Community & Government

Moving Beyond Binaries

adrienne celebrates the erasure of constructs, offers advice for members looking to live beyond binary systems, and describes her hope for where feminism will lead us.

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Topics include: Moving Beyond Binaries Breaking Out of Constructs Choosing Self


[MUSIC PLAYING] - One of the most interesting things about how human identity is formed is that we're given a set of constructs that we're all supposed to fit into. They're almost all binary constructs. You're either a man or a woman. You are Black or white. You are American or you are non-citizen. And so, at very young ages, even though those constructs are not natural, they're not biological, even though those constructs are created, right, for us, we're given them as if they are fact. We're given them as if they are buildings that we have to choose to move into. And what I find happens is that, when we get older and we start to recognize, like, oh, there's so many things that are fluid, there's so many things in between, all of these binaries are actually spectrum, some of us lean into that. And we're like, now I can finally be myself. And other people feel terrified by that, like, I don't know who I can be inside of that space. And what I notice is, if you can lean into it, the nuance is within you. It's always been within you. And usually your suffering is tied to what you've been repressing or holding down or pushing away, saying, I can't be that. You know, for me, I was a-- I call myself a late blooming queer, right, because I-- I-- the first kiss I ever had was with a girl, and it was awesome. And we were, like, babies. But I was like, this is great. This is who I like. And that was who I had crushes on all through school, but I didn't have any concept of what queer was. I was in a military environment where it was just unspoken. You never saw that. And so I got to college, and when I saw same-sex couples, I definitely was like, like something in me was like, I want it so much, it overwhelms my system. Like, I can't imagine all the things I would have to potentially lose to step into that identity. All right. And I'm a good girl. You know, I grew up in church. I sing church songs. Like, how do I-- how do I leap from this precipice into that unknown? Will I survive that? And I not only survived it. It was, like, the best. You know, you leap off the precipice, and you're like, oh, I can fly? I didn't know I could fly. No one told me I could fly. [MUSIC PLAYING] If people find themselves stuck inside of binary systems, there's two things I think you can do if you're like, I'm curious about what it might look like to live outside of this. One is to notice which system-- when you see people operating outside of it, which one brings you the most revulsion? Which one makes you feel the most fear, right? Like, I know for me that I had-- I used to recoil when I would see queer people together. Like, I would be like, what are they doing? Like, you can't do that, right? And again, it was because that was a part of me I was having to press down the most. And I think that's true in a lot of people. When I see people out here, like, being super homophobic-- men, whatever-- I...

About the Instructor

Women’s rights activists and political changemakers Gloria Steinem, adrienne maree brown, Amanda Nguyen, and Tina Tchen know there’s strength in numbers—especially in the fight for equality. Now, they’re coming together to dissect the issues women have faced in the U.S., talk about their advocacy efforts and personal challenges, and introduce ways you can play an active role in the feminist movement in your everyday life.

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Gloria Steinem, adrienne maree brown, Amanda Nguyen, and Tina Tchen

Four women’s rights activists discuss the feminist movement in the U.S., ways they’re creating change, and how you can join the fight for equality.

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