Identity Categories

Leafed through my blogroll and saw, repeated in a hundred identical pieces, that Kavanaugh behaved like a typical entitled white male upper-class frat bro at the hearings. I know that I would have spoken in the exact same way in his situation – and I’m definitely innocent of assaulting Dr Ford or anyone. I honestly have never identified with anybody’s affect on TV as I have with his. So I guess I’m a typical entitled white male upper-class frat bro.

It’s ok to feel however one felt about the hearings. But I’d never say that those who identified with Ford (which I honestly never could) are typical entitled rich spoiled upper-class princesses. Because that’s not how affect works. Both people here are from very privileged backgrounds and their affect is very different. You can’t use these silly identity categories to explain the world. Some people reach towards vulnerability and others reach towards anger in difficult moments. I tend to reach towards anger. This means absolutely nothing whatsoever about my gender or social origins.

I also don’t understand the attraction of making a point that five hundred people already made today. The blogroll looks like it froze because everybody is repeating the exact same, and frankly not very profound, thing.

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33 thoughts on “Identity Categories”

  1. You can’t use these silly identity categories to explain the world. Some people reach towards vulnerability and others reach towards anger in difficult moments. I tend to reach towards anger. This means absolutely nothing whatsoever about my gender or social origins.

    So how do you explain that for yourself?

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    1. That I find it easy and attractive to feel anger? It’s individual psychology. I couldn’t watch more than 2 minutes of Ford’s testimony without cringing because I have a very intense reaction to self-infantilizing adults. This reaction comes from my own personal history. Other people can react as intensely to an image of an angry man because they had personal experiences with angry men that switch on when they see one. My reactions don’t say anything about those people, only about me. I’m lucid enough to understand that my reaction to Ford is about my own personal hangups. I’m projecting my shit onto her. Just like other people are projecting their class resentments about rich boys onto Kavanaugh.


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      1. That I find it easy and attractive to feel anger?
        That’s me, too. I channel everything to anger. Sadness and vulnerability? Get angry. Tired, afraid, insecure? Get angry. It is a stereotypically masculine response (as they have very few emotions that are socially acceptable to express). For me, I know it has to do with the fact I am always surrounded by men and grew up in a place where anger was acceptable, but admission of weakness (for a person of any gender) was not.

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        1. I’ve been thinking about it, and I can’t remember ever even seeing an angry man. Men in my family obviously feel anger like all normal people but they don’t manifest it. It’s all repressed, it’s all smiling and soldiering on. At work, all the men are always gentle and mild-mannered.

          I grew in a culture where men collectively speak at a lower volume than I can hear comfortably. I always have to strain my hearing I don’t like any of this, it’s not enhancing my life.

          This is all very dependent on culture and geography.

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  2. It’s really amazing to see most of the major news media spouting the same diatribe to force down a message. Truly epitomizes why so many people have lost faith in them when they are so blatantly one-sided that they don’t even hide it any more. I mean, it really is not hard to understand why someone would be angry and outraged to have his/her name dragged through the mud in front of the entire world to see.

    I also believe if Kavanaugh had come out soft and mild mannered, they would be screaming that he must be guilty because he does not show emotion. He would be portrayed as a robot without feelings or empathy. There is nothing he could have done to please the people who had already made up their minds without even listening to his side of the story.


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    1. Oh, absolutely. It’s a completely partisan thing. Guilt or innocence is decided by party affiliation. Except for me. I have principles that I value a lot more than partisan sympathies.

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  3. “I also don’t understand the attraction of making a point that five hundred people already made today.”

    If you think social media posts are endlessly repetitive, try spending a day flipping back and forth between the three major cable news channels.

    Today I’ve heard at least a hundred times from the “legal experts” being interviewed on MSNBC and CNN that as a result of the new FBI background check, Kavanaugh “will very likely” be charged with perjury for being evasive with the Judiciary Committee about the severity of his adolescent drinking problem. (Yeah, about as likely as his getting struck by lightning!) What planet of wishful thinking do these loons come from?

    Fox is endlessly predicting that the new investigation will be a waste of time and that Kavanaugh will be confirmed at the end of the week — a more likely outcome, but do they have to repeat it every five minutes?

    I’d start watching the Spanish channels, but Univision is having a contractual dispute with Dish Network, and most of its Spanish stations are off the air.

