Self Expression Essay

1632 words - 7 pages


Self Expression
The American social environment has revolutionized the ways in which people express their sexual identity. Years ago it was taboo for a young lady to talk about sex or even arouse her interest about the topic. Sheltered under her parents wings a girl was not given the opportunity to explore her sexuality. Parents molded their children in their image and did not allow them much choice or opportunity for diversity. It was not as socially acceptable for a young person to be allowed to express themselves through clothes, music or lifestyle as it is today. Stuart Ewen presents an excellent point in his article “First Impressions'; about young people and how they have come to shape their own identity . Although this article is about the influence of urban styles on materialistic impressions, he makes a remarkably strong point about the historical transformation of individual identity. Ewen states “The old world of the parents was rooted in a continuity…the new world on the other hand, demanded a sense of self that was malleable, sensitive to the power of increasingly volatile surfaces. Addressing the historical transformation of individual identity, historian Warren Susman describes it as a shift from the importance of “character'; to the importance of “personality'; (Ewen, 411). Audrey Lorde incorporated this theory throughout her book “ZAMI a New Spelling of My Name'; Lorde takes us on a journey through her life starting with her early childhood years. As a young black girl being raised by a strong, independent homosexual mother living a hetrosexual lifestyle, Lorde shows us how she secretly takes on many of her mother’s characteristics. Audrey Lorde uses her mother’s sexual identity as a foundation in developing her own sense of sexuality while struggling to express herself as a young, homosexual black woman in an extensively critical society.
Audrey Lorde paints a picture throughout this book of how her mother’s sexuality played a major role in allowing her to come to terms with her own sexual identity. Lorde allows us to see that her mother lead a hetrosexual lifestyle only because back in the twenties and thirties homosexuality was not socially accepted. Although her mother was different from all of the other women, she never openly expressed herself in public. Lorde being the youngest of two older sisters spent a lot of time with her mother. As a result, it allowed her to grow very close to her mother in an intimate way. Living under her mother’s control and following her every demand made Lorde a very sheltered and restrained child. She was deprived of the opportunity to go out and grow as an individual. Whenever she would try to break free from underneath her mother’s wings and venture off to do something on her own, her mother was quick to pull her back and bring her to her senses. Throughout her childhood, the only...

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