Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Identity Politics and the Art of Confession

Matt Bruenig has written a fantastic piece on leftist identitarian politics, who gets to speak, and the pressure to "confesss" when marginalized identities are invisible:
If you want to command ID for yourself on topics related to your invisible identities, there simply is no other way to do it than confess about your life. This is a problem because it puts people like King in really bad situations. It’s also a problem because those who are not willing to hash out their personal life to establish their identities can be locked out of the discourse altogether.
I'm not a "confessor." A quick once-though of my blog and it's pretty apparent where my sympathies lie, but I'm not about to vomit details of my personal life just to credential myself. If this makes people uncomfortable, I'm okay with that. Confessionalism always carries with it an undercurrent of guilt.
ID’s theory of political knowledge is that people who belong to identities that are most proximate to a particular issue have the most knowledge about that issue. It is thus a theory of expertise. It differs from other theories of expertise in the way that it determines what makes someone an expert, but it is similar to those other theories in that it ultimately concludes that those with lesser expertise should defer to those with greater expertise.
This is the foundation on which contemporary activists communities are built, but in recent years it's filtered into the arts in a way that's disconcerting. Who is allowed to created characters of color, trans characters, women. As I mentioned a few months ago, some have even gone as far as to suggest that straight male writers should submit less to give others a chance. The onus should be on producers and editors to seek out work made by POC or queer people, not individual artists.