Labels. People can’t seem to stop talking about them these days. Including opinion writer Edward Pike.
In a new op-ed titled Gay men won’t be truly free until we learn to ditch labels like masc and femme, Pike argues that if we truly want to live in a post-label world where everyone is equal, we need to start by doing away with the labels we impose upon ourselves.
“How many gay men like me have spent countless hours worrying about the tone of our voices, the sway of our hips, the limpness of our wrists, lying in fear of being discovered for the ‘girl’ within us that we’ve been so desperately trying to suppress?” he asks.
This way of thinking, Pike says, isn’t healthy, as it causes people to “[mask] their authenticity, their voice or their true desires.”
“We’ve been convinced that the right body, job or clothes would provide the decoy we needed so that others would never truly see us,” he writes. “Everyone has been living the same shared dream, in the silent and unspoken agreement that what is on the surface is what is true.”
Hmmm. We’re not sure about “everyone,” but we get what he’s saying. Many LGBTQ people, indeed, still feel pressured to keep their identities secret.
So what’s the remedy?
According to Pike, we need an all out “revolution.” We need to stop labeling ourselves and one another in antiquated terms like “masc” and “femme” and instead embrace total inclusivity.
“This revolution must start first within ourselves,” he says. “Without self-introspection it has no meaning and is merely a band-aid.”
“We have to pause and consciously ask ourselves questions such as ‘What do I believe to be true about masculinity?’, or ‘How do I define femininity?’. It might take a little digging: these old images are deeply ingrained in our unconscious.”
He concludes by writing:
If we are ever going to let go of the need for letters and acronyms for our identity, we need to learn to move beyond our labels first. Because only when we can let go of our own unconscious bias, of our dualistic minds, of our age-old stories of what is right or wrong, good or bad, masculine or feminine–can we truly find the freedom we’ve been craving.
What do you think? Is it time to ditch the “masc” and “femme” labels once and for all? And what about men who enjoy identifying as “femme” or women who like being “butch” or “masc.” Share your thoughts in the comments below…