Labels

Discussion in 'Relationships, Discrimination, and Jealousy' started by Lex, Jan 8, 2006.

  1. Lex

    Lex
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    I would like to have a label discussion since the labels permeate a great many of the topics here. We could do into ALL labels (And maybe we will) but I hoped we could talk specifically about labels and sexual orientation.

    Some days I want to curl up with my wife or pounce on every woman I see and other days I can barely contain my loins as I work out in the gym and am overwhlemed by the desire to lay on my BF's furry chest and play in his facial hair. Sexuality is so much more fluid that any one label allows, me thinks.

    Labels can be so infuriating because often they are static while we, as developing organisms, are not. I have submitted that I am 50% gay and 50% staight in my profile on this forum but rarely do I have days where it feels that balanced. I can call myself "Bi," but that is only as an overall average of my fluid desires, not on a daily basis. I also embrace the term Queer as I think very FEW people are "straight." We , each of us, have idiosyncracies that make us different from the "norm."

    IMO--Bisexuality as a label does not define who I like to have sex with. Rather it attempts to characterize my capacity to enter into deep, meaningful, lasting and weathered relationships with both men and women on personal, physical, spiritiual, and emotional levels. Within the context of those relationships, we may have sexual contact or not. If we don't--I am no less connected to those people, as our connection has less to do with penis-vagina-anus contact than with our shared ability to conjoin mentally on a plane of shared existence that we find mutually beneficial, rewarding and comforting. I like to call it Love.

    It's almost as if the label is more a way to help SOME people conceptualize me--as if that should matter right? Are labels just the construction of the close-minded? Are they our human attempts to define or compartmentalize? Are the concepts of definition and compartmentalization the same? Not? Binary? Thoughts?

    Note: This is really my tranparent attempt to pick Mattness' brain on the issue.
     
  2. kurios

    kurios Member

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    Most impressed with an obviously well thought about synopsis.
    I am even less able to self label because I am what I am when I am and it is totally dependant on the circumstances and the other person.
    I am attracted to certain qualities physically and non-physically that packaged together are the determinant and though the male/female physical ones differ it is almost as if the sex of the individual doesn't come into the equation.
     
  3. VeeP

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    Great topic, Lex, and I can't add much as you've already said it so well. I will offer:

    Yes and yes. Some people errantly think if they can 'label' something, they have therefore sufficiently 'defined' it and can safely form an opinion about it. Sadly, that mentality results in a bevy of ignoramuses and simpletons constantly in our midst. I have no patience for dumbasses. :rolleyes:
     
  4. B_DoubleMeatWhopper

    B_DoubleMeatWhopper New Member

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    I actually embrace the label 'gay'. My sexuality is an important part of me, and it deserves a name. Gay is a neutral term in terms of sexuality. When teens use the word to deride something, it has a negative meaning, but that has nothing to do with sexuality. For me, gay simply means that I am sexually attracted to men. If someone misconstrues the meaning and interprets it to mean 'effeminate', 'bottom', 'queen', 'swishy', or whatever, it is his misunderstanding. Being gay and owning up to it by claiming the label empowers me: I can be who I am without hiding, and yet buck the stereotype. People who hear me refer to my sexuality take notice, because I am not what many of them expect a gay man to be. Labels about sexuality don't apply easily to some, but the word gay fits me fine. It describes me without going into a detailed psychological profile of myself. Descriptions need not be a negative thing, and labels often act as simple descriptions.

    Queer, on the other hand, is a word I hate. There's a connotation of something being 'not quite right', so I reject it on etymological grounds: I'm quite all right, thank you very much. But more importantly, queer is a word originally used by the homophobes, and it's a word that was given with no love. I have heard it argued that if we use the word to refer to ourselves and claim it as our own, it robs the word of its power. I disagree. In the mouths of homophobes, the word is said with no less hate and venom regardless of who else uses it. Often the last word a gay man hears before lapsing into unconsciousness at the hands of a gay-basher is, "Queer". It is a word associated with malice and pain, and that's not an association that I value.
     
