Victoria from hermionefowl made a post called Sexuality – Do We Need Labels? in this post, she made so many good points about labels and how they can pressure us into fitting into a certain category but also how they can help us find new people who we have something in common with.
Her post really got me thinking about why we label people, why society feels like we need to fit into a certain category.
I believe that this is because in our society people who aren’t straight aren’t seen as “normal”, and for some reason, they just don’t understand how we could be different. We live in a society that assumes that we’re all straight, as homosexuality isn’t the norm. Labels help people understand who you are when it comes to your sexuality.
However, I can think of one big reason why labelling can get confusing. I feel like if I try to explain this it’ll be too complicated, so I’m just going to give an example.
Steven identifies as a bisexual. He tells this to his friend Julie. Julie then googles what bisexuality is (according to google “Bisexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or sexual behavior toward both males and females, or romantic or sexual attraction to people of any sex or gender identity; this latter aspect is sometimes alternatively termed pansexuality.”) but Steven doesn’t one hundred percent fit into this description. Now Julie is confused, and/or starts making assumptions about Steven which are not true.
These assumptions can create a social pressure to find a label which describes them perfectly. This can be seriously hard if someone doesn’t know exactly how they feel anyway.
No one should feel pressured into fitting into a certain category or labelling themselves just to make other people’s lives easier. You should do what makes your comfortable and what you believe is right for you.
After coming out, a question I’ve seen and gotten myself is, ‘well, how do you know you’re blank if you haven’t been with someone of the same gender?’ This question is one of the most annoying questions I have ever heard and it comes from people who don’t really understand the fact that not everyone is straight. I think the best answer to a question like this is, well how do you know you’re straight? Because it’s highly likely that they’ll respond with something along the lines of because I do or I just am.
I think a lot of the misunderstanding of other people’s sexual orientation comes from a lack of education surrounding social issues. This was something Victoria and I talked quite a lot about, we are both from New Zealand, are in high school and have both gone through a lot of our education (excluding university). The two of us have only had discussions about social issues, such as sexual orientation, once or twice throughout my eleven years of school and Victoria’s thirteen years. All of the conversations I have had at school about sexuality, gender, and race, that aren’t brief, have been with my friends at school.
Absolutely everything I know about sexual orientation, gender identity, I have learned through the internet. The lack of education when it comes to these social issues is so obvious when it comes to the misunderstanding of sexuality within the older but also the younger generation.
Recently I was watching a TV show with my younger brother, and there was a character on it who was bisexual. Because she kissed a woman (she’d previously had sexual and romantic relationships with men), my brother assumed she was a lesbian. I had to explain to him that, she’s bisexual, she likes both girls and boys, and it doesn’t matter who her partner is at the time, it doesn’t make her straight or gay. She’s a bisexual no matter who her partner is. I’d like to point out that my brother’s eleven, I wasn’t surprised that he was confused. But so many people are uneducated on sexuality to the point where if someone isn’t straight they assume that they’re gay. I think this kind of thing needs to be taught in schools, sexual orientation isn’t black and white. There is so much more to sexuality than homosexuality and heterosexuality.
Do let me know how you feel on labelling in the comments, I’d love to discuss this issue further.