The Name (Labeling) Game on a Throwback Thursday


A facebook friend posted an article irresistibly intriguing about a wealthy, powerful Florida man, now deceased, who married two women and lived parallel lives, raising two families–the Cone and Carlson families–the children of which attended the same private school. Neither wife appeared to know of the other. The article about this apparent anomaly is brief and ends with the statement that the school’s baseball field is now named in the man’s (?) honor called the Carlson-Cone baseball field. That was the best part of the entire article for me, the irony. Was this town giving the dead guy a high five? Yeah man, you pulled it off. Let’s celebrate by honoring you with a dedicated space in the name of your bigamy. I love it.

This article has had me thinking for a couple of days into this labeling miasma I have created in my brain. So, this man would be considered a polygamist according to a relationship orientation and a bigamist according to a legal perspective. But what about his love for these two women, assuming that is the reason for his marrying and obtaining two wives (though he could be just a control freak and needed another woman and kids to own or a glutton for punishment or has way too much money and needed more tax write offs)? Is he polyamorous too? I am told it is human nature to label and not to fight it, so here I go.

Poking around the Internet, looking to tack the polyamory label to this Tampa polygamist, I found myself on Under the term polyamory, I found an explosion of labels to make my head spin and produce an urgent need to nap. We humans do love to catalog and diagram and chart and define–architects and archeologists all. I was amazed.

So as far as human relationships, there are the following:

Human sexuality and sexology
Sexual relationship
Asexuality Bisexuality Casual relationship Casual sex Celibacy Committed relationship Free love Heterosexuality Homosexuality Involuntary celibacy One-night stand Polyamory Promiscuity Female promiscuity Romance (love) Sex life Sexual abstinence Sexual partner Single person
Sexual dynamics
Hermaphrodite Hypergamy Physical attractiveness Sexual attraction Sexual ethics

As to the taxonomy of gender identity, the encyclopedia offers this:

Gender and sexual identities
Gender identities
Male Female Androgyne Bigender Boi Cisgender Cross-dresser Genderqueer Girlfag and guydyke Intersex Pangender Transgender Trans man Trans woman Transexual Womyn
Third sex /
Third gender
Akava’ine Androgynos Bakla Bissu Burnesha Eunuch Fa’afafine Fakaleiti Femminiello Galli Hermaphrodite Hijra Kathoey Khanith Köçek Mahu Maknyah Mukhannathun Muxe Sworn virgin Takatāpui Third gender Transgender in China Transgender people in Singapore Transgender in film and television Transsexuality in Iran Travesti Tumtum Two-Spirit Winkte

Finally, sexual orientation is categorized thusly:

Sexual orientation
Gender binary
Asexual Bisexual Heterosexual Homosexual
Ambiphilia, Androphilia, Gynephilia Pansexuality Polysexuality Third gender Two-Spirit
Attraction to transgender people Banjee Bi-curious Ex-gay Ex-ex-gay Gay Heteroflexible Lesbian Kinsey scale Non-heterosexual Object sexuality Queer Questioning Pansexual Polyamorous Polysexual Romantic orientation Same gender loving

But wait, there’s more:

Bisexuality topics
Sexual identities
Bisexual Monosexual Pansexual Polysexual
Bisexual American history
Innate bisexuality Journal of Bisexuality Kinsey scale Klein grid Human male sexuality
Biphobia Bisexual chic Bisexual erasure Lesbian until graduation
Bisexual community
American Institute of Bisexuality Bialogue BiCon (UK) BiFest BiNet USA Bisexual Resource Center Bisexual pride flag Bisexual Pride Day International Conference on Bisexuality New York Area Bisexual Network Bay Area Bisexual Network Transcending Boundaries Conference Media portrayals of bisexuality
Self-identified bisexual persons List of bisexuality-related organizations List of media portrayals of bisexuality
LGBT portal Sexuality portal
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) topics

Academic fields Discourse
LGBT topics in education Gender studies Lavender linguistics Lesbian feminism LGBT literature LGBT/Queer studies Queer theory Transfeminism

Community Culture
Anthems Bars Bisexual community Coming out Community center Drag king Drag queen Gay friendly Icons Lesbian utopia Literature Music Neighborhoods Organizations Periodicals Pride Pride parade Religious groups Rodeos Same-sex relationships Slang
List of slang
Slogans Sports Symbols Tourism
Category:LGBT culture

