On identification…

Who are you?

When people ask you that question, how do you reply?  When you are asked to write a self-bio, or someone does one for you, what is your identity?  What words do you use to describe yourself?  You are often only offered a few in order to give the world a glimpse of the vast, huge, complex thing you are.  Who are you?  What do you say?

Are you a WoC?  A feminist?  An anti-capitalist? An academic? Are you a lesbian, or poly, or bi-curious?  Do you practice or ID with a religion, or a culture?  Are you a doctor, a lawyer, a lover, a mother?  Are you a pacifist, a vegan, a democrat?  Are you a woman, a man?  An athlete, an artist, a thinker, a doer? 

Who are you, and how do you identify?  How does that differ from how others identify you?  What goes into what you share with people about who you are…and are you most known for what you’re most proud of?  Does part of your ID rub you the wrong way?

As you can see, I’m back/still here for another week.  I’m Renegade Evolution (Ren for short, of course).  I’m a sex worker, a sex worker rights activist- and yeah, that is what I am probably best known for.  I’m also an Eurasian mutt (ethnically, heavy on the Slavic), a history and sports fanatic, really short, a Jew (non-practicing), a writer, artist, a swinger, and gamer geek…oh yeah, and one of those dreaded libertarians (please do not throw bricks at my head).  And I like to play poker.  But those things come secondary to the first two I mentioned.  It’s odd, for a long time I made a big point of saying “I am more than my job”…and I am, but wow, has it come to play a really important role in the whole of my life and how I ID.  Funny that!

Who are you? And how much does that matter?

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59 comments for “On identification…

  1. August 25, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Who am I? A writer.

    I am lots of other things, but honestly the only one that matters, I think, is that I’m a writer. It’s been the constant through so many changes in my life.

    I am also a feminist, a graduate student, a non-practicing Jew, a white woman, heterosexual, “sex-positive” (whatever the hell that means), a comic geek, a fan of Courtney Love, half French Canadian, a hockey fan, a ‘libertarian socialist’ (yeah, I stole it from Chomsky) and a wholehearted worshipper of the First Amendment.

    And I have a dog. A rescue puppy from the pound. And he’s the love of my life.

  2. August 25, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    A woman, a feminist, a liberal/leftist, a writer and a blogger. I’m pro-choice and anti-sexual violence, two things which I personally find quite important to my identity. Oh, and a really, really big Beatles fan.

    To the best of my knowledge, most people tend to identify me in similar ways (in addition to thinks like “my friend,” “my wife/daughter/sister” and so on). Which only rubs me in the wrong way when people view some of those identifiers with contempt — which is not uncommon.

  3. Sam
    August 25, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Lately I’ve thought about the related question of “where are you from?”

    I spent the past six months living abroad in New Zealand (studying abroad as a Junior in college) and I noticed an interesting pattern in my friends responses to this question. 9 times out of 10 people would reply with the place they go to school, rather than where they grew up, no matter how different the two were. Personally, I tend to always answer Boston, where I grew up, rather than Baltimore, where I go to school. And that’s because I see Boston as where my family is, where I grew up, where I became (largely) the individual that I am today. Baltimore’s a great city, but I live in the bubble that a liberal-arts college often creates, and so I don’t feel comfortable identifying with the city, because I often don’t feel like I’m really living in the city.

    For my friends though, I would ask them why they chose to identify themselves more with the city or place in which they go to school rather than the place they grew up. For the most part, I think their responses were getting at a sense of independence, an attempt to separate oneself from family, etc., and claim a space as being their own. What confuses me about this is that when I see people ask “Where are you from?” I see them asking a question about who you are, and that’s why I say Boston, because that city has much more to do with who I am than Baltimore does (I guess, though, other people might see their college experience has having a much larger impact on creating who they are as individuals, so who knows).

    Is that what identification is largely about? In such an individualistic country, I understand how identification can be/is a way of separating yourself from others, in the sense that it allows you to draw boundaries, but also it allows you to take control of how people perceive and interact with you. I’m not saying, at all, that this is what identification is for everyone, but instead simply what I have seen it be about in my close friends.

