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Allow Me to Offend You

Updated: Feb 12

The last few years have been earmarked by the rise of "woke" thinking in our society. Things like "cancel culture", "virtue signaling", and "identity politics" have become mainstream on social media platforms as well as in mainstream media. I grew up in an era where men were men, and behaved accordingly. Going on a date these days would probably necessitate one asking the person across the table from you whether they have always been a _____ (fill in your appropriate gender) and what their feelings are about a range of societal issues before one takes the plunge with that particular individual. Considering that this line of questioning may also necessitate one walking on proverbial egg shells, one may find that dating or simply grabbing a drink may be a minefield fraught with social dangers. It drives me crazy!

But, then, I need to take a step back and remind myself that this might not be as outlandish as it seems to me. After all, looking back on how my parents reacted to the subculture of the nineteen eighties in which I grew up, it was probably an adjustment for them as well. The time that we are living in may eventually be remembered as "the time of the entitled snowflake" but, as I need to remind myself, a lot depends on the eye of the beholder.

Allow me, then, to walk you back to the time which formed my way of thinking. Growing up, gender roles were shown to be pretty hard and fast. Gender stereotypes were the order of the day, but, as it was explained, these were the way they were for a very good reason. The nuclear family was all-important. This was reinforced in many social norms and mores, as well as by religious institutions. It was a far more conservative time but, at the same time, it was far less confusing.

South Africa underwent a profound change, politically speaking, in 1994 when we became a democracy. However, it has to be said that our liberal constitution was pretty much shoved down our throats by those in political power. There was, in fact, very little direct democracy applied in its inception as well it is its implementation. None of us were asked what we would like to have seen in its content or whether or not we agreed with it. It became law and that was that. Yet, for someone like myself, there were certain objectionable inclusions as well as stark omissions. The groupthink of the day was to say "create somet