Why Millennials Are Doubling Down On Power Dynamics
Finally, we now can turn our attention to America’s latest generational obsession: Millennials. Like Generation X before them, they have been prematurely judged and falsely identified as a whiny, overly-coddled bunch of brats, helpless fledgelings who are reluctant (or simply ill-equipped) to set out on their own, opting instead to remain in the comfortable nests provided by their all-too-willing and overprotective parents, hiding out in the basement playing video games or posting on social media. But despite the seeming accuracy of the portrayal, our engagement with the astrological model of generations compels us to look beyond the surface of appearances and apprehend the deeper truth.
And depth will prove to be a keyword in this endeavor. Lurking behind this dismissive portrayal of the weak and meek Millennial is the deeply intense and power-savvy Pluto in Scorpio generation born from 1983–1995. Pluto is said to rule the sign of Scorpio. So in this archetype we have an effective doubling of the Plutonian intensity—the planet of intense transformational power in the sign of intense transformational power. Far from meek or weak, this is a collective of souls who are coming into this life prepared for a power struggle. If recent events are any indication of the compulsive instincts lurking in the deep unconscious of this cohort, we would be wise to get a grasp on the generational power dynamics that are currently unfolding in our culture. Because once this generation gets a taste of power, look out!
Collective Soul Purpose
By now, you know the routine. We begin by qualifying Pluto as a generational planet as follows:
Pluto in any sign represents our collective soul purpose: a mostly unconscious process that leads us—as a generation—to compulsively and habitually approach certain aspects of life in a similar way, as described by the sign Pluto was transiting when we were all born. This gives us our generational signature—a constellation of qualities that we possess and share with our cohorts that seem distinct from those who came before and after us. It represents the karmic issues we are trying to work out together over the course of our lives (and perhaps many lifetimes). It provokes in each of us as individuals the need to grow, change and evolve. And our individual efforts, harnessed as a collective force, in turn effects some necessary changes in society and imparts some valuable contribution to the continued evolution of our culture.
So what is the “constellation of qualities” that characterize the Pluto in the Scorpio generation? This is a collective of souls who have incarnated together to learn collective lessons around power and powerlessness. They come into this life having experienced many lifetimes engaged in power struggles. Whether they had power and lost it or were powerless and sought to gain it, issues surrounding power dynamics form the core values of this cohort. A key issue of the Scorpio archetype that it shares with the Virgo archetype is a sense of lack. But unlike Virgo, which seeks to compensate for this lack by turning inward and implementing a regime of self-improvement, Scorpio looks to turn outward, seeking entities or symbols that appear to possess what they themselves lack, and entering into a relationship with that person or thing and entering into a process of osmosis—merging with the other, becoming it, gaining its power, and thus being transformed. In this way, the Pluto in Scorpio archetype instigates its own evolution.
As always, when considering Pluto, we have to take into account its “all or nothing” tendencies. So for Pluto in Scorpio, this group will be all or nothing about power, either totally accepting or totally rejecting the notions of power dynamics, transformation and necessary evolution. Reflecting on its symbol—the scorpion—with it’s poisonous and deadly tail, we know that if backed into a corner, they will suddenly lash out with a killer instinct. As we consider the current crop of first wave Millennials, inheriting as they have a world that seems to be falling apart before their eyes, carrying the burden of overwhelming student loan debt and feeling backed into a financial corner by a damaged global economy and shrinking jobs market, can we not understand why they might now be compelled to instinctively lash out at a society that has rendered them completely powerless?
Let’s take a look at how they got here.
1980s Power Struggles/Me Generation
Through previous articles, we’ve gained the ability to examine the Pluto in Scorpio era (1983–1995) from multiple perspectives of three generations experiencing the period at different stages in life. Recall that with the astrological model, we track the stages or phases of the life of a generation by observing the aspects Pluto makes to the national position. Over the course of a natural human life, Pluto makes up to six aspects to its natal position, thus the potential for six life stages: the semi-sextile (30º) in youth, the sextile (60º) in young adulthood, the square (90º) entering midlife, the trine in late life (120º), the inconjunct (150º) in elderhood and the opposition (180º) in old age.
