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I've been drinking, so we get Tara's drunken rambling tonight! Yay!
~

I am

As an Aries, this is meant to be my keyword. And if you know me at all, you know I've begun many a sentence that way. But I have issues with 'I am'. As I become increasingly aggravated by news on prop 8, don't ask don't tell, gay teen suicide, Quran burnings and the NYC mosque, immigration laws in Arizona, and a slew of similar, equally froth-inducing topics, I have to think about the nature of prejudice.

Sterotypes, generalizations and misconceptions. In short, a bigot probably feels a person can be summed up by a label, or combination of labels. And their personal definitions for those labels gives them justification to hate a group of people.

But we aren't labels. We are people.

I hate how every 'social network' asks you to reduce yourself to a profile. Tara is: Married. White. Female. 29. Wiccan. Bi-sexual. Living in Oklahoma. None of it untrue, but does that really tell you who I am? If forced to, I could label myself further. I could tell you I am: short, fat, redheaded, pierced, tattooed, mother of one. But that's not all that I am. In fact, that can all be severely misleading. Relatively speaking, I may be short and fat. But what some people consider short (or fat) can vary greatly. I'm 'white' as far as all those surveys and applications go. But what is white? I have a generous amount of both Native American and Greek blood in me. Probably a dash of most of Europe as well. White doesn't exactly narrow it down and isn't totally accurate. I'm redheaded by choice not by birth, so what does that say about me? I was born and raised in Oklahoma, which could mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, Oklahomans included. My sexuality is far from straightforward and says nothing about my character. Same with my religious views, at least to those unfamiliar with them. But those are the closest labels I have found to explain myself if forced to 'sum it up' for a typical 'bio'.

I hate these labels. They limit me. And yet I see people shackle themselves with them every day, even those frustrated by societal misconceptions, those victim to prejudice. Hell, I do it myself when I'm not looking. 'I'm an Aries everyone!' That might give you some insight to who I am, but there's SO MUCH MORE to my birth chart than just my Sun sign. But we all do that. We advertise ourselves as 'something' and fall into cliques of 'similar' people. We clump ourselves together in neatly organized 'minorities'. We stereotype ourselves, but get offended when others do the same in a less flattering light. We ask that others broaden their horizons as we work to narrow our own.

It's human nature to 'I am'. We all at some point, usually in our adolesence, struggle to understand who we are and why. It's natural and healthy, but I think we should outgrow it with those jeans we wore Senior year.

Knowing yourself is invaluable, and I think a lot of hate is born out of insecurity. We repress aspects of ourself because we're told it 'isn't normal' and a lot of discrimination is a type of self loathing because we refuse to accept in ourselves what we've been taught is unacceptable in others. Or we feel threatened by our own impulses and take it out on whoever or whatever triggers those unwanted feelings. Women are treated as second citizens in much of the world because of this. In the middle east women are little more than property. Even the least offensive offenses are just mind bogling. Women aren't allowed to attend sporting event because they might hear bad words. The men know it's wrong to speak these words, but their desire to do so takes presedence over a womans right to enjoy the same entertainment. The obvious solution is to simply not curse. But the women are the ones deprived because the men do not have the ability or the desire to behave in a way that obviously is moral and acceptable. They shouldn't curse, but they are going to, so women must be kept away. Historically men have always had a habit of blaming women for their own weaknesses. If they have an impure thought about a woman, of course it isn't their fault. It's the woman's fault for seducing them. By...existing. You hear stories all the time about rapists who say the woman 'had it coming' because she wore something that made her sexually desirable. And the courts are sympathetic! You'd get less time for raping a showgirl than for raping a pentacostal girl in all her modest holiness layers. But rape is rape! I don't care if the woman is walking around practically naked. I would question her self image and I probably wouldn't approve, but that gives no man the right to trespass where he is not expressly invited.

/tangent

If Eve was an afterthought, why did God give Adam a penis? What did he expect him to do with it? Pee obviously, but if Woman wasn't on the agenda from the beginning, the balls were strictly unnecessary and a little baffling.

/random

Back to the matter at hand. At the risk of offending probably everyone I know...I don't understand this 'pride' thing. (Edit to add.yeah. I get it. It's nec for the empowerment of the disenfranchised. I'm no so anti-'pride' anymore. I still think there's something to the point I was making tho, if it's abused.) I'm not proud to be a woman. I simply am. I don't think women are better than men. Just differnt in a complimentary way. I'm comfortable being a woman. It has nothing to do with pride.

Lady GaGa has a point. 'Free' is becoming trendy. And I wonder if she understands the irony that she's helping make it so.

We're turning our individuality into kitsch. We're further alienating ourselves from those who don't understand us by accentualing how we're different, not how we are similar. And a lot of those who aren't directly effected by discrimination are jumping on the band wagon because it's become camp, entertainment. We have 'supporters' who are only that because it's popular, not because they appreciate our struggle. They don't understand, they just think it looks fun.

I'm not proud to be an American. I'm thankful. My goverment, past and present, has embarassed me in some way. But they are still my government and I am still an American. I admire the concept and vision that gave birth to this nation. But America is fallable. That doesn't make me any less American.

I'm not proud to have an alternate sexuality, I'm just not ashamed of it.

Why would anyone fly a freak flag? The point, I thought, was to point out that we are not freaks. We are just normal people and it's people who think otherwise who label us freaks. Why embrace that? Why perpetuate a tool of discrimination? I want to fly an 'I'm a human being' flag.

I'm not proud to be neo-pagan, I'm grateful that I can be without being burned at the stake. It's not a source of pride. It's a source of acceptance. Of self discovery.

What is there to be proud about? I want to be proud of something I've done, not 'something I am'. I'm just unabashed. I'm accepting. I embrace myself and all those things people tell me are wrong about me. Self love and pride are similar, but not synonomous. The point is to be able to say 'I am ___' and not be beaten down for it. I don't have to shout from the rooftops. I just don't want to cower in the closet.

Pride is not necessarily positive.

It's nice to meet likeminded people. But the more closely we identify with a particular group, the more we turn things into an 'us and them' senario. There is no us or them! There is only an us. We are human beings. Miraculous and multifaceted. Each unique as a snowflake. But we're all just snow. We all share SOMETHING.

Let's knock down the walls separating us, not reinforce them with posters advertising our differnces, manufacturing excuses for possible exclusion. Don't be proud. Be you.

My problem with 'I am' is that too often people feel the need to expand on it. But it's really not necessary. I am. It stands alone. It's the only important part of any sentence you could use it with.

I'm not a label. I am.


/drunken ramble

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Nov. 30th, 2010 09:32 am (UTC)
Vodka is not conducive to spelling.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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