Intersectionality plays a key role not only in identifying oneself as a person; but between different cultures, religions, and backgrounds; it can influence gender identity. It can affect one’s role in the home, in politics, as well as society overall.
First off, the pressures of a multicultural society can often lead one to conform to social “norms” but it can also have the opposite effect of leading people to rebel against what is expected. And weather an individual or even a community as a whole wants to think of itself as free of predisposed bias, there will always be expectations that are broken. It is all in human nature to categorize people, even in the slightest of way, but ultimately the individual is a strong entity that can vary despite social pressure. For example, as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims; there are no gays in Iran. However biology and personal experience say otherwise. Homosexuality is a big variable in society. Many cultures and religions look down upon it. Therefore it is a generally accepted stereotype that highly religious people can never be gay. And yet there are many people who go against the pressures of their friends and families to live their life simultaneously defining themselves as devoutly religious and homosexual.
The differences in people and cultures can also manifest in more subtle ways. A hobby, style, preference, or way of speaking can be completely accepted in a society as a whole, but can be considered foreign to men or women of a certain race. A community may have stereotypes that say that women and men of a certain race like different things from one another and from other races. This would involve mild forms of both sexism and racism. Especially in such a mixed society like the US, the individual should be taken into more consideration than the race, religion, or background.
A person’s morals and values can also define who they are, and can differ between certain cultures. What it is to be feminine is one example, because women have differing roles often depending on their family traditions. Some cultures are defined by modesty in women, while others respect an outward, dominant type of woman. Women themselves can identify themselves with their femininity. In certain cultures the veil that women wear is a symbol of feminine beauty. It is something that makes people judge them by their personality rather than their looks. But some view it as if it is hiding something to be ashamed of. There is nothing wrong with using clothing to express femininity. If that were so, then in the US, maybe all women would just never wear dresses, as it is a typical feminine piece of clothing, and could be seen as a sign of oppression. Too often, personal choice is confused and mixed with cultural phobia, as it can be a sign of culture and religion. After the 9/11 attacks, one woman named Izdihar El-Hilal, a native of Syria who now lives in Pittsburg said, “This is my choice. I am not oppressed.” Veils or turbans are often looked upon with fear and cultural separation. But simply because one wears clothes that are different does not mean they are radically religious or terrorists. On the exact contrary, these symbols often actually have a sign of peace and modesty for the ones who wear them. Expression is ultimately defined by those who choose it and not by onlookers.
This cultural expression can have the same effect on the opposite end of the spectrum. In the US as well as other countries, there are many controversial advertisements that some say objectify women. Often they are described as inappropriate, showing too much skin, etc. But the same can be said about these ads as the veils that other women wear. The models who pose to show off their bodies can argue that it is a form of art. Some passionately say that their body is a temple to be revered. They show it off as art and pride what they have. However, this can, for some, again lead to social pressures to look just like the models. This doesn’t go to say that blatant expression in this form should be considered immoral, but rather that all bodies should be appreciated, and it is the owner’s choice to decide how to show it.