The Labels are alive and well!
My dear friend Deanna Martin gave me a lovely label s(hero), one I can accept from her because I am now more than just someone’s mother and a fellow church member, I have presented the “faith” side of myself. What I came to realize when she said this was that labels are not the only problem, that it is the expectations that come with the labels that gives me concern, and that maybe we must need to heighten our sense of how we utilize the labels. But as I redesign my concept of labels a commercial airs that took me all the way back to 1985 when I first decided to write a book. I really had talked myself into believing that the use of labels was minimal and then a commercial blasted through that misconception. In the commercial the wife says: “Honey, we need to talk”. Now that is a usual way to begin a conversation with one’s husband. But his response reflects the mental tape, perceived topic of roles and labels and one of the most demeaning types of conversations we can have with one another. His response: “I took out the trash”. Now that revealing response yells at me, screams stereotyping and the negative aspect in a marital relationship of nagging. Why would the ones who wrote that commercial come up with that response? This topic is representative of the old concept that labels men and their chore of taking out the trash as a topic of contention in the marital roles and relationships. For weeks I could not comprehend why this commercial bothered me, then the light came on for me. Trash was the first “discussion” my husband and I had as a married couple, one that highlighted the perceived gender roles as well as throwing a spotlight on the minuscule things that we waste our time on with senseless discussion such as taking out the trash. Trash is not a life issue! I dealt with the labels, and yes, even the trash topic in Asking What: No More Whys, Chapter 5: Be sure you have on clean underwear. This commercial serves to demonstrate that gender roles and labeling are still prevalent. Why would a woman be concerned about the trash, although she did “thank him for that”, and why would a man think that is the only thing wives are concerned with in life? As God’s creation, we really are capable of focusing on real life issues and there is so much more in life that needs to be a topic of discussion. Did I tell you it revived old feelings of anger in me? We have diseases, challenges, world violence, life and death decisions and relationships on which we can focus, let’s just move away from the simplistic ideas that ascribe labels to whom and what we are in life. I know it is just a commercial, but it reinforces through subliminal suggestion to the younger generation that there are gender specific roles and this then becomes a part of our future generations’ mental tapes. All of this over a simple commercial – guess my friends were correct about one of my character traits is that of being intense.