For Wednesday’s class, we spent a good amount of time discussing the myth of the social identity, and the privilege wheel exercise raised some questions for me. For one, do certain aspects of one’s social identity have more power over the other? How much importance is placed on these aspects?
I personally believe that social identities are situational. To say that social identities are situational, I mean to say that when we are met with discrimination that threatens to diminish the standing of certain aspects of our identity, such as race, gender, sexuality, and religion more importance is placed on these identities. A change in environment, discrimination against those of our in group may heighten the importance of seemingly minor aspects of our social identity. For example, I do not define myself by my sexual orientation, particularly because the environment I live in is fairly liberal and accepting. I do not feel that I face discrimination everyday because of my sexual orientation. However, the homophobic backlash against the gay community brought on by the current Republican GOP election makes me place more importance on my sexual orientation. As the Republican candidates portray the gay community as immoral, sexually charged deviants and threaten to strip the community away of basic human rights, my identity as a gay male becomes more salient. Even though I don’t define myself by my sexuality, when faced with discrimination or threats against my basic civil rights and liberties, my sexual orientation becomes more important.
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