We're All Full-Spectrum Humans

At a workshop last weekend, a man, somewhat younger than myself, asked me how old I was. To my response, "Sixty-five," he said, "I thought so. You're a wonderful model of an older woman."

I did not immediately know why this statement felt oppressive. As I reflected on it, I thought how oppressive it would sound to say: "You're a wonderful model of a Jew, a woman, an African American, a disabled person," etc. The person saying this is selecting out a piece of reality which has, in my view, elicited an unaware restimulation of his or her stereotypical thinking. The statement is actually condescending - implying, I think, that it might be difficult to be a wonderful older person, Jew, woman, etc. The person making a statement like this is selecting out one part (a relatively small part, if it weren't for oppression and internalized oppression) of the reality of what it means to be a human being.

I think this might relate to some of the clarity Harvey has been sharing lately about the dangers of "identity," of identifying ourselves with some particular aspect of being human.

Maryhelen Snyder
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00