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Are Society's Prescriptions Something We Crave?

spreston's picture

I have been thinking a lot about the different reactions people voiced in class to the material we have explored thus far. From classmates feeling depressed to confused to happy that their opinions were changing so much, I began to think about mine. I realized that, despite many of the readings criticizing our society’s use of categories, binaries, and stereotypes, I do not necessarily personally dislike a lot of society’s conventions. This got me wondering why, when I am surrounded by many peers who dislike the roles society decides for us on the basis of our sex, I actually find these comforting. In a lot of aspects in our life, we have so much choice. It sometimes takes me a good hour to decide what I am in the mood to eat for dinner, or even which pair of shoes look best with my jeans. So when it comes to big decisions like how I’d like to spend my summer or what classes I’d like to take, well that takes me weeks or months and I even then I am still uncertain. With all the decisions I am faced with on a daily basis, I think I have always found comfort in the roles society assigns me because they limit the number of decisions I have to make. I love picking out an outfit full of sparkles and frills and pink. I cherish an afternoon spent baking cupcakes to bring to a friend who has been feeling down. I like babysitting and although I want to go to business school, I have always felt that my ultimate purpose is to be a mother and a wife. In the environment of Haverford, I am typically ashamed to admit how closely my preferences align with those that conventional ideas and society assign to a woman. Although much of the material we have read shows society’s tendency to discriminate against all “outsiders” who do not fit into our binaries, I wonder if in some places, such as Haverford and Bryn Mawr these binaries are so prevalent. When I meet someone who challenges the role society has cast for them, I am often more interested to understand them. In accepting all outsiders, is there a risk that those who are “normal” will be pushed aside? Or thought of as uninteresting? Ultimately, the readings make me feel confused, as many mentioned. But I feel confused in a different way. I wonder why I embrace society’s prescription for the behavior of a woman and whether the authors of the articles would accept me?

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