Through the lens of the Pluto in Leo Baby Boomers (1937–1956), we witnessed the Pluto in Scorpio era (1983–1995) as their square aspect (90º)—the phase in life when this legendary generation reached midlife and began to attain positions of real power. They had the good fortune of coming to power during an era of power, and in the process many surprisingly transformed themselves (Pluto) from liberal hippies to conservative yuppies, earning a new reputation as the “Me” generation in the process. For them, Pluto in Scorpio was an unabashed power grab. It was their time to grab the One Ring, and they seized the day.
During this same period we witnessed the younger Pluto in Virgo GenXers (1956–1972) experience their sextile aspect (60º)—the phase in their young lives when things were supposed to flow with effortless grace and ease. But for this cohort, the Pluto in Scorpio era proved to be anything but easy. They were economically challenged as young adults who entered the workforce during a recession, were denied the sexual liberty of their predecessors by the outbreak of the AIDS crisis, and were beset on all sides by a widening drug war and spiraling gang violence. They seemed to be on the powerless end of the Pluto in Scorpio dynamic, while their Pluto in Leo elders—who dismissed them as slackers—sought to leverage all the power. Such is life for Pluto in Virgo Xers destined to grow up in the long shadows of their Pluto in Leo Boomer elders. But hidden behind all their sarcasm and nonchalance, these so-called slackers possessed a keen critical eye, an uncanny practical ability and an indeterminable work ethic that would enable them to make the best of the crummy hand they were being dealt.
Then we looked at the Pluto in Libra Xennials (1972–1983) as they experienced Pluto in Scorpio during their semi-sextile aspect (30º)—a challenging phase in life that they encountered at an extremely young age, forcing them to grow up quick and learn to negotiate sexual power dynamics while still going through puberty and adolescence. But as the “relationship” generation, this was all in keeping with their collective soul purpose. Thus they were uniquely well-equipped to handle the intense energy of Pluto in Scorpio at such a ripe young age, learning lessons of objectivity and relativity by and through relationship dynamics.
So by virtue of these three successive generations each encountering Pluto in Scorpio from the perspective of three successive stages in life, we see how the same archetypal period can be experienced in different ways. In 1995, when Pluto subsequently moved out of Scorpio and into Sagittarius, each of these three generations essentially moved on as well, leaving the Scorpio era behind them and moving up into the next phase of life, prepared to to embrace the next archetype. But for those born during Pluto in Scorpio, there’s’ no moving on. These archetypal qualities are imprinted on their very souls as they had chosen to incarnate during this time—destined to explore Pluto in Scorpio’s dark intensity as the fundamental collective theme of their entire lives.
Born into the Pluto in Scorpio era (1983–1995), they internalized the “Me” generation with all its power-grabbing, “greed is good” ethos and cocaine-fueled libidinal urges. They embodied Madonna’s virgin/whore dichotomies, Prince’s flamboyant ambiguity and Boy George’s gender-bending fluidity. They internalized the lessons of the AIDS crisis, intuiting that at the deepest levels sex and death are powerful forces that are inextriclby linked. Their penetrating souls see through the surface contradiction between eros and thanatos, recognizing them both as unconscious urges that drive us all. The Pluto in Libra generation that came just before them might have had to grow up fast, but these souls were born fast. While in Scorpio, Pluto is moving fastest and closest to the Sun. It is the period of its peak intensity, the time of its most palpably transformative power. Therefore, this generation has been twice imprinted by Pluto and Scorpio’s characteristic obsessions with power, metamorphosis and the deep, unconscious urge for transformation.
