Descriptive vs Prescriptive

In this blog, I use labels of all kinds: asexual, masochist, grey-romantic, polycule, cisgender, etc. This needs to be made clear:

I am describing my own current situation, not prescribing others how things should be.

Labels are meaningful in the sense that one identifies with them. They let people communicate aspects of their person clearly to others where otherwise they would have struggled with the lack of vocabulary. If someone identifies with a label, if they find a community of like-minded individuals through it and if they share experiences that others identifying as such can relate to, then they are a part of this community. This is as true of transgender people (who should be accepted as the gender they identify as regardless of their physical appearance or whether or not they transition) as it is of agender people, non-binary, top, slaves, solo poly, and whichever other term these people use to describe themselves.

There is a trend common in the cis/het community that one should meet certain criteria to be worthy of a given label. They could, for example, refuse to refer to a transman as a man because he still presents as a woman, or they could dismiss an asexual person’s sexuality based on the fact the latter enjoys and seeks physical intimacy.

This mentality also come up in some elitist cultures, where one owning the label dictates that only those matching their own experience are fit to do the same. Gays saying one isn’t truly gay if they had sex with a partner of the opposite gender; slaves dictating that one cannot be a true slave unless they relinquish control of their bank accounts; trans people dismissing other trans people who didn’t get a certain list of surgeries; masochists requiring tolerating a certain level of pain to be a real masochist; the list goes on.

This is the prescriptive approach, and it is damaging to the community as a whole.

It restricts the use of a term to an arbitrary set of conditions which excludes people whose experience would be a valuable asset to the community. More than that, it causes doubt and uncertainty for those on the edge, those who are exploring their own needs and feelings and who need to try these labels to see if they fit them. At the more restrictive end, this mentality breeds frustration, discrimination, neglect, and even emotional abuse. It hurts to be told one’s feelings are not valid by the very people one looks up to and identifies with.

As I write this blog, I will define what these terms mean to me. I will give my relationship model, and describe my feelings and my life as they are now, not as they aught to be. I am not coming at this from an objective point of view, and neither should it be taken as such. Other people may have different definitions of these labels, and they may live a different life than I do while still identifying as a kinky poly ace transwoman. Their experiences and definitions are as valid as mine. Theirs should be used in the context that they relate to their stories and experiences, and mine to my own.

All I will do is describe. Make of my experience what you will.

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