EDC1200 Self Education Society ASSIGNMENT 1 PERSONAL IDENTITY AUDIT Lorna Clifford Contents Page2Contents Page Page 3Section 1 Introduction to Identity Page 4 – 9Section 2Experiences with the Axes 4 – 52. 1Race 6 – 72. 2Class 8 – 92. 3Gender Page 9 – 10Section 3Who am I Now? Page 11Bibliography Section 1 – Introduction to Identity Identity: 1. the condition or fact of being the same as or exactly alike; sameness; oneness 2. ) the condition or fact of being a specific person or thing; individuality b) the characteristics and qualities of a person, considered collectively and regarded as essential to that person’s self awareness c) the condition of being the same as a person or thing described or claimed (http://www. yourdictionary. com/identity) Identity and the questions ‘who am I? ‘ and ‘where do I fit in this world? ‘ are asked by everyone at some point in their life, there is a need to ‘belong’.
This need seems to be more prevalent in today’s society than in that of previous generations. It was common in the early part of the 1900’s for children of ‘working class’ families to themselves be considered ‘working class’, this shaped not only how they saw themselves but how they were perceived by others. Many women of the same era had little or no identity outside of being a wife and mother. Society today has changed so dramatically that the lines between class, gender and culture have blurred, leading to much greater flexibility.
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Although these changes are in the most part positive, we see more people searching for their ‘identity’. We have better choices, are more affluent, are better educated and are more culturally aware – yet we still struggle to understand who we are. Identity is fluid, that is, how you identify yourself now may not be the same as 5 years ago or, 5 years from now. As life circumstances change, so to does your identity. You will be shaped by teenage experiences, work, study, marriage, children, locality, death and other people’s perception of you.
History also plays a role in shaping your identity, there is a saying (origin unknown) that “you can’t go forward without first looking backward”. To fully understand who you are, you must first understand and acknowledge where you came from and what impact that has on how you see yourself and how others perceive you. Understanding ones identity and how it has been shaped goes some way towards answering ‘who you are? ‘ and in doing so enables you to better understand others. “Identity refers to our internal, private experiences – the way we think, our feelings and how we perceive the world.
The way we experience and feel about ourselves also shapes how we perceive and respond to others” (Bessant and Watts, 2007, p 153). Section 2 – Experiences with the Axes 2. 1 RACE 2. 1. 1 Description of Event – Race Background Information My family emigrated to Australia in 1969 and after living in a Hostel we moved to Dapto in 1971. We lived in a small Housing Commission Estate and surrounded by people from many different countries, it was a great place to grow up. Our home was, by today’s standards, quite small – but I thought it was huge.
The best thing about our Bangaroo Avenue was that we lived right across the road from the public pool. School Holidays 1978 I can’t wait to get out and play, I think we’ll try to get a couple of teams together and play soccer on the paddock at the back of the pool. We played cricket yesterday but Marco from next door got hit in the face with a cricket ball and went home crying with a black eye! School holidays have been great, mum and dad bought a season pass to the pool, so we have been swimming and sunbaking nearly every day.
We went fishing down at Macquarie Rivulet last week and mum saw a big snake, I don’t think we’ll be going back there for a while! There are heaps of kids to play with, some I like more than others. The boys can be a bit rough to play with some times but dad keeps an eye on us. We have an Aboriginal family living around the corner, they’re the only black people in the area, they don’t join in and play with us but just sit and watch, which seems a little strange. They get called names like ‘Abo’ and ‘Coon’ – I don’t like to call names, I get called 4 eyes at school and I hate it.
I don’t really know much about Aboriginals, but I do know that no one likes to be teased. Dad treated us to an ice-cream today, as we were stood waiting for the van he called out to the Aboriginal kids to see if they wanted to come and have an ice-cream with us. I was really embarrassed and kept looking to see if anyone was watching – I didn’t want any of my friends to see me with them. Once we started talking we found that we had lots of things in common; we all liked chocolate ice-cream the best, we all loved swimming and we all hated vegetables!
