I grew up in the Michigan, Indiana area or as it is often referred to, the Michiana area. I’m a white female apart of a family that follows Christian views. In the culture that I grew up I believe the rituals of transition are the ones that are commonly associated with dominant American ideals. The ones that seems to be the most substantial are those such as: menstruating, getting a license to drive, graduating from high school, going to college, moving out of the house, graduating college, getting married, having children. These are all rituals of transitions that are important in my culture and to my family. I have personally made it through the rituals of transitions from menstruating to going to college. I’m about to move into my first apartment this coming fall. I think that there are many things within the dominant American culture that are important rituals of transition that would not be considered important in other cultures. One example of this is getting a driver’s license. This may not be considered important because driving may not be a part of their culture at all. It is interesting to me that something that can be considered a milestone somewhere could hold no importance in another place.
The ritual of transition that was brought up in lecture that reminded me of my childhood was the dominant American idea of menstruating. This resonated with me because of the idea that was mentioned that in dominant American culture we try to hide the fact that females menstruate. I remember being in elementary school and the teachers separated the boys and girls into two separate classrooms. The girls watched a video with three female staff members about starting to menstruate. It was a very generic video, and at the end of it the students were asked if we had any questions. Before they reunited the two classes the teachers promised us that the boys would not be told a thing about what we had watched. Immediately I felt as though this was a taboo subject that was not to be discussed with boys. After we were brought back together as a group the faculty reminded us that the subjects we had discussed were to only be discussed among only those that had also seen the same information. This made us all uncomfortable because as young girls and boys we did not understand what was happening to us and wanted to talk about it with our friends, male or female. This made me think we were supposed to hide the fact that this was happening to us from the boys at school. As I have grown up I feel as though it is less of a taboo subject however, I find that the majority of people are still uncomfortable sharing information about menstruating in public. The dominant American idea surrounding menstruating is silence and invisibility. Girls, like myself, are taught from a young age that menstruating is something to only be discussed amongst other women and even then in hushed tones.
The going to college is one of the rites of passage that is considered a ritual of transition in my culture. That would make the college experience a liminality, because you belonged in the category of high school graduate before entering college and will belong within the category of college graduate after. Some of the explicit messages that would suggest how a woman should behave in college is to have a wild side while simultaneously getting good grades in school. I personally can not relate to this ideal because I am not some who enjoys partying. However, there is an implicit message that I can relate with and it is that this will teach you good time management skills to become a successful adult. Another way that college has begun teaching me valuable skills is through being able to monitor myself and how I chose to live. When you live with your parents you follow their rules because it is their house. However, in college you get the chance to make your own rule for yourself. I found that I value things differently when I am at college than when I am at home. I value my time alone, staying up late to work, being in charge of when I leave for a class or event. All of these things are out of my control at home, but at college I have complete control. This is an explicit message that while you may value some of the same things as your parents, as a adult woman you do not have to value everything your parents or family does. College teaches young women and men man implicit and explicit messages. This is not say that those who do not attend college will never learn the same, they will just learn them in alternative ways.