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  4. Re forcible retirement , he linked to an interesting article:

    http://www.technologyasnature.com/maximum-age/

    I was against forcible retirement at first, partly because of knowing many teachers and some university professors who continue working at least half-time after retirement becomes possible. However, reading about the senator Thurmond made me reconsider.

    Btw, some of teachers continue working partly because of not having normal pensions for various reasons. Will lack of a normal pension be a feature of the new global order more than before? If nation states withdraw social welfare and a crisis eats up a pension one has been gathering for decades, what is left except working till you drop?

    From the article:
    According to a 2017 report by MarketWatch, “Nearly three-quarters of S&P 500 firms and roughly half of S&P 1500 companies have bylaws that require CEOs to retire at a certain age — typically 65.”

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  5. @el, “what do you think of this suggestion of forcible retirement from holding any legislative office of people over 70?”

    For the House and Senate: This suggestion is unconstitutional and totally arbitrary! Positions requiring physical skills (the military and police forces. airline pilots) correctly mandate retirement at a maximum age. But there’s no evidence of cognitive decline for most legislators as they age — they just get drunk with power and refuse to relinquish it when it’s politically advantageous for their party. That’s what the ballot box and voting power is for: to put them out to pasture when their constituents think it’s time.

    AS for the other two branches of the U.S. government: A late 1940’s Constitutional amendment enacted after FDR’s unprecedented four-term run limited the President to two consecutive or non-consecutive four years terms, rightfully barring a Reagan or a Clinton from becoming dictator for life.

    Concerning the courts, especially those with lifetime appointments like the Supreme Court: I’d be in favor of staggered fixed, non-extendable term limits (say nine or 18 or 27 years — let the legislature decide — with no chance for extension, and with the appointments staggered so that every President would get to appoint one Justice per term.

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    1. As I’ve been saying from the start, the Kavanaugh situation is not about sexual assault. It’s about job wars. An enormous part of job wars is trying to push out older people. Today the age that’s mentioned in this context is 70 – sounds reasonable enough. It always starts with something very small. Tomorrow it will be 40.

      People are getting distracted by fantasies of gang rape and not following what’s happening and how it’s relevant to their lives. Rational agents acting in their self-interest are vanishingly rare. God, I see people of stellar progressive credentials repeat the neoliberal mantra of “nobody is entitled to a job,” like it’s religious dogma. I see lifelong liberals suddenly decide that members of certain identity groups should be forced out of the workplace because of their identity. 70? 60? 50? To the trash heap of history with you, oldster. There is a perfectly nice 22-year-old who knows dick but who recites all the fashionable dogma perfectly. Let’s bring him in instead!

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      1. As for the idea that oldsters aren’t invested in the future, actually, oldsters are a lot more invested in the future than youngsters. Because they have children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. That orients you towards the future like nothing else in the world. I got up at 6:50 on Saturday, when I don’t have to, and schlepped to a fitness workout. The only reason I’m doing it is because I have a very small child and I want to stay alive as long as possible for her. If I didn’t have this motivation, I’d be sleeping in like I’d done my whole life until now.

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        1. \ I got up at 6:50 on Saturday, when I don’t have to, and schlepped to a fitness workout. The only reason I’m doing it is because I have a very small child and I want to stay alive as long as possible for her. If I didn’t have this motivation, I’d be sleeping in like I’d done my whole life until now.

          I read that getting sufficient sleep is more important than any workouts.

          // What they found was that if people slept less than seven hours a night or more than eight hours a night, they had an increased risk of death by 17 percent to 24 percent. The use of sleep medications also increased the risk of mortality by about a third.

          Research suggests that regularly sleeping for less than seven hours a night can have negative effects on the cardiovascular, endocrine, immune and nervous systems. Side effects of sleep deprivation can include obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension, anxiety, depression, and alcohol abuse.

          https://www.verywellhealth.com/sleep-duration-and-longevity-2224291

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          1. “What they found was that if people slept less than seven hours a night or more than eight hours a night, they had an increased risk of death by 17 percent to 24 percent.”

            MEDICAL NONSENSE ALERT!!

            This ridiculous study claims that if a person doesn’t sleep precisely between seven and eight hours a night, their mortality goes up significantly. That’s a one-hour window supposedly determining life and death for everybody! Total nonsense, another example of why most “medical” articles written for lay persons should be disregarded as junk.

