Friday, 28 July 2017
Identity politics; it’s barmy, isn’t it? I mean, it’s hard enough some days to get through the day without having to worry about whether you’re using the correct pronouns when addressing others. And will you unintentionally offend strangers by appropriating their culture, whatever form that takes? Do Americans get miffed when they see people of other nations wearing tee-shirts and baseball caps?
And what about what’s written on that tee-shirt? Dressing your five-year old in a pink tee with ‘Princess’ in sparkly sequins might upset a minor royal; you never know. It will certainly enrage a feminazi, but then pretty much anything does. Mind you, this is fine because it is always hilarious to see a grown woman having a rant about somebody else’s innocent child and being utterly serious about it.
Talking of funny, one of the ironically wry things about identity issues is how ridiculous you look and sound sometimes when you both assume your identity and defend it. Whatever happened to ‘anything goes’? I mean, nowadays, in some societies a glimpse of stocking is looked on as something shocking; heaven knows! But some identities are more equal than others and one of those seems to be to have no recognisable individual identity at all.
There is a big debate in the west about the wearing of the burka; something that seems to be far less popular in many all-out muslim countries. Quite apart from the alien nature of this practice, which is seen as a deliberate provocation to many, hiding your face is not something we are comfortable with, here in the civilised world; although there are a fair few prominent feminists who we could bear to see a lot less of.
When you hide your identity, especially as a means of asserting it, it can arouse passionate opposition. What are you hiding? Why? And who are you, behind the veil, anyway? On one occasion recently, matters got a little out of hand. A man walked out of a city centre pub after a long, liquid lunch and on hitting the fresh air became a little dazed and confused. When he noticed a burka-clad figure walking ahead of him he rushed up and grabbed the figure in a bear hug.
As the burkee struggled the drunk clung on all the harder and started to laugh. Underneath the burka, legs were kicking and the head was jerking from side to side as the captive struggled, ineffectually, to break free. Eventually the man let go, still laughing and the burka-clad figure stumbled to the ground, gasping for breath. The man looked down and said “Not so tough now, are we, Batman?”