It's Either Sexist or Fraught with Binary Thinking

Ha! Thought I couldn't use "fraught" in an entry title. Well I can! Anyway, this entry is yet another brainstorming (ie. I want to think about the paper, and I want to feel productive without actually writing the paper yet, so I'm going to write about something that actually interests me) for a paper, sprinkled with a little gender theory thrown in for good measure.

So I'm writing this psych paper, and I'm really dreading it. Not because I think I'm ill-equipped to write it, or that I think I'm incapable, or even that I think she'll grade harshly (because everything else I've written for her has a mean grade of 99%). Rather, I think I'm worried because I feel like I have to do amazingly well on this cause I want to major in psych. A.W. talks about a similar sort of pressure about needing to do perfectly on certain classes relating to his major. So I'm not that weird, ok, maybe I am, just don't pick on me.

Psychology is really interesting, and I like it, but I do have some problems with how psychologists deal with gender issues. This doesn't surprise me, but I think I should voice it. I think it's particularly problematic now, when I don't really have the knowledge base, or the authority to make the kinds of objections that I want to. In time.

On the most basic level, I feel psychology doesn't make room for gender variance, and in general is to biologically bassed. But then my prof is a neuroscience, brain chemistry type, and I suppose I'd be worried if she wasn't grounded in biology. Any "acceptance" of gender variance is quickly shuffled away towards transexualism, which despite its "unconventionality" reinforces the binary, and doesn't really solve anything. The way that "The Book" (dr. george H___, that one, you know, the book) pathologizes gender varience isn't helpful, and psychologists generally follow this general approach.

Moving on.

The other main objection that I have is that it seems to me that our ways of conceptualizing of human psychology (especially the neuroscience/cognative bits, but other things as well) are viewed in binary terms. Let me preface my example by saying that, I'm working on the understanding that any conceptualizing of difference as dualism is inherently gendered. Whenever we think of different ideas as being either/or, it reflects upon our understanding of gender as limited to two option based upon our understanding of gender. For instance I have this interesting diagram, which describes long-term memory and it shows one binary after another. Now I'm not saying that this is implicitly wrong, just that binary is pervasive (hence the title.)

So that's where I am at the moment.

Enjoy, and I'll try not to be such a stranger.

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