Kealey Meyer

Socialization and Identity Project

Cycle of Me
As soon as we come into this world, everyone and everything around us is shaping who
we are and what we will be. This is a study we call sociology; the study of society. It is the part
in our lives where we learn how to “fit in”, and it’s never ending. We are told girls wear pink and
boys wear blue. Boys don't cry or even show any emotion, unless it’s anger. Blacks are mean and
not to become acquainted with; all of the little things that can be subtle or sometimes even
obvious. Our families, peers, school, media, religion, and sports teach us these behaviors, good
or bad. There is an article about sociology called Cycle of Socialization. In the article, Bobbie
Harro claims, “We get systematic training on how to be each of our social identities throughout
our lives”. However bad these identities we are given can be, they are in fact what make us
human. Our world is cruel, giving us these identities, but how cruel can we be? There have been
findings of something we call “feral children”; children who have been shut out from society
completely. In some cases never introduced to a single human. They are called feral children for
the fact that they are barely even human, aliens to our world. An example would be Genie. She
was a girl who was locked in a dark room with no windows, fed only a liquid meal, and she was
tied to a toilet chair since she was only 20 months old. She had no contact with any humans. Her
parents only saw her when they were throwing her food. When officials found her, she was
animal like. She couldn’t walk or eat because she didn’t grow up with an example of what that
looked like. She could not talk or communicate in any way because she didn’t understand what
anyone was saying or doing, so she didn’t have much emotion. She was considered half animal
half infant. Society had not shaped her into a human like it does for the rest of us. She was not
socialized into this cruel world, and she wasn’t the only one. There have been many more
children found like this. They didn’t know how to be human. In every aspect of our lives, we are
given parts of our identities that people/society want us to have. Because of these messages, I am
taught that since I am a woman I am useless, because I am white I am mean and over-privileged,
and because I am a middle class person, I have to bow down to rich people.
Personally, I am at an extreme disadvantage in society, due to the fact of me being a
woman. When I was born, I did not choose to be a girl. In the article “Cycle of Socialization”
Bobbie Harro states, “We are innocents, falling into an already established system,”. Therefore,
we cannot change our gender, or race, even though we feel like we need to sometimes. I
sometimes feel so uncomfortable in my own skin that it’s unnerving. That’s why sociologists
have come up with a solution; it’s what is called the “direction for change”. As a woman, I am
told that I can’t be into woodshop, or football, because they are “boy things”. I can’t like
anything that has something to do with a boy, unless it’s sex. If I don’t show enough of my body
on a daily basis, I’m too ugly and not worth a second glance, but if I show too much, I’m a slut
and all I am is just another desperate girl. I am only an object to be played with and taken
advantage of, never to be loved because I could blow up because I am PMS’ing, and if I’m smart
and get good grades, that’s just boring and useless to guys. The only way to be productive in this
world is to have children. Have you ever heard your parents say, “Can’t wait to have some grandbabies, but not yet!” Even if it is an innocent comment, it is portrayed as a rush to find a
boyfriend/girlfriend and get married and have those grandkids for the parents. This is how the
world sees me as a woman, not just my parents, how they see my future. They think that this is

how I am supposed to be, and it is what they are expecting. It’s really not their fault at all that
they believe this. I am definitely giving them the benefit of the doubt, but only because this is
how they were socialized.
This does not mean they are right, and we are just toys to be played with. In the video A
Girl Like Me, they asked some colored teenage girls what they thought about themselves and
what they thought society thought of them. When I was watching this video, one thing that struck
me was that they all said they thought that they had to have the best bodies. I felt like I connected
with this because every girl (including me) is so worried about how they look and how they act
in front of people, especially boys, that we are portrayed and looked at as irresponsible of how
we act, and that we need to be “taken care of”. I’m told that if I wear a hint of boy cloths, and it’s
not my boyfriend’s, then I’m gay. My family has taught me that it’s okay to wear what I want,
because my clothes don’t define what’s inside of me, but only my shell. In the movie Mean
Girls, all of the plastics (the populars), have the best bodies, are rich, mean, get all of the guys,
and always only sees the bad parts in themselves, like if their hair looks bad that day, or if they
look too fat in that outfit. We are made up of all of these awful accusations. I am fully guilty of
these. I am not the only girl who is self conscious. I sometimes hate how I look, and I can thank
society for that, because as a woman, I am told that I will never be beautiful, or do anything right
with myself. Do you really believe that this is a fair way to judge who we are, before you get to
know us in our true vulnerability?
As a white person, I have something called an “invisible knapsack.” An invisible
knapsack is something in which we are not conscious of, but carries all of our privileges as white
people. As a child, I was taught to love everyone because I am a Christian, and it’s what I am
supposed to do. I didn’t have much a problem with that until school, where I was bullied, and
was almost forced to dislike people. Despite that, I was taught to ALWAYS love people of color,
because they are people too. I always overlooked that and the privileges that I have. Some of
those privileges are the clothes on my back, tools I use in my life, visas, blank checks, maps, etc.
Us, as American white people, are so very adamant about not admitting that we are overprivileged, that it's a bit sad. The article White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by
Peggy McIntosh explains a study that Peggy did. She asked multiple white men if they thought
that they are over-privileged. All of the men said that they didn’t think they were, and they got a
little uncomfortable when asked. They were unwilling to admit that they are over-privileged. As
a woman, I’m thinking less of men here because they won’t admit to the obvious. But who am I
to talk? Even though I am a woman, I am still white, and I will freely admit that I take all of my
privileges for advantage. I always look around myself, looking at the restaurant I’m in, or the
amazing opportunity that I get to even go to a school, much less for free. I take everything for
advantage, everything. It’s what I was taught by society. See it, and use it. Until we started this
unit, I only half thought of it, and still I didn’t think anything of it, just brushed it off my
shoulder, just like most people do in this country. Now that we have started to dive into it, I am
ashamed of what we whites do to people of color. As I learn about the true inequality of this
country, I learn that most of it is just getting worse, as black people are murdered for being in the
wrong place at the wrong time, and white people are the one’s with the gun. We are all different,
but we all have a heart, a mind, a soul, so why can’t we treat each other the same?
In society’s eyes, I am considered a “middle class” person, someone who is making it
pretty well. I have been taught that because I am a middle class person, I must respect everyone

