If we want to get anywhere with social change, we are likely to need to be able to contemplate a life and space in which this change has occurred, however radical. Davina Cooper’s “Everyday Utopias: The Conceptual Life of Promising Spaces” explores this approach as a means of social change in which our pre conceived notions of how we approach our lives and how we “choose” to live them are challenged, often by challenging what we perceive as “normal”.
As Claire Overman discusses in her blog on Dr Cooper’s work http://ohrh.law.ox.ac.uk/everyday-utopias-and-challenging-preconceptions/ , this approach is particularly relevant in the context of gender equality given that the obstacles faced by many women often arise as much from social norms as from legal barriers. Increasing awareness around hidden gender norms, as well as the identification of behaviour which follows many of these norms as merely established patterns of behaviour, will go a long way towards challenging what is viewed as “normal” and what it means to be “normal”.
If “normal” cannot exist without oppressing and diminishing certain groups of people, then perhaps we have a case for dispensing with this notion and finding an alternative approach to understanding our social interaction and behaviour.