I wrote a post over a year ago now entitled, ‘Being an Oxymoron is Okay’, and now more than ever, I feel strongly that no one should feel compelled to prescribe to only one type of behaviour, and be only one ‘type’ of person.
In the fore mentioned post, I discuss how others often find my personality conflicting and ever-changing, contradictory in a lot of cases! Outgoing but anxious, loud but introverted. I see no problem with this, and I’m slowly learning to accept all the weird, wonderful and not so great parts of my personality (not I said slowly learning, we’re far from there!)
Human beings, and brains for that matter, are highly complicated things that need not be put in ticky boxes on a personality survey, chemicals are involved for gods sake!
I recently read the essay ‘Touch me again and I’ll fucking kill you’ by Ren Aldridge from the book ‘Nasty Women’, and was passionately driven to write this post.
Aldridge’s essay focuses on Gendered Violence, particularly in the punk music scene, but the point she makes that really stuck out to me, was that our society is incoherently obsessed with assigning humans binary personalities and behaviours. Which in my opinion, makes caricatures out of living breathing people.
Outside the pages of fairy-tales, we still cling on to the archetypal heroes and villains; those who do good in society, and the latter, whom solely do evil.
A lot of us claim to believe in the phrase ‘everyone deserves a second chance’, but our grey areas may be more black and white than we ever realised.
We mustn’t be so quick to put people in boxes, and appoint them lifelong labels.
The same binary labelling applies heavily to activism and belief systems.
In Aldridge’s essay she specifically mentions that of ‘isms’ and phobias, explicitly referencing sexism and feminism. She makes the valid point that we are quick to call someone a sexist after one (undoubtedly offensive, and unacceptable) remark, rather than verifying that it was may have been the remark that was sexist, most likely due to patriarchal teachings engrained in society, and it doesn’t necessarily brand the offender as someone with 100% sexist and misogynistic views.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to point out serial offenders, but in some cases people who prescribe to one element of a certain type of behaviours (e.g. misogyny) are labelled for life.
I do however find this debate rather problematic, I personally can find no excuse for racist behaviour, (or misogynistic tbh, strident feminist over here!) and it should never be tolerated.
On many occasions I have challenged people I know for making racist remarks, people I have in the past (obviously before finding out about their immoral views) shared ‘good; times with. But this raises Aldridge’s point of the non-binary. They can’t be solely good if they are participating in something so inherently evil, and they should not be excused for such remarks just because they have a reputation for being someone of good morals; with say a ‘nice’ family, or simply donating to charity once a month.
Humans are flawed, and are therefore increasingly hard to categorise.
We are flawed beyond others’ beliefs of us, as we can easily conceal our most judgemental thoughts. It isn’t enough to call someone good, as much as it isn’t to categorise someone as bad.
Again, don’t get me wrong there are certain circumstances that cut straight through to the binary, and leave certain individuals stood strongly in the evil category, with no chance of redemption. But what I’m trying to get at is that for the wider part of society, the grey area rules supreme.
We will forever alienate people and disregard their opinions and experiences if we do not let them exist and go through life as themselves; free of any ticky boxes.
The joker is allowed to be miserable as much as he wants, the ‘geezer’ can cry, and the shy person can suddenly become a chatterbox.
It’s hard enough to answer those ‘describe yourself in three words’ questions; which aspects of our personality are we forced to pick out and brand ourselves with?!
Well you don’t have to categorise ourselves, at any point our lives, regardless of change overtime. We constantly evolve as a species, so who says we can’t evolve as individuals.
Celebrate who you are, and live your life without the constraint of labels.