Let’s imagine a society in which sex is not binary–not at all binary. People differ in respect of sex in the way they differ in respect of height–by degree. Thus gamete size is a matter of degree (not the small and large gametes we see as things are); breast development is by degree for everyone; genital anatomy varies in all sorts of merely quantitative ways into which I will not now enter. Some people may have large breasts and somewhat “male” genitals, while others are flat of chest but possessed of “female” type genitals, but with tiny gametes, etc. That is, there is just no way to sort these individuals into two groups labeled “male” and “female”, just as there is no way to sort people into two groups called “tall” and “short”. We might speak of one person as “more female” than another, having in mind some sort of ideal type, but in fact no one falls neatly into either category. What would this do to questions of sexual discrimination, sexism, homosexuality, and anything else that depends on a strict male-female dichotomy? Isn’t it just contingent that animals on planet earth exhibit this duality? In other possible worlds there is no such thing as the male-female distinction–that is is just a dogma of binary-ism.
12 responses to “Sex By Degrees”
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