Intersectionality dictates that everyone individual identity is affected by the unique intersection of numerous “roles” or categories. I am white, female, straight, a student, liberal, and American. I accept these titles; I associate myself with these notions of identity. Common discourse encourages me to believe these labels are the defining aspects of my experience. Yet, I notice I flaw in this understanding.
If these labels are the tools with which I was socialized, what exactly are they? They contain no space. Their definitions are fluid. After all, who is an American? A United States citizen? An immigrant, legal but not yet a citizen? Who is female? Someone born with a vagina? What if one’s vagina is constructed? What if one’s vagina is later removed? Modern sex theory forces any legitimate intellectual to acknowledge that such strict sexual preferences such as straight and gay are entirely false; all sexualities exist on a sliding scale. We also now know that race is not biological. We come to the crux of the issue: all of these labels are socially constructed.
While their construction is entirely real, we are given a choice. Do we continue to reconstruct them everyday with our actions, thoughts, and speech? Would we chose to abandon them if given the chance? Would we prefer to construct alternate identities?
Furthermore, are we only these labels? No matter how much I read upon the subject, I fail to find a proper word to describe the inherent me-ness that does not qualify in any of these labels. I operate within my labels, but what is doing that actual operation is more than these social constructs. As much as I adamantly believe in the socialization of the self, I am forced to conclude that something else is going on simultaneously. For an intellectual, for one who is curious, for a human, this question is baffling. All around me, in present and past, I watch and study people grappling with this notion. Are we meant to know? What exactly are we?