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Freedom of choice comprises one of the constituents of a wider debate going to the society under the umbrella of human rights. Fight for human rights constitute an activity whose effort has been in scenes of many states over the globe for many years. The fight takes many forms.
The major ones involve straggles for the establishment of forms of governance recognizing the importance of all individuals irrespective of gender, race or political affiliations. However, much of the efforts have involved strain to achieve equal treatment for women as opposed to men.
Men have traditionally in many society settings perceived as chauvinists. They treat women disrespectfully and believe hardly can anything good come from women. Toward the end of Atwood’s novel, she shed light that Offred entered the van thinking “Whether this is my end or a new beginning, I have no way of knowing: I have given myself over into the hands of strangers, because it cannot be helped” (Atwood 320).
In the state of Gilead, women are perceived as neither a group of people who have no right to determine what is not right for them nor the repercussions of their forced acts. To establish an ecological niche for women to thrive in, feminists aim persistently to give women a voice in the society and empower them to obtain an opportunity to share the same cake laid on a dining table dominated by men.
The topic of women’s place in the society given the psychological, biological and societal roles places a query on whether women deserve equitable share with men in terms of social responsibilities. Nevertheless, scrutiny of the society and its upheld norms unveils much segregation: not through one’s choice, in terms of duties attributable to women. Consequently, addressing individual’s freedom of choice rights is crucial.
The phrase freedom of choice attracts many definitions. Chalko defines it as the “right to exercise ones freedoms in any manner one may choose except where such act may not obstruct or prevent others from exercising their freedoms, put oneself in danger or exceed statutory limit” (Chalko 20).
Freedom of choices confers one with the ability to make decisions on indulgencies that are of one’s individual good. Freedom of choice has been endorsed by formulation of polices and putting into place the appropriate statutory rules to govern individual rights to make decisions that are for the individual’s good.
For instance, in US, under freedom of choice section 2 subsection (2) women are conferred with the capacity to make decisions on whether to commence, continue, terminate or prevent pregnancy in consultation with the an experienced medical practitioner and her loved ones without the slightest governmental interference. Definitely, such a provision is completely anonymous to the Gilead’s society.
Importance of freedom of choice
Freedom of choice distinguishes an individual completely from all other people. Anything that sabotages or compromises the intellectual capacity of an individual constitutes the worst enemy of the universe. Thinking of an attempt to inculcate a fear of death, hell, God or any other fear you may think of into an individual’s personalities? Such an attempt would amount to one of the enormous threats to freedom of choice.
It is the right of an individual within his or her capacity to make decisions that are right for his or her wellbeing. Persons have the right to express themselves freely, have their deferring sides of story heard and be evaluated without discrimination of whichever sort. Currently we live in a society dominated with ease and fast information availability. The quick information easily accessed simply by a click compels people to refer on every problem that challenges them.
What does this have to do with the individual’s capacity to make personal choices? It changes an individual’s capacity to think right following the right procedures to arrive at the right decision, which is unique to all stands taken by all other people. No one should fall voyage of following statistics of compiled data rather than making individual use of their intellect to arrive at personal conclusions.
Activities such as “…clouding of consciousness with drugs, substances and activities that alter perception” (chalko 42) posses threats of the worst extents towards freedom of choice. People whose mind is disoriented by effects of drugs mostly find themselves not following rules of personal judgments while making decisions. They therefore easily fall culprits of external influences, which rather than making them make useful decisions worthwhile to their life destinies, risks losing reality checks that defines rational beings.
Looking back into the society, encounters of deprivation of human right of freedom of choice are made. Parents who force their children to pursue some certain careers and not others deny the children the right to function within their full capacity. People achieve exemplary results if they engage in the activities that please them most.
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It is paramount to note that what interest’s one person doesn’t necessarily interest the other person. Consequently, it justifies the reason why we have the entire globe inhabited by people with different tastes and preferences. Chalko notes that “every individual intellect, including you has been specifically designed to have complete autonomy and unconstrained freedom of choice” (chalko 42).
