A Life Without Labels

by | 19 Jan 2014

Whilst I understand the importance of brand, I don’t want to be labelled. I say this because this week Suzanne Moore wrote a thought-provoking article in The Guardian http://fb.me/1aFtxYG7t in which she said that motherhood, or the lack of it, seems to have become the core identity of every woman’s life.

I agree. In effect we’re labelled ‘Mother’ or ‘Not Mother’. And if you’re in the latter category then throughout history other terrible labels have followed: Spinster, Career Woman, Maiden Aunt, Witch. The reason for this, of course, is because being a ‘Not Mother’ is still widely considered by society as being sad, weird or at the very least incomplete.

Moore decries this polarization and so do I. Life is much more complex. Yes, it’s difficult not being able to have a child if you want one, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to be a mother.  As Moore says: some women with children feel as existentially lonely as those without.

Her comment made me think of my grandmother, the poet Anna Wickham, who struggled all her life between her role as mother and artist. She once said that all her books should be prefaced with the following poem:

Here is no sacrificial I.

Here are more ‘I’s than yet were in one human.

Here I reveal our common mystery:

I give you woman

So if you have to label me at all, then here’s one I’m happy with: I give you ‘woman’.

And this week’s question is: which labels do you love and loathe?