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Thread: Pro's/Con's of Self-Identification w/ Groups

  1. #1
    .~ *aĉa virino* ~. Array Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Default Pro's/Con's of Self-Identification w/ Groups

    (Sorry for the rather dry title, I am having trouble thinking of something swingier and that is still easy to grasp...)

    Someone mentioned an interest in pursuing one of the topics coming up in the "What gender are you?" poll thread, so I thought I would simply start this off and see if there is any interest in discussion.

    Originally it came up in context of gender identification in the trans community. Some transpeople feel marginalized by being forced to identify with one of two binary genders (M/F), thus sort of ignoring/dismissing their own unique situation. Sometimes this group would like to do away with gender designations altogether, seeing them as serving no positive purpose and believing it simply contributes to continuing social biases and discriminatory attitudes and behaviors. They hate seeing even non-trans people lumped into very explicit gender roles, because they see it as a form of oppression of individual differences.

    Another transpeople faction has no real issue with the gender designations and would rather not have their particular situation brought up. All of their lives, in their mind, they've been "different," whereas what they really wanted to do is just fit in and be accepted. To continually be forced to carry the stigma of "trans" means never really fitting in anywhere; they just want to be firmly identified with their target gender and no longer stick out. They don't see the binary gender categories as oppressive but just descriptive and useful in their own way.

    Since only a small set of people might be interested in gender-specific self-identifications, I have purposefully generalized the topic because I'm thinking it encompasses any sort of social subgroup that has ever felt marginalized.

    The most obvious example is the black population in the United States.

    Some black people feel that having others ignore their roots or lump them into a larger group is in fact a repudiation of their own roots, of which they are proud. Other black people want to see "color" eradicated from the lexicon, choosing to view themselves as citizens first and foremost, seeing the distinction as yet another form of oppression.

    What are your thoughts?
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  2. #2
    insert random title here Array Randomnity's Avatar
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    As far as the gender thing, why not just have the option to identify as "male" "female" or "other: ______" ? Then you could just choose to "fit in" or to be your own unique category, and both groups would be happy (including intergender, post-gender, non-gender etc people who generally aren't considered).

    I think it would be nice if everyone could embrace their roots while still seeing their ingroup as equals vs the general population. I guess kinda like people with Scottish ancestry here, for can get into all the traditions and still not be treated any differently by society for it.

    I don't think it's really a black or white issue of identifying/not identifying with a group...some people are just closer to black or white on the gradient....and have different ideas of what identifying with a group means for them, as well.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Array JivinJeffJones's Avatar
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    Pro's of self-identifying with INFPs: I can bask in the reflected glory of all that is good about INFPs, and whine to other INFPs about all that sucks about being INFP.

    Con's of self-identifying with INFPs: I catch a lot of shit about all that is bad about INFPs, and must listen to other INFPs whine about all that sucks about being me.

    Overall it's probably worth it. I know that Carebear and Fineline in particular are out there being reasonable male INFPs, and it gives me a measure of hope.

  4. #4
    mrs Array disregard's Avatar
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    A con would be that people might treat you differently if they discovered you were the gender other than what they had in mind, but that's their loss if they treat you poorly for that. It's happened to me. So self-disclosure can be a pro or a con depending on how you look at it. Gender bias? I don't experience it in real life, and I don't experience it on here, because I don't give into the self-fulfilling prophecy that it is.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Array TenebrousReflection's Avatar
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    I don't really relate to being male and for the most part get along a lot better with female friends/acquaintances than males in general (as far as feeling I have things in common as far as whats important to me and how I think). I do find it frustrating to be pre-judged on the basis of being "male" when I don't identify much at all with most others of my gender.

    As far as race goes, I'm a mix of scandinavian and european ancestry, but not pure of any one type, so its hard to really fit in with an ethnic group with having a mixed bloodline like that ("white" is too generic for me to consider as an ethnic group). In general I like and get along quite well with Scottish and Irish folks (the ones I've met that strongly identify with that background anyway), but I'm only like 1/16 or 1/32 Scottish and 0% Irish). A bit like in fantasy literature where Half-Elves may not really feel completely part of either human or elvish cultures but can still fit into either without too many questioning their authenticity. I think I could try to fit into any culture that I have in my blood line but the lack of being raised as that culture would make it feel awkward if I were to try.

    The only "groups" I really feel like I fit in are "geeks and nerds" but even then I don't have the technical expertise of a slash-dot type geek so I still feel I fall short of expectations there for skill and enthusiasm for certain things and the sub-group of "gamers", but again my interests are specific to certain genres and I don't enjoy all the activities most gamers do, so its not a perfect fit there either.

    There are a lot of other group identifier type things where I'm probably like a 40 to 80% fit, but have enough differences that I won't call myself a member of that group but don't object if someone considers me to be one.

    To me the pro of group identification is that when you find someone else that identifies with that group, you have something to talk about. and the con is that being seen as part of a group brings with it expectations that may or may not be true (such as shared experiences or values). The big problem is being mis-identified as a member of a group you do not see yourslef as part of and the expectation that go with it and the miscommunications and problems that can result from it.

  6. #6
    He pronks, too! Array Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    For the sake of navigating my environment, I do identify groups. But I do not self-identify with groups. I hate doing that, and only play a long with the idea for as long as it is pragmatically demanded.

    I much prefer to be something uncatagorized and unincluded. There are obviously many disadvantages to this, I hardly think I have to mention them, but I prefer the independence of my interests as well as my image. I'd rather have the control of being a maverick than be swept up in party politics.

    I tend to feel about groups like I do about individual people. I don't have heroes or idols, and I don't want to be pressured into picking one. Some people have done very impressive things, but all people make tons of mistakes, and I'd rather specify my appreciation great for their great accomplishments than bind myself to the whole individual.

