I am deviant.
I don't mean in the connoted sense of criminal or sexually degenerate—though there's certainly a story or two about that. What I mean is, I violate social norms.
What is "normal" is determined by every society, big and small, for that culture in that time. I am generally law-abiding and productive, but my personality—the persona of Stephanie—is often camped firmly in the fringe of normal.
Pretty much everything falls onto a bell curve. If you classify virtually anything and rank and sort it, then graph it in that mathematical way that has eluded me for years, it makes a pretty, curvy shape, in which the majority of "stuff" is in the high center and the extremes are on the low sides.
I'm almost always on one of those tapered ends.
Doing my neverending homework this week, I was reading about social deviance. My textbook was talking about different sociological viewpoints of deviance. Emile Durkheim's structural-functional analysis says that deviance is a necessary function of society. What is unnormal is defined by what is normal and vice versa—there can be no evil without good. How a society responds to deviance clarifies its moral boundaries and brings people together in the process, sometimes encouraging social change.
Robert Merton goes on to purport his strain theory, which basically says that some deviance may be necessary for society to function but that too much, especially when caused by a lack of means to help members of a society achieve cultural goals, places a strain on that society. Conforming to cultural goals through approved means can become difficult, if not impossible, when there are no opportunities to do so. This points to why street crime is so prevalent in poor neighborhoods, where people don't have the educational and socioeconomic means to provide for themselves or further lives outside of the poverty and circumstance they've been socialized in.
Eventually, deviant subcultures can form: criminal, conflict, or retreatist.
Walter B. Miller adds that subcultures have certain characteristics, no matter their underlying cause:
- trouble – frequent conflicts with authority figures
- toughness – especially value of physical size, strength, and agility
- smartness – ability to outthink others
- need for excitement
- belief in fate
- desire for freedom
I am a deviant subculture unto myself.
I've always been at odds with authority figures. I've never been inclined to listen to someone just because they were in charge or I was supposed to do so; if they could give me a reason to respect them, I would. If not, I would question it and fight back. I am certainly taller and bigger and larger, both physically and mentally, than most people. All that testing when I was a kid proved I was smarter than even the above-average bear. I'm easily bored and constantly shifting gears to the next adventure. I have a strong belief in both fate and Fate. And I want nothing more than to be free to live my life as I see is best for me.
As ridiculous as it sounds to say I rebelled and formed my own subculture, that's kind of exactly what happened over the last four years. I was unhappy—fat, in a crumbling marriage, unfulfilled in most aspects of my life, seeing no way out—and I fought back. I had everything everyone says they want, and I was miserable. I bucked the norm and started to live as Stephanie, more than Wife and Mom and Daughter.
I am finding more opportunity now, because I am making more opportunity for myself. Working three part-time jobs and being in school full time, plus being a full-time mom, is hard as hell, but it was my choice. More than a couple of people have suggested I should find another husband to support me and pay for my life. Fuck that. If I can't rely on my own talents and worth, no one else should be able to, either. (Conflict subculture.)
There are days I want to run away and leave it all behind. (Retreatist subculture.) I often talk about living on Glamazon Island, where men aren't allowed to live—unless they're a Hooha and only then until they grow up. (Hoohas are the general name for children of inhabitants of Glamazon Island, 'cause that's where they came from.) Eventually Glamazon Island will just be me and my girls, having tea parties and craft time on the beach every afternoon, before our daily walk.
(There are all kinds of secondary plans, involving whose daughter is in charge of defenses and ninja skills to protect us from the ousted Hooha forces that invade on giant, flying Death Chickens.) (This is also why someone recently told me that my mind is like a playground for adults.)
Look: I am as batshit as they come. And it's not that I strive to be substantially different from everyone else. I am not like other girls because I'm just made that way. I don't live in the middle of the bell curve because I'm not happy in the medium. My place of comfort is pretty far removed from most other people's.
And I am happy that way. It can make for some pretty extravagant turmoil sometimes. It can be hard, being able to understand emotional extremes so readily because I have lived them. But I can't imagine being normal. Maybe if I were, I wouldn't really know the difference. What I do know is that my pretending to be normal did no damn good for anyone.
So I embrace my differences and live them as fully as I can. As Queen Frostine joked yesterday, "The standard deviation is not enough for a kinky statistician."
But that gives me hope that somewhere there's a 6'4, 240-pound, dark-haired, blue-eyed, Irish statistician who might be able to keep up with me.