I was talking to a friend recently about her volunteer work within the GLBT community and something she said caught my attention: “gender is so over!”.
Now that statement may seem ridiculous, especially when you consider that everything in our Western society demonstrates and magnifies the divide between the two sexes.
Boys are given toy trucks, girls? Barbies. Even if the politically correct parents of today have moved beyond such cliches, I’m willing to bet that they may have read books like, Men are from Mars, Women from Venus.
There are two sexes: men and women. But is it that clear cut?
Turns out… no.
Science is slowly beginning to come to grips with the question of gender and the discoveries are nothing short of astonishing. Whereas we once thought of the world divided between two halves, the new paradigm is one where there is a continuum.
Recently I stumbled on this article: We’re all intersex where Gerald N. Callahan, the author of Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the Myth of Two Sexes is interviewed about his research:
In between what we call the ideal biological male or ideal biological female, there’s a whole range of other possibilities that don’t differ from our basic preconceptions to the extent that we have names for them or call them a disorder. Just like with every other human trait, there are an infinite number of possibilities.
Of course this is nothing really new. There are other books, like Gender: An Ethnomethodological Approach, from 1978 which expound more or less the same ideas.
We’ve all heard of ‘hermaphrodites’ – persons which have both sexes. By the way, recently, intersexuality has replaced the more familiar, hermaphrodite, as the word of choice within the medical field. In any case, all of this made me think of an uncomfortable question:
Of what significant is the limitation of women’s capacity to serve on the House of Justice when the very definition of ‘woman’ is not black and white?
Can an intersex person be eligible? what if a person has both sets of genitalia? and biologically is both man and woman?
Would that mean that they are eligible? or ineligible? or both?
If the Baha’i Faith didn’t have the principle of the unity of religion and science, we could easily brush this off; just like a fundamentalist Christian decrying the fossil records as ‘Satan’s trickery’. But, as Baha’is we have an incredibly high standard which requires us to abide by scientific truths, just as much as religious truths. They are, after all, twin paths to the same truth (or is it Truth?).
I’m not sure if this question has already been asked of the Universal House of Justice. If anyone knows, drop me a note so I don’t have to bother them by asking again. I’ve looked around the internet and haven’t been able to find anything substantial but that doesn’t mean something of significance isn’t out there somewhere floating about.
The only things I’ve found are others over the years wondering the same question and one Baha’i blogger who wrote such a bigoted tripe of an ‘essay’ that it deserves to not even be dignified with detailed mention.
For those that are new to this topic, currently, membership to the Universal House of Justice is restricted to male adults. But there is some disagreement with others believing that there is a sound theological basis for both women and men being eligible for membership to this institution.
But if science shows that gender isn’t that clearly defined into two subsections, doesn’t that make all this a moot point? that is, rendered irrelevant?
Let me know what you think about all this. I’m sure someone out there knows much more about this than I do.