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+8 votes
I am not particularly interested in making general statements about the experiences and emotions of a group of people who share an identifier. I am also not stoked on reinforcing gender binaries, or participating in the representative political game where one women speaks for all women, etc...that said there are times in my life that patriarchy/sexism seems to explain a whole lot. How can I talk about that without falling prey to all the other stuff? What kinds of anti-political post left feminist stuff is out there? (this discussion can be translated to other identifiers)
by (1.5k points)
The problem here is with this vague, loaded term ‘identity politics.’ It seems to me like anarchists, in reacting against the ‘social justice warrior crowd’, have shrugged off anything that has to do with issues of identity as worthless liberal recuperation. The fact of the matter is that men are socialized to take up more space, commit sexual assault, and dismiss the emotions of non-men. You can debate the details all you want, but those things are pretty obviously true. People are cast into genders when they are born and spend their adolescence being socialized to fit specific roles. Some of us grow up to reject those roles and actively aim to work on our shit; others revolt against their gender completely and think of their socialization as a bad memory. But the thing is, that socialization is there, and how we react to it is up to us.

To answer the question: I don't know. I'm too afraid to bring it up around anarchists in real life because half will hate you for being into identity politics, the other half will hate you for not being into identity politics enough.
I don't have an answer, at least not yet, but this is a great question.
hey flip. you definitely articulate the reasonable line as commonly understood, and it is a decent line, as far as it goes.

please read me as tentative in the following paragraphs...

one problem with that line might be that it tends toward extremism. maybe that is not the fault of the line, but maybe it is. (i blame christianity for the extremes done in its name, even though christians denounce each other all over the place, so...)
another problem might be that it has stunted our ability (by analyzing things just *enough*) to understand things better. maybe there are over-arching tendencies, but that doesn't have to mean *anything* about any specific interaction or individual. so how do generalizations get in the way of treating each other and ourselves well/better? sometimes it's really helpful to be able to say, "this is not just me, this is a whole group of people". and sometimes it's not helpful.
and sometimes it's both.
just for an example: what if the people who are socialized to be take up more space, commit sexual assault, and dismiss some people's emotions are actually a subset of people that crosses the gender line? and we've been mis-identifying the marker (as gender/sex) this whole time?

i hear you on that last paragraph though. this is one of those conversations that will blow up in your face frequently. makes it better to have online. :)
Can you clarify what you mean by “that line” and how it might tend “toward extremism”? I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying.

I think I see what you’re saying about mis-identifying the marker. It’s obviously possible, considering that there are definitely non-men who perpetuate those things and men who do not.

But how about this: I’m currently part of a mens’ group. That would be considered ‘identity politics’ because we’re acting and meeting based on our shared identity. I know how fucked up my socialization has made me, and I know that it does similar things to other mostly men. Other people, non-men, also work on their shit, they don’t have to be in a ‘mens group’ to do so. But when the vast majority of perpetrators of sexual assault are men, the urgent task at hand for me is to combat that most probable, and undoubtedly relevant element behind said phenomenon.

Again though, I see your point and it’s an interesting one.
the line that "all men have been socialized", or "all women"... pretty much any time someone says "all" anyone...
that is by definition essentializing, i think, and absolutely tends to make people think in certainties and black and whites...

but it's complicated in practice. i know that when i was coming up, the best way for me to avoid feeling the standard white guilt about racism was to accept racism as a fact of life for (north american) [white] people. that immediately removed the question of "whether or not" and encouraged the "how" and "what to do" questions, which are much more manageable. that was meaningful not in some abstract sense (although obviously there are all kinds of philosophical ramifications), but as a rejection of the kinds of defensive, irritating, repetitive conversations that people are still having about racism (and sexism).
personal, affinity-based responses (like men's groups, potentially) to problems that we have/see in the world  can be great, but can also foster thinking that is not challenging on some levels. i'll use my experience with racism again... the challenging white supremacy workshops were all about picking a side, picking a rhetoric, and then training everyone to have the same perspective. last time i checked they were at the point of judging people for not sharing language (if you use the wrong words then you are not one of them, if you're not one of them then you are not working on your shit). (there are anarchists like that, too, of course. sometimes i'm one of them.) being in groups, especially around something that seems obvious to the group members (like man-ness, etc), can be dangerous along those lines. that doesn't mean it's not the best option for a specific thing, or a specific time, or a specific person...

