The Age of the Label

*** Note from the editor: this is an edited article, originally written  by David Bone for his blog The Out of Touch Unionist***

So, what’s your label? Don’t be shy. Okay, I’ll go first shall. My name is David and more importantly, I’m a demi-sexual-vegetarian-non-binary-cis-male-gender-normative-one-spirit-person. I answer to the pronouns ‘He’, not ‘Ze’ or ‘Zim’, but ‘He’. Did you get that all?

For a movement and generation that set out to eliminate labels, the Social Justice Warriors (SJW) and their allies in academia and politics created a lot of them.

Only the most zealous SJW knows what most of these labels mean. Most of us are familiar with the term LGBT. A sensible, acronym and label for a minority of people who felt disenfranchised and need a voice.

Now LGBT has expanded to include LGBTQQIAPP – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, allies, asexual and pansexual. In its current iteration, it is now: LGBTIQCAPGNGFNBA+

This first expansion of labels makes sense. ‘Questioning’ seems sensible enough. As does ‘asexual’. I can’t give you ‘pansexual‘, however. You just love people? Most people are eminently unlovable, with the way they stand in front of tinned goods in supermarket isles, have deafeningly obnoxious phone calls in trains and just generally get in the way.

This culture of permissive and constant labelling isn’t only based on sexuality. As you delve deeper into the internet there is another whole new level of ‘kin’ labelling that frankly is a m;ental illness.

In the Abstract to ‘Doctors Herding Cats: The Misadventures of Modern Medicine and Psychology with NonhuMan Identities’, Pedro Feijó stated that:

‘As social beings, a sense of identity plays an important role in our relations – and in our own happiness. But identity doesn’t have to be narrowly human’

The essayist and social critic, Christopher Hitchens used to start his talks by referring to himself as ‘The mammalian’, but I expect that this isn’t what he had in mind. Nowadays, labelling yourself as ‘Homo-Sapiens’ isn’t even enough. We have to appropriate the identities of other creatures (sometimes mythical) and label ourselves with that as well.

A quick search for ‘Kin’, reveals the following varieties:

Age-kin

Dragon Kin

Cat-Kin

ladybug-kin

Elf-kin

Wolf-kin

Fae-kin

That’s a lot of labels to choose from and added to the far better-known ones, it starts to get ludicrous.

One could argue that some labels are actually more akin to personality traits and don’t require a label at all. They are personal preferences that you choose to live by. Not wanting to jump into bed with someone after two dates, doesn’t make you a ‘demi-sexual’, it’s a choice that you’ve made and feel comfortable with. If someone says to you ‘you’ve got a young head on old shoulders’ it doesn’t literally mean that there is an 83 year old man using your body as a spiritual vessel. It means you’re mature beyond your years. You are not an ‘age-kin’. You can have an affinity with cats and still not be ‘cat-kin’.

We get confused picking different varieties of food. Now imagine being a child or teenager growing up in a world where you could potentially label yourself as a ‘questioning-pansexual-dragon-kin-pescatarian-three-spirit-bi-polar-mono-sapien’ and no adult guardian would attempt to stop you for fear of being labelled a ‘Nazi’.

What about the ‘unlabeled’ who wish to be left alone? Can’t we just go about our lives free from the caterwauling of a tiny minority who seem to be fostering a political viewpoint on us in the belief that we can’t be trusted not to insult someone.

What about the consequences of being labelled too soon, because the cause is fashionable at that current moment? Our current labels are want to change, recede and advance with the unpredictable ebb and flow of historical currents. But SJW don’t tend to take a long view of history or people where society is, ‘a partnership between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are yet unborn.’ All policies are viewed in the current moment, but the media is replete with cases of transgender children who were labelled and then changed their minds as they grew up.

Paradoxically, with increased labelling, comes increased recognition of other groups, and considering that the vast majority of these differences aren’t based on innate biological principles or physical characteristics, then why add another division between people?

With the rise in severe mental illness, particularly in young people, who are at the brunt of the ‘age of labelling’, I can’t help but feel that people’s identities are taut, like skin over a drum. Liable to rupture if too much pressure is applied to them. Also, like a drum, ultimately hollow inside as well. Which is a shame really, because I’d like to think that the vast majority of us are far more interesting and dynamic than a few politically loaded labels that have only been invented in the last decade.


–Featured image– What? | Veronique Debord- Lazaro | flickr

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.

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