I have many labels, and have been called many things. I was born in the United States, which means I’m a mixed breed. I don’t speak Starbucks, and as far as I’m concerned, they are the ones who should learn English.
I’m beige on the outside, which I grew up being told was ‘white’. Inside, I’m the same as everyone else.
My age of 48 puts me in Generation X (children of the Baby Boomers). Not cool anymore. I’m old to some and young to others.
As a woman older than 35 but younger than 50, I am a lost demographic to the marketing world; but since I am single, I may be used as a prop.
When I was a bartender, I was told I was very pretty – unless I shut that person off. When I was a legal secretary, I was a typist. When I was a stripper, I was called a slut. When I was a waitress, I was treated as a servant. When I was training male doctors on a new computer program, I was still just a woman expected to be intimidated by a male counterpart who made more money. When I was a school bus driver, I was ignored as an ‘underling’ – unless I made a child sit up in the front seat; then I was a mean-person-out-to-hurt-children-as-a-means-of-validating-myself, because your child would never misbehave. When I gave birth, I was just a mother (this includes a loss of sexuality points).
As a young girl, I was told I was ‘just a girl’ and warned of the many things I couldn’t do. I ran like a girl, threw like a girl, and cried like a girl (but I could spit like a boy).
Then I got ‘girl married’ and I was someone else’s possession, representative, mirror, and secretary.
Because I’m a girl, when I moved into my neighborhood three years ago alone with my young daughter, I was called a cougar. Because I’m a girl, I was hurt when someone broke up with me. Because I’m a girl, I was accused of having another man lined up when I broke up with someone (because a girl would never do that unless she had a safety net). When I get angry, I must be ‘on the rag’. When I’m hurt, I’m overreacting. When I have an opinion, I’m bossy. When I say no, I’m a bitch (when I say yes, I’m a slut, again). I have been accused many times of acting ‘like a man’ – or trying to.
Oh, and since I’m single and own cats, I am now a ‘cat lady’, too (although the lady part might be questionable).
I am labelled because of my color, my sex, my job, my age, my looks, my choices, my hobbies, my lifestyle, my political status, my religious beliefs, my clothing, my children, my friends, my pets, and the color of my nail polish.
We use labels for organization and separation. Consider the file cabinet (unless you are under 40; then think about a file in the Documents folder of your computer): we will label a file as separate from another file, and then we will label a sub-file within that file, to isolate it even further from its parent file. Generally speaking, each sub-file is a part of the main label, but still separate from it.
How is it that we are willing to split hairs and define paper, thoughts, projects, areas, time periods, and things as their own unique items, and not do the same when we label people? We even allow uniqueness with paint colors (fuschia is not pink), yet we label people in generalities. White or black, gay or straight, male or female, republican or democrat, liberal or conservative, etc. We have this need to separate; if you are not this, you are that. The sub-category (sub-folder) does not apply here.
In treating people according to blanket-generality labels, we deny them not only their own uniqueness, but our connection to them. Try as you may, you cannot deny our connectedness; it has already been established that we all bleed the same way.
Both sides complete a whole, yin and yang, male and female, heads and tails. I am not this or that. I am this and that. A little of both, a little bit of everything … a little bit of you.
(But since all that is too much to put on a t-shirt, you can just call me Susie.)
Ladies, Chaka was partly right: we are every woman, but we are more than that. You are more than that.
The Stylistics said it better: You are everything.
Stick that in your label maker.