Megan’s Bridge to the Blog

During class we discussed the deconstructing binaries of identity; especially queer identities.  There are binaries for many subjects, for example: essentialist vs. constructionist, gender vs. sex, and heterosexual vs. homosexual.  Many people like to believe that there is one strict line between the two binaries, and, for example gender vs. sex should correspond to one another.  Although that may make things easier to assume of people, it is more complex that that.  These binaries have spectrums, and are fluid.  Just because one was born with male genitalia, they do not necessarily identify as a male.  As with hetero vs. homo, this binary poses a problem for people who identify as bisexual, sexuality is fluid.

In everyday life, we identify things as different from the social norm, Ellen Degeneres is not a comedian, she is a lesbian comedian.  Caitlyn Jenner is not a female, she is a transgender.  Society identifies characteristics that are not in the norm, but characteristics that represent minority groups.  There are characteristics that bind themselves to a certain binary, for example: if one identifies as female, wears flannels, never wears makeup, and have masculine physical attributes, they must be a lesbian.  Humans are beginning to break down these stereotypes and binaries everyday, lesbians wearing makeup and dresses, gay men doing masculine activities.  Crazy, I know.

What can we do to help people to stop stereotyping, and making assumptions about strangers lives?  How were we programmed to make these assumptions of correspondence in the first place?  Why is the social norm a white, middle-upper class, heterosexual, cis, family of four?  Just because Ellen Degeneres is a lesbian, that makes her no less of a comedian, so why do we feel the need to identify her sexuality with her occupation?  Why do we identify Caitlyn Jenner as a transgender, it makes her no less of a female.


3 thoughts on “Megan’s Bridge to the Blog

  1. Alyssa

    As a psychology major, I often find myself confronted with these questions in a lot of my classes. It’s really hard to pin down an exact answer as to why people have these binaries (or stereotypes) about other people, but I think it really goes down to categorization. We have learned throughout our lives to categorize our world in an attempt to understand it. Because some of our categories (ex: sexual identity) has for such a long time been ingrained as a binary, it is not an easy task to broaden our minds to other identities. I think especially for those who consider themselves non-binary, it is incredibly difficult for them to find people who truly understand their identity and how to grapple with it.

  2. briannarosem

    As a sociology major this post really interests me. Not even just with gender and sexuality we see this stereotyping of people in everything even to the aging process. When reading about aging about straight elderly and those who classify as other was completely different, but I don’t understand why. To understand that those who are elderly and do not classify themselves as straight, really penalizes them in the aging process. Most will grow old without a partner and if they do have a partner and become widowed they are unlikely to find another partner. They are more likely to also have to deal with the affects of aging on their own because they are less likely to have children. But I do agree with you because when reading about this in my course, I was thinking to myself “don’t all elderly people age together?” Reality is we live in a society that has adapted to living with stereotypes in place of the worldwide discrimination we once faced as a nation. Instead of not letting an African American person onto the front of the bus, we will allow them to, but we will usually first assume things about them if they look suspicious or out of normal. It is societies way of saying we live in a nation without discrimination, but convincing ourselves that in turn stereotyping of race, gender, identity and social status is okay.

  3. rtolson

    I find your post very interesting as a psychology major as well. I remember learning about how we spotlight anyone different than the norm you mentioned. I think we do this as a way to continue the oppressive norm against any minority that is the least bit different. I think the goal of changing this way of thinking will take generations to achieve. Within our generation, we have seen great strides toward more equality for LGBT individuals and hopefully this progress continues to the point where the binary and traditional societal norms are no more. Sadly, these changes take lots of time and lots of work.

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