Gender Binary is an Outdated System

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The gender binary refers to a system in which only two genders exist based on one’s sex which is based on their sex chromosomes, genitals, hormones and other factors. It is a system that is deeply entrenched in society, individuals are immediately classified as either male or female. Because the gender binary has been rooted into society for so long very few seem to question it and just inherently accept it as a part of their daily life.

However, the truth is that it should not be something society receives objectively as if the binary is a scientific law. In reality, the gender binary is an outdated system that only negatively affects the growth of people whether it’d be children, teens or adults. By continuing to promote the gender binary in society, expressions of individualism will eventually become anomalies. Forcing individuals to conform to a binary is not only detrimental to them but society as a whole.

The gender binary is instilled in individuals as early as birth and well into childhood as Raewyn Connell & Rebecca Pearse explain in “Gender in Personal Life.” Pearse and Connel recognize that agencies of socialization, most notably “the family, the school, the peer group, and the mass media” take children by the hand and teach them to conform and acquire traits based on where they land on the binary.

Childhood is one of the, if not the most important phase in a person’s life. It is the part of their lives where they retain a majority of what they are taught and are most easily influenced. Gender stereotypes are a result of the gender binary, and can be seen from an early age. Girls and boys are expected to act in certain ways by these agents of socialization. It is evident everywhere from Barbie dolls being advertised to only girls, and monster trucks being targeted at young boys. It is evident in the way children are raised, providing emotional comfort to girls when they cry and turning boys away while telling them to “man up” when they do the same. Children pick up on these small things and internalize them.

They begin to think “if I don’t act a particular way or play with certain toys others will think I’m different and cast me out.” This is where the gender binary begins to do harm. It gets rid of the idea that these children can act outside of their expected norms. They get ostracized for not conforming which can have damaging side effects such as low self esteem, anxiety and other unfortunate feelings of insecurity.

Complying to norms as Connell and Pearse state brings upon praise, “rewards and positive sanction” while “non conformity or deviance would lead to negative sanctions.” Because these kids are getting either rewarded or punished, they are most likely to “internalize’ the traits and behavior that are most appropriate for their gender based on the binary. It is obvious that is not a healthy way to go about and should not be promoted to kids at such a young age. There is a sense of entrapment, either they have to act one way or the other.

The “customary routines” do not give them ability to showcase a persona that is true to them. They do not have a chance to discover who they want to be. They lose freedom, choosing something as simple as a piece of clothing becomes limited because they have to choose according to what their gender “allows.” As children grow, agents of socialization continue to develop the gender binary along with its stereotypes and these children keep the model entrenched in their mind without even realizing. They grow up with the idea of what gender is supposed to look like and perpetuate it onto the world, and onto future generations.

Instead, society should be teaching the idea that gender is a social construct, and that the most important thing to learn while growing up is to accept oneself as who they truly want to be. By doing so will people learn the power of individualism. Labeling activities and traits contributes to the gender binary and traps individuals into a box of who they have to be in order to fit in.

The word in itself, gender binary, involves the root word “bi-” meaning two. It immediately gets rid of the notion that there can be more than two genders. Rather than looking at gender as a binary, society should look it as a spectrum. There is more to gender than just male and female as Anne Fausto Sterling explores in “Dueling Dualisms.” An important story that Sterling brings up is that of olympian Maria Patino which illustrates the harmful effects of the binary. Maria Patino was an olympic runner whose life was completely turned upside after undergoing mandatory testing to prove her “femininity.”

The results of her test were surprising as they revealed that she was not truly a woman. The examinations demonstrated that her cells “sported a Y chromosome, and that her labia hid testes within.” According to the International Olympic Committee, Maria Patino was not a woman. Ordeals similar to Patinos, looking like a certain gender but later on discovering that one is not because of biological instances, raises the question as to what makes one female or male. It creates division. Thinking of gender as a binary limits understanding of diversity among society.

It is harmful to go around thinking that certain organs, chromosomes, and hormones determine who one is, and how they should act. Not everyone fits under a specific category. By attempting to define gender, society continues to construct what it means to only be male and female, with no in between. The only reason gender has been defined is because it has been deeply encultured in society.

Individuals are taught if one has long hair, or demonstrates feminine traits then they are women. Society has taught to immediately determine one’s gender just by looking at them because it has become so important. The chance to express individualism becomes smaller because expect others to look a certain and act a specific way because of their gender. It is much more than that. It is about overlooking gender and the binary, and expressing how one feels in their own way.

The gender binary creates a society in which it ostracizes individuals who do not identify within its “conditions.” Individuals who do not conform feel as if they do not belong, and often feel as if they do not have chance to communicate how they truly feel about themselves. Therefore it is harmful for society to place individuals into categories based on the binary.


Cite this paper

Gender Binary is an Outdated System. (2021, Apr 18). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/gender-binary-is-an-outdated-system/



Does the US recognize non-binary?
Yes, the US recognizes non-binary individuals and some states have implemented policies and laws to protect their rights. However, there is still a lack of federal recognition and protection for non-binary individuals.
What are the limitations of gender binary?
There are many limitations to the gender binary. For example, it does not take into account the experiences of people who are transgender, genderqueer, or non-binary. Additionally, the gender binary reinforces the idea that there are only two genders, which is not accurate.
What is a binary system in society?
A binary system is a social system in which there are two groups that have unequal power and status. The groups are usually gender, race, or class.
Why is binary gender important?
Some people might see bossiness as a strength because it can show that you're confident and sure of what you want. Bossy people are often successful in achieving their goals.
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