Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Chally over at Zero at the Bone wrote a post about how she came to identify as a feminist, and when I went to write a response I realised I had started off on a tangent that probably had no business in her comments section, so I brought it back here.

I'm not much into labels. This isn't a philosophical position, nor is it an indictment of the labels themselves. I don't identify as a feminist, because it doesn't feel right. I can't see how I have any more or less overlapping beliefs and ideals to many people who do identify as feminists, so I was wondering why I can't say "I'm a feminist." Then it kind of occurred to me that I may have issues with labels of any kind.

The fact that I don't identify with my own last name could be a give away. It's not that I don't identify with my family - I do, quite a lot actually. But it doesn't feel like it belongs to me. I cringe slightly whenever someone uses my last name. When I got married the first time, I changed my last name because I didn't care much what it was. I changed it back after the divorce because it seemed silly to have someone else's last name, but my maiden name still didn't feel like mine. I didn't use it at all in 3rd and 4th year uni - in physics "Ariane" is a sufficiently unique signifier. I hate having an email address with my last name in it.

As a kid, I tried out Christianity, it didn't fit, but while I was trying it, I never called myself a Christian.

The only label I ever really embraced was "witch", and let's face it, that was 30% identification, 70% amusing shock value. Especially when approached by Mormons.

Although honestly, reading about Wiccan belief was the first time I had seen anything that resonated with me, and it did feel, for a time, like I had found the label that fit me. It was the ritual aspect that appealed to me, it is that part which has remained with me. Since then I have read more, and continue to pick the eyes out of this and that belief system. I am probably an atheist/Buddhist/Wiccan hybrid now. No doubt that will continue to change. (Not the atheist bit, I can't see me ever believing in god - but I still can't call myself an atheist either!)

I am pathologically opposed to labels, it seems. I don't know why. Perhaps it comes from fear of rejection. If I am not X, I can't be rejected by Xians. But then, I'm pretty sure I can't be rejected from the last name society. Or maybe that's just the absurdity at the logical extreme.

Perhaps it is sheer arrogance. Could be, I'm good at arrogant.

If I ever finish this psych degree, I might be able to work it out.


  1. I'm with you on the last name thing and for very similar reasons. I was actually talking about this to someone at the Cross Country today and saying I thought it was because Miriam was sufficiently unique that my last name felt irrelevant. Plus I HATE being called Mrs Mulcahy, I have no idea who that is. When I get introduced to the kids' classes that way I tell them to call me Mim.

  2. *nods thoughtfully* I am changing my last name because I don't identify with it. I see I'm not alone!