They go to a different school to us, but one of them is in the same grade as me, and I found out his favourite singer is the same as mine, Michael Jackson. Photo 1: The kids after ice-cream 2. 1. 2 Analysis of Event – Race As a child I never experienced Aboriginals up close until that day in 1978, I had seen some and listened at school when they taught about the arrival of the First Fleet, but I had never actually talked to one. I was 10 years old and my world was as small as the street I lived on.
I lived on a street that had families from Australia, England, Ireland, Italy, Poland and Germany – but none of them were ‘black’. My reactions at the time were based on both inexperience and experience. Because of my lack of exposure to Aboriginals, I had no idea if they were like us, unlike us, spoke proper English, or even if they went to a normal school. But my experience of being teased stopped me from ever calling them names. At the time I was ashamed to be seen with the ‘black’ kids because I knew that my friends would tease me and at 10 all I was worried about was fitting in.
Little did I know that that’s all those kids wanted as well – to fit in. As an adult I have a greater understanding of how hard it must have been for the Aboriginal children to come and join in, and I realise that what the kids from the neighbourhood said and did was racist, but that they were probably just repeating words they had heard come from their parents’ mouths. “Parents are the primary character builders and nurturers of the children. Parents may transmit racist messages deliberately and/or unintentionally to their children” (Williams, 2007, p. 4).
I realise that they were no different from me, that just because they were ‘black’ didn’t change who they were on the inside and just because we were white it didn’t mean we were better than them. “White is not, by definition, the norm, the standard, the best. White is just white (Jensen, 2005, p. 2). The steps dad took that day opened my eyes to how people can be targeted for no other reason than appearance, the lesson from that day have stayed with me my entire life. I try not to judge, I always take people on face value and I understand that it’s the differences in people that make them interesting and special.
Education, acceptance, tolerance and understanding are the lessons my parents started to teach me on that day, lessons that I now teach my children. 2. 2 CLASS 2. 2. 1 Description of Event – Class High School – January 1981 I’m nervous! It’s my first day at Kanahooka High and it’s so big, someone told me there are over 800 students. I don’t think I will ever be able to find my way around! First thing this morning Mr Browne asked us to pair up so we could meet a new ‘friend’, I was paired with a girl who was new to the area.
She was really shy but I found out her name is Rosanne and she has just moved here from London, she has a really nice accent. February 15, 1981 Rosanne and I are best friends; we hang out at school every day. She has a younger sister, her mum doesn’t work, they have a cat called Leah and her dad owns 2 petrol stations! I’m going to her house for a sleep over this weekend – I can’t wait. February 18, 1981 Rosanne’s house is awesome, she lives near the lake, the house is double storey with automatic garage doors, the girls have their own room and they have a pool.
I think it’s one of the biggest houses I have ever been in! We’ve had a great day. We swam, played catch and listened to music then Rosanne’s mum baked some yummy cookies, she’s really nice. I met Rosanne’s dad this afternoon, he’s really tall and has a very loud voice. He asked me where I live and when I told him, across the road from the pool he said “you mean in that Commission Estate”. As we walked away I heard Mr. Wood say, “I hope she’s not trouble like the rest of that lot”. I wasn’t sure what he meant, but I knew it wasn’t a very nice thing to say, I was a bit upset and decided that I didn’t like Mr.
Wood. My dad watering the lawn. Lots of other “Commission Houses” in the background. A shot from the late 1970’s. 2. 2. 2 Analysis of Event – Class My reactions as a child were based on pride and lack of knowledge. I was proud of where I grew up; our neighbourhood was a great place to live. There was always something to do and someone to play with, and it was a real ‘neighbourhood’, people looked out for each other and lent a hand when needed. It was safe for all the kids to play on the street because there was always someone’s mum or dad out keeping an eye on things.
I had no understanding of why living in a ‘commission house’ should be seen as negative, or why Mr. Wood presumed that my neighbourhood was full of trouble makers, but I believe he felt that his family were better than mine. There are a number of reasons he may have felt that way; my father was an employee, Mr. Wood was an employer, the location of his residence in comparison to ours or perceived social or financial standing. “Money, power or influence give those who possess them greater control over external forces which affect us all, and open doors which otherwise might have been closed (Bottero 2005, p 3).
