Kyla Price WGS Exam 1 October 5, 2010 Categorizing or erasing an individual’s identity in today’s society based off of gender, religion, race, as well as sexuality is a common occurrence. It is difficult to grasp the concept of a society that is completely devoid of robbing an individual’s humanity or even falling victim to the process of stereotyping. Although, change is a must, will people follow through to obliterate the everyday stereotypes or fall blind to the assumptions that lurk through our society?
Woman everyday must leap through the rings of insularity that shape our society’s expectations of how a woman “should be. ” Therefore, women all have multiple identities that are shaped through either systems of power or oppression because of society’s “set guidelines. ” In all societies, there exist the obvious biological differences between men and women that categorize them into different social roles. Ultimately, these justifications shape and limit their attitudes and behavior in a society.
In our patriarchal society, males enjoy the socially dominant position, thus hiding women under there power. “In discussing how a woman should be, numerous commonalities were that women are supposed to nurture for their children while the man should be the breadwinner. Or that it is not enough to be classified as a woman, she must be feminine as well” (Class Discussion (9/9/10). In other words, masculinity and femininity are gender qualities that reinforce each other because of social discrimination. However, women who do not feel like they fit the role may begin to wish for the opposite sex. Our identities are not just what we were born into, but are also…our experiences in the world, [and] the understanding we create from those experiences” (Tzedek). Take for instance, the article read in class about the Muslim woman who escaped her family’s culture in order to express her true identity as a lesbian woman. Aliyah knew her family would not accept her as a lesbian because it went against her religion and culture. She said that “I want to be a part of my family, but what is the price that I have to pay? Honestly, I would rather die than go back to that person I was” (5).
Not only does she feel like she has to conform to what her family wants but also to what society believes a woman should be; a heterosexual white female. This is a problem because this lurking emotion of confusion stirs an idea of hopelessness. Will there ever be a society where being a lesbian woman is normal? Or will those who demand equal rights finally get a social climate in which variation can exist without being exploited? All in all, one can see how a woman’s identity can form a juntion of their race, religion, and or sexuality.
Being a woman in a socially constructed male world is a struggle to hold top management jobs because they are undermined regardless of there talents and aptitude. Men “…say they will work to improve women’s status, in the society, the university, or the curriculum, but they cant or wont support the idea of lessening men’s” (McIntosh, 278). In relation to intersectionality, all women have the common junction of being oppressed under a man’s higher status, however, being a white woman in comparison to a black woman; there is now a change in status.
While white privileged feminists fought for increased access to professional jobs they ignored the fact that women of color and women of the working class were being overworked. “Eventually, it became a matter of women being divided by forces of labor because of how society’s conformities shaped them. Rather than fighting to change men’s oppressive dependence on women at home, they instead focused on the fight for higher status among races” (Student Article). Because these gender differences shaped how a woman should act, it caused a rift between women.
They ultimately fell prey to the “divide and conquer” strategy causing women not to realize that they all share the same oppressor. However, in the article “When Mom and Dad Share it all”, portrays couples who overcome opposite sides of the spectrum and share equal roles in the household. They ultimately defied the stereotype of women staying at home while their husbands were out working. This is a problem because as we continue on, “either we engage in racism/sexism or play a role in supporting to help because there is no neutral in this matter” (Class Discussion).
Not only that but Audre Lorde stated “…we must recognize differences among women who are our equals, neither inferior nor superior, and devise ways to use each other’s difference to enrich our visions and our joint struggles” (Lorde 249). In conclusion, women’s multiple identities are determined by system of powers or oppression among the expectations set by society. As women everyday exceed the leaps and bounds set forth by society, one can not help to envision a world where women are of equal stature as men.
Ultimately, intersectionality can potentially reveal the connections between the wars on women and help create aspirations for a completely different world. In other words, “never let the hand you hold, hold you down” (Author Unknown). Essay #2 Race, gender, and the value of a mother’s work all interweave the underlying definition of motherhood. Throughout the years, motherhood has been culturally and historically constructed, giving it variable meaning to women. In other words, it is an institution that paints a significant and symbolic content in our culture; making an impact on all women.
