Gender Binary is a Form of Oppression - Eric Weinstein | Joe Rogan


5 years ago



Eric Weinstein

6 appearances

Eric Weinstein is a mathematician, economist, and managing director at Thiel Capital.


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Well, isn't it also partly because the discussion is out there and the discussion is a very attractive one? The discussion of one of the reasons why you haven't gotten by in this world is because of inequality and because of some sort of systemic racism or systemic sexism or systemic homophobia or transphobia. And it becomes, when you give people an option to find an excuse, they gravitate towards that excuse. You create safe spaces and you coddle. All these pieces are in place. There's many, many, many moving parts. And I think all these little pieces are in place where we also have these massive echo chambers because of social media. We have these people that they find ideologically similar human beings and they bounce off of each other. But these are all real problems. I have an intersex friend who I would say is somebody who's indeterminate between male and female physiologically. Let's imagine that they have some karyotype XY profile and that the developmental process did not produce an ambiguous genitalia. Is that a hermaphrodite? I don't want to just intersex. This is a person I think is pretty terrific. And I look at all the forms that say male, female. My heart sinks. We're not even in trans here. We're talking about somebody whose biological card that they were dealt. Could have been you, could have been me. And through no choices at all, this person is being shoehorned into a paradigm which puts them at an increased risk of suicide. And it breaks my heart and we should change it. We should break the male, female dichotomy. Absolutely. Now, I have a different feeling about trans, but if we solve the issue of intersex, which is not pressuring, just accepting that some tiny percentage of the population, which is not vanishingly small, just not large, is neither unambiguously male and female in terms of genotype, phenotype, concordance. We will do most of the work necessary to take care of our trans folks who are suffering too. Right? Now trans is a much more rich world because there are a million different issues taking place in trans. And they're all conflated. Part of it because of developmental biology, part of it because gender really in some sense is socially constructed in a way that like when people say mathematics is socially constructed, I have to reject it. And I give this example of like kilts and lunges from Scotland and India are skirts, but they're not female in those places. So you have to learn about male and female relative to the codification in your society. And the issues of what are our obligations to recognize, hey, this is really a female mind and a male body versus this is a regular mind and a regular body, but needs instruction. All of these things are conflated. And I was really hoping that if we used intersex as the test case to break the binary, because the binary is an oppression. There's no question in my mind about it. Well, how is it an oppression? Let's imagine that I, let's say I have persistent malaria and duct syndrome. So I'm phenotypically on the outside male and I go to my doctor and he says, hey, you've got a uterus. What? Yeah, yeah, yeah, you have a uterus. Okay. That's an exotic situation. Maybe I want to identify male, you know, because the outside equipment looks male. It's a weird situation. Maybe the idea is that- We're talking about extremely rare circumstances. So does that really define it as being oppressive? For a friend of mine who is in neither situation, yeah, it's oppressive. But I mean, is it oppressive? Like some people are born paralyzed, right? Some people are born with like serious neurological diseases that don't allow them to be motile. That's right. Like what, is it oppressive if people are just recognized, like most people, recognized as being able to walk in and around? What if there was no category called disabled, right? Okay. Like in a wheelchair. Okay, no category. All right, yeah. So you've got somebody who's got a spinal cord injury and you have people saying, all right, everybody walk this way. What do you mean you can't walk? Get up. Why are you lazy? That's what it sounds like to me. Like it's one thing to recognize that not everybody is in the standard category, but it's another thing to hard code. Hard code where? You're talking about job applications? Forms, yeah. Forms, okay. The federal government gives me a form that says male or female. Let's imagine it doesn't say other or prefer not to say. Okay, so we're just talking about filling out forms, which is how often does that take place in your life? Often enough that it represents oppression? Where you have to be defined as male or female? Emotionally? Emotionally. I think this is oppression. Yeah. I mean, look, I- But it's really, isn't it done under the interests of defining people simply? Because for the most part, you're dealing with males and females. And for the most part, they're just trying to figure out what's what for their statistics. Yeah, but you know, again, this is fun. I'm glad you're asking me these questions because usually I have to be on the other side of this issue and this is really where my heart is, which is I care about these people and I know that in every single conservative society in the world, there are accommodations made for the failure of simple binaries to accommodate the population. There's no society that's so conservative that they've sorted the world into male and female. You know, the famous example of it in Iran of the Ayatollah making a fatwa that said it's fine to have gender reassignment. Right? We have to recognize that every single population produces gender sexual ambiguity. But isn't that also to get around the idea of homosexuality being a grievous crime? Because like, I believe in Iran, it's illegal to have homosexual activity, but you can have gender reassignment. So if you're a gay man, you can choose to become a female. That's true, but there's also a thriving gay scene in Tehran. You know. Do they have to recognize a female or a war prosecution? And there are all sorts of, you know, there was a situation in India where I, you know, I have more experience where you would say, oh, those two people are confirmed bachelors. You know, that they're so dedicated to their professions that there's no room for family and they live together. Right? Right. So like traditional societies have, everybody accommodates homosexuality and failures of simple gender binaries. And you know, I always bring up the example of Turkish where Turkish doesn't hard code the third person singular pronoun as male or female. It just has one pronoun for both. So thank you for giving me the opportunity to show where my heart actually has been this entire time, which is I believe this is oppressive and I don't think that it presses that many people, but I believe that it's an important oppression that we have to realize that we hard coded. And that's what generated a lot of the feelings. Before we get to trans, you can simply say from the position of intersex that the world is a richer place than male and female. People say, oh, it's XX versus XY. It's like, no, it isn't. It just isn't. For the most part it is. For the most part it is. So in terms of, it has been an edge case to deal with. But that edge case is important to me. Right. Because the edge case, they are human beings that are... Not only that, I actually, look, I like people who are outside of the norms. I think that probably a larger percentage of those people are going to be more interesting people because they're forged in the fire. So it's not just a case that, you know, do you want to chase a couple of edge cases? Everybody with a really different experience is more important to me than everyone with the standard experience. I think we have to take care of the standard case, but I'm absolutely interested in outliers and edge cases.