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A common misconception of identity is that it is just a combination of sex, gender, race, etc. Identity shapes one’s experience in life and even shapes who they are as a person. Intersectionality is very present and active when it comes to one identity and can help highlight the difference among peoples identities. There are a plethora of examples of different people and their identities in the novel Two or Three Things I Know Forsure written by Dorothy Allison.
This novel does an excellent job when it comes to displaying different people in different situations. One specific scene that displays intersectionality is when Allison is thinking about how her mother would always keep things to herself where on the other hand heer grandmother would tell people anything. Allison strongly admired her mother for stating strong through hard times to benefit those around her. She always acted as if everything was always going perfectly and she was happy even around the family.
Her mother taught the family how to put on this act. Dorothy was born and raised in the shadows of poverty but spends an immense amount of time around those that are high class and rich. This is where she puts on the act of acting like she is fine like her mother had taught her. For example “theatre is going to bars with strangers whose income is four times your own; it’s wearing denim when everyone around you is in silk, or silk when they’re all wearing leather” (Allison,27).
This quote perfectly captures the idea of Dorothy acting alike someone she truly is not. This is what Dorothy and her mother have been doing in their lives to fit in with the group of people they are surrounded by. This clearly shows that identity is formed by far more than just one’s sex, gender, and race. Them putting on an act is a form of identity, this is a false identity. This displays how poverty has gendered their family into a close unit. Poverty gendering women is very clear and vivid in this example due to the family struggling financially and have been for their whole life. They acknowledge that poverty represents them within their tight-knit family but not accepting it outside their family, hence why they have this idea and sense of acting. The intersectionality is displayed through the Gibson family’s gendered poverty experiences they have been dealing with their entire life.
Another example of intersectionality at play is in Two or Three Things I know for sure is when at the steps of the feminist collective Dorothy and Wanda sat and conversed with each other. They began conversing about the child care center because Dorothy works and volunteers their frequently. They also discussed the women’s center and feminism as a whole. During the conversation Dorthy had an inner monologue thinking to herself “I wondered if I should give her the stock answer, right out of the radical women’s newsletters on my nightstand: That I became a lesbian because of my commitment to a women’s revolution.” (Allison, 52). Dorothy then took the steps to inform her sister of the truth of her sexuality. Her sister responded with laughter due to being uncomfortable and not knowing what to say. Obviously, Dorothy is different from the majority of women in the world due to her liking the same gender as her own. She is hesitant to let the world and people around her to know that she does not like guys but women. She is even nervous to tell her sister someone from her immediate family that she is a lesbian. Dorothy and Wanda are sisters from the same upbringing and family but still have very different identities. Dorothy being attracted to women is a big part of who she is, how she acts, and most importantly how she’s going to live the rest of her life.
The final example is not from the novel Two or Three Things I Know for sure but from the article Women, Race, and Class written by Angelena Davis. Race and class have a small but noticeable effect on who someone is and how they act. Throughout human history, women have been subordinate to men. In the earliest times, the men would all go out and hunt and the women would stay back and care to the families and camp. In present-day women are commonly viewed as the members of the family who are typically not the breadwinners but the ones tending to the children and taking care of everything that needs to be taken care of at the house. This is commonly known as a housewife. The article states “As between women who were workers and those who came from prosperous middle-class families, the former certainly had more legitimate grounds for comparing themselves to slaves. Although they were nominally free their working conditions and low wages were so exploitative as to automatically invite the comparison to slavery.” (Davis, 33). This quote from Davis displays a lack of intersectionality, due to women being known for a certain thing doesn’t entail that every single woman has to or does that. Gender roles and expectations certainly do play a quintessential role in a women’s identity, although this obviously is not true for all women but it is for plethora in society.
Overall men and women are their own person and have their own identity but it is not just based on gender and what expectations travel along with their gender. There are countless factors that forge and manufacture one’s identity. These handful or examples display the true dynamic of intersectionality at work and how intersectionality presents the difference among everyone.
The institution of the American family has been changing over time, one of the ways in which it is changing is gender and the roles that come along with it. The roles of gender have changed greatly over time in America. As mentioned previously women were viewed as subordinate to men and seen as weak and easy to roll over. The common American women were expected to be the housewife that would take care of the home and the children. While on the other hand the men are viewed as the owner of the house, the top dog, and is expected to be the one to make the living for the family. Men are seen to boss the women of the house around to do petty things for them when they get back from work. In the present day, these roles have been diminished a little but not completely. Women and men are now both present in the workforce in all categories of work. There are families where even the male is taking care of the children and house while the wife works to financially support the family. But it is still incredibly more common to see the wife of the family be working as the housewife rather than the breadwinner. It seems as if certain people will always beleive that men are to be more dominant than women and should be but, on the bright side women in the present day are breaking this stereotype and not giving into the common American family gender roles.
The image of women in society has morphed into a sexual object rather than women. Men use them as sex objects and look at them like they are which has changed a lot compared to a hundred years ago in America. The article The Happy Housewife brings up the point that women are being displayed as sex objects in advertisements to catch the attention of men. This was not nearly as common in previous years in America, it is baffling how common it is to see a woman being portrayed as a sex symbol in advertisements nowadays. The article stated, “The image of woman that emerges from this big pretty magazine is young and frivolous, almost childlike, fluffy, and feminine; passive; gaily content in a world of bedroom and kitchen, sex, babies, and home.” (Friedan, 36). This quote once again shows how women are expected to be the ones taking care of the house and all of the previous stereotypes stated earlier. But now in the present day society has forged the idea of women being sex objects now. Advertisers are literally sexualizing women in their advertisements to catch the attention of men for the advertisement. Additionally, television, social media, and the internet are riddled with scenes and images of women being sexualized. Overall gender is basically the same as it was previously in America but now society has implemented a more sexual image into women.
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