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Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Revolutionary Change part 1

I turned 54 yesterday. It was a terrible day for me in some ways. Lots of people did their best to bring me out of my grief and depression. And my son taking me out for lunch did make me briefly happy. But distraction really is the name of the game at this time. 
{I've jumped 53...}

So, a wee post on something I've distracted myself with today. 

Back in the eighties, social change was not only palpable, not only just protest and left wing rhetoric, but beginning to reach mid-Ulster. And some baby-boomers I worked and socialised with, didn't like it.

Being part of the "Pro-social change," wing of GenX, I defended change, to the point, in mid-Ulster, I was looked at like some sort of terrorist collaborator peacenik "hippy punk." 

I've just watched a documentary on the Korda/Korda-Fitzpatrick Che image.

I'm watching a lot of documentaries at the moment to distract me during the day-time. Netflix dramas at night, fiddling about on Facebook and messenger groups, twitter and lots of dog walking and some reading... When I stop, the grief gets in. It envelops, and folds me over. It stops me in my tracks. It's living that Edvard Munch painting. 

Anyway, this isn't about grief... Or Che or his image. A young, millennial woman in the documentary described the group she felt part of who wear Che shirts as, "Hippy punks." As a Genx'r, this description is odd to me. But I suppose the youth movements and music movements of the past are strange territory nowadays. Millenials group themselves as online groups, gamers, different types of gamers, non-gamers even... Instagram, YouTube followers... The social movement aspect of music, clothes and politics seems to escape them (or they really don't, as I suspect and applaud, care). They dress in a mish mash of vintage clothes, and talk as if the world outside their screens is something noone else has ever noticed before... (I'm sitting in a coffee shop listening to a loud American describe Prague... And now describing, loudly in detail, a movie, frustratingly, I haven't yet seen to someone I think he thinks has never seen a movie before). 

Millenials belong to groups sold to them, rarely created by them (I'm perhaps being an old fart and misrepresenting a generation... I do respect millenials.  I feel they are the most logical of generations, and I place a lot of hope with them. We fucked up... They are going to create the world previous generations could only dream of). 

Now this isn't their fault (as my previous parenthesis hopefully begins to describe). The labelling of everything from style, through to shoes and teeshirts and underwear, happened in my generation... Something I always hated. The fractionalisation of movements, types of clothing etc, sold with a label on a tee-shirt.
{Korda/Fitzpatrick Che image, 1968}

I diverge.

When I worked in the Technical Office of a shoe factory, change seeped in. Young women started to become employed as management trainees, rather than just stitches or office workers- this became a bit contentious. Don't forget, the eighties was just the beginning of the atomisation of workers rights and pay (as well as society, and consumerism beyond the previous three or four income groups or classes). 

Nowadays, two salary/wage families struggle to pay mortgages and bills, when before Thatcher, one income did this for most households. The eighties, for those who were there, were a time when capitalist exploitation clashed and seemed to merge with the feminist movement (bad description... I mean Thatcherism exploited feminism, I suppose, what with newspapers highlighting "superwoman" who could hold down 12 hour day jobs and raise kids and play golf). Feminism and women working, seemed to the baby Boomers I worked with, to be the thing that was going to drag down wages, much in the way the baby Boomers nowadays blame foreigners. The baby Boomers had social movements that led change, yet it was instigated during the GenX immersion into the work place. And the women management trainee pioneers had to put up with sexist jokes, comment, insult etc and had to take it. 

Another documentary I watched yesterday, about the Moon Landings, and focusing on Mission Control, highlighted this sudden social change very graphically with the modern day top techs of Mission Control being women, contrasting the entire room of controllers for the Apollo missions being men. 50 years since Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins flew around and landed on another world, women have control of the new push to the lunar and Martian surfaces. 
{Photo taken by white men sent to the moon by white men, while women & black people worked on the project, unseen} 

 British Shoe factories have died in the UK, like most of the old industrial manufacturing vase did during the eighties. But the women pioneers who had to fight through the awful insults and misogyny I witnessed daily, are taking their places at the top tables. 

This is a revolution and we are right in the middle of it. After 2000 years of Abrahamic religious sexist tosh, and 250 years of capitalism that built its systems atop this tosh, walls are tumbling. Glass ceilings are smashing. And gender, sexuality etc really does not matter if you have the right skills. Of course, baby Boomers and the GenX'rs who conservatively held on to the beliefs of their fathers still are a majority as Brexit and the temporary resurgence of the right has shown. 

But we are at tipping point. And those millenials who really could not give a fuck if punk and hippy were two opposing social movements and dress senses and in fact different disappointed generations, are going to bathe the precarious, almost ethereal and endangered gelatine-silver image of equity in strong fixative. 

They'll stick it in an album called "analogue history," and digitally move towards total disbelief at the disrespect previous generations had for gender and for humans they shared streets, buildings and families with. 

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