The Age of Labels│ David Bone
So, what’s your label? It’s okay, we’re all friends here. Don’t be shy. Okay, I’ll go first shall I, just to break the ice. My name is David and, much, much, 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’ or ‘It’, but ‘He’. Did you get that all? Please pay attention or you’ll offend me and I can’t be offended by someone mislabelling me or getting my pronouns wrong, or that could be classed as micro-aggression that would require me to retreat to my safe-place and have a micro-sulk, which will probably end up as micro-lawsuit for emotional stress. My labels are of the utmost importance. Without them, I’m less of a person, apparently.
For a movement and generation that set out to eliminate labels, the millennial Social Justice Warriors and their older allies in academia and politics sure did create a lot of them. I’m buried up to my neck in them over here, like a linguistic quicksand that is slowly smothering me.
I expect that only the most zealous SJW nowadays even knows what most of these labels mean. In the mid-90s to the early years of the first decade of this glorious new millennium, most of us were familiar with the term LGBT. An eminently sensible and needed acronym and label for a minority of people who felt disenfranchised and needed a voice.
Then LGBT was 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 sort of 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 when I’m trying to be somewhere else.
This culture of permissive and constant labelling now isn’t only based on sexuality, but that’s probably where most people are familiar with it and why I have used it as an example. As you delve deeper into the internet (Thanks, once again, internet) there is another whole new level of ‘kin’ labelling that frankly is a real mental illness masquerading as labelling.
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’.
I must apologise for the Scottish vernacular, but nah, Pedro mate, c’mon ye absolute roaster. The essayist and social critic, Christopher Hitchens (or the lesser Hitchens, as I call him), 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) now and label ourselves with that as well.
A quick search for ‘Kin’, reveals the following varieties:
That’s a lot of labels to choose from and added to the far better-known ones, it starts to get unnecessarily confusing and ludicrous. One could argue that some labels are actually more akin to personality traits and don’t require a special label at all. They are personal preferences or attributes that you choose to live by or possess. 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. It doesn’t require you to purchase the domain name ‘wearedemisexual.com’, attend a parade and try to squeeze yourself onto that already lengthy acronym. 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’.
Most of us get confused with having to pick from 36 varieties of milk to purchase at the supermarket and probably go home with a red, green or blue top. 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 those of us who wish to be left alone, the freakish ‘unlabelled’ if you will? Can’t we just go about our own 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? It’s entirely feasible that our current labels are wont to change, recede and advance with the unpredictable ebb and flow of historical currents and social movements. But the social-justice left doesn’t tend to take a long, Burkean 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 in the vicinity 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 that purely exists in the minds of a rabid, ‘progressive’ SJW?
With the rise in severe mental illness, particularly in young people, those at the brunt of the ‘age of labelling’, I can’t help but feel that with so many labels, people’s identities are taut, like skin over a drum. Liable to rupture if too much pressure is applied to it. 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.