Tag Archives: society

Labels

Do you have labels you enjoy?

I like to call myself a homemaker, a word nerd, an Earthling, a chocoholic.

I also enjoy some of the well-worn, comfortable labels such as Mama, friend, partner, gardener, loving, cook.

Sometimes I try to take on labels even though they feel extremely cumbersome: writer, unschooler, hippie, creative, neighbor.

Some labels I do not enjoy because, although true, they are used far too often to limit and control: woman, patriot, smart, responsible.

There was label I shunned for a while simply to get along with a pompously bigoted local population, namely “Californian” while I lived in Oregon, but now I can wear it without shame or harassment.

Some labels are thrust upon me even though they are so loaded with garbage I can’t even stand them, but they are impossible to avoid or argue against because they are completely under the control of those who wield them to defend the very existence of the dominant paradigm: wife (just because I got a legal document does not mean I am playing the game entirely by the usual rules), white (overprivileged person of non-color? clueless transparent human? peach-colored European American?), poor (low income, welfare recipient, slacker mooch ambition-deficient loser), non-conformist (self-righteously refuses to go along with the program that everyone knows is best).

Some people proudly sign their name with all kinds of letters representing their hard earned labels, others wander the streets with a label of familiarity picked up along the way when their given name wore out and fell off.

Me, I dodge and weave my way amongst the possibilities, trying on some in secret to see how they look in the mirror, scratching in frustration at those forcibly branded onto my being, wondering if there are any more that will bloom organically out of my true nature the way the label “Mama” has.

What shall we call you?

Tattoos and Quitting the Game

I am having a recurrent thought: “Just tattoo your face and get it over with.”

I don’t have any plans to carry it out, and it’s not been something I’ve ever truly wanted, although there are a few tattoos I’d like to get in other places.

Hypothetically, if I were to do such a thing, it would consist of tribal spirals along the edge(s) of my face. Nothing seriously freaky, but still, an out-of-the-ordinary body decoration, no matter how subdued the art.

I think this thought has been occurring repeatedly because it represents a permanent signing off of the Game. Not the Game of Life, a gauntlet of physical and mental tests from birth through growth, acquiring skills, illness, endurance, etc., ultimately ending in death, which I find to be a fulfilling challenge. A facial tattoo would have almost no effect on this Game.

I am also not speaking of the Game of Family, Friends and Community, which involves the trials and joys resulting from establishing and maintaining intimate connections, which give purpose and depth to existence. I think a tattoo on the face would present some small but certainly surmountable issues in these Games, if played with truly loving, wise individuals. It would definitely weed out the shallow and the severely judgmental, and how could that be bad?

I’m talking about the Game of Society, the artificially dangerous labyrinth of red tape, licenses, diplomas, renown, accolades, credit scores, retirement packages and insurance policies. I’m fairly certain that a tattoo on the face would be quite near a guarantee that a person would lose this Game. I think an intentional walk off that cliff would be a lot of the point.

I currently have a tattoo on my wrist which I can hide with very long sleeves. And I do, for job interviews and the like. Hide who I am.

When it’s visible, there are times when people will be talking to me casually, say in the grocery store, and they will have the normal, blank, polite smile, then they glance over and see my tattoo and their face kind of lights up with a fresh attention. They look back up at my face and they aren’t sure anymore. They were certain of something a second ago, and then everything shifted. I’m not sure what it would be like to just start from that point.

The message with regards to “reputation” would be: I quit. I refuse to submit to random regulations in order to scramble for some of the crumbs you allow to fall from your ivory tower. I hate the Game and I’m not playing, so don’t even try to make me. There are obviously other things, outside of your cruel and soulless box, that mean much more to me.

The message about identity would be: You don’t know who I am or what I’m capable of. If I have this much disregard for the most basic rules of how to participate in polite society then all bets are off. Get to know me or walk away. Pay attention to what I say and what I do or leave now and forever wonder. I’m not an anonymous pawn. I’m not a timid cog.

Granted, there is a lot of anger in those messages. There is a lot of responsibility in moving beyond that point of no return. Right now the idea is serving as simply a way to vent some of my frustration, and a mental exercise in examining possibilities. One thing for sure, it would definitely be a gamechanger.