Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Politics with a small 'p' as in 'personal'

(Image courtesy of digado)

As many of you may already know, I have recently launched a community, collaborative blog:  In the last couple months, my content here had become a bit too higgledy-piggledy even for myself.  I found that I had a great deal to say on personal politics, the politics of self-definition.  This is not a conflict with the conversations I have been having here in the realm of Politics with a capital P, the politics of institutions and society at large or simply – groups.

(Cross-posted at The National Gadfly)

Politics with a P are the more commonplace discussions that we all know and ‘love’: conservative vs. liberal, right-wing vs. left-wing, labor vs. management, class vs. class, race vs. race and so on.  Inside the myriad of daily Politic-speak are notions of the rights of the individual.  The terms of these conversations are subtly couched in a model where governments and institutions are defining the individual.  Rights, protections, entitlements, values, uses, and many other terms that all serve to reinforce the model that the individual exists in terms given by the society, or Political party affiliation.  A person’s rights as given by the Constitution, a Political affiliation or membership in a religious sect.

Yet, we exist in a world where we are constantly being sold on the idea of our having the freedom to define ourselves.  We are barraged with advertising that urges us to express our individuality…by purchasing a car or .mp3 player or jacket that is made in lots of 100,000.  We are told the stories and shown the images of people expressing themselves in one way or another for the last 50 years of Pop Culture.  Hippies, Beatniks, Protesters, Generation X’ers, Xtreme Sports Enthusiats and Green Advocates…images all of who we can be, to be individuals.  Maybe they are genuine expressions for some.  Maybe they once were.  But, when they are blasted on billboards, advertising, movie sets, TV shows and Internet ads – they are industrial images of definition: mass produced to define the individual in terms that society desires.

So, for years I have asked myself how do I define myself as an individual – in my own terms?  Is that even possible?  I don’t invent any words, in fact I need to use words that were invented by someone else so that I can be understood.  But, the choice of words is mine.  That, I should own.  I should be able to choose when and where I choose the words and images to define myself.  So, should you.

In some societies, this is forbidden outright.  In others, this could happen.  In this society, the USA, it’s supposed to be not only possible but paramount.  Since the Reagan Ass-olution gave the (Im)Moral Majority access to government funding, we have been beat down with disapproval and judgment, ‘correct’ living codes, religious intolerance and vilification, class warfare and dehumanization.  We have been defined by talking heads on news channels, pundits, think tanks, ad agencies and anyone else wishing to side with the human harvest.

We are told what to eat, what to wear, where to work, what to drive, where to vacation, what to buy, what to drink, what to desire in a mate, how to succeed in bed and what to do before we die.

Politics with a p: the expression of one’s self in one’s own terms, is a difficult thing to find.  It is. This is not something measured by choosing a blue pickup truck over a red mini-van.  It’s measured when someone chooses to change gender.  It’s measured when someone chooses to marry someone of the same gender.  It is measured when someone agrees with a spouse to love many partners and have sex with whomever they choose, because they wish to for themselves.  It is measured when a child born with a small penis is not subjected to male genital mutilation because the parents or doctor judge that a man can never be a man with a small penis.  It is measured when a person is free to identify as bisexual today and straight tomorrow.

Society does not need to allow people the right to define themselves.  Society needs to stop trying to take that right away.

There seems to be an assumption that all the labeling of individuals, the suggestions of what is ‘good’ or ‘right’ or ‘acceptable’ for self-definition is done for the common good.  That we’ll all be better if people just play by these rules and pull in the same direction.  But, we are not the same.  We are all individuals already.  All that we accomplish by silencing people’s genuine individuality is a society of dishonesty.  We don’t end up any happier if we are hiding our true desires or self-definitions.  Society deprives itself of the very best of people’s true talents and expressions when individuality is repressed.  Repression is not an efficient form of government or a lasting model for success and health in a society.

Repressive regimes fail.  The all fail – for the same reason: individuals abandon them one at a time, until no one is left.

So, I set up sexgenderbody for these conversations to exist, to multiply, to thrive and to take root.  It is a site for the individual to discuss one’s self, one’s body, one’s gender and one’s sex – in one’s own terms.  A place from which to dictate to society, the terms of who you are.  I invite you to visit a place that can be defined with a simple phrase:

I define my sex, gender, body.  You define yours.

The National Gadfly will still be a place for disrespect of hypocrisy, challenges to abuse of power and Politics with a P.



  1. While I found it interesting enough for a brief visit, it isn’t an issue I can relate to as a hetero male. But that doesn’t mean I don’t find this a discussion about the discussion interesting.

    I took a lot from Hubie’s comment. He and I are in general agreement about hate crimes and the reasons for why we oppose them. That doesn’t mean I don’t understand the arguments in favor of hate crimes legislation. I do. I just feel the pros are outweighed by the cons.

    But this isn’t a discussion about hate crimes. It is about self-definition. That is a very complicated issue. I generally believe that everyone should be able to call themselves whatever they want. If someone who is 1/8th black and 7/8ths white wants to call themselves black then that is their right. If they wanted to call themselves white then that would be their choice. If an atheist wants to call himself an agnostic then that is his choice. If an agnostic wants to call herself an atheist then that is her choice. If someone who is really bi wants to call himself gay then that should be his choice. If a gay person wants to call himself bi then that is his choice.

    That all seems simple enough, but it barely scratches the surface. There is a very large gotcha to all of this and that is self-deception. George Bush called himself a compassionate conservative. Ben Nelson calls himself a Democrat. Should we simply accept these labels for them? Speaking of self-delusion, Michael Steele calls himself the leader of the Republican Party. Should we then accept that or should we point to Rush as the true leader of the Republicans? It’s not so simple is it?

    In the end, I agree with Hubie when he says that self-definition/self-labeling is not the issue. Labeling in and of itself is the issue. This leads to divisions and all the evils that brings with it.

    I heart this:

    We all deserve to be able to love who we love. Gay, straight, bi. That’s not a separate issue. It’s a core issue that cuts to the heart of religious freedom and that crazy “pursuit of happiness” AND equal protection under the law. I fear that in your desire to deal with these issues under a separate banner, you underestimate folks’ ability to parse these issues in context, and that is already part of the problem–too many folks who want to slice off parts of our communities and call them so different that we can’t talk about them in “polite” company.

  2. I’ll shorten my commentary on John and Hubie’s commentary with a “aye!”.

    The conversation is critical to have and I think like most things it is following its own optimal organic path, so I don’t particularly begrudge it exhibiting so many faults and fallacies along the way.  That, itself, is I think the real value of the conversation.

    I have found each of the faults mentioned by J&H interesting as the sexual revolution has slowly ground through its incarnations.  It is interesting how rarely (I’ve never seen it) it is mentioned that the very label itself has grown to be a glaring indictment of the divisive labeling at the root of the problem:

    Gay! (wait, we don’t want to leave out the girls, so)

    GL! (oh, of course we want to include the gurls)

    GLT! (well, of course we meant the bis as well so)

    GLBT!  (you know, straight crossdressing men are another related group, so)

    GLBTC!  (the Domination/Submission group is really in a similar boat, so)

    GLBTCD! (…)

    At what point do we realize that we have barricaded off such a large ghetto that it now includes all of the city?

    Sexuality is such an intrinsic part of existence that it is functionally impossible to extract from everything else (the male fear of being called ‘gay’ or ‘not man enough’ is behind major global social mechanisms, imho).  But, to work through the issue, we will need to keep demonstrating how impossible it is to ghettoize by trying to.

    Good luck with the site!

Comments are closed.