The generation sandwiched between the post-war baby boom and the 1980s baby boom, popularly but not always happily known as Generation X, came of age during massive societal shifts that directly impact their perspective on the nature of home, family, and professionalism. Leadership for this generation was leadership into the third wave of feminism. With the 1980s being the signature decade for this cohort, while the generation has been stereotyped as the “slacker” generation, our hard-won distrust of the stability of fundamental structures of society was sharped by AIDS, trickle-down economics, divorce/single parenthood and the dawn of the two-income family.
US Leaders in Home Economics that emerge from this generation are only dimly aware of the conflicts between the profession and second-wave feminism, conflicts that led to the abandonment of the global name of the profession for a distinctly North Amercian “Family & Consumer Sciences”. Sitting in our Women’s Studies courses (graciously provided by second wave activists) we asked ourselves “what is wrong with being feminine”? If we love sewing and cooking, why should we have to give them up just to conform to someone else’s definition of a strong woman? So many of us were raised in basically empty homes, that we are eager to fill our lives with the quality of life that has always been the object of Home Economics.
Generation X is prepared to be a service generation, putting our heads down, getting the work done, to deliver our profession, intact, to a future that we hope will have moved beyond the devisions of gender and sexuality to embrace the urgent demands of the human family to be safe and happy. We are excited to see our younger colleagues embracing issues such as sustainability, the STEM underpinnings of our discipline, food security, international development, to name a few. We see a future where Home Economics will not be continually “rediscovered” by well-meaning people who are unfamiliar with our discipline because, our generation as we move in our scholarly prime, will continue the work of building the theoretical underpinnings for our profession as a whole, a lovely and strong whole, a science built on heart and beauty.