Fear of alienating the next generation of voters and consumers has led to a problem, particularly within liberal circles, of fetishising youth and mindlessly championing their favoured causes.
Looking around at the rapt faces I found myself shifting uncomfortably in my seat, like a non-believer at an evangelist meeting. This was a large conference of socially liberal and politically aware movers and shakers. The speaker whose words they were hanging off was a teenage girl. Her comments displayed a surprising level of insight given her age but had these observations been made by a seasoned political observer the response would have been far more muted. This is in no way to denigrate a girl who could have a future in politics, it is more to question why she was considered to have anything to offer to an audience with vastly more experience than she was capable of understanding.
There is a problem, particularly within liberal circles, of fetishising youth and mindlessly championing their favoured causes. Fear of alienating the next generation of voters and consumers has led to respected institutions allying with some unlikely causes. For example, the Gay Pride month rainbow cladding of logos from Lloyds bank to GCHQ is clearly designed to show the young folk that even banks and spies are ‘on message’ when it comes to the rights of sexual minorities. Most adults who are settled in same-sex relationships couldn’t give a drag queen’s eyelash if our bank sponsors a float at a Pride march; fighting for increased LBGTQ+ acceptance is very much the preserve of youth. In essence, growing-up is the process of identity formation, so it is perhaps no surprise that ‘youth social causes’ often centre identity.
There is a problem, particularly within liberal circles, of fetishising youth and mindlessly championing their favoured causes.
It is worth noting that the ‘woke’ youth causes championed by our leading banks and statutory bodies are rarely those that involve any form of self-reflection or action on their part. The ranks of pale, stale males who fit the mould in the banking sector seem to find it easier to partner with the likes of ‘Pride in London’ than to challenge the corporate hospitality provided lap dancing venues or Presidents Club style events.
Policy is increasingly formed by social listening, consequently simplistic messaging of populist campaigns is taken on board by institutions that should know better. Causes such as the ‘sex worker rights’ movement are largely driven by privileged university students who want to look edgy and whose analysis doesn’t extend much beyond ‘sex work is work.’ Now, in a bid to be ‘non judgemental’, some NHS trusts have begun to refer to prostitution as ‘commercial sex.’ While of course it is important not to alienate vulnerable people who might need to access advice, the normalisation of an industry with twelve times the mortality rate of the general population is dangerous. This is exactly the sort of lazy, relativist thinking that led to Rotherham social workers dismissing the adult male abusers of girls as their ‘boyfriends.’
Being non-judgemental so as not to alienate youth is cowardly; it is essentially the abdication of responsibility under the guise of progressive politics. The pace of technological change is expanding the generational gap, but attempts to bridge this by taking up trendy crusades risk leaving those who are old enough to know better looking somewhat infantile. Institutions who try to demonstrate their relevance by championing the favoured causes of youth are engaging in the public equivalent of ‘dad dancing’ at a school disco.
The pace of technological change is expanding the generational gap, but attempts to bridge this by taking up trendy crusades risk leaving those who are old enough to know better looking somewhat infantile.
Whether it is embracing nonsense non-binary identities or ignoring the brutality of the sex industry, kissing the pert young buttocks of the latest youth movement is short-sighted and lazy. Sometimes the judgement of elders is there for a reason; it exists to ensure that young people are protected from a world they are still learning how to navigate. Those we rely on to set the direction of progress must cease debasing themselves by jumping each time a ‘woke’ teenager on social media barks.