Gender-fluid identities are on the rise among Millennials, teens and the post-millennial generation, and the media has picked up on it. In 2010 Futurist, Faith Popcorn predicted En-Gen; where a generation will no longer be “female” or “male”, they will just be human. A pretty bold statement and sure to make a few eyebrows rise, the validity of her prediction is ringing true. Here are some examples we’ve collected in the past year that show our culture to be heading in the En-Gen direction.
Sweden has been praised for being the fourth most equal country in the world. Two summers ago, a preschool in Sweden began to eliminate gender bias by referring to children as “friends,” instead of girls and boys, and avoiding gender-specific pronouns such as “him” or “her.” Then, last Christmas, Sweden’s largest toy company, Top Toy (which also owns Toys R Us) turned their catalogue gender-neutral, displaying pictures of girls holding guns, and boys holding baby dolls. The Sales Director stated: “The gender debate in Sweden is so strong that we had to adjust”.
Back in the U.S., the second season of The Voice aired around the same time Sweden unveiled their gender-neutral perspective. The second contestant in the show’s audition round, who made it to the top (but didn’t win) was a young lady named De’Borah. The 25-year-old Mormon, dressed in young, hip, neon clothes and thick black rimmed glasses that define coolness in this decade, took the stage. More importantly, she described herself to the audience as a gay female, but one that didn’t “believe in the gender thing.” Her gender is indeed indistinguishable at first glance.
Even cooking, something historically assumed to be female role, has been heavily adopted by the male demographic. An article, Should Easy-Bake’s Packaging Now Be Gender Neutral? features an interview with 13 year-old Mckenna Pope, who is striving to change the pink boxed packaging of the Easy-Bake Oven. She recorded her little brother and asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he replied: “I want an easy-bake oven, but it’s advertised for girls…they should change that because boys like cooking too!”
The most notable example, was a piece that The New York Times ran last year, A Weekend at Camp for Gender-Variant Children, highlighting an annual weekend gathering for gender-variant children and their families.The camp is organized by parents, and it moves to a different location each year. Most of the boys who attend dress and act ‘‘male’’ in their daily lives, and the gathering offers a safe haven where they can express their interpretations of femininity with like-minded boys, their parents and siblings.
And more recently, UK designer, 28 year-old, J.W. Anderson catapulted to the forefront of attention during this year’s London Fashion Week by challenging notions of masculine and feminine dressing with his collection, Age Of Consent.
There is no doubt that the topic of gender has reached a new level of media awareness. The Millennial and post-millennial generations are pushing the boundaries of what it means to be “feminine” and “masculine” and how fluid those constructs can be. Nick Shore of MTV Insights has also shed light on this topic. His piece for Huffington Post highlights the fluid identities of Millennials, teens and the post-millennial generation, including pop icons that are leading the pack. This trend, or some form of it, is sure to be with us for the long haul and we’ll be keeping an eye on it.