MTM report sees ‘Great Unwokening’ as Gen Z shifts


Move over “woke culture,” Gen Z is ushering in a new era of alliance and shared acceptance, according to a new ‘Gresat Unwokening’ report by the Cultural Insights & Trends specialists at MTM, the trusted insight and strategy partner to top global media, tech and entertainment brands.

The Great Unwokening

The report, titled ‘The Great Unwokening: Have Hyper Femininity and Masculinity Divided a Generation?’,explores a surprising shift in Gen Z’s approach to gender.

While well acquainted with gender fluidity and dismantling traditional binaries, Gen Z is also grappling with anxieties around global issues, a crisis of purpose, and social isolation.

These factors are leading them away from the extremes of identity politics and towards a more unified future centred on shared goals.

MTM’s report highlights a generational shift in how Gen Z views gender roles. The era of the “girlboss” ideal, where women should “do it all,” is fading as women seek alternative paths to fulfilment.

On the other hand, some young men are embracing traditional expressions of masculinity in response to emerging anxieties. This has sparked a critical conversation about the future of feminism, with some young women even exploring the #tradwife lifestyle.

The report predicts that Gen Z’s primary motivation will be finding a sense of shared belonging that transcends gender. This shift will manifest in several significant ways.

With a lack of traditional male role models, young men may increasingly turn to peers for guidance and support.

Women will create more inclusive spaces that welcome all genders, fostering a sense of community and belonging.

Disillusioned by societal pressures, Gen Z will explore how to make parenthood a fulfilling choice for all genders along with anticipating that as white-collar careers become more uncertain, blue-collar jobs with a focus on physicality and stability may attract a new generation of women and men alike.

The report equips brands with valuable insights to connect with Gen Z. It emphasises moving beyond stereotypes and understanding the nuances of Gen Z’s evolving views on and expressions of gender.

Brands are encouraged to focus on shared values and target audiences based on community, purpose, or intellectual growth, rather than gender.

Embracing individuality, brands should identify which aspects of masculinity and femininity resonate with their audience and empower them to express those freely.

The report also advises brands to observe rather than assume, and to understand how their audience defines masculinity and femininity in their own lives.

Highlighting the importance of building authentic connections with Gen Z, the report suggests featuring relatable peers instead of celebrities can help uplift everyday people, showcasing real individuals offering advice and fostering a sense of community.

Rebranding traditions like blue-collar work and parenthood to make them more appealing to Gen Z is crucial, highlighting the stability, physicality, and connection these experiences offer.

At the same time, creating spaces for organic relationship building across genders, whether through learning activities, sports, or shared hobbies, is essential for facilitating connections.

Marina Graham, Director, Cultural Insights & Trends at MTM, said: “Moving beyond traditional gender-first marketing, brands can connect with this generation by focusing on shared values like community and acceptance.

“Understanding the aspects of gender that resonate with their audience allows brands to empower them to express those freely.

“Ditching internet stereotypes, the report recommends observing how Gen Z defines masculinity and femininity for themselves to create a more nuanced approach.

“By understanding these shifts, brands can build stronger connections with this complex and purpose-driven generation,”

Emma Glenn Baker, host of the STARGIRL podcast, and expert consultant for this research, said: “We’re living in a fascinating time for the expression of femininity in culture.

“In 2023, we witnessed a changing of the guard: from the messy millennial girl boss to a re-embrace of hyper-femininity, with Barbiecore, the reclamation of the Bimbo, and the so-called ‘girl economy.’

“One of the most interesting trends I’m seeing develop in response to our very digital, work-from-home, disembodied lives right now is a desire to reconnect with the actual body.

“It’s going to be really interesting to see how brands can harness that craving for physicality and mind-body unity—through fitness, sexuality, and the senses—in the next few years.”