From these understandings of subjectivity, it is easy to see howcritics of identity politics, and even some cautious supporters, havefeared that it is prone to essentialism. This expression isanother philosophical term of abuse, intended to capture a multitudeof sins. In its original contexts in metaphysics, the term implies thebelief that an object has a certain quality by virtue of which it iswhat it is; for Locke, famously, the essence of a triangle is that itis a three-sided shape. In the contemporary humanities the term isused more loosely to imply, most commonly, an illegitimategeneralization about identity (Heyes 2000). In the case of identitypolitics, two claims stand out as plausibly“essentialist”: the first is the understanding of thesubject that characterizes a single axis of identity as discrete andtaking priority in representing the self—as if beingAsian-American, for example, were entirely separable from being awoman. To the extent that identity politics urges mobilization arounda single axis, it will put pressure on participants to identify thataxis as their defining feature, when in fact they may well understandthemselves as integrated selves who cannot be represented soselectively or even reductively (Spelman 1988). The second form ofessentialism is closely related to the first: generalizations madeabout particular social groups in the context of identity politics maycome to have a disciplinary function within the group, not justdescribing but also dictating the self-understanding that its membersshould have. Thus, the supposedly liberatory new identity may inhibitautonomy, as Anthony Appiah puts it, replacing “one kind oftyranny with another” (Appiah 1994: 163). Just asdominant groups in the culture at large insist that the marginalizedintegrate by assimilating to dominant norms, so within some practicesof identity politics dominant sub-groups may, in theory and practice,impose their vision of the group's identity onto all its members. Forexample, in his films Black Is, Black Ain't and TonguesUntied Marlon Riggs eloquently portrays the exclusion of Blackwomen and gay Black men from heterosexist and masculinistunderstandings of African-American identity politics.
(Note: Policy defines Sex and/or Gender-based Discrimination as conduct of any nature that denies an individual the opportunity to participate in or benefit from a University program or activity, or otherwise adversely affects a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, or living environment, because of the individual’s sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, pregnancy-related condition, gender, perceived gender, or gender identity. Conduct that may constitute Sex and/or Gender-based Discrimination but does not fall within the conduct defined in Policy AD85 is excluded from the definition of Prohibited Conduct in Policy AD85 and is addressed in Policy ).
Sex and gender distinction - Wikipedia
The dangers of identity politics, then, are that it casts as authenticto the self or group an identity that in fact is defined by itsopposition to an Other. Reclaiming such an identity as one's ownmerely reinforces its dependence on this dominant Other, and furtherinternalizes and reinforces an oppressive hierarchy. While the chargethat identity politics promotes a victim mentality is often a facilepot-shot, Wendy Brown offers a more sophisticated caution against thedangers of ressentiment (the moralizing revenge of thepowerless). She argues that identity politics has its own genealogy inliberal capitalism that relentlessly reinforces the “woundedattachments” it claims to sever:
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Manning and Baruth (2009, p.24) defines culture as “people’s values, languages, religions, ideals, artistic expressions, patterns of social and interpersonal relationships and ways of perceiving, behaving and thinking.” However, in this paper, cultural identity also relate to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, social class and all that defines the self....
Master of Arts (M.A.) Political Science (Thesis) (45 credits) The M.A
This trajectory—from formal inclusion in liberal polities, toassertions of difference and new demands under the rubric of identitypolitics, to internal and external critique of identity politicalmovements—has taken different forms in relation to differentidentities. Increasingly it is difficult to see what dividescontemporary positions, and some commentators have suggested possiblerapprochements between liberalism and identity politics(e.g., Laden 2001). A problem in sorting through such claims is thevagueness of philosophical discussions of identity politics, which areoften content to list their rubric under the mantra of “gender,race, class, etc.” although these three are not obviouslyanalogous, nor is it clear which identities are gestured toward by thepredictable “etc.” (or why they do not merit naming).Class in particular has a distinctively different political history,and contemporary critics of identity politics, as I'll discuss below,often take themselves to be defending class analysis against identitypolitics' depoliticizing effects. Of those many forms of identitypolitics to which large academic literatures attach, however, I'llbriefly highlight key issues concerning gender, sexuality, and acomplex cluster of race, ethnicity and multiculturalism.