In my last blog I explored how certain dogs are a badge in low socio-economic groups. Dogs as badges are not exclusive to this group at all; however I am going to turn my attention to another badge that has become popular over the last few years. I am sure that you have seen them here is one, I say they are a badge of the middle class, this is a generalisation however I base it on the scientific guise of observation. Now I am not making a judgement about these stickers, and I think family is important and crucial. I do however want to make some observations about them.
I have seen these stickers and at times felt some pangs especially when I see what appears to be a neat little nuclear family. As an ex social worker I know that what appears to be is not always as it is. A sticker is just a sticker, or is it? The question is what drives people to announce their family status to the world on the back of their cars? Can one extrapolate from people who use their aggressive dogs as their badge the same feelings of disenfranchisement or small persons syndrome? Well perhaps. I certainly know that when I was playing happy families some years back I was proud of the fact that I had been in a marriage that lasted 20 + years which was quite uncommon at the time. This pride did not and could not stand any close scrutiny at all, the reality was my marriage was nothing to be proud of. I wonder if these stickers are more like a sticking plaster designed to cover up some wound or mask some reality in life?
I guess in some ways these stickers could be seen to promote individuality with various characters assigned different uniforms perhaps saying hey what a diverse lot we are! Perhaps these stickers are a form of saying hey I love people, members of my family like the Promise Keepers stickers that proclaim “I love my wife”? Some stickers are ways of coming out with same sex couples proudly announcing to the world their sexuality by having two men or two women as their adult figures. When I think about it I tend to lend myself to the idea that these stickers are saying I am not like you people or the converse ie, saying I am like you…. None of these motivations really matter in the end. I merely want to point out that before we scoff and point the finger at people around us who wear other badges that we don’t identify we need to be aware of the badges that we use.
I briefly considered putting a sticker on my car. It would have had myself and five children, one son in law and two grand children on it. A couple of things stopped me from doing so. First of all was the cost. I would have had to pay $45.00 to advertise that I was a single dad with lots of children hmmm let me think about that for a short period ding done no I don’t think so. Ten coffees, 4 movies a trip to the beach or a set of stickers? The second question was what agency do my children have in this? Do I have the right to advertise my family status to the world? Well probably but is it helpful to them? The third question is why? Why would I want to advertise my singleness? Well this may have a logical answer but for right now I will keep my advertising for a partner off my car, however it does possibly bear thinking about. In the end I couldn’t think of a good reason to spend that money.
The fact however remains that I did consider it, what is it that appealed to me, is it a desire to wear a badge of belonging? Well yes I guess so. I think in one way or another we all want to belong somewhere somehow fit in? I will examine that after my last blog on badging. For right now I will limit my comment to the fact that I realised that by advertising my family status all I am really doing is advertising that I do not fit in to mainstream society but that is a whole new conversation that needs to take place.