I’ll not forget the struggle I had reading modern philosopher Michel Foucault in graduate school, but I am thankful for the enlightenment it brought to me, especially with regard to an element he termed “social constructs.”
Social constructs are the framework within which a culture decides to build and operate a society. They emerge from a myriad of sources, (religious texts, scientific discoveries, philosophy – to name a few) and are informally adopted by a society’s members over the course of generations. For example, the US has a unique construct with the marriage of capitalism and christianity which emphasizes an individualistic doctrine. The Chinese are uniting their elements of communism and an emerging middle-class to produce a more cooperative environment (see John Perkins “Hoodwinked”). Overall, social constructs provide guidelines for citizens of a particular society to follow.
The thing that impresses me most about the idea of social constructs is that they can be changed. They aren’t set in stone. They are subject to new information and therefore malleable, adjustable.
I assert that Americans are learning that some of our current social constructs are in need of adjustment.
While we’re probably all up-to-here with the story of the Duggars, there is one theme that stands out from all the noise surrounding the issue: willful ignorance and keeping something so wildly instinctual as our sex drive confined to unnaturally narrow definitions necessarily provokes problems. The abuse that’s occurred within the catholic church and the jehovah’s witness sect is a manifestation of the same premise. We can’t ignore our instinctive sexual hunger any more than we can ignore our need to drink water. Yet we’ve agreed to adopt a social construct with a rigid interpretation of sex – based almost entirely on a flawed document As I read the comments and even a few articles reflecting on the Duggars, one thing seems certain: the current is changing. We are seeing the negative effects of this particular social construct and we are ready to realign it to more reasonable, and honest, interpretations.
Giving the current a significant boost in velocity is the discovery that many in the US are turning away from religion and the flawed document it is based upon as noted in the recent Pew Research publishing. By leaving behind an outdated document, by eliminating it from the foundations of our social constructs, I contend that we should expect adjustments to include instead more science, academics, and probably humanistic tendencies.
Change is painful, it is messy, and it is oftentimes violent. As we move forward together, we must be conscious of the struggle incurred by adjusting and redefining the social construct of sexuality. It will help us to be patient with one another. As we move forward together, we must acknowledge that work is involved, awareness is required, and stubbornness is appropriate so that ignorance no longer has a place within the new frameworks. It will keep us focused. As we move forward together, those of us who aren’t a part of the millennial generation need to provide them with exemplary discussions and elevate the standard for hashing out new precepts. It will give them tools to manage their own adjustments. As we move forward together it behooves us to keep in mind that social constructs are not permanent, they are pliable and influenced by new concepts. It will enable us to embrace change.
Here’s to healthy adjustments,