Gender identities Sexual identities
Gender identities
Male Female Androgyne Bigender Boi Cisgender Genderqueer Girlfag and guydyke Intersex Pangender Transgender Womyn
Third sex / Third gender
Akava’ine Eunuch Fa’afafine Fakaleiti Femminiello Hijra Kathoey Khanith Mahu Mukhannathun Muxe Bissu Two-Spirit Hermaphrodite
Sexual orientation identities
Sexual orientations
Asexual Bisexual Heterosexual Homosexual
Ex-gay Ex-ex-gay Pansexual Polyamorous Banjee Gay Lesbian Queer Same gender loving Non-heterosexual Object sexuality Questioning bi-curious heteroflexible
Gender roles Human female sexuality Human male sexuality Sexuality and gender identity-based cultures

LGBT history
History of lesbianism LGBT history timeline Social movements History of Christianity and homosexuality History of same-sex unions Pederasty Category:LGBT history
LGBT pride flag
Pre-modern era
Adelphopoiesis Homosexuality in ancient Greece Homosexuality in ancient Rome Homosexuality in ancient Egypt Homosexuality in ancient Peru Homosexuality in medieval Europe
16th to 19th century
Mollies Urnings
20th century
Gay Liberation Homosexuals in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust Inversion Sea queens Stonewall riots Festival of Light action White Night riots Queer theory
21st century
Same-sex marriage

Rights Legal issues
LGBT rights by country or territory
Africa Americas Asia Europe Oceania List of LGBT rights articles by region
LGBT rights topics
Adoption Civil unions and partnerships Hate crime laws Legal aspects of transsexualism Military service Parenting Same-sex marriage (Status Timeline) Socialism Sodomy laws United Nations/Yogyakarta Principles
LGBT rights movements
Gay Liberation LGBT rights groups LGBT rights activists

Sexual orientations – Medicine, science and sexology
Biology Birth order Demographics Environment Heterosexual–homosexual continuum Homosexuality and psychology Kinsey scale Klein Grid Mental roots Neuroscience Prenatal hormones Sexual orientation change efforts Sexual orientation identity Timeline of sexual orientation and medicine

Social attitudes Prejudice Violence
Social attitudes
Anti-LGBT slogans Heteronormativity Gay panic LGBT rights opposition LGBT stereotypes Religion and homosexuality Transgenderism and religion
Prejudice and discrimination
AIDS stigma Biphobia Genderism Heterosexism Homophobia Internalized homophobia Lesbophobia Non-binary discrimination Riddle scale SPLC-designated list of anti-gay U.S. hate groups Transphobia
Violence against LGBT people
Corrective rape Gay bashing History of violence in the UK History of violence in the US Significant acts of violence against LGBT people Trans bashing Unlawfully killed transgender people LGBT suicides

There appears to be an identity or an issue related to the loins and mind of every individual at any given moment in time. There are even ex ex gays. I don’t know. I couldn’t look them all up. Am I wrong to be frustrated with labels, to speak out against them? Are my compadres in the labeling game who tell me to relax, it’s human, the ones who know better? Clearly it is human to label. It is a compulsion, an obsession. We are taxonomists. We are analyzers of the world around us and to analyze is to break something down into its constituent parts in order to examine them. The term appears to be connotatively positive, somewhat synonymous to discovery and learning. However, to examine the parts of something is to destroy that something, dismantle it, break it down into parts from a whole constitution.

Perhaps that is my objection, the labeling of parts, and then carelessly taking a single part of a whole to represent a whole, reckless synecdoche. It hurts.

From a taxonomist’s point of view, Mr. Carlson-Cone cannot be classified as polyamorous. Polyamory, according to the encyclopedia, is based on consensual, ethical and transparent multi-loving:
Polyamory, often abbreviated as poly, is often described as “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy.” The word is sometimes used in a broader sense to refer to sexual or romantic relationships that are not sexually exclusive, though there is disagreement on how broadly it applies; an emphasis on ethics, honesty, and transparency all around is widely regarded as the crucial defining characteristic.
Did he love both women?

I guess we will never know. But I thank him for this delightful delving into the inspirational art form of the label. Now let’s pause here to play the name game on this “Throwback Thursday.”

17 Replies to “The Name (Labeling) Game on a Throwback Thursday”

  1. Impressed with the work that went into putting this incredible article together, but will add an an Aesop’s fable that I find cute and relevant. Knowing how much drama one woman can be, how can a man want to do two?

    I could kick myself for not remembering, but there is a very famous play about a man with two families that have no knowledge of each other. The highlight and most comedic part is when one kid from the wrong family shows up with the right one and the secret comes out. Can you help me here?

    1. Excellent association of the Aesop fable, but the play has me mystified and on a hunt because it is on the tip of my memory. Two wives are not such an astonishment, only to a monogamy-devoted nation. Wasn’t Enoch in Genesis who “took” two wives?

