Can you remember a time before you were who you are now? A time when society was not telling you who you are, innocuously, through seemingly inconsequential labels? Think about who you are, how you introduce yourself. For most of us, we say something like “Hi my name is X I am a girl/boy, I am gay/straight, I am a student/professor/parent” the list goes on and on, but there is almost always a qualifying label. The great, “I am,” phrase implies that your essence is inextricably tied up with that identity. However, this thinking can be very dangerous because, most often, individuals are not choosing their own labels, but rather are being labeled and then internalizing those labels.
This Sex and Society course has taught me about extremely important issues, mentalities, and trends regarding sex and its connection to society. I believe that the societal construction of binaries and stereotypes is the most important concept because it crosses all sexual boundaries and has a major impact on groups in society. We learned that society often creates binaries to categorize certain groups and apply stereotypes to these groups. Binaries allow people to easily apply certain stereotypes and narrow-minded opinions to groups of people, and this often leads to discrimination or systems of hierarchy. Ever since I learned about this concept, I have seen it reoccur constantly in readings and discussion. It seems that it is almost human nature to mentally categorize certain groups as one and the same, leaving little opportunity for the genuine acceptance of authentic and distinct personalities.