Sunday, August 19, 2012

Defining ourselves

Almost every day I read the questions people ask over at Bisexuality is Real on Facebook. One of the questions asked most often is something along the lines of "I'm more attracted to one gender than the other. Am I bi?" And so often the people respond with "Never mind labels. Just be yourself!"

On one hand this is awesome advice.

On the other hand...it's not very helpful.

We seem to live on labels. Parent. Empty nester. Single. Married. Accountant. Student. Writer. Book lover. Cook. Gardener. Home maker. Bread winner. Gay. Straight. Bisexual. Etc. We use labels to define ourselves, so that we know who and what we are. To not know what to call ourselves...I think that's an uncomfortable feeling for most people.

I'm not claiming to know the best response to "Am I bi?" When I respond it's usually with a mostly unhelpful "Probably, give it time and you'll figure it out."

My point is that I think we frequently use (and even need) labels to define ourselves, even if we don't like others sticking labels on us. So as awesome as it would be to forget labels, I think that it's advice that is usually unhelpful.

3 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I must agree with you, Sarita. I've always found that people who say they "don't believe" in labels really just don't want to deal with the realities of what those labels mean. But not wanting to deal with something doesn't mean you're exempt from its realities or that those realities will just disappear "for you." Much better to define yourself, I believe, and deal with whatever comes from it.

Magaly Guerrero said...

Without labels we wouldn't know to talk to each other. Everything from the most general pronoun to a proper name is a label.

Life is easier when we take the time to figure out who we are and what we want to be called.

Sarita Rucker said...

Debra -- Whenever I've tried to solve a problem by ignoring it...it hasn't worked. And usually the problem just gets bigger.

Magaly -- Good point about needing labels to talk to each other. Actually this topic came up in a book, now that you mention it...some magic is done so that names and pronouns could not be used in connection to certain individuals. Those individuals went completely mad.