    The problem I have with this, however, is that I feel that we’re often put into boxes that we identify with, but for the wrong reasons. For instance, I’m Jewish, I went to a Jewish high school and for a while considered myself to be somewhat observant/religious (not anymore, however). When I was in New Zealand, as well as elsewhere in my life, I’ve had a lot of people identify me as Jewish before I said anything (my co-worker at the restaurant I worked at in Wellington told me once that I was a “brown-haired boy with olive skin of obvious Jewish descent”). Now, abstractly, nothing bothers me about this, because I do identify as Jewish, and if someone where to ask me I would say yes, but there’s something about the assumption that makes me uncomfortable. It makes me feel like I’m being put in a box, especially when I’m asked “what Jews think” or something about what “Jews do”.

    So as much as identification is a process of deciding how you want others to perceive you, that can back-fire. Yes I’m Jewish, and I’m fine with people seeing me as such, but what bothers me is when people then think I’m an authority on Judaism. There is much more about my own religion that I don’t know than I do know, and anything I say about tradition or particular practices is going to be heavily laced with my own opinion, my own history and the voices of those people I’ve learned from. So it becomes a challenge, at least for myself, to walk the lines of identification: I want people to see me for who I view myself to be, but I also don’t want to help reinforce false perceptions about those groups who I identify with.

  4. Kristen
    August 25, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Good grief. What a question!

    I think who I am is a question of presentation. I don’t share my whole-self with very many people. So I’m one person at work and another with my parents and another with my in-laws and another with my college friends and another when I’m shopping for pants and another when I’m playing on xbox live (that one tends to swear quite frequently).

    Classifying myself by my job makes me feel a bit nauseated, as does classifying myself by my relationship status, gender, sexual orientation, personal philosophy, political party affiliation, etc. I am not any one of those things. I’m all of them plus a million others. I’m just a person. A flawed, slightly weird human being.

  5. Courtney Stoker
    August 25, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Interestingly, “woman” is the last label I ever think of. It’s never been an important part of my identity. Neither has “daughter” or “sister.” My family is important to me, but not to my identity.

    I usually describe myself concisely as a feminist atheist, and lover of literature.

  6. Lucy Gillam
    August 25, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Depends one who’s asking, where they’re asking, when they’re asking, and how they’re asking.

    In other words, I’m a rhetoric teacher and scholar.

  7. violet
    August 25, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    I’ve ended up listing various labels, and giving people rough percentages of how much I happen to identify with them that day. Eg:

    geek… 90%
    software engineer… 80%
    queer… 60%
    genderqueer… 80%
    male… 10%
    female… 70%
    purple… 60%
    radical… 10%
    Jewish… 90%

    …and so on. The percentages are liable to change whenever; some of them are more constant than others. Of course, I don’t expect them to be measuring anything real, but I think it’s a kind of neat way of illustrating that our boxes are not necessarily all cut and dried.

  8. Mollie
    August 25, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    I’m a teenager, an activist, a feminist, a big sister to 3, a twin, Italian-American, a humanistic Jew, a musical theater geek, a filmmaker, a liberal, a thinker, an aspiring politician (if you want it done right, do it yourself), a grammar snob…

    The one that I *am* but don’t necessarily identify with is “lesbian”. Yea, if someone asks me, that’s what I am… but I have personal issues with that. I guess it’s some kind of internalized self-hating homophobia… not that I’m proud to admit that.


  9. trishka
    August 25, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    i’m a white woman, i’m a mother, a wife, an engineer and a land use planner.

    a feminist, a yogi, an equestrienne.

    a montinore. a corvallian.

    a liberal. a deadhead.

    a traveller, a questioner, a reader.

    a friend.

  10. miwome
    August 25, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Oh, jeez. I’m twenty and I’m working on it.

    I know at least that I’m socially very liberal (possibly becoming radical–see “working on it”). I’m also very pragmatic, particularly in relating to others; I’m intelligent and intellectual; I deeply believe that words, naming and framing matter in the “real” world; I’m a good listener. I’m an eternal student.

    The part of my identity that makes me bonkers is that I’m klutzy, forgetful, and a bit irresponsible, and everyone I know thinks it’s HILARIOUS.

  11. August 25, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I feel like a lot of things all at once and it might differ from day to day. White heterosexual woman. Writer. journalist. blogger. sister. daughter. eccentric friend. girlfriend. activist and a lot of other things.

