Identity Formation and Oppression of Muslim Culture

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Identity formation is an intricate notion. It usually is affected in 4 different ways in our society. The micro, meso, macro, and global levels of social interaction all play a key role in identity formation. These levels are always present, however, we may think we define ourselves by our own value or we believe that society plays a role in our own identity formation. We must look at the everyday groups we fall into such as male, female, heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, freshman, sophomore, senior student, working class, upper middle class, white, black, Christian, Muslim, young, old, foreign, American or many others. These levels closely intertwine to form identity, at the conscious or sub-conscious level, with or without our agreement. I agree with Okazawa-Rey and Gwyn Kirk (2006) in their book titled Women's Lives Multicultural Perspective when they write that, "each of these levels involves the standards—beliefs, behaviors, customs, and worldwide—that people value" (pg.62). Identity can be most firmly shaped by us at the micro level. In this level we have the power play a significant role in the way we identify with our society. According to Okazawa-Rey and Kirk (2006) the micro level of analysis is defined as the links between people and issues as seen from a personal; or individual standpoint (pg. 62). The individual has the choice to make changes to the way he or she is seen and in what groups of society he/she falls into. We configure our priorities according to our own concern, not allowing social norms to affect this level of identity formation. Okazawa-Rey and Kirk (2006) gives a few examples such as a women attending a counseling session after being raped, losing a parent, and or a professional woman being passed up for promotions that were given to less qualified male employees, they state "these experiences shape each person's ongoing formation of self, whether or not the process is conscious, deliberate, reflective, or even voluntary" (pg.63). Many life altering events can also affect the way we identify ourselves. People can have a traumatic accident that can leave them physically unable to perform like they used to, or discover something new about their sexual orientation, both of which can drastically affect the way they identify themselves. Becoming a U.S citizen for example can totally change the way an individual sees themselves, because of the negative stigma there is in our culture regarding immigrants. Dorothy Allison (1993) writes in her essay about her life growing up poor white trash, then moving to south Florida where people had not known her to be poor (pg 83). This move to Florida was a life changing incident which allowed her to begin fresh. She states, "because they did not see poverty and hopelessness as foregone conclusion for my life, I could begin to imagine other futures for myself" (pg 83). Changing locations is often a way to reinvent one's own identity, because no one knows anything regarding your previous life. The meso level appears to me to be the most challenging level for social identity. In this level we are not only trying to see who we are but we have the added stress of worrying how others will perceive us. This is where society tries to classify us into groups to better understand us or relate with us, or maybe classify us as outsiders. Okazawa-Rey and Kirk define the meso level of analysis as, "a term used to describe the relationships among issues, individuals, group as viewed from a community or local perspective" (pg G-3). At this stage the people we begin to associate with ask us questions like, "Who are you" or "where are you from". In order to either relate to us or place us outside of the box. The box of what is ok or normal according to society's standards. One key aspect discussed in the book is marginality. Marginality basically means being able to be viewed as an insider by two different groups (Okazawa-Rey and Kirk 2006)....
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