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Identity, Orientation, Behavior and Slash - Mo's Journal
June 15th, 2005
11:09 am


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Identity, Orientation, Behavior and Slash

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[User Picture]
Date:June 17th, 2005 12:10 am (UTC)

Re: Identity etc.

Yes, of course it sounds patronizing, because it is. And, truly, it prevents you from gaining any understanding of what people do get out of identifying as gay (or Jewish or working class or Marxist or one of the cool kids in grad school) because indicating that you are sooooo above that identity labeling really just shuts down discussion...

Yes, I think I owned that -- by saying I'd have to re-examine my obviously stupid error. However, to me, "patronizing" suggests that I assume that I am superior for thinking something. I don't think I'm superior -- I just think I'm right. People who believe in identities think they're right as well. I do feel patronized by people who say "you can't understand... you don't have the experience..." but in this case I was talking about my feelings and intentions, not about them.

So now I'm looking over my phrasing, and I'm wondering if you read it that I thought people who embrace identities are stupid, rather than me for forgetting that there's a different point of view? I can see your angry response under those circumstances, and I'm sorry if my writing was not clear.

On the other hand, I do think you are being unfair when you suggest that I have never thought about the benefits of "identity" labeling. It would be impossible to live in this country and not notice those benefits.
[User Picture]
Date:June 17th, 2005 11:26 am (UTC)

Re: Identity etc.

Well, I think my comment probably came off as more cranky than I feel, but I do think assuming that everyone is beyond these kinds of self-identification with both concepts and groups is in some sense quite patronizing. "Do people do that anymore?" does tend to sound superior, even if it was intended to be just a reminder to yourself that there's a different POV. And I don't think noticing benefits of identity labeling in the country as a whole is what I'm talking about missing.

What I said is that when you shut down discussion you never get the opportunity to hear what the individual is getting out of feelings of group membership or identification with a concept like "lesbian" or "Jew". I also think you'd be much less likely to hear "you can't understand... you don't have the experience" if you indicate a willingness to listen to others' experiences and understanding of what it means to them to be a Jew, gay, an urbanite or whatever.

You may well be willing, but taking a stand that identity claiming is passe or that feelings of identity are just "labeling" gives the impression imo that you aren't. Therefore it makes it less likely that people will open up about what it means to them.

I'll use my Adam icon since he claims "Jew" and "gay" and "urbanite" within his identity...
[User Picture]
Date:June 17th, 2005 11:40 am (UTC)

Re: Identity etc.

Just to add a point, that might clarify. You said,

The second is something I take so for granted I keep forgetting to explain myself when the topic of identity comes up

What I'm saying is I think you'd learn more about others' perceptions of identity if you didn't explain yourself, didn't feel the need to say that you think identity claiming is vieux jeu. I think you'd gain more by listening to what others get out of it than you do by announcing that you get nothing (and I'm saying that not only from general theoretical principles but from having seen what happens to you when you make that kind of announcement). So, I'm not only suggesting that you not take for granted the idea that identity claiming is passe for others, but that you open yourself up a little more to thinking about what it means ot others by not stressing the fact that it's of no use to you, and perhaps not even announcing that.
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