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Author Topic: Identity Politics Tangent  (Read 862 times)

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Offline Lux12Topic starter

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Identity Politics Tangent
« on: April 18, 2016, 01:55:37 PM »
Okay, I wasn't really sure where to put this since to my mind I don't really consider it a rant. I'm not saying any of this out of anger, but it's something that has been on my mind and I'm not really sure where else it should really go since it's not simply about any single particular bit of scientific/political/philosophical inquiry related to the curious realm of "identities". Once again, I am not saying this because I'm in a particularly negative frame of mind at present. I'm not venting. I apologize in advance if my writing seems to follow a stream of consciousness.

So we often speak of people identifying as various things or having x identity, but many of the things that people consider an identity aren't to my mind. For me, many of these identities are mere aspects of the larger, integrated identity. An identity to me has always been the comprehensive whole rather than the mere bits and pieces. To me they have never been my identity/identities because they do not encompass everything. This is especially true when it comes to my OCD and other anxiety issues. Those things aren't an identity to me. They're things that are rattling around in my head that cause me trouble some times. It's part of my experience, but I cannot call it my identity because it is not the whole of what I am, nor does it dictate everything about my personality. I guess some people feel that sort of connection to their disorders which I simply don't. It's not that I'm particularly ashamed of it or that I feel a sense of loathing, but it has never been identity proper for me, or arguably even a piece thereof.

This comic here describes a bit of this complex relationship between individuals and their disabilities. I get what the author is saying and I certainly agree with their point, but I can't say I have the same "relationship" with my own mental health complications. As I said, to me they're merely things that are sort of there that I have to deal with.

Then there's gender. For lack of a better term, I presently "identify" as a cismale and have since I was a little kid because that's what makes sense to me. However, I don't see my identity utterly set in this. To me, it's just a piece of my personality. All my other interests would remain if I were trans*, nonbinary, or anything else. I have questioned whether or not I'm demigender as of late, but I don't know whether that's simply because my sense of what constitutes "maleness" is very expansive, flexible, and different from most mainstream notions or whether I felt a certain resonance. My association with maleness can be seen as very loose to say the least. Or at least I don't feel any connection to those mainstream definitions. The other part of me is making me wonder that if I did start calling myself that, whether I actually am or not, whether it would just come off as me appropriating an identity to deal with other issues I've been dealing with or a cop out to avoid being seen as privileged. If that were the case, I couldn't really be mad at the people making those accusations. I could see where their anger comes from. However, I do not at present feel as if I can truly claim that particular experience so as far as I'm concerned I'm a cismale. Nevermind I don't think I properly understand the concept of demigender or whether they could still technically be considered cis or not. I do apologize if I sound ignorant here, but it doesn't appear to be a particularly widely discussed subject so the information may be only a small amount.

Then when we get to sexual identity the same sort of thing applies in my mind. My heterosexuality is just a piece of a whole, not enough on it's own to encompass an entire identity for me. There's no cognitive dissonance there for me  when it comes to using that label to describe what has always been there. I mean, it makes perfect logical sense to apply it in my mind, but isn't really an "identity" for me.

Then there's the cultural level. Once again, I don't really consider the culture I've lived in a complete identity, but rather a lens that informs my interactions with others. Not to mention that I've often felt like a bit of an exile, not really fitting into any particular cultural landscape. I don't belong to any single ethnic group and my upbringing was not entirely typical of people born in the States. I'm pagan, but I don't belong to any single tradition. Of all the subcultures I have links to, I don't feel as if I could say wholeheartedly that I belong to any particular sets thereof. In many ways I feel like a puzzle piece looking for the space where I belong with no luck finding it. For that matter, many of the groups I have a tenuous cultural connection to are not strong enough for me to really claim membership in. I come from a very Catholic family and I guess some of that rubbed off on me, but I was never baptized and I've only rarely set foot in a church. The only full church services I've sat through are a couple funerals and an interfaith gathering that was part of a protest.

Frankly I'm not sure where this belongs since this isn't me venting and while I discuss some personal issues, I'm not feeling particularly upset at this moment. There probably isn't a particular question in here except perhaps "What constitutes an identity?". If nothing else, I put my personal perspective out there for analysis if anyone desires to do so. That's all I can really say.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2016, 02:38:23 PM by Lux12 »

Offline MasterMischief

Re: Identity Politics Tangent
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2016, 01:23:12 PM »
I believe we all want to belong in some sense.  We want to be accepted for who we are and at the same time, we want to be unique.  I find this a fascinating contradiction.  I myself am an introvert.  I can literally go days without human interaction...and then I need to connect with someone.

I think you are touching on one of man's oldest questions, "Who am I?"  None of the answers offered to date have been wholly satisfactory to all.

What is identity?  I do not have an answer for that either.  I do not think many people believe gender, ethnicity or anything else for that matter, can possibly completely encapsulate who any one individual is.  We use labels as shorthand to give others a quick and broad understanding of who we are.  However, without someone actually being you, how can they ever fully understand who you are?  Just look up at my second paragraph above.  Do any of us know who we are?  How then can we communicate to another who we are?

It is important to 'find yourself'.  But I think that is a journey only you can take.  Others can only point you in directions that worked for them.