I’m losing my humanity
October 15, 2010
Zizek says: “This is what you must be conscious of, that when you fight for your position, you at the same time fight for the universal frame of how your position will be perceived within this universal frame. This is for me, as every good feminist will tell you, the greatness of modern feminism. It’s not just we women want more. It’s we women want to redefine the very universality of what it means to be human. This is for me this modern notion of political struggle” – Marcus Pound
And we have to add that this is the case in every place where a dominant position which has become normalized (meaning that it is never in the position of being studies, being discussed, but always the position from which studies, discussions, and I dare say jokes, are being done) is being challenged.
Writing from a white, male, Afrikaner position, I am only too aware of how easy those in the normalized and/or dominant position translate the quest for liberation into a quest for “getting more stuff”. This, however, is an easy copout, a way of the easily identifiable examples which can be thrown into the face of those who are in the normalized position, without losing the privileged position of being “the most human”.
If we assume that the rich white male European (or is it American nowadays) position is the normal position of what it means to be “human”, and that all struggles are simply about the redistribution of “stuff”, we miss the deep critique against the assumption of normality which woman, homosexuals, black and coloured, African (yes, I differentiate between black and African), previously colonized, voices bring onto the table. More than stuff, and more than simply another perspective which is but a variation on the normalized position (working from the idea that whatever the normalized group says is mostly universalizable, and others can simply change a few details to fit their views). It is a radical challenge against the normalized position, taking it from the throne of normality, challenging not merely the stuff, not merely a few details, but redefining what it means to be human.
And me, the white Afrikaner male? I can only find my own humanity if it is redefined by the voices which challenge my normality. To do this I would need to go through the hell of giving up this narrow perception of being human which I hold to. Lose my humanity so that I can truly find it. Die in order to live.