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Entitlement

December 17, 2011

“An entitlement is a guarantee of access to benefits based on established rights or by legislation. A “right” is itself an entitlement associated with a moral or social principle, such that an ‘entitlement’ is a provision made in accordance with legal framework of a society. Typically, entitlements are laws based on concepts of principle (‘rights’) which are themselves based in concepts of social equality or enfranchisement.

In a casual sense, the term “entitlement” refers to a notion or belief that one (or oneself) is deserving of some particular reward or benefit—if given without deeper legal or principled cause, the term is often given with pejorative connotation (e.g. a ‘sense of entitlement’)” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entitlement).

The term entitlement will no doubt be familiar with many, especially those who own money and property and who are interested in legal, social, and moral issues.

Entitlements can range from home owners’ rights (the right to own and protect a home), holiday pay and workers accident compensation, to inalienable rights such as the right to free speech and movement.

A lot of the entitlements we enjoy in Western society are expected and seen as not only necessary to avoid scenarios in which ‘might over right’ is accepted, it also is seen as an obvious way of ensuring that our personal rights are protected. Rules and regulations govern this society of ours to make it more cohesive, safer, more productive.

The notion of entitlement is pervasive and inseperable from social values and norms. Entitlements can change over time, but when embedded into the legal and mental structure of a group of people, it becomes increasingly difficult to disconnect them from established norm.

Entitlemenmt is linked to neraly every aspect of our lives. what we can and can’t do is written down in law and determined by our environement, our parents, friends, and peer groups, the people we normally associate with. When a child grows up, it is already indoctrinated with ideas about how society works, what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.

The reason why I have become so interested in this topic is because I have come to question some of society’s norms and therefore stumbled upon limitations of personal freedom and entitlement.

I have been made to believe for nearly 30 years that things are the way they are, because they are, and we must accept that. Nealy 30 long years of constant brainwashing and education by loved ones and other persons alike, whose interests lay not in helping me gain independence and become a self-aware, self-confident individual, but in following their lead and to do as they said.

When I looked for definitions and articles relating to entitlements, I inevitably stumbled upon the word Narcissism. Wikipedia states that “In clinical psychology and psychiatry, an unrealistic, exaggerated, or rigidly held sense of entitlement may be considered a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder, seen in those who ‘because of early frustrations…arrogate to themselves the right to demand lifelong reimbursement from fate” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entitlement).

Another article, ‘The Veil of Narcissism within Families’, highlights the possible origins and reasons for perpetuation of overly exaggerated senses of entitlements, as the authors trace it back to childhood. The family, our primary care givers and first contact with the world and our first experience of relationship is often at fault in perpetuating a false sense of self and an unstable personality that might lead to problems with social adjustment in later life, as ” …the needs of the parents came before the needs of the child. Instead of feeling safe and supported to express who we really are, we are taught it is far more important to make sure we do not make our parents feel a particular way” (http://gendercentre.org.au/89article5.htm).

The child may develop notions like this, in such a hostile environment, at an early age. Notions of self-worth, personal rights and responsibilities, and its place within society are all linked to this mental intrusion. Gender, also is affected by such senseless ways of thought. Oftentimes, the child is not encouraged to explore his/her/their/zir identity,  not encouraged to come to terms with it. Instead, the child is made to follow what to them might seem to be irrational, clinical choices of gender identification, that might exclude actions or expressions the child might feel more comfortable with. Just like children were made to dress up like adults in previous centuries, children are still made to wear the veil of adulterated parental stigmas.

So we all grow up to be males or females. Funnily enough, though trans-gender and gender-queer people are still viewed with suspicion or outright ignored, when asked about what constitutes male and female identity, many people I have asked have failed to come up with answers that would define these easily and without any doubts. So why, when people who define us as having a certain gender do not even know what it means to have that gender, is our identity constantly being appropriated? What on earth posesses people to feel entitled to judge us in that way?

They do not have the legal rights to do so. It does not affect their home ownership or work compensation whethere someone presents as male or female, or other. And yet, people are often so outraged when presented with ideas that are new and posess the power to create a less rigid, more inclusive society. They feel strange when not being able to pick someone’s gender at first glance, they feel insulted when one chooses to refrain from following their advice on how to behave more feminine, and act all surprised when told that their views are neither the only one, nor the most correct. Older people, I have noticed, often decide that they have the right to lecture younger ones on mostly outdated ideals and concepts. The rich often feel that they are entitled to decide on the fate of the poorer segments of society. Men and women both tend to try to assert their gender’s rights onto the other, as if that was their main goal in life. For anyone who wants to live outside the confines of these power structures and trappings of society, is there any hope?

Look at pepole like me, who wear the clothes they want, who fall outside the gender norm, not because of some biological defect or other medical condition, not to spite you and make you feel awkward, but because they feel that way, and feel comfortable in doing so and want to express who they are. Ask yourself why they are entitled to do so, what makes them so special that they can walk around in clothes you do not approve of, why do they not fit in like everyone else, why do they not act according to how you would generally expect them to act? And then, with all due respect, ask yourself those very same questions. You question their identity, you feel entitled to do so, because entitlement of that kind is a concept you have painstakingly established in your head so that it would make you feel better about yourself and your place in the world.

Ask yourself why you are entitled to feel so entitled? Who has given you these rights, who has decided that you think this way or that, where is it written in stone that we all have to act according to your wishes?

And if you still rage and pout and feel like you need to highlight your own importance, I suggest you take a long stroll and vent your anger on some object rather than an unsuspecting human being who did you no personal injury. And if, by chance, you happen to come across a psychaitric clinic, do go in for a while and talk to someone. You might just find out that you, too, for reasons perhaps only you know, perhaps reasosns that will never become clear, suffer from narcissistic persoanlity disorder. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, really. Society is infected by this, so it would come as no big surprise that you, as a normal element in this social structure, would become infected, too.

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From → Gender

2 Comments
  1. disturbinglynormal permalink

    I cannot tell you what a relief to read this post; to find another who falls outside of accepted/expected gender norms and is comfortable that way. It is not that I thought I was entirely alone, but that… well, I felt that I was entirely alone. This can be a lonely path to walk.

    That being said. Let me respond to the post.

    While I agree with most of this, and certainly don’t wish to question your own interpretation of your experience– I wonder if our loved ones, or our society, really instruct us to toe the party line because they actively want for us not to become self-confident, self-aware individuals, or if in fact they instruct us to do as we are told and fit into the lines because they cannot imagine being confident, safe, aware and engaged from a position somewhere outside those perfectly straight little lines.

    If, rather than actively seeking to subjugate, they seek to encourage to grow, the way we might tie a vine to a trellis that it would grow in a certain direction and thrive.

    That it is almost certainly better to encourage the identity of the individual over the conformity of the masses I do not question. But that loved ones, relatives, and even the society at large might encourage conformity as a protective measure and from a misguided attempt to help us become most fully that which they believe we are… that, I sort of think might be the case.

    • HI and thanx for commenting.

      Yes you may be right when you say that they encourage us to grow by adopting stratgeies they deem correct and accepted in the world. Maybe I am too harsh in my judgement of people.

      You said what you said really well, by the way, I appreciate your input.

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