The Importance and Flaws of Labels

This week’s readings talked about bisexuality and asexuality which are both extremely hard to quantify.  These two categories are inherently more complex than the previous sexualities we have talked about.  Being gay, lesbian, or straight puts you on one of the two extreme sides of sexual attraction; strictly attracted to one gender.  Being bisexual places someone in a huge gray area between the two extremes, and being asexual is extremely difficult to categorize as well.  Asexual people may or may not have sex and they may or may not be attracted to one or multiple genders.

While thinking about labels, it’s hard to figure out how to accurately label something that can be so complex and something that can have different meanings for different people.  During this week’s discussions I questioned whether or not I should still be labeling myself as “bisexual” even though I do not fall under the generic definition of someone who is romantically and sexually attracted to all genders at all times.  I decided that even though I do not think “bisexual” is a good enough word to define my sexuality, it still describes it well enough.  I view labels as a way to describe myself to others and I think “bisexual” does an adequate job of that.  I like having a word that most people know and unless I’m romantically interested in someone, I don’t see the point in giving an in-depth description of my sexuality.

I think labels can be useful when people place them on themselves.  As Serano points out, using “bisexual” as an umbrella term for people who fall into the gray area between heterosexual and homosexual allows us to have a unifying term.  This is important especially as a group that is already very small and not very visible.  I also think labels can be harmful if someone inaccurately labels another person because this implies certain expectations which that individual might not be okay with.  I definitely think labels just need to be taken with a grain of salt and people should be careful to avoid inaccurately labeling others.

2 thoughts on “The Importance and Flaws of Labels”

  1. I really like your point about labels being useful when people give them to themselves. It’s so important that we stop thinking about how WE think someone should be labeled and start thinking about what each person wants and feels most comfortable with. Only you truly know your sexuality–no one else could possibly know better than you, so shouldn’t you be the one to decide on the label? It’s when people start assigning labels based on their own perceptions and assumptions that everything gets more dangerous, and we could start hurting each other. If someone identifies with a certain label, it’s everyone else’s job to accept that.

  2. I also really like and agree with your point about labels being useful when being used on yourself. I think it’s great when someone can label themselves and be comfortable with it, no matter the misconceptions that many others might have. I also like how you said that even though “bisexual” doesn’t define your sexuality, it fits well enough. I feel that people think because there are so many very descriptive and distinct definitions for other sexual orientations, that the vague definitions they receive aren’t good enough but like you said, if it fits “well enough” then it should be acceptable. I think labels can be both beneficial and detrimental depending on how the label is being applied and how accurate it truly is. All in all, labels shouldn’t be frowned upon, in my opinion, but they should simply be altered to really fit and precisely describe people as they want to be described.

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