    Feminist? No, but I work with women on issues pertaining to them that feminism certainly in its “mainstream” context doesn’t adequately address.

    It’s probably different than how I’m identified by others especially those who don’t like me or my work. Troublemaker, is used more in that sense, daugher of the devil and so forth. Some gender slurs. In the press, it’s the “activist”, “critic”, ” city resident”, my personal favorite, “gadfly” and the “White activist/writer” (which is used only in association with where I work in some articles about my blog). If my friends call me a troublemaker, they mean it in a different way.

    Just walking down the street being female, there’s all sorts of identifiers being tossed out by people in cars, all of them slurs. But I think I’m more of a representative than an individual in those situations.

  12. August 25, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Well, here goes: Feminist, person with (multiple) disabilities, liberal/progressive, ally to PoCs, the LGBTQI community, and more, academic, writer, cartoonist, atheist, vegetarian, accident-prone, oddball, blogger, tutor, occasional activist, voracious reader, and food/music/animal lover.

    I’m sure there are more, but I don’t seem to have the brainpower to list ’em all.

  13. August 25, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    I am a queer asexual Jewish atheist writer who has worked in HIV research for about 20 years and I am married to a gay man. I am also a member of a motorcycle club.

    Some of these do make me uncomfortable but only because I find myself so frequently misunderstood or multiple assumptions are made based on these labels that are wholly inaccurate.

  14. August 25, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Damn – that’s Faith in L.A.

  15. Melissa Mad.
    August 25, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    I’m the type of person that questions like this make deeply uncomfortable. Let’s see… woman, queer/gay, femininely gendered, grew up in a conservative religious area in the U.S. South in a close, secular, liberal family. I view money as the most logical thing for a couple to fight about–which might be class-based. I’m a grad student and I write. I also make art, but not recently. I practice traditional martial arts when I have time. I believe in listening to the people involved before forming opinions about an issue, and so much more that I’m just not comfortable sharing.

  16. August 25, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Mine’s more like I have a collection of labels for myself, and the ones that are ascendant depend on the day and the situation.

    Today, I am a light hypochondriac, poly, a geek, an introvert, a kitty-lover, and a feminist, in no particular order.  That’s because things active in my head fall into those labels.  I’m also bisexual, likely one with some AD*D variant, possessed of/by generalised anxiety disorder, a blogger, not a &%*$ morning person… um… a hermit, a reader… an atheist…

    I have this written down on flashcards somewhere, I swear.

  17. August 25, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    And female!  I forgot female!  I am ostensibly female; how much I am depends on the day.  It doesn’t shift from female to male, more it shifts from any gender to no gender.  (So it’s possible to feel, to put numbers to it, 60% female and 30% male, because 10% is I don’t give a shit.)

  18. August 25, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    I identify with my region pretty strongly, and with my lack of religion, plus as a liberal/progressive, hetero, married, white, and then there’s my field of work, which is a part of my identity that’s in grave danger at the moment.

  19. mustelid
    August 25, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Depends on who’s asking. Here: bookworm, aspie, owned by a large brown tabby, lurker of blogs, feminist, bisexual, scruffy janitor student. Or something like that.

  20. Erin H.
    August 25, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    I’m disabled, an athiest, half Cuban and half white, middle-class, a bibliophile, a computer geek, a feminist, a daughter, a fiancee, a wanna-be writer, and an extremely liberal woman.

  21. August 25, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    I wrote a whole blurb about it one day, after I had to write three of them for a few submissions I was working on. You can find it here.

  22. Khitam
    August 25, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    I typically flatly refuse to answer this question in any quantifiable way – I fight very hard to not allow myself the luxury (privilege?) of thinking of other people in pat stereotypes, so why make it easier on others?

    The last time I did answer the question, I did thus: I’m a contradiction, and happily so. Neither my politics nor my personality can be summed up in a nice category, and neither of them completely define me, either.

