Thursday, 14 November 2013
THE PERFECT STORM
Social Attitude: An attitude is an expression of favor or disfavor toward a person, place, thing, or event (the attitude object). Prominent psychologist Gordon Allport once described attitudes "the most distinctive and indispensable concept in contemporary social psychology.". Attitude can be formed from a person's past and present.Attitude is also measurable and changeable as well as influencing the person's emotion and behavior.
Social Norms: norm is a group-held belief about how members should behave in a given context. Sociologists describe norms as informal understandings that govern society’s behaviors, while psychologists have adopted a more general definition, recognizing smaller group units, like a team or an office, may also endorse norms separate or in addition to cultural or societal expectations. The psychological definition emphasizes social norms' behavioral component, stating norms have two dimensions: how much behavior is exhibited and how much the group approves of that behavior.
Mores: Mores (generally pronounced //, and often //. From Latin mōrēs, [ˈmoːreːs], grammatically plural: "behavior" - Singular form: mos). William Graham Sumner (1840 – 1910), an early U.S. sociologist, recognized that some norms are more important to our lives than others. Sumner coined the term mores to refer to norms that are widely observed and have great moral significance. Mores include an aversion for societal taboos, such as incest or pederasty. Consequently, the values and mores of a society predicates legislation prohibiting their taboos.
The above description have been taken from Wikipedia and explains the close similarity between Social attitude , Social norms and Social Mores. Not being a politician or a historian or a sociologist I feel safe in using these descriptions so as to give layman's view of the evolving social attitudes and norms in the history of Australia and how it has affected we the people and in particular adopted people.
Through out our history there have always been social attitudes and norms in society. This country of ours is not a static country, it is always developing and evolving. Often though our social attitudes and norms develop and evolve at a slower pace. A example of this after the first world war when anti german attitudes resulted in many good Australian ( British Subjects then) citizens of german descent were deported back to Germany a country in great turmoil. The attitude to our indigenous people was also deeply ingrained by a social attitude and norm that they were not human beings worthy of being British Subjects. Whilst this situation was changed in 1968 referendum where they were granted full citizenship rights (68 years overdue), the old social attitudes to the indigenous is still prevalent. Every time some one says that someone is not a bad bloke for a aborigine , they are expressing the social attitude of a negative impression of indigenous people in general. it will probably take another two generations for this attitude to completely disappear. it was under this social attitude that governments and administration operated with impunity removing children from their families often in a illegal manner. Even after the momentous apology, there are still many people in this country who erroneously believe that the removals was the best thing that ever happened
And so it is easy to see how this social attitude was also carried out on the non indigenous population. Let me be quite clear, The is no way that the social attitudes and norms of the day can diminish and explain the alleged crimes/illegalities that were carried out on our mothers. i say alleged because no testimony was given under oath, no cross examination and no court actions. But based on the consistency of the unsworn testimony from all corners of Australia, there was something rotten going on and it has adversely affected so many mothers and adoptees. The climate for this situation to occur though was deeply bound in the flawed social attitudes and norms that had developed from Federation and before. These attitudes and norms was mainly imported from great Britain and adapted by a nation that was desperately trying to out British the British . The country was almost schizophrenic in that it wanted to have a unique Australian attitude but also wanted to be a British to the bootstraps. And being a country based upon egalitarianism this meant we had to be the new british middle class that was evolving from World War one. Hence the attitudes of fallen women, the idea of bad blood being passed on, the absurd idea that sex should only occur within marriage. it was also a period of a patriarchal society. In divorce situations custody of the children usually went to the father in cases of infidelity. I have no doubt the old joke that ' problems started when we gave them the vote" would not have been a joke in the war and post war years. There were many cases of men telling their wives how to vote at elections.
