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Expecting Expectations

March 27, 2013

There’s an argument about unfair social expectations that unfairly pigeon hole people into unfair roles… unfairly. I sense an underlying theme in there somewhere…

What confuses me about the argument of expectation is people’s inability to determine who is expecting and why they are. Kind of an odd thing to talk about without examples; so let’s come up with a few of them…

My boss expects me to do my job. Indeed, quite unfair isn’t it? Why doesn’t he simply give me the money so I can go do what I want? Perhaps not so much a social expectation though is it? Even though in order to be social I need to finance my lifestyle. Eh, maybe we can find something else to work with.

My land lord expects me to pay rent. Completely unfair if you ask me; why does having my own space require a rent check every month? Even when I finally own, I’ll owe property taxes to the government. Whatever happened to the American dream where you carve out a little space to call your own *without* someone claiming ownership of it and demanding you pay for it? Fine, another understanding financial expectation with social elements; how else will I entertain guests?

Not quite social enough though…

My local police force expects me to obey the laws. Sure, it’s somewhat understandable, I have to live in a society with a bunch of people I don’t like; but are all the laws always just? Or do they all apply to me personally? How can one be social without adhering to the common law that allows us to work in perfect harmony toge… OK, just tolerate one another long enough to be civil.

Not purely social though is it?

A business person will expect a firm hand shake to seal a deal; at least before it’s put in writing. Speaking of business, there are a lot of expectations in other cultures for proper business etiquette that seem downright strange to use Western Folk. In turn, Eastern folk don’t understand how our corporate world works… as if we even do.

Are we starting to see a pattern here? Expectations aren’t always bad things. They have more to do with common courtesy and identifiable patterns of basic human interaction than they do oppression *as some might claim).

If I seriously mouth off to someone, I expect to get retaliation to some degree or another.

If I ask someone out, I expect to pay for the date, since I am the initiator.

If I bend over backwards for someone, I expect at least some recognition of my efforts.

If I call someone, I expect them to call me back.

These are all very basic expectations. Am I oppressing anyone? Do people who expect certain things from me merely do so on a instinctively oppressive level? Or do they do so because it makes social sense?

Now at this point one could chime in with the caveat that it’s merely the consequences of violating certain expectations that’s the problem. That’s where the oppression comes in. With that I would respond; “Are you an idiot?”

Social protocol comes with consequences for violating said protocol. If I sneeze, the social expectation is to say something along the lines of ‘bless you’; otherwise you’ll be considered rude. Rude is on the low scale, jail time on the high scale. How are any of these oppressive? I admit to being rude *all the time*; but you won’t hear me say I’m being oppressed.

You don’t have to follow social protocols; you just have to accept that by challenging them, you’ll likely not get the response you want. This has nothing to do with society, but everything to do with your ego. You can do the mature thing at that point, and not give a shit what other people think. Or you can do the egotistical thing; and bitch about it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love bitching about things as much as the next person; but I’m not going to campaign for social change because people aren’t universally celebrating my disregard for social protocol. I also don’t call my parents oppressive because they have certain expectations about me.

In life, you’re expected to do a lot of things, be a lot of different ways and generally get through it just like everyone else. This doesn’t make you a victim; it makes you a member of society.

Luckily society is multi-faceted, so you can hop on all sorts of radical bandwagons to fight the status-quo, and in doing so ironically may develop your own status-quo. Then others can start their own anti-you campaigns for being douche bags or dirty hipsters or promoting weight gain, or whatever the hell else.

Expectations only matter to those that decree them, or those who feel bound by them. No one else really cares; and you’re continued failure to realize that amuses and frustrates me. Do you really think I give a shit if you wear a dress or a pair of pants? Or what color you dye your hair? Or what music you listen to? Do you really think other people actually care that much about it?

Some people do, but that’s only when you find yourself at their mercy given your own choices. Parents, coworkers, bosses, police officers, lovers, etc. You don’t have to put up with it if you don’t want to; you just might have to find another job, a new lover, a different house, etc.

When it comes to those crazy things like men and women and their subsequent expectations, and any notions about them creating conflict; let’s just remember that each gender expects something different from their own and from the opposing/complimentary gender. Men don’t expect the same thing from me that women do; and you certainly can’t tell me what’s worse for me.

And of course, don’t ever think that you don’t contribute with your own set of expectations on others. We all have them, and yours are just as oppressive as the next.

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