The 80’s was my youth, my story when today’s generation sit and reminisce about their teenage/early twenties in 30 to 40 years time I hope it is with the same rose tinted glasses and with the same fire in their bellies for a belief in yourself that has now somehow got lost over the years, forgotten in the world we let overtake us.
My generation was the fall out from the 70’s when punk had reigned in the dissident classes, but real men ruled the household purses giving the wife weekly housekeeping. We didn’t have political idols to rise to, Thatcher was an anti feminist whose model of leadership allowed a male dominated parliament to rise above the women and leave them far behind. The women on TV differed so much in age they fell into 2 groups false teeth and tweed, or tits and low cut blouses. Opinions were gained and gathered through talking and listening in groups, debating in pubs about what we should be doing. There was no social media that would allow our generation a voice of diversity, only the national media, institutions so misogynistic that the page 3 girl reigned supreme and a compliment was a wolf whistle and a bum slap from any male that was in close proximity. The 80’s did give us a female role model, Diana, the first international pop concert, Live Aid, unemployment hit 1 million and women protested at Greenham common, a coming together of the sisterhood for collective action.
But we had the music, and icons rose from the post punk era, I distinctly remember watching Boy George on Top of The Pops for the first time and my dad convinced he was a she, because boys didn’t wear make-up! I remember being so excited at the prospect of seeing someone being so flamboyant, beautiful and brave, when you come from a small seaside town this behaviour was beyond expectation. We talked about him for days at school after, the girls loving him and the boys saying how gay he was, but the boys that were silent about him were secretly embracing something that they were denied and needed bravery to be. And when this did happen, the girls swooped in to protect these boys taking them into their inner circle of female while the rest of the boys sat awkwardly on the sidelines.
Disco was dying and the New Romantics flew in with frilly white shirts, leather trousers, military jackets and eyeliner, smoking was cool and snake bite and black was puked up at the end of a night out. But more than the cultural revolution taking place in bedrooms across the land was the growing rise of hope, that as women we were now able to forge careers, we were given shoulder pads to wear to make us look more masculine we were allowed in boardrooms (we knew this because we watched Dallas and Dynasty!) but we were told we could achieve anything, a legacy from Thatcher. Money was for the making and dreams could be achieved.
The glory days didn’t last long and weren’t felt by all but looking back that sense of overpowering hope is something to cling to and cherish. Looking at yourself today what would you give for that sense of hope and the dream you can do anything? It is still there somehwere inside every one of us, that teenage girl, not the girl with fear and hate for herself, but the one with hope, she’s still in there wishing that soon she can escape and wreak havoc again. I don’t know about you, but I’m always happy when I get an eye role for my unorthodox words or behaviour that slip out from time to time, that is when I hear her again, that girl with her frilly shirt, too much eyeliner with her middle finger stuck up.