We forget we are born to be free.
Everything has become very regulated; don’t wear that, don’t say that, don’t behave that way, don’t do that. Often, we accept these standards and unachievable rules of ‘perfection,’ and spend our lives striving to meet fallacies. We may question the rule, but we don’t ever think about where they came from, or who decided this is what we should do and if we do consider it, it barely scratches the surface level.
One of my favourite modules of my Law degree has been the Healthcare, Ethics and Law module. As part of this module, we had to do an art project; a welcome outlet for creativity which is often stifled in the legal world. I decided to base my art work on the control that the law has over women’s reproductive rights after I read a case called Evans v United Kingdom (2006) ECHR.
Evans, after discovering she had cancer and would therefore soon be unable to conceive naturally, underwent IVF with her partner. Evans asked whether she would be able to freeze her own eggs without her partners sperm, possibly concerned about a breakup and this being her only chance for a genetically linked child. Her partner assured her they would not split up. Their materials were combined and frozen.
Sometime later, they did split up, and her now ex partner, phoned the clinic, withdrew his consent to the procedure and asked that the embryos be destroyed. Evans brought a case against her partner saying that he was depriving her of a right to family life. The judges of the European Court of Human Rights held against her, saying that she would be able to become a mother in other senses, such as through adoption.
What stuck out to me in this case was that very contention. It felt very naïve to assume that every woman would be okay with this denial of a genetically linked child because of the other options. That may work for some, but it may not for others. It also stuck out to me that these people had just laid down the rules for not just this one woman, but for every woman. The judges were primarily male. In the UK, out of ten Supreme Court judges, two are female. Every judge in the Supreme Court, is white.
Maybe we should think less about contesting the established rules, and more about contesting who is making them. Instead of being angry about an unachievable societal goal, such as unrealistic body images, we should question who put those images there, and how we can remove them and replace them with more positive groups.
Maybe we should always be aware of the control exerted over us. We were born to be free, yet the world tries to constrict us. The moment we open our eyes and acknowledge these controls, is when we are able to address them and break free.
These are a lot of very confused thoughts, and I guess may be pretty obvious to some people, but I wanted to write a blog on this topic to try and emphasize a consideration of what it is that determines your life.
There are things a bit smaller than the law that can also control you. I am a big TV watcher, and not long ago I went through a stage of being in a permanently grumpy mood. I was confused and blamed hormones, but I was wrong, it was what I was watching. For some reason, whilst being free and watching what the TV I wanted to when I wanted to, I neglected that what I was watching was constraining my thoughts to a particular mood, ironic hm? I was watching shows that were pretty sad and moody, and wondered why I started acting that way when I would watch it when I woke up, during the day and before I slept. Who you surround yourself with, and their attitudes towards life can change your mood. What you eat can change your mood. Your own attitude and how you decide to tackle a problem can influence the outcome.
What I learnt here? To an extent, we determine our own freedom. To an extent, we control ourselves.
Look into your influences, what controls you and ask, are you happy with that? Start small, with what you watch, and working your way up to the bigger things wont feel such a shock. Refuse to be constrained by things that shouldn’t control you. Be free.