Consequences of Identity

There are many avenues from which people gather their sense of identity, including race, sex, gender, religion, and cultural backgrounds. Lately, however, there have been questions regarding whether these distinctions do more harm than good. As humans, our brains naturally provide terms to define things to create order in what would otherwise be a chaotic world to us. Yet, there are consequences to this labeling. 

Race is a term that refers to a person’s skin color, but it can be a difficult box to check if your race does not match what society expects it to be according to your ethnicity. In addition to this, there are preconceived notions every person has when thinking of a particular race or ethnicity according to what they have been fed through the media, schools, and at home, among other places. These preconceptions can affect how a person is treated in public, in personal relationships, in professional settings, and be recycled back into the media by the masses. 

Sex and gender are another example of labels with consequences. Expectations are placed on a person of any sex or gender to behave a certain way, dress a certain way, and even speak a certain way. As a woman, I know from personal experience that the expectations for women are particularly interesting because of how contradictory they are. In general, a woman is expected to be polite, conservative (but not prudish), pretty, nurturing, and hardworking (but not extremely ambitious). While there is nothing wrong with embodying any of these characteristics, the way they should be put into action is subjective and is regulated by society to the point of being an impossible standard. What makes these standards really contradictory is that the women who receive the most attention--and through that attention, money--through the platform of social media are the complete opposite. They are loud without ever really saying much, vulgar, and most importantly, naked. They unwittingly become pawns that feed into the insecurities that they themselves have in addition to  the women on the other side of the screen. In short, women are expected to be saints, but are praised by men and media for being sinners.

Finally, there are many misconceptions concerning people of faith. I know for myself as a Christian, there are perceptions from people outside and inside the faith of how a Christian should act. People outside the faith believe Christians are judgmental, self-righteous, and hypocritical. People within the faith but of different sects (e.g. Catholic, Protestant, Methodist, etc.) have included different rules and rituals not commanded in the actual word of God such as a rule against dancing or a rule against women wearing skirts. What people don’t recognize  is that religion is man-made and that to be a believer of the Lord, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, means having a relationship with Him where you speak and dedicate time to Him just like any other person you love, as well as to follow His Word (i.e the Bible).

All this is to say that labels can be useful. They provide a sense of comfort and safety that we as humans need, as well as a fast and easy way to gain information about a person. However, it is extremely important as individuals not to allow society (the people with power and money) to add baggage to each definition that serves their own interests.