I’ve seen a lot of posts on Twitter in recent months with a very particular view of identity politics, and on who can speak on particular topics, how and to whom. I haven’t felt comfortable with a lot of what I’ve seen—it seems to me narrow and limiting. Still, it’s a complicated topic, with a difficult history, and I think I understand at least some of the impulses that drive that particular take on identity politics.
But understanding the way an issue is discussed in women’s studies seminars is different from understanding how people see the issue more generally. And so when a particular tweet appeared in my feed, I tried to engage with the topic.
I start by saying that raising the issue may be like putting my finger in a light socket. That was a mistake. (A mistake to put it that way; if anything I underestimated what a shock the experience would be.) I should have been less defensive and more tentative. But in fact the person I tweeted to responded openly, and we were having what seemed to me a cordial and—at least for me—interesting and valuable exchange.
Then other people jumped in, and things turned very sour very quickly…
[I’m NewWorldInOurHearts in this discussion]