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Musings Queer Theory

Binaries

I’ve been thinking for a while about binaries. Yes, gender binaries plays into that of course, but I think there’s so many others that we don’t talk about.

As an example, I’d like to think about polyamory vs monogamy. I won’t dwell on the definitions here as I’m going to assume my audience is already familiar. But I feel it’s presented as a false dichotomy. To examine some assumptions here:

People have multiple connections in their life, as humans are generally social creatures. Everyone has multiple relationships, just not necessarily ones considered “dating”. Once you break out of the most, this starts to break down: How does it apply to people that are aro or ace? Does it?

I think that binaries aren’t inherently good or bad. I think they can be useful! But when applying binaries to the human experience, you inevitably leave someone trapped in the cracks. How do you recognize and account for that?

When it comes to human social labels, there’s also the aspect of “am I good enough?”. I see this so often with trans and non-binary identities: people struggle with their gender, but don’t consider it “enough” to call themselves trans or even non-binary.

That doesn’t mean the terms are bad, but whenever there’s a label created it takes on more than we think. Labels are social constructs, and people interact with these differently. And that’s okay!

The moral to this story is: think about the ramifications of a label. Think about the edge cases. Labels can include, yes, but also exclude. Be specific and genuinely explore what you mean when you talk about a group of people.