Soniah Kamal

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'Islam is not Pakistan's religion; Marriage is'

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Passing, Ageism and Being Your True Self

"Everyone has some point at which they think that, all things considered, it's not that in those circumstances lying isn't wrong, it's just that telling the truth would be so much worse. I am the SS. Do you have any Jews in your cellar? Does anyone think the right answer is yes, if it's true?" Appiah went , "But I do think there is a separate issue with identity questions. If you are asked directly to reveal your deepest sense of who you are, it's particularly difficult not toe tell the truth. This is especially true in the free world, in the modern world, because we have this idea that you have the right to express your identity in the social world. And that one of the things that's wrong with the situations that force people to pass."

"Black for white passing first brought the Americanism passing into use...passing looks a lot different in our time than it did in the pre-civil rights days..."
from Passing: When People Can't Be Who They Are by Brooke Kroeger, 2003

In 'Passing: When People Can't be Who They Are', Brooke Kroeger explores people who pass in our socially less rigid times for who they are not and yet feel they must be in order to reap advantages otherwise unavailable to them. Where once upon a time blacks and Jews needed to pass as white or gentiles to lead better lives and often to save their lives, today the modern-day passers Kroeger writes about are predominantly homosexuals whose lives might not be threatened but whose opportunties and dreams certainly are e.g. a gay Jew who want to become a Rabbi, a lesbian Naval officer referred to as the Careerist in the book because even after retirement she cannot come out of 'hiding/passing' on risk of being Court Martialed and losing her pension built upon twenty years of service. However there are other instances in the book, for example the Walt Whitman Award winning poet/Village Voice pop music critic who, in order to write his criticisms takes on the pseudonym of a woman simply because the 'authentic voice' comes to him in the persona of Jane Dark. When he was 'outed', the persons that he'd 'lied' to seemed less offended/upset, if at all, than he was upset with himself. Society accepted his 'deceit/pretense/alter ego/fluid identity' call it what you will while he himself seemed to find society's blatant okayness problematic...

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