An individual’s ability to make personal choices- freedom of choice lies squarely on the individual’s capacity to make unguided individual decisions. In fact, it stands out as the only way of developing personal intellectual capacity. Compromising autonomy of an individual is tantamount with killing that person’s inspirations and desires.
Chalko caution that “exercising your freedom of choice in a way that limits anyone’s freedom of choice is direct crime against the purpose of the universe” (chalko 43). Principally, the vivid design of the world reflects the many opportunities for exploration, and many things to find out at an individual level for the sake of admiration and appreciation, of nature.
How would a person then discover the complexity in the design of the world with one eye blind by being subjected into slavery of referring from sources extrinsic from him/ her? The caution of chalko points to deducing that setting threshold points to freedom of choice translate to dwindled self-esteem with a consequence of reduction of individuals higher feelings.
Dictating ones freedom of choice in the name of sustaining what has already been gathered on the table only limits the potentials of the custodian of the property. The dictator fails to appreciate the fact that human being surrounding our environs have got unlimited potentials which while well weeded for, contributes to the world of unlimited resource level endowment.
Making decision on what to perfect in life entail consideration of one’s egos. It proves impossible for a person to remove ‘self’ aspect. An attempt to remove it results to a miserable failure.
“Without our individuality there would be no point whatsoever making the universe to start with” (Chalko 103). Individuality eventually gives rise to ones capacity to make self-choices: freedom of choice. As observed by Chalko “trying to suppress individuality is a violence act against the purpose of the universe and as such it always results in experiencing misery” (Chalko 130). The miseries referred entangle retarded self-esteem and threats to self-being.
Impediments to freedom of choice
Freedom of choice is one of the amicable rights that a person has and the concerned person should not compromise about it. However, this is not always the case. Mutua feels that “Government imposes some certain requirements that a person should follow without her or his consent” (Mutua 330). Residents in a particular country have no freedom of choice to decide on whether to pay for property taxes, sales taxes, income taxes and fuel taxes among others.
On the other hand, upon raising money to the government, an individual has no opportunity to make a choice on how the money raised in form of taxes should be spent. The state therefore forces its regulations upon an individual upon enactment of the appropriate rules and regulations through its appropriate statutory authorities. Consider a scenario where one needs to make a choice of whether to wear a seat belt or not.
What happens when an individual encounters police officers? should the person claim in the event he/she is stopped that it is within his/ her freedom of choice basket to wear the seat belt or not? The state enforces such rules for the sake of the person’s good. The freedom of choice for your own personal safety is eroded away. Rigid traditions also serve to impede freedom of choice.
As mentioned earlier in some societies across the globe there is existence of the belief that children should follow the guidelines set out by the parents. Such guidelines including those that affect the Child’s life personally are presumably agued to be for the very good of the child. What if the child wants to follow a different line of specialization? Will the child not live resentful life forever? It takes no good for the parents to choose what is good to the child.
Worse scenarios occur when parents dictate what careers children should pursue. Worse still, the so called children are considered by the states as not being minors and have got statutory freedom to make choices and even enter into legally recognized contracts acting in full legal capacity.
Factors that impede development of human rights of groups of people in one way or another hinder freedom of choice. An individual constitute one unit of a society.
Supposing the individual’s society doesn’t have certain rights. Could it be possible for the individual to have rights to make personal opinions or decisions on issues that the society has been barred from at large? Leadership or governance in any society or country also contributes a lot to the execution of equal rights for all of its members.
For instance, some governments advocate for equal rights for women while others are against it. For instance, during Saddam Hussein’s leadership in Iraq, all political gains and women democracy that the country had achieved since independence were watered down by this leadership.
Saddam’s government had low regard for women and all those who advocated for women rights in Iraq at that time were seen as agents of the western countries and enemies of the Iraq government and were thus dealt with harshly and mercilessly (Cooke 81). The query on the possibility of women to have freedom of choice at individual level never cease to surface.
