I was thinking, as people do, about my parents today. Last time I spoke to my mother, she said something that I brushed off then, but my mind picked up just now: “That’s your father speaking.” She said this about me, and something I had just said. I was being practical, like my father is know for being. And now, as I lie in bed, I can’t stop thinking about this simple phrase.
What is identity? I wrote a list, just now, of traits I share with my mother and traits I share with my father. Some of the traits overlap, some of them are contradictory. But put them together, and it’s at least a half complete list of who I am (or, at least, who I consider myself to be). So who really am I? I am my father’s daughter, I am my mother’s daughter. I’m reflections of who they are, because they are the ones who raised me and they are the ones who I based my little childhood self off of. But I am more than my parents: I’m society.
As human beings, we are sponges. Our identity is a representation of the culture we live in. I speak English because I like in a culture that speaks English. I am polite because my culture is polite (this is a stereotype but it’s also the truth). I think ‘gay is okay’ because my country allows gay marriage and has for as long as I’ve known what ‘gay’ is. These are only a few examples, and none of them are particular deep, but it gets the point across. As a human being, I am a reflection of where I grew up and where I currently live. I will change as my society changes, and my society will change as I change (a beautiful contradictory, paradoxical loop).
I think this is really what Butler and Bhabha were trying to get at in their essays. Who we are is not individual but rather cultural. Personal identity is just a reflection of our world. If gender wasn’t an issue in the world, then gender wouldn’t be part of who we are. If black people were the ones who colonized the white people, then white would be the mimicking race.
Identity is more than you and I. Identity is all of us combined.
I hope you enjoyed my late night ramblings.