I keep wanting to Write About Labels with some sort of adolescent zeal. About how much I hate them (stupid, limiting labels), about how we don't even need them. "Oh man, labels!" I want to exclaim, in tones of great exasperation. I want to rant, and rave, and whine and... But the thing is, that's all a little bit hard to buy, coming from someone who wears some labels proudly, perhaps even obnoxiously. It would be hard to take me seriously, considering that I use the label "Feminist" like it's a second name. And so I have been pondering this for a while, and here is what I have concluded.
Labels are... tricky. They are like clothes. Some fit like they were made for us, and we are so proud to wear them in public. We know they look good. Even if they don't, they are so darn comfortable. That is the "feminist" label to me. It fits like it was made for me, and I wear it comfortably all the time. It didn't even have to be altered to fit me-- no qualifiers are necessary! Feel free to talk to me about it. It's a well placed label, and I love it.
Other labels, though, are a little more iffy. Some are more like those clothes I have hanging in the farthest reaches of my closet. There is something about them that makes it impossible to just cast them off, but nothing so appealing that I would wear them in public. They are scratchy, or they don't fit right. They're just uncomfortable. Periodically they get donated to Goodwill-- just because they aren't right for me doesn't mean they are wrong for everyone.
That's how a lot of other labels are. Some are just too restrictive, kind of irritating, and don't reflect "me." They aren't bad, per say, but they aren't exactly right.
So I treat labels like I treat my clothes: I wear those that fit comfortably and reflect who I am. And if it's not the Goldilocks of clothes (or labels)? If it's too much of something, or not enough of another? Well, then. I simply decline to embrace it.