Not, to be honest, that I consciously thought about it – it just seemed that way.

I read many of the published letters of daughters to their Dads/parents expressing their concern over the parents’ voting choice. Even though I knew these daughters were young enough to be my daughters, somehow I still saw their fathers as not my generation. I did not see the same number of letters to mothers – which surprised me, given the percentage of white women (that actually voted) that voted for Trump. I did see an interesting analysis; it still doesn’t help me understand that particular demographic.

It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a man I’ve known for many years that the reality of my generation was brought home to me. In response to something I said, he kindly suggested I read a column in that day’s Herald Sun. The sub-text proposed I would be enlightened – or have my views “corrected”. On the basis of “keep your friends close, your enemies closer” I do sometimes find myself reading the tabloid and always end up in a grumpy mood. In this case I chose not to subject myself to such an irritation.

Driving to school later that day, I was still puzzling why the conversation had taken the turn it had. The light dawned. Then an even bigger light blazed through my consciousness. HE IS YOUNGER THAN I AM. Oh my God, I thought to myself, these men are MY generation!

I have enough men of my generation as followers on Facebook and Twitter to know not all men of my generation fall into this category. Thankfully, otherwise I’d be rather distraught. Perhaps their existence has cushioned me from the reality. Men of the other variety don’t follow me – or I them. I was interacting with like minds, not seeing the wider picture. I also know there are many men of younger generations who are caught up in the ideology of regaining white male supremacy but I do think hope the ratio is lower. It is men of my generation and slightly younger that are in power: they worry me more.

As a society, we have made important progress in challenging men’s illegitimate authority in the past century. But the Trump campaign made it painfully obvious that men’s sexual exploitation of women, possible only in a society in which men believe themselves to be naturally dominant over women, remains deeply entrenched. The ease with which so many men embraced Trump’s celebration of sexual exploitation, and so many women were willing to excuse it, is evidence of the strength of patriarchal values and norms.

Source: ABC

The above article was written about the USA, clearly, but how applicable is the content to Australia? More so than I would have thought, despite the evidence of Abbott’s behaviour (and others of his ilk). Those are men I don’t know personally: somewhere in my sub-conscious I still viewed them as, well, rather odd. Not the norm. That was too scary. It wasn’t until someone I knew, someone of my own generation and cultural background, led me to my light bulb moment.

How, at my age, could I think all these patriarchal types were an older generation? I suspect it comes from my father. I recall my mother disagreeing with my father involving me in what my mother saw as “male stuff” on the farm. I drove tractors, worked in the shearing shed, delivered lambs, marked lambs (for city readers, marking is removing tails and testicles) and gave mouth-to-nose resuscitation to a calf. I never remember seeing my mother on a horse. I have a faint recollection of her steering (not driving, steering) a tractor once. I suppose I grew up more as a boy than a girl, per “traditional” roles. My father never treated me as if I was “the fairer sex” so why would men younger than my father treat women differently? Not just treat women differently, but minorities as well. My father, if he was still alive, would be 95. So men like Trump, only 25 years junior, I could still sub-consciously put in that “soon they’ll all be gone” category.

I can’t put men my own age in the “soon they’ll all be gone” category, for that means I have to include myself and I’m not planning on “going soon”. What I failed to acknowledge was Trump’s age in relation to my own. Selective reasoning on my part.

We have generations to still battle this societal problem. Fathers of my generation are still influencing their children and grandchildren, male and female. It is going to be tough being a parent in the USA for the next few years: yet is Australia really all that different? Just less “out there” perhaps, at least in relation to sexism although racism is particularly rampant at this time.

Now, as the reality of a Trump presidency sets in, concerned parents face a new slew of questions about raising their children in a time of collective change and uncertainty ― not to mention bad behavior being modeled by our highest elected official. Seventy-five percent of Americans with kids under the age of 18 say Trump is not a good role model for children, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll.

With kids being more exposed to arguments from adults around them and in the media, it’s important to teach them how to disagree and have their own opinions without attacking or undermining those who hold different views.

Source: Huffington Post – Advice From Psychologists On Raising Kids Well In Trump’s America

Now I have to adjust to being a member of THAT generation. I don’t like it already.