Coming of Age
Of course, this Pluto in Scorpio intensity was not immediately apparent as this generation was being born. It would take them years to grow up and develop these archetypal traits. If we consider that the first wave of this cohort encountered their semi-sextile phase of life at age 12—when Pluto moved into Sagittarius in 1995—we begin to glimpse the reality of a generation born fast and having to grow up fast. And while the Pluto in Libra generation born just before them also experienced their semi-sextile at a prematurely young age, they were perhaps better equipped to deal with it.
The difference can be attributed to the contrasting qualities between these two successive signs. Libra is cardinal (outward-moving), yang (active) and air (intellectual)—lending it a quality of strident expressiveness. Scorpio, on the other hand, is quite the opposite, it is fixed (inward-moving), yin (passive) and water (emotional)—lending it the quality of reserved sensitivity. Therefore the Pluto in Libra Xennials were archetypally better equipped to grow up fast, possessing innate skills that allowed them to function in the world as very adult-like children. The Pluto in Scorpio Millennials lacked this youthful maturity. As a group, they were much more sensitive and insecure. Their lack of trust made them fearful of the world, and required more nurturing and protection.
We can also consider that many from this cohort were the children of young Pluto in Virgo GenX parents, who had experienced their own childhood as somewhat neglected and undervalued latch key kids. Determined not to repeat the mistakes and perceived shortcomings of their own upbringing, these GenX parents sought to compensate by overprotecting their own Pluto in Scorpio children—exactly the kind of rearing environment these young, sensitive souls required. Even though they were born fast and deeply imprinted by plutonian and scorpionic power, they were by nature watery, emotional, and insecure children who required a long gestation period to develop.
This pairing of Pluto in Virgo parents with Pluto in Scorpio children makes for a unique and archetypally resonant parent/child dynamic, because Virgo and Scorpio—being two signs and thus 60º apart—are in a mutually receptive sextile relationship to each other. Virgo’s earthy, yin energy relates sympathetically to Scorpio’s watery, yin energy. Earth and water are compatible elements, and as both possess the yin or inward orientation, they represent similar modes of operation.
This alerts us to another interesting characteristic of the astrological model. Throughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries—when Pluto was moving slower and spending 20 or more years in each sign—each generation was accordingly longer and larger. And during that time, when people typically married at much younger ages, it was the norm that parents of one sign (say Aries) gave birth to children of the very next sign (Taurus). And as we illustrated earlier in our comparison of Libra and Scorpio, any two adjacent signs have quite opposite archetypal qualities.
This “alternating current” is by design and is intentionally embedded into the very structure of the zodiac itself. This is the phenomenon that produces what we traditionally experience as a generation gap—for the following sign of the zodiac will always tend to irritate the preceding sign. This is due to the fact that any two adjacent signs have the least amount in common: they have opposite polarities (yin vs yang) and conflicting elements (fire+water or earth+air for instance). This is why the semi-sextile (30º) life phase we’ve been examining proves to be so challenging: it represents the relationship between two adjacent signs that are natural irritants, thus producing the sensation of “an itch you can’t scratch.”
But in recent times, as Pluto has been travelling on the faster side of its orbit, and thus creating shorter and smaller generations, we are experiencing the phenomenon of “skipping” the generation gap. Rather than parents of one sign producing offspring of the following sign, they are having children that are two signs apart, and thus in a more harmonious (60º sextile) relationship. From this perspective, we might gain an insight into the more recent phenomenon of Pluto in Virgo parents being more like friends to their Pluto in Scorpio children than actual parents. They have effectively bridged the generation gap, and are now able to relate to one another in a way that breaks with the conventional parent/child model. This also has had the effect of these Pluto in Scorpio kids having a very different childhood experience than previous generations.1
But despite these Pluto in Scorpio kids having easier relationship dynamics with their parents, they still had to experience their inevitable and often irritating semi-sextile stage in life, and deal with the challenges that the Pluto in Sagittarius era (1995–2008) presented to their budding Pluto in Scorpio natures. As a generation, they began to come of age as society endeavored to cross into a new millennium. The eldest of this cohort would grow up within the expansive, and mostly positive times of Pluto in Sagittarius. As children they would begin to engage with the nascent technology of the internet and gain access to the world—albeit by digital facsimile—in ways no previous generation could have imagined. For many of these kids, this may have proved to be an overwhelming, hyper-stimulating experience. They would have to adapt quickly to the new social dynamics predicted by this burgeoning technology.
