Observing, Thinking, Changing

The counterstroke to anti-assimilation

I think a good place to start, really, is by mentioning what happens when you don’t fit in with those around you.

A black and white drawing, set in Victorian times or similar. A man dressed in a stripper's police uniform has just startled his wife, who sat doing kitchen work; all the vegetables are flying across the room as she's jumped a mile to see him walk in.

When you don’t fit in like a cross dresser in olden times …
Image from the Internet Archive Book Images photostream; edited by Stuart Rankin. CC 2.0

I haven’t fit in for years. My whole life, really, when you get right to it. Many people don’t fit in, but some have the confidence to carry that off – to not care what others think. That’s a skill I’m trying to figure out how to develop.

But first, let’s just talk about being that out-of-place person: that unassimilated earthling.

I’m starting here, in large part, because I was handed the topic on a silver platter by Virgie Tovar’s recent brilliant blog entry, “I’m a Fat Anti-Assmilationist (& No I’m Not Sorry)”. Though she focuses on fat, what she has to say about not being the accepted norm is quite universal:

Jack Halberstam in The Queer Art of Failure speaks of this very phenomenon. All of those who are outside of what is considered normative MUST be seen and constructed as failures. Our choice to be outside of the … center of privilege must be erased. It cannot be seen culturally as a choice because this would too quickly unveil the critique that making such a non-compliant choice indicates. When we choose not to assimilate this is very powerful because we are in essence saying “your party sucks.” And, girl, patriarchy really doesn’t like to hear that.

Vin Deisel leading a group, armed with assault rifles, such as a military or SWAT mission, while he has a baby strapped to his chest.

When you don’t fit in like a baby on a SWAT mission …
Image by 6amcrisis. CC 2.0

Whatever the prevailing society is doesn’t like to hear dissenting opinions that challenge its foundational beliefs: whether it’s just your friends gathered, talking about their kids, and you’re the bump on a log not knowing how to tell them you hate children … or your family members who’ve chosen to define their lives and self-worth based on the jobs they do (and often, the jobs their children do), and you don’t know how to get across to them that you’ve found more important things in life … or your friends of friends, debating politics at a party, and you don’t know how to tell them that you gave up on that malarky because you long ago concluded that spending time and energy on things you can’t change was a fool’s errand.

This is where I am. It’s all well and good to say that it’s powerful to not assimilate, but the counterstroke is that it’s not validated – others don’t acknowledge my stories as true, or my choices as choices – and this has led me, eventually, to the crisis of identity I’m now having.

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Thoughts Tumble Out…

I’m in the midst of a deep identity crisis, working out who I am and am not, what I am and am not, from the ground up. What baggage I carry with me, how to rid myself of what I don’t want, how to keep what I like, how to acquire the stuff I want — and how to decide what stuff I want.

I’m going to pick apart every known and accepted bit of received wisdom, about every society I know or learn about, as well as myself, my family, my upbringing, and so on. I’m going to apply my analytical mind to breaking these assumptions down and seeing them for what they are, piece by piece, so as to do what I always aim to do: take what works for me, and leave what doesn’t. I’m doing this in my diary for now, but I thought I’d do some of it here, since I like to blog, too.

Naturally, names – including the site name and url – are subject to change on a whim, as I suss out my identity afresh.

If you’ve managed to stumble across this somehow, you’re welcome to follow along – come along for the ride – if you dare.

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