Against Identity Politics

by Phyllis Chesler

Dare I say it? Yes, I must. I am neither this nor that. I do not identify myself in terms of whom I have lived with or married. Only my actions and my writing speak for me. Based on my 21st century books and articles, you would know that I’m a Jew, a woman, and a feminist intellectual. But such designations can mean many things. Jews, women, feminists, and intellectuals do not necessarily agree on…anything.

I try to take each issue, one by one, and do not identify myself as a loyal member of a “side,” a tribe, a political party, or a football team.  Like Walt Whitman—like you—I contain multitudes; I try to continue evolving, adding topics, sometimes changing my views.

I do not understand the need to identify oneself as a victim—to live is to suffer. Yes? How we handle that is everything. Even less, do I understand the demand to identify myself as straight, lesbian, bisexual, or “queer.” Those who identify as such, are often very different from each other, we are all so varied; reducing oneself to a “one size fits all” identity is socially, aesthetically, and politically suicidal.

Perhaps young or insecure people, or those without family, need to be part of a beefed-up, imaginary pack/team/support group. Woe to the one who breaks with the pack on whatever the party line may be.

Tell me: What do you think?



One Response

  1. What do I think? I think this is a fantastic piece and the author is spot on correct. Identity politics particularly in regard to race matters is the very opposite of what Dr. MLK taught us: that we should judge a person based only on their character and not on the color of their skin. We live in revolutionary insane times now, and it’s voices like Dr. Chesler’s in this simple post that make the most sense. Identity politics is anti-american and fundamentally against every ideal and principle we believe in as free citizens under the constitution. Thank you for this one, Dr. Chesler.

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