In 2001, the ballooning expansiveness, optimism and exuberance typical of the Pluto in Sagittarius era was punctured by the terrorists attack on 9/11. While at its best, the Sagittarius archetype symbolizes the freedom to explore religious and philosophical ideals, it can also present a dark side, which manifests as religious fundamentalism. The jihadist mindset that motivated the terrorist attacks on 9/11 as well as the United State’s own brand of “us versus them” Christian response both expressed this fundamentalist character of the Sagittarian shadow. Rather than a global exploration of new and innovative ideas, the period pivoted to a global power struggle to exert the dominant ideology.2
For every generation, regardless of station in life, the events of 9/11 have left an indelible mark on our collective psyches. But for the young and impressionable Pluto in Scorpio generation (who were age 6-18 at the time) those events were perhaps most traumatic. At an impressionable age when they were just coming into their sense of a world existing outside themselves, that world seemed to suddenly collapse back on top of them. The pervasive culture of fear and the permanent War on Terror mindset that resulted would serve to reinforce to these young, insecure souls that their instincts were right: the world is not a safe place.
As teenagers, they watched the power play of the Bush Administration’s Shock & Awe campaign on television, experiencing war through the lens of a mass-mediated propaganda machine, a battle waged at a safe distance via high tech weaponry. It was indeed a powerful display of America’s prodigious military power. And as a generation obsessed with power, these events undoubtedly shaped their world views.
Meanwhile the ongoing threat of domestic terrorism kept the entire nation on high alert, with daily “threat level” warnings being issued by the government. Letters laced with anthrax were being sent to prominent politicians. An entire new industrial security apparatus was erected to help keep us safe, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Administration. And these were just the public-facing initiatives. The massive covert operations initiated by the NSA and the various other government agencies were secretly building an unprecedented surveillance state without the approval of the American public. A subtle message was being communicated to every citizen in the post 9/11 world: no one is above suspicion .
For a collective of souls who already came into this world with a deep suspicion and issues of power, the Pluto in Scorpio generation had the experience of coming of age in a time of counterterrorism—an apt metaphor for a cohort whose symbol (Scorpio) rules covert activities, espionage, and all things hidden or occult. The world seemed to be meeting their anxious expectations. They were born anticipating a power struggle, and the message from the world was game on!
I Want Your Sex (Tapes)
As a consolation prize for coming of age during the stressful and fear-fueled age of terrorism, this generation was offered a new social outlet to relieve their stress: free internet porn. Just as first wave Pluto in Scorpio peers became teenagers, the internet exploded with free porn sites. Any media technologist will tell you that pornography has always been at the cutting edge of new media. The home video revolution that brought us camcorders and VHS tapes? First adopted by porn. The internet was no exception, and has perhaps become the pornographer’s medium par excellence. Seemingly overnight, they went from the obscurity and shame of backroom video stores to being hard wired directly into suburban homes across America.
So the collective of souls that came into this life with a deep, unconscious obsession/repulsuion complex regarding sex and power now entered puberty and adolescence with unfettered access to the most massive variety of pornogaphic material in the history of the world. Coincidence or synchronicity? What effect do you think this might have had on their young and impressionable developing minds? Would it not serve to validate their collective instincts surrounding sex and power dynamics, and reaffirm their suspicions that the world was a power grab and that sex somehow equated to power? They were also taught another important social lesson: if you want to become famous in this culture, make a sex tape.
The Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee sex tape that began circulating on the internet in 1998 was the progenitor of this new genre. Of course, both of these amateur pornstars were already incredibly famous in their own right. But other less famous aspirants took notice of the incredible buzz generated by their low-tech honeymoon outtakes. One such fame-seeking socialite was hotel heiress Paris Hilton. In 2003, the release of her self-consciously created 1 Night In Paris sex tape conveniently coincided with the premiere of a new Fox reality show The Simple Life featuring Hilton and her BFF Nicole Ritchie. A new brand was born.
Not to be outdone, another talent-starved aspirant with a famous last name—Kim Kardashian—recognized the brand-building potential of the Paris Hilton playbook and released her own sex tape, Kim Kardashian, Superstar, in 2007.3 Later that year, the reality show Keeping Up With The Kardashians debuted on E! Entertainment. Coincidence? Of course, both of these young women denied having any knowledge about these tapes, claimed to be the victims of revenge porn at the hands of jealous ex-lovers, and—with dramatic displays of public indignation—promptly sued the companies who released the tapes, only to subsequently settle out of court for undisclosed amounts. But in the new famous for being famous business model of the reality TV era, sex tapes where not the profit centers. They were the kind of invaluable free publicity that would have made old P.T. Barnum proud. Indeed, America was turning into a new media circus. This is the cultural ecosystem within which the Pluto in Scorpio generation came of age. Can we really blame them for seeming to have a rather skewed value system and somewhat cynical world view?
Not only are they the first generation to grow up in an age where everyone is virtually an amateur pornstar, they also became the first digital natives of the dating app era, using platforms like Tinder and Bumble and having to navigate the art of the hook-up at a very early stage in their sexual development. Again, we must remind ourselves of Pluto’s all or nothing quality here, and assert that many peers from this group will actually seek to reject this obsession with sexuality, display behaviors of a very sexually repressed nature, and deny these libidinous notions vehemently. Together with the retrograde factor—the fact that Pluto spends half its time in retrograde, thus producing a general attraction/repulsion dynamic within each generation surrounding the core issues of its archetype—we are always going to witness apparent contradictions within any given Pluto generation. But these contradictions and conflicts will alway be over and around the core issues of that archetype. So whether for or against the use of sexuality as power, this will remain the central issue to be worked out within the dynamics of this soul collective over their entire life cycle, as we will see as we witness their shift into young adulthood.
Grab the Bull by the Horns
For first-wave Pluto in Scorpio cohorts, they would reach their next phase of life as marked by Pluto’s transit into Capricorn in 2008. As this marked their sextile phase, it was scheduled to be a time of easy and harmonious transition into young adulthood. The eldest of this group was now age 25, and it was time for them to enter into the workforce and seek to establish a career. And the period of Pluto in Capricorn, with its focus on building structure and achieving growth should have perfectly suited their nascent pursuits.
Of course, for these new recruits to the workforce, the previous period of global trade and expansion (Pluto in Sagittarius) that took place during their childhood had completely altered the landscape of American industry. Many of our manufacturing jobs had been shipped overseas, never to return. Some of the slack had been taken up by the rise of the service sector and the rapacious growth of the tech sector, but these young adults were unquestionably entering a much tighter jobs market than previous generations. And as the 21st century economy virtually demanded you earn at least one college degree if you expected to earn a living wage, this cohort entered this shrinking workforce with the additional burden of high levels of student debt. Not the ideal start to their adult lives.
But there was a glimmer of hope for this young cohort. By 2008, nearly half their generation had reached voting age, and as a group they began to exercise their newfound political power like few previous generations before them, and their youthful enthusiasm for the political process proved instrumental in the election that swept Barack Obama into office. They felt empowered by a certain sense of civic pride, and there was a feeling that things were changing for the better, that a new era in America had begun, symbolized by the monumental achievement of electing the first black president who touted the bilingual slogan ¡Si, se puede!