2 Answers

+2 votes
as an anarchist (with strong individualist tendencies), i don't see it as possible to talk about feminism without engaging in identity politics. the crux of both is an essentialist perspective. there are two boxes into which individuals get placed: oppressed/victim and oppressor/abuser. what makes them essentialist is that the primary criteria for placing someone in one box or the other are those "essential" characteristics: male/female, white/non-white, etc. rather than the observable behavior and actions of the individuals involved.

lest i should be misunderstood, let me make this clear: i am NOT saying abuse and oppression don't exist. nor am i saying that women and other non-white-male individuals aren't more prone to institutionalized prejudices and oppression than white males, by and large.  what i AM saying is that oppression ought to be looked at within the specific context in which it occurs; and that is not limited to the big-picture context of "society", or civilization or what have you. every relationship between individuals has power dynamics, and those dynamics ought to be examined, critiqued and potentially tweaked (or massively changed if necessary) at every opportunity. it makes no difference to me what color, size, shape, income or genitalia describe the individuals involved; if the power dynamic is coercive or oppressive, it should be dealt with. i have no interest in the oppression pyramid, and there is no other way i can describe essentialist thinking.

take this statement: "The fact of the matter is that men are socialized to take up more space, commit sexual assault, and dismiss the emotions of non-men. "

is that really any different from the feminazi proclamation that "all men are rapists"? it is an absurd universalization, one that is empirically inaccurate in my own lived experience. socialization does not solely come from the mass of society (and all its public relations tools). one's intimate circle of friends and family can also be huge influences, and "society" does not automatically trump them as influential factors. i know many men who were not socialized to commit sexual assault, dismiss non-male emotions, take up more space, etc - at least based on both meaningful discussion and observed behavior.

i guess this is more of a comment than an answer, except for maybe the very first sentence. :-)
by (13.4k points)
Can this same avoidance of essentialism be applied when an individual is examining their proverbial shit, as opposed to contending with their relationships to others?

 For example, can I, while being self reflective about my behavior, say "oh, i do that because i was socialized female, and i dont like that i do that, and i am somewhat angry about the way that behavior came to be", or is that an abdication of personal responsibility in favor of essentialism and victim hood?

Or what if there are other people involved, but we are not in conflict? what if i want to use feminism not to denounce other peoples behavior (!), but as a way of asking those i love to better understand me?
i am not sure i understand your questions, except for (maybe) this one:

"what if i want to use feminism not to denounce other peoples behavior (!), but as a way of asking those i love to better understand me?"

i would ask, why does "feminism" even come into play here? if you want those you love to understand you better, why wouldn't you clearly and directly state your desires related to their understanding of you and any behavior that is problematic and/or desirable for you?

sure, you might also bring up "feminism" in that context; how you define it, and how it relates to your dynamic with them. i have nothing against verbal shorthand, but i always want to be sure those i am communicating with are clear on exactly what i mean by that shorthand. "feminism", especially in so-called radical circles, is far too (over)loaded a term to make that assumption, imo.

to another of your questions:

becoming aware of our indoctrinations, and how they have impacted our thoughts and behavior, is huge. obviously. when we think or act in ways that we do not like, it is up to us to change that (if possible). when we can't change it, hopefully we find other ways to minimize the impact of such thoughts and behavior in our lives. under no circumstances (that i can think of) do i support the abdication of personal responsibility. which is not to say that others have no responsibility - on the contrary, we ALL have responsibility for our actions. and in any given situation involving more than one person, chances are excellent that everyone has some responsibility in it. it is the binary way most people think (that was your fault, not mine) that leads to the apparent need to place blame - almost always on someone else - in any conflict.

for me, responsibility has to be considered at the individual level, not at the level of some group defined by essential characteristics (which pretty much defines feminism and all forms of identity politics i am aware of).

all white people are not responsible for the enslavement of black africans. all men are not responsible for rape. all irish folks are not responsible for bono.

yes, we live in a world dominated by capitalism and the institutions of modern society. but the extent to which we accept those ways of thinking/being is the extent to which we perpetuate them in our individual lives. just because institutions have indoctrinated us, does not mean we are forever limited to an institutional mindset.

wow, 'feminazi?' really? comparing an ideology you don't like to genocide? sure why not, next time i see a syndicalist i'm going to call them christopher columbus or pol pot.

and yes, that is different from something as absurd as 'all men are rapists.' socialization comes from the media, schools, other people, etc. sure there are a very large number of men who aren't rapists, obviously. but that doesn't change the fact that socialization has a TENDENCY, which varies based on a person's specific experiences, to make people act in a certain way. Are you going to deny that people socialized as men are much more LIKELY (key word here) to be perpetrators of sexual assault than people socialized as women?

