According to Psychology, our identities are half-based on genetics and half-based on experiences. So whenever I am asked a question like “how has x affected the way you do y,” I don’t have a simple answer. The fact of the matter is that my identity–gender, race, class, etc–come from many sources.
This identity affects everything I do, including my writing. Part of my ability to write, to form sentences from somewhat coherent thoughts, comes from my parents, and their parents, and their parents’ parents. Yet I can’t ignore the effect that teachers, books, and sheer practice have had on my writing style and content. These interactions shaped basic things like grammar, vocabulary, and style, but also affected the content of my papers and other pieces.
My identity has the biggest effect on my perspective. I see the world as a middle-class, straight white woman of medium height and build. My hopes and fears are shaped by this fact, as are the things I notice. As a person who has always had enough, I’ve been free to notice trivial things, such a flower growing in the crack of a sidewalk or the way the wind changes the color of the trees, instead of where my next meal is coming from.
I tend to view the world in a way that fits that image, including the way I read and write. When I read, I am quickest to notice issues of gender. In essays, my fallback mode of analyzation is the feminist lens. This isn’t because I’m ready with a pitchfork to destroy all men; this is simply because I am most aware of the inequity between genders–because that’s something I have experienced firsthand. Those other issues are important, too, but they are not as pervasive in my life.
I was born a white woman. That’s genetic. The fact that I have two parents, and what my genetics mean–environment. And that beautiful mess is what I have to write about.