    I present to the public as a conventionally-attractive, single, young white woman. A little bit of a tomboy, a little bit goth, not really inclined to perform in a traditionally ‘feminine’ manner but not eschewing feminine clothing or presentation. I get kudos for that from my mostly male co-workers, for being ‘one of the guys’ – my coping mechanism, being raised to be independent by an otherwise conservative single father, being a geek – but also distrusted for it by some. I don’t talk about politics in public except to put out witty one-liners to make folks think about what they just said, or when something really upsets me. But, really, for my quick smile and open manner, I’m painfully, painfully shy. I rely strongly upon safe personal spaces or anonymity to express myself – and I don’t like conflict – so there’s very few people that I’ll tell the whole truth of my feelings or opinions to. And I lean on my tomboyishness to avoid having to deal with my complicated feelings towards femininity.

    I’m proudly a full-time National Guardsman – but for all that it’s what I’ve always wanted to do, I recognise it’s something I’ll have to walk away from at some point. I enjoy the job security, the equal paycheck and treatment based on merit that enables me to live as an independent woman at my young age. If it weren’t for this job, I’d either still be making minimum wage and throwing what little money I had at a university I hated, or I’d’ve married already and made that devil’s deal. Part of me that is very Southern still feels good ‘defending our country and state,’ all politics aside. I’m proud that I’m good at what I do. I don’t really ever talk about how I feel the need to go into a career that directly helps people to atone for my fascination with airplanes and missiles.

    I’m socially progressive, a liberal Christian, always identified by those poli sci quizzes as a socialist, sympathetic to the ideals of every anarchist I’ve met or read about – but at most I’d self-identify as libertarian. I’m a feminist. But I also strongly advocate for gun rights and veteran’s issues, and at best am ambivalent if not willfully ignorant of economics beyond my personal budget. I don’t believe in warmongering or privatization of warfare, but also pragmatically agree that the one keeps me employed and the second could set me up for life, financially.

    I’m hetero, but not stringently so. I read Mother Earth News /and/ Jane’s Defense Weekly. I wish I had more female friends. I’m a gamer – but can only tabletop in groups of people i trust immensely, and find myself turned off by most video games’ representation of women. I don’t want marriage or kids but find myself worrying about furniture placement or biscuit recipes. I respect pacifism but am not personally inclined to it. I worry about the lack of local culture where I live but have a hard time coming out of my shell to be the change I wish to see. I still draw personal strength from trying to be like the heroines of young adult fantasy novels – scrappy or stubborn or quietly strong – and still disappoint myself when I get frustrated by little things or can’t prevail by myself over a problem.

    So, there. A really long-winded way to say that I’m not a list of qualities or identities. :)

  23. August 25, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    I’m surprised by how many nouns people are using, and how few adjectives. All the things I think of as my identity are descriptions rather than names.

    I am passionate, caring, gentle, warm, cuddly, fierce, creative, imaginative, carefree, shy, friendly, eccentric, chaotic, energetic, peaceful, dark, sadistic, rebellious.

    Nouns that I use to identify myself include musician, radical sex-positive feminist, communist, Christian (heretic), sadist, masochist, Dominant, crossdresser, admin person, “tubby bitch”, Yorkshireman. But these don’t feel like who I am, but rather what I am at a particular time (even those that express my deepest ideals or relations to the world)

    I sometimes think “who are you?” is more intended to mean either, “what are you?” or “why are you here?” anyway. In the first case, you’re expected to give a noun answer (e.g. “I’m a candidate for the job”/”I’m a customer”/”I’m an invited guest” etc). In the second case, you’re expected to give a verb answer (e.g. “I’m looking for my friend”/”I’m here to fix the plumbing”/”I’m seeing Mr. Bigg at 3:45” etc).

    So “who are you?” as asking about one’s identity, I don’t think I’ve really encountered that much: when asking about identity, it’s always, “so, tell me about yourself?”

  24. Silvy
    August 25, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    I’m a feminist, a dork, an introvert, and a little too sexually open at times. =)

  25. Kristen from MA
    August 25, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Liberal, feminist, ardently pro-choice, vegetarian, guilty over not being vegan, animal lover (dogs and rats in particular), cross stitcher, short, overweight and always hungry, sedentary and out of shape, addicted to TV and the internet (partially explains the previous, no?), sleep deprived, empathetic, social-phobic, , phobic-in-general (flying, insects, heights, etc), clinically depressed (partially controlled with meds), sloppy, lazy, procrastinating, somewhat angry, but essentially good-natured.

    I could go on, but I think that’s enough.

