Identity is the demand made by power - tell us who you are so we can tell you what to do. And by complying with that demand, by parsing endlessly the particulars that make our identity different from one another’s, we are slotting into a power structure, not dismantling it.

We should never have to choose between good and bad identity, difference and universalism, but rather, our interrogation should focus on what subtends the demand for identity and difference. Critiquing identity politics, then, is not a dismissal of lived reality but, rather, a response to the oppressive demands that identity itself can make under the guise of a progressive politics. Oppression by identity also qualifies as lived experience, and we should not settle on a demand made by power without also taking seriously the consequences of that demand.

If anything, the most widespread truth about our lived reality is that it is too multiple to abide by a code of identitarian difference: live dreality is at odds with identity politics. This is why it is so startling when many of us seem content with thinking of our lives strictly within the structures that constrain it, speaking unironically about the immutability of race or gender or sexuality. Race and sex and gender and class are certainly policed fiercely in all societies, but why do we confuse that policing with the truth about ourselves? If anything, the categorization is the problem, not our challenging of it. In a bizarre move of sympathizing with our oppressors, we take to heart regimes that restrict us, and then tell ourselves that the restriction is the truth of our being in the world.

— Madhavi Menon, Indifference to Difference (via kit-power)