I hold by what I said before. With the exception of Dot's comment before, it seems like many people who are hyper-critical of anything related to identity politics are just trying as hard as they can to be its opposite. hence the 'feminazi' comment, and comparing what i said to 'all men are rapists.'
funkya, i think you're approaching this question with a lot of baggage (which there is, of course).
for example, today, *no* (white) people are responsible for the enslavement of black africans (at least, not in the way that people talking about that usually mean it - slavery does still exist, in the us mostly in prisons, but i digress). so you bringing that up is a distraction and a response to an accusation that has not been made here in any way.
to bring it closer to the point, the questionner here is not saying that all men are responsible for rape. you are changing the subject by raising the spectre of an argument that hasn't been made.

to the extent you do address the actual question, i don't find it very thoughtful. we are members of groups. we are also individuals. group membership is meaningful to us. OBVIOUSLY that doesn't mean that we should accede to state-created categories (etc), but then how *do* we determine the groups we're part of, and how to reference them?

perhaps i have just changed the subject too.
@flip: my use of "feminazi" was meant as a humorous jab at a particular type of feminist; consider yourself lucky if you don't know any. i am not literally comparing feminism with genocide. lighten up. also, your question "Are you going to deny that people socialized as men are much more LIKELY (key word here) to be perpetrators of sexual assault than people socialized as women?" seems to ignore my statement: "nor am i saying that women and other non-white-male individuals aren't more prone to institutionalized prejudices and oppression than white males, by and large." i am not painting a black and white picture here.

i actually think comparing "The fact of the matter is that men are socialized to take up more space, commit sexual assault, and dismiss the emotions of non-men. " to "all men are rapists" is a completely legitimate comparison. that's all it is, a comparison. both state their case as unequivocal fact; both make broad, sweeping generalizations. i am not saying they are identical statements, just that there is a reasonable similarity in perspective.

i definitely acknowledge that my distaste for identity politics and politicians may well sway me a bit in the opposite direction. i am mostly ok with that.

@dot: lotsa baggage, no doubt. :-) and just to be clear, i was not responding to any accusation (from this discussion) in my comments about group responsibilities. i was simply making some comments, based on several conversations i have had with identity politicians in the past. perhaps those comments were out of place in this particular context; if so, strike em from the record.

as for individuals and groups, we appear to have some very different ideas about what it means to be a "members of groups", and how meaningful that is.  i guess i just don't identify with groups. and therein lies my aversion to identity politics and essentialist thinking.

if you think i'm not being thoughtful enough now, wait till the drugs kick in!
ok - but "simply making some comments" based on past conversations (ie not the one we're having now) is exactly what i said it was: changing the subject. saying "strike them" kind of bypasses the effect that they've had (although i appreciate the sentiment).
when conversations are loaded, a big part of the challenge is to respond to what is going on in the present, vs what has happened in the past (or what one thinks will happen in the future). (not saying i'm all that good at it, fwtw.) that's the only way that i can see to have a *different conversation* than the ones we've all had before. (try talking about sex work or intimate violence for a while. i believe i was doing this myself in emma's thread a bit ago... blah.)

as for how we see being in groups differently, i'm interested in you being more specific. as has been already stated individuals ARE different, but *frequently* when people talk about devaluing membership, it comes from not liking the groups they either identify with, or are seen by others to be part of. (or sometime, because their membership is invisibilized by the society they grew up in, so they don't recognize it as a meaningful group.)
(perhaps put more simply, not wanting to be a part of a group just puts one in another group :(  -- and here is where i mention century of the self again, as the most intriguing treatment of this phenomenon. have you seen it?)
dot - i don't think i was changing the subject - the subject of this discussion as well as the others i was referring to is/was feminism and identity politics (and essentialism, by extension). what i was changing was the context of my comments, and that was my bad.  but - "bypasses the effect that they've had"... ? i seriously don't follow. are you saying people should not modify statements that have already been made, even when they realize they would rather state things differently (particularly when someone points out a good reason to do so)? i must be missing something.

