Growing up in a southern state with traditional family and religious values has made transitioning into college life a bit difficult. Questioning myself and my own bias from my experiences in life is an ongoing process, as I wonder “is it me? ” or its possible that I feel strongly about issues because my values and ethics overshadow all. I feel as if I move from a state of passive to aggressive in my actions just as I do my own state of internal feeling of who I am.
Sometimes I feel like I have been treated unfairly both as a child and now, simply for being female. In my actions I sometimes pretend that this does not bother me and that a woman’s place is in the home, being a good mother and wife, bit other times I lash out when this is expected of me from my church, family, and some facets of society. I struggle in this passive aggressive way in my own religion too. As a Baptist, sometimes I feel like the teachings are true and correct and that social issues, such as homosexuality are undesirable and need to be “fixed”.
Other times, however, I feel like homosexuality and other so-called social issues brought up in the church should not be treated like diseases and we have no business trying to “cure” others. Growing up white, female, and very religious, I was taught ideals that seemed to contradict themselves. The most notable cases were of people in poverty. We were not a poor family, but I would see a great majority of people in my state of Tennessee living in very unpleasant conditions. From teachings of the church and my family, I was taught to help those, who cannot help themselves.
But, the irony was that most conservative people around believed that everyone could help themselves and that their state of poverty was simply due to laziness. I remember thinking that I was just a kid and had no control over my home life and that these other impoverished kids I would see could not help their situation any more that I could. So it was confusing that no one seemed to go out of their way (with a few exceptions) to help poor people back home. We were, also, expected to treat people equally and not have any “hate in our hearts” for anyone for any reason.
It wasn’t obvious to my friends and I that our parents were in any way bigoted toward minorities, because they didn’t use racial slurs or openly discuss their dislike for other races. But, when my friends and I started becoming older and noticing boys, our parents wouldn’t hide their shock when we said that we had an attraction for a boy of another race. Then I realized that my parents did not believe in interracial relationships and for awhile I thought that it was not racist, but now I see that my upbringing was all twisted together with racism, sexism, and contempt for the poor and homosexuality.
Like many southern girls, I was supposed to find a nice man to marry and going to college was the way to find this man. My family and the society I grew up in had all these expectations of me, hidden agendas, and covert prejudices that I am still trying to understand fully. I want to be treated like an intelligent woman, whose ideas have merit. I get so angry and feel aggressive when people believe that college is just a “hobby” and that I am here just to find “Mr.
Right”, I am tired of all the years of playing the passive role of the quiet and complacent “southern belle”. I, also, want to widen my base of friends to include people who do not let religion become a barrier to their lives. Many times from what I have seen in the church, people mindlessly believe what the preacher says and don’t take time to understand that everyone is human and should be treated fairly. I wish I had the courage to go to speak to people, who are homosexual, but I still can’t. This is one of the goals I am working on now.