Question for the day:

I asked this series of questions on Face Book and it has raised up some interesting responses….What forms your identity as a person? What makes you a woman or a man? How do you identify as a woman or a man. What is a real woman? What is a real man? What pressures are on you to prove you are a real woman or a man? Do you have doubts about your womanhood or manhood?

About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
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4 Responses to Question for the day:

  1. tildeb says:

    I offer only that to your self be true.

    • Craig Benno says:

      “True Blue” is a well known slang term in Australia.

      Seriously though – what does it mean to be a man or a woman in Canada? What is it that creates the / a sense of identity? For example up until my late 30’s every time someone called me “Mr” I would turn around to look for my father. On a global level; research has shown that apart from NZ; Australians identify more with Canadians then they do any other nation. I know I’m talking in broad general terms here.

      What is it about the mutual identity of those two countries that form a bond? What are the markers we use to determine our journey from being a child to adult. Is it merely ones age, where over night you find you have passed from infant to child to adolescent to adult.

  2. tildeb says:

    The words ‘man/woman’ simply refer to gender. Identity is a very complex compendium of many elements emphasized by the individual. I suspect most people rank the importance of gender in that identity near the top in conversation but fairly low in practice. I also think people in Canada find it useful to use negatives in describing identity and that perhaps we share that with New Zealanders ie. Canucks are not Muricans in the same way that Kiwis are not Aussies.

    But Canada and Australia are almost fraternal twins in that our similarities outweigh our differences. In general terms we share a common founding history and language of governance so people feel relatively comfortable in either place: a similar sized population in a place of immense and mostly uninhabited and inhospitable geography with an indigenous people, living mostly in a strip of population with a few isolated urban centres dotted around the country. We share similar economies of agricultural export with major resource extraction and struggle with the same kinds of problems like immigration. We have similar institutions and a common history of allied involvement in foreign affairs and so on. Of course there are significant regional differences and local histories, too, and this is all part and parcel of our national cultural/linguistic identities. It is not surprising, for example, to find 80% of staff at a major ski resort – Whistler – are Australian students. We integrate easily because of the scope of what we share.

    As far as transitions between childhood and adulthood, I think it can summed up as one of responsible personal autonomy and resiliency. Certainly age plays a part… but only a part. I’ve known many a 14 years old far more adult because of their responsible autonomy than dependent older people who cannot function without someone else taking care of them and making decisions on their behalf. This is the ongoing battle between the welfare state and people – an identity of difference that reveals itself very quickly when one travels to the US and finds a much stronger and vital sense of personal independence and freedom from government and fewer institutionalized supports (like access to healthcare). Resiliency matters because of how life is filled with problems, and the adult must be able to cope well enough to maintain responsible autonomy even if aid is sometimes required. When there is a discrepancy between identity and reality, then we find dysfunction plays a central role in day to day living.

    Much goes into the making of an identity and we in Canada struggle to find a cohesive description. When someone identifies as a Canadian, it is a very strong and proud bond difficult to appreciate in understanding why this should be so. It is a call to bring very diverse people under the same tent, much of it based on a sense of equal tolerance and equal respect for specific differences. That profound respect for equality of differences is very unusual in national identities but I think it is key to appreciating why Canadians are so very different from most; what is shared is a value system that cuts across less important local differences like language and religion and culture and politics and other lesser affiliations. Canadians are a motley crew and it makes little difference if your hockey team is made up of 18 different people each with a personal history from anywhere else in the world, some wearing turbans, some speaking Swahili, some with beards and some with breasts. The same is true in the police force, the military, the hospital staff, the local council. Those differences matter less that answering the truly important question “Can you contribute to this team?” That’s Canada, a warrior nation that has always punched far above its weight class in world affairs and earned the right to export its values to great effect: bringing peace to Northern Ireland, political compromise to Iraq, diplomacy to Afghanistan, leadership to military interventions in the former Yugoslavia and Libya. Our values allow people to live together peacefully, prosperously, and in security not in spite of but because of our equality of differences and we live by example. These secular values work but they are hard to defend from those who assume some particular affiliation to be of greater value than those of others. And no intrusion is more dangerous to the whole than a particular religion exported into the public domain. That’s why politicians here rarely try to use religion as a political tool (or if they do they are voraciously attacked from every quarter for stepping across the line) because we work with and live next door to people with a different religion, a different language, a different menu. If you want jews and muslims and christians and buddhists and sikhs working to move the puck effectively or successfully overcome a military obstacle or complete an organ transplant as a team, you cannot lend any one religious affiliation any preference. It’s actually a pretty simple value to grant respect to the equality of differences but so very difficult to exercise. But it works and we in Canada have gone through the bloodshed necessary to reach this level of responsible autonomy equally respectful of the responsible autonomy of another. That’s our identity.

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