The Crazy Business of Domesticating Humans: Charlotte Perkins Oilman’s The Yellow Wallpape

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To say that social norms have an impact on behavior and oppression would be an understatement. The effects of social norms go far beyond our own personal lives. Social and cultural norms are so powerful they have been shown, according to cultural anthropologists, to be a primary force trending in current human evolution. It is one thing to make a conscious choice regarding one’s life but when decisions are made based unconsciously from social norms, these decisions being made are coming from a place of oppression. When society traps individuals into false choice, there is no freedom. Oppression is a purgatory created by social norms; oppression clutches a person away from truly living life and places them in a cage. Oppression places the shackles to an individual’s soul, slowly and steadily changing the outcome of a person’s potential. The dangerous and frightening aspect of social norms and oppression is the way it goes about its destructive business silently and undetected. Social norms truly are a predator to be aware of for they show up in our deep subconscious, guiding our life choices when we don’t even realize they are a factor. Social norms influence every aspect of life. Social norms affect the value placed on individual life, assign gender roles and determine the way children are educated. What becomes of human beings when the natural desires for self-actualization is stunted by social norms? Evidence of social conditioning used by social norms and oppression both of which is cause and affect for disorders harming individuals and society such as depression, murder and suicide. Society becomes trapped into the daily operations, business as usual and soon, comfort breeds’ acceptance of social norms. Social norms creat... ... middle of paper ... ...so brilliant writes,” File me under W/because I wonce/was/ a woman”(771). These women type just like O’Brian’s characters marched. How much of our identity as people are false and driven by outdated beliefs, protecting us from the reality that surrounds us like the grandmother? How often do we create purpose and meaning out of nothing like the Lieutenant? Do we use these masks as self-preservation tools to avoid the reality of becoming the machine like the secretaries? File us under H for I once was human. By recognizing social norms that try to control us, or bad relationships that seep into our psyche and threaten to affect the choices of our adult lives we break the chains and live a life of freedom. With death lurking at every corner how foolish we are as humans to shackle ourselves to anything other than the chance at a fully lived life of our own direction.

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