  26. manda
    August 25, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    I am a woman, mother, wife, daughter, teacher, and friend. I’m a liberal, a vegetarian, a feminist, and a Christian. I am a supporter of all kinds of lefty causes, but my passion is working to end the education in low-income communities. I am a first generation high school graduate, the first in my family to go to college, and the only one in my family to have a master’s degree. I am also, thanks to budget cuts, unemployed. I am a lover of almost all kinds of junk food, beauty products, cheesy celebrity gossip, and 80s pop music and teen movies. And, if I may so myself, I am also a total badass!

  27. Kristen
    August 25, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    I’m surprised by how many nouns people are using, and how few adjectives. All the things I think of as my identity are descriptions rather than names.

    I shy away from the adjectives. I guess I feel those are too subjective. I may try to be kind, compassionate, considerate, and open-minded. But I’m often irritable, inconsiderate, whiny and blinded by my own privilege.

    So I’ll stick to the nouns ;)

  28. August 25, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    I’m a writer, a lesbian, an activist, a feminist, the owner/owned by two cats: I’m stubborn, intelligent, impatient, fierce, scared, fighting: I’m a cook, a baker, a vegetarian, greedy, sensual and thoughtful about food, fat: I’m a walker, a swimmer, a runner, fit, healthy: I’m verbaly, mildly tone-deaf, spent twenty years trying to learn how to appreciate music and getting as far as liking Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, Tracy Chapman and Janis Ian: I like science-fiction but I like reading anything that clicks with me. I read a lot. I have google-fu. None of that will tell you who I am.

  29. August 25, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    I’m a feminist, a journalist, a voter, a Detroiter, and just like Ren, a totally awesome sex worker.

  30. August 25, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Hmm, what an interesting exercise. Let’s see, I guess I’ll start with the parts of my identity that I take most seriously.

    I consider myself equal parts woman of color and (proud) person with disabilities. Womanist, poet, mother of one girl-child, proud Southerner (born and raised), rape SURVIVOR, aspiring ally to genderqueer & transgender people.

    Fun parts of me:

    queer, polyglot, tenacious, dedicated gamer, quite unsentimental, afro-licious, logic-obsessed, philosophy-lover, eternal student.

    Yeah, I think that’s how I’d sum up my identity.

  31. RoRo
    August 25, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Wow, cool post. Lots of “audience interaction”, because everyone identifies some way or another, even those of us who try to shun labels.

    For me: hopelessly gregarious engineer, life-of-the-party, hyper confident, intellect who likes a good poop joke, fierce feminist, lush, ham, progressive, soon-to-be-wife (ooh, that one’s still rough on the eyes to me; getting used to it), sexy blond, jill of all trades, singer, serious klutz, pushing-30 and loving it.

  32. natmusk
    August 25, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Serbian, book-lover, feminist, dog lover (all animals, but mostly dogs), eternal student trapped by capitalism into working for a living, addiction therapist ( i really do love what I do and all of the girl’s and guys that I meet)

  33. L-K
    August 25, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    1. Queer Latina, who gets mistaken for a little bit of everything.
    2. Short, 5’0.”
    3. Slightly struggling between the terms of “feminist” and “mujerista.”
    4. My current job title is, in the broadest terms, Fundraiser for Mujerista-Centric Purposes. So I guess Mujerista it is!
    4. Quarterlife crisis sufferer.
    5. Cynic, acidic, sarcastic, borderline misanthrope. No tolerance for bigotry (not in the “please don’t say that because X is wrong,” way, but in the “Yo! STFU, before I beat your ass up” way. Seriously, I’m tired of having to explain why X is wrong.)
    6. Fiercely anti-hipster.
    7. Moderately militant.
    8. Constant worrier about my financial health/wealth as my parents get closer to retirement age and it seems that I’m going to be a/the primary source of their income (they have no retirement plans; no substantial savings; debt; their pensions look miserable; Social Security in ten years? Their home country’s stability in ten years? My dad’s current gameplan: winning the lotto. Yeah, it’s pretty bad.)
    9. Thus, constant worrier about my future career plans and current education plans, but…
    10. I’m the classic procrastinator.
    11. Weightlifter who enjoys both the health benefits and vanity aspects, in the sense that it garners attention (although the physical improvements are definitely a plus).
    12. Aspiring belly dancer.
    13. Reemerging goth, much to the horror of my parents (although this mentality is found almost everywhere, the goth subculture is viewed pretty much as a anti-Christian, Satanist movement in their home country).
    14. A gamer, much to the annoyance of my parents (apparently I’m too old and there’s the issue of that pesky vagina that I walk around with).
    15. Picky as hell (I can’t help it. My ideal partner has already been fabricated in my mind! That’s the person that I want!)
    16. Anti-relationship, yet lonely (I admit it, I admit it!).
    17. Toph (Avatar: the Last Airbender) is pretty much me in cartoon form, except that I’m not from a financially-privileged background, I’m not nomadic, I’m able-bodied (she’s blind, yet able to “see” through the vibrations she feels in the earth), and I’m double her age. But shit, everything else is pretty much dead on!
    18…as demonstrated in No. 17, I’m Avatar-obsessed, and I’m unwilling to accept the fact that the show has ended. Everyone knows this about me…maybe this should have been No. 1.

