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Do you ever get the feeling we're all just a bunch of soft bastards?
By we, I mean you, reading this because you're shirking the meaningless tasks you have to perform at your boring office job. You can't be arsed to do any of the work you're meant to be doing, and yet you go to great lengths to ensure your manager doesn't catch you flicking between Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook, which, in itself, is a challenge more demanding than anything set by your boss.
Sound familiar, you weak and lazy millennial wimp? With your iPhone, your safe spaces and your short attention span? You, my friend, are a soft bastard.
I'm a millennial too, though. I have a beard and drink milky coffee and don't hate women as well. I'm also a soft bastard. I know because I'm constantly being told I am by everyone older than 35. The pioneers. The iPhone and safety haters. The lovers of danger and subliminal bigotry masquerading as fear of change.
I started noticing the wave of condescending vitriol towards us recently when, after holding his last rave and making a tidy profit in the process, Bloc Weekend founder George Hull let loose on today's promoters. According to George, these young upstarts have ruined the dance music scene because they've made it safer for our boring, all-inclusive generation, who enjoy raving without the insidious threat of racism, sexual harassment or getting glassed.
A millennial man. Credit: Robert Foster
I never attended the festival, I couldn't afford the ticket price George was asking for, but I've been to other raves where I've partied for 48 hours, hoovered powder until my jaw dislocated, and had a brilliant time with my mates and girlfriend. I've also been to raves that have resembled the fall of Rome, complete with threats, fights and medical emergencies. I know which I prefer, and it isn't the one that I had to worry about bringing my other half to. Does that make me soft? Or boring? I kind of just think it makes me a nicer, more perceptive human being.
The other day, I saw this quite staggering broadside from American news foghorn Tomi Lahren, in which she offered her 'final thoughts' on 'soft' millennial men. I quite like the strangely lyrical way she cascades clichés upon the viewer. But when you actually listen to her words, you realise she's talking bollocks. She seems to think feminism has made the modern man weak. By recognising the need for equality across all genders, men have neutered their former superiority. They're wet flannels in flannel shirts, incapable of changing a tyre because they've been raised by single mothers.
I was raised by a single mum and she was harder than my dad ever was. I've learnt more about life from women than I've ever learnt from men. The only thing useful I've learnt from a man is how to handle my finances like a selfish bastard. Women have taught me all kinds of useful shit like how to cook, how to not dress like I'm 10 years old, how to sort my priorities out.
More millennial men. Credit: Garrett Crook
They've taught me how to treat people with decency, how to respect their beliefs and how to express my emotions without fear of embarrassment. If you want a 'real man' from the past that can also double as a car mechanic, cool, but you might also get regressive opinions, including 'rape is OK in marriage', 'women deserve less pay than men', and 'I'm drunk, maybe I'll beat the shit out you'.
Does it make the modern man soft because he respects the drive towards a more balanced society? No. It makes him more emotionally intelligent.
Even so, some think this intellectual maturation is threatening not only a generation of men, but the security of the country.
A military historian recently claimed that the men in the Special Air Service (SAS) were not as tough as they used to be, because of their easier upbringings. According to Gavin Mortimer, today's crop of highly trained killers have 'bigger muscles' but no mental strength. This is the SAS we're talking about. It's their job to survive the harshest conditions and to fight our deadliest enemies. They do this for a living. However, when they did this for a living in World War II, it was somehow more harsh, more deadly, more dangerous.
It's quite the argument, but for the sake of a point, let's run with it. Imagine pitting today's SAS against the SAS of old. Given advances in training and equipment, you'd assume today's lot would destroy the soldiers of yesteryear, whether they battled each other with guns or fists. 'Toughness' is an arbitrary value liberally applied by people who wear 'we had it way worse' as a badge of honour.
A millennial man doing millennial things. Credit: Robert Foster
In every one of these cases, the past is viewed as a paragon of existence; a time when people were hard bastards who overcame challenges with their wits and their calloused hands. So when older folks see us questioning the very ideas they were raised on, they perpetuate the damaging notion that millennials are weak and spineless. But most importantly, wrong.
But here's the thing: The past was shit. I know it was shit because we, as a society, are always trying to make it better. It was filled with things that we're actively fighting against as a generation, like bigotry, physical harm and having to walk really far to get anywhere.
Maybe we are soft bastards. Maybe we didn't come of age in an era resembling Wuthering Heights mixed with Human Traffic. Maybe we like inclusivity, safe spaces, and talking about our mental health. I don't think that makes us boring or weaker. I just think it makes us better human beings, on the hunt for a better world.
Words by Tom Usher
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