But the euphoria was short lived. The financial crisis of 2008 threw a giant wrench in the works and nearly dragged down the entire global economy in the process. During the great recession that followed, it became abundantly clear that the promise of steady economic growth in a neoliberal global economy was a big fat lie. And by now, this savvy, instinctual Pluto in Scorpio generation was starting to sniff it out. Something was rotten in Denmark… and the stench seemed to be emanating from lower Manhattan.
The government response to the 2008 financial crisis was essentially to issue a trillion dollar corporate welfare check. The banks—who had recklessly profited from a decade-long securities-backed ponzi scheme—were deemed “too big to fail” and completely bailed out by the Toxic Assets Relief Fund (TARP), largely written by Wall Street insiders themselves. Something was toxic all right, and guess which sign rules toxicity? Scorpio. It also rules the instincts, and their collective gut was telling them that they were being had. They felt increasingly disenfranchised by this so-called American Dream.
It took a few years for the reality to settle in and for many people to realize that their hoped for savior, Barack Obama, was not going to play hardball with the corporate overlords who had orchestrated this disaster. The banks got bailed out, executives got giant bonuses and no one went to jail. It looked less like “and justice for all” and more like corporate welfare for the few.
As souls deeply tuned to the power vs. powerlessness dynamic, the Pluto in Scorpio generation started taking to the streets in what became known as Occupy Wall Street. Of course, they weren’t alone. Members of older generations eventually turned out in support of their cause, but the initial impetus for the protest was sparked by mostly young people who were incredibly disenfranchised and felt they had nothing to lose. They identified as the 99% who were being victimized by a system that seemed to be rigged in favor of the wealthiest 1%, thus creating an ever-increasing wealth gap, exacerbated by the excesses of unsustainable, neoliberal capitalist machinery run amok.
So they camped out in Zuccotti Park and rallied around the iconic statue of the “Charging Bull” as a cadre of Anonymous-inspired, Guy Fawkesian cowboys intent to wrestle the wretched beast to the ground. The nascent movement drew criticism for its failure to present a coherent and coordinated message, as it seemed to suffer from splintering factions with a variety of causes all clamoring and competing for media attention, effectively drowning each other out in a sea of ad-hoc demands presented with ill-conceived immaturity. Whether or not this was a fair characterization, many who were motivated to leverage the crisis as a means to affect real social and political change regretted this lack of coordinating power and bemoaned it as a missed opportunity.
But in hindsight it can be seen as an obvious inflection point in a wave of social dissatisfaction with the status quo that—although prematurely formed and poorly organized—signaled a cauldron of unrest simmering beneath the polite surface of a highly complacent American society. But it would take several more years for this youth-inspired rebellion to attain the requisite political clout and social status to enact their revolutionary agenda.
In the aftermath of Occupy Wall Street, the mainstream media narrative portrayed Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD to have effectively dismantled the movement and put out the fire. But among the smoldering ashes, there were many embers that continued to burn within the diversity of causes that had coalesced around OWS. The period seemed to have lit a proverbial fire under their collective asses, given them their first taste of real power and inspired them to channel their energies into more productive ways and means.
As we examined in our previous survey of the Pluto in Libra generation, the issue of marriage equality was the next big ticket item on the collective social agenda. And while it was clearly that generation’s movement into midlife and their assuming greater positions of power that likely pushed gay rights and gender equality issues over the top, the issue is clearly well-aligned with Pluto in Scorpio’s core values as well. In fact, this was evidence of a very unique and powerful alliance shaping up between these two consecutive cohorts.
Keep in mind that with the transition from Pluto in Virgo (1956–1972) to the Pluto in Libra archetype (1972–1983), we moved from a focus on the Self to a focus on the Other. Libra is the first acetype to be socially-oriented. Scorpio continues that social orientation and endeavours to take it deeper, further—past one-on-one relationship dynamics and into the broader realm of psycho-social-sexual power dynamics. The combined force of these two socially-oriented generations arriving on the scene and moving into their respective places in the social hierarchy has resulted in subtle but now increasingly perceptual shifts in institutional values that are currently coming to the surface in light of our contemporary culture wars. The combination of Libra’s urge for equality of outcomes with Scorpio’s desire to explore the more transgressive sides of sexuality has produced the strange brew that we are now experiencing in the form of identity politics.