  34. Dana
    August 25, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    Who am I? That’s a really hard question. For adjectives I am passionate and caring but mostly I am angry. To a self-destructive degree.

    Labels: I am young, white, female, moderately attractive, probably upper middle class. I freak people out with the amount of animals I own. I am very atheist and do not see anything sad or negative in life ending with death. I am slightly alternative, slightly kinky, very liberal in most of my views but probably capitalist. I can’t see any other system working in practice, though capitalism could certainly use work.

    I don’t have a clue how I’d answer if someone asked me who I am in real life.

  35. Jay
    August 25, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    I started a list, and I realize all my identities have qualifiers. I’m a woman and a feminist. I’m a primary-care doc. I’m a n adoptive mother. I’m a Reconstructionist Jew.

    I’m afraid of the assumptions that could be made if I just list the primary identities without the qualifiers, especially about “doctor” and “Jew”. I’ve run into a fair amount of stupidity based on both of those (and let’s not even get into “doctor’s daughter”.) But I wonder about my own internalized oppression, given the personal pressure I feel to explain everything.

  36. Jay
    August 25, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    OK, not all my identities have qualifiers. I’m an extrovert.

    And a dog person, who now needs to go see what the lab just knocked over leaping at the window.

    (actually, I’m a big dog person. See?)

  37. ks
    August 25, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    It’s a hard question. I’m lots of things, but mainly I’m a teacher, a mother, a partner and a wife, a lefty, liberal, feminist, socialist, hillbilly, atheist, a science nerd, a cook, and a woman. You could also add loyal, friendly, usually nice, clueless, shy, selfish, and sometimes bitchy and have a pretty good description of my personality.

    As to the question where I’m from, I always say southern WV. Because even though I moved away right after school and haven’t lived there since, growing up there is pretty much what made me me. Other experiences have rounded me out, but my core identity, the way I think and the way I speak, comes from there.

  38. exholt
    August 25, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Hmm….this is hard as I am still trying to define my identity. I’m a Chinese-American with southern Chinese roots, male, agnostic, heterosexual, computer geek, grad student, aficionado of the history and politics…especially in East Asia and the US, anti-communist due to family experience & history, skeptical of capitalism as the definitive economic system, thinker, debater, supportive family member and friend….even those with diametrically opposed opinions from my own.

    Also, lover of music, art, film, literature, etc.

    Depending on the environment I happen to be in, I will sometimes adopt a contrarian identity to go against the grain…especially if the majority attempts to intimidate me into silence….a reason why I relished calling myself a “reactionary landlord” on an undergrad campus environment where socio-economically privileged mostly White classmates of the Marxist/Maoist persuasion dominated the class discussions in my history and poli-sci courses….even though I am actually nothing of the kind.

    Due to my family history and my academic studies, I sometimes find dark sardonic humor in the historical artifacts of the most tragic periods of Chinese history such as the following video:


    BTW: The crossed-out sign placed on the person being beaten, running away, and stomped on is the counter-revolutionary being “struggled” by the Red Guards.

  39. exholt
    August 25, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    Agg….meant to say that the sign on the person being beaten, running away, and stomped on is labeled “imperialist” and is supposed to be the counter-revolutionary being “struggled” by the Red Guards.

