I partook in an interesting informal discussion on culture and gender and how it effects our view of ourselves and our world. Afterward I took an informal straw poll. Now my views have changed on why we do what we do when it comes to our gender and culture.
The discussion question was, “Do you think of yourself as your culture first or do you think of yourself as a Woman/Man first?”
On the surface the question seems pretty simple. I was of the opinion that everyone would think of themselves as gender first and culture second. It made sense to me, starting with you and moving out to the world view. What I failed to understand is we are so intertwined in our culture, our culture is is. It is not really all that clear however.
Some people thought of themselves as their culture then gender. Other people thought of themselves as gender then culture. Why this happened in my small informal survey also surprised me.
It appears parental influence, age, and geography play a large part in how we see ourselves and our culture. I found several main differences that set each of us apart from one another once we are away from our home.
If we were raised in a traditional family setting for our culture, and others we have contact with are too, we are more likely to see ourselves as culture first, followed by gender. In many traditional families, gender roles are clearly defined and rarely crossed. The Women tend the home, while the men bring home the money. To someone raised in this type of environment without outside influences, culture and gender are the same thing.
If we live in a rural setting where big city values and culture does not effect us, we are more like to see ourselves as culture and then gender. For example, we may live in a section where our culture is very strong in a big city, so city values have only a minor impact on us. We may be aware that other people like us live in other places differently, but this is how we are.
If we come from a family that has moved from place to place, and perhaps both parents worked, we see ourselves differently again. Other influences that interrupted or disrupted our family structure. We adapted as we changes geography. We are now more likely to see ourselves as gender first and culture second. For example if both Mom and Dad work(ed) outside the home, we are open to the idea that we and our spouse will work outside the home.
Age plays a large role in how we see gender and culture in our world. The older we are, the more likely we are to have lived in a traditional family where Father worked and Mother ran the household. The older we become the less willing we are to change or conform to new ideas. That wasn’t how it was done when we were kids…. We become not so silent rebels.
When I think of situations that previously made little sense to me, it is now easier to understand why this behavior happens. How we perceive our world determines whether culture is first or gender is first. Culture has no gender and between culture and gender, culture binds the largest number of people together.
When I now think of these situations, I understand this is a culture of people who felt they are wronged in some manner. Whether they were male or female is not a concern. They are acting through their cultural beliefs.