IDENTITY POLITICS, POLICING & FENCES
SUBTITLED VERSION HERE
This video contains some whiskey ramblings on the ways in which identity politics can sometimes mirror the discourses of dominant culture that tell us that we have to police and defend our identities like they are our property. We tried to be articulate, but it is hard to talk about such big things in such a short period of time.
Our identities are produced for us by systems of power that control how we understand and make sense of our world. Unfortunately, it is pretty much impossible to ‘disidentify’ in our mainstream north american culture. We must step into identities - or we are pushed, jammed or shoved into them. We also need identities for lots of really important reasons. Queer seems radical because there seems to be more room for flux and fluidity in it, but it is in fact, produced by the same systems of power that produce other ‘normative’ identities.
Often, queer identity is taken up in as radical in a no-questions-asked sort of way. The problem is that we cannot be radical if we aren’t asking big fucking questions, if we aren’t willing to change, grow, and make mistakes. We need to consciously be engaged in how the multiple, interlocking aspects of our identities (queer, white, working class etc.) affect the ways that we understand the world. The way we take up, and discuss identity can be damaging, hurtful, or and totally erase the experiences of other individuals. We need to be really critical of the ways that we use our identities to position ourselves, as better, smarter, more queer or more radical than “others”. We need to be critical of how we create monsters out of others when we define ourselves by what we are not.
We also need to be critical of the ways that we create and employ counter-norms within our political communities. Often we police the boundaries of these counter norms (e.g. who is/isn’t queer or ‘radical enough’) with as much violence as the state. This prevents us from connecting, communicating, and creating change - which is exactly what this neoliberal atmosphere of divisiveness we are living our lives in wants from us.
Queers (us included) are definitely guilty of all of these things, and none of us get to exist outside of this. Though radical resistance and subversion is definitely possible, it is not radical or subversive to police other people like a mini-states.
One of the most simple and helpful things anyone has ever said to me was that ‘dominance functions by remaining invisible’. When we fight with each other, we lose. We lose because we fail to see the systems of power that win when we do this. This is not about individuals - we are calling out systems of power that continue to divide us and prevent us from making meaningful connection. Sometimes making these things visible means that we need to really look at ourselves in ways that are hard and scary. We ask that you watch this video with a vulnerable heart, in the name of transformational social change.
in love and courage,
Ashley & Majestic
*We hope you take the time to read/watch, even though it’s long!
**We can’t ever get the subtitled version to embed. Sorry! Click the link at the top of the post for the subtitles.
*** Fisting shout out to AfroTitty in the last minute of the vid.
what I love about Big Fancy is that I can’t ever decide if I love basking in that overwhelming beauty more or appreciating that outstanding brain. I mean, I’m just so lucky I don’t have to choose