When last we left the magazine women,
Looking through some old copies of Cosmopolitan, I thought, would give me clarity on who had really had it worse. A back copy from 1960 reads: “How to Escape Boredom and conformity in your own home.” Seven years later the main cover line is: “A Short Course In Keeping Your Husband Faithful.”
Well, to be honest, Has Cosmo ever recently really had the pulse of the women of the US? Or was it all just a made up fantasy that some women sort of tried to live? And if so, how effective is perusing headlines in attempt to find useful information?
By the 1970s we were at least in the workplace – though not in any position of authority: “Why men are still attracted to dumb women and the incredible things they do to smart women in the office.” I thought cheer would be found in the power 1980s but was met with the startling: “Inflation means back to roommates – how to choose the right her (or him).” And as for the Cosmopolitan I was picking up in the 1990s: “25 ways to safeguard your job – when everyone else around you is losing theirs.”
It is odd that she does not mention the almost monthly articles on “Ten Ways to Drive Him Mad in Bed” that graced the magazine in recent decades. This was all about trying to snag the hot alpha with power and money. Or if not that, just having fun with some foreign hot guy. I wonder how effective this strategy has been…
In short, we have all had it hard. But, I cannot help thinking this poor, rictus-grinned selfie generation still have it worse, because they have been duped the most. Nothing stings more than being promised so much and yet the world delivering on so little. Did we, their elders, have some part to play in this? Probably.
I don’t know. Being duped might be bad, but their material conditions seem to be fine. They can take foreign trips, get seemingly fancy degrees, eat organic food, find time for SJW activities, etc. So things maybe are not so bad.
So why did these promises not come true? Stay tuned.
We bolstered their self-esteem by telling them they could do or be anything if they put their minds to it. We told them a university education (which the majority of us got free) would guarantee a well-paid job.
The salad days are over for most. An economy driven down by taxes and regulation just cannot sustain the amount of silly jobs that these types of women used to obtain. In so many cases these days, skills and production matter.
Grandparents cannot figure out why their grown-up grandchildren don’t own a home yet, or have a partner, or indeed any other of the assets that signify adult life. They don’t understand that dating apps have created a culture of loose sex and even looser commitment.
And who is at fault for that?
So what have these young people done? They have done what anyone who is scared or desperate does: they’ve hustled. They’ve created ‘personal brands’.
Branding can be effective. But a brand must be established first. It must mean something. And then it must be maintained.
After a recent careers talk I gave, I left with a handful of homemade business cards directing me to blogs and websites and glossy social media accounts that made it look as though half of their purveyors were living a Gwyneth Paltrow-curated life. But it is all bravado.
Now we are getting somewhere. Useful skills matter. The ability to think matters. Common sense matters.
They have mastered the magician’s art of distracting us by waving a cheery scarf in one hand while stuffing the frightened turtle dove in their pocket in the other.
So forgive them when you hear them talking about their 500 friends on Facebook or their 2,000 followers on Instagram. Don’t judge them for their selfie sticks and their relentless self-promotion.
Why not judge them? Men have always been judged every day of their lives.
They do this because they have to. Their blogs and their confidence and their seeming lack of social hierarchy is what happens when you’re afraid. You get tough, you get pushy and you do whatever it takes to get noticed.
Because they have no useful skills and are afraid, they are compelled to posture? Perhaps they should take at look at themselves, their friends, and their assumptions. Perhaps they might make adjustments that could lead to productive lives. Or maybe not.