Rebellious Identity: Differences Within Difference

I have been slow on the blogging front this week as the result of life being all consuming. I spent every day last week as juror #7 on a criminal trial in Newark. Intercultural. Rhetorical. Hybridity. Intersectionality. All present. Followed by a weekend visiting my daughter at Rochester Institute of Technology for the family weekend with my two boys and my dyke partner. My daughter is part of a full emersion program for sign language interpreters, so many of the weekend’s events were conducted in silence with interpretation for the hearing. And so, the weekend fluidly extended the themes of intercultural, rhetorical, hybridity, and intersectionality.
This week our reading was entitled Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke: Pedagogical Performances of Class, Gender, and Sexuality, by Michelle Gibson, Martha Marinara, and Deborah Meem.
There has been something nagging at me since we experience the “studio visit” on Equity Unbound. I have wanted to address it, but been unable to articulate it. I believe this reading has helped me to find some language. Bear with me if I am clumsy. We were invited to attend the studio visit, and I was not able to attend because of work. I had hoped to participate and was interested when we had the opportunity to observe it as a class. The visit opened with the idea of each attendee introducing themselves concerning their “hybridity.” I instantly experienced a feeling of embarrassment and was relieved that I had not chosen to attend. Although an open forum, as a white woman it was obvious that I lacked the hybridity required to have a voice in the conversation. Or so it would seem. On any kind of generic form, I fall under the category of “white/ Caucasian.”
I have the historical/personal experience of being marginalized, silenced and oppressed. And I have no wish to wear that as a badge or gain membership in a club. My life experiences have given me broad understanding and the ability to empathize. I very much want to be part of the conversation and was not sure where the issue of hybridity left me. On page 78, the authors address the importance of the differences between identities and the significance of the multiplicity of difference as well as exploring contradictions.

The second story, Butch: PersonalPedagogy and the Butch Body provided the relief of language that articulated my experience. I was resistant to the idea of the chart at first, but in the end, I found it helpful. “It is possible to occupy both the center and the margins of society (p79).” It was interesting to look at what allows access to privilege and what denies it. This story also addressed the fact that as the context and variables change, so do the sources of power. It is my job to live with an awareness of and breathe life into multiple incongruent identities. This story also mentioned the power of invisibility in the femme identity which bolster’s immunity from harassment. I would say that a big part of my own identity has been to gather power from invisibility.
I identified a great deal with the first story, Bi: Playing with Fixed Identities. I appreciate the idea of welcoming the friction an animated identity represents. We spoke several weeks ago about the concept of a “true voice” or “authentic voice.” To me, that is truly what an animated identity is, an ever-changing live form. As the author points out, this definition of identity undermines the very idea of identity which by nature is a fixed idea(p75). I embrace the idea of “disrupting assumptions” and allowing identity to remain alive with continuity and with conflict as suggested in this story.
Two ideas I latched onto in the third story, Bar Dyke: A Cocktail Waitress Teaches Writing, were: “In short, my experience was de-authorized not by denial but by silence (p88),” and “I chose in this instance to use my experience as currency (p90).”
There is something about the idea of human experience being a currency that makes every life important. The story of the white man in this story who had been marginalized was moving. That man can be a vehicle for change.
My experience deliberating with the jury last week was one of the most overwhelming and amazing experiences I have ever had. 12 jurors. 3 of us believing unbudgingly in a not guilty verdict for the young African American man on trial. Me. An African American Woman and an African American man together articulated the argument throughout three days to convince the other nine that this young man should go free. His tears of relief as the verdict was read is a moment that I will never forget. I will always remember my two cohorts and the way our arguments dovetailed into a victory.

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