17 comments

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  1. OrchidJar

    Robyn,
    Here’s my take on the ‘particular demographic” you found so difficult to understand.
    I’m sorry about this but I’m going to have to take you back to the Rust Belt (has there ever been a more illuminating patch of political ground for study, ever?)

    Again, from direct oral reports, I’m reading that the women in towns like Youngstown, Ohio; brutal examples of Midwest decay, closed factories, abandoned mills, derelict neighborhoods, impoverished schools, and prevalent crime, were relatively unconcerned with Trump’s sexual slurs/actions. These were tough women working 2 jobs, husband, kids, mortgage, car repayments, and so easily glossed over his idiocy in search of something more substantial that made a direct appeal and impact on their difficult lives. When they turned to their traditional party, the Democrats, all they received for their troubles where lectures on identity politics and the epithet ‘deplorables’!
    Here they were pleading for some kind, any kind, of political/economic/social assistance or program to reverse the horrific path they were on and in return received the derision of the materially comfortable left woman, the media, and academia for ignoring Trumps vulgar remarks and actions.
    (And as if that disrespect were not enough Clinton didn’t even stop in Wisconsin on her campaign trail. Not once. She lost Wisconsin 46.5 to Trump’s 47.3).
    Betrayed by the Democrats, they turned, as much in desperation as in hope to Trump and gifted him the presidency.
    This is what happens when you ignore voters – of all type: gender, race, social circumstance. This what happens when political/cultural agendas are prioritised over those of the electorate.

    Robyn, in perhaps the single most prescient line I’ve read on the election, (and this written before the election): a summation as near perfect as I’ve seen anywhere, anytime – it may help answer your question:

    Trump voters took him seriously, not literally.
    The media, and the rest of us, took him literally and not seriously.

    (I’ve forgotten where it comes from, I think an Atlantic article. I’ll try to dig through my notes if you’re interested).

    His presidency will be our punishment for such neglect, myopia, and shameful political judgement.
    We deserve it.

    Our scorn shouldn’t be reserved for ‘that generation’ as such, but for anyone on our side who wants to prohibit a thorough and incisive evaluation of what the left is, and what it needs to do, right now, to return to social relevance and political opportunity.
    Anything short of that is, in my strong view, just chattering for the sake of it.

  2. Carol Taylor

    Robyn, many men of shall I say “our demographic” have seen their hopes and dreams go up in smoke. Lured on during the Howard years/the greedy years that their world was all about “wealth creation”, that $150,000.00 that they’re about to retire on is no longer the fortune it once was. Their jobs are now either short term contract or reduced to hours. This generation is different to the previous in that their middle class jobs are deteriorating both in quality and status while women, instead of being home baking cakes and gossiping over the neighbor’s fence are now in the workforce working into their 60s. Their status has gone up, the status of men has gone down.

    It was 1972 and I was strap hanging on a red rattler heading towards Flinders Street. A man seated in front of me looked up from this newspaper and sneered: You’ve got equal pay now..you can stand!

    Trump with his scorn for anyone who he perceives as his inferior again legitimises putting uppity people of colour/women/intellectuals back in their place. I’ll show you who the ‘real’ boss is.

  3. Kaye Lee

    The thing that really astonishes me is that when Tony Abbott and I were at university together in the 70s, he was considered an anachronism way back then with his derision of feminism and his very patriarchal religious views (he was against contraception but not against rooting anyone he could). We dismissed him as an inconsequential bovver boy so you can imagine my incredulity as he rose up through the political ranks and my absolute horror when this very inadequate candidate was actually made PM. Look how quickly we have gone back to Christian fundamentalism and racism. All the gains of the last 40 years are being thrown away. I feel like I am going backwards in time – heading back to where discrimination is considered good. And people like OJ are saying we must pander to this? Not this little white duck!

  4. townsvilleblog

    The larakin Australian character has disappered and been taken over by the yank metrosexual, what filth!

