Individual Résistance: The Amy Story Born on July 5th of the year 1958, it seems as though Amy came

onto this earth willing and wanting to create change. Daughter of Bob and Arleta Barber, she grew up watching many of the norms of the time actively torn down, and/or never be constructed as her first instinct. Let me explain, it’s still a fair assessment that during the 60s most women were still being encouraged to stay home and take care of the kids. Arleta was different, she was an individual, she went and worked, she obtained her own money for the family. Bob was a social worker, and he told me that just like Amy, that Bob’s mom, or Amy’s grandma Barber had a great influence on both of them, she taught them many different things. One of the most important and functional things that she taught was that people are individuals, they decide what their role is, not gender, not education, not class. It may seem that is naïve of them to think, but I disagree, its not like they didn’t acknowledge the social constructions, they just choose to ignore them and judge people on an individual basis, because people are individuals. Maybe that’s why Amy took her stand, maybe that’s why her beliefs are so strong, but while gender may have tried to shape and influence her, she resisted, not because of any complicated reasons, but a simple one; it’s not right to judge people on the basis of others, everyone is an individual and should be treated like one, that is Amy’s way of fighting the dominant system of masculinity and patriarchy. Amy is a crusader against oppression, with her own tools to tear down the system. After class yesterday, when you said that people are inherently shaped by gender and how it defines us, I went and told Amy this, and tried to get some follow up questions answered. I began by informing her of what you had said, about how everyone is shaped

by gender, whether they know it or not. Amy acknowledged your view, and said that maybe on some unconscious levels it may have effected her more than she liked, but its not as though she didn’t know those gender roles existed, but more that she ignored them. Her argument didn’t make sense at first, I was personally confused. Then she started to talk about how she wanted my sister and me to turn out. She confided in me that she wanted and hoped that she had done a good enough job in “rearing” us that we didn’t see things like gender roles as being existent, because everyone is an individual. I was still confused, until I looked back at what she had told me about her life. She doesn’t believe in inequality, she doesn’t believe in oppression of any sort, and her method for breaking down the dominant system is one of personal resistance that incorporates and acknowledges that everyone is an individual. Where did this method come from? I thought the method was a unique one, not too complicated, but one of those “so obvious of an answer that no one really sees it” type, which seemed to be shaped by someone. Who is that someone, I asked Amy what woman played and integral part in her life? Her response was simple: “My grandmother barber, she believed that people were individuals and that you should treat them that way, and in a time when gender roles were more defined, she bucked that system, and did what she needed to do to help the family, and worked when married women weren’t supposed to. Because she was such an individual she was important, she didn’t kowtow to social norms”

Amy informed me that her grandmother was important to her life because she showed how norms are not concrete, the norms don’t even define whether you are a good person or not that is deserving of attention and love. Amy told me that her theories of individuality come primarily from her grandmother and her attitude towards the norms. So we know that Amy supports viewing people not as a group, but viewing people as individuals, one by one having to be judged, each differently. How did this affect her actions whether in school or in real life? To answer this question, I think we need to focus on three examples in which she fought the system; first is what she did in middle school, second, teaching her kids a worldview of individuality, and third pointing out certain things. When I asked Amy about any activity or movement she had been in, she told me about how her and four other girls fought her school system. Amy and crew went against the administration, protested and created a movement to allow her crew into shop and mechanical drawling, both of which had not been open to females at her school. Amy was one of the first four females to be let into those classes. I asked her why she did this, and she said it wasn’t right to disallow anyone into any class because people are individuals. People all have different tastes and different interests, and when people get put into and acknowledge such things as gender roles then it doesn’t allow people to be judged as an individual, which Amy feels is the most important thing that could be done to tear down the dominant systems oppression. I would contend this is an example of how Amy didn’t want to acknowledge and sort of social roles that were created by race, gender, class etc, but wanted to judge people and create opportunity for people because people are individuals, all of us different and unique.

The Second good example involves Amy’s kids. Amy throughout the interview stressed how important her kids are, and how they changed her life for the better. Amy contends that she tried the best she could and knew how to rear accepting and understanding adults. She did this through her world view, she treated people not as someone who needs to act a certain way or feel a certain way because of their gender, but as an individual, she let people act how they want (within the bounds of not hurting others) and judged and interacted with people on an individual basis. This world view was modeled, that’s what happens when you are a parental unit, you get modeled, and sometimes the children do it unknowingly. I know that I unknowingly modeled my mother, and it wasn’t until we watched the movie Angus I truly understood the worldview that I had learned and was taught. Angus and its main theme throughout the movie is that there is no normal, that life shapes us and changes us in different ways. Many things occur that will shape people’s lives in many different ways, and because everyone sees things differently, there is no normal. This idea was passed on to my sister and I, and it creates a non-judgmental worldview, at least as judgments are concerned by the dominant system. We learned that we should judge on the individual not by some stereotype or some role they aren’t fulfilling. It’s a lot like all the Scary Movies or the Not another Teen Movie, those movies traditionally and usually make fun of stereotypical roles that people think need to/ and think do exist. The acknowledgement of Gender roles in society, created the motivation for Amy to teach her children a worldview that doesn’t value social roles, but values the individual, because she felt that this would enable us to fight oppression, and not be oppressive.

The third and I think most remarkable thing that Amy did to employ the worldview of individuality was involved with Amy’s parents. When I would go with my mother to parents house we would most likely see many different things going on that are against the traditional gender roles; Amy’s dad fixing and cooking meals, Amy’s dad being the one concerned with weight and working out, and Amy’s mother being the one who was more of the “Dan Conner” (Rosanne reference) type, in which she sat and watched lots of TV after a long days work. These things were pointed out by my mother, and she compared them to things that would go on in our house, like how she would go to work, come home and still cook and fix meals. She explained that both situations were normal, that both were acceptable, and that each situation was the best for those people. Its things like this that instilled the worldview that my sister and I obtained. Another prime example of this world view in action is how Amy interacts with people that are her children’s age. The only time I’ve ever seen her enact a social role of age, is when it’s concerned with drinking, she would not and will not let underage persons drink in her presence. Beyond that I asked her, I figure keeping friendships with people that are your age is pretty easy, you’ll have lots of things in common, but how do you interact so well with people that are my age, specially the women? Her response was that it was easy, that if you treat them with respect and treat them as an individual, that ultimately we are all people, and that we can always find common ground for discussions. Amy also contended that the best way she found to help rid them of their apprehension of the old people is through humor, that through humor and treating them as an individual, people are able to open up. I personally have not only witnessed her friendships with people that are far younger than she, but also have experienced it when

my mom has been able to hold friendships with my friends and hold a friendship with me. She treats me as an individual, she is a friend, and most importantly when needed she is a mother also. So what does all this babble about world view have to do with gender, well everything. Amy is a crusader against oppression, and she uses her worldview to tear the system down. It seems to be that she acknowledges the gender roles that our society has, and understand how it might have subconsciously affected her, but she believes that in order to have gender roles in the first place, you have to accept the roles, conform to the roles and try to place others in those roles. Amy’s way to fight that system of social roles is easy, ignore social roles, ignore the gender roles, treat everyone as though they are individuals, because when you approach everyone as their own unique personality, name, and life, it makes it hard to cast roles upon them. I believe that the examples above show how Amy has used this world view of individuality to tear down the roles that create our oppression in the society we live. So while gender may not have shaped her as an individual, it has shaped how she approaches the world, and other people.