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The Myth Of Binary Gender

Are you a boy or a girl?

It’s one of the first questions we learn as children and it continues to be a primary method of sorting people throughout life.

Boy, girl; short, tall; fat, thin; young, old. We tend to lean toward binary systems by default. This is a matter of trained learning. Culture has been shifting toward a more gender inclusive model as we become more aware and sensitive to the variations that exist.

The concept of gender as a spectrum has been emerging in our culture. Finally.

The idea of complete “femininity” or “masculinity” is worn out and inaccurate. “Male” and “female” traits are within most everyone. One may have genitals that represent a male or female and possess traits and energy vibes of the same, both or opposite genders.

Sometimes there is a balance, other times the energy is more inclined toward one of the genders.

Sometimes people get confused between gender and sexuality. Sexual preference and gender identity are separate concepts. Masculine and feminine energy are a bit closer to gender identity, but still different concepts. One can identify as a female and possess masculine energy, just as one can identify as a male and possess female energy. Most of the time both energies are present and may emerge differently depending on the situation.

In a study of gender differences, the notion of “The Big Five” list of traits was developed to weigh the differences between gender behaviors. It was a fairly controversial study. The five traits designated were Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness/Intellect.

A study in 2001 showed that American and European countries have a greater disparity between male and female traits than more traditional cultures.

This is believed to be a result in the difference between a “role” and a “trait,” which may have influenced the study. It would be interesting to revisit this study in light of the societal changes since 2001. A newer study of this subject might produce very different results.

As our culture becomes more progressive and evolves in its understanding of gender types, we are moving toward a greater degree of comfort with gender ambiguity.

Transgendered people who have bravely emerged to tell their story have helped us understand and redefine gender in a more inclusive way. In turn, this transformation in gender understanding has helped us loosen up our death-grip on stereotypes and even begin to embrace the male and female aspects of ourselves.

Embrace It!

The best way to embrace both the masculine and feminine within is to put it into practice. Give yourself permission to get in touch with masculine and feminine energy. Participate in activities and hobbies that have traditionally been considered “gendered” in one direction.

Try getting in touch with your entire emotional landscape and sit with the energy of all of your power, both male and female.

Consider These Thoughts And Questions:

Look for examples around you, from people you know in your life to people you’ve seen on television and media. How do others defy gender stereotypes and embrace both feminine and masculine energy?

It is easy to get caught up in the binary gender system because it has been the dominant model for generations. Consider some ways your own family system defined and/or defied gender roles. How did your understanding of gender impact your own development over time?

Have you ever experienced a distance between your cultural expectation for gender and what your true gender energies need?

When thinking about energy as masculine and feminine, do you find that you lean more toward one energy type than the other? In what ways does that resonate with your style and who you are?

Noticing Your Bias

Even if you fully embrace the varying gender representations and energies, it is still possible to carry subconscious bias. When you consider the male and female binary model most people have been raised with for so many years, it is understandable that underlying bias may exist.

Check in with your own biases.

Explore assumptions about your abilities or limitations and ask yourself if these thoughts are based on facts. Some of our most basic notions of self might be self-limiting thoughts that we’re not even consciously aware of.

A simple exercise to check on unintended bias is to complete the following sentence series. Don’t stop to over analyze your answers. Write what comes to mind.

I cannot ____________________.

If I were a different gender, I could________________________.

In the first sentence, consider the responses carefully. Was this something you’ve learned about yourself over time? Is it something you were taught in your family of origin? Is this related to your gender or perceived gender?

In the second sentence, explore what you might try if you were the opposite sex. Are there things you would attempt if you felt encouraged to do so? Are there things you would embrace with your male and female energy now if you gave yourself permission?

Affirm Your Gender Fluidity

Push your gender bias to the edge of it’s comfort zone. Meditate on the idea of a dual gender identity. How does it feel to stand in the middle of your power without the constraints of gender hampering you? Consider the following affirmations for meditation:

  • I am the embodiment of duality, embrace all aspects of my gender energies fully.
  • I am a person of worth; male and female energy abound.

A great way to commit yourself to embracing your full gender spectrum is to talk with others about it.  

Ask friends and family how they learned what being “male” and “female” meant outside of the physical factors. Challenge your loved ones to look at their own assumptions and ask for their feedback about your gender presentation and male and female energy traits.

You may start an interesting conversation that you’ve never had before. It’ll be interesting to hear how other people perceive their gender roles and whether they feel confined by the sex they were born into. These types of discussions are the ones that can change the world if we let them. Be the brave one who starts this conversation with the people in your own life.

1 thought on “The Myth Of Binary Gender

  1. Hello, Mathew here. Psychology student.

    Do you not think that also pushing to eradicate traditional gender Norms is harmful? In certain school across the US kids are now being taught that gender is abstract and infinite. That there is no such thing as male or female. However biology and the rest of society seems to disagree. In my opinion it seems that advocating for a small minority who feel different about there gender identity has turned into biological fact, that seems to be accepted as correct and is being pushed to almost eradicate the traditional hierarchal gender and societal norms in place since the dawn of time in regards to what it means to be a woman and man. Children cannot even think abstractly and surley being told that gender doesn’t exist and that being a “man” and being a “woman” are just made up societal terms? If we forget the importance of traditional gender structure the whole of society is undermined and upturned yet with nothing solid to replace it with. Do you not see the danger that pushing these new ideas of gender fluidity can be harmful in the sense that it is pushing traditional structures (which are what the majority subscribe with and will biologically always do) away in favour of the new one? Ie, possibles dangers I see is teaching young boys that there is no such thing as to be a man would confuse them so much more? Because they would grow up being told that gender doesn’t exist and being a man is a construct yet deep down and biologically there are different and would be in constant conflict with themselves… just like gender fluid people had been.

    Thank you for your time,

    Mathew Branz.

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