I keep seeing in group after group a demand to reject labels. And I can't support it.
History has made me really wary of this idea. In Europe, most people couldn't read. It wasn't just the expense of books, it was a choice by their leaders that they should not. And the spread of literacy across Europe did indeed change everything, and directly influenced the various revolutions. In America, very few slaves were allowed to learn to read and write, only those that their masters deemed required to know to do the work that the masters didn't want to. And were punished if they shared. Illiteracy is a chain. They didn't understand why it worked the way it did back then I'm pretty sure. One doesn't have to know why a thing works to apply the knowledge, the observance of a result to pattern is enough to make it a behavior that is socially taught to our children.
It works because there is a correlation between words and thought. Literally, the more words you have, the deeper you can form your thoughts around anything. This in no way implies that those with very limited vocabularies are in any way stupid, there are several factors that determine true intelligence, but if you had two brains with identical iq's (the ability to learn knowledge) and identical abilities to apply that knowledge, but a vast difference in the amount of words each was exposed to and learned, the one with more will be very much further ahead in terms of the complexity of the mental work. It's how our brains work. The more words we learn, the more concepts we have. And because our brains are processors, that means the more new concepts we can get to because we aren't working out the base concepts to have the thoughts. It doesn't matter the language, the more words a speaker knows in his or her actual language the more she can do mentally. This concept that people who don't speak english in our country are too stupid is idiotic. That is an entirely separate brain issue.
So labels are concepts. Where my life experience has led me to conclude we get into trouble with them isn't their existance, but how we use them. They are a thing. A label is a word with a specific ascribed complex meaning. Organic - both a word in scientific terms, and a also a label to the health conscious counter with a related but separate meaning for example. (Which is also how it gets financially abused, when some marketers use one term to mean the other, example no hormones or anything but seed fed to the chicken, and the buyer conflates the meanings to be the ethical organic free range, which the marketer KNOWS and hides that free range is not this chicken's life). Anything can be abused.
Labels can be abused on a mass or micro basis. There are well known ones that send everyone into an instant rage. I don't need to cite examples. Their entire intended meaning is to cause harm to a group or individual. However, that is not the inherent use of labels. The inherent use is to convey complex meanings quickly, so that you can get on with the deeper concept you are trying to convey.
I think socially we have gotten away from communication and real literacy(exposure to a great many written words, there are now literally people who have a great deal of trouble communicating in non-'leet' speak for example). We have started to demonize it, villify it, and abandon it. I have seen people who can only type in 'leet' openly mocking the literate on an almost daily basis now for not understanding the world and being part of the 'advancement and change'. And this movement to reject these things is a mistake. These are the things that help us make the great leaps, help narrow the gap between the upper and lower classes, and help provide the famed American 'social mobility'. Which is absolutely dying, we are slowly moving back to a 'lord and peasant' reality financially and socially. And a big part of that is someone introduced this counter culture anti-word movement. I don't know if it was done in all earnest good motivation at the start. Look at the harm of the n word for example! And these other ones! Labels are bad! And as I said, some are. And some that are used every day that aren't culturally horrifying are also, like stupid(look at case studies of the damage it does to children being raised constantly told how stupid they are), ugly(there's a reason plastic surgery is a HUGE moneymaker), fat (think how harmful this is to our young people who are average size and weight and how often this leads to severe eating disorders). Now, realize that kind, smart, generous, motivated, helpful, etc. are all also labels. Transman or transwoman is a label, just like the tword.
Label's aren't bad. It's what we DO with the labels that matter. Accepting new labels and meanings is also critical to our knowledge and progress as a society. Example - I often seen the statement "We need to do away with the gender binary and create a society in which all genders are acknowledged and respected'. This requires words for all those genders. People can't acknowledge or respect what they don't understand or conceptualize.
We need to expand our lingual base. We need to stop being afraid of words, and start taking responsibility for the use of them. Does the label political correctness mean anything to anyone reading this post? Really think about what it means. It's a way to sneer at having manners. To sneer at treating people with respect. Example: requiring people to say learning disabled instead of retarded. One has a degree of respect and lack of insult the other doesn't. African American instead of black. African american has a connotation of a person who is of african ethical/cultural descent. Black has a very complicated, often dehumanizing history. I don't need to highlight the Transperson vs. xxx, but same effect. When did treating people with basic respect and decency get reduced to a sneering 'have to be all politically correct now'? When the majority solidarity in how to treat others started to disintegrate. When I as a white, cis citizen tell someone who thinks any of the ethnical or social minorities in my country are not human that they are beneath me knowing and horrible people. IT's a way out of the responsibility of their behavior to others, by trying to put the blame on me for expecting them to treat other human beings like...human beings.
We need more labels, and we need the understanding of what they are, and that a label does NOT limit our growth ever unless we let them, either personal or social, it's a building block to the next growth. We need to increase our understanding of how words affect the human brain and psychology. Language is not just a convenience, it literally effects brain development just as brain development effects language, ti's symbiotic. Look at the studies done on feral human children found who were raised without contact or language. Every culture in the world has a language, right down to the most isolated pockets of people in the Amazon who are largely unaware of what the rest of us are doing. It's an important part in our development. It terrifies me to realize how common, and how insidious, this call to voluntarily restrict our own thinking and expression is becoming. If a label makes people uncomfortable, we need to define why. Some individual labels DO need to be put away. But a great many more need to lead to a set of new ones to give greater cultural understanding to the complexity of the human condition and increase awareness of those conditions so they can be recognized and normalized into our society.
This is why I will never agree with the people who say we need to do away with labels. I feel we need to embrace them, understand them, and use them to reach greater heights in science, math, art, social equality, and technological advancements.
Embrace new words. Embrace new thinking. Be aware of the effect of your words on others, and their words on you.