Throughout this unit we have discussed various choices a person might have to make. Often a person’s decision reflects submission to societal norms and values, rather than on an individual’s preference and agency. For example, a mother who initially chooses to give birth naturally may be told during labor that a certain medical procedure would be best for the baby. At that point, does the mother truly have a “free” choice? Choosing not to undergo the procedure appears selfish to society. The mother, internalizing society’s high valuation of medical science, feels she must, under the pressure of a professional, abandon her desires and adjust them to meet societal expectations (“The”). Similarly, when two full-time working parents decide to have a child, women often choose to take on more than half of the domestic duties because it is accepted they are more suited for domestic chores (Belkin). However, there is no biological reason that a woman can use a washing machine better than any man. Thus, the couple’s choice is not one of free will but one shaped by a society that makes them feel that choosing otherwise would be a waste of innate womanly traits.
Of course, there are limitations in which a person’s choice could be considered free such as what to eat for dinner. However, analysis of big life-style choices often indicates that an individual’s perception of what options are available and the value of each are dictated by society and are not truly free. I believe that, when making big decisions it is nearly impossible to choose with absolute free will. Norms, values, and expectations are omnipresent so a lifestyle choice is not just judged by society but also by the decision-maker, who has absorbed and internalized those same values.
Belkin, Lisa. “When Mom and Dad Share It All”” NYTimes. The New York Times, 15 June 2008. Web. 29 Nov. 2013.
“The Business of Being Born”(2007)