"...when people talk about devaluing membership, it comes from not liking the groups they either identify with, or are seen by others to be part of. "

i don't disagree with that at all. what i am saying is that my issue is not with specific groups per se (though i may have such issues as well), but with the very concept of groups and "membership" therein. there is a huge difference imo.

we may define the term "group" in different ways, and maybe my personal understanding of the term is more limited/limiting than yours. whatev. in my experience, groups tend to go against the grain of individual autonomy, which is my primary desire and objective.

for sure there are transient collections of individuals that get together for specific reasons (actions, parties, discussions on feminism, ...), and i'd be insane to think i'd never be an individual in one of those. (some of) what distinguishes that from what i've been referring to (distastefully) as "groups" are:

1. the transient nature of the group (not just its membership, but its very existence).
2. the fact that one has to WANT to be a participant; "membership" is by desire, not by biological (etc) attributes. ya know, that "voluntary association" thing.
3. the behavioral nature of what attracts individuals to the group (we all love to dance to funk music), rather than some essential characteristic (we are all hispanic women). iow, lack of a group "identity".
[2 and 3 overlap, i know]
4. the lack of an ideological cornerstone around which nationalism/loyalty/dogma typically develop.

"not wanting to be a part of a group just puts one in another group"

at some level, i totally get that. but on the other hand, it kind of requires the creation of a "placeholder" group into which one can place someone that fits nowhere else. to me that points to a need (or desire?) to place every individual neatly into some box with some label. i have no such need. at least i strongly desire not to.

it makes me think of this perspective: "if you destroy this system, what will you replace it with".  i have - and want - no replacement system. just as i have - and want - no catch-all box in which to place those individuals that fit into no other box. in both cases, the need/desire for everything to fit nicely into some model is what i am referring to, and i do not have that need/desire.  

anyways, i appreciate this discussion. of course i'd prefer it face-to-face, but here we are.

ok, have at it...
yea, i think i sounded too harsh. maybe i was just saying that changing one's mind in writing is a bit more challenging to express than in person.

i'm not talking about a placeholder group. i am saying at a minimum that we are not totally self-created. that we are in dialog with our world and that other people have a big impact on us. and that what that means in this instance is that men (for example) who totally don't identify as men or any of the things that men are supposed to be/do, are still part of that group. and what *that* means is part of what this original question is trying to get at, i think.
what i hear you saying is that it doesn't mean anything. and that is the simplisticness that i'm having a hard time with.
" i am not literally comparing feminism with genocide. lighten up."

Oh I wasn't offended, I was just surprised at seeing someone compare something they dont like to fascism, considering that phenomenon has been a cliche for decades.

Perhaps what I said before was essentialist. I just get the impression that some people who criticize identity politics write off things such as men facing varying levels of socialization which oftentimes leads to said shitty behavior. or they write off attempts to work on said behavior in the form of critically thinking about ones actions and socialization, for example in a mens group, which is an identity, hence why i don't like the term 'identity politics.'

but at the same time, i do hate the tumblr social justice warriors and the women/gender studies majors who rant about the kyriarchy.
flip - yeah, the term "feminazi" is not uncommon in describing certain dogmatic feminists that attempt to shape people's thoughts and behaviors (eg, several women's studies majors i have known). of course it is an exaggeration, probably akin to "wage slavery" or similar.

i don't see how any critical thinker could "write off" socialization as a major factor in people's behavior. i do sometimes see that claim - or the claim of "writing off" racism/sexism/etc per se - simply due to others not buying into the oppression pyramid that all identity politicians seem to uphold and perpetuate. shitty behavior comes from all kinds of factors, and socialization is a big one. acknowledging that sexism (or racism, or classism, ...) is not the only relevant oppression is very different from writing it off, or writing off socialization as a major factor in its creation and perpetuation.

there is no question that in this world, there are social constructs that create implicit and explicit hierarchies. patriarchy is surely an excellent example of this. i think a bone of contention in discussing these things comes here: some people see a specific hierarchical social construct (eg, patriarchy) as THE primary one to be dealt with (and the root of all others); change that one and freedom will ring for all. [i would add that there are plenty of folks who also just want to flip the oppression, ala "if only women ran the world..."] other folks reject that approach, and choose instead to focus on the destruction of ALL (hierarchical) social constructs, without giving special weight to any single one (see caveat below).

my own perspective definitely falls with the latter. what i would add to it is that in ANY given situation/context, there may well be a damn good reason to focus on one particular type of oppression: the one fucking with your life in that moment. i just can't extrapolate that to anything beyond that particular situation, other than lessons learned from it.
Okay...I get what you're saying and I agree. It's just that in my social circle we understand that the systems of oppression are all intertwined and there's no 'objectively' more important one, or anything silly like that. At the same time, we also will be critical of usually dudes behavior that we see in the local punk scene or amongst not-quite-radicals. Hence my confusion of the rejection of identity politics when, more often than not, it is people of a specific identity who act in a more off-putting or aggressive way. But I think we're in agreement...right?
well, partly.