  5. OrchidJar

    Carol, it’s not about “Trump putting people back in their place” – it’s the electorate who are saying it.
    Loudly.
    Across states that were, up until 5 seconds ago, Democrat.
    Also its deeply unedifying to see the left making excuses for its disgraceful loss; hunting around, clutching at every straw, returning to outdated and useless apologetics, when the answer is in front of them.
    They refuse to look because doing so forces a terrible reckoning on how they’ve transformed the public debate from heartland/grassroots issues like jobs, anyone remember those? to a severe sermon on identity politics and electoral balkanization.
    And they did this because they thought (like John Howard’s successful racist wedge: I’ll split the nation and take the larger slice) they could concentrate only one those voters that would secure victory for them – women, blacks, Latino’s, minority’s, students. They turned the debate into identity politics years ago hoping to win every election till doomsday.
    Well, they just got smashed by those same identity politics.
    “Who lives by the sword, dies by the sword” is the correct parable here I believe.

    Robert Hughes warned us all in “Culture of Complaint”, way back in ’93.
    It appears as though no one was listening then.
    Or now.
    So we’re stuck with this inane narrative – oh dear, we’ve gone back in time, we’re legitimising bigots and racism, woman and intellectuals are again disenfranchised.

    I cannot stress enough not just how inadequate that is, but also how very wrong.
    The left have some very difficult decisions to make and I suggest we consider very carefully, making them sooner rather than later.

    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/11/donald-trump-working-class-bouie-chait/

    Kaye, I read your post in disbelief.
    Well, maybe not so much.
    I really don’t know what’s worse; your atrocious comprehension skills, or your unashamed fondness for misrepresentation.
    Please don’t do that to my posts again, it’s undignified and unjust.

    “Our scorn shouldn’t be reserved for ‘that generation’ as such, but for anyone on our side who wants to prohibit a thorough and incisive evaluation of what the left is, and what it needs to do, right now, to return to social relevance and political opportunity.
    Anything short of that is, in my strong view, just chattering for the sake of it.”

  6. randalstella

    The job of rhetoric is to serve thought and argument. It is to be used to add emphasis in argument where thought deems it appropriate. This, of course, does not make thought and argument infallible.
    But where rhetoric directs thought and argument there is demagoguery. Demagogues are thus delusional, even before they open their mouths, to delude others.

    There is an obvious example of current concern.
    For example on the claim about the Democrat’s loss of the Presidency as being ‘smashed’;
    as of about 2 days ago:
    “Clinton has registered 64,654,483 total votes, compared to 62,418,820 for Trump, according to a Cook Political Report analysis Monday. That represents a margin of 2,235,663 in the popular vote. Clinton garnered 48.2 percent of the popular vote, while Trump earned just 46.5 percent. Trump, however, picked up wins in key battleground states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan, earning 306 Electoral College votes to Clinton’s 232.”

    Also as of 2 days ago:
    In Michigan Clinton trails by 0.3%. In Pennsylvania she is behind by 1.2% in Wisconsin she trails by 1%. They are the relevant States for College tallies.

    You don’t have to guess what the demagogue would have argued if it were the other way round. He told you.

  7. Robyn Dunphy

    OJ, the Ohio people you describe are lucky to have a mortgage, car repayments and 2 jobs. When I asked a friend of mine to drive me through trailer parks in Kansas 15 or so years ago, let me assure you those people had none of the aforementioned trappings of a capitalist society. I am fully aware of the ugly underbelly of American wealth. Yes, I acknowledge there is a certain truth to accusations the left has become the “latte” crowd, far removed from those in need.

    Taking a long term view, this is a momentary problem in time which may be resolved if we don’t manage to blow ourselves to kingdom come first – a very real risk, I suggest. Trump’s attitude to intelligence briefings is not encouraging, http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/offered-daily-intelligence-briefings-trump-takes-pass

    The other destruction option is ignoring climate change. Bill Gates: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/11/we-need-an-energy-miracle/407881/

    The evolution of the human brain and the ability to THINK and problem solve is what worries me. Is better education the solution to that problem? If you look at many of both the USA and Australian problems at the moment, the causes seem to be rooted in greed. I don’t mean the desire to make a profit, reinvest earnings and continue to grow, creating more jobs and distributing wealth – I mean GREED, pure unadulterated greed. Combined with the “power” of individualism, “As long as I’m all right, Jack, stuff you”, seems to be the unspoken mantra of too many.

    Research has called into question the ability of the human species to plan well long term (e.g. decades ahead). I wonder if this ability is inhibited by our old friend greed. For planning decades out, covering periods long after the planners are dead, just doesn’t seem quite as meaningful, does it?

