The Dangers of ‘Labeling’ Millennials

A friend of mine yesterday sent me a link from Slate Magazine, with an article by Jessica Grose titled, “Generation Scold:  Why millennials are so judgmental about promiscuity”.

The article basically argues that millennials are more judgmental than their generational counterparts on the concept of promiscuity, that is, sexual relations with a multitude of different people, citing that even millennial men are more likely to use negative connotations to describe men with multiple sexual partners.

They say it’s judging promiscuity, I say it’s eliminating the double standard. And while the article touches on this point, I believe it’s the far bigger point to be made. Promiscuity, even during the ‘free love’ era in America in the 60s and 70s, has never been widely accepted in the United States. Sexuality, in general, and its derivations, have never and will probably never be a widely discussed subject compared to other nations. To suggest that millennials are judgmental towards promiscuity seems, premature and even incorrect. But, we do see millennials assigning less double standard to men and women (the old ‘slut’ vs. ‘stud’ argument).

The article cites the authors Neil Howe and William Strauss and their book, Millennials Rising, where they called Gen Y deeply conventional and traditional. What the article fails to mention is Millennials Rising was written in 2000, when even most senior millennials were still in high school.

And thus is the danger of pegging millennials. We can look at the polls and the research, but when millennials are still in high school, I think it’s premature, especially in 2000, to start labeling millennials. In fact, the Pew Research Poll (taken at the beginning of this) suggests that millennials are anything but traditional, values-oriented, and conventional.

I encourage journalists, authors, and researchers to use caution before labeling an entire generation before we reach adulthood.


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