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The Binary Oppositional Logic

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In class, we have been discussing binary oppositional logic and how this affects our daily life. In my own terms of binary oppositional logic, binary opposites mean that a concept or idea that can only be clearly understood by comparing it to how different it is something else or something opposite. For example, the meaning of male cannot be understood without female. Since we are babies, we are taught what is good/bad, hot/cold, smart/stupid, left/right, off/on, and so endlessly on. Our knowledge depends on oppositional binarisms to understand the world around us. The concept of poor might not exist without the understanding the concept of rich.

Abstract binary oppositions are important for organizing knowledge and information. The two binarisms that I would like to discuss in my paper are good/bad and same/different. At first, I was a bit hesitant to choose these two oppositional binarisms. But I realized the impact of how the two binary oppositions have impacted my entire life. I was born the youngest son with an older sister and brother. My older brother, Matthew, is severe, autistic. Matthew is different. He does not behave in a normal way. The autistic world in which he navigates through life is different than normal people. Most of my life has been centered on how his different and bad behaviors affected my life. Matthew can be quite noisy and jumpy in public places such as restaurants and stores. This behavior usually subjugates my family and me from unwelcome comments or scrutiny from other people.

The normal and good behaviors when in public would normally require quiet voices and sedate walks. His loud voice and agitated movements have always been deemed bad and inappropriate in public places. Since a child, I have always been taught what are good and bad behaviors. Of course, the good behaviors have always been the dominant binary that is the standard everyone should adhere to. This has been standard throughout history. The good and normal shall prevail over the bad and different. This can also be seen in the reading, “Fugitive Flesh: Gender Self-Determination, Queer Abolition, and Trans Resistance” Eric A. Stanley states, “‘the well-experienced people’ changed their appearances from transgender to ‘gender appropriate clothing’ to avoid capture or interrogation by the police during the raid in New York City in 1969” (Stanley 2015 page 1). The bad and different behaviors are the subordinates that I should avoid and conceal in order to not get into trouble. The dominant binary of good and normal conforming behaviors should be conducted daily to avoid criticism and alienation from parents, peers, teachers, and outsiders.

For example, in the reading “Get Your Gender Binary Off My Childhood” Jane Ward states, “The moment we call this child a girl, we invite the world to see a pretty princess and to pretend that is who he or she always was” (Ward 2012 page 3).

The expected normal understanding of girls is usually seen as wearing frilly dresses and playing with dolls. We are all taught this since young and anything else is deemed different or wrong. Girls that have “different” sexual preferences or playing football are bad or unbecoming behaviors for that gender. Similarly, my brother was also expected to behave in a certain way when in public because he was seen as a normal male adult. I have learned that binary oppositional logic is important in understanding knowledge. But in reflection, everyone still has their own individual understanding of binary oppositional logic.

For example, I have learned that jumping around in a public place for my brother is good behavior for my brother because he receives the sensory input that his body needs in order to feel comfortable in a public place. As I grow older and learn more about the world, I have reflected that the normal binary oppositional logic that is taught may not be so black and white. A deeper understanding of the world around us may lead us to see the many gray areas in between the black and white.

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