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How Do Society’s Expectations Limit Personal Freedom?

A consideration of how differences make life difficult for individuals instead of enriching society.

To work properly society has evolved an organization and order.  It means we all know where we are and what to expect in any given situation.  It also means we know what we are expected to do.

But if you don’t fit into all the slots, life can be difficult for some individuals.  For many years English law forbade homosexual acts.  The penalties were high and left individuals open to blackmail.  Left handers were thought to have brain damage, other wise why would they be different? Women were thought to be inferior to men and laws passed to ensure they kept their place, such as the way income tax offices only communicated with husbands even in response to a wife’s letter.  

There has always been some lee way for artists and writers because they are ‘creative’ and their peculiarities of living were thought to be part of their creativity. But their ‘different’ life styles has always given the gossips material. 

To go against our societal boundaries is dangerous.  There are penalties. If we don’t conform to everybody else’s expectations, we are thought to be odd. If someone develops a personal philosophy which goes against the norm, like being an atheist rather than practicing a religion, it is felt they are a fair target for conversion. 

Many of society’s expectations and beliefs actually go counter to nature.  Homosexuality is now found to be something to do with the way the brain is wired.  The dreadful story of the twin boy who, after a botched circumcision operation, was turned into a girl and brought up as a girl, is an example.  This person was genetically a male and could not cope with being female.  Yet he did not know he was male because the change was made when he was a baby. When he was told the truth and allowed to be male he became a much happier person. Gender is as much in the brain as the physical aspect. Most homosexuals are hard working individuals, often in stable relationships.  Why are they wrong?

Life for left handers is dangerous.  Nearly every article is designed for right hand use.   Left handers always have to think the opposite.  Screws, keys, and anything that turns is particularly difficult. Now it is understood that left handers use the right side of their brain, rather than the left side as right handers do, forcing a child to be right handed confuses their brain patterns.  Watching a right hander trying to use left handed instruments gives some idea of the problems faced by left handers. 

School exam results are showing that girls are no less intelligent than boys.  In fact there has been a movement to stimulate the boys to work and get good results too. Perhaps there is a gender culture here. 

While society’s order is essential to all of us, rigid adherence to certain ideas limits the freedom of some individuals unnecessarily and actually makes the community poorer because that person does not make the best of their skills and talents. 

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  1. Jill

    On April 22, 2009 at 9:19 am


    Two thumbs way up on this one Rosemary. You state things so well and so concisely. I’m in total agreement with you. Conformity is the rule which is a shame since diversity makes life so much more interesting. My mother told me how her mother, my grandmother, annoyed her because when I was a baby, if I picked up my spoon with my left hand, she would take it away and put it in my right hand. My right hand eventually asserted itself on it’s own, but you think maybe that’s why I’m so confused today??? (

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