Musings on gender and identity

An excerpt from an essay I wrote for a gender course. Some background for this:

This draws on various ideas about L’Écriture Féminine (Hélene Cixous) and also for certain stylistic aspects on an essay by Rachel Blau du Plessis called “For the Etruscans”.

And now… the essay! This is not a continuous excerpt from the essay, but more like the highlights. (In some ways this is a bit dated, but I feel still relevant.)

In writing bisexuality, we/you/I need a language that is more/other than oppositional….

I’m not defined by what I’m not, not defined against a norm (not as much), not defined against another way of being (I won’t let myself be). I want to be defined in combination, as this and this and this, not as this but not that. I want to remove binary opposition, at least in the language with which I describe myself (sexuality), because what I’m not (and there are things I’m not) doesn’t even have a name (monosexual?)…..

To be bisexual is linked (for me) to race, to a refusal to be either black or white  (why only ever two choices?) but to embrace all my parts. If I had not made this decision, did not know of my other selves (black, white, Asian), I would still be forcing myself to choose (gay/straight, black/white). Not cowardice, not denial, nor is it ignorance of the issues (although mostly they are theoretical/distant for me (and I realize again my privilege) but still real).

I am constantly qualifying myself (amplifying, negating, commenting upon) – everything I say is questionable (by me and by others). The language I use tempts me to say certain things, think, feel, do certain things, and I must query what I produce, a double consciousness (Du Bois) imperative for survival of (my) meaning. Nothing I say is simple (cannot be) – language conceals (I can only say words others have conceived) and I find I can write myself out of existence (following the mistakes of others) because I’m taught these things  (race/class/gender/sexuality) don’t exist (aren’t important) and I write myself as straight white man (I am not, must not be) ignoring my (true, real) self (selves). Following the myth of the universal (the simple). All my examples (models) were of someone else. Only now am I writing myself (in all its complexity) back into my work (I am beyond binary).

© bardofupton 2018


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