If There Is No Binary, Where Does Gender Exist? LOP096


How the gender binary limits critical thinking.

Earlier this week I was quickly browsing my Facebook feed and read a post that was purposefully provocative and included a text meme of the following: “There are only two genders – Science“.

Leaving aside how categorically incorrect, ignorant, and inconsiderate that statement is, it prompted me to question why we so often think in binaries. Why have we created a world that is limited by a way of thinking that is so contentious?

When we understand that the gender binary is a conceptual construct, that it’s not real, that gender is not a physical thing, we can open up into the space or the possibility of understanding that gender is nebulous. Gender doesn’t exist on a straight line, being (only) a man on the one far side and (only) a woman on the other far side. Such a description begs the ontological question: “If man exists on one side and woman on the other, what exists in-between? What exists within the space between the two polarities? Even that question is problematic, namely, “Why are there polarities in the first place?” 

Polarities can only exist with binary thinking.

What if there is no binary, for anything? Instead, this is how we have seen and understood the world for so long that it seems AS IF there are only binaries to explain almost any extreme and it’s opposing side of the equation. Yet there is nothing but space between these concepts because there can never be agreement what creates the limitations that define the polarities of a binary. 

When we experience the space in the gap as the true nature of the universe, we will no longer see duality.

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Image: Marco Verch

By Darren Stehle

Darren is a leadership coach in Toronto, Canada who helps his clients to connect and embrace their uniqueness and freely create the life they want. He writes and podcasts regularly about Queer Leadership.