Admittedly it was an minor event at a club meeting today that spurred this rant on. But I think this a lot. I just never say it. But I feel like it today.
What is it with this society and defining people by their looks? Or their interests? Or their friends? Or their family? Their job? How much money they have? I know I did a bit of ranting on labels before, but here's what I mean. Today Don Cornelius died (or rather yesterday by the time I'm posting this). And it's suspected it was suicide. My friend started to say something along the lines of "Oh, it was suicide? But...why...he had..." and began making a gesture with her hands as to say he had everything. The assumption that having money will solve any emotional problems one may have. Watching an episode of the Rosie Show earlier in the week, she said people assume the same about her. That because she has money and is famous that depression can't affect her. Since when is money a cure for emotional problems?
While working with my college's anime club for a bake sale, a member's opinion of my art changed in half a second when they realized I was drawing an anthropomorphic dog (AKA a "furry") and every moment he passed by me I personally felt uncomfortable. I overheard a conversation he was having with another person in club who tried to explain that he isn't going to like things that other people like and other people aren't going to like the things that he likes. He just has to realize that. But he still didn't fully understand that. I understand that this may be because of a mental disability yet this still is an example of judgment of a whole being based on one factor which people do every day.
And on my deviantart account, I'd uploaded a picture (this is years ago though) of an anthropomorphic female Dragonair. Another member commented and assumed that because I'd given an animal (or in this case, a pokemon) human characteristics that I was a zoophile. I'm still insulted by that and to this day I'm very wary of uploading anthropomorphic animal art to deviantart.
What is it that makes us feel like we know the full person by their spiritual beliefs or interests or political standing? These are only one aspect of a full person. I feel like this should be common knowledge, but I get disappointed every time people prove that things that should be common sense aren't common sense.
I don't believe I'm perfect. I know I've done hypocritical things. And many times I do my best to learn from the mistakes I make. So if I catch myself judging someone or disliking someone based on one thing I've stopped and asked myself why. For example, Justin Bieber. I remember I had no idea who he was, but everyone around me had a great dislike/hate for him. Eventually I saw him perform on Jay Leno and I had no idea why he was so greatly hated. Yeah. He's a teen pop star. It's not like we didn't have those when we were little. But I have to admit that I caught myself laughing with Bieber jokes and getting "disgusted" with his "Baby" song and disliking him just because it was the "it" thing to do. But once I asked myself why I did, it was really just because everyone else jumped on the hate bandwagon. There was no other reason. And if I had to analyze why everyone else hated him the only thing it really could boil down to is jealousy. Now I'm not talking about hating his music. I'm talking about genuinely hating the person Justin Bieber. The person that you've never met before from Canada. Genuinely getting disgusted when you hear his name and having to turn it into this big joke in order to tolerate hearing it. Yeah, his music isn't my cup of tea either but he doesn't deserve to be hated personally because he's famous.
It's something that I'd love more people to do. If you catch yourself hating a group of people or a single person, just ask why. Why do you hate them? Why do you hate that Christian over there? Or that Atheist? The gamer or comic book fan or "otaku" or furry? The gay man or woman? Or a transgendered individual? Is it because of something they've done to you personally? Do you know anything about the person you hate other than this one "fact"? Or is this fact the excuse you're using to hate someone?
This is what I was meaning to say about labels before. On one hand they're so helpful because they can help you find a group of people that you identify with and can potentially meet new friends through. Could you imagine not knowing the terms for the obscure beliefs you have or the obscure things you enjoy? Then that wonderful feeling of knowing that there's other people in the world like you. In that sense labels are beautiful. But when the wrong people have those labels, they take them and use them for a way to excuse themselves from associating with certain people. That's when labels take a dangerous turn. And they turn from something that can bring people together to something that can alienate others. And that happens far more often that It ever should. I want people to know me for me and not some label that I put on myself. So (not to steal the name from the group on ABDC) I propose my new label for myself:
I Am Me.
Now does this mean I'll drop the labels? Nope. Every label I put on myself, I am that. But it is not a necessity right off the bat. All you need to know about me at first is what you can see. That I'm black, I'm female, I'm overweight, and I'm short. That's it...
Once you take that time to know me, then you'll inadvertently find out that I'm a furry. I represent myself online as a dog. Why? Well, that's for the people I greatly trust to find out. Though as I'm online I'll just say it. I'm also a therian. I don't believe it's spiritual. But that connection my mind has made with "canine" is a strong one. I also draw animals all the time. They've always been my favorite subject so being a furry really isn't that far of a stretch. The only surprise is that I found the fandom fairly late in life (to me anyways).
And when you get to know me you'll easily be able to find out that I'm an anime fan. I'll openly wear this fandom on my sleeve. I love Japanese animation and the language and cosplay and the music. And recently a few J-dramas and of course my Super Sentai and Kamen Rider.
And if you can get past those two interests, you'll learn that art is a giant part of my life and a reason that I'm a part of both of those fandoms. The art is a huge, huge part of both of those fanbases and I'm not sure I'd really be a furry if it weren't for the fact that I draw. I like looking at other people's art but that isn't the reason I join an art site. But that's besides the point...I love drawing and sewing and singing and dancing. And I might not be good at all of those (I'm really only "good" at drawing...maybe singing), but it's fun to try. No matter how frustrated I get with all of them at times, it's still fun to do. And I don't think I could ever fully stop creating something.
And if you can get past that, then maybe you'll find out about my spiritual beliefs. That I'm an agnostic theist. Don't let the agnostic half fool you or the theist half fool you. Because I say I'm a theist doesn't mean that I'm a Westboro type and because I'm agnostic doesn't mean that I'm just some person trying to break away from theism because I really want to be an Atheist. It really means that that's just my current beliefs. The theism part will never change. Just the agnostic part. At some point in the future I'm sure. And if you're kind enough to realize that if I did decide to be Christian (as that's the beliefs that I lean towards the most) that I'm not gonna shove what I believe down your throat and that it doesn't change my personality or likes then we'll still be good.
Anything past that begins to delve into my internal self. The parts of me that I generally keep hidden from everyone. My fears, anxiety...all my worries and sadness that I keep to myself. And my self esteem issues that keep me from doing so much because I fear what other people will think of me. If you can stand than then you'd really know the real me.
But that's still not everything about me. It's just what I've written down. I am more than just a furry. I'm more than just a female. Than just an anime fan. Than just a therian. Than just an agnostic theist. There's so much more to me than a few labels. It can't all be put into words without it being pages and pages long. All I can say is I Am Me.
I'd love if people did the same. It'd be great to hear people respond to a "What are you?" type question by saying I Am Me. Maybe we could start learning more about each other if we didn't shut down over a simple label or so.