Some of us gen-Xers, who find occasion to converse on the way of things, notice a trend as we reflect on the times of our lives. Those growing up during the 1970s-80s had, for the most part, strong visions for not only our personal futures but strong futures for all. Some of us may have been overwhelmed with what we envisioned as a progressive world of opportunity and choice. Although there was frustration for some, centered on a financial inability to cope, there was still an idea that there would be ways to survive and grow … jobs, at least.
Specifically, we relied on a high number of worthwhile jobs of many types available in the manufacturing industry. This was the easy-access handle present that made it possible to believe in a future of good works and ability to gain access into an ever-increasing-in-cost college system. The foreseeable future included a kind of equality of opportunity for women that was still on the fresh side and seemed permanent. It included an increasing ability for anyone, including females, to gain effective employment and walk a street in freedom.
Back then, thanks to those willing to sacrifice themselves to the world of labor union forces in prior decades, job availability was a tiered system of entry-level through top-level positions able to be gained through interest, training and merit (experience & productivity). The latter, training and merit, have since largely been removed as qualifiers for advancement and replaced by an abyss of social testing.
Note that, for this post, we’re talking about the opportunities of girls and women (all of them), and offer a strong highlight in the form of a current-events news report on prostitution and sex trafficking.
Sex trafficking wasn’t a major concern in the early 1980s, when Beth Jacobs was a teenager. If you were a prostitute, the thinking went, it was your choice.
Having been born into a troubled world and veritably progressive nation, U.S. gen-Xers (the smallest generation) consisted of many socially stratified types. It seemed, during the 80s, that there would be a continuance of progression that would benefit everyone, including girls and women. While it may not have seemed so to the most disadvantaged, it did seem so to most who looked forward (didn’t we?) to continuing the trends of progress set forth by such greats as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan. And yes, there have been so many more and we’ll remember them in other posts.
Being “sandwiched” between the Boomers and the Millenials, the gen-X generation of progressive thinkers– in its small number– was quickly outphased as a presence of much significance in the U.S. workforce. For only three years would generation X hold power of progressive majority which, in my view, relates directly to an inability to hold onto such ideas of progress awakened by former leaders of prior generations. This lack of power in numbers directly affected our ability to affect polls, election outcomes and workforce trends.
For Generation X (ages 35 to 50 in 2015), their place as the dominant generation within the labor force was very short-lived – just three years – and, on a chart, might even get missed, as they are sandwiched in between Boomers and Millennials.
Instead of the avant-garde attitude that preceded us, we gen-Xers came to face many walls that would prove insurmountable for too many. Anyone who pays attention to current events will recognize that some of the most powerful as well as most dejected people today are in a reactionary state of wall-building. Some of the most disadvantaged were still relegated to a ‘choice’ of wandering, perhaps flirting with the idea that prostitution or other personally-held offerings would be a ticket to success later in life. But, something happened to that power.
Due to such bitterness as mentioned above (some justifiable, yes . . . and subsequent posts will address the justifiable and unjustifiable bitterness that plagues our nation today) walls began to appear and women like Beth Jacobs were nastily surprised when they ventured out into this progressive yet troubled system of life here in the United States. Beth actually did lose her freedom . . . all of it, for several years until she was finally saved.
Morris, Frank. “Truckers Take the Wheel in Effort to Halt Sex Trafficking”. NPR. 13 July 2016. Web. 14 July 2016. http://www.npr.org/2016/07/13/484801054/truckers-take-the-wheel-in-effort-to-halt-sex-trafficking
Fry, Richard. Fact Tank – Our Lives in Numbers. “Millennials surpass Gen-Xers as the largest generation in U.S. labor force”. Pew Research. 11 May 2015. 14 July 2016. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/11/millennials-surpass-gen-xers-as-the-largest-generation-in-u-s-labor-force/