"we understand that the systems of oppression are all intertwined and there's no 'objectively' more important one"


"it is people of a specific identity who act in a more off-putting or aggressive way"

while that may be typically true, it does not lead me to the conclusion that  "identity politics" is ok if the politician is just less off-putting or aggressive. a nice boss is still a boss, and "green" capitalism is still capitalism. my problem with identity politics is BOTH the identity aspect - which i find problematic primarily because of group identity usually consuming individuals - and the POLITICS aspect. identity politics is politics. i hate politics and politicians. period. we all can play that role somewhat at some times, i have no illusions about that. but some of us are far more inclined towards political interactions than others, and identity politicians definitely have that inclination. so on your last point, no, i don't agree.  unless i have misunderstood.
@dot (re your edit):

i pretty much agree with what you said, especially:

" we are not totally self-created."

yer damn skippy! do you think i was saying anything that would contradict that?

however, not sure about this:

" men (for example) who totally don't identify as men or any of the things that men are supposed to be/do, are still part of that group"

"that group" is pretty abstract to me. who is defining the group? or more to the point, who is defining who is IN it? a group of "men" such as you are referring to, are there "black" men there? is that a separate group? a subgroup?

let me try to be very clear. i am not saying the socially constructed group "men" (eg) does not exist, nor am i saying it is meaningless. i am saying i personally have almost no use for it, and i desire relations with individuals who also reject such constructs (and their impacts) at every opportunity. shit, direct relationships between individuals are difficult enough as is; all these group constructs and abstractions - though perhaps coming from the best of intentions - serve only to complicate and mediate such relationships, imo. if you want to call that simplistic, i'm ok with that.

oh yeah, i also don't know what you think i was saying "doesn't mean anything". everything means something to someone in some context.  maybe i am wording things in a way that leads you to misunderstand my intent. can you explain what you meant by that?

though, at this point, we may have exhausted the capability of this particular medium for this type of conversation (and i may have strayed too far off-topic anyways). i've enjoyed it. much better than @news comments. :-)
indeed :)
so, one last clarification (maybe).
re: being self-created or not...
if we are significantly formed by the world we live in, and the world we live in is sexist, then how does that sexism manifest? how do we talk about it in ways that respect both what we have done to get out of that perspective, and acknowledge what is (or seems) irrevocably broken?
by "doesn't mean anything" i meant that you reject the complexity of the negotiation between group membership and individuality. (shit, and this whole time i'm writing like group could be defined as just other humans. which i don't think is true. but that is really getting into a different conversation!)
it's fine for you to say that you want to engage with other people who deny those constructs, but to me that is the easy way out, and it is following a line that denies some of my experiences (i'm not making a moral point there. you have no responsibility to my experiences, obviously).
shark.heart is asking a question that is complicated and difficult, and your answer is not acknowledging the difficulty (or at least, it wasn't initially. maybe you have at this point?).
k. think i'm done now. hope that is clearer.
i am not sure if this is the case, but i feel like there is simply an irreconcilable difference between my own perspective and way of relating to "the world" (as an individual that *desires* only to relate with other individuals), and perspectives/ways of relating that seem somehow inherently bound to seeing "groups". (that may make no sense to anyone outside my own head.) perhaps you have found a good balance between those perspectives. right on.  even i (as i keep trying to point out) don't see it in black and white. i just find myself strongly repelled from the "group identity" way of seeing and relating to the world. perhaps some residue from my attempts at eliminating all forms of dogma from my life? these questions (in this case, all around individual vs group) are huge and important ones, and although i seek simplicity in virtually everything in my life (hence, my taking the "easy way out" is quite conscious), i try not to be reductionist or ignore unavoidable complexities. so your use of the terms "simplistic" and "easy way out" are ones that resonate (positively) with me, but they also cause me to look more deeply at that part of myself in this context. self discovery/creation is perpetual.

i/we have edged away from the real focus of the original question. plus
i am not doing a great job of clarifying my own perspective. i really do dig these kinds of discussions, i just find them severely lacking when not done face-2-face. maybe sometime we can pick this up irl...

