Dr. J brought up an interesting point on Tuesday concerning the political activism (or lack thereof) of the “Jon Stewart” generation. I have nothing against Jon Stewart, but seeing as our generation is proceeded by the “Greatest Generation,” the baby boomers, and “Generation X,” I would have hoped for at least a more dramatic name for our generation. Nevertheless, I find myself agreeing with Dr. J that contemporary political engagement often seems to lack real substance. Instead, we resort to a struggle to outdo each other in wit and insult, rather than in rational debate. Perhaps this is a symptom of the truly mindboggling amounts of information that we have access to, which permits every political perspective, no matter how obscure, to receive the attention of millions on the internet. Whatever the cause, the fact is that the concern over the vitality of our political discourse is legitimate.
Of course, if the political dialogue is lacking this bodes poorly for the possibility of meaningful political action. I have noticed the sentiment expressed by many of my female friends and family members that significant changes to the gender construct and women’s rights in general are simply not possible. They tell me that it is not politically realistic to think that the gender construct, or even its inequalities will ever be entirely eradicated. I know that we try to conduct this class without restricting our political imaginations, and it is right for us to do so, but I have been wondering throughout the semester about the possibility of the changes that we speak of every day.
In many ways, civil and human rights have made great strides over the past century in this country. It seems that each generation has become more open to diversity, and I believe our generation, on the whole, to have less intolerance regarding race, sexuality, and gender than that of our parents. The election of Obama does not mean that racism is over in this country, but it serves as an excellent example of how our generation has already proven itself to be more racially accepting than those before it. Nevertheless, enormous problems of race, sexuality, and gender remain in this country, problems that I believe cannot be healed by the passage of time. Modification or destruction of the gender construct does not simply require the open-mindedness of youth, but rather a revolutionary shift in the basic assumptions of society. Therefore, my question to everyone on this blog is how capable do you think American and global society are of making these changes?