For a soul collective who has come into this life to work through lessons of sexuality and power, it should also come as no surprise that the Pluto in Scorpio generation has been instrumental in bringing the topic of sexual identity to the forefront of the cultural conversation. For many of these cohorts, it is perfectly natural to see gender as fluid, to rebel against false binaries and reject the limiting status quo constructs of sex and gender. Behind the impetus of a cohort with deep unconscious security issues and a compulsion to explore gender boundaries and question sexual taboos, we’ve witnessed a dramatic expansion of the queer community—an ever-broadening rainbow coalition that has strived to include everyone under their “big tent” of the LGBTQ+ acronym.
Check out these conclusions from a 2017 Harris poll conducted on behalf of GLAAD:
“Accelerating Acceptance 2017 survey shows that Millennials (people ages 18-34) are significantly more likely to openly identify as LGBTQ than generations before them. Specifically, Millennials are more than twice as likely (20% vs. 7%) to identify as LGBTQ than the Boomer generation (people ages 52-71) and two-thirds (20% vs. 12%) more likely than Generation X (people ages 35-51).”
Those are pretty staggering numbers. But from what we have learned about the Pluto in Scorpio archetype, we shouldn’t be surprised. This is part of their core agenda. This is a generation possessing a collective soul proclivity to sexualize politics and politicize sex. And they are being effectively empowered in such efforts by their Pluto in Libra elders who see this as the continuation of their own social agenda to promote greater degrees of fairness and equality among the sexes. This is proving to be a powerful social alliance forming between these two generations. In recent years we’ve witnessed their emergent socio-political power, starting in academia.
Welcome to the Postmodern World
As Pluto in Scorpio students began to fill college campuses and young Pluto in Libra professors took to the daises in university lecture halls, there was a palpable shift in the syllabus as a new brand of identity politics began to infiltrate academia. A significant contributing factor to this shift can be traced to a relatively recent addition to the curriculum: Gender studies—a postmodern field that uses deconstructionist theory to assert that gender is less about biology and more of a social construction. Women’s studies, feminism, men’s studies and queer studies all fall under the rubric of gender studies, which began their rise to prominence in American universities in the early 1990s.
The roots of the field can be traced back to the radical feminism of the Pluto in Leo generation (1937–1956). During their own youth movement of the 1960s, they were inspired by the writings of a group of influential French thinkers such as Jaques Derrida, Michel Foucault and Jean Baudrillard—themselves all members of the previous Pluto in Cancer generation (1912–1937). Their postmodern critiques of male-dominated power dynamics and their control over society began to be applied to everything from history, sociology, political science and literary theory. The result was an infiltration (some would argue infection) of the entire canon of the humanities that began to turn modern academia on its head, with the broad assertion that everything is socially constructed and therefore there can be no claims to any notion of objective truth. All perspectives are relative and thus subjective.
This represented a fairly radical shift in perspective which challenged many previous assumptions that had gone virtually unquestioned since the age of the Enlightenment. The entire foundation upon which the study of Humanities and the classics was built came increasingly under attack. As the radicalized students of the Pluto in Leo generation themselves became the academics, they sought to incorporate this postmodern perspective into the official curriculum—an effort at which they were largely successful, so that by the late 1980s many courses in mass communications, anthropology and political science were being taught from this postmodern, post-structuralist perspective. In actuality, last-wave members of the Pluto in Virgo generation (1956–1972) were the first college students to be offered courses taught from this radical new viewpoint.