            When I was in medical school, I almost never got more than six hours’ sleep max, and now I sleep anywhere from eight to ten hours a night, depending on when I decide to get my lazy butt out of bed. Still kicking at 73.

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            1. Everybody is different. And it changes with age. Since my gallbladder surgery, I can’t go on less that 8 hours a night. I just can’t. And before it, I could easily go on 5. My whole life I could function perfectly on little sleep. But that’s all over now.

              And my husband is a wreck if he gets a minute under 9 hours a day. Always been this way. I never asked him to get up once when Klara was a baby because I know he’d be very miserable the next day.

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      2. \ I see lifelong liberals suddenly decide that members of certain identity groups should be forced out of the workplace because of their identity.

        Now I am curious which identity groups are forced out and out of which jobs. Surely, not out of blue collar jobs. For now, it seems this kind of competition is limited to academics OR politicians and justices OR performers (singers and etc).

        Other cases I could think of:

        Religious pharmacy workers who refuse to sell morning after pills?
        May be, I am wrong here but I think selling everything that is legal is a professional duty.
        Religious bakery / cakeshop owners who refuse to sell to gay couples?
        I googled and saw “Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips was decisively vindicated by last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning an order by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ordering him to bake cakes for same-sex marriage ceremonies.”
        Hi-tech workers demanded to provide access to their FaceBook accounts on job interviews?
        I think it is insulting and disgusting, but a different case from what you talk about.

        A serious question: cannot most of potential problems be prevented by being anonymous on the net?

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          1. // Older people! Isn’t that what we are talking about?

            Oh … I simply haven’t thought about age creating identity groups. Things like race and gender, yes, but age?

            Seems like everything is called “identity group” today. Part of my confusion is that identity is often supposed to be something one chooses, but nobody chooses to become old. Also, I thought identity was supposed to be immutable as long as one wished – like race or political convictions which (may) remain the same for a lifetime – but here older people are deprived of former identity against their will.

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            1. You can’t escape from being older. It’s completely outside of our control. We are supposed to be protected from ageism in the workplace just like we are supposed to be protected from racism.

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  6. @el, “what do you think of this suggestion of forcible retirement from holding any legislative office of people over 70?”

    For the House and Senate: This suggestion is unconstitutional and totally arbitrary! Positions requiring physical skills (the military and police forces. airline pilots) correctly mandate retirement at a maximum age. But there’s no evidence of cognitive decline for most legislators as they age — they just get drunk with power and refuse to relinquish it when it’s politically advantageous for their party. So if you want to experienced fossils with stupid children, that’s what the ballot box and voting power is for: Put them out to pasture when their constituents think it’s time.

    AS for the other two branches of the U.S. government: A late 1940’s Constitutional amendment enacted after FDR’s unprecedented four-term run limited the President to two consecutive or non-consecutive four years terms, rightfully barring a Reagan or a Clinton from becoming dictator for life.

    Concerning the courts, especially those with lifetime appointments like the Supreme Court: I’d be in favor of staggered fixed, term limits (say nine or 18 or 27 years — let the legislature decide — with no chance for extension, and with the appointments staggered so that every President would get to appoint one Justice per term

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  7. Long-time reader, first-time commenter here.

    I’m one of the people who thought Kavanaugh acted like someone who feels rules don’t apply to him during the hearing, but it’s not about his affect per se, it’s about whether it’s appropriate for the situation.

    Also, it’s not about sexual assault, it’s about the drinking.

    There is plenty of evidence that Brett Kavanaugh is a very successful , hard-working man who used to drink a lot during his high school and college years. Half of his high-school yearbook page is about that, he referenced it in speeches as an adult (I can add citations), and there are college classmates of his coming out right now to attest to that. Heavy drinkers have blackouts. The fact that he, along with 13 more guys referred to themselves as “Renate alumni” in that yearbook shows the casual cruelty he was capable of (as most teenagers are). Given these factors, the probability that he assaulted Dr Ford the way she described is non-negligible.

    What makes him entitled is lying under oath about his drinking habits in the face of all this evidence, knowing there are plenty of witnesses who can contradict him. It’s refusing to respond to Amy Klobuchar’s question about blackouts by asking her if she has had them herself. It’s responding to questions about his drinking by talking about his academic achievements

    You say you “would have spoken in the exact same way in his situation”. Would you have said what he did about your drinking?


