The term mythical norm
refers to the normalizing of certain aspects of characteristics and things, so
as they are implied in the normal events of daily lives. They are certain
aspects that are considered a presumed normality which empower those in society
who are fit into those characteristics that are the mythical norm. A mythical
norm tends to reflect the identities of those in power. An example of this can
be the normality seen and expected in males in the upper society to dress and
drink a certain way. They perpetuate inequality as there are people who need
and sometimes are required to imbibe these norms. This may come naturally to
many, however to those who do not follow the same norms are “ill-fitted”.
Simply to consider the
basic idea of a woman’s color is pink, while men are supposed to like darker
colors like blue. While this is considered the standard, there are those men
who would like to wear more varied colors, and perhaps like to shop for a
larger wardrobe size. They are instantly judged by society as “gay” or
“different” as they do not portray the norms that are set by society for men.
While there have been slighter attitude changes towards men being able to wear
pink, there are still people who look at men wearing pink, differently.
Another example of this
is shown with most Americans being Christians. An American being a Christian is
considered the mythical norm and is looked at the majority of the population in
the country. When someone is seen to follow another religion or not believe in
the concept of a superior power, they are looked at differently and thought of
Mythical norms can cause
difference in race, culture, gender and so on. Race, sexual orientation,
economic class, body type and style are all causes of difference between what
is normal and not. In societies all over the world, there is a trend to
normalize these norms – trying to make society the same in a way. As Audre
Lorde says, those who find themselves outside of this norm tend to attribute
any oppression they face to only one of their differences. By singling out one
difference, the oppressed ignore other causes and “distortions around
difference” that also encourage oppression. (Lorde, pg. 116) This oppression
can cause insecurities among those who are the victims in the scenario and can
lead to more mental trauma causing a questioning of their identities and trying
to change themselves.
Trying to normalize these
mythical norms and trying to “fit in” can lead to greater problems than seen on
the surface. There is a norm around body types and beauty requirements for both
men and women to match in society. Men are supposed to be strong and well built
with a lean body, and women are supposed to be shaped in a certain manner of
curviness, with certain skin types and color that are seen as “woman like” in
society. To try and fit into these norms, many diets, products and physical
forms of abusing the body are performed by both the genders. This is not only
harmful in the short term causing eating disorders and health issues but can
also lead to a different state of mind where failing to “fit in” can even lead
to demotivating oneself and taking their life.
Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider. Berkeley: Crossing, 1984. Print.
Susan M. Shaw, Janet Lee,
Oregon State University. Women’s Voices,
Feminist Visions : Classic and Contemporary Readings. New York, NY
:McGraw-Hill, 2015. Print.