A lot of people are throwing this phrase around recently and I figured it needed explaining. It’s kinda a big topic though, so I’m planning to devote this post to explaining what identity politics is. Then write a few more posts about who uses identity politics and how they use it, so look out for those too!
So if we cast our minds back to the early political landscape of modern civilisation. This is arguably where we’re going to find the root of identity politics. The reason for this is because back then there was a lot of different kinds of systemic oppression. Things such as homosexuality were taboo and/or illegal. There was a lot of racism everywhere. Even women weren’t allowed the vote. White males ran our society for the most part – this is fairly undeniable.
People took notice of this in waves over the centuries and began to lobby against it, from anti-racists causes, to pro-women causes, people pushed identity politics to achieve equality. It makes a lot of sense really, if you’re arguing for equality with white males (an identity) then you must also have an identity to compare against it. One that appears to be less equal than those in the former identity camp.
It was a super useful tool to reaching the level of equality we have today, however it seems to have mutated into something else. Whereas previously its all about highlighting an inequality between two different groups of people, its now something a lot harder to really pin down. But for you, I’ll give it a go.
We reached a pretty peak point of equality – wherein which, discriminating against people based on their race, gender, sex, age, sexuality, whatever is now illegal. Systemic oppression has been almost entirely wiped out and only relics of it exist. Relics which are usually also cleaned up as soon as they’re spotted. Yet ID politics still remains.
It remains because ID politics isn’t just about systemic oppression any more, it isn’t about black people having a right not to be discriminated against, it isn’t about homosexuality not getting you a jail sentence and it isn’t about women being allowed to vote. It’s about social injustices, or rather as I covered in a blog post before – perceived social injustices and how they relate to a new wave of identities.
See, identity isn’t merely something intrinsic to you any more. Whereas a black person can’t just not be black and is visibly identifiable as a black person, the identities of our modern society aren’t so obvious or intrinsic. I wrote about this in terms of trans before, where trans isn’t just the medical condition any more, its been bent out of shape to mean any kind of gender non-conformity. People aren’t identifiable by sight as non binary, people aren’t intrinsically “gender-queer”. These are things people attribute to themselves, they’re sociopolitical statement’s of gender non-conformity – not intrinsic identities.
When your identity can be whatever you decide to identify with in this way, it makes it really difficult for them to see outside of their ideology. They argue they need their identity because of social injustices, and that they receive social injustices because of their identity. It’s circular reasoning at its finest, but it isn’t going to stop because all sides are playing the identity politics game, and this isn’t even the worst of it it. As your identity can invalidate you in a discussion entirely.
This is partly why I started my blog as an anonymous blogger – you can check my “me” page that I rarely update and see the bio I wrote for myself when I started. The whole point of this blog was that my identity can cloud the meaning of what I’m writing, but also now I’m realising that’s not all it does. Identity is used to validate ideas – “only a woman can know what’s best for a woman” – when this is dumb because a lot of women were against the right to vote. Should we have never given women the right to vote?
But this kinda thing happens to me a lot online, and the only reason I came out as trans online was because I knew I wouldn’t be taken seriously writing about trans ideas without people knowing I’m trans too – and well… that’s bloody absurd. I shouldn’t have to put my identity out there as a trans person to advocate for trans issues any more than a rape victim should have to put their traumatic history out there to say rape is a bad thing.
We’re all capable of reason and rationality, and that’s what matters – not who you are as a person. Somewhere along the history of human discussion we started deciding that identity was more important than ideas, and this is frankly, retarded. We need to move away from identity politics as a whole. We shouldn’t be giving rights and freedoms to specific identities based on an identity they’ve chose for themselves. We should give those rights and freedoms to all our citizens, regardless of their identity.
We must be blind to sex, race, gender, sexuality etc if we want to have a truly equal society. Identity politics spits right in the face of that idea by forcing identity to the forefront of all discussion and forcing the Us vs Them narrative.
Tune in next time for a bunch of groups and how they use identity politics and why they’re morons for doing so…