sorry for "dominating" this damn comment thread! :-)
oh, and in case i really did not acknowledge the difficulty of shark.heart's original question, i acknowledge it for sure, here and now. it is an excellent question. and i surely did NOT answer the question.
i agree that it is better for relationships to have them face 2 face, but i'm not sure it's better for the conversation, to the extent that those can be differentiated (i am falsely abstracting conversations. but i will continue because it amuses me. fuck it).
that is, i find that in relationship i sometimes cave to wanting to get along, or to be light hearted, or to make or hear a joke... here it is possible to take a break for a while and think about it, and then come back and start up again...
anyway, i guess i'm just saying that both F2F and online/in writing have their place.
your final two comments more than satisfied, thank you very much!
and yes, i think i am totally simplifying by talking about group and individual (perhaps there is a key to actually answering the question in that premise), but there is something about anarchists generally organizing themselves in to either emphasizing one or the other that is easy to fall into (at least rhetorically). let's find another way to talk about those tendencies!
(you first! :D )
i agree, there are some benefits to an online discussion vs f2f, regarding time and space to think things through before responding. (i wish i took more advantage of that! ;-) ) not sure how much that "pro" is offset by the "con" of missing visual clues/body language and tone, as far as clear communication.

i'd still much rather deal f2f, but where/how i live, the opportunities for that are limited at best. so i appreciate this. and many of the folks here.
+3 votes
I think that you can talk about feminism without relying on identity politics, but, in the first instance, I'm don't think you should. There are serious problems with the notion that social inequalities along identity lines have been overcome and should not be spoken of -- i.e. the all too familiar "identity blind" discourse that provokes such a knee-jerk reaction whenever one makes a statement about gender, class, race, and so on, insinuating that to speak of such things is to perpetuate them. This tendency leads to what might be called gender-blind sexism, color-blind racism, class-blind classism, and so on. I offer this answer tentatively, and not with any sort of claim to elaborating the subject in detail (because that would mean writing a book), and before continuing should say that a number of authors have worked on this question of gender identity (and its abolishion), namely queer theorists like Judith Butler, Eve Sedgwick, Michel Foucault, among others. The best recent work I know of from a feminist perspective is Linda Zerilli's Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom, which is, interestingly, calling for a return to what is often called second-wave feminism. Also, Hardt and Negri's Commonwealth deals extensively with the question of identity politics in relation to revolutionary politics (just to try to answer the "what kinds of stuff is out there" question and not to pretend that I came up with any of this on my own).

Identity, whether gender, class, race, nationality, etc, is a form of violence, and is implicitly connected with most any kind of oppression you can name. There is good reason to want to do away with identity politics and it seems right that this is the goal of any revolutionary politics. But there is nowhere else to start except identity. The Zapatistas have an interesting notion in this regard, encapsulated in their slogan that demands "not to be who we are, but to become what we want." This is a break with identity politics in that it acknowledges the place from which the revolution sets out, in a shared identity of Chipas, the family, Christianity, other traditions, etc., but this is not the intended end of the struggle. The end, instead, is undefined, and does not drive toward a fixed identity but rather a space in which self-transformation is possible (while recognizing that a struggle must take place for this to happen). In terms of gender, this is different from a feminism that might call for equality with, or recognition from, the oppressor (men). This would be to say that the point of starting out must be as feminists, as women, but that this ought not to be the intended end (as dot says in the comment above about reification). The end of feminism must be to abolish gender altogether (working toward queer theory, perhaps), though it is naive to think that that has been accomplished and so identity politics remain necessary, at least in part. The first task of identity politics must be to make visible the violence of identity, but all too often this politics remains stuck in this task and begins to defend that identity as if it were a kind of property instead of moving on the the second task (and the more important) of a struggle for liberation from identity altogether.

Stepping away from the question a little bit, and to close, this is why I would never say "I am an anarchist" or any such phrase, since I don't think of anarchism as an identity but rather as a revolutionary tendency of thought and action that seeks liberation from identity politics (and that's why I like it). Again, I apologize for this all too inadequate answer to a very important question.

by (1.0k points)
No apology necessary; like most good responses, this opens up a discussion rather than closing it off.
Thanks for the suggested readings.
I also appreciate the discussion of the multifaceted tasks of identity.
Often when I am telling someone about an experience in which I felt or acted like a "woman" it is in the effort to be seen as an individual, to connect with another person, to be understood, all of those things that being a "woman" does not offer me.
@shark.heart: if you haven't read "only a tsunami will do" (a piece in the old green anarchy mag, might be in the recent "best of..." book), you might find it interesting and relevant.