Gen X Women Incite Change Through Individual Actions

When Gen X women come up against gender discrimination, they work around the problem covertly. Their individual actions have collectively redefined expectations for women today.

Gen X isn’t often associated with the feminist movement – and women of this generation might agree. When they come up against gender discrimination, they don’t take to the streets. Instead, they covertly rely on their trademark rebellion. Without fanfare, Gen X women simply find a way to work around the problem.

Their brand of feminism happens behind the scenes. It’s a series of personal choices that have amounted to significant advances for women (and men, who also benefit from less restrictive gender roles).

By chipping away at rigid and sometimes sexist norms as individuals, Gen X women have together redefined expectations for women in today’s world. That is their power.

Generation X represents nearly 1 billion women globally. Viacom gained new insights about this generation via its newly-launched project Gen X Today, which surveyed 12,000 people aged 30 to 49 in 21 countries, collected 1,000 images through photo-journals, and hosted a series of intimate dinner discussions and ethnographic interviews in 8 countries.

This project revealed that Gen Xers are giving the middle finger to gender stereotypes. Among both genders, 9 out of 10 agree that women are as capable as men.

At work and at home, Gen X women are forging their own paths. A quarter are business owners and more than a third manage other employees. When it comes to home economics, they are not beholden to tradition. Nearly 6 in 10 are either their household’s chief wage earner or an equal contributor to household finances.

While in the past single women in their thirties and forties were stigmatized, being unattached today can mean adventure and fulfilment. Almost 1 in 3 Gen X women are single – and among them, 82% are happy about it. In fact, they’re more content than their male cohorts, of whom 73% are happy to be solo.

Gen Xers aren’t concerned with impressing others in general. Compared with men their age, Gen X women are less likely to care what others think of them. Their nonchalant attitude inspires them to embrace and celebrate their imperfections. Authenticity about the challenges of life rings true to them. These shared experiences are often conveyed through sarcasm.

As such, Gen X feminists have had particular success in revealing gender inequality through comedy – think Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Caitlin Moran.  At the younger end of this generation, Amy Schumer skewers double-standards, wage gaps, and unfair stereotypes on her Comedy Central sketch show, Inside Amy Schumer. Her take-downs deliver laughs while following the earnest acceptance of sexist messages to their farthest, most absurd conclusions.

This study reveals that this generation has established themselves as cultural trailblazers, fomenting change without demanding credit for their contributions. This is especially true for Gen X women, who are upending tradition while paying no mind to those who just don’t get it.