As an adult I understand that due to Mr. Wood’s recent arrival in Australia he was basing his judgement of the ‘Commission Estate’ on comments and perceptions he had received from friends and colleagues. He had no concept of where, how or what it was like on our street – or for that matter in any estate style housing, therefore he couldn’t speak from any experience or with any validity. My parents and many others in the street were hard working, honest, reliable and genuine people whose sole purpose it was to provide the best for their family, as I’m sure it was Mr.
Wood’s. The only difference would seem to be money. Thompson and Hickey (2005) state: “If money and wealth [alone] determine class ranking a cocaine dealer, a lottery winner, a rock star, and a member of the Rockefeller family-are all on the same rung of the social ladder [yet most] Americans would be unwilling to accord equal rank to a lottery winner or rock star and a member of one of America’s most distinguished families wealth is no the only factor that determines a person’s rank. ” 2. 3 GENDER 2. 3. Description of Event – Gender My parents both work, dad’s a bricklayer and mum nurses. Mum is also studying at University to get her degree and teaches Nursing at the University 2 days a week. For as long as I can remember the three of us (my brother and sister and I) have been doing jobs around the house to help out. Sometimes we arrive home to a note that tells us to cook the vegetables or put the crockpot on – and at other times there are those ever hated jobs like vacuuming, washing, ironing, dusting and lawn mowing.
Tomorrow, Robert (my brother) is cooking a big pork roast for us, we all do a bit of cooking but Robert loves to cook so mum lets him help out most of the time. The rest of the jobs are shared out between us but for some reason I seem to always get stuck with the washing and ironing! I think I will ask my dad if he can teach me to do the lawns, we don’t have much grass and I love to be out in the garden. Dad and I had a big fight. I asked if he could show me how to mow the lawns and he point blank refused, telling me “that girl’s don’t do lawns”.
I don’t think it’s fair that my brother is allowed and even encouraged to cook, but I’m not allowed to cut the grass. Dad wouldn’t budge no matter how much I argued with him; he just kept on saying that “girls just don’t do that sort of work” or “its different letting a boy cook, because that’s a life skill” and “it’s not feminine to do those sorts of jobs”. I got grounded for arguing with dad, and still had to do the ironing! I still don’t think dad is being fair. 2. 3. 2 Analysis of Event – Gender At 14 I couldn’t understand why my father felt that mowing the lawn was ‘boys work’.
Unlike most of my friends, my mum worked and was the main income earner – so it wasn’t as if my dad could be considered ‘chauvinistic’. I realise that my father came from a very ‘traditional’ family structure where his father worked and his mother stayed home and looked after the children. As an adult I have the same debate with my father, and he still feels the same! His ideas of standard male/female roles are quite flexible in many areas, but there is always going to be a part of him that is swayed by the way he was raised. As Wolcott & Glezer’s study showed: “household tasks seem to be strictly divided along genderlines.
In the majority of cases women did the dishes, cooked the evening meal, vacuumed the carpets, did the laundry, cleaned the bathroom, did the grocery shopping and did the ironing. On the other hand, a majority of male partners undertook repairs around the house, took out the rubbish, and took care of the lawns” On the whole both my mother and father where very supportive of whatever we wanted to do, I can only remember that one occasion that my father took that line, on the whole my parents were considered quite forward thinking as most other families we knew followed the standard gender role of the ‘male breadwinner’.
Adler, L. L. & Gielen, U. P (2001, p104) record: “Females are usually portrayed with nurturing traits, such as caring for their families and being busy with household chores inside their homes. One the other hand, men’s usual activities are more often characteristic of taking place outside their homes in order to bring home and supply the necessities for the families’ subsistence”. Section 3 – Who am I Now? If you were to ask people who know me to briefly describe what they believe my identity to be, I imagine responses may include; mother, woman, friend, strong, wife, quirky, interesting, serious or daughter.
