Greeting all Withteeth here,
Long time no write! Today I want to talk about a lil’ol thing called Identity Politics. I’m no expert on this topic, but I do have quite a few years steeped in it’s topics and outcomes, good and bad, so I want to share my thoughts. As is always advisable bring some salt to the table and feel free to raise your objections!
Identity Politics, by my understanding, is most fundamentally a collection of shorthands for various type of individuals and group that allow for quick and concise descriptions and cues for numerous kind of people. From issue like Gender or sexual orientations, ethnicity, psychological descriptions such as ADHD, and Depression, and some times expands to include other descriptors more commonly things like introvert and extrovert, and more rarely briggs-myrer test results, INJP or the like. This is by no means a full list, just some common examples.
Though categorization is only the identity side of of identity politics. And as those on either the far left and right will tell you, and what may surprize you is there is a great deal of derision from both sides. Those complaints that to main stances. Identity politcs is political correctness run amock! Or Idenity Politics is divisive and needlesly splitting people apart.
Now I think when people say political correctness is running amock, or “I’m just teeling it as it is.” I mostly hear “I wanna be a jerk to people, without Soical consequences.” Occasionally I’ll hear a meaningful point, but Normally when I encounter it it’s used as a distraction or excuse for holding a unplesant veiw about some other group the person doesn’t belong too.
The argument from divisiveness, however really has some soild truth to it. Where ever you attempt to catigorize, you make seemingly neat division in a messy and complex world. By it’s very nature the identity part of idpol is dividing people. I have seen folk rise to defend, and attack solely based on these division, and use them as a method to strip legitimasy from one group. perhaps the best example is that of Bi sexual erasure in the LGBTQA community where Gay and Lesbian people will attack and condem Bi sexual people of having heterosexual relationships and ostracizing them for this perceived betrayal.
This obviously not cool, but if people who should know better use identity politics to hurt people who only want similar recognition they themselves have won, why do I think identity politics are ultimately a positive force?
One: awareness building. Yes having aware of a group and for a time make them a target, but I think we have seen enough through history that staying hidden is a terrible stratagy for long term survival in a human population. Unless of course you have the power already to maintain your secrecy. The best way to make sure someone isn’t going to ostrisize and single out a group of people is to make sure they know about those people, and have a direct and meaningful relationship with at least one member of that group. That way you can easy attain empathy for another. The end goal of any awarenessraising move in my opinion has to be normalization, and acceptance, and I think for the fault of identity politics it has help raised awareness about dozens of minority group who face real threats from scoiety at large, and in part has been key in pushing LGBTQA issues, and have and effect on ‘race’ issues although I am regertiable less informed on the effect of identity politics on Person of colour.
Two: this real problem with divisiveness is a lack of intersectional understanding. Intesectionality is hard. Really hard. People who claim to be intersectional feminist can and often still preptuate harmful ideas and will sometimes ignore other people’s lived experiences if they haven’t directly experinced them first hand.
What makes intersectionality so hard is that it requires empathy for others, and a deep understanding of the experinced and conditions which affects a given group of people. You basically need to have the basics of economic theory, a good grounding is the relevant history, and know a lot about the social sciences to really start making a crack at competent intersectional thought. You can have a good grasp of the categories of indetity politics but have no idea of the kind of power structures which affect how people interact, live their day to day lives, and how they affect individual and group opportunities and access.
To really appreciate and utilize intentional though, and therefor use indentity politics for good you need to be curious , and have a real desire to learn about people, and critcally you need to be willing and actively want to push yourself to try to understand experinces that might be radically different from your own.
So to wrap this post up, my thought on Identity politics can be summed up as follows. Idtity politics on a practical level is little more then a list of labels and desripitions for indivials and groups to indetify themselves. Unless you are actively applying intersectional thought to these catigorization, there no reseason that people won’t use that lables as a tool to harm as much as help. Due to that I’m wary of agree with just anyone pushing idenitity politics, but I still think that it does more good then harm and the use of idenitity politicswill contiune to give power and reconition to unserved and unrepresented group in our societies. We as agroup just need to become better at applying intersectionality to issues of privledge and access.
Leave your thoughts in the comments below!