Thursday, July 25, 2013
I don't like labels.
Actually, I think that most of the time labels are ignored, confusing, deceptive -- sometimes harmful -- seriously harmful, even poisonous.
The labels you put on yourself, labels you put on other people, labels that are used over and over by us, by scientists, and researchers, are affecting, infecting, eating away our common sense and sensibility.
One of my magazines, "The Week," is open on to page 46, where I've been reading about Adam Alter's new book, ''Drunk Tank Pink" that laboriously explains how labels, such as "under-privileged," "working class," "baby boomer," also labels like "black," white," or "Latino," are prejudicing us. The author goes on and on about experiments which prove how labels affect teachers, and how that affects-infects their students.
Hey, I agree. But of course, I realize that labels can be helpful -- hey, if you're shopping labels tell you the price, warranty, how to clean whatever it is. And help to define whatever it is -- categorize it so you can phone Amazon and they can access it and put it on your credit card, dammit-- and --
Dammit -- to hell with Amazon!
I'm biting my tongue, I know what labels have done to me -- I'm dying to write a letter to this author, to his publisher, to the damn magazine that published the damn article -- blurting out what I wrote in one of my novels, "Karen of Troy"-- yelling, shouting ...
" DON'T LABEL ME—you're killing me with your senior citizen, golden age, over the hill classifications—don't put me in a category and assign to me the category's limitations, or tell me what prowess, what heart rate, what weight suits me/ my age/ my frame, or prescribe the yearly checkups, those marvelous latest newest procedures that reveal my deterioration -- don't box me, bag me, limit me, fence me in with death-doom statistics -- when you pin your name-tags on my breast and assign me my costume, and foretell my future, you're stunting my growth, you're killing me."
I read this to my husband, John Cullum, who said, "This will be a good blog post, if you can get a better ending, Em."
Okay. Okay, O K A Y -- there's a value to a label on a bottle
that labeled "Poison," but NO value, nothing helpful, nothing good comes from having any labels stuck on me.
I know from my life, my career, that if I'm labeled, if I let lable-itis get me -- I'm done, finished. If I want to communicate and create I've got to go naked -- yes -- naked, un-labeled, in no category, unadorned, undefined.
Naked? Yep! It's chilly sometimes, and silly -- you're vulnerable. I can catch a cold, or feel very old, but I can't be me unless I'm free -- I've got to be free.