15 September 2013
Though slang words are not appreciable in many societies but the list of slang words varies from society to society because fundamental principles for construction of any society are not universal. Being processed from different stages of socialization I understand that some norms are very specific for certain societies which cannot be applicable in other societies. As a Muslim girl in Muslim majority society of Pakistan I was socialized according to the norms of my own society. One very specific norm in my society is that one should not use slang words especially the words: Hindu or Kafir. The positive sanctions for this norm are respect and high status in my society and negative sanctions are scolding, disliking, considering the person unethical and immoral. In early age the agents of socialization for this norm are parents and siblings and for secondary socialization teachers, relatives, peers, neighbors, history books, media; movies, dramas, serials play vital role. Means of social control often includes persuasion and sometimes ostracism. In group for this specific norm is Muslim majority society of Pakistan and out group is Hindu majority society of India.
From my childhood_ the days of my early socialization, my parents and especially my two elder sisters refrain me from using slang words. The way they used to socialize me was very persuasive: they told me stories of good little girls, fairies and angel who are very nice and they do not use slang words to each other. As a result Allah showers his blessings on good people and everyone wants to be like them. The means of control they were using to persuade me was fear of rejection. They also told me stories of bad people who used slang words like Hindu and Kafir to each other and consequently they were rejected by society and they were also rejected by the divine power: Almighty Allah.
One day me and my friends were playing Hide and See. We made a rule that whoever will cheat is Hindu. My father was also there he asked us to change that rule and advice us to not use Hindu or Kafir to each other. His advice was ambiguous because he did not mentioned in clear words that Hindu is a bad word but still I was internalizing that Hindu or Kafir is a slang word and I am not supposed to use such words. As a result I always avoid slang words especially Hindu in my daily communication.
As studies reveals that “socialization is continuous process” (Ferrnate, 77) and it was true in my case as well. When I went to school my teachers and my peers also do not like children who fight with each other and used slang words. In addition, historical events have very strong contribution in making of some specific norms in certain societies (Ferrnate, 79) and the word Hindu is not considered good in Pakistani society because some historical events are also playing vital rule in this regard. As when I was in primary school we learn about partition of Indian Sub-continent. Where we also learn that the Ideology of Pakistan is Two National Theory, means Hindus and Muslims belongs to two different religions and who cannot live together because their religion, rituals, norms and way of life is very much different from each other (Bajwa). Further, we also learn that during partition many Hindus had raped Muslim Women and killed many innocent people and children. Though our history books do not clearly mention that Muslims should hate Hindus and the word Hindu is slang, however, the way in which historical events were describe makes us realized that there is something wrong with the concepts and behaviors of Hindus which is not suitable for Muslims. Most of us were internalizing that oversimplified concept about Hindu people in our society. Our unconscious memory was picking different misunderstandings about Hindu people from different historical events mentioned in our history books. In fact, my history books were bias but I was not mature enough to critically analysis the facts given in my history syllabi. As a result I was very functionalist in my early and primary periods of socialization.
It is proven that perspectives and beliefs of individuals are impulsive. When we have better understanding about things and when we have exposure to novel environment our perspectives change according to that scenario. When I was in middle school I started to watch Indian serials and Bollywood movies that changed my viewpoints about Hindu culture and I was really inspired by Indian culture. I was a big fan of Indian cinema. Moreover, I always wanted to visit India because of the inspiration I got from Indian cinema and I wished to have friends from India too. However, I never considered that if I will be with any Hindu person what will be my reaction because still I was not mature enough to decipher between good and bad things. According to myself concept Hindu was slang word but at that stage I started to wonder whether Hindu people are morally impolite or only the word Hindu is rude. At that moment I was confused and I did not have any tangible evidence to come up with a right answer.
After being socialized in my own society I got a chance to study with people from different countries at AUW (Asian University for Women). Before coming to AUW I asked from my father that “Papa, there (AUW) will be many students from different religions and regions. I am very confused that either I can cope with that multi-cultural environment or not?” my father replied, “Beta (Son) look religions and regions are not that much important but the most important thing is humanity. I am optimistic that you will be good with everyone.” My father is always my inspiration and his reply was persuasive enough for me to have a new start in novel society. When I arrived at AUW I come to know that my roommate was from India. When she introduce herself she said, my name is Priyanka Pal, I am from India and I am Hindu. This was a sort of cultural shock for me, I was literally surprise that how a person can say Hindu to him or herself without realizing that Hind is a sacred word for her. Then I understand that my degree of internalization was much high and my unconscious memory was still considering the word Hindu as a negative term. I was feeling uncomfortable to call her Hindu. When I received call from my father and when he asked me about my roommates I was feeling very uncomfortable to call her Hindu instead I said that my roommate is from India and she is Non-Muslim.
After spending one year with Priyanka I understand that whatever I learn about Hindus in my society was a stereotype. I start to do reverse Ethnocentrism of my own society for this specific norm. Now I and Priyanka are good friends and sisters we lived together in the same room. From all of these experiences I came up with my personal interpretation that rules are same for every members of a certain society but degree of internalization varies from person to person due to many reasons. I also learn that it needs time to socialize anyone and especially the one who is already socialized in any society. The most important thing I consider is that our prospective can change but, it needs time, knowledge and exposure to different cultures. Finally my perception about the norm, one should not use slang words is transit from functionalist to conflict perspective.
Ferrante, Joan. Sociology A Global Perspective. 8th ed. Belmont: Wadsworth, 2011. Print.
Bajwa, Farooq Naseem. Pakistan: A Historical and Contemporary Look. Oxford UP,