The renowned American writer Shirley Jackson created a good metaphor describing people’s traditions. In Jackson’s “The Lottery,” people had a black box as old as the hills, deteriorating and worn-out but defining people’s destinies. The box was the reason for the death of a member of the community with a little meaningful protest of the public. Likewise, some traditions in the modern world seem cruel and barbaric, inconsistent with the values associated with innovation and evolution. For instance, some traditions in patriarchal societies make gender a defining factor shaping the contribution of a person into the development of society.
Although traditions are sometimes turned into a part of modernity, they still make it difficult or even impossible thousands of people to make a difference in this world. This paper explores the clash between modernity and tradition with the focus on females’ experiences in different parts of the world.
First, it is necessary to note that traditions can be defined as the norms accepted in the society that were formed in the past. In simple terms, traditions are remnants of the rules that helped people to cohabit effectively centuries ago. In some cases, the roots of traditions are obscure, making the corresponding tradition seem strange, cruel, or barbaric (Lee 182). For example, early marriages were a norm in the past but survived in a limited number of countries (Horii 1058).
Of course, centuries ago, this practice was justified due to the comparatively short lifespan and the need to provide offspring. However, modernity is all about development and growth with people living longer and contributing more to the evolvement of human society. In the past, humanity needed to survive using primitive methods (simply increasing their numbers) while modern people use technology to achieve the mentioned goal. Importantly, females’ contribution is equally important, so the role of the child-production machine has been replaced by a role of an individual with diverse social responsibilities. Now, early marriages become harmful as they prevent girls from becoming equal contributors.
The rigid compliance with many traditions and norms is harmful for modernity. For instance, orthodox norms make women concentrated on their households with little or no participation in the life of their community or larger society. Women have no right to drive a car or even leave their houses without a man, and females have limited access to knowledge as their education is confined to literacy and religious studies. Islam is often the first religious paradigm to consider when thinking of such practices. Notably, many Muslims see some of these traditions as outdated and view them as potential subjects of transformations (Lee 180). These patriarchal values are thought to slow down the growth of societies as its substantial part has no opportunity to share and realize ideas. Instead of becoming a scientist working on the development of vaccines, a woman can remain with her husband and children.
In some cases, modernity and traditions merge, but this happens at the expense of past norms as traditions are slightly transformed. Chinese society has been rather patriarchal for centuries, but some changes are brought to the fore (Pei 3114). Females are supposed to be less socially active and concentrate on the family. Modernity has influenced these norms, and people start becoming more open to new values. Technology makes these transformations possible, facilitating further evolvement of human society. Thus, instead of keeping young females at home, their families allow them to go to large cities and build careers.
Being in constant contact with their daughters, parents indulge their need to exercise power over them and control their lives (Pei 3123). At that, girls are able to explore their creativity and find their place in society. Technology has become a pathway for females trying to escape from the suffocating norms that are outdated. Chinese society is learning to innovate to succeed in the modern world. Such changes in norms and values proved to be effective.
In conclusion, it is necessary to note that the clash between modernity and traditions unveils the need to change the norms that slow down people’s development. The gender case suggests that patriarchal traditions (especially the ones based on religious beliefs) should be reconsidered and transformed to be consistent with the environment. Now, females in the western world contribute to the development of human society and address various issues humanity faces.
Modernity, with its numerous advantages and comforts, is a result of females’ involvement in social life. However, the societies where traditions are followed strictly, females remain passive and submissive, which prevents them from making their input in the development of communities and the entire humanity. The progress of innovative and traditional societies can be regarded as the best evidence supporting the claim regarding the need to abandon norms that lead to regression. Remarkably, people even fail to explain the reasons for the existing norms and the goals people tried to reach when establishing certain rules. It is evident that these traditions and beliefs should be reconsidered to give room for innovation and progress.
Horii, Hoko. “A Blind Spot in International Human Rights Framework: A Space Between Tradition and Modernity Within the Child Marriage Discourse”. The International Journal of Human Rights, vol. 24, no. 8, 2019, pp. 1057-1079.
Lee, Robert Deemer. Overcoming Tradition and Modernity: The Search For Islamic Authenticity. Routledge, 2018.
Pei, Xin. “Reshaping Co-Existence of Tradition and Modernity: Polymedia in Gender Identity Negotiation of Dagongmei”. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 2019, pp. 1-17.