I was eating a breakfast of pancakes, sausage, and eggs at the local hole-in-the-wall cafe when I noticed the woman sitting at the next table typing. Her laptop had a bumper sticker on it that said “THE PRESENT IS FEMALE.” One of a multitude of bumper stickers, tee shirts, buttons, etc. floating this slogan around, along with the even more popular slogan “THE FUTURE IS FEMALE.”
Even as someone who wrote a rather full-on underground feminist blog under a different name for a period of time, these slogans make me shudder. I thought I’d elaborate more on why, considering the potential for offense in challenging this slogan in my last post.
If you’re going to say “the future is female” then you might as well say “the future is white.” What’s the difference? Except that the first statement looks like progress but does nothing of real consequence other than make some feel vaguely inspired and others resentful, while the second statement looks willfully ignorant and could start a riot.
The exploration of identity and identity politics serves a distinct purpose in personal and cultural growth, as we hope to progress into a better and more enlightened world. So I’m certainly not saying that identity isn’t important. I can’t even imagine a world in which identity wouldn’t play some role. Yet as we choose to create a world in which identity matters quite so much, it’s also true on a grander scale that the whole concept of identity proposes division and thus separation between people. How can we be truly equal as long as we stand divided in camps? It’s hard to conceive of ourselves as fragments of a connected whole. It’s hard to appreciate the beauty of the individual as part of a greater collective beauty of creation. We know we are not there yet. And so we fight for progress.
Yes, I’m a woman. Yes, that matters and there’s lots to say about it. But also, on a deeper level, who fucking cares?
It’s heartening to see people care about feminism and its history. But if slogans such as “THE FUTURE IS FEMALE” served a purpose at one time, perhaps at this point we have outgrown them. If pure antagonism is the point, at least in the ways it’s been tried on so far, is it working? Whatever the intention, validity, and potency before, “THE FUTURE IS FEMALE” suggests we deal with a power imbalance by propagating another one. Perhaps we need new slogans now. Perhaps we need a new vision for the future. And a new creativity.
Identity is important, until the moment of ultimate truth in which identity becomes totally irrelevant in our own minds and hearts. Or at least, it becomes a source of unquestionable beauty and appreciation that doesn’t need to be overthunk. In our most evolved and highest state of consciousness, these divisions don’t even matter. They cease to exist altogether.
And if this level of consciousness is too much for us to reach now or possibly ever, then it is a place we will see in our lifetime anyway, like it or not. It’s called death.
So, how should we spend the rest of our conscious life?