It is essentially standards and experiences that shape our source of personal identity. Although, the expectations and meanings of motherhood vary across culture and time, it also gives the notion of what a woman should be in accordance to society. Therefore, there exist similarities and differences in responsibilities of African American, Native American, and Latina mother’s because of these set culturally defined roles. The qualities of motherhood all have similar elements in the African American, Native American, and Latina community.
For instance, all three base their definition of motherhood as symbolic and nurturing (Class Discussion). Not only that, but all three culturally defined communities struggle with transcending the boundaries of being held under oppressive conditions. Therefore, “…white women are challenging the cult of true womanhood and its accompanying definition of motherhood; [this] dominant ideology remains powerful. White women in nuclear families are known to stay home for the nurturing of their children.
Therefore, this makes it difficult for Latina women, who are transnational mothers, to challenge this ideal, because they constantly have to “…cope with stigma, guilt, and criticism from others” (Avila, 310). In the movie, “Maid in America”, three Latina women leave their country at the expense of their family to work and provide for their family. However, they still believe that maintaining a strong mothering tie is crucial in a children’s growth. Maria Elena insisted that motherhood is “…emphasized quality rather than quantity …” (Avila, 317).
As for Native American motherhood, they also believe that “…mother work involves working for the physical survival of children and community. For African mothers “…emotional care for children and providing for their physical survival were interwoven as interdependent, complementary dimensions of motherhood” (Collins, 287). As one can see, the basis of motherhood stems from the desire to not depend on males for support while molding this strong institution of motherhood. Not only that, but all three communities of mothers rely on blood-mothers or other community members to care for their children.
For the African American community, “‘other-mothers’, women who assist blood-mothers by sharing mothering responsibilities,…have been central to the institution of Black motherhood” (Collins 288). As for Latina women, they heavily rely on the “…an expanded and sometimes fluid number of family members and paid caregivers” (Avila, 320). In other words, Latina mothers recognize that there transnational relationship may have a negative effect on their children but they also feel as it defines their experiences as a mother.
All in all, symbolism, nurturing, and the use of community mothers all come together to define a certain aspect in each of these mother’s lives. However, there are differences that overcome these culturally constructed mother’s. For instance, in a Native American community, mothers believe that “In order to do mother work well…women must have power” (Udel 297). This is due to the fact that they have suffered under the loss of reproductive freedom.
They “…thus value and argue for reproductive anatomy, which they link with empowered mother-work” (Udel 298). Therefore, society constructed Native Americans to fight for the power to embrace their motherhood rights. In contrast, African American mothers gain their power through “…their contributions to the community’s wellbeing through their roles as community other-mothers” (Collins). In other words, the norms for this community were developed culturally as previous blood-mothers would engage in this molding of motherhood.
Although both the African American and Native American are both physically and emotionally there for their children, Latina women have essentially redesigned the meaning of motherhood to a whole new level. As they leave the country at the expense of their children, they embark on a journey to financially support their family. This is because social factors such as economic crisis and the need for jobs have drastically increased the number of females because males were not able to attain jobs. Ultimately, these social factors have onstructed the Latina definition of motherhood as they repaint a different perspective of how a mother should be. All in all, socially and culturally, these three communities of mother’s give their own meaning to motherhood in terms of power, and the emotional ties involved. In conclusion, the similarities and differences of upholding a role as a mother in African American, Native American, and Latina mothers are all shaped by social and cultural factors; which ultimately give meaning to motherhood.
Essentially, mother work for these women include teaching their children to retain their identity in a dominant white culture that devalues their history, work, culture, and customs. More so, the physical and psychological survival of their children is vital to the role of these mothers as they empower themselves to meet the needs of their children. All in all, the heart at which motherhood beats all stem from the same element: love.