    2. This phrase has me thinking… “Knowing how much drama one woman can be, how can a man want to do two?” “Doing the women is not where the issue comes in, it’s in the relationship. I think many of us would like to “do” 2, 4, 10… but it’s the work of the relationship that has us running in fear. 🙂

      1. Just to clarify I did mean the relationship part. Sex part is easy, holding a purse in a woman’s clothes store and picking up the tab can be agony, I don’t care what her bra size is.

      2. “(I)t’s the work of the relationship that has us running in fear.”

        And to divorce lawyers.

  2. If we consider that Enoch lived 365 years, was the father of Methuselah, I think he may have gone through a wife or three. haha!

  3. Considering the “plight” of Lot after his wife turned to stone, he took his daughters as wives and fathered children. Kinky.

  4. “We humans do love to catalog and diagram and chart and define–architects and archeologists all. I was amazed. … Clearly it is human to label.”

    You shouldn’t be amazed. I told you that in so many words yesterday. 🙂

    My opinion on this (opinion; not ‘fact’ regurgitated by some ‘recognized-authority-figure’), is that humans need labels in order to process information effectively. While PCs and MACs can perform a multitude of tasks simultaneously in nanoseconds the human brain simply is not wired that way. At least, to that degree. Yes, although our hearts beat (and break over love), our lungs breathe, our eyes see, etc., all simultaneously, the brain certainly does not operate with the speed and precision of the machines we built. I mean, isn’t that why we built them?

    In order to absorb, assimilate, process, and act upon the information humans have to deal with continuously, labels are necessary to assist the brain in making sense of it all. They are shorthand symbols that already contain all of the information necessary to process the labeled items that have been embedded in our subconscious and which spring forth automatically when the need arises. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to re-process and re-assimilate all the individual components that the labeled item consists of every time it is used in parlance and discourse? Information would NEVER be passed along.

    All that being said, there are issues that arise when people label other people. Far too many times that sort of labeling takes on a dark connotation when espoused by individuals. Stereotyping, profiling, lumping together, ascribing, pre-conceived ideas, prejudice, bias all result from certain types of labeling. Not necessarily because of the labels, but how the labels are applied by the individual using them. These issues then magnify and become racism, hatred, condescension, dismissal, denigration, objectification, and Republicanism. Finally, they can morph into genocide, ethnic cleansing, racial purification, religious zealotry, ideological massacres, and Conservatism.

    Labels don’t kill people. People kill people.

    1. Right. I mentioned the labor of the infant, who, if we were all like her, uses no labels but merely senses and processes information new and unknown. It is no wonder she sleeps all day. It’s exhausting having to take things in as they are and not shortcut with the ease of labels.
      People’s labels confine and imprison since they are obtuse reductions or half truths–reckless synecdoche. The labeler takes a part and ascribes it to the whole (that person is a bisexual, confused, faking, transitioning) and then rests easy in assurance that the work is done, nothing more to see there. That is the disservice.
      Sure humans label for whatever reason. My plea is for recognition of what that act entails and to do so mindfully.

      1. I always thought ‘synecdoche’ implied more of an equivalency of terms, and ‘labeling’ implied more of a reductive connotation. It’s easy at first glance to view the labeler and hear her comments and say, ‘synecdoche’. But isn’t she actually being more dismissive and even derisive by labeling in that manner?

      2. Synecdoche is a noun and labeling is a verb, so I don’t understand your comment. Synecdoche is a metaphor wherein the part stands for the whole as in Petrarch’s Laura poems when he cites Laura by her hands, her dun breasts, but never Laura
        in whole. Taking a part of a human being, like his sexuality, and then labeling him as a homosexual without needing to know more about him is what I call dismissive in a synecdochal manner. The labeler uses synecdoche to shortcut and thereby dismiss.

  5. Thought this was a very cool part, stuck with me as they were terms I have never heard, all for the same thing but in different cultures. I think that is really amazing and a confirmation of how abnormal some normals are.
    Akava’ine Androgynos Bakla Bissu Burnesha Eunuch Fa’afafine Fakaleiti Femminiello Galli Hermaphrodite Hijra Kathoey Khanith Köçek Mahu Maknyah Mukhannathun Mux. I just love that whole line. Fa’afafine caught me first – the Samoan version.
    It is a wonder to me how on the village and tribal levels the third gender is an accepted part of society. I recall hearing certain American Indian tribes revered such persons. It would be interesting to attribute truthfully the twist society has put on a part of nature was with us until when? and why? The effects of religion in the industrial age?

    1. My musing on the subject also makes me wonder where modern societies took their turn. I referenced Foucault’s History of Sexuality, and he does a good historical analysis as to the why’s and when’s of that turn in some parts of Western Civilization, the biggest veering occurring in Victorian England’s restrictive mores, at least for English and American societies.

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