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What does ‘half’ mean anyway?

This HerCampus writer has five younger siblings: three brothers and two sisters. But, according to the government, she actually doesn’t have any. Confused yet? Me too.

Four of my siblings and I share a biological father. One of my brothers and I share a biological mother. This translates to the words ‘half sister’ and ‘half brother’. What is that suppose to mean anyway? That my brothers annoy me half as much? That my sisters stalk me half as much? That they all drive me half as crazy?

I have never introduced them as half siblings, but I have been corrected; people have pushed for clarification. I don’t think of them as half of anything, but I have to when selecting options from drop down menus on forms. It is strange every time. It is a new realization every time.

The reason I’m thinking about it now is because of a sociology class. We were talking about inequality and touched on defining gender roles and the concept of a nuclear family (another label that doesn’t mean much to me). I started thinking about how the definition of family is dynamic. Today, we are less likely to consciously judge what a ‘proper’ family should like. The world has made it easier to absorb new norms, like LGBTQ households and single parents with more than two kids.

However, there are still distinct labels for these things that force us to remember that not everyone fits within the same framework or gets the same benefits. 

So, what does ‘half’ mean anyway? To me, nothing at all. Shout out to the little creatures that mean a ‘whole’ lot to me!


An avid reader of words, Bri studies Political Science, History, Philosophy and Sociology. She enjoys reading, movies, civic engagement, and making weird faces in pictures. Her five siblings are some of the most important people in the world to her, which is why she makes them watch Disney movies. Bri aspires to break barriers and be a warrior with a government issued name tag.
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