Rethinking sexism

Why isn’t sex sexist? If it’s not, then it’s time to redefine what it means to be sexist, to make it a spectrum, not solely rooted in negative morality. To label all presumed to be on the basis of sex as ‘bad’ is a denial of reality.  Whichever angle you look at it, whichever partners involved, each has sex, and together, they have sex. And whether female, male, intersex, female<>female, male<>male, female<>male, trans-female<>trans-male, intersex<>female<male>, whatever the combination may be (someone please calculate the possibilities), sex is at the bottom. Sex is the root. Sex is the origin. Sex is the life that makes it possible. Sex is inherent to us. Our being and how we came to be. 

Sex-ism, what’s sex-ist, needs to be rethought. 

Some things are indeed sexist and ill-intentioned, like sexual discrimination or various forms of sexual harassment and abuse. But to say anything on the basis of sex is morally ‘bad’ is frankly a denial of our basic biology and should be reassessed, not automatically assumed as the correct course of dialogue moving forward. Anyone who claims to root things in biology or sex as wrong, or label it as ‘biological determinism,’ is deeply disconnected from their origin. Their embeddedness in this. They think they float in the purely cultural, but none of us do. If we are connected by anything, cross-culturally, cross-ideologically, it is our very humanness. Our breath. Our life, together, on this sphere in space. It’s beautiful and doesn’t have to all be such a heated argument or debate. We are 99% the same. We are made of the same physical matter. 

But those very same people who dismiss ‘biological determinism’ also seem to move through the world from an ironically biologically essentialist position, all the while denying biology and fundamentals of science. And if anyone was to outright label this stance—accepting sexual biology, redefining what it means to be sexist—as morally wrong, ‘on the wrong side of history’ as if there are sides of lines, or even most radically as ‘transphobic’ or the like, gravely misses the point. And this is important because it is an ontological discussion about what it means to be and who we are. It is not partisan. Most evolutionary theorists and biologists do not care who you are, who you want to be, who you choose to fuck, who you marry. Your body is yours, but it is not nothing. And to deny the body, a disconnection from the physical, is a form of dysphoria, which I will touch on soon. 

There is a chance to reconnect what never really disconnected. We are capable of getting through this current ideological mess together, with sanity, humility, and respect. 

If someone is born in what feels like the wrong body, then they should be able to do whatever is possible to feel more comfortable existentially, in their being, 100%. But sex is still involved. The body is still involved. And I think it could offer some relief to people with body/sexual dysphoria to know that even if biology is an essential part of our story, it can be altered and evolved. It does not need to remain the same. And although it is present, and it is here—all this matter and bones, these cells and microbes—it may determine our birth and death, but it is not ultimately what defines us as human beings because we experience this odd predicament called consciousness. And imagination. We create culture. We make and do beyond our most basic of means, which is quite incredible really. 

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I am female. If you were to say, predict that because I am female, I have a menstrual cycle, that would be sexist, yes. But it would not be wrong. If you were to predict that because I have a menstrual cycle, I am not worthy of rational decision-making during that ‘time of the month,’ then that would be sexist, yes. And it would be wrong. Despite what may be the cultural warping of my biology, I am perfectly capable all throughout my hormonal cycle to make rational decisions and feel an array of emotions. But you see, the immoral comes within the cultural interpretation/manipulation/misinformation. It is also a manifestation of our consciousness, of our humanness. I am embodied, but I am not my body in some cultural senses and misconceptions. But luckily, from within culture, narratives can shift. 

And this brings us to gender. Gender can be argued to be sheerly cultural. The pink for a baby girl, blue for a baby boy. The long or short hair. The sports or the dolls. Forced interests. The roles to fill. The shoes. One time, at a bar in Copacabana, Bolivia, there were shoes laid out on the rooftop deck, belonging either to the workers or the people living above. The men’s shoes were full of variety: some fancy dress shoes, some for sport, some casual sandals. Shoes for all occasions. All the women’s shoes were the same. Just Mary Jane’s. The type that seems they’d carve blood from an ankle after a day of walking the hills of that city. It would have made a telling photograph. Who gets to do what, the options presented to us, are bent by the cultural, the societal, so it’s time to stop blaming/shaming biology. 

Just because we can become something else, does not mean we come from nothing. 

Facts of basic sexual and biological science need not fall into the moral debate of right vs. wrong. It is. Sex exists. And everything based within it, this proposal of a new sexist, is not wrong. The cultural perspective, however, is just learning how to find a middle ground from which to base. From which we can truly speak. 

Question

What if widespread dwindling mental health has less to do with what’s going on inside individuals and more to do with what’s going on outside? And instead of varying levels of sickness, we’re witnessing varying levels of sensitivity/reaction? Is the intention to heal individuals a lost cause (albeit critical) if we do not acknowledge larger issues concerning the way we live/consume/develop as a whole?

Question

Is studying philosophy a sham? Is studying ethics morally permissible? Is the ability to study philosophy or act in and of itself problematic and/or intrinsically valuable? Is it limiting or expanding to read philosophies of those who were able to record theirs? Could it be purely for pleasure?

Question

Will off-label psychedelic prescription use be the new recreational or will it mostly be sought for self-directed therapy or therapy with the help of alternative facilitators? Will people—with or without diagnosable mental conditions—prefer off-label use so they can direct/choose the therapeutic style?*

In response to this recent article in Scientific American. 

Question

How could clinical psychedelic practice accommodate the fact that some people experience the most insights/healing from the most uncomfortable trips? Is there a ‘right way’ to experience a psychedelic trip? How will new psychedelic therapists be trained to deal with patients who receive the message: You kinda suck. Your past behavior—awful. And it’s time to start over. Should legislation allow all people to seek psychedelic experiences in non-clinical settings for personal or ontological inquiry?

Question

Is it ‘bad’ if more Americans* aspire to be pharmaceutical-free? What—if anything—might this imply about changing attitudes towards pharmaceutical companies and current healthcare options? How might this shape the future of drug use? And what might this say about people who need a daily Rx to survive? Are there observable rifts (in privilege, power, well-being, whatever) between the medicated (prescribed by a doctor) and the self-medicated (exploring alternatives—be them off-label Rx use, unregulated supplements, or psychedelics)?

*~46% of Americans have used one or more prescription drug in the last 30 days (as of May 2019). 

Question

Why is nonconsensual, compulsory treatment widely accepted in mental healthcare? Why are many in the medical and bioethics community so certain that the “insane” are undoubtedly unfit to choose for themselves? Who is to say? Who is to decide what is the most whole/beautiful/meaningful/ “right” existence of another?

 

* Thinking specifically about nonconsensual electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in schizophrenic patients, some who deny their diagnosis and treatment. See the case PBU & NJE v Mental Health Tribunal from 2018 in Victoria. Essentially, the patients won and were freed from forced treatment. For those on the side of patient advocacy and autonomy, this was good news. However, this ruling upset some psychiatrists and bioethicists.