By the early 1990s, the formal category of gender studies began to be added to the curriculum as well, just as first wave members of the Pluto in Libra generation (1972–1983) were entering college, thus becoming the first peer group to be fully educated within a postmodern context. And not surprisingly, this Pluto in Libra generation—who are born with an archetypal soul purpose to explore issues surrounding gender equality—were drawn to these new fields of study like moths to a flame. Their minds were molded to take entirely new perspectives on notions of race, class, gender and sexuality. The current conversations around racial inequality, gender fluidity and political correctness can be directly linked to this pivotal shift within our institutions of higher education.
In 2020, we are witnessing the spread of this perspective from the classroom to the newsroom and beyond. This is due in large part to the fact that the Pluto in Libra generation—educated from the postmodern perspective—has entered into midlife and begun to assume positions of managerial power throughout academia, government and the corporate world, fostering a new brand of identity politics that is spreading like wildfire through every institution in America. In allegiance with the younger Pluto in Scorpio generation—who now make up the rank and file of institutional America—their mutually reinforcing worldviews have been effectively supercharged, with real political power beginning to shift in their favor. The crisis and unpredictability brought on by the coronavirus pandemic—and the coalition of a new social justice warrior class that emerged in response to the brutal killing of George Floyd at the hands of white male police officers—has provided the perfect storm for these two cohorts to assert their collective political agendas.
From the perspective of our astrological model on generations, much of what we are witnessing in contemporary society starts to make a lot more sense, doesn’t it? When we observe the interaction of these two socially-oriented generations, Libra and Scorpio, and contemplate the synergy of their collective soul purposes, combining Libra’s desire to seek out equality, balance and harmony with Scorpio’s urge to transform sexual identity and explore the nature of power dynamics, we begin to understand the forces playing out in our contemporary society.
But the astrological model also demands that we take a deeper and more holistic look at these dynamics, and additionally consider the role and impact of the other two generations currently participating in the social-political mix—the Pluto in Virgo and Pluto in Leo generations. How do their archetypal perspectives interact with these new social constructs being propagated by the two younger generations? Do they coalesce or clash? Can the divisions of the culture wars be drawn across generational lines?
We’re starting to wander into dangerous territory here, because shit is about to get real. This is America in 2020, standing at a crossroads, at the intersection of interseciotonalty. But before we can endeavor an analysis of our current situation, we still need to explore the two youngest generations who are part of the composition of contemporary society. So in the next article, we’ll turn our attention to the Pluto in Sagittarius generation and see how a new breed of young philosophers is about to show us the big picture.
1 Of course this phenomenon can also occur when adults opt to (or accidentally) have children much later in life. But historically this has been the exception, not the rule. Most previous generations began starting families before the age of 20. We would have to go back in history 250 years (circa 1735) to point to the last time in the generational cycle that this “speeding up” phenomenon of Pluto was last experienced, which, although interesting, is another topic for another day.
2 It should be noted that the events of 9/11also coincided with another important astrological cycle—the Saturn/Pluto cycle—which is a cycle that correlates with periods of war, strife, terrorism and disease. On September 11, 2001, Saturn (in Gemini) was in exact opposition to Pluto (In Sagittarius). Consider the destruction (Pluto) in the name of religious fanaticism (Sagittarius) of the symbols of America’s political and financial power structure (Capricorn) and the specific targets of the “twin towers” (Gemini, sign of the Twins), and you start to see the kind of archetypal resonance at work here. For more on the Pluto/Saturn cycle, which is once again active in 2020, see my article The Astrology of 2020.
3 Interesting to note that both Paris Hilton (born 1981) and Kim Kardashian (born 1980) are from the last wave of the Pluto in Libra generation. As is ofen the case with people born on the cusp between two generations, they tend to parlay the qualities of their outgoing archetype (Libra and its emphasis on relationships) with the qualiites of in the incoming archetype (Scorpio with its emphasis on sex and power). By releasing sex tapes (Scorpio) and making their intimate relationships (Libra) public, they amassed a substantial amount of cultural influence (Pluto power).