One can never be completely free within society. Society places demands and forms what people do and even what they think and feel. In order to survive in society people must conform to what is acceptable, this is not freedom. Further constraints are placed on members of society because of gender, race and class differences. True equality can never exist, and therefore neither can freedom.
One of the most powerful things contributing to conformity in society is persuasion. All sorts of ideas and ways of living are forced upon all members of society. Persuasion is everywhere, turn on the TV, read a magazine, use a computer, drive along the highway, read a newspaper, just opening your eyes and ears is enough to be made aware of society’s views. Whether you choose to go along with them, or reject them, they are still affecting you.
There are differences between males and females and their freedoms in society. However contrary to the popular belief that society affords more freedom to males than to females, I believe the opposite. I think in the current society paths have been paved for females where they now have just as many opportunities as males and even beyond. Society seems to be more accepting and protecting of women’s freedoms than men’s. It is no longer acceptable to view women as inferior to men. However in social situations it is still custom for men to cater to the women, such as opening doors, and paying the bill.
Women’s choices and actions seem to be more accepted, such as style of dress and career choice. It is acceptable in society for women to dress feminine or masculine, it is acceptable to be timid and weak, or loud and strong, it is acceptable to be a housewife or have any career. All of these things are encouraged. However, the same is not true for men. It is not nearly as socially acceptable for a man to dress feminine, or to be weak, or to not have a career. More freedoms are awarded to women in our current society as they are more protected and their choices more accepted.
Many countries outside the US have considerably less freedoms and even more class and gender barriers. An extreme example of this is women in Afghanistan where women are treated as sub-humans, fit only for household slavery and as means of procreation. They basically have no freedom whatsoever. They are deprived of the right to an education and the right to work, they aren’t even allowed to show their faces in public, but must cover themselves from head to toe. This demonstrates the extremely different societies and freedoms that go along with them throughout the world.
An understanding of sociology can increase your freedom. Just opening your eyes and being aware of your surroundings and the workings of society allows you more freedom to your own thoughts and feelings. Society is constantly pushing you to conform to its standards, but if you are aware of what is going on then you are more able to make your own decisions regarding what you agree with and what you do not. It may not be possible to completely free yourself from the barriers of society, but with an understanding of sociology and that extra insight into the workings of society, you can increase your freedom and individuality.