Labels to compliment
Labels to divide
Labels to judge
Labels to identify
And labels to employ
In the end what we have…
Is labels that annoy.
Yesterday I was called an “earth mother”…a compliment? A judgement? A way to compartmentalise me? What does it mean anyway? I can’t claim an identity I don’t understand.
Why was I labelled thus?
Because I met my child’s needs.
Yesterday evening I was reading an article (http://jezebel.com/how-can-midwives-help-queer-and-trans-families-feel-saf-1796653264/amp) which highlighted the identity aspect of labelling people.
Taxonomy is a scientific process of classifying organisms – scientific labelling. It is systematic, and uses morphometrics and genetics, ecology and geography to determine species and sub-species. The field itself is divided into two camps. One labelled ‘splitters’, the other ‘lumpers’. As the labels suggest, one group loves finding new groups to label and the others prefer to keep things simple.
The benefits of splitting can mean a ‘group’ gains conservation status leading to funding. Funding means employment. It makes sense to split when your scientific endeavors require funding.
Human labeling seems to follow this need. Groups that are oppressed, minority, discriminated, ignored, or ‘endangered’, are competing for support, funding, recognition and attention. The more splits, the further the limited resources must spread. And the more difficult it becomes to focus on the big picture.
The big picture is the ‘ecosystem’. Protecting an endangered group means looking at the ecosystem. Why is the group endangered?
Was a new group introduced?
Australia is full of examples of how an ecosystem changes with the introduction of a new species. It can lead to the endangerment or extinction of another. Managing these anthropogenic changes is complex, maybe even futile, due to competing interests and limited resources.
Or has a split occurred?
This can happen when geographical separation prevents mixing, leading to a sub group or even a new species. It can also happen when two similar groups use the environment differently.
The issue of identity got me thinking.
Is this a taxonomic matter or an ecosystem management consideration?
Whilst we debate the semantics of the taxonomy, in this case arguing the biological versus the psychological definitions of the labels, the ecosystem is being shared. The article suggests that a new group (transmen) has split from its original group (women). The needs (ecology) of the new group are not being met. If we accept the taxonomy to focus on the management we enter a new debate.
How do we change the environment to meet the needs of the new group without compromising the incumbent group? In this case, the environment is maternity suites. The simplest, and best solution, is to first acknowledge the common needs: pregnancy care and birth support. Then focus on individual needs. This is what should be happening even without the new group. The article, basically, argues this. However, the new group makes suggestions that seem to fit with a ‘lumper’ approach, seeking to create a new group to unite all (pregnant people). This means erasing pregnant women (incumbent group).
The current standard maternity environment is horribly inadequate for all concerned, and whilst we are distracted by the taxonomy these greater inadequacies remain. Fix the bigger picture and both groups benefit.
Keep focusing on labels, and both groups suffer.