    I understand the residents of the trailer park not worrying about climate change – they have a far greater worry, where is their next meal coming from. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/21/linda-tirado-poverty-hand-to-mouth-extract

    Understanding that doesn’t lead me to absolve anyone from sexist, racist and other discriminatory perspectives.

  8. Robyn Dunphy

    @ Carol – I know and it is in many ways very sad. Their status has taken a re-set. So why do some cope with this eventuality calmly and with good grace, even embracing the changes, while others froth at the mouth and turn almost rabid in their hatred? Why do the young men get infected by this virus? Why are so many women complicit?

    @ Kaye – I don’t think we need to pander, but we certainly do need to understand and mitigate. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away – Abbott being the proof of the pudding (on a side note, I resigned my membership of the LNP when he became leader). Ignored problems invariably grow – ever left a blackberry bush to its own devices?

  9. Kaye Lee

    Robyn. do you believe that Trump or Hanson offer any viable solutions to the problems of the people who voted for them? It seems very apparent to me that the common element in all this is politicians encouraging people to blame immigration, and therefore people who are different, for all of their economic woes. Australian politicians have exaggerated the possible threat of terrorism while ignoring the real danger and damage from domestic violence. Migration isn’t responsible for the loss of jobs in Australia.

  10. OrchidJar

    To 11.56am,

    ‘Smashed’ you exclaim, panting.
    You’ve spent your time randalstella ferreting around my post looking with your beady, doctrinaire eye for some minuscule gotcha moment that will see you wrapped tight in the bosom of hubris all afternoon.
    Of all the words I’ve written, of all the ideas I’ve tried to express, you chose the word ‘smashed’ – like some glittering prize calling you to attention.
    Well, let’s see just how that works out for ya!

    Yes, smashed.
    The Democrats lost the presidency, which they expected to win with percentage- likely projections anywhere from 39% to 84%.
    Le that sink it for a moment.
    The unloseable presidency – by the most qualified contender in history to the least qualified contender in history.
    Sinking in?
    Good.
    They also lost the House, and Congress.

    Add to that calamity this little bundle of joy,
    “The losses in November are part of a sharp and unprecedented decline for the party at the state level. Since Obama took office eight years ago, Democrats have lost over 800 seats in state legislatures. For the first time in history, they do not control a single legislative chamber in the South. Overall, the party is now at its weakest point at the state level since 1920.”
    https://newrepublic.com/article/138897/democrats-biggest-disaster

    Yes, “smashed” seems like an accurate assessment.
    Of course if you don’t like it, or don’t think it’s accurate, you could always use the word that Jessica Post, the executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee used to describe what had happened.
    Her word of choice was ‘bloodbath’.
    It’s got quite a ring to it, don’t you think?
    I think I might use it too.

    They also lost something far more precious than those tangibles – they lost the trust of a desperate, now bitter, electorate.
    Good luck getting that back soon.

    With the left reeling I guess the only thing to ask you now is,
    would you like to fuss over another word?

    randalstella, I’ve seen your contributions: they are the expressions of a pedant, devoid of polemic, argument, or insight.

    I suggest you grovel for your cheap applause elsewhere.

  11. OrchidJar

    Robyn, I think it’s an awful red herring to begin quibbling on degrees of grievance, desperation, and poverty.
    Sure, some have mortgages, some have trailers.
    But all registered disgust.
    That’s the real focus here, not gradations of suffering.
    All of them protested in the only language left available to them – the vote.
    And vote they did.

    The problem you outline regarding “brain evolution” and ‘thinking’ is where you and I part ways I’m afraid.
    I’m not certain that we can think through these, what i would quite elementary political problems, the ones under discussion these past few days, let alone conceive and implement any medium to long range plans over such gigantic global issues as climate change. We have people here, right here, on our side of the political, ideological, and philosophical divide, unable to even comprehend why Clinton lost, for goodness sake!

    I’m not asking you to ‘absolve’ anyone, I’m asking you to understand them so that you, so that we, can begin a fundamental dialogue, that will produce some kind of sympatico, some qualified consensus. It’s only from that point that we can even begin to conceive of addressing any other issue.
    Pointing a judgmental finger at them, screaming racist, bigot, Islamophobe, sexist, ‘low information’, or hurling general abuse and speaking to them as if they had just wandered in from some swamp, will get us nowhere.