Therefore it is very easy to see that the churches , organisations like the Country Women's Association, the ladies magazine, the Women's Weekly, which catered to the "proper housewives and women" along with conservative male politicians and bureaucrats would have been able to influence the social attitudes and norms of the day thus creating a perfect storm which enabled every crackpot mothers home and maternity to carry on with no checks and balances. In fact my mother diary tells about how her mother and a policewoman threatened my mother because she refused to sign adoption consent forms the day after my sister was born in 1952. We also know that even today in Australia there is no entitlement to a government benefit or support.Unlike other countries that say entitlement, here in Australia the it May be paid. Back in those day the person who decided if someone should receive assistance had almost unfettered powers. Prior to the birth of my sister, my mother sought housing assistance from State Dept of Welfare. She was refused. After my sister's birth she lived in various places and with her sister but was unable to support herself and my sister , so one day she dressed her up and delivered my sister to welfare for adoption. Quite frankly if the social attitudes of the day and the social norms of the day were not part of our society and culture none of the excesses would have occurred. After World War two the allies made the German citizenry so through film clips of the death camps so that the German people would know what their government and military did in their name. Whilst not directly responsible, their social attitude and views in relation to the Jewish and Romany people was one of the factors the death camps were constructed, and their attitude to the removal of old friends and neighbours means they knew deep down what was happening but chose to ignore it. To it's credit the German nation has accepted their responsibility.
The apologies that have been heard around the country for all those affected by government and institutional authorities is a recognition that the Australian people must bear their share of the burden of responsibility. But nothing would have happened if not for the perfect storm of social attitudes and norms which joined with callous people wanting to distribute babies like cattle away from those who society had decided were not worthy
Sadly in 2013 we find that social attitudes and social norms are again at play within the forced adoption community. Just as with society in general there are different social attitudes and norms within groups or organisation. For the last decade plus the forced adoption community have been developing their own social norms which ensure anyone who dares speaks against such norms are cast out to be belittled abused and yes even attempts to discredit. I have always been a target because i try to think outside the square. An example was on the weekend when a person, Kerri, stated as gospel that a majority of adoptees were abused. in fact she bragged how she told Professor Mushin that 8 out of ten had been abused. This was with no statistical evidence to prove it , only her experiences dealing with abused adoptees. When i pointed out that up to 56 percent of adoptees indicated that they rated their relationship with their adoptive parents as good or better , i was then accused of abusing the abused . An fine example of what happens when you breach the social norms of the forced adoption adoption community. In fact one of the comments fro a lady named Delma to my observations was "So what you are saying Murray is that adoptees had better lives than many others children who were not adopted. I guess for those who didn't find out until they were in their forties etc then cold say that because they didn't know they were adopted so could not blame that". Kerri also implied i was not a adoptee with this statement " it is not to be compared at all and if someone does they have no idea of what it is to be a adoptee, especially and abused adoptee"
These are just recent examples of how the group society norms are used to silence the facts which are so important. IN fact when i responded Kerri accused me of getting personal. Well accusing a adoptee of not being an adoptee is very personal and is a standard tactic to destroy someone who does not accept the groups norms blindly. It is sad to say that not long after this other people with no morals or norms decided to use these comments to falsify a fake FB page in relation to my adoptee status.
There are many more examples of what happens when you don't accept the groups societal norms. This was in relation to information veto's in SA. They are despicable laws and should be corrected to contact veto's . But when i challenged a adoptee for not wanting to include the veto'd mothers in his campaign he basically said that adoptees had more rights than mothers. This is in direct contravention to the United Nations Declaration of Human rights article 12. I was accused of baiting him by the general adoptee community because they believed adoptees had more rights than mothers. I had fought for the rights of adoptees so that we could have equal place with the mothers not to have greater rights. However because of my defence with vigour of this principal i have been ostracised , a typical action when on breaks the social norms of the group.
Social Norms and attitudes have been at play in adoptees lives before they were born.They have shaped how we were looked upon and stigmatised What is so sad in 2013 is the fact that we who had paid the price of being outside of the social norm, now play the same game which indicates we have learnt nothing