Extremes and Contradictions.
The 1990s was a decade of extremes and contradictions. Americans built bigger and more-elaborate homes and drove more-expensive automobiles, but then worked longer hours than before to pay for them. The stock market and executive salaries soared, while the wages of many workers stagnated; many employees lost their jobs as the result of layoffs, mergers, and corporate downsizing. Politicians and policymakers, advertisers and marketers, all focused on children. Children, however, struggled to deal with the pressures of the adult world to which they were increasingly exposed; many were forced to adjust to new stepfamilies. Meanwhile, a disturbing number of adolescent and teenage boys went on deadly shooting rampages that left dozens dead or wounded, and a troubled nation asking "why?" Guns nevertheless found their way into more households during the 1990s even as Americans decried the rise in gun violence. Americans also lamented the widespread decline of civility and respect at the precise moment that the Internet enabled them to connect and communicate with one another more quickly and easily than ever before. Feminists quarreled among themselves. Men endured a crisis of masculinity. Gays and lesbians came closer to entering the American mainstream, yet faced violent assaults and an antigay backlash. Patterns of intermarriage revealed a marked demographic trend...
(The entire section is 2399 words.)
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