Civil wars in different countries or regions also led to violation of people’s freedom of choice right. There have been many reports of sexual harassment and rapes in regions under war. For instance, the ‘United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)’ has reported many discriminations and sexual exploitation of women Refugee camps in different part of the world including Somali Women who are in refugee camps in Kenya (Mutua 345).
The freedom of choice rights provide all people with that capacity to make decisions regarding personal issues. Among the freedom of choices rights list is the freedom to determine with whom to have an affair.
Success of freedom of choice
The struggle for freedom of rights of choice have been successful especially between end of nineteenth century and in the twentieth century as individuals have been able to overcome many barriers to freedom of choice. For example, the slavery has now come almost to be outdated. Slaves were perceived as people who deserved to do what their masters dictated irrespective of whether it was right or not.
They only option was just to obey. Cases of human beings trafficking have also greatly reduced during this century. Proponents of fights for freedom of choice therefore have all the reasons to celebrate. The provision of the right of an individual to make decisions regarding the activities to indulge in as long as they don’t harm their neighbors has been given a consideration.
For generations, women’s only profession was wifehood and motherhood but in the current world, things have started changing. Women of today have gained many legal rights all over the world and they perform diverse tasks traditionally reserved for men. Right to choose which job to do for the rest of her life merely nowadays depends on her qualifications and personal preferences.
Women have made remarkable progress in fighting for their rights. Not only have many women won their rights to vote all over the globe but also they are being elected to hold public offices at all government levels. For instance, the president of Liberia is a woman named Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Dilma Rousseff has recently been elected to be the president of Brazil.
In addition, United States women hold 11% of Congress seats, and 21% of state legislative seats. This clearly depicts the success of women in changing thousands of state, federal, and local laws that had limited or diminished women’s social roles and legal status. In the job field, many women have entered all kinds of trades, the professionals, and businesses.
A society, for instance the one set out in ‘The handmaid’s Tale’ has been wiped out to great magnitude. The choice on whether a woman to classify herself on whatever protocol relies on how she perceives herself. The hierarchical classification of women depending on the man: king, value to which a woman accomplishes his desires has been brown into a darkened den.
Women rights in Gilead state to control chief decisions such as birth control were lifted off from them. In handmaid’s tale’ women who had proven fertile like Offred were only regarded as tools of reproduction. Cooke noted that “having proven fertile, she is considered an important commodity and has been placed as a handmaid in the home of the Commander Fred and his wife Serena Joy to bear a child for them” (Cooke 92).
Societies similar to those of the Gilead existed in their pure form in the eighteenth century in which women were not allowed to have any right to make decisions on their behave without a man’s influence. They did not have any right to vote. if there was anything requiring personal opinion, the woman had to seek authority from the head.
Failure to do so the woman was treated in the most ruthless manner as a punishment for taking matters in her own hands. Such discriminations encompass the chief reasons why women arose to make men appreciate their presence and the enormous contribution to the society development that they make. However, it was not easy to see women like Grimke sisters stand before American congress and give public lecture on some issues afflicting them.
The women movements give room to fights of rights for the blacks to end the racial discrimination reminiscent to the apartheid in South Africa. The various fights for different groups for their right over time transcended into what we now celebrate as freedom of choice. Unfortunately, some practices have been so deeply ingrained into the roots of the society that abandoning them has become almost impossible.
Issues like returning the rights formally taken from children so that they can make choices without contribution of opinions from parents seem to take a little bit longer. The only option left for the children is to solicit their parents to change their perception regarding their capabilities in future. Conviction of the parents to change rests on the capacity of the child to prove to the parents that he/she can do much better in other things than what parents or guardians believe.
Atwood, Margret. The Handmaid’s Tale. Port Moody: Anchor Publisher, 1998.
Chalko, Thomas. The Freedom of Choice. Melbourne, Australia: Scientific engineering research, 2000.
Cooke, Rebecca. Human Rights of Women: National and International Perspectives. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994.
Mutua, Makau. The Banjul Charter and the African Cultural Fingerprint: An Evaluation of the Language of Duties. Virginia Journal of International Law 35(1995): 340- 360.