  5. CUBE

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    Lex and DM you guys sure bring in many intersting points. DM, for a hotty...you sure got the brains. So that is my label for you today. "Smart Gay Hotty":biggrin1:
     
  6. Dr Rock

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    I see no need to stick a label on my sexuality; since it's the only one i've got, i don't need to differentiate it (at least not until i develop a split personality). I ca't say, nor would i care to analyze, what it is that makes someone sexually appealing to me; i just know that, speaking for myself, gender seems a wholly churlish and pointless restriction to place on something as dynamic and diversely gratifying as sexuality. "love" is something else altogether, at least as far as i'm concerned - love and sexual attraction can be just as often mutually exclusive as mutually inclusive depending on the person, so i don't like to think of them as being tied to each other.

    I've had many, many cases of girls calling me gay and guys calling me straight simply because i wasn't interested in having sex with them. I honestly don't know or care if i'm "straight", "gay", "bi" or whatever - what i DO know is that i strongly resent other people trying to apply such labels to me.
     
  7. chrisung

    chrisung New Member

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    Don't hate me for my opinionis.

    While labels are not usually completely accurate, they can and do serve a useful purpose. We label everything in order to communicate, even though they can be messy.

    We deal with the messiness in most labels. For instance, when does thick beef soup become stew?

    Yet do you object to calling things soup or stew, simply because there is some gray in between?

    Would you propose we start calling it "Campbells Chicken Foodstuff"? Does it convey as much information as the usual name? Of course, then there's the messiness at the edges of both "chicken" and "foodstuff" to deal with.

    Should I call myself "pinky-tan" rather than "white"? Where's the check-box for that? I've only met one actual White person in my life and he was an African American. Which box should he check?

    Life's messy around all the edges. Labels (NOT stereotypes) are a way to make some order out of chaos, even if it's an imperfect order.
     
  8. Dr Rock

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    why do you want to make order out of chaos? you speak as if order was somehow superior :confused:
     
  9. B_cricketsliar

    B_cricketsliar New Member

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    I think that compartmentalization has an negative connotation to it when it results in the inability to see that some attitudes, behaviors, and or identities cannot fall within any given compartment.

    Lex, are you up on Judith Butler?
     
  10. B_cricketsliar

    B_cricketsliar New Member

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    Definition can be okay as general guidelines, but they should never be so restrictive that they cannot expand to accomoddate new accepted shades of meanings.

    Definitions and compartments are not the same thing, one is like a prison meant to hold in those exposed to a terrible disease, while the other is more like a diagnostic tool meant to help elucidate, and develop possible modes of treatment.

    Identities, I think are especially resistant to strict definitions, or compartments since they are informed by so many different things. We both could be Black, Bi-Sexual, Baptist, College Educated, Forward thinking liberals, who are completely different beings when the factor's of nationality, or Regional backgrond come into play.

    Lables just don't account for everything that We are, and we are developing into on a daily basis.

    peace
     
  11. Matthew

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    That's right, CL, it's normal to use labels as shorthand to facilitate communication, like talking about which gender(s) a person generally prefers as a partner.

    But I also think that these labels are problematic not just because they're constraining or repressive, but also because they're inexact and misleading. Any time spent reading through this site alone can tell you that. Take, as just one example, the case of Straight Guy Jeff who gets turned on by his own cock or maybe in some cases looking at other cocks, but does not want to be with another guy in any way, end of story. Then, there's Straight Guy Steve who also likes women only but could give a shit about what cocks look like and how big they are, maybe even finds them repulsive. You read both kinds of guys posting on here. They're different "orientations," but to say one is straight while the other is bi just is not accurate either.

    Instead of seeing people as fenced into one of 2 or 3 "pens" (gay/straight & bi), maybe orientation is a more complex code of sexuality which consists of a set of attractions (or the lack thereof) to men, or to women, or dicks, or any number of other things - and not in opposition to one another. If that were true:
    1) Kinsey's 2-dimensional continuum of sexual orientation would be just the tip of the iceberg and sexual orientation might better be explained as 'multi-dimensional'.
    2) There couldn't be a singular 'gay gene'. While our biology obviously shapes our sexuality, the presence or absence of a single factor couldn't produce the complexity of variation that exists in sexual orientation.
    3) Thinking about it like this would undermine the basis for homophobia by dispelling the idea of fundamentally distinct sexual categories.

