A few pieces of random mental flotsam:
– finished a pair of socks.  I am such a slow knitter, omg.  I started them in JANUARY.  Grah.  Also managed to ball up some Araucania Ranco in one night by hand.
– total hits to date on Newton’s Third exceed 250.
– the weather is not very conducive to productivity of any nature.
– I’m going to get a pingback on my link of myself above.  That’s kind of annoying.
– whomever gifted Genuine was a very kind person.  Kind of person I wish I was, actually.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about labels and identity lately, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m pretty centrist on the topic.  I’m centrist on a lot of things, actually, which is scary because I almost always have an opinion.  It’s just that the opinion is, in some way, a compromise.  I’m not sure what this says about me as a person, but I can tell you that despite myself, I’m anything but a diplomat, considering how I react when I do have a non-centrist opinion.

At Smith we were always taught not to label others for several reasons.  These were namely because you could get it wrong, because labels were political in both positive and negative terms, and because it was best to let someone label hirself and work with that only if ze indicated wanting to be labeled.

The trouble with that is that it’s an ideal that I don’t think any human is quite able to follow.  You try your hardest, but the little sorter in your brain will keep working, whether that’s due to race or gender or class or age or size or even clothing style.  It’s evolutionary psychology, really, and while it isn’t prejudice in and of itself, it’s the root of that problem.  In a lot of cases people can blur the categories (which leads to retaliation), but sometimes you get stuck with a label for life.  I will never not be white,  I will never not have been born and socialized female, and I will never not have been raised American.  At this point, those labels are pretty well stuck on.  And they’re strong, labels–they both provide reasons for irrational dislike and provide political strength.

Which is probably why, despite having been rather keen on compartmentalizing into understandable boxes (I’m far more literal a person than I let on, I’m afraid), I find myself to be hypocritical, because in terms of many other areas, I don’t want to be boxed.  The extant boxes don’t work.  I wish I could be, sometimes, because it makes for strength in numbers and less thinking about opinion.  But I can’t let that shuffle me into places where I don’t quite fit.

So it’s an impasse.  Labels cause a lot of problems and often aren’t adequate, but at the same time it’s a human thought process that’s hard to change.  And what I didn’t quite understand when I was younger, despite being told, was the method of solving this: acknowledge labels, but dump the baggage that goes with them, and see the greater picture of each person.

You’re probably all reading this and saying no, really? but I’d just like to point out that sometimes we all need to come to these decisions on our own.  It’s easier said than done, after all, and I’ll be trying to sort it out in myself and be more aware.

I’ll be over here with my agnosticish, socialism-is-good-but-only-in-theory, both-radical-and-sex-positive-feminism-don’t-get-it, help-people-without-destroying-yourself mindset, and my flame-retardant suit.  All of which are topics for another day, perhaps.

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