The problem with policing identity language by suggesting that outsiders will get confused if terms are too complicated is that it ignores the fundamental fact that outsiders will get confused no matter how many distinct words there are, anyways.

The nature of all social theory/studies, both in and out of official academia, is that in order to understand advanced concepts, you need to understand the basic ones. And in order to understand the basic ones, you have to get educated, whether passively or actively.

Words are created by the people who need them, for the sake of being able to use them. Words should never be made with the consideration of “how will other people judge this necessary word that doesn’t apply to them?” Likewise, the people who are actually using these words are the ones who understand them.

Let’s say you come from a background where you/nobody you know has every washed their hair. It could be because of a genetic factor (you don’t have hair) or a cultural one (there are other ways to keep hair clean that don’t involve washing). Somebody takes you to the hair aisle of the store and you see rows upon rows of shampoos and conditioners. It turns out that shampoo is different from conditioner, and dry hair shampoo is different from oily hair shampoo, and then there’s allergen-free products and locally-made products and small bottles and big bottles and different colors and scents and consistencies.

Are big lists overwhelming? Of course. But when you know nothing about the subject at all, even the very basics of “shampoo and conditioner” is a lot to process. So for true outsiders, the amount of vocabulary doesn’t even matter if they aren’t even familiar with the most basic concepts.

People who don’t need to wash their hair don’t understand why all these varieties exist. Why can’t people just use soap and be done with it? Why does there have to be so much variety?

The answer is that everybody’s hair–like their identity–is different.

Soap will clean your hair at the end of the day, but it will also burn it and destroy its health. Everybody’s hair has unique needs, and hair product companies try to accommodate as many as they can so people can have hair that’s as healthy as possible.

People who create labels are the ones who actually need them. Any attempt to derail the legitimacy of their desire for a better-fitting word is a show of insensitivity.

“Why can’t you just be fine with split ends?” Because it’s bad.
“It’s not like dandruff is that big of a deal. Other people have it worse.” Well it’s still annoying and not good and I have the power to fix it.
“Apple-scented shampoo and rose-scented shampoo are basically the same.” I, like many other people, perceive those things to be extremely different, actually.

If you don’t understand an explanation of somebody’s identity label, it probably doesn’t apply to you anyways. But what you should do to be a responsible person is to respect other peoples’ usage of words you don’t know–especially if those words aid their understanding of themselves and their communication with like-minded peers of similarly educated backgrounds.


Arrow S4 Appreciation Meme: ~Part 7~
User’s Choice: OTA