This will probably be a controversial post, but I’m willing to take the risk. Here goes nothing.
When we think somebody is being very silly, such as doing funny movements and acting in weir ways that we don’t normally do just for the fun of it, we will tease them for being ‘gay’ or ‘retarded.’ When we’re angry at others for a mistake that shouldn’t have been made, we call them ‘stupid’ out of the impulse that is governed by our boiling emotions. Sure, in these situations, emotions can get the better of reason. We will do things that we may end up regretting only because we feel that way at the time, only for those feelings to vanish shortly afterwards. That’s the thing about emotion.
Only when reason comes to the picture, when we start to call people certain things because it becomes a ‘deduction’ that we make, then it’s a problem for me. I mean, I understand that we tend to call things the names we do when we make such observations, but are labels really necessary? Have we gone too far to label people to the extent to which it can become their identity — the only things they can identify themselves with?
Take homosexuality, for instance. A controversial topic, but it needs to be discussed one way or the other because it’s a subject I’ve contemplated over on numerous occasions. Here I am, a straight, Asian, 17-year old girl who is talking about the necessity to label sexuality. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to spark a debate over whether or not homosexuality is ‘right or wrong,’ but here’s the question I’ve been asking for a long time. Why do we need to consider those who love people of the same gender ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’? Why do we even need to call them that? Is it to deliberately set them apart from the rest of the heterosexual world to create a distinct identity that is not related to his or her DNA? Is it so that we can effectively call their ‘traits’ and ‘style’ a different type of ‘culture’? I’ve always wondered, if we’re supposed to be starting to appreciate the lifestyles of homosexuality, then why do we still need to set them apart? Why do we still need to call them gay — why do they even need to identify themselves as such? Is there something wrong with a man to saying “I’m in love with Bob,” as opposed to say that “I’m gay”? In my opinion, the whole idea of labelling sexuality seems to be tarnishing the definition of love. When we’re in love, then we’re in love; yet, when others believe that there’s something ‘ethically wrong’ about loving the other due to their gender, then what’s the point of loving in the first place?
I mean, maybe we label people so we can diagnose them to be suffering from a disease or a psychological disorder. Sure, it’s necessary to call the bald girl on the hospital bed a cancer patient because if we didn’t know why she’s even there, then how can we treat her? Sure, we’ll probably need to call some kids autistic or ‘mentally challenged,’ if you will, so we’ll know the ‘appropriate level of education’ for them. To be honest, I don’t really know how to effectively phrase or express the latter point…my apologies. But when we get all DSM-5 (I don’t have sufficient knowledge to elaborate on this, so I hope this will do the trick — it’s a TED Talk, so please don’t kill me) and things go out of hand when just about every aspect of life is seen to be putting you in a precarious situation, then that would be going too far. That being said, where do we draw the line?
I really don’t want to make this as verbose as it already is (though I may elaborate on this further in the future), so let’s just cut to my conclusion or concluding question. Based on my (twisted?) seventeen-year old logic, labels can just hurt. We know the superficial details of who we are based on our names, families, and birthdays. But how necessary is it to make ‘homosexuality’ or ‘atheist’ or ‘feminist’ a part of our identity? Are there any other reasons why it could or could not be necessary to use labels to be an assumption for one’s identity? Let me know.