  40. Chel
    August 26, 2008 at 12:41 am

    I am an opinionated pro-choice bisexual anti-porn sex-positive secular humanist young white feminist woman of the middle class from middle (conservative) America who loves literature, photography, cats, the outdoors, and food.

  41. alicepaul
    August 26, 2008 at 2:15 am

    I’m a queer femme, ethnically Jewish but an atheist, educated but currently working class, visually & neurologically disabled, rape survivor who actually prefers the term “victim” for myself, recovering eating disordered person, bisexual who only dates butch women, sub in the bedroom, radical feminist & a former sex worker.

  42. Nora
    August 26, 2008 at 3:11 am

    I am:
    white, Arab-American, non-heterosexual (but I’ve only ever been in relationships with men), femme female, feminist, anti-racist ally, Quaker, anarchist, American, anxious, muddled class state, educated, very anti-capitalist (see anarchist), loving, unreliable, passionate, beautiful, nervous, perpetually worried about my weight, a daughter, and hopefully a good one at that. Young. Trying to find my way in the world. Trying to open my mind so that I can see where I want to go.

  43. August 26, 2008 at 3:29 am

    Bear in mind that I’m 20:

    A perpetual student
    A human
    An Oregonian
    A liberal
    An egalitarian
    An empiricist
    A son/grandson/nephew/brother/cousin
    An artist

    Nothing else seems to matter much.

  44. August 26, 2008 at 4:10 am



    (Cynical) (Eurotrash) Feminist.


    Tarot reader.

    Wandering romantic in the tradition of Konstantin Paustovsky, but with more Bulgakov-like aspirations.

    Oh, and when I’m not suffering from existential despair, beating my chest, tearing at my already bad hair, and screeching “woe iz me,” I’ve been known to laugh at myself.


  45. August 26, 2008 at 4:45 am

    I have many descriptors for myself. But for the most part I am a walking contradiction.

  46. sotonohito
    August 26, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Let’s see:

    Extremely conservative by inclination and instinct; and radically liberal in my positions and beliefs. Highly partisan Democrat, and one of those “nasty liberals” who wants more primary challenges to purge the Blue Dogs.

    Feminist, tending towards radical. Pro-sex, pro-porn. If the last seemspotentially conflicted with the first, I suppose it might be.

    Male, and about 90%-95% straight.

    Argumentative by nature.

    Historian (specializing in Meiji era Japan), computer geek (software mostly), nerd (Firefly, Dr. Who, manga, etc), gamer (computer games, tabletop RPG’s, you name it).

    Pro-environment, pro-atomic power, free speech fundamentalist, anti-corporate, anti-monopoly, pro-choice, anti-electoral college.

    Pro-technology and anti-Luddite.

    Cynically optimistic, if that isn’t too much of an oxymoron.

  47. Courtney Stoker
    August 26, 2008 at 10:34 am

    SnowdropExplodes says:
    I’m surprised by how many nouns people are using, and how few adjectives. All the things I think of as my identity are descriptions rather than names.

    I guess that is surprising, but I know for me, the adjectives tend to fluctuate and the nouns are stable. I only describe myself as a feminist atheist, lover of literature (and sometimes I’ll throw in that I also love sci-fi) because those are the parts of my identity that you can count on.

    When I try to think of adjectives that describe me, they are all conditional. Sometimes I’m combative, for example, but sometimes I’m not. Sometimes I’m kind and sympathetic, and sometimes I’m mean. Sometimes I’m friendly and open, and sometimes I am a strange breed of introvert. Since all of that fluctuates, I am usually unwilling to label my identity with adjectives.

  48. CM
    August 26, 2008 at 10:42 am

    I’m me! Honestly, that’s enough.

  49. August 26, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    I AM
    an artist.
    Spirit guides my artistic vision.
    I’ve danced in Second Lines, Hora’s and Mosh pits
    while camera operating within them.
    I’m a world traveler. I traveled alone, with my son and with my (spirit) sister.
    I documented in places I landed, knowing no one and meeting life long family like friends.
    As an independent contractor,
    I maintained my integrity
    in more than one industry.
    Without net or harness, I
    flew through the air with the greatest of ease.
    I have 22 years guiding Yoga experience,
    added Pilates and Womens Dance Ritual to my list of classes and workshops offered.
    I am a Reiki Master & an herbalist who uses modern medicine when necessary.
    I’ve lived as a professional dancer and
    freelance artist.
    I wrote, directed and produced theater and poetry (festivals too). Now my art is film. I am learning the business aspect of production. I’m a producer/ director moving my way in and up.
    I had a safe house.
    I’ve lived in mansions and shotgun shacks.
    I gave birth naturally,
    have experienced marriage and divorce.
    Single motherhood has taught me more than I can write about.

