Monday, April 24, 2017

Identity Politics

I don't know that I've actually addressed the term "identity politics" on this blog other than maybe to mention that a lot of racists use it as the new "political correctness." But it's not just your random Republicans or Libertarians or other conservative racists. I've seen people who are, or at least appear to be, on the left using the term or its acronym "IDPOL." Alarmingly, the acronym in particular is often used by neo-nazis. So it raises all two of my eyebrows to see antifa using it as well.

But the point I want to make here is that anyone using the term "identity politics" derisively is ridiculous. Just as much as politics is central to each and every person's life, so is identity.

People begin forming a sense of identity at a very young age, and it remains with us through our entire life. A sense of identity will change, often gradually, sometimes suddenly and radically. A sense of identity is closely linked to a sense of self, and in our society, maybe too closely. It is how we describe ourselves and think of ourselves. The support of one's identity is uplifting, and the denial or rejection of one's identity can be devastating. A threat to one's identity can feel like a threat to the very self.

That is why people freak out so hard over having their "faves" criticized. You identify yourself as a fan of a thing, and when someone calls that thing bad, or perhaps misogynistic or homophobic, it's like they're call you those things. This, of course, is a problem. People cling to these identities too tightly, and it makes them scared and fragile and inflexible.

But that doesn't make identity bad. It doesn't mean that people's identities aren't important. They make us human. They bring us together. And we can't help but have them.

When I accepted the identity as pansexual and came out, it was freeing. It wasn't easy, particularly because I came out late and there's a lot of people out there who want to deny that identity. I still have doubts about whether I actually am pansexual that are based on heteronormative and homophobic bullshit that's been put into my head by society. But when I think about being pansexual, I feel a sense of joy. It feels right and it feels wonderful. And being a part of a community that understands me and accepts my identity is wonderful.

My identity as a woman is important to me. My identity as a feminist is important to me. The identities that give me privilege matter. And yes, they're all political. That is perfectly normal and mocking that is like derisively scoffing about "skin politics" or "hormone cycle politics" or "breathing oxygen politics."

Whether you're just trying to get people to shut up about racism or you think the shit you're doing is so much more fucking important than people who care about the many everyday attacks on marginalized identities, you're ridiculous and you're an asshole. It all matters. It's a huge part of every person's life. No one is without identity and one's sense of identity is very closely linked to one's psychological health. Denial of identities, attacks on identities, whether big or small, kill people. Whether though stress or even suicide.

And honestly it just makes you look like a self-righteous, sanctimonious asshole. So stop.

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