Ethnocentrism means the belief that one’s ethnic group or culture is superior to that of another person; it forms the basis for measuring all other cultures. This term originates from the Greek words “ethno” meaning people and “centric” meaning centre. Thus, it is the judging of other people’s heritage from one’s central point of view. Scientists have always operated from an ethnocentric perspective. Studies from the 19th century have been used to show how primitive tribes progressed from their barbaric ways to a modern civilized society.
Effects of Ethnocentrism on Individuals and Societies
By virtue of being born or coexisting from different cultural environments, human beings display distinct characteristics that tend to influence their lives after they are grownups. Through ethnocentrism individuals believe that their own cultural beliefs and practices are superior than other cultural ethnic groups.
The Stoning of Soraya
The Stoning of Soraya M. is based on a true-life experience of a lady that the producer uses to enhance understanding through the events portrayed there in. The story dwells on an emotional life of an innocent young woman faced with sadistic tales and brutal instances that are coupled with her mistreatment that makes an individual get emotional due to the mistreatment the young woman receives (Brisman, 362). This setting makes it the first film to publicly express aspects of torture and ill treatment together with stoning and more, specifically among the Muslim society. The events presented in the movie are strong and crosscutting as they unleash the immoral acts individuals undergo in the society in the hands of others for no apparent reason.
Produced in 1980 in a village in Iran, the movie presents Soraya who in the course of her day-to-day undertakings meets with her husband who carries a negative perception of her and wrongfully accuses her of infidelity (Hammond, 2009). The husband is committed to getting rid of her under all circumstances so that he may get the chance to marry a 14-year hold girl; he thus seeks an opportunity to be able to inflict Soraya thus the riddance. Soraya however is careful and views the efforts of her husband to get a divorce as ill intended, as it will guarantee them economically unstable (Brisman, 2012). Ali however seeks the support of the community leaders and fellow villagers who forcefully lays the blame of infidelity on Soraya, which they charge her even without the proof of her guilt. She is further sentenced to death after a local tribunal hears the husbands’ side of the story meaning that her punishment would be stoning to death in the public an act that was widely practiced in Iran and other radicalized Muslims states.
The violence portrayed is hard hitting as it relays instances of torture and suffering, which are graphically presented. The severity of these instances displays brutal nature of the suffering experienced by Soraya. Soraya’s stoning presents the use immoral acts that our societies are still holding strongly on when in real sense they are negatively impacting our societies’ well being. Individuals who witness the stoning of women on grounds of infidelity end up with the picture that is not easy to rub in their minds (Esther, 2009). Though there are unreported cases, there are many instances where women are stoned to death in the world today even with the few unreported cases. The acts present erosion of human morals and the total lack of women’s rights in our societies today with the statistics revealing close to about 1000 known cases of women stoning on grounds of extra marital affairs and infidelity and an approximated number to 5000 annually.
The stoning presented in the movie is said to have happened in 1986, some moments after the Islamic Revolution when the people who were in power were oppressive and tried to enact measures that prove contract to human beliefs and practices. Some of the measures they put up were oppressive to the extent that the society today has engaged all efforts necessary to subdue them all over the streets of Iran as well as in the Islamic state of Saudi Arabia (Hammond, 2009). It is however not an easy tidal as those found to go against the practices are reprimanded by those in power who have surmounted power and wealth as well as occupy lucrative positions that make them influential in the society.
According to the movie, religion is used contrary to what people believe in as the members who try to oppose an evil act are seen as disobeying the law and going against religious beliefs while those who practice these ill vices are said to leaning towards the religion (Esther, 2009). The rot in the society has gone to the extent that death penalty is seen as a punishment but only to members of a certain gender, social class and specific race which from a humanly point of view is immoral. The narrator, Soraya’s aunt, provides a vivid and emotional account about the difficulties women in the Iranian community face in the hands of their husbands, which makes them submissive, and when submission does not work out suffering and death is the outcome.
It is however critical to observe that these practices are not agitated for in any religion rather the people draft the practices to fit what they intent to do so as to have a point of reference (Ming-Chang, 2014). The movie has several sequential occurrences of stoning that basically highlight a very important message that should be received with maximum observance and care.
Contrarily ethnocentrism also brings about positive effects as it creates a sense of belonging and togetherness among members of the same community leading to the general feeling of patriotism and loyalty to the society. There is evidence of this from the movie in instances where cultural practices differ from one society to another (Ming-Chang, 2013).
When touring different parts of the world one has to take a keen interest in the cultural ways and beliefs of the host community. For instance, in the U.S. greetings usually take place between people who are close friends, and at times, these greetings do not take place at all. People rarely shake hands or share a warm embrace unless they share good acquaintances with each other. However, in Nigeria, it is imperative to bow while shaking the hand of someone senior or older than you, since a character of not showing respect to the elders by bowing the head is unwarranted in the society. Such an experience teaches us that it is always important to understand other people’s cultures to avoid adverse effects of ethnocentrism.
Ming-Chang, T. (2013). The Effect of Global Exposure on Attitudes Toward Tradition, Patriotism, and Foreigners: Multilevel Analysis of 14 Asian Societies. Globalizations, 10(6), 819-835. doi:10.1080/14747731.2013.814435
Wallenberg-Lerner, H., & James, W. B. (2014). Important Components Needed in Today’s Global Society From a Cross-Cultural Perspective. Journal Of International & Global Studies, 6(1), 14-29.
Brisman, Avi. “The Stoning Of Soraya M.” Contemporary Justice Review 15.3 (2012): 361-364.
Esther, John. “The Rock Hard Truth Of The Stoning Of Soraya M.” Lesbian News 34.12 (2009): 16.
Hammond, P. (2009). The Stoning Of Soraya M. Back Stage (19305966), 50(27), 41.