    I experience life as an exciting adventure.
    A survivor who thrives,
    I am grateful for every breath.

    I am Inspired
    Grace with ease

  50. August 26, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    I am a research analyst.

    When I am not a research analyst, I’m a yoga student, feminist writer/blogger/activist, polyamorous, bi-curious, and atheist.

  51. August 26, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    “Hi, I’m Trin. Who are you?”

    I can get into labels, but I’m fucking bone-tired of them today.

  52. August 26, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Free form? I’m a twenty-something college graduate with a low-wage, degrading job that she hates, who used to see the world as an optimistic, hopeful place, who now sees it as a place of despair and hard knocks. Five years ago, I would have said, blogger, feminist, and single mom. Apparently I’m having an identity crisis.

  53. August 26, 2008 at 8:12 pm


    Good question Ren. I slept on it and still don’t have an answer.

    @Lauren – welcome to the identity crisis club!

    I am…

    … generally unapologetic
    … concerned with pleasing myself
    … interested in unlocking the mysteries of life
    … in awe of how the planet (and its people) work
    … a part of hip-hop culture
    … black and female, there is not an “or” in that phrase
    … seeking balance
    … loving the digital era
    … in service to those weaker than I

    and that about sums it up. I think. At this moment anyway.


    I’ll sleep on it again and see if I need a do-over.

  54. August 26, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Ha! I come back from a Buddhist retreat and one of the first posts I find is a (the!) traditional Zen koan.

    Life is a funny thing.

  55. Ishtar
    August 28, 2008 at 4:43 am

    I am a human being, a woman, a survivor and a much nicer person than I usually give myself credit for.

  56. August 29, 2008 at 5:30 am

    I am a fat cis straight woman and a fierce feminist. Really fierce – I get myself into trouble a lot by arguing. I’m a rape survivor and I struggle with depression and insomnia. I’m white Irish but living expatria in Cambodia. I’m a volunteer living on a stipend and sacrifice current for future happiness via career. I live with daily harassment in Cambodia.

    I write but am not yet a writer (working on it). I read everything and get angry over issues of inequality and ignorance. I blog less than I should, and lurk when I should comment. I often wonder how others have time to produce the amazing blogs and hold down a job. I retain useless information and use google and wikipedia to research everything. I annoy people with incessant quoting of books, films and TV shows.

    I describe myself as loyal, outspoken, sarcastic and funny. Others describe me as arrogant, intimidating and bossy.

    Who am I? Dunno

  57. DRD1812
    August 31, 2008 at 1:41 am

    Who am I? I’ve been struggling with this one, since things are changing…

    I’m bisexual, straight-leaning, monogamous mother of two, and wife to a bisexual, gay-leaning enlisted Army man (who’d prefer to be poly). People tend to ID me as butch, but I’m femme.

    I have fibromyalgia, and have spent most of my adult life walking-disabled–this is one of the things that has changed, I am no longer cane-bound. I’m a sexual abuse survivor, who has PTSD. Neither my fibro nor my PTSD means that I’m depressed, damn it!

    I’m a reader, a musician, a gamer, a geek, a cook, a baker. I wish I was still involved with the SCA. I love handcrafts–embroidery, crochet, sewing. I am a homemaker who sometimes temps. I wear either birkenstocks or crocs. I’m an unapologetic Red Sox fan. I am a feminist.

  58. Nenya
    September 1, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Bookworm, chatterbox, Canadian, American, artist, bisexual, white, redhaired, hearing-impaired, big sister to five, science-fiction fan, Christian (Episcopal by attendance, somewhat less traditional by upbringing), Internet addict, low-income, college dropout (hoping to attend again), feminist, anti-war, and worried that I spend more time thinking about my own identity and less time listening to others tell about themselves.

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