Hey lovely people. This is a piece I wrote for The Wandering, a feminist and art collective. I think it's a really important topic, and I want to spread the word. Thank you for reading.
Get out your time machine, we are going on a journey. The lights are blinking, and we are in 1955 again, in a suburb, in front of the vinyl shop. Adults are staring at you, whispering to each other about the strange kids over there. You don't give a shit. You smoke your cigarette, like women do in movies, with elegance. You smooth out a crease in your polka dotted dress with your petticoat underneath. Smiling, you look at this boy with his Elvis-like hairdo and his worn-out jeans. You are both rebels. Sick of the boring, stuffy, narrow-minded thinking of your parents. Elvis Presley is your hero, with his new way of dancing, of singing. You want to be different, to be happy, you are the youth and you are celebrating it. You guys are rock'n roll.
Flashback '68. It's a new era. There's revolution and rebellion in the air, maybe mixed with a little scent of weed. People are demonstrating, going on the streets, struggeling for the end of the war in Vietnam, for gender equality, for peace. They are peaceful, though, with psychedelic prints, sandals, flowers in their hair. They revolt against the hate, the greed, the capitalism destroying people in our world. They are living in communes, listening to psychedelic rock music. Using acid, LSD, or weed to explore all states of consciousness, they embrace life and happiness. They also celebrate a new way of sexuality, see sex as something natural and great, don't hide it like it was used to do by society. They call themselves Hippies. Festivals like Woodstock changed the world of music, actually, hippies changed even more. Music, fashion, politics got different. With peaceful demonstrations, they were a new kind of youth, showed a new kind of living, revolted against war.
We go on on our travel through time. It's 1977. There's a group of young women, talking. Yelling, sometimes. They are kind of angry, and want changes. They fight for gender equality, against sexism. These are strong women, revolting women, surprising the sexist society with their strength. They help each other, they are proud of being women, they achieve many important things. Feminists demonstrated against sexism, starting a movement that hasn't ended at all in the present.
Time machine brings us to 1994. You are sitting in your room, your whole makeup is smeared all over your face by your tears. Nirvana music floats through your house, making you painfully realize that Kurt Cobain will never sing again. You cry because he has just shot himself, because Grunge ended abrupt with one bullet. You think of the last few years. Desillusionated, overwhelmed by society, blurred. There were no special goals, but there was a movement. There was „a burnout feeling amongst teens, they were kind of depressed about the future“ (music critics words), and Grunge provocated. The fashion was simple, cheap and the exact opposite of flashy neon styles in the 1980s. Grunge was filled with angst, alienation, and longing for freedom.
Back to present. Look around. There's nothing. In the past, there always was a movement amongst young people. It started with music, just take Woodstock or Elvis Presley, and then continued in other cultural aspects like fashion, it got politic, changed something. There always was a movement, kind of a big thing, something to identify with. There were role models, music you lived with. Demonstrations, emotions. Teens identified with movements like second-wave-feminism, or the Hippie culture. All these groups were somehow political – they expressed the feelings of young people.
Being young, growing up means that something changes, and the youth itself always changed something. There is a desire amongst teens to revolt, to change something, to be rebels, and this desire was always there. And today? There is no movement, no action. Well, actually, there is so much. Maybe that's the point behind it all – there is too much wrong that needs to be changed. There is sexism, our climate suffers extremly under us humans, there is so much unfairness and poverty, and there is still war, there is this pointless consuming. But it's like the whole youth is asleep. Sure, there are a few feminists, and a few people who fight for our environment, there are still Punks and hippies. However, these are all relicts, fading memories of earlier movements. There's a lack of something new. We all need something to change, we all need to wake up. Society is blind. Everybody walks around, eyes closed, masking out the problems. We live in a consumer society. Teens are fed with materialist things, clothes, technical stuff, and they are so replete that there is no space for thinking anymore. On my endless travel through the internet, I found a picture which says „I shop therefore I am.“. That's all of the thinking which is done nowadays. As long as we have enough possessions, we don't care about anything else. There are way too less people which think. As long as they have money, materialist things, they don't think about anything else. But are they happy that way? Can you be happy without thinking? I can't. We all pretend to be, to fit into society, and most teenagers forget to think this way. There is no desire for changes anymore. Only a few people are longing for something new, but as there is nothing to identify with, they hold on to old movements, trying to change as much as they did. But they are just too less people. We need to open our eyes. We teens need something to change. Teenagehood is the age where you figure out what you want, who you are, and what you need, but how could it work without changes? Teens were always able to identify with something, to fit into a group by protesting. It's hard to figure out who you are without movements like those. If you at least want to figure out who you are, you have to do it all by yourself. And if you come to the conclusion that things need to change, you are completely powerless. You can still feel some Grunge vibes today – we are longing for freedom. But being overwhelmed, we don't know how to change something, we can't identify with something. All we do is escaping from the present, to the past, full of desperate nostalgia, or just feeding ourselves with materialism so we don't feel the longing for freedom anymore. Youth needs to change something. We can't just suppress our desire for changes. We need to revolt, to rebel against todays issues. But with what can we identify? The youth needs to open its eyes.