In January, I posted a column which dealt with the topic of . Within that article, I spoke of marketing and trend guru Faith Popcorn's research as to where our culture, economics and mindsets were headed in the coming year.
Well, Ms. Popcorn has refined her 2011 predictions even more and is dubbing this year as "The year of En-Gen." "En-Gen" is an abbreviation of "end of gender," and Popcorn's posse of trend trackers feels that there is a fuzzy-ing of the gender differences which have existed for most of our collective lives! It seems that men are becoming more sensitive, more in tune with their softer selves; embracing childcare, hobbies such as flower arranging (called Ikebana in Japan), and caring more about their appearance and how to make themselves younger looking (i.e. facelifts!).
Her synopsis of these trends also points to President Obama's concern with his own body image, healthy living and focus on being a good spouse and husband, while ex-vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin embraces the outdoorsy hunting, fishing, tracking life more often associated with men.
Women, particularly the still dominant "boomers," are starting to age as a population, and all that diminishing estrogen is surfacing as aggression! Hence, women are earning more, speaking up for themselves as never before, and making gains in the workplace that have previously been closed to them. In my own circle of friends, I have seen the wives surpassing their husbands incomes by a large margin!
How does this translate to our town? Well, I think its noteworthy that of the dozen or so businesses I've written about in the past four months (most of these being startups), about 3/4 of them are owned by women and 1/4 by men.
OK, I know you're going to say that I am biased in my sample, but Patch has been covering business openings since November and unless the new male owners aren't getting the word out, it seems to me that women are dominating the new business startups. Even the owners of certain food chains in Braintree, namely Mary Lou's, Subway, Dunkin Donuts and (which recently closed due to lease expiration) all have women owners listed in the public record!
How else can I upset the men of Braintree? How about mentioning that the editor/publishers of the Braintree Forum and Braintree Advertiser are women, the director of is a woman, and the founders of are two women.
"Well, wait a minute!" you are now thinking, "The mayor is a guy!"
Yes, true enough, but don't forget that the following Braintree departments are headed up by the "weaker" sex: Elder Affairs, Human Resources, Treasurer/Collector, Licenses and Inspections, (Clerk of) Board of License Commissioners, Town Solicitor, and Planning and Community Development!
Abigail Adams, also a Braintree resident, was quite influential in her husband's political career, and we all remember her famous "Remember the Ladies!" letter which she wrote to him while he and other members of the Continental Congress set out to fight the British in 1776:
She wrote, “I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could.”
So, I think Abigail would be dancing in her crypt to know that there is a slight tipping of the scale toward women-power in our own fair Braintree!
OK, enough of "dissing" the guys. The remainder of the Popcorn Report discusses such product adoptions as the electric car in 2011 (given gas prices this better be a reality soon!) She also highlights stepped-up interest in vegan-friendly products including not only food, but clothing, furniture and personal care products. She caps off her trends with the rise of robotics, which she considers "the ultimate genderless technology" and predicts they will be used in medicine, manufacturing, military and many other categories.
Now that's an exciting trend to look forward to! I'm holding my breath in anticipation of my own little Rosie the Robot (from the Jetsons) to move in to my household and do all the cooking, cleaning, washing and elder care duties! Rosie was pretty sassy for a robot and she had that New York or New Jersey accent! I guess our robots will have to be programmed by Mark Wahlberg, so as to get down the proper Boston accent!
It's fun to follow the trends, and they are very important to town planning, businesses, culture, schooling and, well, life! Who knew that we'd be holding these little handheld devices which provide us with the ability to keep in touch with one another on a second by second basis! It is truly a wonder! Everyday there are new technologies being created and adopted, it's hard to keep up!
But for now, I will be dreaming of my future robot. Except I think I'll name my robot "Rosario" or better yet; "John Adams!" It will kind of be my own little inside joke with Abigail, who believed in equal opportunity!