We Created a Simple Binary World
Updated: May 6, 2019
We made a simple binary world for ourselves: male and female, good and bad, foreigner and native, truth and lies, real and fake, rich and poor, conservative and liberal, christian and muslim. Making this binary world has been hard work for humans and it has taken us thousands of years. We have had to train ourselves to make things simple when they are not. As an example we have attempted to make love and hate into simple opposites. But we all know it is possible to hate somebody when you also love them. Could it be that there is a type of love that has hate in it and a type of hate that has some love in it? Now that is hard to cope with, so we make it simple for ourselves, even when it is not.
I was reading recently a firsthand account by a parent in Africa who brought her newborn baby to a hospital because something seemed wrong with the baby "down below". As far as she and some of the women in the village could tell, it wasn't that clear which set of genitalia the baby had. When she got to the hospital the baby was examined by the doctors and when they came to filling out forms for the baby, the doctors wrote a "?" for gender. In her account of her experience, the mother told of how they all struggled with "?" as a gender.
Have you noticed how terms like trans, queer, intersex are cropping up a lot these days. Lets take intersex: is it that there are more people being born intersex these days? Or could it be that we are less inclined to force binary simplifications on people and that we are getting better at seeing complex reality, better at recognising the ? in gender, better at recognising complex middle ground. Just a thought!