Women’s Nest Article: Let’s Get Rid Of Labels


Let’s Get Rid Of Labels, by Paulette Mahurin

August 31, 2012 by thinkhappy


While writing my most recent novel, I ran across some very troubling information, about labeling, gut wrenching. I don’t really know how I’d feel being called something, labeled, that could put me in prison, cause me to be raped, or loose my life. I’ve never been subjected to anything like that so you can imagine how hard it was for me to read about the impact that labels had on lesbians at the turn of the twentieth century. If I were living back then and involved with a woman intimately, and someone found me out, I not only got labeled lesbian, but insane. The treatment was rape, to help me enjoy sex with a man.

Just now as I repeat that, I’m squirming in my chair. It hadn’t occurred to me with such depth the power that words have, the energy they cast that change lives. It really gives me cause to be a lot more mindful of not just what I say but how I think. I can now feel words swirling inside my head with a different intensity, the good ones are lighter and make by body feel loose, the negative thoughts tighten me up, as adrenaline and cortisone pulse through my veins.

I know I judge. I’m human. But, now I want to be more responsible with where I go with my opinions because of what they do to my insides, let alone to somebody else’s life. One piece of research set in motion a cascade of seeing hatred from a whole new perspective. Prior to this, for me, hatred was an action, including verbal. Now, I see thoughts as the seeds from which it all grows and I want to cultivate my garden differently.

I grew up with a morbidly obese schizophrenic brother that I never understood until now. His obesity caused him to be bullied, till he had a mental breakdown and left high achool for a mental institution, fatty left the building, they all laughed. I was eight years younger than he and never fully understood his torment, until now, and even now I’m not in his skin, still in and out of institutions. I’ll never know if he was driven to insanity from labeling or had a genetic predisposition.

Why this example, when I started out mentioning the impact that the label lesbian had on its victim? Honestly, I see no difference and in seeing this I wonder if any label isn’t some shade of this, a division of what is good and normal and what is different and bad. It’s the group think mentality, living inside one head at a time, agreements made into consensual validations, reality, impacting lives. The big joke, is that I’m the one impacted the most because it shuts me down, closes my heart, I’m zombified.. I’m the perpetrator and the victim, all wrapped in to one judgmental bundle of self-suffocating thoughts, and unless I can see I’m not all that clever, or better than anyone else, I’m doomed. At least that’s how I feel.

My horrifying realization turned golden when I saw what I could do about all this, which reminded me of a sweet story. There’s a little boy battling two fighting wolves inside his head. He goes to his father and asks how to stop the battle, between the good and bad wolf, to which his wise father says you feed the one you want to survive. I can change my thoughts, or at least I can try. I know there are no switches, no truly 100% how to successes for anything, but I can make it a point to do my best, to stay with the positive, starting inside my head, so negative doesn’t escape my mouth. I can certainly try to learn this new way of thinking, talking, and being, in hopes that the lesbians way back when can rest a little easier in their graves, that their labels gave meaning a woman who cared.

What do you have to say about this?


Paulette Mahurin, author of The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, is a Nurse Practitioner, specializing in Women’s Health in Ojai, CA. where she lives with her husband, Terry, and their two rescued-from-a-kill-shelter-dogs, Max & Bella. Profits from her book go to the first and only no-kill animal shelter in Ventura County, CA. Her book can be found on Amazon.

About The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

The year 1895 was filled with memorable historical events: the Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta address; Richard Olney, United States Secretary of State, expanded the effects of the Monroe Doctrine in settling a boundary dispute between the United Kingdom and Venezuela; and Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted for "gross indecency" under Britian's recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense. When the news of Wilde's conviction went out over telegraphs worldwide, it threw a small Nevada town into chaos. This is the story of what happened when the lives of its citizens were impacted by the news of Oscar Wildes' imprisonment. It is chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing. Paulette Mahurin, the author, is a Nurse Practitioner who lives in Ojai, California with her husband Terry and their two dogs--- Max and Bella. She practices women's health in a rural clinic and writes in her spare time. All profits from her book are going to animal rescue, Santa Paula Animal Shelter, the first and only no-kill shelter in Ventura County, CA, where she lives. (see links below on Ventura County Star Article & Shelter) To find out more please go the The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap on facebook or Amazon or e-mail us at the gavatar addresses. Thank you. (photos: of Paulette, her family, and a reading at The Ojai Art Center, July 2012)
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4 Responses to Women’s Nest Article: Let’s Get Rid Of Labels

  1. Labels serve only to highlight the differences between us. Even worse, they define us as ONLY that; limiting our existence to that one aspect of our character. If I am fat, that fact overshadows all the other things I am. If I am lesbian, I am reduced to that narrow view of my sexuality. Labels rarely provide any information of relevance to who we are as whole, complete, individual people. Thank you for your observations!

  2. kurleelocks says:

    This is a very well-written comment that hones in on what can be destructive about labels, and not only for the individual labeled, but for the labeler himself.

    Human nature makes us differentiate ourselves from others and to associate ourselves with people like ourselves. This has had survival value along the way in history as well as today. Religious faith is a good example demonstrating the positive effects of associating with like-minded people and so labeling someone by their religious faith is a positive.

    If I say that you are a good-hearted person, that is a label, to be sure, but the intent of that label is to acknowledge and appreciate a wonderful characteristic or trait about you, which I happen to observe or know from experience. It is a recognition of a characteristic that I might like to improve in myself.

    To label someone “obese” may well be appropriate if it directs a positive plan of action for a medical professional or personal trainer to help an overweight person trim down to a healthy size. If I am obese and refuse to acknowledge it, or I defend myself emotionally against what I take to be a pejorative, I am very unlikely to do anything to improve my weight for my health.

    To label someone a democrat merely identifies their known political leanings, and is not a pejorative. But, to call a person a racist because he disagrees with the a leader’s actions or policies, is a label obviously given with malicious and divisive intent. Zero good comes from it, but much bad does.

    To label someone’s action as criminal or bad, helps me recognize what not to engage in or do. Recognizing when my labeling of another is for positive or negative intent is to me the important thing. To me, it is the intent of the label that is important.

    I love your blog post for pointing out what effect being a positive or negative labeler can have on us.

    ~ Holly

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