“Identity” as a club to beat, not meet

From Brendan O’Neill at Spiked:

Nothing speaks more profoundly to the crisis of character than the phrase, ‘I identify as…’. In the past, individuals were. ‘I am a builder.’ ‘I am a mother.’ ‘I am a Jew.’ There was a confidence, a certainty, to their sense of identity, and to their declaration of it. ‘I am.’ Today, individuals identify as something. ‘I identify as working class.’ ‘I identify as non-binary.’ Or, in the notorious case of Rachel Dolezal, the American white woman who effectively blacked-up as she rose up the ranks of the NAACP, ‘I identify as black’. The rise of the i-word in our definition of ourselves, the ascendancy of what is called ‘self-identification’, is one of the most notable developments of the 21st century so far. It speaks to a shift from being to passing through; from a clear sense of presence in the world to a feeling of transience; from identities that were rooted to identities that are tentative, insecure, questionable.

Those words ‘I identify as’ – whether they’re being uttered by Caitlyn Jenner as she unveils her newfound womanhood or by an eco-friendly New York Times writer who says ‘I identify as a mammal’ – feel strikingly contingent. They speak to changeability. The undertone is ‘I identify as such-and-such for now’. Indeed, these highly personalised ‘identifications as’ something sometimes come with an acknowledgment that the identification could change in time, and change dramatically. A gender non-binary writer tells us that he/she ‘identifies as both genders’, but then says: ‘I do not know… whom I will identify as in the future.’


Reality check:It all makes sense if we recall that so many people today are not anything in particular to anyone in particular and can’t do anything that matters to anyone.

Except demand acceptance of and worse, interest in, the current swirls in their puddle of identity. Their demands will probably intensify with idleness, and encouragement from their minders.

See also: From the BBC Newspeak dictionary committee: End “he” and “she”

  • Shebel

    I identify as myself. I was born the way I am , as are my kids .

  • dance…dancetotheradio

    End BBC and CBC.

    • disqus_PwGxBXHn8l

      cBC and BBC are ideal for identity fashions because they are no longer necessary institutions for actual news.

    • Alain

      At least the BBC does produce some excellent movie series as opposed to the CBC, but when it comes to news and comments they are pretty much the same.

  • Shebel

    I identify myself as having the Right to Not identify myself as the ‘flavour of the day’.
    I identify myself as feeling really good about myself because I despise the way our Government is fooling the people and fucking the Children.

    • Justin St.Denis

      In a Conservative Canada, government will no longer fuck children. It’s not right.

  • pdxnag

    Can I just identify as Offended and call it good? (I’ll be more specific when the context is more specific.)

    • Shebel

      I am not about to argu with you because I have no idea what I am talking about.

      • Justin St.Denis

        That is no longer disqualifying. Being ill-informed, low-info, dumb, outright stupid, or even a moron no longer means your opinion isn’t a TREASURE that everyone should celebrate!

  • John

    Interesting the way the ‘I identify as’ has demolished feminism, a movement that first gave rise to this tendency. Western societies are so atomized everything risks falling apart. It’s as though massive numbers of people are now so mentally ill they no longer know who or what they are.

    Brenden O’Neill is an excellent writer

  • Hard Little Machine

    I am the walrus

    • Justin St.Denis

      The Joker laughs at you!
      Ha-ha-ha, Ha-ha-ha, Ha-ha-ha!

  • Justin St.Denis

    I ran across this piece elsewhere. Hardly surprising that Denyse picked it up. Facinating. I just wish actual, real, practicing non-crazy psychologists and psychiatrists and their associations would speak up about these identity disorders, including transsexualism. Disordered is disordered, after all, regardless how you try to tart it up.

  • dukestreet

    I just identify as God made me. I can’t do a better job of it than Him.