Break Down the Norms


Going into this essay I wanted to get across one point and that point was we as people do not have to live according to other people's standards and that there is always a way to make a new lane. I think I was able to get that point across along with other points which exposed identity and more. I think I did a good job brainstorming this idea and creating my larger idea and also finding examples to further express and prove my point.


“It’s brought.” she stated. I was mid sentence when my grandmother corrected my speech. Confused and a little annoyed, I faced her and asked her “Why is it so important that I say that if I’m having an informal conversation?” I mean, I understood she was a former English teacher but everyone has a different type of speech when they’re around different people. “It’s just proper English.” Proper English? What exactly does this mean? I started to wonder if proper English was a standard that everyone she encountered had to meet. I’m sure my assumption as to what proper English is may be differ from what proper English may be to her. Although I challenged her thoughts, I followed suit. But why?

Society is an aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community and the status quo is often influenced by societal norms and standards. But, who sets social standard and what is considered a social standard? Standards are often set by the mindsets of those who are dominate and have the ability to convince people to follow this one path in life. This path not only marginalizes people but it narrows the ability for people to act or portray themselves a certain way. But on the other hand, we have this thing called free will and self identity and this gives us the power to do what we want and be who we want to be. We are all unique for certain reasons, whether it’s our race/ethnicity, religion, sexuality, physical appearance or our personalities. Unfortunately, self identity will always be challenged and picked on by this bully portrayed as society.

Depending on what role you play within the public, your identity has to match it. A good example of this would be President Obama. As a prior president and leader to our nation he has had  to carry himself in a very prestigious, sophisticated manner but according to others, very assertive and “angry” as well. Keli Goff , an American journalist known for being a political commentator during the 2008 election expresses her feelings on Obama’s lack of an angry appearance. “President Obama received so much criticism for failing to appear angry enough about the Gulf spill. Well when you’re a president it’s often a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. “ she then went on to talk about the many angry black male stereotypes that could follow suit. This is a perfect example of how a set identity in society clashes with personal self identity.

LGBTQ community members face this bully like society every single day. An article published by The Atlantic reviews transgenders facing a crisis with using public restrooms and quoting the author Emma Green, “They’re objections to what people are, which isn’t tied to any particular act.” Transgender people experience enough identity clashes throughout their time of life. From the moment they realize they aren’t fit for the gender they were given at birth and up to the actual change. When approached with situations like this, situations where society feels as if you are still associated with the gender you were given at birth , you start to no longer feel accepted into what you thought you’ve finally became a part of. And it’s not because of who you are, it’s because of what society is and how society wants you to be.

The fortunate part about this is that you can pioneer a new train of thought. Not everyone has to be subjected to living in the margins of others social standards. There are people who completely dismiss the set lane and make their own. For example, Lady Gaga, Madonna and Stevie Nicks all created their own style. Lady Gaga’s 2010 MTV ceremony Meat Dress is still one of the most famous, out of the box looks down by any celebrity who walked the red carpet. Her dress was so remarkable that it was taken and preserved in the “Women Who Rock” exhibition in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  

Now, we can’t all be Lady Gaga or Madonna or Stevie Nicks but we can be ourselves. After that car ride with my grandma I realized we were put here to challenge social norms and to set higher standards. Brought may be proper English, but in my community so is the word “jawn”. To some people, transgenders surely should go to the bathroom that was designated for their birth gender but in their community a bathroom is just a bathroom and maybe Obama isn’t to angry for your liking  but he says “Change requires more than righteous anger.” Social barriers were meant to be broken, let’s be the ones to tear them down.


Politi, Daniel. "Obama To Howard Graduates: “Change Requires More Than Righteous Anger”." Slate Magazine. N.p., 07 May 2016. Web. 18 Jan. 2017.

"Obama – Not Angry Enough?" NBCUniversal News Group, n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2017.

Green, Emma. "America's Profound Gender Anxiety." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 31 May 2016. Web. 18 Jan. 2017.