    That's all, thanks for your time:smile:
     
  12. norseman

    norseman New Member

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    No Longer a Member
     
  13. Lex

    Lex
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    cricketsliar--I am not up on Judith Butler. I just Googled her--looks like great stuff that I will peruse and possibly order via Amazaon. Thanks!

    Dr. Rock--logic mandates order over chaos, my friend. ;)

    DMW--I understand the queer has had historically negative connotations and I will research them further thanks to your input. I can't fully embrace gay because it denies the part of me that likes women. If I were a gay man, who liked only other men, I have no doubt that I would embrace that word and stand up for others like me. Alas, I am not. I mean, I do feel that bi IS gay, but bi is ALSO straight. Does that make sense? It's BOTH and neither at the same time!!

    hmmmm...I'm still thinking...
    [/FONT]
     
  14. chrisung

    chrisung New Member

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    What would take the place of labels? Take away all labels, fine. Then you take away the possibility of communication.

    When I'm thirsty, how do I communicate what I want?

    "Give (a label for an action) me (a personal label) water (a label for a thing)."

    Call yourself whatever you goshdarn please. Modify it with adjectives 'till the sun shines. Thats what they're for.

    Makes no nevermind to me to hear someone say "mostly straight" or "primarily gay" or "very queer" or "mainly bisexual" or "somewhat beastialic" whatever you want to call yourself. (though that last one is a definite total yuck as far as I'm concerned)
     
  15. rawbone8

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    maintaining the illusion of order does rank higher for most people and it's quite desirable, to feel more secure because of it

    rather than accepting the nature of chaos all around us — that would be too bewildering for many, a scary lack of control

    there's merit in acknowledging both outlooks (since they are really perceptions and assessments), and creativity would be just about nullified if we didn't have the tension between the two

    as one of the members (SpeedoGuy) here used to have in his signature
    "Chaos. More than just a theory, it's a way of life."
     
  16. Dr Rock

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    yes, i'm already well aware that human beings are feeble-minded two-legged sheep, thanks
     
  17. B_DoubleMeatWhopper

    B_DoubleMeatWhopper New Member

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    I understand that, Lex. That's why I wrote, "Labels about sexuality don't apply easily to some." I can only answer why I don't object to applying that particular label to myself; I am not suggesting that you use it to refer to yourself or deny your attraction to women. You're bi. Of course that's a label, too, but it does convey the message that you feel sexual attraction for both sexes. I think we have to accept the fact that convenient labels are not going away anytime soon.
     
  18. dcwrestlefan

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    i have hazel eyes. to deny that label would be incorrect. my primary attraction is to other men. that makes me gay. i don't see much difference between the two.
     
  19. madame_zora

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    The only time I really want a person's sexual preference identified is if I'M interested in fucking them, then I want to know. If they're gay and I don't have a chance, I want to know that. I don't need to know their exact percentages or any other specifics other than how it relates to ME and our interaction.

    Lex, you write eloquently, as always. I think bisexuality is the last sexual frontier, very little research has been done on it and we are mainly very much in the dark as to how people function with this unique set of open boundaries. I think voices like yours need to be heard to encourage more awareness amoung those of us who would like to understand better.
     
  20. dlcs

    dlcs New Member

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    Not one of my gay friends have ever defined themselves as "queer" because they felt like that was more of a societal conceit than an actual description of who they are.

    One of them said that to him, it represented anger. Another said it represented self-loathing. A third said it sounded just too "Bugs Bunny" to use to help him define his sexuality.

    One word, three different perceptions based on personal history. We respond to labels because of ourselves. And we're forced by society to be labeled because it's safer to put us all in tidy liitle boxes rather than to explore diversity, life, and the ways we move through the world, and possibly get our hands dirty and our minds opened.

    Oh dear, an intelligent discourse on defining who we are? World's gonna end now...
     
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