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Culture

The Consequences of American Individualism and a Remedy

From childhood, Americans are taught that individual success is synonymous with personal fulfilment and earning the love of others. Rather than striving compassionately to complete each other’s lives, families, and social circles, I believe that a lot of us subconsciously develop a different objective in the United States. We learn to focus on meeting set cultural goals and only then we believe that life will automatically reward us with the affection of another person. We might be taught an illusion, in which happiness will occur if only we participate in capitalism and its beauty standards. As a result of this, I believe a lot of us, men and women alike, experience a clash between our expectations for a prize all the while we are not thoughtful or giving enough. However, although we are equally affected, I think an elevated appreciation for feminine traits would partially solve the problem 

 

The English language and how it is taught in the United States perpetuates competition and aggression, rhetorically. We are raised to defend our choices, and often do not seek or accept help from outside sources. I remember being asked to write argumentative essays since the 4th grade, and only now am I questioning why it was okay to teach 11-year-olds how to argue as a preferred communication style. People learned from a young age that it is crucial to protect their own interests and become unaccepting of views that differ from their own. I think this has caused a great divide in not just our personal relationships but in the country as a whole, as evidenced by our current political state. Rather than constructing solutions or agreements together, we do not accept the input of others, even from our own peers. Our culture focuses on gaining, rather than giving.

 

I think many American young adults seek fulfilment for what they are missing, rather than striving to proof themselves as good companions. We lack acceptance and understanding because of the culture we grew up in. In a community that views us as competition, rather than one that wants to see us succeed, it could be said that young people in the United States lack a proper support system for healthy relationships and livelihoods. Then, something I came to realize was that the previously mentioned American values have an uncanny resemblance with traditionally masculine traits: aggression over compassion, competitiveness over community, and assertiveness over collaboration. My hot take is that the loss of expected gender roles, combined with the American individualism, the US has created over time an environment that values and expects traditionally “masculine” traits in the population as a whole, rather than feminine ones. I am in no way saying that we should instill the expectations into our society as they were in the past! If it were up to me, I would choose to delete gendered expectations entirely. Instead of heading in that direction, I believe that the U.S. developed a new “masculine default” expectation for everyone to follow as a guideline to happiness.

 

Feminist movements for decades have fought for the normalization of participating in masculine behaviors. While this has brought an immense positive social change from previous generations, it has shifted the majority of the population’s demeanor. Rather than creating a society with osmosis between feminine and masculine traits among all genders, all people are expected to have masculine traits most of all. This is evidenced by the normalization of women wearing pants, without a second glance, but skirt-wearing men are still uncommon and highly bullied. The woman who is “one of the boys” is praised, while the gentle man is seen as weak and even undesirable.

 

If we are to achieve a more equal and loving society, the next step would be to champion feminine traits in all genders. In politics, social issues, personal ones, and even environmental ones, feminine approaches of compassion and peace would be closer to resolving issues, over the current hypermasculine approaches that have currently failed our country. A start toward this objective would be to raise our expectations of men and demand higher compassion and collaboration from them in both personal and professional settings. If we were to instill in our society the importance of traditionally feminine traits, we would improve not only our interpersonal relationships, but the state of world as a whole. 

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