Originally Posted by ladyslipper
Maybe you haven't struggled with cultural norms but I have and cultural conditioning exists in my view.
Of course cultural conditioning exists. The evidence seems to be that for social creatures like human beings, pressure to conform and be part of the group makes it hard for us. Have a read of Stanley Milgram's obedience to authority experiments and Phillip Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment. People can be convinced - with very little prompting - to do things that they would normally find troubling.
Given that, it makes absolute sense that there is pressure to live the life that most people see as the 'correct' one in whatever society you live in. In the UK, this seems to be: Grow up, marry a single opposite sex partner, have kids and spend your life buying lots of stuff.
If you choose to any of that differently, then there is a ton of questioning from lots of people about why you would choose to do so.
I have found that the best answer is to say that the lifestyle I choose suits me, that I've thought about it and the possible long term consequences and that I still choose it because I believe that it allows me the most happiness and allows me to be better to be around for the people and animals close to me. Also - that I'm open to possibility that I may feel differently one day depending on what happens in my life. And to the possibility of feeling regret one day about the choices I make. I also tend to acknowledge that my life is not perfect - I don't think that anybody's is - but the lack of perfection in my life isn't a reason to think that I'm doing it wrong.
I believe that certain social problems and societal needs outweigh the individual's so-called right to autonomy.
I absolutely agree. Human beings are social creatures and that means that we need each other. In spite of what modern governments, mainstream psychology, the media and big business might have us believe, we should not aim to go around in a little self interested bubble.
Just because I choose not to have children doesn't mean that I should go around moaning about people who do having time off work for maternity leave or to care for sick kids. Instead, I should do what I can to help and support my colleagues in their life choices - and I do.