– SIC - A NEW WORD
FOR SA SURVIVORS REGARDING OUR SEXUAL IDENTITY
Dear friends in survival,
This is a serious proposal to discuss, revise and adopt a new word and its definition to describe the state of mind in which many of us find ourselves regarding our sexual identity. I base this effort in the belief that words can be powerful symbols which are useful when they become tools to us in understanding ourselves and the world in which we live.
Use of the proposed word, (and I am open to finding another word to replace it), is meant to remind us of our tendency to blame the victim, ourselves, for the occurrence and symptoms of our sexual abuse (SA) experience(s). The use of it is proposed to highlight and alter our tendency to consider the symptom of sexual identity confusion, as abnormal, to be avoided or changed as it presently exists and our failing to remember that a fluid sexual identity, while at times uncomfortable, is none-the-less WHO WE ARE at present.
In this post, Sexual Identity (SI) is about who we think we are or how others might define us. It is different from Sexual Orientation (SO) to whom and in what manner we are oriented when we act sexually or have sexual thoughts. Also, please read my use of “we” as either “I” or “some of us SA survivors”
We tend to think that what is “normal” is to arrive at a static/fixed SI, (homo, hetero or bi), because in “normal” sexual development of children we are supposed to grow up to become/have an SI that is stable and hopefully which results in an SO with which we are comfortable and on which we can base a supportive, nurturing and pleasurable relations with another. (Although gays have had to struggle toward self acceptance of their SI in the face of societal condemnation and prejudice, not to mention plight of bi and transsexual persons).
For us, our SEXUAL IDENTITY feels confusing because our SEXUAL ORIENTATION is confusing. The confusion is often the result of the fact that we have not found the words or concepts which designate ourselves as who we are. We become confused when we fail to differentiate between our SI and our SO or sexual behavior (between who we think we are and what we do). Our sexual acts or thoughts are often disturbing, compulsive and hurtful to ourselves and/or others. They are the result of our present sexual identity plus a host of other symptoms of our abuse. Our sexual identity, whether fluid/in process or fixed/settled hurts NO ONE. The only hurt comes from our frustration with it. (We want to know what we are!) Well, honey, that's who we are! (For now).
Why do we experience sexual identity confusion? Because our sexual development got stuck somewhere in our childhood through no fault of our own. Whether we can pick up where we left off, through work on ourselves or with the help of others, depends on the energy we put into it and the severity of our abuse. Our work may not ever result in a clear or fixed understanding of our SI, but then again it may. But in the meantime, by accepting ourselves, we can focus on what we do not who we are.
I chose “sic” because it refers to a “fact” which is “not a mistake”. We are (I am) not a mistake. Our changing SI may seem “surprising or paradoxical” to others (and ourselves) but it should be accepted “as it stands”. Sic is dangerously close to “sick” (an association we need to overcome). But I feel that, because of the pressures of society, we need a word that has an “in your face” quality that challenges both society and our own tendency to buy into the idea that we are sick.
So, here is the original definition of “sic” followed by the definition I propose to be added. Let me know what you think, good, bad or indifferent. At the least, writing this has been good therapy for myself; at best, it can be a useful tool for us SA survivors. Thad
Webster's Dictionary says:
“sic (sik) adv. [Lat.] Thus: so – Used in written texts to indicate that a surprising or paradoxical word, phrase, or fact is not a mistake and is to be read as it stands.”
Proposed New Definition to be added:
sic (sik) n. [Lat.] Thus: so – 1. Psychological: state of one's sense of sexual identity at a given moment. Use: denoting a sense of self as one who is attracted to males and/or females, but knows that the identity is changing or developing over time. Derivation. From acronym for Sexual Identity Confusion, SIC and sic, latin for “thus – so” denoting that one's sexual identity which changes or is still developing as result of sexual identity confusion, and at a given moment, is what it is (as in “I yam what I yam” Popeye), is thus/so and not a mistake but also knows it is a “normal” state of identity even though it appears to change over time. 2. SA recovery: sexual identity which is neither fixed as heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual but which changes or continues to develop due to the interruption of childhood sexual development caused by childhood sexual experiences or abuse. As opposed to one's sexual orientation which denotes one's tendency to act or think sexually toward others and is influenced by one's sexual identity as well as other symptoms of sexual abuse. 3. Slang: a. one whose sexual identification is different from traditional definitions of identification, (i.e. hetero, homo, or bi sexual), b. a sexual identification which had been considered as abnormal, confused or an illness, (sick), but by use of the word denotes acceptance of one's present state of mind, (i.e. as in use of “queer” meaning a defiant self definition by homosexuals), c. a sexual identity which is co-equal to other definitions, normal and an acceptable designation of one's present state of sexual identity, d. recognition that one's sexual identity is in process and therefore neither good or bad and that only sexual acts which are hurtful to self or others are to be so judged.