Other able to reflect and change in

 Other girls’ voices within the
friendship group were consequently hushed and at times even silenced depending
on their position within the group, sometimes under the instruction of the
‘popular girl leader’. (R. George, 2007). I agree with this as I have
experienced the power discourse within the playground between girls, however
another thought that comes to mind is that the process of ‘othering’ could not
have just come about into these kids’ minds. We believe that a child’s first
base in terms of interactions is within the family context and our social
identities are constructed through interactions with others- as humans we are
able to reflect and change in accordance to these social exchanges
(Herbert-Mead, 1934). Mead’s works have shown that we may change our image
based on our interactions in regards to these interactions- also known as the
looking glass self. Unfortunately, this issue has not been addressed
adequately as the process of ‘othering’ rather points towards a deeper set of
dynamics, which points to the initial socialisation of a child.

Bauman sees
our identities set up through the notion of otherness, which is vital to the
way societies agree upon categories of identities (Bauman, 1993), he uses the
example of the ‘other’ being diametrically opposite to oneself or a stranger
(Bauman, 1998). However, Jenkins differs in his view as he says. “A group is a
self-conscious collectivity, rooted in processes of internal definition and while
a category is external defined.” (Jenkins, 2011, p54) This means that in terms
of ethnicity there will be an open door for othering to take place, because an
internal definition is based on one’s own meaning of their social identity. Whereas
the process of external definition means that someone outside of this
individual sphere is attaching a definition (Jenkins, 2011, p53)

So in
essence, a group is internally defined, but a category is externally defined. A
group is defined by its size as it is the build-up of individuals who are
mindful of the cultural values of their own group. However, a category is more
comprehensive in its external definition as it more made up of people with the
power to give a name to social relation for example; scientists (Jenkins,
2011). I believe that this experience has shaped an aspect of my personality
today because as people, we seem to assign meaning to the world through
oppositions. I tend to see myself from the ‘other’s’ perspective and I know
that this has some negative consequences upon me because there will always be
something that I am comparing myself with. I have seen significant changes in
myself as I am always trying to be a perfectionist and I often aim to blur the
distinction between myself and the other, through experience, being ‘othered’
in a negative way especially during childhood, is not a good feeling. As Hall
stated; ‘identities are the names
we give to the different ways we are positioned by, and position ourselves
within, the narratives of the past’ (S. Hall, 1996). My identity as it is in
the present tense, is different in regards to my identity in the past and will
probably change further on in the future. My thirst to know more about the
struggle of my country has shaped my identity because it may be that I am aware
about a historical moment of trauma and oppression, making me much more
empathetic towards my culture. This is because society is constantly going
through change in which security and stability of cultures in society is being
threatened (Giddens 1984: 41-92), which makes it important to me to understand
my cultural roots.

Growing up and being able to experience long and regular visits to my country,
Bangladesh, has given me a cultural context of what practices in my culture
that I wanted to abandon and what practices I wanted to uphold. Despite living
in the UK where goals and values hold different meanings (Rogoff), it has given me
the chance to see things from different perspectives and understand bits what
makes me who I am. My recent visit to Sylhet, Bangladesh in the summer of 2016
where I stayed for two and a half months, I paid direct attention to the gender
discourses between the Bengali women and their position within it. My family
and I had shared our stay in Sylhet between my paternal Grandparent’s village
house and my maternal Grandparent’s house in the urban city of Sylhet. When
visiting the village home I found that there were never any females in sight
besides for workers; female workers were hired for kitchen and cleaning
purposes whereas the male workers were mainly hired for farming and fishing
purposes. The position of women in Bangladesh is the direct result of the
dominant patriarchal values which is deep-rooted in the cultural pattern which reflects the
subordination of women, where women are dominated by a patrilineal kinship structure- this further
reinforces the social and economic dependence of women upon men. I felt that it
prescribes the relative
lower status of women, as opposed to their male partners. During my stay
in Bangladesh there were workers who were hired to take care of my every need-
who were mainly young females. As I am used to taking care of my own personal
needs in terms of my clothing, cooking and cleaning, this was very uncomfortable
for me to experience. I knew that the only reason for this is that girls
usually work in village homes is because were taken out of school before
finishing high school and look after the family- so they may be a source of
income. Many girls get married after high school, the education system in the
village prescribes that the purpose of women’s education is to produce good
mothers and wives with the constant round of childcare to confine them in the
house (Heidensohn, 1996). This shows another example of The Other, as it represents how
socialisation in the village and each role assigned to a gender constructs our
ideas of what it is to be a man or a woman- viewing the two as direct opposites
of the other without taking into account other genders. Simon de Beauvoir
argues that women are made to be the Other of man, which socially constructs
masculinity as a universal norm in which the position of women is defined (Simon
de Beauvoir, 1949). I had experienced feelings of
inclusion and exclusion at the same time. Whilst being there, I was looked at
as a ‘Londoni’, meaning someone who is from London; the attributes of someone
of this type would be assumed to be someone who is rich, educated and much more
advantaged as opposed to a Bangladeshi. Here I felt excluded, reason being is
that these assumptions made about a ‘Londoni’ already treats me as a tourist in
my own country, and paves a route to better treatment, which is thought to make
me feel better, but rather it isolated me. As an insider, I had experienced
many of the same issues that the women faced during my visits. My insider
position grants me access to a Bengali woman’s worlds; I was settled in an
inflexible third space. As
Hooks (1984) has expressed, “We looked from the outside in and from the inside
out. We focused our attention on the centre as well as on the margin.” (Hooks,
1984, p. 9). This means that someone cannot separate the two terms because both
give strength to the other. However in my third space position, I have the
chance to explore my topic from two positions: as an outsider living on the
margins and as an insider. This
experience has shaped who I am as a person because occupying an outsider and
insider position in my culture; it helps to be reflexive in that I am able to
judge a situation by taking in both perspectives.                                                                                                                                                                                                   


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