    If you’ve got any doubts as to the truth of that, just look around you.

    And if you want to see ‘discriminatory practice’ in action I recommend a quick tour of the political correctness goose stepping its way through the US, UK, university system. My left has nurtured a generation of authoritarianism that is by all accounts a spectacle of horror.
    Reserve your ire for them and their enablers and not for the Michigan working mum having to leave her kids at home, unattended, so as to pick up that extra shift at some greasyspoon.
    I suppose she’ll have time to read the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report on the bus.
    She’s got time, plenty of time.

  12. randalstella

    Jesus Cracked Pot,
    You are a crazed bundle of malicious pomposity.
    It does not take much to trigger you off. Just some figures.
    That’s a little intemperate, as a response to facts. Figures, facts. Not your preference clearly.
    And you want to make a better society?
    With that level of gratuitous abuse?
    You clearly ferociously prefer hyperbole.
    And so give some more. It’s just a stream of it. In answer to facts.

    (The ‘Left’ is Clinton?)
    Don’t answer that.

  13. OrchidJar

    Says the pedant who staked an entire offense, who staked it all, on the word “smashed”.
    Didn’t you construct an entire post on that word?
    Thought you could get some abuse mileage out of it did you?
    Referenced me as the “demagogue, delusional, and deluding others” and now you’re your running hightail from your accusation?
    I gave you “bloodbath” as rebuttal and you wilted.
    How embarrassing for you.

    You say figures are not my preference?!
    But they are. Clearly.
    I gave you some.
    And you wilted, again.

    I know your blogging type randalstella: a hubris spectacularly out of proportion to your contribution.

    Nothing to see here.
    Move along.

    Go away, or contribute.

    I prefer the latter but will take the former.
    Anyday.

  14. Robyn Dunphy

    No, Kaye, I don’t think they do. Trump I consider more dangerous to the average person than Hanson because he can and is already doing the exact opposite of what he claimed he would do. Will the USA economy survive?

    The current crop of politicians in many countries, USA and Australia included, are big on using scare tactics to avoid tackling the real issues confronting their population. More people die in the USA from lack of affordable health care and lack of gun control than immigration. But a wall on the Mexican border sounds so much more dramatic in sound bites than talking about the real problems.

  15. randalstella

    Robyn,
    But why would/could the wall be more motivating than the state of healthcare?
    The chances are that Trump will destroy so-called Obamacare. He said he would anyway.
    Why would working people who cannot afford extended medical attention vote to jeopardise the little support they have?
    The rustbelt response needs research and analysis.
    At this stage it seems that more affluent areas have supported welfare items, and their recipients are liable to vote against them.

  16. Robyn Dunphy

    @ Randalstella It makes no logical sense does it? Not to Aussies anyway. The USA culture is entirely different. They have an ingrained abiding distrust of welfare systems. A conversation with a average American (while over there recently) went something like this (more of a lecture to me, actually):

    So 20 of us are pulling a cart. One of us gets really tired, is a bit old and we put him in the cart. Now 19 of us are pulling a heavier load. Then another person is struggling to cope, so we put that person in the cart too. Now only 18 are pulling and two are getting a free ride. We can’t keep doing this until there is no-one left to pull and everyone is sitting in the cart.

    Even the poorest Americans will voice distrust of universal health as a concept. All they need are jobs and then they can all become millionaires and pay their own way. So many Americans seem to believe they too, can achieve the American dream of being rich. When Trump sells jobs and the concept that Obamacare is somehow costing jobs, they’ll vote for the jobs.

    This man was a vet, now employed in a full-time job and still drawing a vet pension. He saw no problem with that though.

  17. randalstella

    Yes, Robyn,
    I think you point out a cultural difference there.
    My contacts are largely Californian, and New England – Clinton and Sanders territories.
    They are all appalled by the election of the combover fascist.
    Most of them support social welfare, but I don’t take that as guide on the whole culture.
    As I said some of the affluent believe in a Govt. support systems, while the sectors most likely to be beneficiaries talk complete ‘corporate’ twaddle.

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