recently i got more into the issue about gender and society and such, but i have a question that didn't get answered anywhere so i thought i could ask you ( a book/post rec would be fine). so about the western gender binary: where does it even come from?? is it christianity, the antique or even older? i've read that in the last couple hundered years this binary system got (incorrectly) backed up by "science" but the believe must have existed before that. So what are the roots??
i now have an incredible mental image of like a white leather gender binary with gold tooling, sitting in an antique store somewhere.
WHOA I just learned something wild. I started googling around, because my impression is that the gender binary has had a lot of roots in Western imperialism but I don’t actually have a lot of details on that before, say, Columbus. And look at Wikipedia:
The term gender role was first coined by John Money in 1955, during the course of his study of intersex individuals, to describe the manners in which these individuals expressed their status as a male or female in a situation where no clear biological assignment existed.
I was just thinking about him the other day! Because I returned a book to my old college library that I’ve had for about ten years, and it reminded me that I accidentally-on-purpose stole an old copy of John Money’s “Sex Errors Of the Body” from there. Like, I checked it out, around when I was learning about intersex stuff for the first time, and then was like, “okay, I can never give this book back, it is too heinous.”
(Also holy shit? I thought, from the looks of it and what I knew at the time, that the book must be really old, from like the 50s when he was first creating intersex genital mutilation as a thing. But it’s from 1994. That is some nonsense right there.)
AAAAAAAA I clicked through to the article on John Money to see exactly how terrible he was (and what the book I stole was called) aaaaand it’s actually so bad that I’m going to reblog this to add it, so that I can put it behind a cut. Like, wow. Wow. Jesus fucking christ. wow
(less egregious but still gross: he apparently also wrote a book called “Gay, Straight, and In-Between,” like… no.)
ummm anyway so
I actually don’t know if there are any good sources on this stuff, because part of the problem of binarism in colonialism and post-colonialism has been that it colors the way people have studied the past.
So for example, it’s hard to pick an aspect of the gender binary and look at when it started, because people have tried so hard to project our gender binary onto whatever writings and artifacts they’ve found.
Looking specifically at the roots of the patriarchy will probably be a good starting place, both because people have done a lot of work in that area… although it’s going to include a lot of cissexism, I can tell you that right now, and quite probably a bunch of TERFs…. and also because the difference between the gender binary, and just having gender roles, imo, is the power structure, where one way of expressing gender is considered good, and all other variations and genders are seen as less-than and gross.
But maybe someone else will have some good suggestions!