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    1. Unfortunately, in the current environment of extreme prissiness, one would be an absolute idiot to confess to drinking anything more than a couple of beers. The whole situation when one is getting grilled on yearbook comments from 40 years ago and drinking habits from the same era is utterly deranged. To me, anybody who asks me such questions under ant circumstances is worthy of nothing but extreme contempt on my part. The name of my attitude is not entitlement. It’s self-respect. I think he actually showed extreme self-control in the face of the questioning. I’d be spitting in their faces, honestly. Because I’m not a lisping, lilting little wallflower. I’m a person with a sense of self-worth.

      But the public obviously prefers self-infantilizing little princesses. What are you gonna do.

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      1. We’ll see how all this melodrama plays out when McConnell calls a vote at the end of this week. It has nothing to do with morals or “the truth.”

        Trump is smart to strictly limit the scope of the new FBI background check, and also smart to lie about restricting it. The Republicans don’t care about the transparent contradictions, and the Democrats’ equally cynical opinion is irrelevant, assuming that at week’s end the undecided lost-in the-wildness Republicans find their way back onto the reservation.

        The only relevant rule in day’s political climate is this: “If you win, you handled the situation correctly. If you lose, you blew it.”

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  8. There are the weird finances, mysterious baseball tickets, the number of apparent sexual assaults including later, the apparent alcoholism, and the fact that T. seems to want this guy in particular because he has him in his pocket for certain Trump-favoring decisions, very self-serving. He’s not a very savory character and isn’t being promoted for very savory reasons.

    Then there’s his whole record as a judge, which is what I would prefer, would have preferred not to have overshadowed by this melodrama. This is what most of those who want him in, want him in for — they actually want someone this opposed to the public interest.

    Is this really the best we can all do — unsavory plus partisan/political operative in this way?

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    1. “Is this really the best we can all do — ?”

      Oh, please, at this VERY late in the point in the nominating process, NOTHING in this nomination matters except the raw exercise of of POWER! Either the Republicans win, using the standard nominating process of the party in power to get a competent, solidly conservative Justice on the court who will turn it rightward for decades, or the Democrats grab the POWER, using blatantly dishonest, character assassination techniques to destroy the traditional nominating system.

      The Democrats couldn’t care less if Kavanaugh is a demonstratively competent judge with a proven 12-year track record after an an irrelevant shady adolescent background. They want to destroy him so that they can destroy ANY future attempts by the rightfully-elected President to get ANY Justice on the Supreme Court before 2020., when they hope to retain power.


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      1. I thought that was what the Republicans wanted to do — did do — when Obama was President, whom they could not accept was rightfully elected or even born in the U.S.? Please!

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    2. I would have so loved if instead of all this ridiculousness we saw a discussion of shady finances, for instance. But the moment it gets to “how many beers did you drink 40 years ago and what about these yearbook inscriptions”, I stop following. I do not believe that what one did as a teenager should be discussed in the context of one’s professional activities 4 decades later. Fuck Kavanaugh, I’m afraid this will be normalized and we will all be screwed. If there is no redemption, if you are forever judged on who you were as a teenager, then I’m definitely screwed. We are being caught up in the passions of the moment and creating a huge problem for ourselves down the road.

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      1. The thing is that many already are. Kavanaugh is in the camp that believes in jail for juveniles with minor infractions, things like this. And as I’ve said before, and Shakti has, many of us are subjected to this sort of inquisition and more for all kinds of jobs. I don’t think this is the issue, although if it leads to a rollback of invasions of privacy that are routine for much of the populace now, that would be nice.

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        1. I have yet to hear of any other case where one is subjected to a discussion of teenage drinking or yearbooks decades later. When I do, I will be just as incensed as I am now.

          Does Kavanaugh believe in removing the statutes of limitation on these infractions? Because that’s what is at issue here. Being judged for events of 40 years ago as if they happened yesterday. If he were accused of doing these things yesterday or last year, of course an investigation would be in order. But 36 years ago??? That’s what’s galling. There is now a struggle to give voting rights back to former felons. But if a teenage drunk can’t be rehabilitated 40 years later, then surely last decade’s felons can’t, right? Where is the last stop on this journey? Where does it end? And who can claim this shining lifelong probity that can be proven 40 years after the fact? Not me, that’s for sure.

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          1. In Louisiana you can be of a social class to be sent to jail, not exonerated, for a very minor crime at 17. You lose voting rights forever and access to decent employment forever. This is the kind of thing Kavanaugh is FOR, not against.

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