Generation Y not selfish, just choosing ourselves

by | Apr 10, 2015 | Opinion

Vanessa Campbell
Online Editor

If you Google “why are millennials so…” the first adjective suggested is “selfish.” Almost immediately, the voice of your grandmother — or somebody’s grandmother — fills your head.

Millennials are selfish. Just ask anyone who isn’t one. Don’t ask us, though, because we might have a logical explanation, such as from those of us who are women starting to choose lives that work in our favour. Along with selfish, millennials are also referred to as “entitled” or “lazy,” to which I reply: bull.

Every generation has a problem with the one that comes after it. But while our generation may seem more self-involved and possess different values, than the previous one, I don’t think selfish or entitled are the most fitting words.

Millenials are very tech savvy and though our social skills have suffered because of it, we’ve also become more self aware and just aware in general. We’re more curious and open to things and that in turn is changing society and sparking conversations that were once considered too taboo. Advanced understanding of gay rights, women’s rights, and society finally taking mental illness seriously, come to mind.

I think that we’re exposed to a lot and as a result, we’re adapting appropriately in order to live the best quality life. What’s selfish about that?

We’re doing everything faster. Everything is uncensored and out in the open online, but old-school systems that still maintain wage gaps and discrimination based on gender, religious beliefs and sexual orientation to name a few, are stunting our growth. We have the potential to create so much but antiquated mentalities are slowing it all down.

With newfound support for feminism from millenials, women have been given the platform to confidently discuss their experiences and views on sexism, consent, oppression, wage gaps, relationships and parenthood. The expectations for female generations before us were very limited.

We aren’t selfish, we’re just choosing for ourselves. Partly because it’s our choice, and also to adapt to a society that doesn’t seem to fully respect our differences just yet.

In a University of Pennsylvania article from the American Sociological Review titled The Wage Pentalty for Motherhood, the authors quote an even older insight on the penalty women face for becoming mothers.

“A wage penalty for motherhood is relevant to larger issues of gender inequality. Most women are mothers, and women do most of the work of child rearing. This ‘price’ of being a mother that is not experienced by fathers will affect many women and contribute to gender inequality.”

Since 2012, the fertility rate dropped to 62.9 births per 1000 women a year in the United States – a record low.

The Washington Examiner stated that a decrease in births was expected by demographers during the recession, but what they found surprising was that the rate continued to drop as time went on and the economy picked back up.

The reasons why many women are opting out of parenthood vary, but the bulk of them fall into one of three categories: economy, gender gaps with wage and simple disinterest. After all the debates and movements, it is true that in many industries, women just simply do not earn as much as men even in positions where they’re just as qualified.

To make matters even more stressful on the bank account, the cost of childcare has doubled in the last decade and so has the cost of living. And with all this development and forward progress, the gender role mentality still lingers and women are still looked to for primary caregiving.

There are so many reasons why female millenials are opting out of parenthood. And while those reasons are disappointing, they’re real and very serious. But that’s not the worst part. The even more disheartening thing about it is that women are badgered about it, while people don’t blink twice when a man says he’s not interested in having children.

Having a child and a career is totally acceptable now – even for men. Celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, for example have taken on the parenting role. But in spite of all that, it’s still an “issue” for women to have a career and no child.  And it’s not at all the same for men. Where women face backlash for remaining childless, men are congratulated.

Millenials, not just women, are also more career-focused. Not because we’re money-hungry and spoiled, but because a lot of us are choosing paths that we like over those that are safe. We’re traveling more than those before us did and we’re not afraid to screw up.

The generation before us could be to blame for our desire to find a job that we like, rather than a job that makes us the most money.

The whole go-to-school-get-a-steady-job-and-start-a-family gig many Gen Xers pulled didn’t prove to be that fulfilling in some cases. Should Gen X really be criticizing Gen Y for their non-traditional lifestyle choices when our society still suffers from high levels of divorce and suicide?

As humans we’re pack animals and so more often than not, whether we’re aware of it or not, on some scale, we conform to our society.’s expectations of us. Right now many millenials are scrapping the nine-to-five desk job, and instead, throwing ourselves into multiple positions or freelance work. By doing this we’re saying that we can have it all. Well, almost. We’re choosing to explore our interests and hobbies and maybe, if we want, we’ll think about a family later.  Selfish? No, but rather curious and intuitive.

We’re doing things differently. We’re choosing us. We’re exploring ourselves. When one understands themselves, then they can go on to fix other things. But staying stagnant and not provoking change and not having those taboo conversations simply because those before us didn’t – well, that’s selfish.