Deviance And Social Change: The Transformation Of Thelma And Louise

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Kiara Rivera SOC 295 Section E01 April 28th, 2015 Deviance and Social Change Deviance as defined by the Oxford Dictionary is, “The fact or state of departing from usual or accepted standards, especially in social or sexual behavior.” These “usual or accepted standards” are more often referred to as social norms. Sociologist, Emile Durkheim, identified four functions of deviance. The first two “affirming cultural norms” and “clarifying moral boundaries” are a result of the punishment of deviant behavior. So, if someone performs and action that is considered deviant and is punished for it, as a society we are more affirmed of what is considered right/wrong. They are not justified in being deviant, as their actions are usually deemed morally…show more content…
Thelma seems to bloom into herself as a result of their new lifestyle. The apex of her transformation is depicted in the robbery of the grocery store. She commits a crime that Thelma before their escape would never have considered. One must question what forces have caused Thelma to turn criminal. Barbara L. Miller attempts to explain the significance of this scene in Thelma’s transformation. She claims, “[Thelma], transformed from an infantilized housewife to a violent woman who holds her “muscle,” now controls the action…In Thelma and Louise, once the characters leave their domestic spheres they become outlaws, randomly passing renegade fantasies between themselves…The characters shift identities, from male to female, housewife to criminal. They recite these stories not to confess crimes, but to demonstrate transgressions” (Miller 211-212). Barbara L. Miller explains Thelma and Louise’s transgressions as catalysts of empowerment. By adopting a new outlaw identity, Thelma is successful in escaping the constraints and inequality of gendered norms. Her actions might be considered even more deviant due to the gendered representations of criminals. By adopting the generally male role of a criminal, she enables herself to break free of the norms imposed upon women at the time and in doing so, become more equal. Thelma and Louise is the story of two deviant individuals dealing with the constraints of norms imposed upon the entire population of women during this time. As a result of this film, many women felt empowered and joined the feminist cause. Thelma and Louise’s deviant behavior served to unite the women and encourage them to be deviant for the purpose of empowerment, equality, and social