How do you feel? Bodies and emotions seem like the most basic and essential parts of us. You knew your body before you could talk, and your feelings before you could think. They form the core of you. How can such primal things as bodies and emotions – the greatest markers of who you are as an individual – be influenced by society?
Perhaps a few questions might help answer the question:
- Do you have a tattoo?
- Do you wear a dress?
- Did you have braces?
- How well do you throw a ball?
- Do you tell people in your life that you love them regularly?
- Can you restrain your anger?
- Are you envious of anyone around you?
- How happy are you?
Think about your answers to these questions. Were these just simple choices that you made as an individual, or skills you did or didn’t pick up at random? Or did your society shape your answers in predictable ways, based on your sex, age, race, education, wealth, health, and social class background? How has society shaped your body, and the way you display and use it? How has society shaped your feelings, their expression, and how you manage them?