Friday, May 08, 2015

Don't call it what you want

I have said it before and I'll say it again: Labels suck!

How damaging can it be when someone is just casually living life, being herself and doing her own thing, only to suddenly have a label planted on her and now all of a sudden she doesn't know who she is anymore? Very damaging, apparently. So damaging that it caused said person to suddenly be so confused about herself that she had to go to counseling.

Said person happens to be my daughter.

For the longest time, my daughter has been a tomboy. TOMBOY. It's a word. We've been using this word for years to describe girls who are not very girly. You know these girls: They dress like boys, they talk like boys, they do "boy stuff" and play with "boy toys" (although, in MY house, we DO NOT have such distinctions!). You know, they prefer guy friends over girl friends. They'd rather play basketball instead of doing their nails.

And for the longest time, girls were cool about being a "tomboy." Even though it's a LA-BEL. But we went with it because that's a pretty accurate and not-so-complicated a description of the kind of person we were. It was a flexible description – and that's why it worked.

And I was a tomboy. I wore jeans and flannels, hung out with guys, played B-ball and all that. I just related to guys better. (I STILL relate to guys better!) So I know all about it.

That's why it didn't bother me at all that my daughter was also a tomboy. I was totally cool with it and I still am.

But, now, all of a sudden, we can't use the word "tomboy" anymore. Now we call such people "gender fluid." And apparently, that's a VERY complicated person to be, because being called "gender fluid" means you are someone who is CONFUSED about yourself, CONFUSED about who you are and CONFUSED about how you are supposed to live life.

I can only shake my head and think, Seriously?

This is why I hate labels. Labels just make life COMPLICATED. I mean, when somebody labels you, all of a sudden you have to fit into this mold and be what the label says you must be. You can't be you, you have to be what this label SAYS you must be. You. Must. Blend in!!

Excuse me while I get up on my soapbox and scream: STOP THE INSANITY!!

WHY do we have to attach labels to people? Why must we look at someone and automatically label them?

"Oh, she's wearing a crucifix. She must be a Christian."

"Oh, he's got his black hair up and all wild. He must be a Goth."

"Oh, she's wearing a Yale sweatshirt. She musta gone to YALE!"

I mean, the labeling thing gets really out of hand. It's like we can't live a certain way anymore, talk a certain way anymore, or dress a certain way anymore without someone coming around and slapping a label on us.

I for one don't buy this whole "gender fluid" thing. I mean, if it's just another way of calling a girl a "tomboy" or a guy "metrosexual," then FINE. But I'm not okay with it if it is going to mess up somebody's life and suddenly make them feel uncomfortable to be who they are just because they don't fit a mold. If they’re gender fluid, then cool! Be okay with that. Embrace that. But don’t let it shatter your world and make you confused about who you are.

I, personally, think that from time to time, the male gender and the female gender will tend to dominate for a while. You know? At the very minimum, we do not have a gender. It's all based on the scientific composition of our bodies. We are born a gender but we’ll feel the opposite on the inside. A guy will act feminine because the female gender is dominant. Or, a girl will act masculine because the male gender is dominant. It's NORMAL. And it's not permanent. It can last a long time, yes, but it's not permanent. And it can suddenly happen at any point in life. It’s normal for this to happen and it’s totally okay.

That is what I feel. That is what I believe.

And that is what I have been trying to explain to my daughter. There's no reason to be confused about your identity. You are 13 and don't have all the answers right now. Just be you. Be yourself. Keep doing your thing and live the way that is comfortable for YOU, and not how other people preaching "gender fluid" say you should be.

Don't try to be someone you are not just because you have been labeled. Don't give up on who you are just for the sake of trying to fit into some mold.

Be true to yourself. Be yourself. And be happy with it. Please.

LATER: Jen and I sat down to a good long talk and I shared with her many of the things I have written here. She seems to feel more certain about herself and a little better. That gives me hope that she'll be okay.

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