These all describe how I’m perceived by others, how I’m seen from the outside. Perception of self is much harder to describe, but here goes; I am a middle aged female, a wife and mother, a student, an employee, a sister and a daughter, a friend and an enemy, strong yet quite vulnerable, honest and reliable, anxious, an organiser and loyal. Identities shift, and I find myself re-assessing my position more as I age. “Our identities are fluid because we are involved in social practices that are constantly shifting and changing” (Bessant and Watts, 2007, p 155).
How I saw myself 15 years ago differs greatly in some areas, but remains constant in others like; female, wife daughter, employee, sister, and friend. The race experience discussed in section 2. 1 was the beginning of a new chapter for me, I had up till that point never considered what it would be like to be ‘black’ or in fact ‘different’. Being raised in a very multicultural area meant that I never saw other ethnic groups as ‘different’, but when it came to people of colour there was an obvious outward difference.
As I grew up I was exposed to many more ‘coloured’ people and families through school, work experiences and social groups we joined. Colour is not something I use to identify myself or others – I don’t use terms like “I’m a white middle aged female” or “he was a black kid”. I don’t believe it’s a term that should pre-empt any description and certainly not something that should be used as a negative description. Although I grew up in a ‘working class’ neighbourhood, it’s not how I identify myself. I feel that this is an ambiguous term that people use to pigeon hole others.
Money does not equal class, just as, class does not equal money. My parents both worked therefore we had opportunities that others didn’t such as annual holidays, 2 cars, and the first microwave in the street! Did that make us higher class than anyone else? And just because it was a commission estate did that mean that everyone on it was ‘working class’ The short answer is ‘no’ to these questions, class is a perceived notion of where you fit in societies structure. I struggle to ‘label’ myself as any one ‘class’ and feel that I will be judged by others to be of one type or another, depending on their definition of class.
Gender is quite straight forward in some respects – I am a woman. That being said I am not overly feminine and on more than one occasion have been described by others as being ‘blokey’. My ease around both males and females, and my confidence has sometimes led to that term being used as an insult, but I don’t see it that way I see it more as a statement of their lack of confidence. I was raised by a mother who not only worked, but taught at University, studied for her Degree then Masters and went on to become a Senior Executive. Growing up there were positives and negatives to this that helped shape my identity.
Primarily I learned that if you really want something and you are prepared to work for it gender doesn’t matter and that being a strong woman doesn’t mean you won’t have satisfying relationships with your children, partner and friends. Will my identity be different in the future – yes! I will still be many of those things mentioned earlier, but as I grow and develop so too will my identity. BIBLIOGRAPHY Adler. L. L & Gielen. U. P. (Eds). (2001, p. 104). Cross Cultural Topics in Psychology. (2nd ed. ). Westport, C. T: Praeger Publishers. Retrieved December 20, 2009, from: http://books. google. om. au/books/crossculturaltopicsinpsychology Bessant, J. & Watts, R. (2007). Sociology Australia (3rd ed. ). Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin. Bottero. Wendy. (2005, p. 3). Stratification, Social Division and Inequality. Abingdon, Oxon:Routledge. Retrieved December 17, 2009, from http://books. google. com/books? q=stratification Jensen. R. (2005). The Heart of Whiteness, Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege. San Francisco, CA: City Lights Books Thompson, William; Joseph Hickey (2005). Society in Focus. Boston, MA: Pearson. Retrieved December 18, 2009, from http://en. ikipedia. org/wiki/American_upper_class#cite_ref-Society_in_Focus_3-0 Williams. R. PH. D. (2007). Racism Learned at an Early Age Through Racial Scripting. Bloomington, Indiana: Author House Wolcott, I. , & Glezer, H. (1995) Work and Family Life: Achieving Integration. In Kaye Healey (Ed. ), Issues in Society, Gender Roles (Vol 95. , pp. 7-8). Balmain: The Spinney Press Identity. (2009) Your Dictionary, the free dictionary. Retrieved December 10, 2009, from http://www. yourdictionary. com Images sourced from Private Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Taylor, Hervey Bay QLD