    If I were transgendered, I would certainly be in the camp that wants individual distinction, as oppose to fitting in.
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  7. #7
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    My bad because I'm not sure I understand the question As I do understand though, its not an issue I can personally control so don't think I can answer one way or another. There are so many perspectives others hold re categorizing. One person here in their list of dislikes said "old people" and, when I asked why, the response had to do with what they considered attitudes held by all old people. That's a perception I cannot change. So if it was openly divulged that I am one of those, that person probably wouldn't talk to me. On the other hand, at INTPc, I was bullied by a member there for mentioning my age in posts and I found their reasoning as to why I did that both offensive and amazing. I did it to help the reader know, up front, that my perspective on a particular subject may be influenced by my age/experience.

    OT: one of the things I have so enjoyed about this group is that I'm learning that gender stereotypes don't fit my preconceived notions and I'm finding that seriously refreshing and beneficial.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Array substitute's Avatar
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    It's the old question of individualism versus communalism when it's boiled down, IMO. Is the group there to serve its members, or are its members there to serve the group? How you see that I guess depends on the effect that identifying as part of the group has on your behaviour and choices.

    Personally, I've never been much of an individualist... and individual, yes, but my choice as an individual is that I believe in community and interdependence as opposed to individual fulfilment and independence. That's not to say I don't believe in individual fulfilment at all, or independence... but only that those things come to me, I feel, through serving a common cause alongside others, enabling each other.

    The mystery of monasticism: by none of us caring for ourselves and only about each other, everyone has everything they need and desire.


    Re. the trans issue, as with any minority group... the question of whether to be 'in the closet' or active, out and proud sorta thing is a tricky one. I think it's down to personal choice, but in the long run it's the people who are out and proud who make it possible for the others to stay in their closets or even build them in the first place by campaigning and lobbying for rights, privacy, dignity and changes in law to accommodate their group. Changes only get made when 'the public' or the government deems them necessary; this never happens unless awareness is created concerning the issue. If everyone selfishly stays in their closets so they can get on with seeming normal and put it all behind them, then it becomes a case of everyone having to stay in the closet - not out of choice, but out of fear.

    It's the 'out' people who risk so much and give up the hard won ability to 'blend into the crowd' after transition, in order to campaign and create a safer world so that people can choose without fear being a factor. So yeah, stay 'in' if you like, but I've known people who are 'in' and get angry at the 'out' people, saying they harm their cause and bring attention that's unwanted... I find that rather short sighted and unfair. It'd be like slapping Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks in the face because what they did drew a lot of attention that might've been unwelcome by some black people, even though in the long run it made life better for all of them.

    Again, that's an example of how the individualists to my mind rely on the communalists because without them, individuality becomes more difficult.
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  9. #9
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    Interesting topic and there surely are multiple perspectives to be taken.

    Categorization is pervasive to human cognition. Categorization enables us to organize information about the world. It helps us infer hidden properties from new elements we encounter. It tells us what we can do with it. Without categories, knowledge would just be a bunch of facts with very little use other than encountering the same exact situation. Social categories follow the same principles. Other than the cognitive necessity of categorizing oneself as part of a social category, being part of a social category appeals to one of human being's basic needs: the need to belong. Some people argue that social identity is a basic human need and we all categorize ourselves as part of a social group.

    Identifying yourself with a group has many potential benefits, such as an increased sense of relatedness with others of your group, an increase in self-esteem, a sense of identity, a sense of support from others who share similar issues to yours, etc. Even people who categorize themselves as "misfits" and "Maverick's" because they don't want to belong to a group (I wonder who that might be ), are already part of a group called "misfits".

    Identifying yourself with a group also creates an ingroup bias and favoritism. You think your group members are better in some way. You start seeing members in your group as more different than they really are and people of others groups as more similar than they really are. You may develop prejudice towards people of another group.

    So, it's a mixed bag really...

  10. #10


    I like giving people some easy labels that apply to me so that they can place me in terms of time and milieu: Middle-aged. Male. Married. Executive. Translator. Work downtown. Live in the suburbs. INFP. Political moderate. Atheist. Ex-Marine. Vietnam vet. Ballroom dancer. And so on.

    Those labels build a picture, and that picture isn't far from the truth. They're me--I've lived and done those things. I do tend to have some points of congruence with other people who claim the same labels.

    On the other hand, I often don't identify with any of the associated "official" groups. For example, I don't belong to any veterans groups or atheist groups. If a religious person gets huffy about the fact that atheists are always trying to legislate God out of public life, I may have to take a few seconds and explain that I'm not militant about my atheism and don't necessarily agree with the positions of prominent atheist groups. But I don't mind making those explanations if necessary. It's just a question of fine-tuning people's perception of me.

    So I don't really self-identify with the "official" groups, but I think the labels are useful. The labels are a shorthand way to draw a picture, and then there's always time and opportunity to fine-tune that picture in the course of subsequent conversation and association.

    I also like it if other people can label themselves easily. Basic things like age and gender often help me figure out where someone is coming from when they make an ambiguous or unexpected remark.

    OTOH, if someone is clearly unwilling to identify themselves by traditional gender labels or race labels or whatever, then I'll respect that. If they say that a labeling issue is important to them, then I accept that it's important to them. I don't have to fit everyone into nice neat little boxes. Furthermore if they want to talk about why a certain label is a problem for them, I'll be interesting in hearing what they have to say. That sort of knowledge tells me even more about them than labels.

    Quote Originally Posted by JivinJeffJones View Post
    Overall it's probably worth it. I know that Carebear and Fineline in particular are out there being reasonable male INFPs, and it gives me a measure of hope.
    Thanks, JJJ. You're a credit to our personality type yourself!

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