12.3.09

Self-identification

I've been pondering these two posts by the Restaurant Refugee. In the second, he says,
My declaration about anger was written lazily and failed to explain fully my sentiment. The truth of the matter is not that I hated being accused of being gay. I hated that I wanted to respond to the claim. (Look at the language I just used: accused – is someone ever accused of being straight? That rings to the core of the cognitive dissonance, the hypocrisy.)
My comment was
part of your response was you trying to correct a misidentification (be it gay, Jewish, cold or a reader of Dan Brown). And that’s ok. The fact that it caused you the question to root of your anger? Part of me wants to say “even better”, and part of me wants to say “overreaction”. Your choice.
As I've thought further, I've also thought about what identification means.

How do I identify myself? Is it by my sexuality? My gender? My religion? My ethnicity? My job? My pets? The teams I root for? (you get the picture) And what would make me react when people say/suggest/accuse me of being other than what I am?

I've worked with people who so identify with their job and TPOW that they have little left outside that. I'd be the first say "I'm a full-fledged bunhead" but MPOW isn't that important to my identity. I know people that get upset because people assume they belong to one religion, when they aren't... people that live in one area and yet root for other teams... women who dye their hair and refuse to identify as being Of a Certain Age.

What gets me angry is when people refuse to accept my self-identifiers. I'm Quaker, although I was raised in a Jewish household. When my family or friends insist I'm still Jewish, I get irritated. When someone that knew me Back When assumes I'm the same now as I was then, that I've stayed in some sort of stasis, I get irritated> And, ok, my mother's insisting that I'm lactose intolerant, when I'm not any more, irritates me.

None of this is to imply that what happened to RR isn't far different. But in a way, it is all of a piece: if someone places you in a group that isn't "yours", you may react with the anger that RR did.

1 comment:

Aravis said...

I think it goes to wanting to be known and understood for the person we are, and being accepted as such. Like you, I become irritated as well.