Sunday, April 29, 2012

Essay #2: Identity

            Each one of us are different, but yet the same in so many ways.  Some of us might act, talk, think, or look alike.  We might come from different places, or the same place, and thus have similar or distinct physical features.  But we all are unique in a certain way.  It is interesting how you will never find someone who will be exactly just the same way you are. Our identity is a long, constructing process that takes place throughout our lifetimes.  The notion of self-identity and the construction of it is a broad and interesting topic.  Several things or facts attribute to this “identity” perception.

            We first have to look at what identity is.  What exactly is personal “identity” and where does this notion come from?  We often speak of one's “personal identity” as what makes one the person one is. Your identity in this sense consists roughly of what makes you unique as an individual and different from others. Or it is the way you see or define yourself, or the network of values and convictions that structure your life. The concept of identity as we usually use it is quite close to the metaphysical concept of essence, in which it has its origin. The word essence is derived from the Latin esse, which means «to be» and has its origin in the thought of the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Essence stands for the fundamental being of something, that is to say the set of attributes that make it what it fundamentally is, which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity or would just not exist.  Having that said, we can go back and explore what makes one’s identity and how this one is shaped.

Our identities are first shaped at home.  As babies we imitate our parent’s actions.  We imitate everything we see.  Our identities begin to construct ever since we are born.  We then begin to be us, the persons we’ll grow up to be.  Parents’ actions are primarily what affect a kid’s self-identity as they grow up.  The construction of our identities is then influenced by the environment around which we live and grow up, and the people with whom we socialize and surround us. Much of what we see and go through impacts us, and these events are what shape our self-beings.  Hence, no person can be the same as another.  We all go through and experience different situations that make us unique in different ways.

Simple things like growing up in a certain neighborhood or culture attribute to the shaping and developing of our identities.  Two normal average kids living and growing up two blocks apart from each other may experience completely different situations that would make them very different from each other.  One of the kids may live in poor/dangerous neighborhood where gangbangers reside.  Just the presence of the gangsters in that particular neighborhood changes the space completely from that of his fellow friend living two blocks away in a residential area where gang-related problems are not an issue.  The environment and space are key factors in developing self-identity.  As an example we could look at people living in a wealthy and safer neighborhood like Bel-Air where the crime rate is low, the median household income is $207,938, which is pretty high, (making it the neighborhood ranked number one in the Los Angeles County for the household income.)  Someone growing up in neighborhood like Bel-Air will most likely have a completely different view of the world than someone who grew up in another neighborhood like Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw, where the crime rates are extremely high, and people don’t exactly live in luxury.  The rich and the poor will have their identities shaped very differently according to the conditions they live in.

The fact of living and growing up in a dangerous/poor neighborhoods or a rich and wealthy ones helps to define how a person shapes his ideals and own-self.  Living in a poor neighborhood people have to be careful and aware at all times.  This may cause them to live in fear and/or to always have their guards up.  With all the robberies, murders, and problems going on one develops a different perspective of the world.  A kid growing up in a wealthy neighborhood where he does not have to worry about being outside at night and even during the day, or leaving his toys in the yard without having them stolen, forms a different view of the world in his mind.  The perception one gets of the world, is mostly gathered from the events and environment in which one lives.  This does not necessarily mean that just because one lives in a particular area or neighborhood he/she will develop an identity that reflects the environment of the neighborhood in which he/she lives.  Like I mentioned before, parents’ actions are what first influence and shape a kid’s identity.  It would not matter as much if the kid lives in the richest neighborhood, if at home he sees violence and experiences abuse of any kind, either physical or mental.  As a result the kid will grow up to be a certain way: aggressive, pacific, honest, kind, abusive, or even a delinquent, etc.  This is how space, and the environment and conditions we live in shape and help to construct one’s identity.

The shaping and developing of identity is a long and complex process that takes time.  There are many factors contributing to this notion of self-identity.  The situations presented to us, the environment and people surrounding us, to my understanding, are the most influential factors in the construction of identity. In different spaces and situations people act differently.  People behave according to the stage that is presented to them.  This translates to the behavior they develop and practice in other normal situations.  Life is a process of learning.  We constantly keep learning new things.  We learn what is bad and what is good.  In a way we learn to be ourselves and act accordingly.  Developing our identities is learning what, why, and who we are.  We may all take different paths, but in the end we all are heading in the same direction, discovering who we truly are. 

Works cited

o  “Do we know who we are? A brief reflection on identity.” March 26,      2010. Web. April 29, 2012.

o  Mapping L.A: Neighborhoods. Los Angeles Times. n.d. Web. April 29, 2012.

o  Olson, Eric T. "Personal Identity." The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter           2010 Edition.) Edward N. Zalta (ed.) Web. April 29, 2012.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

As Nature Made Him #2

The book had an ending that I could have had foreseen.  Like I said in the previous post parents should not force their kid to be a certain gender.  It may have seemed like the best option at first for their kid to be transformed into a girl so he would not suffer as a man growing up, due to the accident he suffered with his genitalia.  Yet, I think humans should not mess with nature.  What we biologically are, noone can change, not even science.  Dr. Money had an interesting idea though.  Everything we know and do, we learn from our parents as we grow up.  We all go through a process called "enculturation" which is when people learn to behave and be a member of a society.  So, if the way we act, and behave can be controlled and shaped as we grow up, it only makes sense that people could control someone's sexual orientation as well.  Nonetheless, that is a biological feature that we are born with.  Males are, or are supposed to be attracted to females and vice versa, so they can reproduce and keep the cycle of life going. So trying to challenge that fact is unthinkable.  It's kind of like teaching an apple tree to grow oranges. 
Like bruce said in the end, we will be who we trully are.  Science might be able to change people's genitalia, but it can't change people's personalities and self indentities.  In the battle of Nature vs. Nurture I think nature will always win.  It's good to do experiments to find new things that could be helpful in the future. But, things, animals ,and humans, are naturally created in a certain way, because that's the way it's supposed to be for the life cycle to go on, and people and science shouldn't mess with that.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

As Nature Made Him

After reading a little portion of the book "As nature made him" one of the first things i thought about was bruce's parents' reaction or feelings about what had happened to their son.  It's just unimaginable they way they were feeling, knowing that their son would never live a normal life as a boy or man.  The book argues about gender and sex.  It says that gender is socially constructed.
It is the year 1966 was the accident happens.  After having twins, Ron and Janet discover that one of their sons has difficulties peeing, o they take them to the pedestrian so they could be circumsized and thus solve the problem.  Unfortunately the doctor that does that type of surgery was not available the day that the twins were scheduled to go.  Another doctor takes on the job but the surgery goes wrong and the doctor burns Bruce's pennis.  Ron and Janet are obviously worried about him and his future.  They are concerned about their son's future, sexually as well and socially.  They say he would never be a whole man. 
They later see this guy on tv called Dr. Money who talks about turning males into females and vice versa.  He offered this procedure as a solution for babies born with sexual abnormalities.  Ron and Janet saw this as an opporunity to help make easier the life of Bruce.  I personally am not ok with the fact that people change their sex.  But this story changed my view.  In some cases such as Bruce's it may be the best option for them.  Still, I feel like the parents, despite the fact that their parents, shouldn't decide whether the child should be turned from a boy to a girl or vice versa.  I think they should let the kid grow up and make his own choice, based on what HE/SHE thinks is best for them.  Parents can't just force their kid to be a certain gender, I feel like in such cases (and only in such cases) when the kid comes out with defects with their genitalia, the kid himself at a mature age should make the best option for him/herself.
The book so far seems pretty interesting and has me intrigued about what will happen to Bruce.