who has more money, and give them everything I have. My family has enough money to have an
apartment at least, and to keep some food on the table. Now, I’m not living in a mansion and
eating exquisite meals, but I’m also not kicked to the streets, left to survive off of other people’s
scraps. In the video Jon Stewart: Class Warfare, he shows a list of every country/state that
showed where the states are in equality. The U.S is number 64. That really hit home for me. He
also talked about how they want to raise taxes on everyone so that every person will be forced to
pay, and that maybe the rich are paying their worth. But what about the poor? The ones who can
barely live and pay taxes? The people like my parents who have taught me that money does not
pay for love and for life, how do they pay for everything and keep telling me that? They wanted
to know why some poor people didn’t even have to pay anything, and basically got a free ride.
So they decided not to raise it, but to keep it the same, and started to think of a better solution.
Being a “middle class” person in general is all about money, but if you look deeper, into
something like schools, it’s complete chaos. Kids are being bullied, sometimes even to the point
of killing themselves, because they are made fun of not wearing the right clothes or because they
can’t afford lunch everyday. I have seen it before, and it is terrifying. It’s all because they can’t
pay for it, and now they are being dehumanized because of it. Personally, my family is struggling
through, but we are making it. I can’t always go to the movies, or eat out, and sometimes I can’t
get simple things, but my family makes sure they are putting food on my table, even if I can’t
always do what I want. Even though I have enough for me, that will never be enough for society.
I will never be enough, no matter how hard I try, or what I do.
School is the battlefield of society. In kindergarten, we are just being yanked into life. We
have to find new people that we will call our friends, but who will later steal our cookies at
lunch. We have to learn to be smart, so that we can boast to everyone that we know 2+2=4. We
are starting to learn how to act around people, so that we can sit at the right lunch table, the one
who has all of the fruit-rollups. We are not directly told these things, and these are very specific
things that we wouldn’t think these things of little children, but this is how we come into this
world, how we are taught. We go into school, or into the world, and we are taught these things
without even noticing what we are being taught. This is how I was raised, and I hadn’t realized it
until now. Bobbie Harro declares in the article Cycle of Socialization “... we also have no initial
consciousness about who we are,” we are unaware that we are being shaped by someone else. All
throughout elementary, we are learning the basics to life, figuring out if we should hold open the
door for people, if we should care about our grades, if we should wear this dress in public,
anything that society is telling us. Then we enter middle school. Middle school is supposed to be
the place where we “begin to find ourselves” when really, it is a place where society finds us. We
are supposed to fit in, and we are told that the less clothes you wear, the better you are, and if
you get good grades, you’re a nerd and can’t be cool. Middle school was the worst years of my
life, because I was caught between who I really am and who society is saying I am. Everyone
fights a battle, and my battle was with weather how I was taught was right or weather it was
wrong, and who I really should be. Now that I am in high school, and learning about how my life
really has been shaped, I am starting to think of ways I could change it. I could wear all of the
wrong clothes, and I can make allies with all of the agents in the world and try to make everyone
aware of this cycle. No matter what I can do, little or small, I can’t do it alone. We all need to do
our own parts, but we need to do them together. From the movie High School Musical, We are
all in this together. So instead of asking what can I do, start asking what can we do.

Mask Paragraph
My mask is split in half. On the left side, I am showing what society wants me to be. I
used a black background to represent how dark and brooding society is, and how ruthless it is.
The white paint is for the “mask” society makes us put on, so that it can hide behind us. I put
words on that side of how society wants me to be, or how people see me. On the right side, I am
showing my true self. I splatter painted it to show how colorful and spontaneous I am. I used
black paint to show that I’m not perfect, and I put words of how I truly am, or at least how I see
myself.