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-   -   Regarding Labels and Definitions (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=22830)

drtalon 04-03-2012 05:46 AM

Regarding Labels and Definitions
 
Sometimes I don't like to bother with any of the consequences of short-hand names for certain ways I chose to live my life. I call myself poly, a kinkster, and an athiest, in most cases. Sometimes I don't, and I don't think it's a result of insecurity, identity-crisis, or a desire to not be boxed in. At least not as some others have indicated people use "boxed in" as an excuse.

There are three reasons I ever feel any discomfort about applying one label or another to myself.

First, I have no control over what other people using the same label do.

Second, once there are two people with the same label, there follows this concept of community, how we share this label together, how we should automatically have some sort of connection, common purpose, and reason to protect the "turf" of this label community.

Third, I may not be interested in communicating about issues surrounding the label if there are more important things to discuss and the label might derail those points, or poison the well for them. If the shortcut of language that is the label would not be understood correctly by the audience, then the label hurts understanding more than it helps it and you might as well abandon it. (Or decide get on your soapbox and try to educate.) If everyone around you thinks "atheist" means "devil-worshiper", or "poly" means "LDS cultist" you can decide to use the label and possibly derail your point, or you can avoid the label and try to focus on the real topic.
Whilst we are all entitled to self-identify as we see fit, we are not entitled to pass judgment on other people's entitlement to do the same.
And I agree with this to a point, certainly everyone has the right to call themselves whatever they want outside of legal issues like calling yourself a doctor, lawyer, accountant, Realtor(tm), or another licensed professional title without a license. But there comes a time when someone is ignorant or deliberately lying about this or that label they have given themselves, and then it becomes necessary to judge. Possibly, you should judge yourself first and ask whether the label truly applies to you. If it does, and the person's behavior is diametrically opposed to your behavior, how can you not judge? To not make a judgment at that point would be to render that label useless in your identification. If person A claims to be vegan, but eats jello, and person B claims to be vegan and does not eat anything containing gelatin as it is derived from animals, then it seems obvious they have a mutually incompatible understanding of the label they've individually chosen for themselves. Maybe neither of them is right or wrong in the grand scheme of a living language, but for at least one of them, the label has become useless as a shortcut for explaining some of the ways they live their life.

NovemberRain 04-03-2012 05:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by drtalon (Post 131257)
Second, once there are two people with the same label, there follows this concept of community, how we share this label together, how we should automatically have some sort of connection, common purpose, and reason to protect the "turf" of this label community.

This is what made/makes me loathe to use the label bisexual. I don't like what people on either side of the label think of those with the label. I never felt like what I like to do with someone else's genitals was enough reason to come together in community. I didn't want to anything with the genitals of strangers, and didn't want other people thinking that I did.

That said, I like the convenience of the label; and I like being different and being comfy with the label. (when I first came out, the only thing I could find that all the bisexual people I met had in common was that they 'didn't like labels.') :D

Scott 04-03-2012 10:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by drtalon (Post 131257)
But there comes a time when someone is ignorant or deliberately lying about this or that label they have given themselves, and then it becomes necessary to judge. Possibly, you should judge yourself first and ask whether the label truly applies to you. If it does, and the person's behavior is diametrically opposed to your behavior, how can you not judge? To not make a judgment at that point would be to render that label useless in your identification. If person A claims to be vegan, but eats jello, and person B claims to be vegan and does not eat anything containing gelatin as it is derived from animals, then it seems obvious they have a mutually incompatible understanding of the label they've individually chosen for themselves. Maybe neither of them is right or wrong in the grand scheme of a living language, but for at least one of them, the label has become useless as a shortcut for explaining some of the ways they live their life.

Interesting points. I'm not sure if you read of my disagreement with some here regarding how polyamory should be defined. To summarize, I felt that polyamory means "many loves", and so the only real condition to be polyamorous is to love more then one person. That being said, I generally define polyamory as "many sexual loves", to differentiate it from loving friends and family. Do you think that my definition is too broad?

