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January 20, 2009

in medias res

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 5:58 am

Fuck it. I’m just going to start writing here. Composition is better than freewriting – but freewriting is better than no writing.

Deconstructing hegemonic identity categories, as a move toward social justice as opposed to an act of intellectual masturbation, isn’t about negating peoples’ identities. The deconstruction of heteronormativity isn’t about denying peoples’ sexualities, it’s about making it so that no one way of being sexual is “correct,” prefered or privileged. Deconstructing gender isn’t about telling individual people that their genders aren’t “real”, it’s about there being no one right way to be gendered, no hierarchy of genders. Deconstructing race isn’t about invalidating raced experiences, histories and identities…

…But there is, regardless, a danger of it doing just that. Political-sloganesque oversimplification of these ideas i.e. “there’s no such thing as race” or “everyone is bisexual” describe a deconstruction that is about (or at least callous towards) invalidating individual human identities – and one that suggests ways of enacting it that, in fact, can and do erase the lived experiences of real people.

This is kind of a ‘duh’ moment for me. Both these things – especially the first one – seem like stuff that I should already know. It’s stuff that seems foundational to a radical justice-oriented politics. And, on one level, I have known it for as long as I’ve been an activist – but, on another level, there’s been some kind of tension that resists knowing it…

In other words, I’ve always known that deconstruction is a complex, potentially-explosive spell – but I’d never taken the time before to work through and articulate what that means for me insofar as I am privileged. I’d letting it manifest internally as uncomfortable “confusing” cognitive dissonance, instead of actually facing it directly.

Allowing myself to stay ignorant has made it easier to cling to all kinds of artifacts of privilege – including ones related to cultural appropriation; and to a subconscious belief that, even though the selfhood that cares about justice wants to believe I would never do it, I can still dominate or negate other peoples’ experiences (especially those with less class privilege than myself) by throwing around fancy words and concepts – one of Nezua‘s Wite-Magik Attax.

Reading Asa’s Coming Out Day post and Violet’s comments in the thread brought a lot of this (and other stuff) up for me. I may or may not write more later – but anyway, that’s a shitty thing about myself that I’ve been doing a lot of processing through over the past month or so…

But the fact that I just had this totally “duh” moment today – one of those where I realized something that seemed like such an epiphany was actually just something that should have been blatantly obvious all along, that other people have probably TOLD me a million times, that I’ve probably even said to other people myself without really understanding what I was saying – makes me think the process is working a little. That makes me feel good and hopeful.

Blah blah blah.

Oh, and look, I’m posting something! However inchoate. That’s usually a good sign that things are flowing rather than sticking.

Also: The only reason I know what “in medias res” means is because of an episode of My So-Called Life. 😛

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