Originally Posted by GingersMom
I'm starting to get lost following this thread. Are LABELS intolerant in and of themselves, or is it the individual who uses them the intolerant one?
Labels, in and of themselves, are not intolerant, as long as
the person is self-labeling.
Take me, for example. I am: feminist, liberal, spiritual, lesbian, white, activist, working class.
I picked those terms; I have their definitions - as they apply to me
- clear in my head, and I am able to explain what those labels mean to me. When I use them, I'm certainly not being intolerant. I am describing myself, my beliefs, my place in the world. Labels are helpful for doing that.
When labeling someone else, it certainly gets trickier. If you're using a label that they wouldn't necessarily give themselves, if your own personal definition is different from theirs, or if you are using a label in an intentionally derogatory manner, you run the risk of offending someone and being accused (rightly or wrongly) of being intolerant.
When "labeling" (which some people are uncomfortable with all together) someone, it helps if you have common definitions and are approaching it for the sake of conversation, ease of discussion, convenience, etc. and not from the angle of creating antagonism.
I think the real key is communication. When you use a potentially politically (or otherwise) charged word to describe someone else, or a group of someone elses, it might be helpful to clarify your understanding of that term right away... or to do so when someone challenges you, in the spirit of debate, communication, and respect.