Recently, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon among women my age.
Gen X is the term often used to describe our age group, loosely referring to anyone born between the 1960s and early 80s, though a hard line in a generational shift is always difficult to draw. Rather, we see a gradual movement happening over the span of several years towards characteristics unique to a generation—characteristics that can be best understood within the context of the significant cultural events and changing values of the time.
So what defines us?
As women, we are perhaps the first generation ever to have grown up believing we could do anything with our lives. I was told repeatedly as a child that I could “do anything a man can do.” Raised by a mother who was fully behind the women’s liberation movement of the 60s, I was given the message that my gender did not matter at all—the only thing that did was my intelligence and diligence to pursue my interests. If you think about it, this was quite radical. Never before had girls been raised to question their role in life, and even encouraged to see their future success as a person outside the role of just being a good mother and wife.
That’s pretty colossal. But as I’ve listened to a lot of women my age, I’ve realized that many of us still feel we haven’t quite reached that golden zone of fully realized potential or even attained a clear vision of what that might look like. We’ve had several years in a career, been married, and had children, but still something is missing.
I’d like to suggest that engaging in intelligent dialogue with other women our age may be one of the missing pieces. After all, as women who were told that our gender doesn’t matter, it might not be something we’ve deeply considered. I know I didn’t until a few years ago.
It’s time to create a culture of women who discuss what matters most.
It’s been extremely heartening lately to see Gen-X women in the media spotlight begin to question, for example, the strange obsession with trying to look like we are forever in our sexual prime. The entire Miss Representation movement ignited by actress Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and the recent stand taken by actress Ashley Judd against assumptions of plastic surgery, are much-needed beginnings to deeper conversations among women in contemporary culture.
Is it a sign of our generation wanting something more?
Over the past few years, I’ve found myself much more interested in speaking with women around my age and older about anything that has intellectual weight. And I’ve been surprised at the gratitude expressed by my friends after we’ve journeyed together into new insights and rich intellectual terrain. There is a mutual recognition of just how fulfilling it is to speak this way with another woman.
For most of us, this kind of dialogue had been something in the past we’d only found with men.
Intelligent dialogue with other women seems to be something missing from many women’s lives, robbing us of the opportunity to reflect on who we are and where we are going together as women. In myself, I found that I’d been isolated in some sense from my own depths before stepping into an appreciation of the role that dialogue with other women plays in my life. Reflecting on the world we live in together with our higher rational mind enables us to step back and to see our lives in a much bigger context. A liberating joy is released in such a greatly expanded perspective, revealing space to move forward in ways I never could have before.
As we move through the themes on this new blog and I interview women on different subjects—from this month’s investigation into the environment to next month’s look at work-life balance, and more to come through the year—there is an overarching intention that I want to hold no matter what we are speaking about. That is to fill this hole in many women’s lives with the joy of shared inquiry with other women, and liberate the greater potential in each of us that is the fruit of this kind of sisterly engagement.
So I encourage you to respond in the comment section, and speak with your friends about what is happening here. After all, the more of us that are really able to give to life from our highest potential, the better off everyone will be!