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Dear Progressives: Stop Slamming Identity Politics

Identity influences every voter, and progressives need to stop adopting right-wing rhetoric when discussing race and gender.
 
 
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Dear fellow progressives,

Please, please stop using the term "identity politics" as a negative. "Identity politics" is a term adopted by conservatives (and moderate-to-right-leaning lefties) in an effort to insult the political action of women, people of color, the LGBT community, and other traditionally marginalized groups. It assumes that advocating for gender, racial or sexual orientation equality is about promoting particular "identities" as opposed to doing what white men have always done -- engaging in the political system, often in a self-interested way. If you're going to use the term "identity politics," go for it -- but own it as a good thing. We are all influenced by our identities; but since white, straight, Christian male is the default, it's only commented on when the rest of us voice our opinions.

George W. Bush dressing up as a cowboy and appealing to "authentic" American men? " America's Toughest Sheriff" swaggering around Arizona and making inmates wear pink underwear to emasculate them? John Kerry donning a hunting vest to prove his toughness? Not "identity politics."

But Hillary Clinton recognizing that she's female and perhaps that matters? Obama being black? Feminists promoting women's rights? People of color promoting racial equality? LGBT communities challenging heteronormativity? Suddenly identity politics are ruining America and harming the elections.

Jill Filipovic is a New York-based freelance writer and a law student at NYU. More of her writing is available online at her blog, Feministe.

 
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