SHL

dissolving your identity

Recently, I went on dates with someone who identified themself as non-binary. To my surprise and slight confusion, she was what society would deem as feminine for the most part.

I consider myself progressive with a streak of libertarianism — that is, if you’re not hurting anyone else, then I’ll mind my own business. That’s why I will never tolerate the right’s rage against anything not “straight.” Nobody should give a fuck if two men love each other or if a woman opts into surgery to become a man.

But I think this obsession with identity (and its inevitable connections to politics) is all-around detrimental. By boxing yourself into certain identities, you are actually affirming society’s orthodox standards and stereotypes. That’s what happened with my date. They told me they are non-binary beccause they identify closely with “women” in certain situations and “men” in others (e.g. at the gym). Right there, they assigned that acting macho at a gym while lifting as a male trait, while being delicate and writing poems as a female one. The puppeteers of patriarchy would ironically be in complete agreement of such sentiment.

Because she drew such a distinction, I became hyper-sensitive of whenever typical “male” behaviors came out of them on the date because I found them off-putting romantically and in general. I imagine if the same phenomenon occurred while I was on a date with a woman, I would haven’t thought twice about it, instead accepting it as part of her personality, not beholden to any gender expectations. You can be a woman and act however you wish. Some people will naturally judge you in negative light if you break conventionality, but who cares? They’ll be judging you regardless of your identity. You can be boisterous and forward or coy and emotional without needing to qualify your behaviors with “I identiy as…” But most importantly, don’t mistake my or anyone’s acceptance of your identity as romantic love. I couldn’t love you that way because you compartmentalized your “masculine” ways into an essential part of you and I am, frankly speaking, turned off by it.

This is also where I break with the far left’s push for identity politics. I also find it problematic to paint anyone who doesn’t support it as “uneducated” because there are sound reasons to be against this movement of identity polarization. For instance, I saw someone post a fundraising link to “transgendered black communities” a few weeks ago. Why? Do we just assume that because being black and transgendered in America are double whammies that they deserve “X” amount of additional financial assistance, compared to lesbian white communities who get a fraction? Does being anything but male-identifying in this country automatically qualify you to more capital? Is being a “woman in tech” really just a tech problem or is it that leaders, regardless of industry, are arrogant assholes (and they often tend to be men) and that assholery shows up in different ways to men and women? I also face brick walls at work because I have social anxiety there, sometimes crippling, and it is arguably just as immutable (if not moreso) as a gender identity. It also forms a large chunk of my human experience, but I don’t go around parading that I am special because I made it despite the anxiety. Of course, in a objective, data-driven lens, identity attributes can help inform smart macrocosmic decisions. But that begs the question, what sorts of identites should be considered valid attributes? Identity politics limits that to race, gender, and sexuality, and that’s the issue I have.

I don’t want to cherish anyone who chooses to box themselves into identity, because I had once done this and it was toxic to self-growth. You are a continuously evolving collection of moments, of flows in time that shaped the riverbanks of your mind and spirit. Trying to build an armor of identities is as futile as trying to divide up the river’s flowing water.

Ego death, they call it. How poignant.