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August 12th, 2008
12:35 am
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Living life as a radical act
Sara Robinson, paraphrased recast:
My draconity doesn't depend on meeting the criteria on somebody else's personal checklist. Muriel Rukeyser once said, long ago, that if one dragon told the truth about her life, the world would split open. Modern draconity began with the deep insight that the personal is political -- that every act a dragon performs as a free dragon has the power to transform the culture. Draconity, to me, is not about how well one can parrot high-flown academic theories. Rather, its most radical and transformative expression lies in how we choose to exist in the world every day.

And so I speak my truth right out loud in the blogsphere -- and then I go about the radical business of living my life. And in my world, that makes me Otherkin, regardless of whether or not those who think they hold the current patent on the word agree. ... I now realize that attitude, too, is a radical act of self-liberation.

I'm not repeating this because there has been a dispute over "authentic" draconity. I'm repeating it because it resonates with a key quality of my own identity politics lately.

We can talk about identity draconity, or other elective avenues of identity*** until we're blue in the face*. And there's some use to it -- discussion is a good way for people to more accurately define themselves and realize what's important to them. But beyond a certain point, when enough words have been contributed to the discussion, the best thing that elders can contribute is a good example.

Can draconity be a positive force in people's lives? Well, sure, look at this guy over here.**

The plural of anecdote is not data, but this isn't about statistics, it's about Story. It's about a life making more sense inside a narrative strange by conventional standards, and reassurance to others on the fringe that there's a place for them too.

--
* Except for the blue dragons, who, I suppose, turn purple or something.
** Note to self: This is worth further discussion. Starting with that thought I had the other day, about having a foot in both worlds, and thereby learning to recognize the value of stillness.
*** EDITED TO ADD: Just to be clear, I'm going off on a tangent with the remainder of my post that's not applicable across the full spectrum of identity politics. Those suffering from institutionalized discrimination -- primarily women and minorities -- don't need good examples, they need change.

Current Location: ~/couch
Current Music: Miles Davis, "Bye Bye Blackbird"
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From:heron61
Date:August 12th, 2008 07:58 am (UTC)
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Yes!
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From:krinndnz
Date:August 12th, 2008 08:30 am (UTC)

and the worst part is the money power balkanizing all us "deviants"

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I echo. Bax, I think you and Mrs. Robinson are both awesome, but Aris is totally right - this skirts into unpleasantly privilege-blind territory.
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From:krinndnz
Date:August 12th, 2008 11:14 am (UTC)

at risk of starting a loud and earnest agreement

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Yes, I totally agree with you. I think that the framing of discourse that implies that working against racism is mutually exclusive with working against sexism is a big part of the problem - that's what I meant by "balkanizing us." The scare quotes around "deviants" are there because the same toxic discourse pretty much defines being female or nonwhite as deviance.

These large social problems have large and difficult overlaps.
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From:baxil
Date:August 12th, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC)
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What Krinn said.

I would just add that normalizing and legitimizing "deviance" (complete with scare quotes as above) is a necessary but not sufficient step in fixing the larger institutional problems that oppressed groups face.
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From:baxil
Date:August 12th, 2008 08:57 am (UTC)
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See below.
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From:baxil
Date:August 12th, 2008 08:56 am (UTC)
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"Paraphrased" was a poor word choice.

What I hear you say is that it's disrespectful to draw a direct comparison between a lifestyle that's invisible on the surface and a life that struggles with these issues whether she wants to or not. I should perhaps have been more clear than I was trying to draw my own ideas in similar themes, not draw a parallel.

I mean no disrespect toward feminists and females in general, who have been struggling for respect for a long, long time. The point that I was trying to make with the quoted section is not unique to either feminists or Otherkin, which is the main reason I found it worth mentioning; I could have replaced the original with "gay" or "transgendered" or any of a dozen racial identifiers and it would still carry the same impact. Again, "I'm repeating it because it resonates with a key quality of my own identity politics lately."

Thanks for speaking up, and I hope I can either address or learn from any remaining concerns.
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From:baxil
Date:August 12th, 2008 04:31 pm (UTC)

slight post-sleep refinement

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So what I meant to say last night at 2 AM was:

" 'Paraphrased' was a poor word choice. I apologize for it, and I've fixed it.

"What I hear you say, etc. ...

"... Thanks for speaking up. Did that address your objection? I hope I can, etc."
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From:jolantru
Date:August 12th, 2008 12:36 pm (UTC)
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Thank you.
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From:baphnedia
Date:August 12th, 2008 02:20 pm (UTC)
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The point you make with this post is a truth that is further reaching than the scope you placed it in. It's exactly why I started writing my notes on the why and how I've built my lil' company.

Overall, it's a proven practice to lead by example.
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From:thoughtsdriftby
Date:August 18th, 2008 08:57 pm (UTC)
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stepping into it a bit, your intent is seen however
difference by choice/without choice, identity being shackled to attributes
myself privileged that I may choose, having the unpalatable option to conform
many living with attributes others have selected for discrimination
seeing with open mind/eyes yet I am unable to walk in step with their life
requires the others trust that I may truly see someone as themselves

commonality everyone is much more than they seem, identity as expressing self
behind the masks, behind the attributes, behind the baggage carried about
parsing out what each is beyond what each should be, unbounded potentials

stomping potential landmines we begin, please choose to continue
wishing all such mindfields gone, change/discuss/evolve thoughts
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 24th, 2008 11:57 pm (UTC)
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At first, everyone simply tried to get over the fact that they were saying these words: "I am a dragon". And the whole enterprise became mired in people attempting to get over the reality shock of thinking something so detached from conventional thinking.

As a result, it's all kind of trite now, in a certain way. A little juvenile in execution, if not underline premise. There have been a number of would-be and self-styled saviors who have come to tell everyone how they're going to "evolve" draconity, or otherkin, or whatever, make it better, bigger, badder, but they've really brought nothing new to the table in most cases outside of trying to form cliques and keep out anyone they think isn't cool enough.

But maybe that's par for the course, given how young this idea is. In time, by the time it genuinely develops, it may be called something entirely different. Be conceptualized as something different. But that's evolution for you. People always forget that, because they are fundamentally self-centered beings (I say this in the sense of sentient beings having to focus on the self in order to differentiate it from everything else.) They forget that they are always a transitional form of themselves, moving between one order of life and another.

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From:baxil
Date:August 25th, 2008 01:44 am (UTC)
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Hi there! Thanks for speaking up. You're welcome to comment anonymously, but I'd love to know who I'm speaking with when someone contributes substantive ideas to the discussion.

IMHO, to the extent that the idea of draconity/Otherkin/therianthropy seems juvenile, it's because it's cast as a rejection of body identity. A mature therianthropy embraces and integrates both the therion and the anthropos.

Still, it's difficult to imagine a world where that wouldn't be a reality shock. Even as an inclusive, mature movement, it's always going to attract an adolescent crowd. Draconity's challenge will always be making sure there's more depth to explore beyond that surface trangression, without trying to "evolve" its essential nature.
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