One of Us, One of Us
I’ve been really getting into this book I’m currently reading, Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny by Amartya Sen. Basically he discusses how humanity groups itself off and attacks those of other groups by denying the very human experience of plural identities. It’s quite a lovely book, right now I’m at the part where he talks about the plural identities in Muslim communities. For instance, he says that while algebra was invented by a Muslim, we don’t group it off and call it Jihadist mathematics. However we do that with certain other things originating with Muslim people.
Kurt Vonnegut says that George W. Bush hates Muslims because they invented algebra! Ha, what a hoot! Maybe he’s right.
But back to this idea of plural identities, as someone with a cornicopia of identity politics I have often gotten into trouble with various factions wanting me to renounce everything except whatever particular singular cause they’re advancing. And causes are good things, but renouncing one’s own internal diversity in order to fit into a cause is highly problematic. I did once have someone ask me “But really, who do you REALLY align yourself with.” At the time I said Aboriginals, but mostly because the person asking the question was Aboriginal as well and I didn’t want her to hit me. Also because I hadn’t chewed on this idea enough. But it does become a game of “Which identity needs the most support and has the most discrimination? I’ll go with that identity for now and forsake the rest.” Bleh. I’m giving up on that.
But I’m also trying to departition my mind. The other day I was watching Angelina Jolie’s interview on Inside The Actor’s Studio (if you really want to know what the stars are like, this is probably the most insightful programme). She mentioned being part Iroquois, and I though “Oh, that’s why she’s so sexy, she’s native.” And then I back tracked “But lots of other races are sexy.” And then I thought “But what is wrong with saying aboriginal people are sexy when so many people assume that we’re ugly?” And then I thought “She is sexy, and she is mixed race like me, and possibly being native has something to do with her sexuality, but that doesn’t mean ONLY natives are sexy.” Fucking hell it’s hard being politically aware.
Still I don’t think it’s appropriate to deny that her mixed race heritage has nothing to do with who she is. In fact, I’m surprised I didn’t know that myself. TONS of “white” people aren’t in fact white, they are mixed race, but people assume skin tone determines racial seperations, and that is problematic. Some native people try to kick me out of the club because I’m such a pale chickie, even though I have clearly defined Native facial features, including a Mongolian halo in my eyes (I have brown rimmed with green). And then white people, well, sometimes they try to claim all of me only because of my intelligence, and encourage me to refute my Cree background.
In the immortal words of James Dean “You’re tearing me apart!”
Same with lesbians. I get into deep shit for loving bisexuals, and I also get into shit for being trans, and I’m sure I’ll get into more shit if I also mention I like cocksucking. Jeezie Chreezie! I don’t think I fit in anywhere. I have kind of revoked my lesbian membership card though, I used to say it because I only fall in love with women, but there are some other complicating factors. Queers have so many goddamned categories. Butch femme soft butch soft femme butchy-femme femmy-butch, gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, intersexed, leather folks, vanilla folks, drag queens, transvestites, transsexuals, FTM’s, MTF’s, FTF’s, MTM’s, oh man! And this plurality isn’t a problem at all, except that there are border guards who get all pissy when someone is a variety of any of the above categories. Even among bisexuals there’s always huge entangled semantic wars about what bisexuality means and who is bisexual and so on. Gives me a headache. Fucking hell.
On the other hand when someone says “Don’t label me” I have a tendency to roll my eyes, just because then it seems to be almost closet case behaviour. But that is me.
I remember when I was finally coming out as a sadomasochist I had some tortured conversation with an older friend who had been in the BDSM community for quite some time. I was trying to reconcile being a submissive with being a person of colour and ALSO with a tendency to date white women, and I was all hung up on the politics of submitting to a white woman and she said “Jeezie Chreezie Thirza!” (She didn’t say Jeezie Chreezie, I just like that particular blasphemy right now) “Jeezie Chreezie, don’t take politics into the bedroom, just leave it behind.” And I was so freaking liberated. It wasn’t about a person of colour submitting to a white person for fun and games, it was just two HUMANS doing erotic powerplay, and fuck the rest.
The irony of course is that now I’m submissive to someone with a similar racial background as me.
And when I had the psych diagnosis, people often made the erroneous assumption that Craziness precludes high intelligence, so suddenly I wasn’t just crazy, I was also unbelievably stupid. And this was compounded with the fact that my treatment entailed utilizing cognitively disabling medication. So I’d be really struggling to show my intelligence and people often dismissed whatever factual things I mentioned as the ravings of a mad woman. I can’t even begin to list off the things I told Normals which they dismissed out of hand based on my identity. I knew a SHITLOAD of stuff about psychiatry and how it worked, and they kept pooh poohing me as a paranoid freakazoid because they had read a VERY informative article on manic depression in Reader’s Digest. Fucking Normals!!! I’m still amazed at the vast assumptions people make about madness.
Salvador Dali once asked Freud if he could psychoanalyze him using a new treatment Dali had invented called the “Paranoid Critic” method. Obviously Freud turned him down, since he was a paranoid critic. Freud that is, not Dali, Dali was just having a laugh.
One of us, one of us. Gooba gaba.
Mixed race, sadomasochist, bisexual, humanitarian, actress, director, mother, pilot, UN Ambassador superstar Angelina Jolie
Addendum: Being Iroquois could also relate to her humanitarian work, since the Iroquois Confederacy forms the basis of democratic government.