The Power Of Self Identification

Published on: Apr 25 2014 by
The Power Of Self Identification

Different components contribute to how people identify themselves. One might identify him or her self based on sex, ethnicity, class, interests, sexuality, or religious beliefs. With certain identifying factors, such as sex and race, and the societal expectations of their physical representations, individuals are able to control how much of their intrinsic, self-determined identity is manifested externally.

Some may feel obligated to conform to a certain image out of comfort, fear of being criticized, or may conform because they do not care how their external identity affects how others perceive them because they carry the importance of identity within internal traits. Others may feel pressure to display parts of their intrinsic gender identities because it does not match the physical norms of their sex, and still others may highly exude their religion to overshadow their identifying race. The extent to which structures and strictures are able to shape, form and restrict one’s desires and power ultimately lands in the lap of the individual.

The Erotic

The decision whether or not to embrace aspects of our identity aligns with Audre Lorde’s evaluation of the erotic. Many commonly associate the erotic with pornography, which is the exact opposite of the erotic. The erotic is the ability to understand a sense of self and embrace it. As women, “The fear that we cannot grow beyond whatever distortions we may find within ourselves keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, externally defined, and leads us to accept many facets of our oppression” (58). It is not until we recognize the true meaning of erotic and embrace it’s power within our lives that we can pursue genuine change within our world (58).

I am… A Pole Dancer

When one fully embraces the power of the erotic he or she can also learn to fully embrace all aspects of identity. Some individuals choose to quell certain identity factors out of fear of the way society stereotypes those factors. In terms of pole fitness, some choose not to identify themselves as “pole dancers” due to the fear of the negative stigma around it.

Individual Identification

I believe that Audre Lorde hits the nail on the head when explaining how we as individuals make the choice to what extent structures and strictures are able to shape, form and restrict one’s desires and power. Lorde states,

When we live outside ourselves, and by that I mean on external directives only rather than from our internal knowledge and needs, when we live away from those erotic guides from within ourselves, then our lives are limited by external and alien forms, and we conform to the needs of a structures that is not based on human need, let alone an individual’s (58).

We cannot let anyone, whether it is our parents, teachers or random members of society, sway how we embrace identity. When we let others influence how we act and feel about our internal and external identifying factors, we stop becoming who we want to be and start becoming a paradigm of society’s stereotypes.

Citation: Lorde, Audre. “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.” Sister Outsider- Essays and Speeches. CA: The Crossing Press. 53-59.

Category: Discussion

About Abby FW

I am a fitness junkie and love all things that make me stronger- mentally and physically. I swam competitively for 14 years and after three years of swimming at the collegiate level I decided it was time for a change. So I retired from the swim team and took up pole fitness. When I am not working out I can be found working to empower women through advocacy and outreach as well as bartending in Washington, DC. For fun I love to cook, do yoga and happy hour with friends.

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2 Comments to “The Power Of Self Identification”

  1. Love this article. When I first started pole dancing I was quite wary to make it public but I think the fact that I was hiding didn’t help the situation. I think it’s such a shame that pole dancing automatically gets associated with the sex industry as there are so many different styles of pole. Although I still get people who associate it with stripping and the sex industry, I don’t see it that way and don’t identify with that side of pole as I know how difficult and diverse it can really be. Whenever I talk about pole I always make sure to promote the strength and versatility of it. Trying to do my bit for the pole community 🙂

  2. […] I am honored to have my “Power of Self Identification” blog post be published on the awesome PoleFreaks blog!! Check it out here! […]

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