Human society is an interesting conundrum of diverse personalities. It generally comprises of intellectuals, gossip mongers, level-headed personas and strictly religious individuals. Together they form the fundamental pillars of society.
Together, these committed individuals work towards the betterment of the social construct as a whole. They encourage people to do good, be kind and spread messages of love. In addition to their noble cause, they also establish a common yardstick of ethics and morality – where anything even slightly out of the ordinary is considered to be ‘anathema maranatha’. They decide what is right and what is wrong; they set social standards to which everyone is bound, and they are also involved in presupposing the correct place for men and women in society, i.e.; gender stereotyping.
In short, human society is an interesting paradox – it provides the illusion of freedom and proposes the concept of liberalism, but at the same time sets guidelines and standards that limit your freedom to explore and experience the world at large.
Multiple examples spring to mind when discussing the restrictive social standards in place. One prominent example would be in reference to a woman’s place in society. Considering their prior treatment, women are now respected for their individuality and theoretically considered to be “equal” to a man. But practically, this narrative is flawed. Women are yet to experience gender equality at its fullest sense. Society has indeed allowed a woman to thrive on her own feet; however, in doing so, it has placed certain limitations on her capabilities.
In many Asian societies, a woman cannot have a respectable social standing if she wasn’t married. Because being married is a qualification that supersedes all other achievements, including degree qualifications, top jobs etc. Women are also streamlined to specific gender roles – such as a housewife, mother, and in a real extension of social justice – a teacher. Being a CEO or a practising lawyer, or a doctor doesn’t necessarily amount to much in the grand scheme of things – as they only come in the way of a woman’s natural role, which is being a good daughter, a good wife and a good mother.
Similarly, concepts such as homosexuality and transgender are frowned upon because it distorts the normal course of life and nature. Pioneering in arts and crafts, music and theatre and stand-up comedy are not really considered to be decent jobs, simply because they are not white collar enough to suit society’s standards.
In essence, society has placed many limitations on the dreams of people. But what we need to realize is that we don’t have to conform to society’s standards. It is okay to break free from the bounds of the social construct. We need to understand that it is okay to be whatever we want to be; that it is okay to do whatever we want to do. We don’t have to be limited in any way.
Society can place standards, but it can never dictate our choices!
By Shammarah Ismath
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