Reading #6 – Wannabes, Goths, and Christians

“It is … about the ways young people use elements of subcultures to create individual and collective identities, and then how they use those identities to solve problems” (page 3 of the book, 2 of the first PDF). Amy Wilkins opensĀ Wannabes, Goths, and Christians with the introduction of three girls, one from each group she discusses, and then moves into talking about the different studies done around identity in general, and in some cases identity in the subgroups she discusses – Puerto Rican wannabes, goths, and evangelical Christians. Her main thesis, that race, gender, and class collide in these spaces even if they are not discussed, is an interesting one to be sure. Wilkins raises important points about intersectionality throughout the reading, defining how we think of them most frequently as well as how they can actually impact our lives.

It’s interesting how Wilkins ties the discussion of these groups and a discussion of second-wave feminism together – saying in essence that the gains made by second wave feminism made it possible for these girls to experiment and join different groups and embrace other identities.

I didn’t come away from this reading with any particularly strong feelings. It’s interesting, to be sure, how people will play with identity and join groups that don’t necessarily ‘fit’ with what you would think they would be (I think specifically of the wannabes here). But it’s also not new information to me that people play with identity and join groups that fit what they think of themselves, and what they want to be rather than what others think they should be. While this is more extreme than what I’ve seen in the past, the entire experience I’ve had with high school and in college has been experimenting with identity, finding the groups that fit you rather than trying to fit the group you’re ‘supposed’ to. It’s a good read, but it didn’t quite blow me away the way other readings for this class have done.

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