This isn’t so much a pit as an expression of pity…these people don’t anger me, they make me shake my head in shame.
Drving in to work this morning, I saw a license plate. It read MOM2MEG. It triggered a reaction to something that’s been eating at me for a long time. It seems that the world is full of people who are so devoid of a personal sense of identity that they must label themselves with their relation to other people. It’s one thing to introduce yourself to another parent at your kid’s softball game as “Becky’s mom.” But that’s only appropriate because it makes use of a shared connection that just happens to be through your respective children. But to define yourself by your children out of that context is just sad.
This is, as far as I can tell, a universally female behavior. More specifically, it is most often associated with teenage girls referencing their boyfriends, and middle-aged moms invoking the names of their children. Message boards are full of screen names like brians_girl, Ben’s mom and so forth. And Meg’s aforementioned mother doesn’t have the only such license plate I’ve ever seen. But I promise you that Brian isn’t hanging out on his dirtbiking message board under the handle Sarah’s Man. And Ben? Forget it…that’s kid’s Myspace is entitled MercilessKillah. Men, as a rule, don’t seem to engage in this. I’m honestly not sure if this applies to gay men as well, but I’d be surprised to see a dude on a gay forum who styled himself Troy’s Boy.
What the hell causes this phenomenon? What posesses someone to identify herself indirectly be referencing someone else? To me, it reeks of passivity, weakness, and subservience. I understand that parents should always put their children before themselves…but is it necessary to compromise your own identity to do that? Is that all there is to know about you? Oh, you’re chad’s mom! That’d be helpful if I knew, or cared, who Chad was. (But I bet he’s a spoiled little brat whose got you wrapped around his finger.) That’s like answering someone’s inquiry about your hometown by telling them you grew just one town over from some other place they’ve never heard of. It’s irritating to wrap up your identity in extra layers of pointless detail. jeff’s grrl? Give me a break. Telling us your name is Erica might not be any more helpful, but at least it’s direct and personal.
Do these soccer moms and teenage girls feel the need to be owned by someone? Do they consider themselves to be incomplete as a person without the definition provided by their man or their child? Labeling yourself with your relationship to someone else gives the impression that you lack any redeeming or interesting personal qualities, and that you may see yourself just that way.
If I saw my wife logged into her favorite IM program as Dave’s Chick…I’d laugh my ass off and tell her to stop being lame. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about that because she’s got her own life and her own identity. I just couldn’t respect her as much as I do if she didn’t have that level of substance and independence. But some women prefer to base their identities around others. Fortunately, these women are the minority, and for the rest it’s not just Kinder, Küche, Kirche.
I’m sure many here will say I’m reading way to much into it, and forming hasty opinions based on a short assemblage of letters. You may be right. But the point in picking a label to hang on yourself (be it screen name, license plate, or T-shirt) is to sum yourself up in just one line. And if all that’s worth knowing about you is that you’re “brians_girl”…then it makes me wonder why I’m not talking to Brian instead. He’s probably way more interesting.