CielDuMatin 04-03-2012 04:24 PM

I tend to stick with "more than one romantic love", because I do believe that you can have asexual poly, and the "romantic" part excludes the love of family, deity and pets. :)

Scott 04-03-2012 04:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CielDuMatin (Post 131312)
I tend to stick with "more than one romantic love", because I do believe that you can have asexual poly, and the "romantic" part excludes the love of family, deity and pets. :)

Ah, good point :-). Sometimes, I go for the all inclusive love, just to show people that in that sense, atleast, almost everyone is poly.

StarTeddy 04-03-2012 06:18 PM

In my particular situation, only two people know that I'd like to be poly. I actually cringe at the thought of telling people "I'm polyamorous", because they wouldn't understand, and I'd have to explain myself in the context of a larger movement and lose focus on what I am. Once I've explained myself I could refer to myself as "being poly" because then it would just be a useful shorthand.

One of the things I don't like is that since to "practice polyamory" you need more than one loving relationship, that makes it sound like my preferred configuration is more than one loving relationship. It actually isn't, and in my ideal world I'd be mono because it's easier. One of the things I like the most about poly is about letting relationships be what they are, and not having to fit them in any kind of box. Whether they become a relationship or a marriage is really not all that important to me, I just want to be allowed to feel the way I do.

This is especially bothersome when my recently-ex-boyfriend tells me things like "one day you'll find the right two guys for you"....it doesn't exactly work that way!

CielDuMatin 04-03-2012 06:57 PM

Using the general "love" term and postulating that everyone is poly doesn't go far to convince anybody, I've found. The general push-back is that romantic love is "different", and I haven't been able to get anyone away from that stance.

Scott 04-04-2012 07:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CielDuMatin (Post 131329)
Using the general "love" term and postulating that everyone is poly doesn't go far to convince anybody, I've found. The general push-back is that romantic love is "different", and I haven't been able to get anyone away from that stance.

I haven't persuaded anyone who's monogamous to become poly, but I still like getting them to think a bit atleast (and I have managed that). Seriously, what is so "different" about romantic love vs. the more platonic kind, -especially- if sexuality isn't involved? Actually that bring up a question; can romantic love truly be removed entirely from sexuality? I wonder...

Scott 04-04-2012 07:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by StarTeddy (Post 131327)
In my particular situation, only two people know that I'd like to be poly. I actually cringe at the thought of telling people "I'm polyamorous", because they wouldn't understand, and I'd have to explain myself in the context of a larger movement and lose focus on what I am. Once I've explained myself I could refer to myself as "being poly" because then it would just be a useful shorthand.

One of the things I don't like is that since to "practice polyamory" you need more than one loving relationship, that makes it sound like my preferred configuration is more than one loving relationship. It actually isn't, and in my ideal world I'd be mono because it's easier. One of the things I like the most about poly is about letting relationships be what they are, and not having to fit them in any kind of box.

I think that my ideal would be 2 partners; they could also have other partners, I'm just saying what I think would work for me.

Quote:

Originally Posted by StarTeddy (Post 131327)
Whether they become a relationship or a marriage is really not all that important to me, I just want to be allowed to feel the way I do.

This is especially bothersome when my recently-ex-boyfriend tells me things like "one day you'll find the right two guys for you"....it doesn't exactly work that way!

Feelings are fine, but I see nothing wrong with commitments either. That being said, the commitment doesn't have to be formalized into a marriage. I think the nature of the commitment should depend on what's on the table, if you will.

CielDuMatin 04-04-2012 12:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scott (Post 131387)
I haven't persuaded anyone who's monogamous to become poly, but I still like getting them to think a bit atleast (and I have managed that).

I agree - I'm not in this world to try to convince someone to change their feelings about something they want to do in their own lives because I respect their choices. However, this is about finding acceptance of our way of thinking, while allowing folks to be monogamous if they desire, is it not?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scott (Post 131387)
Seriously, what is so "different" about romantic love vs. the more platonic kind, -especially- if sexuality isn't involved?

A question I have asked quite a few folks, and the usual answer is "I don't know, it just IS". Trying to apply logic to discussions about matters of the heart is often futile, in my experience.


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