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Identity versus Identification
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I read a comment on another blog to the effect that without parents, without a spouse, the person was just herself and that was a very odd feeling. I can empathize, and I wrote the following:

Most women are raised from childhood to identify themselves as somebody's daughter, somebody's sister, somebody's niece and eventually somebody's wife. The first time a woman has to identify herself as just "me" it is often a mindset altering, life-changing experience. And some women run screaming (metaphorically) into another self-defining relationship as soon as possible, rather than live as an independent entity.

I discovered this for myself when I went into Peace Corps training. Each trainee had several sessions with a psychologist, and the first question he asked was, "Who are you?" I had never asked that question of myself and it took me an entire hour to shed the societal/family definitions and define myself as myself and not feel guilty, self-centered or selfish doing so.

Most boys are raised to define themselves as themselves and theirs is a very different outlook on life. How many men do you know if asked, "Who are you?" would say, "I'm Rosie's husband." Not many.

Society reinforces the difference (social identification), not as a conscious conspiracy to denigrate women, but by social custom. I am the sole breadwinner and head of household, yet when my husband and I are introduced, even by my boss and/or coworkers, to strangers, he is introduced as Mr. X and oh yes, here is his wife Sarah. He will be asked what does he do for a living and his opinion will be solicited on various matters of import. I am there for decoration and moral support.

Except of course, I don't let it happen, and people who know me well aren't surprised by my actions. I step forward, put out my hand for a handshake and introduce a topic of conversation (he/she who leads the conversation is seen as being the dominant participant). Unless I'm disgusted at the whole social convention thing, in which case I go off somewhere and visit with somebody else.

I urge people who are involved with children in the roles of parents, teachers, relatives, friends to think about these issues. The child identity you support may be your own.

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