Interview 1 – Caucasian, Male, 74 years old, Heterosexual, Christian, Married

 Me: How did you meet your wife? Did you know she was interested?

Interviewee 1: Me and a few of my buddies decided to go out dancing for the night. I was somewhat recently divorced and two of the three of them were single. We were all young still. I spotted Marie* and being the arrogant man I was, went right up to her and grabbed her hand. I wasn’t sure she was interested, but I gave it a shot.

Me: How did you go about contacting her for a second date?

Interviewee 1: I almost forgot to get her information after she swept me off my feet, you know? I wrote down her phone number on a tissue I found in my pocket, then called her the next day.

Me: How did you date? What was the norm for acceptable dating activities?

Interviewee 1: You mean sex? [laughs] We didn’t rush anything. You kids these days are moving too quickly! We went to the movies, got ice cream, then I took her home. No kissing until the third date!

Me: Did all your friends follow those rules, or were you the gentleman of the group?

Interviewee 1: I feel like that was pretty much the norm. There were exceptions to the rule, but for the most part we were expected to act as gentlemen, not animals.

Me: What did your community think about someone who were to break these rules during that time?

Interviewee 1: Women who moved quickly were seen as overly promiscuous, and maybe were called more offensive terms. Men weren’t necessarily referred to with mean names, but everyone knew what they were about when they made a reputation for themselves. Women took the biggest hit.

Me: What relationships do you find acceptable? How do you feel about interracial and/or homosexual relationships?

Interviewee 1: Ummmm…. [pauses] It’s not something I’m used to. Am I supposed to be honest? I don’t like it. I don’t approve, if you will, of homosexual relationships, and I’m not sure I support their marriage. Something about it makes me uncomfortable and I don’t get it. Interracial relationships don’t make me as uncomfortable, but I certainly wouldn’t want any of my children to be in one.

*Name changed for the purpose of confidentiality

Interview 2 – Asian, Female, 21 years old, Homosexual, Christian, In a Relationship

 Me: How did you meet your girlfriend? Did you know she was interested?

Interviewee 2: We technically met over dinner, but we had already known each other a little. We have a mutual friend that told me she might know someone I could potentially be interested in, so I sent her a friend request on Facebook. I was pretty nervous to do anything more than that until I go a notification that she ‘poked’ me on the site. At that point I knew she was at least attracted to me so I went ahead and sent her a message to meet up for lunch.

Me: How do you date? What do you feel is the norm for acceptable dating activities?

Interviewee 2: We hang out at each other’s apartments a lot, and sometimes make dinner together. Honestly, we don’t really go out on dates much. I feel like these days it’s more about hooking up physically before you officially date someone. It worked out for us at least!

Me: Do all your friends follow those rules, or do you feel like this is a personally choice?

Interviewee 2: It’s what most people do these days I think. It’s hard to get to know someone the old-fashioned way, without social media. I kind of wish dates were as common as they were back then.

Me: Do you think our generation thinks poorly of someone who breaks certain dating rules?

Interviewee 2: Words like ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ are thrown around more than they should be, especially for women. I think women are still looked down on for provocative behavior, but our society is more accepting of hooking up and sex before marriage than ever before.

Me: What relationships do you find acceptable?

Interviewee 2: Any relationship. Love is love. It’s hard to find a partner for life, and people need to understand that. You can’t help who you’re attracted to, and everyone is different. I didn’t choose to be attracted to women, I just am. And I don’t think I should be treated any differently because of it.

Reflection:

It’s amazing what a couple decades can change over time, especially regarding what’s acceptable for human interaction and relationships. The difference between the responses of Interviewee 1, a 75 year old Caucasian heterosexual man, and Interviewee 2, a 21 year old Asian homosexual woman, is undeniable. It’s easy to forget that slavery and serious racial discrimination isn’t too far into our country’s past. Transgender, bisexual and homosexual people are also striving to become much more widely accepted, still struggling to be seen as equals today. With America continuing to make more and more changes with each coming decade, the views of each generation vary drastically.

I couldn’t help but notice the contrast in how each respondent met their partner. While the senior respondent met his wife in person and got her contact information face to face, the younger respondent met her girlfriend on a social media site. It seems that more and more people are meeting online, whether it’s through Facebook or an online dating site, and that is something that wasn’t even remotely an option for people of older generations. The norms for sexual interactions have also shifted a large amount with “hooking up” occurring before dates, and dates becoming a rare thing for couples to do.

I also found it interesting to see that both respondents commented on the unequal judgment of women and men when it comes to sexual activity. While I noticed that both interviewees commented on women being looked down upon for being highly sexually active, it is clear that sexual intercourse before marriage is becoming less of an issue in the eyes of others. This is probably why feminists are striving to create porn with a variety of people, without stereotyping them (Tarplin). It is however thought-provoking to compare the thoughts of present day students to the ideas of faculty, as seen by the fact that only 22 states and Washington, D.C. require comprehensive sex education (Zeilinger). Perhaps this is because faculty members are a part of a later generation, like the first respondent.

Lastly, and I think most importantly, is the variance in their answers to the final question. Our country continues to become a more accepting environment every day. More transgender, bisexual, and homosexual people are “coming out” as they feel more widely accepted and interracial couples are rarely looked at twice. With the LGBT community becoming more public, things aren’t how they used to be. It was appalling to hear Interviewee 1’s response, because due to the fact that things have changed so much. Naturally I can relate more to Interviewee 2 since we belong to the same generation, so it was hard to hear someone I know tell me how uncomfortable he feels with homosexuality and even interracial relationships to an extent. I love how Interviewee 2 specifically touched on the fact that she didn’t choose to be queer, like how Ziyad spoke about his feelings from a young age (Ziyad).

Resources:

TEDx Talks. (2015, March 30). Feminist porn: Shifting our sexual culture | Olivia Tarplin | TEDxJerseyCity. Retrieved June 12, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x38-iHvUqLY

Zeilinger, J. (2015, August 10). John Oliver, Laverne Cox and Nick Offerman Just Gave Us the Sex Ed PSA America Needs. Retrieved June 13, 2016, from https://mic.com/articles/123634/john-oliver-laverne-cox-and-nick-offerman-just-gave-us-the-sex-ed-psa-america-needs#.r65wOkEyk

Ziyad, H. (2015, September 30). Choosing Queer: I Was Not Born This Way, And That’s Ok. – RaceBaitR. Retrieved June 13, 2016, from http://racebaitr.com/2015/09/30/choosing-queer-i-was-not-born-this-way-and-thats-ok/

Photo source: https://learningfeminism101.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/455bd-t71_0235a_lisbon_generationgap.jpg

Advertisements